Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Food Review (Fresco Steak Burrito Supreme from Taco Bell)

Yes, another one -- a random review of a random permanent item on the Taco Bell menu. This is the Fresco Steak Burrito Supreme, which runs at a pretty steep $3.39. This is also available in chicken, or you can get a regular Burrito Supreme with beef, steak, or chicken for presumably the same price. I'm not sure though, since I haven't had one in ages.

Alright, so... what differs in the Fresco variety of this burrito is that, as far as I know, it pulls out the cheese and sour cream and replaces it with pico de gallo. Doing this spares about 70-90 calories on the burrito depending on the variety you get. For me, this is a better option, just because I'm generally not a fan of sour cream inside of a burrito. I mean, it gets all warm and disgusting and makes me think of man juice or some shit. As for the cheese, I can do without that as well, because Taco Bell's cheese is pretty flavorless and does nothing but add fat and calories. I don't normally like tomatoes, but pico de gallo I actually really like... it adds a much more interesting depth of flavor over the waxy cheese.

Okay I went off there. The burrito itself is described on the website as:

This Taco Bell Fresco burrito is a warm, soft flour tortilla wrapped around marinated premium thick cut steak, hearty beans, tangy red sauce, crisp shredded lettuce, diced onions, diced ripe tomatoes, and pico de gallo.

...Wait. "Premium" thick cut steak? Look Taco Bell, I enjoy your food (for shit knows the reason), but how exactly are you allowed to say this steak is "premium"? It's porous. It has an odd texture. It doesn't really even LOOK like meat. So either I've been eating the wrong kind of steak my whole life, or Taco Bell is full of shit -- I'm guessing the latter. Anyway, as it turns out, the burrito isn't too awful. It comes in at 232g, which is the equivalent of 2.5 standard crunchy tacos, and with 350 calories. So it's a decent amount of food, but when you consider the price of this thing ($3.39), I'd actually hope for more.

It tastes alright. Taco Bell's steak is what it is, and that's meat that makes you question what animal it came from, with a not very steak-like texture. It's not bad though, and as I said, reasonably filling. There's enough texture going on here with the beans, weirdly chewy "steak", and pico de gallo to keep it fairly interesting. I suppose it's a good "healthy" option from Taco Bell (if you want to call it that), but I'd sooner get two times the food for about $1.50 more and get a Cantina Bowl.

3.25/5

+ Decent size. Reasonably good what-you'd-expect Taco Bell kind of flavor. 350 calories.
- Weird ass "steak". $3.39 is a bit high. It's pretty mediocre as a whole.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Show Review (MLB Off the Bat on MTV2)

I don't review shows much at all anymore, but I couldn't pass up this opportunity. MLB Off the Bat is a show on MTV2 that features Major League Baseball players doing non-baseball activities. I was skeptical, but I thought it could be a pretty good show, given the fact that I like baseball. As it turns out, this show is absolute shit. There is nothing good about this show whatsoever. It's scripted beyond belief, it's not funny, it's awkward at times, and most of all, it consists of nothing but an excess of general douchebaggery. The hosts aren't amusing in the slightest, and the show as a whole is pretty painful to watch. I wasn't expecting much at all from a show on MTV2, but this is absolutely brutal. Baseball fan or not, save yourself the time -- there's no way that this shitty ass show lasts more than one short season.

1.5/5

+ MLB!
- Cheesy, lame, pathetic, etc.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Drink Review (Red Bull: The Red/Blue/Silver Edition)

"Are you fucking serious? Reviewing goddamn Red Bull?"

When you've got nothing to do, you need something to do. I haven't done one of these maligned "Drink Reviews" for probably two years. Here goes nothin'...

I picked these up with a regular Red Bull for a total of $8, since they were on sale for $2/4 at Kroger (for a single 8.4oz can).

The first time I sipped one of these, I was put off by the ridiculously terrible artificial flavor, but it grew on me. It's also a bit tart/sour, which I wasn't expecting. It makes it more interesting to drink and takes away from some of the sweetness (27g of sugar in a can, waddup!?).

If you do get one of these, just don't look at the ingredients. Sucrose and glucose of course, but then plenty of other for-a-science-experiment ingredients thrown in. All-in-all, it has almost the same nutrition label as a regular Red Bull.

None of the three taste all that great, but they're alright. My first thought was that these would probably be good in some sort of mixed drink. I'd sooner take a regular Red Bull over any of these three varieties.

3.5/5

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Food Review (Premium Grilled Chicken Bacon Clubhouse Sandwich from McDonald's)

That's a mouthful. Per the McDonald's website,

"Thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, caramelized grilled onions, white cheddar*, crisp leaf lettuce and fresh tomato top our grilled chicken breast fillet. Served on an Artisan roll with our Big Mac secret sauce."

And that's how McDonald's describes this thing. There's also the option to get a fried chicken version, or a burger. I opted for the grilled chicken just because it's what I was in the mood for. For the fried chicken, you're looking at 760 calories per sandwich. The hamburger is 720, and the grilled chicken variety is 590. I chose to get this sandwich after reading some relatively positive things about the burger version. My overall impression is that it's alright. The chicken is actually a solid piece of meat (as usual when you get "premium" meat), the bacon doesn't taste microwaved, and the roll is actually really good. The caramelized onions are a nice touch, but I don't care for the bitterness they give with the grilled chicken. I figure it'd work better with an actual hamburger. The white cheddar (notice the asterisk in the description) basically can't be tasted at all, and only add a bit of texture and enhance the look of the sandwich. The piece of lettuce I got was tiny, but I did get two tomatoes.

It's alright. I just have too high of expectations for fast food sandwiches since I've started going out more often. The bacon is improved from what I remember McDonald's bacon being, the chicken was juicy and hot, and the whole thing tasted pretty good, but I wasn't blown away.

+ The bun is soft with some sweetness and isn't all dry like McDonald's usual sesame seed buns. There are two slices of decently sized bacon. Chicken was good, albeit salty (naturally).

- Only slightly above average in the grand scheme of things. Slides all over and is messy in general because of the slippery grilled chicken patty. Piece of lettuce was tiny. Grilled chicken version probably isn't the best choice.

3.5/5

(Almost a 3.75)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Food Review (Chicken Cantina Bowl from Taco Bell)

I've had a good number of these, and I'm surprised I never got around to reviewing what many people believe to be the embarrassment of Taco Bell. For $4.99, this is what you get, per the Taco Bell website:

"Experience our new citrus-herb marinated chicken, flavorful black means, guacamole made from real Hass avocados, pico de gallo prepared fresh daily, roasted corn and pepper salsa and a creamy cilantro dressing, all served on a bed of premium Latin rice. Also available in Steak of Veggie"

And that's what it is. When this item was introduced to Taco Bell way back when, it was soon after I decided to start counting my calories. While I still ate nothing but loads of sodium and saturated fat, I was (and still am) trying to not let myself balloon out. A lot of people probably look at the price for this item and scoff, but the truth is, it's a good value. Not just because of the pretty decent quality of what you're getting, but because of the size of what you're getting. The chicken cantina bowl is, from what I've seen, the heftiest item on the Taco Bell menu, which should also help to explain the five dollar asking price.

I've probably had at least two dozen of these over the past year or two (primarily because of its size and relatively low calorie amount of 540), and I've noticed some consistencies that aren't exactly positives. First of all, all too often it seems like the rice is undercooked. Not terribly, but definitely noticeable. Second, the chicken seems to be dry too many times when I get these things. Why do I keep getting them? They still taste decent. The black beans and corn salsa are always perfectly fine, the guacamole is decent (albeit uninteresting), and the cilantro dressing has a good flavor (although it's a bit salty, but what can you expect?).

If you're looking to fill up and feel a bit less remorse from eating fast food, this is a fair option. Yeah, there aren't too many calories in this cantina bowl, and there's not a lot of fat, but there is a lot of sodium, and it still has chicken that's likely injected with a bunch of mystery ingredients, regardless of what that slut Lorena Garcia says.

3.75/5

+ Good value. Decent amount of flavor. Surprisingly filling.
- Pretty consistently undercooked rice and overcooked chicken.

Food Review (Fresco Crunchy Taco from Taco Bell)

Ah, what the hell am I doing right now. Reviewing something so boring... yes, that's right, the crunchy taco from Taco Bell is getting its own review. To be more precise, this is actually for the fresco crunchy taco. Taco Bell's longest tenured menu item (total mind blower, I bet), the crunchy taco is a simple crunchy corn tortilla with about a tablespoon of "beef", a cup of lettuce, and a teaspoon of pico de gallo. You read that correctly. Taco Bell's crunchy taco has an impeccable, beautiful balance of ingredients!

In all seriousness, it doesn't suck. I prefer the fresco crunchy taco over the regular crunchy taco just because the pico de gallo offers a lot more flavor than Taco Bell's flavorless "cheese", and it's also a couple dozen fewer calories. No big deal. For a dollar, you can't go wrong. It's simple, good, and a measly 150 calories. Taco Bell's delicious combination of a crunchy, often times stale or broken shell, 75% horse meat and 25% cardboard with a bit of wilted, flavorless, only-there-for-color lettuce is strangely compelling. The pico de gallo on top adds a nice flavor and texture to what would otherwise be a very mediocre menu item. I don't normally like tomatoes, but getting this taco fresco style is the only way to do it.

+ A dollar. Pico de gallo in place of flavorless cheese at no extra charge. Good for what it is.
- It's Taco Bell. All the years of ingesting "horseboard" can't possibly be good for my bowels.

4/5

Food Review (Chicken Tendercrisp from Burger King)

Alright, I haven't reviewed a food item in awhile, and I basically never review an item that's a mainstay on a fast food menu... but I feel compelled to make an exception for this (although I may do more in the future, sadly).

The Chicken Tendercrisp from Burger King used to be one of my absolute favorite chicken sandwiches from a fast food restaurant. A nice size, tasty breading on it, and juicy chicken. In fact, the Firecracker Tendercrisp, which has been a limited time item a couple times at Burger King, was one of my top two chicken sandwiches, after Wendy's long gone Four Alarm Chicken Sandwich.

