Platforms : Steam

Price: $19.99

Overview:
Exaggerated, over-hyped, these are words that come to mind when I think of the whole Hatred fiasco that was occurring while on its road to launch. It was one of the biggest controversy’s occurring in gaming at its time, with everyone either trying to get rid of the game for good or have it added back onto Steam, after it was pulled off the store by the head honcho’s at Steamworks themselves. In the end we ended up hearing from both sides, “it’s our human right to have freedom of expression and speech and play this game” etc. etc. “This game is a hate crime and if you play it, it should be considered as one” etc. etc. After all was said and done, it was released, people played it and like every other game out there, it was forgotten. Now we’re here or should I say, still here, because the world didn’t turn into THE PURGE, will it did, but we have Black Friday to blame for that or ourselves, you’re free to choose.

The Hatred:
So how was the game and was it all it was cracked up to be? No it really wasn’t, it had practically the same dialogue or one that was really similar to it at the start and end of each and every level I had played, with the same gimmicky one liners looping throughout the campaign. Everyone exaggerated it, over-hyped it, made it into a monster before they even got there hands on it. I understand why everyone felt the way they felt, but in the end, we have played this game, it was just masked with controversy and controversial dialogue that deliberately hinted and pointed at what you where doing and made it into a whole quest and objective. They even added executions that made it seem a lot worst then it really was. This game is GTA 2 and GTA 3 and about every GTA game after it, with far less offensive executions then Gears of War and Mortal Kombat. In matter of fact, there’s a game that a few have bought this year, that has basically the same premise. The only difference is that it’s made to look silly and is allowed to be played on Twitch Tv, what’s the game you ask? It’s Party Hard by Tiny Build games. You play as a serial killer, you go to these random parties and straight up slaughter everyone and dump the bodies, so the other party attendees don’t discover them, so you can continue killing everyone at the party. That’s basically it.

I would say though, Rumors basically killed and made Hatred. Killed as in, it was basically banned everywhere, including Twitch and the controversy behind it made it be reviewed a lot more harshly than other games, but then again I wouldn’t really disagree with many of the negative reviews out there. It was really repetitive, once you where done with the tutorial, you where basically stuck doing the same thing over and over again, with the tutorial weapons being almost half of the arsenal you will end up using. The dialogue started to be a pain to listen to after a while, not because it was offensive, because it wasn’t, I don’t even think I heard anything really slanderous, or anything really offensive at all throughout the time I had hands on with it. Most of it felt cheesy to be honest. After a bit though, the black and white visuals and clever like gimmicks started to wear off fast, to the point you where basically left with an empty GTA game, a GTA game that was missing it’s charm. I know this is hard for some to take in though, but this could of actually been an enjoyable game and one worth playing. So far this team has shown us that they have the skills to make a great looking game with marvelous physics to roam around in, but from what I’ve seen are lacking in every other department.

Hope In All This Darkness:
There was some good out of this if you see it the way I do and that is, that the controversy most likely made the developers enough money, that they could actually work on a game they are really really passionate about. Since Hatred felt like an engine for a game they couldn’t have made with the expenses they had at hand. And honestly, I hope they do make another game and stray away from needing controversy to sell it and use the game to speak for itself. When I played this game on there engine, all I could see is how marvelous an open top down world with color and a detective such as Dick Tracy roaming around it would of been, especially when riding around town in a classical cartoony like car, chasing down mobsters. They have a lot of amazing in there hands, I just hope they see what they have in front of them and actually wow us positively next time or negatively, just make the game live up to the expectations, make it something worth playing.

Although everything so far seems negative, I do love this game. The environments are amazingly detailed and if it weren’t a game where you were in wanted level mode throughout the whole experience, while playing in black and white setting, maybe just maybe, you could take in the true beauty a lot more. The roads, basketball courts, the houses and everything inside them, the amount of content that each and every building is filled with is Incredible. It’s like they spent there blood, sweat and tears on the world of Hatred, so much so that they forgot to make an actual game, so they just made you do the same thing over and over again throughout the whole campaign to try to make up for it. Which didn’t work, I’m going to say it again, I believe they have a template in there hands that can lead them to bigger and better things and this was just a test project for them. Well I at least hope it was, In a few years, time will tell.

Summarized:

The Bad
———————————————————————————————-
-repetitive gameplay
-repetitive dialogue
-lacking in weapons
-once you finish the tutorial, you are basically set to do the same thing over and over again
-it felt repetitive from the start (games are repetitive, that’s a fact, but the amazing ones make the repetitive really hard to notice when you are playing them, to the point that you have forgotten that you have been doing the same repetitive thing for hours, sometimes even days.)
-PRICE
-Open World are all separated into levels, would of been nice for it all to have been one huge free roam map.
-black and white
AI- Can be really really dumb sometimes
Driving- It’s pretty wonky, either that or I’m a bad driver
-Lacking in vehicle variety
-The whole thing felt like an empty shell with an actual game ready to be added to it.

