Madden 15 - Xbox One Review

It looks good, but how does it stack up to the prior years?

Ar nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star - PS3 Review

This ambitious RPG might not be for everyone, but is worth giving a chance

Lords of the Black Sun - PC Review

The potential is there, but so are plenty of missed opportunities

Styx: Master of Shadows - Xbox One Review

Challenging, beautiful and rewarding stealth for the Xbox One

Ancient Space - PC Review

Not as exploratory as it claims to be

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Just a quick layout addition

Just a quick note, but I added some tabs just beneath the banner that hopefully do a few things:

1) I tried to add a bit of info to all of them, so hopefully that is interesting to read

2) I included a lot of shortcut links, so you can navigate to reviews specific to say, the PlayStation 3 through either the tab page or the links gadget on the left side

3) I added a links/affiliates list item.  Again, it's already on the left in a gadget, but this looks a bit cleaner

4) It gave me something to do last night when I was a bit bored but too sleepy to play anything in earnest

Let me know if you have other suggestions for it. :)  Hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gaming Thoughts 1/6/12... Online Odds n Ends

So, I thought I would just toss together a handful of different items and observations from the last couple of weeks.  I'll start off with a nice horror story - a woman who apparently had her Xbox Gold account hacked, and how it cost her hundreds of dollars.  I've never had to contact Microsoft for a problem like this, but I recall how hard it was to simply get my gold account properly renewed again, and have little trouble in imagining that this issue has driven this lady a bit nuts.

http://hackedonxbox.tumblr.com/post/15365217063/microsoft-a-company-with-no-brains-heart-or-soul

And this was a fun one - major PR fail that got some time on Penny Arcade last week.  Since I work in Tech Support and am always dealing with customer service issues, I tell our techs to handle every customer like gold, and that you never know who they are.  This provided me with amusement though, as this guy's horrible attitude clearly landed him in hot water:

http://penny-arcade.com/resources/just-wow1.html

I've also had some time to spend with the Xbox Live's new dashboard, and at first I really didn't like it.  Since then, I've more or less gotten used to navigating around it, but I'm still not thrilled with it.  The ads are a bit annoying - especially so if you're a gold member who pays for their access.  On top of that, the cloud saves are a nice enough idea, but it's still a pain to move around from one machine to another.  I still have to use a USB stick for my profile so I can jump from one system to the other.  It's also harder and harder to customize your backgrounds as they have gone from the bladed, very customized background view to one where all of the crud in front clutters the view.  There's a bunch of new stations and features added, but almost all of them are ones you have to buy on top of it - so there's still little there for gold members that's new, IMO.  All in all, I'm a bit disappointed with the update, and still feel that Xbox Gold and Xbox Live in general are lagging behind Sony's Playstation Network overall, at least for me and my family.

I will give some credit - there were some interesting Xbox Gold deals over the last few weeks, and I picked up a few games like Bastion, Contra Hard Corps and Radiant Silvergun cheaply and have been enjoying those.

Speaking of PSN - if you are a Playstation + user, there's a ton of cool stuff this month.  My susbscription runs out in a week or so, but I will definitely be renewing.  Between Hydrophobia, Tomb Rader: Underworld, the Minis, Spryo games and everything else I've gotten in the last week, the games actually have had both value and appeal to various members of my family.  Better yet?  I can use those games and so can my kids.  That's so very cool.  I have no interest in Spyro - but my daughters do.  I couldn't care less about Crash Bandicoot games, but my son's playing them like crazy.  My wife was enjoying Tomb Raider.  My new 360 games?  Turns out since I downloaded them on the 360 in my room, my kids can't play them on the living room 360 - only I can (if I tote in my USB drive).  I realize they want to protect developers and make as much money as possible, but it's disappointing all the same to have to deal with.

And lastly, here's the PS+ deals right now - but I've had several friends nudging me about Back to the Future so that right there should pay off this month's investment.