What I had today was absolute shit. That's right, I said it, shit. I was shocked, appalled, and confused. I have to say right off that I haven't had a Tendercrisp for maybe about a year, so maybe everybody knows about the change, but this is entirely different from what Burger King used to offer. The first thing I noticed was the pathetically thin patty of chicken. After taking a bite, I noticed the Tendercrisp morphed from a solid piece of chicken breast to the same kind of thing Checkers offers -- a half "sponge" chicken texture, and half chicken breast... some sort of weird ass hybrid. There's a mild chicken flavor, but there's a massive amount of saltines, and the breading doesn't even taste like I remember. What the hell? How did this go from such a solid chicken sandwich to an absolute joke?

Do not buy this "premium" chicken sandwich. It's utter trash. I know only about a dozen people will ever see this review, but if you're curious about this sandwich: DO NOT PURCHASE IT.

1.5/5

+ Honestly, none that I can think of. I mean, I guess it's edible. I didn't die after I ate it -- yet. Hey, there are two tomatoes too... I suppose that's a plus, right? Most places only give you one, correct?

- All else. The patty is half the thickness or less than half the thickness of the Tendercrisp of old, the breading looks similar but doesn't have the flavor I remember, the chicken is half spongy/half chicken breast, and dry. The website claims this thing is 700 calories, but I find that impossible to believe given its size, or rather, lack of size.

Game Review (Second Assault expansion for Battlefield 4)

Battlefield 4's second expansion is one that I figure people will take two sides on -- "I love it!" and "I hate it." It seems popular for FPSs to offer at least one map pack a year with maps from a previous game. Second Assault features four maps that were in 2011's Battlefield 3, but they feature DICE's new Frostbite 3 engine as well as a new look and feel. Also in this expansion, Capture the Flag is introduced to Battlefield 4, there are 11 assignments, 5 trophies/achievements, 5 weapons, and 2 vehicles. Since the majority of people will be buying expansions based on the maps included, that'll be what I focus on here.

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Caspian Border: One of my personal favorites from Battlefield 3, Caspian Border is back and it's better than ever with some differences that I really like, though I do see why some people have a beef with it. Caspian Border 2014 seems more "border-esque", as there is now a giant concrete wall running through the map. It's awesome and all, but the Russian (I think? Well, one of the sides) faction has three flags on their side of the wall, putting the other team at an instant disadvantage in Conquest. Regardless of this confusing decision, this map is phenomenal. The huge wall in the middle of the map makes moving around the map interesting, there are scout posts on top of the wall, there's a new tunnel/sewer area, and plenty of new little things that likely makes this my favorite map from the pack, and one of my favorites in Battlefield 4. I realize that sounds sad, but come on... Battlefield 4's disc maps were reaaaally weak for the most part. I have to score this map a 4.5 -- I'd go higher, but the instant disadvantage on Conquest is a bummer. 4.5/5

Gulf of Oman: When this map was announced as a part of Second Assault, I remember seeing a lot of people asking "Why?" Personally, I really enjoyed this map in Battlefield 3 and thought it was incredibly underrated. What am I down about with Gulf of Oman 2014 though? The damn sand storm. It's the Levolution for this map, and while it's a fairly neat idea, it just doesn't work, for ME, for the simple fact that the sandstorm goes on, and on, and on. I think it would be better off to either have the sandstorm come once for less time, and come and go in short durations. Besides the sandstorm, Gulf of Oman 2014 looks essentially the same other than a graphical upgrade. This remains a fun map, but I like it a tick less than Battlefield 3's version just because of the length of the sandstorm. 3.75/5

Operation Firestorm: This is another map that I liked in Battlefield 3 that seemed to be disliked by quite a few players. In Operation Firestorm 2014, the map has a darker look to it, and I believe two new capture points on Conquest that are actually well placed and apparently thought out a good bit before just being added to the map. The Levolution for this map is, for all I know, fire. I don't know what has to be done because I haven't done it, but there are oil spills and fire for the map's Levolution, which makes traveling on foot a bit interesting. The thing about Operation Firestorm on Battlefield 3, at least on the 360, was that the map just looked bland. Operation Firestorm 2014 bumps up the graphics, and makes the game more fun (at least on Conquest) with new capture points. Another super fun map. I don't think many at all will agree with my scoring of this, but I couldn't give a shit! 4.5/5

Operation Metro: Ah... Battlefield 3's version of Call of Duty: Black Ops' Nuketown. The very definition of a love it or hate it map. Well, for me, it depends on the game mode. Conquest? This map is one of the worst experiences ever in an FPS. Rush? Intense, fun, and far less linear as Conquest. Not just that, you get to play on the first section of the map in Rush, which is one of my favorite parts about Operation Metro. The Levolution for Metro is that you can shoot supports that cause the ceiling to collapse on enemies. Nothing huge, but a fun little addition that makes the map a bit more interesting. I haven't gotten a chance to play this map much, unfortunately, just because it never seems to come up in Rush. I make it a point to play it if I see a server where Rush is being played on it though. 3.5/5 

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And there you have it. Second Assault is worth shelling out the $15 for, if you don't have Premium. Caspian Border and Operation Firestorm are probably both different enough to please players who aren't into playing old maps, but Gulf of Oman and Operation Metro haven't changed all that much outside of a slightly different color palette and an improvement in graphics. Overall, this is a better expansion pack than China Rising, just because these maps felt more inspired in Battlefield 3, and more inspired here in Battlefield 4.

4.25/5

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Game Review (China Rising expansion for Battlefield 4)

I planned on wasting my time typing up reviews for Battlefield 4's map packs, but never got around to it. Well, now I'm committing to it, so get ready for a slew of text and posts about Battlefield 4. Hm. If only I put so much effort into worthwhile things...

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China Rising was the first map pack release for Battlefield 4, and was even included for free for those who bought Battlefield 4 at or around launch. While that's a really cool throw-in, it's sort of a slap in the face to those who already planned on getting Premium. Hey, it's nothing new though, the same thing happened with the Back to Karkand map pack on Battlefield 3. As usual, four maps are included in China Rising: Altai Range, Dragon Pass, Guilin Peaks, and Silk Road. That's not all though -- Air Superiority makes a comeback (does anybody actually care?), five trophies/achievements are added, and some weapons, gadgets, and vehicles are also introduced. For $15, the value seems to be there, as you aren't just throwing down three Lincolns for some maps. Of course, the maps are the meat of the expansion, so how are they?

Altai Range: I would say I have played this map more than any other in the pack, as it seemingly kept coming up on Conquest when I was playing it. Altai Range, to me, is the very definition of an average map. Something about it is just very "vanilla." I do like the middle capture location on Conquest, but there are more reasons to dislike this map than like it, I figure. First, air vehicles are a bitch to use due to the relentless anti-air vehicles that can down your chopper or jet in mere seconds. Normally that would just be a *bit* of an annoyance, but on a map that's as open as Altai Range is, it's really hard to outmaneuver the anti-air vehicles, no matter how good of a pilot you are. If you like vehicles, stick to the ground on Altai Range. Besides that, the map just has a rather ordinary sort of layout with a boring color palette. A very, very average map with some aspects that make it disappointing, to be quite honest. 3.5/5

Dragon Pass: This is a map that seems to take place in a swampy sort of location in China. The color of this map is very, ehrm... brown. There are a number of ways to get around, with mountains all around the map, which make it pretty interesting. At the same time, there are some really long sight lines that make sniping easy for people just waiting for some soldiers to walk down a road and across a bridge (hey, to be frank, if you do this, you deserve to get your damn head shot off). The jets on this map aren't nearly as helpful as helicopters are due to the mountains all around, but skilled pilots could do some damage. Dragon Pass has a fair amount of water on it with Ski-Doo dealies to zip around on to get you to where you want to go. Dragon Pass has a pretty interesting look to it and has a couple really fun areas for gunfights, but this seems to be one of the most consistently laggy maps on Battlefield 4, no matter what server I play it on. In spite of that, Dragon Pass still remains a pretty decent map that'll give you some memorable moments. 3.5/5

Guilin Peaks: Gorgeous is the first word that comes to mind when describing this map's design. This one takes place in a Chinese jungle, and it just looks great. There's a cave area that takes up a good portion of the middle of the map with some good elevation. Outside there's a lot of vegetation, a good number of rocks and hills, and a few buildings spread around. While there are choppers on this map, this is likely a map where you will be spending a lot of time on the ground, whether it be on foot or an ATV. The cave area can get hectic when battling over the capture point in Conquest as grenades start flying everywhere and you can't see much of anything -- it's a blast. Rush is also a pretty fun option on Guilin Peaks, despite the fact it may slightly benefit the Defenders. I'd say this is my favorite map from the pack, and one of the better maps in Battlefield 4, period. 4.25/5

Silk Road: I would be surprised if I was the only person that thought of Bandar Desert when I first saw this map. There's a good third of the map that's just a pile of sand leading to the central capture point that has barricades up and a couple hangers. There are also some elevated cliff areas for snipers to look across the battlefield, and for tanks to position themselves to light up infantry below, or shoot at choppers in the sky. Silk Road also has bombers, which are basically perfect for a map like this. Silk Road is a really open map, but there is enough elevation throughout the map that it could make things a bit tricky for a bomber. I don't think many people like this map as much as I do, but something about it is just really fun to me. It doesn't have the awesome aesthetic of Guilin Peaks, but it is the best map for dog fights and long range tank battles, in my opinion. 4.25/5

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While Altai Range and Dragon Pass are both rather average maps, Guilin Peaks and Silk Road are worth the price of admission. Guilin Peaks has some awesome infantry gameplay, and Silk Road is great in a tank or in the sky with it being more difficult to insta-kill jet pilots. Add things like a handful of guns, new assignments, and a couple new vehicles (including a bomber), and you have a pretty solid expansion pack. China Rising may not exactly blow your mind, but it will certainly entertain you.