The Good
————————————————————————————————
The physics- May be hard to see during your destructive play through, but all the details of every item being destroyed with the impact of the bullets and explosives that interact with them is amazing.

The Environment – being able to walk into every house is something we have wanted to see in GTA in like forever, this little team had done this, the people ran out of the houses and knew they where in them, you could go up stairs, kick down doors, shoot and break windows. There where parks, basketball courts, rail roads, working trains (that you couldn’t operate or enter), police stations you could roam around in, with jails with actual prisoners in them. parties and people doing everyday things in there homes before you disrupted them. It was pretty fantastic seeing this in a game for once, all in the 1st level.

Vehicles – yes this little game has drive-able vehicles you can ride around town.

– The developers have the skills to make a masterpiece that we all can one day cherish in our massive library of games

-The details they put into each level is balls to the wall amazing

-Gorgeous

-mini free roam, open world levels

AI-love the fact that the police drive to where you are and follow you into houses and up the stairs, the people party in the house, run out etc. etc.

-Driving your car through buildings

Choose Your Own Adventure Score:
1 Hated Console Peasant out of 5

or

3 Hairless Mogwais out of 10

Fallout 4 is the game of the year! Or is it? In my opinion it really isn’t. It’s one of the top 5 that’s for sure, but given my preference, Fallout 4 isn’t my favorite. Maybe it’s because I haven’t played a Fallout game before (gasp!) or maybe it’s because I don’t really have the time to dedicate to an RPG that promises hundreds of hours of content. If you want a fanboy review of this game, there are plenty of other sites that have already given this game 10/10, 5 stars, their first born and will be happy for you to read them. If you want a first timer’s, honest and objective review of Fallout 4, please read on.

Fallout 4 really doesn’t need an introduction. It’s a game that’s set in a retro-futuristic world based off of the spotless charm of the 1950s. Imagine steampunk but instead of the Victorian era, you have the Eisenhower era instead. It’s a really neat perspective that adds some old timey fun without having to stretch so much when it comes to weaponry. There are still pistols and shotguns, but then you get ray guns and other fun weapons that turn your enemies into goo. Of course you can get this in steampunk, but the 1950s “let’s power everything with nukes” mantra makes it all the more fun. This time in Fallout 4 you play the concerned parent who wakes up after 200 years to find their partner killed and their son missing. It’s up to you to find him.

Before the War

Before the War

Before Fallout 4 came out, I bought Fallout 3 on Steam for a ridiculously low price to get my feet wet. I had already committed the 120 dollars for the Pip Boy edition, but I wanted to know for sure if I should open the game and give it a go. I’ll touch on the Pip Boy Edition later. When I played Fallout 3, I didn’t really like how the game moved slow. I was raised from a baby to a teenager all the while staying in the safety of the vault. I would have progressed farther, but Fallout 3 doesn’t play nice with Windows 8, so when I would go and punch a bully in the face, the game would crash. Game crashing bugs aren’t really my style so I assumed that I wouldn’t have any issues with the console version of Fallout 4. After all, it’s been seven years since the release of Fallout 3, so one would hope Bethesda got their stuff together and there would be minimal issues. I was wrong.

Number one rule of RPG - save early and save often. Luckily I only lost 4 minutes of play.

Number one rule of RPG – save early and save often. Luckily I only lost 4 minutes of play.

Fallout 4 is buggy. At least for the Xbox One it is.  You can tell me I deserved it for not choosing the PC Master race, but that’s really not the point. A game should work across all platforms and since the console version is the true version (the PC version is a PORT btw) it should work as intended. And let’s be clear here: I’m not talking about bugs where I get hit and I go flying off of the screen because of some silly calculation. I’m talking about game crashing, save corrupting games that seriously hinder my ability to play a game that I paid $60 hard earned dollars on.

I’m currently level 10 and have logged about 10 hours playing which way way less than my friends here at Epicpower gaming. You might notice a lack of content on the site and I can assure you, the writers are hard at work building settlements and fighting raiders in Fallout 4. In those 10 hours I have encountered 5 crashes and 1 corrupt save. Truly unacceptable for a triple A title that has been in the works for close to a decade. The bugs aren’t even caused by something I’m not supposed to be doing. The last bug was me following Dogmeat and going up some stairs. I could forgive Fallout 4 for bugging out if I tried to strafe through the map to get to an area I wasn’t supposed to be in, but for walking up the stairs?

All bugs considered, the game’s story is mysterious and non-linear. Like with Elder Scrolls, the game gives the player a ton of freedom to just roam around. You don’t have Dogmeat whispering to you every 15 minutes saying you really should be heading off to the castle to join the Minute Men. Sometimes I want to take a break from the quests of the game and just build up settlements which becomes a game unto itself.