  • Back to the Future: The Game (PSN, Free)
  • Darksiders (Retail, Discount)
  • Darksiders (Retail, Full Game Trial)
  • Rocket Knight (PSN, Discount)
  • Swords and Soldiers (PSN, Free)
  • Syphon Filter (PSone, Free)
  • Syphon Filter 2 (PSone, Free)
  • Syphon Filter 3 (PSone, Free)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nintendo 3DS

As I had briefly mentioned before, my wife had gotten me a Nintendo 3DS for Christmas. I've been playing with it a TON since getting it. I've had a few people ask: What about the Vita? Well, I still do plan to get one next year, but it probably won't be a release purchase. A few things have slightly disheartened me on the Vita. One is the price of the memory cards. Another is that you can only have 1 PSN account on it. Which is ridiculous. I'm hoping that when I do get around to it, there will be some combination of: firmware update to address the single user issue, cheaper knock-off memory cards, a better selection of games (and yes, the release lineup already looks good) and maybe some sort of discounted bundle.

In the meantime? I've been doing several things with the 3Ds. Obviously one is playing games. I landed a trio from my wife - Zelda, Mario Kart 7 and Mario 3D land. I can already say I've enjoyed all 3 and they appear to be excellent titles I'll drop some significant time into, though Mario Kart has been my favorite thus far. This however, is going to be a set of impressions on the hardware and software for it so far.

First, the system itself is very nice aesthetically. My wife got me the aqua blue, and then a black comfort grip casing for it. I have to admit that without the casing, my hands were cramping up just a bit, so that has proven to be a huge help. I suspect the Nerf Armor would have much the same effect. The buttons are a tad bit closer together than I like. I don't have small hands, and the real estate can be a bit cramped. I also fear for the hinges long term. I know on the prior DS systems, they can crack and get loose, though I am being very careful with mine, obviously.

I have heard some people complain that the bottom screen can scratch the top one when you close it, but the grip I have on it seems to prevent them from quite touching, so I don't think I'll have that issue. The buttons are all quite responsive and I actually don't mind the slider stick in the least. I'm a bit surprised at how loud the sound output is with the small speakers, but it sounds pretty good. I will likely grab a set of headphones though for when I'm in bed with it.

The volume slider on the left is also quite nice. My son's volume controls on his DSi (or maybe it was the Lite when he had it, I'm not 100% sure) broke before and became completely unresponsive but I don't see that being an issue with this design. The 3DS slider is handy because I have noticed just in our household that everyone's got a different comfort zone with it. I use it turned up all of the way or just shy of, where as my wife and son have it less than halfway and still get a good effect from it - but any higher and they both get headaches from it. The screens themselves are quite bright and the 3D effect is absolutely awesome. I can't get enough of it and yup - now I find myself going: I wonder how a 3D tv in the bedroom would look...

I like the telescoping stylus - it's nice and long and fits my hand well enough, though I might consider a bigger, more iPad like one eventually. It wouldn't fit into the handy carry slot but it may fit my grip just a bit better.

The software itself is very much like the Wii with its windowed compartments, which suits me just fine. It's not my favorite layout but it works well enough. The eshop seems intuitive enough, though there's not a ton on there. That said, I did put Swapnotes on and it's a cute app, if not something I'll dump a ton of time into. I also grabbed Netflix, which fired up fine. I played around with the 3D camera, taking a few pictures of my daughter with her new Pikachu backpack she got for Christmas, and while the quality of the camera is not the best, the effect actually looked pretty good when applying the 3D to it. If you pull the slider down to 2D though? The images look super grainy.

The info it collects on what you play and how many steps you take is an interesting novelty, but not something I'm likely going to make much use of. I did grab both Xevious and Mario vs Donkey Kong with my newly acquired Club Nintendo account and coins. I think I like having game download options better than the other things I saw on their lists. Though MvDK is not in 3D, the game itself actually sucked up several hours of my time.

All in all, I'm very excited for my new 3DS. I'm looking forward to more downloadable content (I put an 8gb SD card into it and gave my daughter my 2GB one for her used DSi we got her for Christmas), and still need to grab a carry case of some sort, but overall I have to say I've been thrilled with the system, the games and software thus far.