4/5

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Food Review (Chili Cheese Fries and Chipotle Ranch Chicken Loaded Grillers from Taco Bell)

Well, that was one hell of a long title. The original three Grillers (Beefy Nacho, Spicy Chicken, Loaded Potato) came out quite awhile ago. With the senseless removal of the Volcano Menu, the Spicy Chicken Griller has been scrapped, and these two have been added -- both $1 for a limited time.

The Chili Cheese Fries Griller is pretty simple: chili, nacho cheese, and potatoes. It's been awhile since Taco Bell has had chili nationwide, so there's something for people to get excited about. I thought this was a pretty good Griller, and at a very good size -- I think somebody overstuffed mine, not that I mind. This Griller is a lot like the Chili Cheese Burrito, just that this adds potatoes, which adds an extra bit of texture and flavor. While I'm not crazy about Taco Bell's chili, it's still good for what it is. Between this potato-centric Griller and the Loaded Potato one, this one is quite a lot better. 4/5

The Chipotle Ranch Chicken Griller I was hoping I'd like a lot, since it was replacing the Spicy Chicken one, which had lava sauce. It's certainly good, but it's not new at all. I'm fairly certain it's the same sauce that's on their Smothered Burrito. That's not a bad thing, but it's nothing I haven't had from Taco Bell before. I actually like the addition of the sour cream in this Griller as well. 4/5

These are definitely my two favorite Grillers now. The Beefy Nacho one is boring, as it's just meat and cheese with soggy red strips, and the Loaded Potato one is okay, but really salty with unappealing pieces of "bacon". Both are well worth a purchase. At the $1 price, it's a no-brainer.

4.25/5

Friday, January 03, 2014

DVD Review (The Simpsons: The Complete Sixteenth Season)

For the past fifteen seasons I've reviewed (that nobody has read), I've reviewed individual episodes. This time, I'm thinking... nope. I just finished watching the 16th season, and have gathered the following thoughts:

It's alright. It's not nearly as bad as I was expecting, and it's not half as bad as so many people lead me to believe it would be. The main problem I have with some of the episodes in this season are the same as ones that I have in seasons a bit prior: jokes that go on and on and on and aren't even funny (I call them Family Guy jokes), Homer still doesn't work at the nuclear plant (he even jokes about it in one of the episodes), the plots are less than stellar in a number of episodes, and "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass" has absolutely brutal guest voice acting.

As for the bonus features, the commentaries are there as usual, there's storyboard art, deleted scenes, commercials, and all of that predictable good stuff. Also, on disc three, there's a bonus episode from season 23. On disc four, there's even audio of a table reading of "Thank God, it's Doomsday". Below are my three favorite and three least favorite episodes from the season (in no particular order unless noted):

Best:
Heartbroke Kid
Don't Fear the Roofer
Thank God, it's Doomsday

Worst:
Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass
Pranksta Rap
She Used to Be My Girl

My best list isn't as accurate as my worst -- I find that the good episodes in season sixteen are fairly consistent, but I guess I picked out ones that I felt were most memorable. As for the worst, wow. There are probably five episodes in this season that I would have paid not to have in this DVD set. She Used to Be My Girl isn't so much painfully bad (as most of HaNHMP is) as it is forgettable, and Pranksta Rap is a combination of the two.

Any Simpsons fan will want to pick up this season. There are some good jokes throughout a pretty sizable number of the episodes, and that makes it worthy of a purchase. Be warned though, this season (like many after about season ten) features an awful lot of "What the hell were they thinking?" moments and entire episodes.

3.5/5

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Food Review (Grilled Stuft Nacho from Taco Bell)

It's seemingly been eons since Taco Bell has released a new item, and I was pretty excited when I saw that something fresh was coming out -- until I read the details of the Grilled Stuft Nacho (GSN). Sigh...

"The Grilled Stuft Nacho is nacho flavors all wrapped up and grilled to perfection in the shape of a giant nacho chip, with seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, our new zesty nacho sauce, crunchy red strips, and cool reduced-fat sour cream."

Alright, Taco Bell. So it's the Beefy Nacho Griller? Oh, no it isn't, there's a "new zesty nacho sauce." The GSN looks like a Crunchwrap Supreme wrapped up in a gimmick -- I mean triangle. Alright, fine, a triangle... that's cool, I guess? If you've had Taco Bell in the past few years since they've needlessly thrown their artificially colored bright red strips, you've probably already had this "new" item. As said, the only thing that's "new" is the zesty nacho sauce, but I'm under the impression that it's nothing but their nacho cheese sauce mixed with the volcano sauce... both of which they've had on their menu for years. The difference being that this "new" sauce isn't spicy at all, while the volcano sauce has a bit of a kick to it.

How does it taste? Well... fine. As expected, the crunchy red strips become soggy red strips unless you eat the thing either in the restaurant, or while driving. I suppose the shape is something that'd appeal to kids, but it seems incredibly stupid to come out with and advertise as "new." Byfar the most appealing thing about the GSN is definitely the price. At $1.29, you really can't go wrong. The size of this thing is decent, but it only weighs in (according to the Taco Bell site) at about 140g, which is about the weight of a Cheesy Gordita Crunch. Coming in at 570 calories, I'm confused as to how the Smothered Burrito (which is about 2.5x the weight) is only about a hundred more calories.

I'm rambling. Anyway, the GSN is a perfectly fine promotional item from Taco Bell, but you won't fall in love with this thing like, say... the BEEFY CRUNCH BURRITO.

3/5

+ The price.
- While it isn't at all bad, the "new" sauce doesn't seem new at all; Gimmicky; Nothing exciting.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Joel McHale on VGX -- Painful.

"...I know the difference between 'Miss Pacman' and 'Mizz Pacman'..."

Moments into the show, it was evident that the whole thing was going to be a mess. Joel McHale's try-hard, unfunny sex jokes were cringe worthy. I'm pretty sure that if you make sex jokes and people have a straight face, you're the worst "comedian" ever, and need to find a new occupation. How is this guy famous? Why did Spike think it'd be okay for him to be on? I could rant for paragraphs and paragraphs, but it'd be a waste of time.

For the love of Christ, give me back G4TV/G4TechTV/whatever sort of actual *GAMING NETWORK*... Spike TV is awful as hell, and this whole VGX garbage shows that they have a faux interest in games.

Suck testicles, Spike.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Game Review (Battlefield 4 Disc Maps)

I've been playing Battlefield 4's maps for almost three weeks now, and have a pretty good feel for them so far. I usually review maps closer to initial launch, but I waited for the PS4 version of Battlefield 4 to come out, and didn't think to review the maps until now. Off we go.

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Dawnbreaker: Sucks that I'm doing these maps alphabetically, because otherwise, I'd probably save Dawnbreaker for last... truth is, I think it may be my favorite map on-disc, which is probably unusual, because I feel like a lot of people loathe it. I can understand why if you love to fly jets (why the hell are they on this map anyway?), but weaving through the skyscrapers in a helicopter and roaming the streets in an LAV is some fun stuff. Not to mention I love the variety on the map as far as map elevations. I wasn't expecting to care for this map based on what I initially heard of it, but it's grown to become one of my unquestioned favorites. I give this map a 9, simply because it seems fantastic compared to the vast majority of the maps on-disc. 4.5/5

Flood Zone: One of the maps I was really intrigued by, because I thought the whole Levolution idea of the map being flooded and having to travel around on boats would be awesome -- and in theory, it should be awesome. The problem I have with this map is pretty simple... there just aren't enough boats around. If you're stuck in the water, you're done for. There are some ledges to crawl up onto, but then you have to jump in the water again to get on another ledge, and so on. When you're actually at the parking garage or on one of the many roofs (or in a boat!), Flood Zone is actually a pretty fun map. I don't love the layout, but it's a pretty decent map. Hey, there are certainly far worse ones on the disc... I'll get to those soon. 3.5/5

Golmud Railway: *Shudder*. That's about it. This map is literally a battlefield. A battle... on a field. It's about as fun as it sounds. Most of this map is flat (with a few small hills), and it's the very definition of an uninspired map. There are few landmarks to make the map stand out, and it's just a bore to play, generally. The few little "towns" on Golmud Railway keep the map from being a complete dud, but it's still pretty bad anyway. Just a very generic, bland, un-fun map. Not much else to say about this one. 2.75/5

Hainan Resort: Fun stuff -- especially on Conquest Large (Surprise, surprise!). Hainan Resort has an incredible layout that balances a good amount of infantry fighting, naval warfare, and a little death from above. The flag points in Conquest Large are in memorable locations, and it's just a well-made map as a whole. Additionally, unlike Flood Zone, you don't get stuck in the water (in most areas) and feel like you're inevitably going to die. Another pretty fun map on a disc of general mediocrity. 4/5

Lancang Dam: Just a prime example of a Battlefield 4 map... EH. It's playable and alright and fine and okay, but it's not a map that comes up and makes you say, "Ooo, I like this one." The idea of an island out in the water away from the dam makes the map more interesting, and there can be some pretty intense naval battles, but it's generally a pretty bland experience, albeit not bad. There are some fun fights to be had on the ground as well. 3.75/5

Operation Locker: The one map that has no vehicles on any game mode by default, I didn't think I'd like Operation Locker... well spank my diddly, this is one hell of a fun map. Try playing this on Conquest (or Obliteration), and just watch the utter shit storm that ensues at choke points. Really, in all of my hours of Battlefield gameplay, I've never seen such intense gunfights among so many people in one area. It can definitely get insanely hectic, but that's what I like about this map -- there's little to no breathing room. Not a map to play constantly (not for me, I'd probably get a headache...), but awesome to have as an option to go to time-to-time. 4/5

Paracel Storm: I saw hours of gameplay of Paracel Storm, and I thought it looked phenomenal... almost like a new version of Wake Island. The big thing with Paracel Storm is probably its Levolution, which, naturally, creates a huge storm, and causes a battleship to crash into one of the islands. The waves will frustrate snipers and those on the water as the storm rolls in, because it can make controlling a ship or a boat very difficult, and hard to snipe from island to island. This is just a very fun map for people who love rolling around on a boat/ship or in the air. There are some nice little areas to have some intense gunfights, but the vehicles and Levolution (that's actually worthwhile, unlike some maps) really make this map. 4/5