Settlements

Settlements in Fallout 4 have the ability to bring out the creative types. If you like Minecraft, then settlements in Fallout 4 will give you something to do if you’re bored. The good news is that if you don’t like building things, Settlements aren’t 100% necessary in the game. You need to complete one quest for settlements and they can be satisfied simply by putting random objects on the ground. My garden is right next to my turrets and generators. But of course if you really want to build, the tools that are provided are really easy and translate well to the controller. Simply pick what you want to build and place it in a spot that the game will allow. Need to rotate? No problem, just pull the right or left trigger and you’re good to go. Don’t like there those melon plants are? Again, not a problem, just store the item and move it to the other side of the settlement if you want to.

you can assign settlers to garden and build

you can assign settlers to garden and build

Traveling

This game is expansive. There’s a ton to do and since I work full time, I’m lucky to get in an hour a day to play Fallout 4. I would absolutely hate this game if I couldn’t fast travel between cities that I have already been to. Fast travel is a godsend in a game like this. The wasteland is boring and dangerous. A lot of people will argue that Fast Travel ruins the immersion of the game, but when your main goal is to quest and not explore, the Fast Travel option gives you the perfect balance of speed and exploration.

Music

The music in Fallout 4 is eh. The game is made to feel desolate and lonely. The lack of music in the game plays well to the theme and the ominous score when someone is about to kick your ass makes tense moments even more so.  If you really want to listen to music, you can pick up stations with your Pip Boy and choose to blast some tunes while you battle and explore. The one thing that did bug me is that when you do have a radio station playing, you can’t hear what people are saying. This is really frustrating when you come across someone and they decide to tell you an integral part of your story. You would think your character would have the common decency to turn the music down while you talk to someone. Talk about rude.

Dialog

The Dialog in this Fallout 4 is robust and you can interact with almost everyone in the game. The only issue is that a handful of people actually give you quests. This can be frustrating as sometimes a person who you recently spoke to will just walk by as you say high and then at a later time tell you their sob story about how they need you to take out a hornet nest on the other side of the map. Talking to people in the game is fun, but only if they have something worthwhile to say. In other RPGs such as Alundra or Final Fantasy, the NPCs all at least have something worth saying even if it is just the same thing as the other guard said.

Graphics

Sweet 30fps

Sweet 30fps

The graphics in the game are on par with what Bethesda has been capable of in the past. The textures are wonderful and the scenery is photographic. The characters that you interact with have maybe 4 different gestures that gets really boring when you trigger a “cinematic” event where the character talks for the next five minutes. But if you’re buying a Bethesda game for the ultra realistic graphics, then you’re buying a Bethesda game for the wrong reasons. Many will complain that it looks like an upgraded Skyrim (because it uses the same engine) but they don’t take into account that you can pick up almost anything in the game and place it anywhere else on the map. There aren’t many graphically intensive video games that can do that.

Pip Boy Edition

Fallout 4 pip boy edition

Everything fits in a nice little package

Yes, I bought the premium Pip Boy Edition even though I’m not a diehard fan of the Fallout series. I am however a fan of video game collectables so when I saw the Pip Boy edition, I knew I had to have it even if the game turned out to be a dud.

                The Case

The case that the Pip Boy and the game come in is made of sturdy plastic. It measures about a foot wide and a foot tall and a foot deep. To open the case, there are two prongs that release the lid and opens up to your new Pip Boy. The case is lined with thick foam which is important since there is nothing protecting the game from the elements. If this were to sit on the shelf, you wouldn’t know it’s for Fallout 4. The level of detail that went into this case is amazing. Even on the bottom it says “2077 – Vault-Tec Corporation” How cool is that? This thing really looks like something that you would find in the game and Bethesda really goes all out to ensure that their collector’s editions are worth collecting.

                The Pip Boy

The Pip Boy itself is another game accurate prop. It’s made out of rigid thick plastic and for the most part is a scale replica of your Pip Boy in the game. The only complaint that I have is that it looks too new and I would have much rather had an imitation steel paint job like the Mini Nuke Fallout Anthology version does. But it is a “new” Pip Boy so I see where they were going with it. I really thought the user manual was a nice touch although I’m a bit disappointed that they have to specify what pages are satire and which are actually to operate your Pip Boy.

The Pip Boy comes with a stand for display when the Pip Boy is not in use. The cool thing about this prop is that it’s useful with the Fallout companion app. The Pip Boy fits most modern Android and iOS phones up to 5 inches. All of you with Notes and iPhone 6 Plus are out of luck. The Pip Boy fits comfortably around my wrist and provides a fun way to use the companion app, but I found it cumbersome after a while and now it’s prominently displayed on my shelf next to my Power Glove.

 

 

Overview

Fallout 4 is a pretty cool game that even a casual RPG player can jump into. I wouldn’t call myself a super hard core Fallout fan now that I have played it, but I see why people enjoy the game. It has a deep sandbox for players to pump out endless hours of content and that’s before the modifications. I’ll be interested to see what type of mods are available to Xbox One users. I doubt it’ll be as fun as the PC players, but I’m sure we’ll get something.

If you haven’t played a Fallout game before in your life, Fallout 4 is a great start. The good thing about the Bethesda games is that it’s not necessary to play the whole series before jumping in on the sequels. Even the Elder Scrolls games are welcoming to new players. I would however hold off on Fallout 4 until the first patch comes out so that Bethesda has a chance to fix any bugs that might be plaguing the game. I for one am looking forward to it.

 

Cibele is the new game by Star Maid Games. The game revolves around a 19 year old girl named Nina who spends the majority of her free time playing an online game called Valtameri. There she plays with Ichi – a young boy who she casually talks to and eventually shares intimate feelings with. The story follows the two as they play Valtameri and grow closer and closer together.

Platform: PC(Steam) and Mac
Price: $8.99

Developer: Star Maid Games

 

Gameplay:
Cibele starts out on Nina’s desktop. From here you’ll be able to read her previous blog posts, poetry homework and saved pictures. There are 4 programs; Valtameri, Email, Files, and an Instagram clone. You can go in and look at all the emails and files to get some backstory on your character Nina and then jump into Valtameri to progress the story.

Nina's desktop allows you to check email, photos, and blog posts. Each item is interactive and gives you a more in depth story.

Nina’s desktop allows you to check email, photos, and blog posts. Each item is interactive and gives you a more in depth story.

screenshot1

Valtameri is the majority of Cibele. It’s a Diablo style point and click except everything is bright and colorful. In the game you play Cibele, Nina’s avatar and as your fighting monsters, you have an in game voice chat with Ichi, Blake’s avatar. When you’re playing Valtameri, other players in the game send Cibele messages just like a regular online game. You can also send replies which give the story more depth. After you kill enough enemies, a boss appears and you attempt to defeat him. The boss only takes on a handful of damage before fleeing and you have to kill more enemies to force him to appear again. After the boss is defeated, the level ends and a live action cut scene plays to advance the story into the next act. At the beginning of each act you have new items on the desktop as time progresses at least 3 months at a time. There are new photos, emails, and blog posts to read and of course a new level of Valtameri where Cibele and Ihci advance their online romance.

valaterie_home

the world of Valtameri is open and colorful

the world of Valtameri is open and colorful

lava_cibele

What I like:
The Story:
Cibele has an interesting story that some gamers may have experienced: an online connection with someone they’ve never met who lives on the opposite edge of the country. I’ve met plenty of people playing World of Warcraft and even though I no longer play, I’m still friends with these people. I even met my wife through the internet. In Cibele, you grow attached to Nina and Blake and follow their story, eagerly advancing to the next act to see what happens next.

What I didn’t like:
The Gameplay:
This is a point and click game and when playing Valtameri I’ve had issues playing the game. Cibele can’t walk on lava or through walls which but everything else can. Even Ichi has a godlike ability to go anywhere and attack enemies while I have to point and click Cibele to reach the enemies and bosses. This is frustrating because the boss moves all over the place which if he happens to run across on to the lava or through a wall. If the boss were to engage Cibele, it would be a huge improvement.

Length of the game:
This game is short. It took me 2 hours to play through the game and according to the press release, this was an intentional feature of the game. I could overlook the length of the game if the story didn’t end abruptly. I won’t spoil the ending of the game, but I wish that the story was longer and gave the player closure. It felt like I was watching a movie and the projector burnt out half way through.

Wrap Up:
Overall, Cibele has a lot of potential to be a great game. However, Cibele feels rushed and leaves me wanting more out the game than just one linear story. Ciblele does a good job of simplifying a complicated online romance without making the gamer feel confused about what’s going on. I wish that I could replay the game and get a different outcome or maybe choose to pursue a different person in the game if I felt that character was more appealing than Blake.

Even with it’s faults,  Cibele is an impressive game that was made with one programmer, one animator, and one writer. Star Maid Games employs a lot of talented individuals that have the potential to make a huge game given a larger budget and more time to complete it.

 

 

Publisher: Gnarwhal Studios
Price – 25.00

Slap .45 is the latest game from Gnarwhal studios. The card game that was funded by kickstarter this year pits you against up to 6 of your friends in a standoff similar to “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
Slap 45 is very easy to learn and a game takes about 20 minutes to complete. What’s different about this game is that it requires you to be on your wits and make split second decisions unlike other card games that require well thought out strategies. This game will test friendships.