Rogue Transmission: Kind of the same story as Golmud Railway for me, but a little bit better, as it's more memorable, and it seems like somebody older than eight years old designed it. The big thing about Rogue Transmission that makes it stand out is the satellite (?) on the map... that's really what makes it better than Golmud. Other than that, it's a very "meh" map with a few areas with buildings and nothing super spectacular. I will say that this is a good map for tanks/LAVs to roll around on. Not so much for air vehicles though, as it's really hard to get away. 3/5

Siege of Shanghai: Anybody who's anybody has seen Siege of Shanghai in some fashion. Like Paracel Storm, it's one of the few maps with a Levolution that actually changes the map fairly significantly. I've played a lot of this map between the beta and full version of the game, and I still enjoy it -- I think that's the sign of a well made map. I love the map more when the skyscraper is still in tact, but it's entertaining both ways. Siege of Shanghai may also be the best map for tank v. helicopter battles, and it's fun just to watch them. 4.25/5

Zavod 311: This reminds me of the one DLC map in Battlefield 3... I can't think of the name. Anyway, this is an underrated map, I think. However, Zavod 311 is a prime example of why Levolution is mostly just a gimmick. Sure, a little pathway gets blocked off, but it doesn't change the map all that drastically. Zavod is also one of the few maps where it may be possible to be in the air with a helicopter for more than fifteen seconds, as it's fairly easy to get away from spots... BUT, be wary of trees, since, you know, they're everywhere. A fun medium-ish sized map that actually sort of plays small/intimately. I like it. 3.75/5

---

Altogether, Battlefield 4's maps are just alright. There are a few stand outs, I suppose, but not really any maps (other than Dawnbreaker) that I'd consider a future classic. It's sad to say, but I hope that the maps DICE heldback from being on-disc for DLC are more fun than the lot of these, because otherwise I'll be a sad, sad, boy. All-in-all, Battlefield 3's disc maps were a decent bit better than those offered here in Battlefield 4.

3.75/5

Friday, November 29, 2013

Game Review (Mario Party: Island Tour - 3DS)

As an early Christmas present, my sister got Mario Party: Island Tour. I had told her about the low scores, but she didn't listen -- and I can't blame her. Mario Party games never get very high scores, but still tend to be entertaining, even if based largely on luck. Mario Party: Island Tour is much of the same -- maybe a bit less.

The biggest difference with Island Tour as opposed to other Mario Party games is that most of the boards do away with stars and coins and just involve one player getting to the "finish line." This is weird and somewhat disappointing, but worse yet, you only play a mini-game every three turns, rather than after everybody has one turn. Thankfully, there is a mini-game mode for people who want to do that. While some of the mini-games are cute and good for a laugh, the big issue with it all is that at least half of them seem to be chance games, where there's no skill involved. The same can be said for a lot of the game boards, which favor luck over skill. Mario Party games and even Mario Kart games tend to do this at times to let people in last place catch up, but it's a bit much in this game. If you don't mind finishing last simply because you picked the wrong place to stand in a mini-game or happened to land on a "?" on a board, then you'll be fine. Basically, don't take Mario Party: Island Tour too seriously. As annoying as the lack of stars and coins on most boards is (as well as the emphasis on chance over skill/real thought), the $40 price tag is perhaps the biggest turn off here. This game features 7 boards to play, as well as (I believe) about 80 mini games. That seems like a decent amount, but the games don't last long while you play them. $30 would be much more reasonable, so I'd recommend buying this game on sale.

As I said, if you can tolerate getting screwed no matter how well you're playing, and like playing brief games of Mario Party, this game's not too bad. The biggest thing this game has going for it is its Mario-themed charm. A decent amount of the mini-games are entertaining, but this is probably the weakest Mario Party yet that I have played. It's a game that's not great. Really, I'd consider it "barely decent." I wouldn't run out to buy Mario Party: Island Tour, but I believe it's better than most critics seem to think it is... it makes me wonder if they even played a Mario Party before.

3.25/5

+: It's a Mario game; Some mini-games are pretty fun; Good in short bursts.
-: Not enough content for the price; Too many "been there, done that" and chance-fated mini-games; Doesn't feel too Mario Party-esque with the omission of coins/stars on most boards.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Game Review (Flower - PS4)

Flower originally came out in 2009 on the PS3 (I think?). It is also available to play on Vita, and now on PS4. For $6.99, you can play the game on all of those consoles. Additionally, if you already had the game, you get it for free on PS4. I don't expect this to be the only PS3 game that'll be upgradable on PS4 for free (if you previously paid for it).

Graphics: Flower is an incredibly simplistic looking game -- the whole game will take up maybe 2GB on your hard drive. The best looking thing -- er, things -- in Flower are the blades of grass. The way they ripple in the wind is great. Secondly, the vibrance of all the colors along with the soothing feel of the pedals through the wind is incredibly relaxing. Anything else in the game doesn't look particularly good, but that's not a big loss. Flower isn't so much about the graphical detail as much as it is about the flow and color, which are both great. 4/5

Sound: I'd find it hard to believe that there's a more calming game out there. The music in this game is simplistic, but mesmerizing. If you used to take yoga or have thought about it, Flower should work just fine. The sound of the wind with the subtle music and notes that play every time you bloom a flower could lull you to sleep -- in a good way! 5/5

Control: Six-Axis is what you use to control the game. The only time you use a button is when you bloom your initial flower, start a level, or use the wind. The control from the start was pretty much perfectly fluid -- very responsive, and don't require massive movements. Using Six-Axis makes the game feel even more "floaty" and relaxing. 5/5

Fun: While the game is only about an hour long (yes, you read that right), it's a prime example of quality over quantity. I can tell you that the majority of the time while playing this game, I found myself so relaxed that my mouth was left open. If you're looking for a unique, fun experience to take up a portion of your day, Flower will more than likely entertain you more than an evening at the cinema would... and for a little less money.

4.5/5

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to Get Better at Battlefield 4

One of the most anticipated games of the year has to have been Battlefield 4 on PC and next-gen consoles. Whether you played a Battlefield game before or not, the chances are that you at least had your eye on this game. If you're new to the series or even new to the genre, this guide should up your game at least a little bit. You won't be great or even good at Battlefield overnight, but a few relatively simple changes will help you step up your game. Here's a list (in no particular order) of things you can do:

1.) Spot enemies: I said this list is in a random order, but I think this is the most basic and important thing you can do to help you and your team out. This includes spotting enemies on the ground, and especially those in vehicles (air vehicles, most specifically). When a team mate is in a jet and there's a bad guy up there with him, and he can't see him, there's nothing that feels more hopeless as a pilot. It's also crucial that you spot those who are in tanks, because you don't want to have, for instance, a group of four guys in a Jeep haul into the objective on Rush just to get taken out by a single tank shell. Spotting is probably easiest to do with a sniper, as the scope can see more of the map. A quick note, the back/select button was used to spot enemies in Battlefield 3, but DICE has changed that to the RB/R1 button. It took some getting used to, but it makes a lot more sense, and keeps your left thumb on the stick.

2.) Learn the maps: This is probably another common sense sort of thing. To get around a map effectively, you need to learn every area of the map, including its choke points. Most maps have very obvious/popular locations where people love to camp (usually with a sniper). If you get a good idea of where all of these places are, you can help your team out just by going there and spotting enemies -- even if you ultimately die.

3.) Leave the vehicles to the pros: This sounds really dickish, but now that DICE has implemented a training mode (I forget exactly what it's called) for people to learn how to arch shots from a tank and shoot fake enemies from a helicopter or a jet, the vehicles really should be used only by skilled teammates, assuming you want to win the game. A lot of people dislike when others use a jet as a transport vehicle to get to an objective, but I don't have a problem with that at all, since you're still helping out your team... AND the jets respawn rather quickly anyway. But, don't hop into a helicopter with a group of teammates and just crash fifteen seconds after you're off the ground.

4.) Have variety in your squad: Basically, have one of each class, and a duplicate of one (if you have a five man squad). I recommend this mostly on maps where there are vehicles. This is also important to do so that you can have a repair man (Engineer), a medic (Assault), ammo supplier (Support), and spawn beacon guy-er (Recon). The only time you don't really need squad variety is when you're playing on Operation Locker (or any future map without vehicles). In that case, if you're playing as the attacking team, it'd probably be in your team's best interest to have everybody play as Assault so you can constantly revive your teammates and give them health. Having a single squad mate play as Recon so you can have a spawn beacon isn't a bad idea either.

5.) Use team work: This pretty much goes hand-in-hand with number four. If you're playing alone, this may be a lot harder to accomplish -- especially if you're playing without a headset. Any Battlefield player knows how ridiculous it is, for instance, to be empty on ammo, and having a teammate who won't acknowledge the fact that you desperately need it. Team work is also important in having that squad variety I was just talking about. Without a headset, the only way to have variety is just by changing your own class. If you have a squad full of snipers who won't change what their doing, it's up to you. On the plus side, you could always switch squads, and hopefully find one that knows what they're doing. Using team work includes pretty much everything I've mentioned: Spotting enemies, not being wasteful with vehicles, etc.

6.) Change your button layout: I don't know about you, but I was instantly stressed by Battlefield 4's new control scheme, but destressed just as quickly when I learned it could be changed. The main annoyance I had was with the vehicles (I changed it to Veteran mode), but that recommendation is really about personal preference. One that I do think should be changed, and it'll help you in the long run, are the Soldier Sticks. Change them so your right stick is for crouching/proning, and B/O is for knifing. While this won't let you panic knife any more, the benefit of being able to more quickly prone is higher. It will take a few hours of playing the game to get used to, and you'll make a lot of dumb mistakes during that time, but it'll become second nature and you'll more than likely be happy with the control scheme.