We have a tendency to pick on each other. It's a good thing we can handle some friendly competition.

We have a tendency to pick on each other. It’s a good thing we can handle some friendly competition.

Unboxing
Slap 45 has some really high quality packaging and card stock identical to Cards Against Humanity (Gnarwhal’s other game) the box is compact and has glossy finish. The artwork on the box done by Kellen Jett is beautiful and gives the game a slick, western feel.
The bases have the thickness of coasters which makes them feel durable. They aren’t water resistant, so be sure to leave any drinks off the table when game play starts.

The box comes with everything you see here. No assembly required.

Set Up
If you’ve never played a card game in your life, you’ll still find Slap 45 easy to set up. First you hand out a random base to each member and then the six corresponding gang members. Now you’re ready to play.
Gameplay
Gameplay is simple – each person takes turns dealing one card. You decide whether to slap it or take cover. Nobody knows what the card is going to be until it’s flipped and that can lead to some really tense moments and some misfires. There are 4 different cards that can be flipped
Talkin’ Iron (Revolver) – if you slap this card you must point at the person you wish to shoot. If that person is undercover (their hand is on a base) then the shot misses. If you don’t raise your hand to shoot immediately, the shot misses and the round is over.
Big Gun (Cannons) – this card works just like revolver card above except there’s no way to dodge it. The only way to avoid being shot is to shoot first.
Move! (horses) – if you think your strategy is just to slap until you win, you might want to hold your horses (sorry) – if you slap a horse you get kicked and you lose a gang member. If there’s a horse in play, everyone needs to take cover. The last person to take cover loses a gang member and the round is over
Gold – Gold is a currency card that is recommended to be brought into play after everyone is familiar with the standard gameplay. Gold adds a new dynamic to the game that makes Slap 45 even more interesting. You can claim the gold for yourself by slapping it. If you point and slap, the person who you pointed it to gets the gold. You can also accumulate gold if you’re the one who deals a killing blow to another player. If someone gets killed by a horse, the gold is discarded.

The cards are the same quality as Cards Against Humanity. Which is not surprising since they came from the same printer.

 

The game of Slap 45 ends when there is one player left standing. When there are only two players left, the first person who got killed deals the hand. They can look at the cards and pick which one to deal out to confuse the remaining two. This offers the first person out some petty revenge.

Overview:
I backed Slap 45 on Kickstarter last year for $35. The expected delivery for the game was April 2015, but that was delayed when the quality of the product was not up to Gnarwhal’s standards. I got the game last week and I’m glad that they didn’t rush the game to the masses because I think this could have gone very poorly.
I played this game on Sunday with a bunch of friends. At first they were skeptical, but they learned quickly and we had a blast seeing who would get out first (it was me.) This will easily be a must play at future board game events.

A typical round of Slap .45

What I liked
I liked that Slap 45 is easy to play and easy to explain. Usually it takes us a bit of time to get the hang of games and we break a lot of rules our first time. We didn’t have any issues with Slap 45.

What I didn’t like
It’s not something that I didn’t like, but some people might not like that the game doesn’t last very long. It does sometime get difficult to decide who slapped first and if you’re playing with younger children, it might result in a couple arguments (The manual says that if you can’t decide who slapped within 5 seconds, the round is over. So that’s nice to have)
Slap 45 is a great game that’s really inexpensive compared to other craft board games out there. It’s a fun, fast party game that gets people interacting with each other. I strongly suggest you pick it up if you like card games like this. It’s now available on Amazon for 25 dollars.

The Sphero BB-8 is the cutest Star Wars toy out there. But is it worth its not so cute price tag?

Star Wars Episode 7, The Force Awakens is a movie set 30 years after Return of the Jedi and has sparked mass interest in the series for the first time in 16 years. Directed by JJ Abrams, fans have been given bits and pieces on what the new movie will contain. The show stealer might be the little droid known as BB-8. BB-8 was first seen in the official teaser of the movie and ever since it was revealed that the beach ball droid was a practical effect and not a digital one, it was only a matter of time before someone came out with a remote controlled version of it. Enter the Sphero BB-8 App Controlled Droid.

 

What is it:
A remote controlled device modeled after the new Star Wars Force Awakens droid: BB-8.
Price: 149.99 + Tax
Platform: Android/iOS
I reviewed the Android App.