7.) Play different game modes: This is mostly recommended for people who play a game mode like Team Deathmatch... when you're playing TDM, you're really missing out on the Battlefield experience. While it can be fun in short bursts, your Battlefield IQ won't go up very high if it's all you play. Getting an idea of what route to take on the water to plant a bomb in Obliteration on Paracel storm, or learning a good "camping spot" to post up and defend an objective on Rush can't be experienced in a single game mode. To learn maps better (different areas of them) and find out how to effectively attack and defend on certain maps, you need to switch it up!

Like the following comment or not, Battlefield is a more cerebral game than your typical shooter (Ahem, Call of Duty). Unlike that game, you need to have significant amounts of team work, and you can't do everything yourself to stay alive. Since Battlefield requires more thought, it is more difficult and can be quite frustrating at times. Once you learn some of the basics of improving your skills, you'll find the game to be even more fun than you could possibly imagine.

Game Review (Contrast - PS4)

One of the two PS4 launch "free-for-PS+-members" games is Contrast. The best way I can describe this game is that you play as a little girl's imaginary friend (a shadow), and it's your job to help her through a variety of levels by shifting in and out of shadows and solving puzzles. That's the best way I can describe it without spoiling the story for you.

Graphics: Being a downloadable game, and one that's available on PC and 360 already, Contrast isn't exactly a mind blowingly attractive title. The art style is interesting and easy to appreciate, and the level design is pretty nifty. The sometimes awkward camera angles, occasional glitches, and framerate hiccups keep this game from getting a high rating from me. Still, Contrast has a definite charm to it. 3.5/5

Sound: There's not much, but what's there is decent. I enjoy the music in the game (though there isn't much of it), and the voice acting is fair (even GOOD at times), but it's pretty average as a whole. The music definitely helps give you an idea of the era though. 3.75/5

Control: You use about four buttons throughout the whole game. You move, jump, hit, and move in/out of shadows... that's essentially it. As simple as the controls are, the camera makes the game a bit frustrating at times. Not throw your controller at the wall sort of frustrating, but annoying nonetheless. 3.25/5

Fun: Contrast is a game that any PS+ member should download, considering it's free for a limited time. While the game isn't particularly long, and the story is all over the place, it's fun for the time you'll spend on it. Contrast isn't a very difficult game, but you'll have to think for some of the puzzles. It's nice that Contrast isn't a very long game, because had it gone on much longer, I'd've felt like it was getting repetitive. I'm not too sure I could recommend Contrast at its normal price ($15, I believe), but it's entertaining and lengthy enough (three hours or so) that even if you do get it at that price, you'll have a good time. And hey, the trophies are very easy to get, if you're into collecting them. 3.5/5

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Game Review (NBA 2K14 - PS4)

Let me just say right away that I'm admittedly not "huge" on basketball. I've had my fun with NBA Street and follow the NBA a little bit, but I probably wouldn't normally call myself a "fan" of the sport. With the announcement of NBA 2K14 being built from the ground up for the next generation of consoles and seeing the flat-out insane graphics, I knew right away that I wanted to get my hands on the game -- regardless of the fact that I had no idea just how a proper NBA game was played. I haven't done my reviews in the fashion I'm going to for this game for quite awhile, but I think you'll deal with it just fine; it keeps things nice and tidy.

Graphics: Well, what should I say. I feel confident in saying that this is the best looking launch title on the PS4. Yes, that includes Killzone Shadow Fall, which is, in itself, a gorgeous game. NBA 2K14 just looks, in a word, phenomenal. The vast majority of character models, the jerseys, the courts, the lighting, the sweat -- completely unmatched. The presentation of NBA 2K14 is also fantastic. While I'm not that impressed with the menus (they're quite bland), the in-game presentation leading up to the game, the replays, the half-time reports, and everything in between make for a beautiful package that'swhatshesaid. As great as the game looks, there are some very minor problems I have with it. The most noticeable thing for me is definitely the clipping that can be seen a little bit too often. Jerseys will cut into arms, hands will go through desks in MyGM... stuff like that. Another little thing is the random "bounces" that the jerseys do at times. The cloth physics are great, don't get me wrong, but they're completely bizarre at times. Finally, where is the armpit hair!? Ah, well... maybe next year. I know I said more negatives than positives for this game, but when a game looks this nice and clean, the glitches are what stand out. 4.5/5

Sound: The soundtrack is fairly varied, but definitely more geared towards rap fans, which is what I was expecting. Some of the songs included are ones that most people have probably heard at one time or another, including: "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk, "Not Afraid" by Eminem, Imagine Dragon's "Radioactive", the ever-popular "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, and plenty more. It's a safe bet that you'll find at least a hand full of songs in the game that you will enjoy. As for the commentary in the game, it's great, but not without its share of issues. 2K boasts that the game has about 250,000 lines of commentary, but I heard quite a bit of repeating just after playing a few games. The thing that really annoys me is something I've experienced in MyGM. I'm playing as the Pistons (yes, I'm serious) and Josh Smith went down with a torn ACL in the second game of the season. The past three games, the game acknowledges his injury, yet they say "Hopefully he gets back in there soon." Uh... what? The dude tore his ACL, he didn't stub his toe. Additionally, Burke's sideline reports constantly say things along the lines of, "Josh Smith will play a huge role for the Pistons this season." Orly, Mrs. Burke? Despite that (sorry for the rant), the commentary is spot-on with plays, and is overall done very well. 4.25/5

Control: Playing my first simulation basketball game in probably a decade, I was completely lost in NBA 2K14 for my first hour or two of playing. As much as I loved the game's graphics, sound, presentation, and all of that, I couldn't help but get frustrated when trying to learn the controls, as simple as they seem to be. NBA 2K14 makes a lot of use out of the right stick, as you'll be using it to make your moves with the ball, and cover players while you're defending. As you'd expect, there's a training mode. If you're new to the series, you'd be wise to do everything in the mode to get an idea of how to play the game. If you don't, you'll just end up raging like I did. The control in this game is extremely fluid almost all the time, but there's one instance where I feel like it's cumbersome -- on rebounds. The triangle button (or 'Y' on the One) is used to hop at a ball when there's a rebound, but a lot of the time my player either doesn't jump, or he doesn't jump nearly high enough. It's an annoyance, but I assume it has something to do with timing, as everything else in the game controls swimmingly. I will also add that if you're brand spankin' new to the series, stay away from MyTEAM/MyPLAYER -- the players you use at first are absolutely terrible. It's hard to handle the ball and defend, and you'll find yourself with something like a twenty FG% at the end of the game. If you're feeling up to smashing your PS4 controller, be my guest! 4.5/5

Fun: NBA 2K14 is a game that just about anybody could enjoy on some level. Obviously, basketball junkies will fall in love with its realistic feel, but TV passerbyers (made that word up. Pretty good, eh?) will likely think there's a live NBA game on TV. The gameplay is also so incredibly solid that it will turn on many new fans to the series and the sport, like myself. NBA 2K14's three major modes (MyGM, MyPLAYER, and MyTEAM) are all engaging in one way or another, though they each have flaws. First, MyGM has a great feel to it and could be absolutely awesome in a year or two, but the redundant cut scenes and triple cheesy dialogue prevent it from being great. MyPLAYER and MyTEAM are fun modes (especially MyPLAYER), but it really feels like 2K is pushing you to purchase premium currency to give you a real chance of winning. It's not impossible to enjoy your time in these modes while not spending a penny, but you'll more than likely get frustrated when you have players who can't sink a simple lay up.

All-in-all, NBA 2K14 is almost perfect. None of the issues I've had with NBA 2K14 affect the gameplay in anyway. There are some things that could use a bit of touching up, but I expect 2K to take care of that when next year's edition rolls around. Whether you're a hardcore NBA fan, a casual fan, or somebody who really doesn't take much interest in the sport of basketball at all, you'll enjoy the next-gen experience that is NBA 2K14.

4.5/5

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Game Review (Battlefield 4 - PS4)

-This review will cover only the multiplayer portion of Battlefield 4.-

I've had a strange relationship with the Battlefield series. I played some hours of it here and there on a handful of games (The first Bad Company, a bit of 2142 on PC, and Bad Company 2), but I tended to prefer Call of Duty to those games until I had Battlefield 3 for awhile. While the game never completely blew me away while playing it on 360 (Pretty mediocre graphics even at release, issues with lag, etc.), I logged about five days into that game and had fun nearly the whole time. After the announcement of Battlefield 4 and it being a launch title on next generation consoles, I knew I was going to skip the 360 version and just get Battlefield 4 with my PS4 at launch.

I can say that BF4 is a bit of a frustration. The core multiplayer itself feels better than ever with a silky 60fps and fantastic graphics, but there are countless little things (and bigger things) that irk me to no end. Here's a list.

1.) No more squadding up: The ability to create a squad before joining a match on Battlefield 3 was not only convenient, it was, in my opinion, necessary. Battlefield 4 does without this extremely useful tool (for whatever reason), requiring you and your friend(s) to all join a game together, switch teams if necessary, and then join the same squad. This could have been just a minor annoyance, but in Battlefield 4, it's actually a huge problem. Of the 7 hours or so that I've played Battlefield 4's multiplayer, I've only played maybe an hour with my friends. It's really frustrating to get into a game with your friends, play a couple matches, have a map that comes up that you don't want to play/just played, and feel obligated to play it again if you want to play together. This is something that could be patched in at a later date, but I see no reason at all why DICE had to remove such a helpful feature. It seems minor, but truthfully, this is one of my biggest knocks on the multiplayer as of today.

2.) You can't customize at the menu: What is THIS about? If you want to edit your classes, you need to join a game and do it. This is a nuisance for several reasons. First of all, and most cumbersome, it'd make the whole "no squadding up" thing a bit more easy to deal with, because it'd give players something to do in the mean time. Second, why would you want somebody in your game for 5 minutes or so taking up a spot but not playing because they're busy screwing with their classes? This is another asinine exclusion from DICE. Again, this could be patched in, but why was it ever excluded?