 

Now it’s important to realize that there are other remote controlled versions of BB-8 out there. There’s a Target exclusive that’s about 10 inches in circumference and about half the price. What sets Sphero apart from the rest is that it’s not really a toy; it’s a robot with a wide range of technology that allows the device to learn over time. Sphero has been making app controlled toys for quite some time. The spheres the size of billiard balls go for about 120 dollars and have a wide range of functions from being controlled by the user to becoming a Roomba like robot, patrolling around an open room.
Per their website, the original Sphero is hackable device that can be programed to do a wide range of things that get kids interested in programming and robotics. Sadly BB-8 does not enjoy the same functionality. BB-8 is essentially a watered down (but more expensive) Sphero 2.0.
Unboxing
BB-8 Right out of the box feels like a premium product. This isn’t some cheap plastic that will crack eventually, it’s made of a high quality polycarbonate that’s water resistant and able to survive a small fall. The box is full of artwork and looks like you’re actually unboxing a real live droid. The foam backing fits like a glove to protect the precious innards from juggling around during shipping. There are no corners cut on the packaging and honestly, if I’m spending 150 bucks on something, everything about it better feel premium.
The contents of the box include a micro USB cable, inductive charging base, BB-8 Sphero and a head to place on top. The instructions are on a one page card that has 4 simple steps to get your new gadget running.


The setup is easy. BB-8 has a decent charge right out of the box so you can play with him as soon as you download the app. Once the app is loaded, you place your phone or tablet next to BB-8 and he connects via Bluetooth. The first time I set it up, it took about 4 minutes for the app to recognize the BB-8. I’m not sure if this had to do with my phone (Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge) or the app itself. Judging from the complaints online, I think it’s my phone.
The App

The drive interface is simple.

The drive interface is simple.

The app is the only way to control the BB-8. Right now there are 3 functions that the app offers:
Drive: this allows you to control your Sphero Directly. You can set the orientation for BB-8, move him around and even enter in a couple of pre made gestures to make him shake his head, run in a figure 8, or spin around. At this time you cannot make your own macros for BB-8. The other Spheros allow the user to make gestures using different apps. There have been attempts to use the other apps on BB-8, but currently only work on iOS versions of the software. I assume it’s only a matter of time before Android users get the same love.
Message – you can record 12 second video messages that you can then view as if BB-8 is projecting them
Patrol – Allows BB-8 to explore on its own. You can track vital information such as acceleration, when it bumps into something, internal temperature, and overall balance. All stats are shown in real time. BB-8 usually runs around aimlessly for a good 5 minutes or so before it starts to get a good idea of where it is and where to go.The good thing is that the range on this thing is 100ft so BB-8 can explore for a long time before you need to retrieve him. It would be really cool if you could recall him and have him come back to where he started.
Learning curve:
Sphero’s BB-8 is difficult to learn how to control right out of the box. I took him out, downloaded the app and took him around and felt that he didn’t listen to a single thing that I told him to do. Then I watched the tutorial video on YouTube (there’s no further instruction outside of that one sheet of paper) on how to control BB-8. After watching the video I was able to get BB-8 to control better and could eventually have him weave in and out of chair legs, up carpet and away from my scared, yet curious pittbull.
The app is ridiculously easy to use and it helps a ton that you don’t have to go searching for BB-8 yourself by scanning your Bluetooth list. The fact that I was up and running in less than 10 minutes was a huge plus.
Overall:
Sphero wins for best Star Wars toy of all time. This is pound for pound the best scale representation of a Star Wars character there ever was. Short of someone inventing a real life lightsaber, I think BB-8 will be the best for years to come.
BB-8 does have its shortcomings however; right now he’s very limited in functionality compared to the other Sphero projects. According to the box, BB-8 will learn over time and also be upgradable in the future, but as it stands, it’s a very expensive remote controlled toy. Also some people have mentioned that the video advertising BB-8 makes it seem that the sounds come from the Sphero itself. That is not the case; the sound effects and video all come from your phone. For some people this is a deal breaker. For me it’s not. I seriously didn’t know he was to make sounds until someone mentioned it. It’s cool that he makes sounds, but I like the option to turn it off.
Also my BB-8 gets dirty pretty easy. I’ve been using him for a couple days and the little wheels under his head have managed to pick up some dirt and hair from my relatively clean hardwood floors. BB-8 does have issues with carpet, but unless you have 70’s shag carpeting, you’ll be able to traverse by turning up BB-8’s speed.
If you have pets who like to bite things, I would strongly recommend playing somewhere where the pets can’t get to BB-8. When I fired him up my dog who loves to chase balls became very curious with BB-8 and if I hadn’t intervened, he would have put some serious damage to my new 150 dollar toy. This isn’t a dig at Sphero, just a head’s up to those with pets. I’m sure cats and smaller dogs wouldn’t be too big of a threat.

A new foe or ally.

A new foe or ally.

I really like my BB-8. I’m hoping in the near future there will be more functionality as the movie approaches. I’m more patient than most. A lot of people are underwhelmed by BB-8 simply because they were expecting and interactive robot that functions independently from the user. I’m a little more patient and I’m sure as more people get them, it will be easier to get more use out of him.
From what it looks like, Disney and J.J. Abrams have been very careful as to not let the merchandise spoil the movie 3 months before its due out. When Episode 1 was released, one of the character’s death was spoiled in the motion picture soundtrack. I like this approach as I’ve been avoiding any key spoilers on the internet for the past year. This could very well be the reasoning BB-8 is so limited right now.
I would predict that after the movie comes out, or at least as the movie draws closer to release, The Sphero BB-8 will be a very hot commodity. As of this article, Sphero BB-8s are very easy to get on Amazon for close to retail. The latest restock should make it even easier to find at your local Disney Store or where Spheros are sold. I found mine at Marbles: The Brain Store which specializes in critical thinking toys for all ages.
So should you buy one? That depends – if you have an Android or iOS device made in the last year, you love playing around with new technology, then yes. Buy one right now.
If you don’t, then you might want to explore the cheaper Target version that uses an IR remote and just runs around as you control it. This is a big kid’s toy so a child over the age of 10 and interested in technology is going to get the most use out of it. Anybody younger or not as creative probably will be more content with something lower quality and with less functionality. The Sphero BB-8 is an awesome piece of technology. The only question is will the people who buy him appreciate the quality of the technology to drop $150 on him. Right now it looks like the general public feels he’s overpriced. I feel that he just needs to grow into the big shoes of R2-D2.

 

Rainbow Six: Siege is the newest entry in the Rainbow Six series, and definitely deviates from traditional gameplay by a bit. Ubisoft now has you teaming up with 4 other operators and sieging (hence the name) a small area in order to kill enemies/disable bombs/confiscate biohazardous material. With gameplay that feels reminiscent of Counterstrike, but also a bit like Call of Duty.

253fa6e

Rainbow Six: Siege is currently in beta until 10/1, and is free. You can get a key by logging into uPlay and sacrificing your first born. I want to take a quick sidebar and say FUCK all these different launchers everyone keeps making. Let Steam handle your shit, because they have their shit together. I don’t want to dwell too much on bugs and network issues with RS:S right now, because it is a beta and won’t be out for a few more months, but I will say that there are some massive network issues right now, between host migration bullshit, games ending prematurely, and other technical issues. But today I am just going to focus on gameplay, why it’s good, why it’s bad, and everything between. I want to keep it kind of short too, so I can get back to playing!

First let me give you the rundown of exactly what Rainbow Six: Siege is about. It is a 5v5 arena with most of the action taking place within one building. The three levels available are a regular house, a kind of training base building, and an embassy/consulate. While you are confined to this one structure, there are multiple levels and plenty of entrances. Windows, weak walls, garages, etc, all provide options for you to burst into guns blazing. Or maybe you want to go sneaky beaky like? Rappel up the side of the building! The rappeling is pretty interesting. You have a full range of movement and can hang upside down. You could coordinate with a teammate to completely devastate every window into a main room if you felt like it. Attackers get small remote controlled cars and can scout the area to see where dangers lie, and defenders can shoot them or place hazards in the way. Rainbow Six: Siege has a sort of class system, where you have different ‘Operators’ and each have different abilities. My personal favorite has a shield, and he can place a breaching charge on a wall that fires a cluster grenade into the next room. This coupled with another operator who has a sledgehammer that destroys walls means you can burst onto the scene and kill everyone before they know what hit them. Each operators has a useful item, heartbeat sensors, electronics disablers, stronger shields, armor bags, etc.

The gunplay is fairly standard, tending a bit more to the realistic side of things. 2 shots will likely kill an unarmored target, and grenades have a pretty high kill radius. Recoil and spray patterns are pretty high, encouraging close quarters combat, rather than sniping from afar. Clever use of explosives or the sledgehammer let you knock down walls and gain quick access to your targets rearsides. One of my favorite things to do is shoot small peepholes into the drywall and shoot people through the wall. Rainbow Six: Siege lets you nearly fully destroy your environment, with the exception of framework and cement walls. A bomb went off in a room I was in last night and I suddenly found myself exposed to enemies in the basement below me, shooting through floor joists!

rs1

I’ve said enough about the positives, so on to what I don’t like. I don’t like the amount of time in between rounds. It is a best of 5 for a full match. Each round has about 45 seconds of picking characters/guns/spawn points, 15 seconds of loading, a minute of scouting and prepping defenses, and then about 4 minutes of sieging, more if you plant a defuser and wait for it. After a round, theres 30 seconds or so of score screen. So all in all, 5-6 minutes for each round, 20-30 minutes for a full match. But a massive amount of time could be cut out of that by not making you repick characters and guns in between. Sometimes you need to switch so you can counter certain operators, but this could be done with an optional class switch in a 15 second interim time. If I pick Sledge, I want to play him every time until I need to switch. Matches could be changed to a Bo7, and stay about the same length in total. Another issue is leaver abuse. While the final product might have this, currently folks will leave as soon as they die, because you just have to watch your team. There are things you can do while dead, but most people won’t wait. This is a tactical shooter, and sometimes you die early. There needs to be maybe a 10 minute match cooldown if you leave.