3.) Server crashing: This should have been number one of this was a top ten list, but it's not. The server crashing ruins the entire experience, especially if you want to play Conquest. For whatever reason, if you join a Conquest server, it tends to not work. If it DOES work, you almost instantly get disconnected. There's not much to say about the server issues, other than that DICE is working on fixing them right now. I'll never understand why these sorts of things can't be fixed before they even become a problem, especially given the notoriety of the Battlefield series and knowing how many players would be online at launch, but whatever. I just hope this is fixed as soon as possible. Like, you know... now.

Those are the three major issues I currently have with Battlefield 4 as of now. A more minor thing is that the maps on disc just don't impress me all that much. I feel like DICE wanted to put mediocre maps on disc, and then save the best ones for DLC. It's not to say that the whole list of maps in Battlefield 4 is a trainwreck, but Battlefield 3's were quite a bit better.

Now I'll actually talk about what's GOOD with Battlefield 4... so far I've talked it up to be an absolute bomb. Like I touched on, the game looks and feels great once you're actually in a game. Lag isn't an issue, and there is rarely -- if ever -- a dip in frame rate. Some adjustments have been made to classes (C4 off the bat for Recon gives more people a reason to use it), and Battlepacks keep things interesting. While I can see a lot of people hating the randomness of these packs/unlocks, I like the little twist it actually gives the game.

As much as I should hate this game given its horrendous launch, the game plays as well as (or maybe better than) I imagined. While the problems I explained NEED to be addressed, the core is very good, and I expect the game to play as it was meant to be played within a few weeks. For that reason, I'm rating this game based on what I believe it WILL be soon, rather than what I would rate it now (3.25/5).

4.25/5

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Game Review (Killzone Shadow Fall - PS4)

-This review is only focusing on the game's multiplayer. I don't plan on reviewing this game solely on its single player like so many other reviewers seemed to do. How people get paid to review the half of the game that so few people really care about is beyond me. Rant over! Moving on.-

Killzone is a series that has probably been Sony's most popular FPS, at least since Killzone 2 was released on the PS3. While it's suggested that Sony had planned on it being a "Halo-killer", there really aren't all that many elements in the games at all that give it a Halo feel. It seemed many people weren't fans of the "clunky" controls of past Killzones, although some people really enjoyed it. In Shadowfall, Guerilla has tinkered with them to make the game more accessible to PS4 gamers. How does it play though?

Really quite well. First off, the basics of what you should know about Shadow Fall's multiplayer (if you didn't already):

12v12 online gameplay at 60fps and 1080p resolution
Guerilla and user-created "Warzones" make up online play.
10 maps are available at launch, with all future map DLC being FREE to download.
Three classes (Assault, support, recon)
All guns are unlocked at the get-go, with only attachments needing to be unlocked.
Challenges replace experience points as a leveling system.

That's about the gist of it all. As soon as I dove into my first Shadow Fall multiplayer match, I was impressed. The graphics are fantastic and all, but the most impressive thing is probably the fact that the game seems to run a consistent 60fps, no matter what's going on on screen. Having never really played a Killzone before (just a demo of the first one back on PS2), I wasn't sure what to expect. To me, it feels like some sort of Call of Duty and Halo love-child, and that's not meant to be a bad thing. It's like Call of Duty in that the maps tend to be small and without vehicles with few bullets to kill an enemy, but like Halo in some of its stylings and equipment. Really, it takes things I tend to like from both of those franchises, and puts them in one.

The classes in Shadow Fall only make the game more interesting. Assault is what you'd probably expect, with most of the guns and equipment being ideal for close/medium range attack. The assault rifles are definitely your best option in close quarters combat -- normally much more useful than the fairly inconsistent shotguns I've used in the game. Recon is a class for people who want to go rogue and/or snipe. They have the ability to be invisible, and have a certain sniper that appears to always be a one shot kill. Guerilla balanced it perfectly though, as it has plenty of flaws: you can't no scope, ADS is pretty slow, and the reload time is very slow as well. THAT is how a sniper should be in a video game, in my opinion. Incredibly deadly, but requires a smart user to use it effectively. Support is probably my favorite class, as it seems to have the most options and has unique abilities. First, Support is the only class that can revive teammates, and can do so using a drone from a distance. Second, they can also use spawn beacons, which are critical in virtually any game mode in Shadow Fall, as there are designated spawn areas for both teams throughout the match. The LMGs in the class are super effective at medium/long range, but you'll have a tough time beating somebody up close who's using an assault rifle. Again, nicely balanced.

The maps in Killzone are quite varied. From what I've seen and heard, Killzone was notorious for having very gloomy looking maps that lacked color. In Shadow Fall, you'll find plenty of maps with sunlight and vibrant colors. Some of the maps are a bit too large for the 12v12 limit, but the moments of silence are few and far between for the most part.

The main issue I have with the game isn't the game at all -- it's the players. Granted the game has only been out for a few days, but it amazes me just how inept players are. Not just in the fact that they act as though they've never played a first-person shooter in their life, but they very rarely appear to use their equipment to their advantage. Spawn beacons, as I said, are hugely important, and others, like the Support drone, can wreak havoc on opponents. Perhaps the best part about the abilities is that none of them feel overpowered. While the Support drone can certainly be frustrating, the cooldown time is quite long, and it doesn't hover the map for long.

Overall, I am impressed with Killzone Shadow Fall. It borrows some aspects of other popular first-person shooters and makes a fun game that's (mostly) accessible for new players, while still appeasing the hardcore Killzone fanbase. If I had to actually have a knock on the game (not just the players), I'd say that some of the maps just don't do it for me. Whether it's because their layout is mediocre or too large for intense combat, some of them aren't that interesting. On the plus side (and it's a huge plus), like I said, all future maps for Shadow Fall will be free to download. I don't know how many there will be, but quality is always greater than quantity. Whether you're a rookie to the series or have played Killzone cumulatively for a thousand hours, there's a lot of fun to be had in multiplayer -- just be wary of the abundance of clueless players.

4.5/5

+: 60fps, beautiful graphics, near perfect weapon balancing, needing to work as a team, free maps.
-: People who refuse to use abilities, some below average maps, can't button swap (B/knife, RS/crouch).

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

PlayStation 4 review inbound!

I will be getting a PlayStation 4 at launch with Killzone: Shadow Fall, Battlefield 4, and NBA 2K14. Along with those, I plan on playing the free-to-play games DC Universe Online and Blacklight: Retribution. I'll have reviews for the console itself and the games throughout the month.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Game Review (Grand Theft Auto V - 360)

*Note: This review will contain zero spoilers, so as to be readable for the masses.*

The game people have been waiting for since basically the release of GTA IV is finally just about upon us. If you've used the internet at all for the past several months, then you know that the hype level for GTA V is astronomically high... much higher than I remember it ever being for any past Grand Theft Auto game, or even any game the past few years, period. The natural question to ask is: Is this game worth that hype?

The chances are that you've seen or read about how big the game is in terms of map size and things to do. The truth is, you don't really get a sense of its size until you sit down and play it first hand. Rockstar said months ago that Grand Theft Auto V would be bigger than Red Dead Redemption, GTA IV, and San Andreas... combined. While you read that and think "Damn. That's pretty big...", it's far more impressive when you play it for yourself. What's most mind-blowing about the whole thing is that Grand Theft Auto V is running on hardware that is seven/eight years old. Just leave it to Rockstar to make you drool in awe, I suppose.

You'd think that with such a huge game, Rockstar would have to sacrifice graphically... nope. While GTA V doesn't look quite as gorgeous as it does in some of the high-res pictures that are all over the 'net, it still is one of the best looking games of this generation. When putting the sheer size of the game into the equation, then it most definitely is the best looking game this generation of consoles has ever seen. My only qualms with GTA V's visuals are minor... very minor. First off, there are slight frame rate drops when you get to certain points in the middle of a heated firefight. They are pretty uncommon though, and also understandable, given how huge the open world is. Secondly, there seems to be some minor textural issues from a bit of a distance. Again, it's something I can pretty easily forgive. Everything else is just outstanding. The weather, the water, the animations, the cars... it's all, quite frankly, amazing.

Once you get past how pretty this game is, you'll realize how fluid and real everything feels. As other publications have said, you really get the impression that this is a living, breathing world. While Grand Theft Auto IV could sometimes feel ghost town-esque (lack of AI interaction at times, few cars on the road, etc.), I have yet to get that impression in V. Rockstar put so much detail into this game that it can't be put into this review... and honestly, why would you want me to spoil that for you? Trust me though, you'll always have something new to do, and you will find plenty of little Easter eggs.

As you would have already expected (and has been leaked), GTA V has a soundtrack that is over 20 hours long, and there's some more talk-radio hilarity, as well as a little bit of music for everyone's taste. The voice acting in GTA V is also... care to venture a guess? Phenomenal. As is usually the case in Rockstar's games, you'll believe you're watching a Hollywood blockbuster at times. Add it all up, and you've got an insane package.

All of this typing and I've hardly said a peep about how the game plays. Without offering up any significant spoilers, I will tell you that it feels quite a lot different when compared to GTA IV... which I like. It mostly feels different in terms of on-foot gameplay. The cars seem to control quite similarly to GTA IV, but I don't mind that, because I thought the vehicles in that game controlled nicely. On-foot though, the characters seem to be more reactive. Perhaps more importantly, the gun-play and cover system feels unbelievably better than GTA IV did... it's really hugely improved. Rockstar seems to have learned a lot from its recent games, Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3. There's a wide variety of types of missions in GTA V, so you won't find yourself constantly doing menial tasks, like driving people around. But hey, if that's your bag, you can do that -- you can do what you want, when you want in Grand Theft Auto V... play it at your own pace.

In the media world, hype ultimately means nothing, even if the franchise is Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar has seemingly pushed out quality game after quality game for over a decade, and they've been long due to hit a speed bump... but they certainly haven't hit one with Grand Theft Auto V. Take your highest expectations for the game... this will most definitely will exceed it in every way. Additionally, it's worthy of every bit of the hype it is receiving, and is clearly the game of this generation, in my opinion. This is the perfect essential send-off before the next generation of consoles are unleashed. There is no reason you should spend your free time for the next few months doing anything else once you get your hands on this game. The next time your girlfriend wants the "D", tell her you want the "V", and play this game.

V/V
cwutididthar?

+: Insanely huge map, with seemingly limitless options; Fun, immersive story that feels very Rockstar; Quite possibly the best game that you have ever played; You'll lose weight from missed meals; You're getting the V!
-: Minor hiccups in frame rate (big whoop!); Some textural issues; No GTA Online at launch; You won't get the other V.
?: Is it really even possible that GTA: Online could improve this game?
!: Coincidentally, this is post number 555 on 47Reviews.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V Review Coming Monday!

This isn't a review ("God DAMMIT!" I know), but I'll be uploading my review at exactly 10:00 AM (EST) on Monday, September 16th. Visit 47Reviews at that time to see my review of what is the most anticipated game of this generation.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Food Review (Smothered Burrito from Taco Bell)

I've, sadly enough, probably already had about ten of these since they've been released... that should say enough, but I'll elaborate. I promise. First off, Taco Bell describes their smothered burrito like this:

"Our new Smothered Burrito is filled with shredded chicken, premium Latin rice, hearty beans, and creamy chipotle sauce. Then it’s smothered with red sauce, loads of melted cheeses and topped with reduced-fat sour cream. Available with seasoned beef or marinated premium thick-cut steak."

The price is $2.99 for beef, $3.99 for shredded chicken, and I believe something like $4.29 for steak. I haven't had the beef version, but I can speak for the other two. As many times as I've had this burrito, I've gotten the shredded chicken every time but once. The steak I once got accidentally (the first time I ordered), and didn't hate it... I thought it was alright. Once I got the shredded chicken though, I saw no reason to get the steak. For four bucks (for the chicken burrito), you actually get a hefty burrito that's one of the weightier things on the menu. They don't skimp on anything, and the burritos come pretty loaded. I liken it sort of to a Grilled Stuft Burrito that's put in a bowl with red sauce and cheese on top. What's to dislike about that? The thing that makes the smothered burrito most appealing is the chipotle sauce -- if you remember the chicken flatbreads Taco Bell had a couple years back, you've had it before. I'm not sure why Taco Bell ever got rid of it, because it should be a mainstay on the menu. Really, I'd be happy with this burrito being permanent as well. I normally liked to get a volcano burrito, but they since raised the price to $3.39 from $2.99 here, and they aren't nearly as big as they used to be, or as the smothered burrito is. Do yourself a favor and try one of these before they're gone.

4.25/5

+: Everything but the kitchen sink; Tastes really good; Chipotle sauce.
-: Kind of pricey, but it's not too bad; stroke inducing amounts of sodium -- seriously, insane.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Food Review (Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy's)

Pretzel buns are one of the biggest crazes going on right now... Ruby Tuesday, Wendy's, Sonic, and a handful of local places by me have pretzel bun options for their burgers. I've never had one, but I've wanted to try one for awhile. Unfortunately, the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger at Wendy's is the first one I tried. Not to say it's bad, but it just doesn't have much taste, despite all the ingredients.

The 680 calorie pretzel burger is described by Wendy's as "A delicious new twist on our classic hot 'n juicy burger with a sweet & smoky honey mustard sauce, melted cheddar cheese, and applewood smoked bacon all on a warm, soft pretzel bun." On top of those toppings, there's also the typical culprits: lettuce, tomato, and onion. When I opened my box (yes, this comes in a box, rather than a wrapper), I was surprised at how nice it looked... a lot like the commercials, to be honest. That doesn't matter though, the taste does. Like I already said, I wasn't impressed. Random YouTubers seem to love this burger and give it high ratings, and I've heard nothing but good things, but I don't even think that's great even in the category of fast-food burgers. The honey mustard sauce seriously tasted like nothing to me. The cheddar cheese on my burger wasn't even melted, and didn't really have any flavor when I tried it by itself. The bacon is what it is -- decent, given that it's from a fast food restaurant. I've never been a huge fan of Wendy's burgers, but they're alright. If all of this isn't enough, my bun was kind of greasy for some reason. The pretzel bun itself just wasn't what I thought it would be. It has a soft pretzel-y texture, but it doesn't even taste like a pretzel as far as I'm concerned. It has a subtle sweetness to it, but it's really nothing special, making me feel like this whole "pretzel bun" thing is just a gimmick more than anything else. Then again, this is a fast food pretzel bun, so I won't pass judgment on others.

Given the amount of calories and the price of this burger (I think it was FIVE BUCKS for a single patty), I couldn't recommend it to anybody. The burger isn't anything out of the ordinary, and the pretzel bun wouldn't really excite somebody who loves pretzels. I had pretty high expectations after hearing such positive things about it, but the PBC from Wendy's is something I won't be having again.

3/5

+: It doesn't taste bad... it's just bland. MIRACULOUSLY.
-: The pretzel doesn't really add any special dimension. The honey mustard sauce does nothing for me here. The price.

Game Review (Call of Duty: Black Ops II Apocalypse)

And, here we are... the last of the Black Ops II DLC. As is usually the case with Treyarch's multiplayer maps, they've delivered some really nice ones for this game with a nice variety of locales with a huge array of different colors. As usual, I'm passing on reviewing the Zombie map (I know, it's a huge chunk of the DLC, yadayadayada), so this is for people who are interested in the multiplayer maps.

Going, as usual, in alphabetical order, Dig takes place at an archaeological site in Afghanistan... hence the map's name. Apparently this is essentially a remake of Courtyard from World at War, but I hardly played that game at all, so it's pretty new to me. As you'd probably expect, if you can imagine an archaeological dig in a country like Afghanistan, the map is shades of brown with a bunch of brick half-walls that give the player the ability to run for cover with relative ease. What's nice about dig is that it has a variety of close and far sight lines throughout the map, without any truly designated spots. What I mean by that is, on a lot of maps there tends to be a certain second story window that's oh-so popular for cool kids to camp in. Dig is a good, medium/small sized map that caters to players of all styles... and yes, that includes snipers. Like I said, the map is littered with areas of brick walls for cover, which makes it fun (and frustrating) for snipers to play, and lets people be effective with shotguns if they choose to use one. While I don't care much for the style of the map, it plays pretty well. 3.75/5

Second up is Frost... which reminds me quite a lot of the pretty unpopular map Berlin Wall from Black Ops 1's first DLC pack. I'm one of the few people that enjoyed that map, so the slight resemblance in Frost bodes well with me. It's not all that similar at all in layout, it just looks like Berlin Wall... probably because it's a European map with snow all over the place. The big difference between the two maps is that Frost is considerably smaller, and actually plays a lot like a Counter-Strike map would. My absolute favorite thing about Frost, besides the fact that the layout is great and there are a bunch of easy-to-call-out buildings, is that there are very few obvious head glitching spots for people to camp behind. Frost is just a map that pretty much forces people to have one-on-one firefights without too much cover. What cover there happens to be on Frost is mostly cars that can explode. This is one of the best maps Treyarch has ever made, in my opinion. 5/5

Pod's a map that I saw in the reveal trailer for Apocalypse and was basically "meh" on it. After playing it a few times, I know why. Pod is good in the sense that there are different elevations on the ground which make it easier for a player with good aim to be successful, but it's just pretty uninteresting. I don't like judging maps based on this, but I do it anyway -- Pod doesn't really do it for me because there are just a number of easy camping/head glitching spots to pick off enemy players who are just coming out of their spawn. It doesn't ruin the map, but it makes an already pretty mediocre map a little bit worse. I could see this being a really fun map on a game mode like Headquarters or something like that, but it's pretty forgettable overall. 3.25/5

The final map of Apocalypse is another remade map... this one is a remake of Stadium from Black Ops 1, and is called Takeoff. Stadium is another map from Black Ops 1 that I felt wasn't very popular with the community, but I'm guessing it was, considering it's been remade for Black Ops II. Stadium was (and so Takeoff is) a very fun map. While there are some pretty easy-to-camp at spots on the map, it's also really easy to flank them, or take them out from a distance if you know where the popular spots are at. I preferred the overall look and location of Stadium rather than Takeoff, but it's still the same map that I enjoyed playing in Black Ops... just with a different skin, and improved graphics. 4/5

And that's the end of the content for Black Ops II (at least as far as maps are concerned). The maps included in the pack aren't total mind-blowers (although Frost is an instant classic, for me), but they're fun and diverse enough to keep you entertained for the next few months until Ghosts is released. While I haven't played Origins (Zombies), it appears to be a great send off for the fans from Treyarch for this generation of games. I look forward to see what Treyarch can do with Black Ops III (or whatever game they make next in the series), and the content they bring afterwards.

4/5

Monday, August 19, 2013

Food Review (Fiery DLT (Doritos Locos Taco) from Taco Bell)

The third taco in a line of gimmickry from Taco Bell. I was interested at first, but after having the Nacho Cheese DLT, I saw that this was just a great way get suckers to drop cash on a fairly mediocre food item. $1.69 for a single supreme taco? Anyway, the Fiery version probably won't be the last DLT variety we'll see.

First off, no... this isn't a Volcano Taco. I've seen a lot of people say that this is the same thing, when they're not at all, besides the color of the shell. The Volcano Taco is a regular crunchy taco with a red shell, and Volcano sauce. The Fiery DLT is a spicy shell without any sauce. Now that THAT'S cleared up...

Again, I'm not impressed. As usual, the flavor of the shell is really minor and not worth the extra price over a regular shell. For this one, the flavor of the shell is actually reasonably spicy, and has a sort of tangy flavor as well from the lime flavoring that they put in it. It tastes pretty good, but the Taco Bell "beef", as always, overpowers it. I don't normally care for sour cream IN things, but I like it ON things (warm sour cream disgusts me). Having a DLT without it being supreme is something I wouldn't bother with, because otherwise it's just salty as hell, to me.

The Fiery DLT is fine, but it's not worth the price. I think I'd rank it behind the Nacho Cheese, which I wasn't expecting, because I tend to really like spicy things. The Nacho Cheese DLT just has more flavor, I think. It's decent, it's okay, it's alright... but I want the beefy crunch burrito back and permanent.

3.5/5

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Game Review (Call of Duty: Black Ops II Vengeance)

The third of four map packs to be released for Black Ops II, Vengeance features (like the previous two packs) four multi-player maps, as well as an all-new Zombie experience.

Cove: This map is one that I feel that a lot of casual gamers would enjoy a lot, but hardcore players would be turned off by. Cove takes place on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. The map is round in shape, with boulders and rocks randomly thrown around the map. The center of attention on Cove is probably the plane, which is crashed near the middle of the map. My problem with Cove is that it doesn't seem to have much of a rhyme or reason -- it's a circular map with a load of randomness. If you want to be successful in this map, stay away from the middle (which can be said for a lot of maps, but this one in particular). There isn't much cover in the center of the map, and players tend to spawn near the water. If you get seen in the middle, you can get shot at from nearly a dozen different angles. I'm not sure what game modes this map would be fun on... all I can really think of is Free-for-All. Due to the map's size, it's hard to picture a 6-on-6 objective game type. It's not an awful map, but it's certainly forgetful all the same. 3.25/5

Detour: When Black Ops II's single player campaign was shown at E3 last year, this is sort of what the street/bridge section looked like, if I remember correctly. When looking at the loading screen for the map, I was pretty interested. Would it be a long, narrow map with few flank points that would take place on a bridge? As it turns out, no, not really. The map "ends" before the bridge starts, so you just battle it out *near* it, which is sort of disappointing. The first thing I noticed with Detour, besides the fact that it looks like a map out of the campaign, is that it plays pretty small. Because of that fact, SMGs and shotguns would be excellent choices. There are spots where an AR may be preferred, but they're few and far between. There are quite a lot of ways to flank on Detour, which could lead to some very interesting matches. While I'm not too fond of the "blah" look of Detour (it just looks kind of uninteresting), the big problem I have with it are the spawns. While on Cove you at least tend to be hidden behind a rock, there've been times where I have spawned in the cross hairs of enemies and vice versa. Detour is better than Cove, but not by much. 3.5/5

Rush: The map that I feel the majority of people were probably most looking forward to is this one, Rush. Rush takes place at a paintball arena -- enough said. If that doesn't interest you, I don't know what would. Not only does the idea of the map sound cool, it plays great as well. Rush has a bunch of corners with some somewhat lengthy hallways on it, so an SMG would be ideal. There's an indoor paintball arena with surprising bullet resistant air tarps, a paintball shop, and a good number of make-shift buildings outside that mostly provide no cover at all from above. This is a medium-sized map by Black Ops II's standards, and it's just a blast to play. I've yet to play it on anything other than TDM, but it would no doubt be fun as hell on just about any game mode Black Ops II has to offer. Without question, Rush is the best map in the pack. 4.75/5

Uplink: While the game launched with Nuketown 2025, the second map pack got a remake of Firing Range from Black Ops I, and this third pack gets a remake of Summit. Whether or not the last map pack will have another remade map is anybody's guess, but the three most popular maps from the original Black Ops are now in its sequel. If you've played Black Ops I (if you haven't, there's something wrong with you), you've seen this map before. Rather than being covered in snow, though, Uplink takes place at a lab in Myanmar as a storm happens outside. While the layout of Uplink is the same as Summit's, I feel like it looks better. On the one side of the map near the lift, the sun peeks through the clouds, giving that side of the map a slight, luminous glow. I enjoy Uplink, but I'm still sort of miffed that Treyarch is charging us for rehashed maps. At the same time, though, I'd rather play Uplink than the shouldn't-have-even-been-made map Cove. 4/5

As usual, I haven't bothered playing the new Zombie map that was included in this pack, so I'm not factoring it in. My Zombie playing XBL buddies seem to play it quite a lot though, so that should count for something. If you're buying the Black Ops II DLC for the online maps, then you should know that this one is my least favorite so far, though that doesn't surprise me. Naturally, Treyarch wanted to impress with the first wave of DLC, which was a nice one. The second map pack was a solid follow up, but not quite as fun. This third bit of DLC is rather mediocre, and I expect the last one to be "good" at worst. While there are two maps in Vengeance that are worth playing, only one of them is new. Who knows, maybe you love Summit -- I mean, Uplink -- and don't care that you already played a couple hundred to a couple thousand matches on it already.

Rush is an excellent map, Uplink is good for what it is (a remake), and the other two are forgetful as all hell.

3.75/5

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Game Review (Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Nintendo 3DS)

What's THIS? A review of something other than food for once? I guess it's about time. I've had my 3DS since Christmas of 2011, but I haven't gotten a game for it since January of 2012. I was kind of pissed that Animal Crossing took so long to come out for the 3DS, but I was willing to wait. I really only got my 3DS for a few games -- Mario Kart 7, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and the new Super Smash Bros. game. The inevitable question is, was New Leaf worth the wait?

I got the original Animal Crossing for the GameCube on a whim after seeing commercials for it over and over again. The idea of the game intrigued me, and I got it with birthday money one day after school in sixth grade... it quickly became one of my favorite games ever just because it was so unique to me: Play in real time while doing tasks for talking animals that move in and out of town, and experience events around the year, with changing seasons. It's a rare game in that it has no story, and it doesn't end. In Animal Crossing (all the ones up until this game), you're a human moving to a new town. The only real goal in the game is to pay off Tom Nook to get your house to its largest size, and collect as many items as you so desire. New Leaf has a slightly different twist, as you move to a town and become mayor, which actually changes the game quite a bit more than you might initially expect.

As the mayor in your town (beware, the name can only be 8 characters long...), it's on you to make the citizens of, in my case, Riverton happy. This is accomplished by creating a town flag and town tune, planting trees, posting on the town message board, donating to the museum, recycling garbage that you fish out of the water to Re-Tail, pulling weeds, doing tasks, visiting townspeoples' houses, and, maybe most importantly, do public work projects and pick an ordinance... among other things, believe it or not.

After you earn an approval rating of 100% in New Leaf (it shouldn't take you too long), you can finally really take the duties of mayor by, for instance, signing an ordinance. There are four ordinances to choose from, and only one can be used at any given time. You can change whenever you'd like, but it costs 20,000 Bells.

1.) Beautiful Town: This ordinance is great for people that take pride in a sexy looking town, and is the one that I picked. With this, flowers don't die, weeds are more rare, and villagers are more likely to plant and water flowers. Unfortunately, this doesn't prevent the dreaded Animal Crossing grass wear, but it saves you the hassle of running around town looking for and pulling weeds.

2.) Early Bird: This one simply opens all shops 3 hours earlier. This is probably an obvious choice for people that play the game early in the morning. Additionally, your neighbors will be more likely to wake up earlier in the day. On the flipside, everybody in town is more likely to hit the hay earlier, and the shops close sooner as well.

3.) Night Owl: The same thing as the Early Bird ordinance ... but the opposite.

4.) Wealthy Town: I don't understand this one personally, but it makes the town rich. Items sell for more, which is great, but they also cost more to buy -- this confuses me about this ordinance. If it changes the economy entirely, then wouldn't everything balance out? I think that it'd feel like no ordinance was in place at all.

Perhaps the biggest thing about being the mayor in New Leaf though is the ability to build public works projects. With these, you can build a bridge over a river in a heavily trafficked part of town, can put a bench down, can opt to put a fountain somewhere, and much, much more. This is all great because you can choose exactly where you want to put these things, but it's not without a fault. While Isabelle (your secretary at Town Hall) lets you know that neighbors can chip in to help build whatever you're building, they chip in a negligible amount of Bells, so you can expect to pay the brunt of the bill. So if having to pay Nook off for house upgrades wasn't enough, you have to deal with that! Incidentally, maybe that's why it seems so much easier to catch fish/insects that were more rare in previous games.

Another thing New Leaf boasted about was its multiplayer. After having spent quite a few hours mingling in peoples' towns online, I've decided that it's a decent, but flawed experience. It's fine and good, but there are some pretty big issues that I have:

1.) You can't do tasks for neighbors in a foreign town -- from what I can tell. You can talk all you want, and they gossip, give you tips, and ask about your own city, but they don't tell you to make deliveries, don't trade you items, etc. This may not be true, but in my few hours in others' towns, I haven't been asked once.

2.) The way of communicating is ancient. You can communicate through text, but you can't just use the D-pad to maneuver the keyboard and type. Instead, you need to press the individual little keys on your touch screen. If the D-pad could be used, it would be way, way improved.

3.) If you're in a friend's town, or if a friend is in your town, you are majorly limited on what you can do. You can't really talk to Isabelle at all, you can't move or pick up furniture if you have people in your house, and most annoyingly, you can't help a pal out my donating to his/her museum. What? Alright then, I guess all of the donations to my museum will just read "Alex" then.

4.) It's not related to online play, but the 3D in this game is pretty pointless to turn on in most situations. I've found that the best time to use it is when at the aquarium in the museum. When you're checking it out, zoom in with up on the D-pad, turn the 3D on, and look around the room. The 3D when just wandering around town is so very subtle that it's not worth draining your battery over -- and believe me, your battery will drain fast enough with it off when you're playing this game.

On the plus side, there is an island that you can visit either alone (lame...) or with (a) friend(s). At this island, there are mini games, and island-only bugs, fish, and items. It's not somewhere that you're likely to visit often, but it's an awesome option to have. The mini games aren't awful, but they're not as exciting as some publications would lead you to believe.

There are still dozens and dozens of things to mention about New Leaf, but this is its core. If you've played Animal Crossing at all or read up on it, you know most of what I haven't mentioned. As I'm sure you've read elsewhere, New Leaf is a game that anybody that's a fan of the series ought to buy. If you haven't played an Animal Crossing game before, but have an interest, definitely try it out. If you're burned out on the series, or are unsure whether or not you'd like it, you might want to pass on it. This game is essentially the same game as those before it, but with more content... the gameplay hasn't changed at all. Although I didn't play City Folk, New Leaf is definitely my favorite game in the series. As great as previous games were, this game expands on it in every way imaginable. If you own a 3DS, this is a must-buy, as far as I'm concerned.

4.75/5