rs2

I do feel like once that game is out and people have maps memorized, that there will be a shift in balance. Not sure which side will come out ahead, but time will tell. Right now, I’m never sure whats on the other side of a wall because I don’t remember the floor plan. As a defender, eventually people will fall into optimal layouts and realize major choke points. I feel like Rainbow Six: Siege could benefit form a bit of randomization in the layouts. Maybe have 2-3 variations for each map. Slight enough to throw off attackers, but similar enough to not make it an entirely different map. Currently there are day/night versions of each one, so they kind of already do this. Another issue is the size of each map. There is a lot of outside space, but no action in it. Defenders can’t go outside or they get spotted automatically for the enemy. There is only one rifle that has a powerful enough scope to snipe, so rarely does anyone stay outside.

All in all, Rainbow Six: Siege is a lot of fun. I couldn’t give it a rating with such little play time, but at a price of 0$, I have certainly received my moneys worth.

1403289613-main-art-wide

That’s right. I have NEVER played a Metal Gear game. I do have fond memories of reading walkthroughs of certain chapters back when Playstation magazine was a thing, so I do know a leetle bit about the plot, but other than that, I don’t know much. I know there is someone named Solid Snake (who I assumed is the main character). Also there is someone named Liquid Snake? Something about cloning. I know there was a villain named Revolver Ocelot (I think he was a villain?). I also know there are some kind of big robots named Metal Gears or something like that.

2015-09-10_00008

Anyways, MGS to me has always seemed like a modern military spy game, similar to Splinter Cell, or maybe a modern Assassin’s Creed. And if I hadn’t played the prologue of MGSV, I might have still thought that for a few minutes. But how fucking wrong was I? What. The. Fuck…?

 

(HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD)

 

2015-09-09_00002The prologue is crazy as shit. The opening cutscene is crazy as shit. Set to the tune of “The Man Who Sold the World” by Nirvana, you wake up in a hospital bed after a coma from 9 years ago. I’m not going to go into many details, because although it’s crazy, it is also awesome to experience. I will say this, you fight some crazy telekinetic floating dude in a gasmask and also a big giant fire guy.

2015-09-09_000052015-09-09_00004

I had really hoped through the plot of the game that I might learn about these things, but I’m 50 hours in and I have no fucking clue who or what they are. But I guess they can kind of be considered boss fights. Ones you can’t win. I felt a little helpless.

 

So, after the prologue, things start making a little more sense. We find out that Snake is friends with Revolver Ocelot in this game, and you are building an army on a big oil rig base together. Mother Base! This leads you into one of my favorite things, one of the things that convinced me to buy the game, and that is base building. I love upgrading facilities, managing recruits and soldiers, and seeing it progress in the actual game. The interfaces for doing so are a little wonky at first, but eventually you kind of figure it out. MGSV on PC suffers from the mouse not working in menus, and having to use the keyboard for everything, so that’s a negative to me, but one that is able to be overcome. It isn’t just the base building menus that do it either. The map in game is the same way. After 50 hours, I’m getting decent at it, but I really don’t understand why I couldn’t just click what I want with the mouse. Whatever.

2015-09-12_00006

   GAMEPLAY

    Actual gameplay is very fun, and very rewarding. Obviously, MGS being a stealth game, you can choose to go loud or stealth a mission. Stealth is the preferred choice for me, and what I would assume most of the playerbase. But you can choose to bring a Light Machine gun and a rocket launcher, in leui of a silenced pistol and silenced sniper rifle. The main issue I hold with the stealth, is the same problem most games have with stealth, although the AI will do smart things sometimes, they are still pants on head retarded most of the time. I understand that a realistic stealth game would be fucking impossible, but I shouldn’t be able to crawl around and skyjack people into the beyond while I’m 60 feet away from the enemy. Like I said though, realistic stealth might just be a pipe dream of mine. At least you can’t walk right in front of enemies like in Skyrim. The AI in MGSV is actually pretty smart. They change shifts at morning and night, will notice if things are out of place, and will stay alert for a pretty long time if they sense something is afoot.

2015-09-11_00002

The gun system is rad, too. I love being able to customize weaponry, and although it is hidden behind a shitload of side operations, MGSV let’s me customize weapons more than any other game I’ve ever played. I can put a silencer on a sniper rifle, and also change the magazine to a bigger version. I can make the stock a shorter one, to give me more mobility, and put on a smaller scope, to help me conceal myself more. I can choose whether to use lethal or non lethal rounds, as well. Non lethal rounds will knock enemies out, allowing you to take them and add them to your army. Although sometimes I just want to slit everyone’s throats for shooting at my dog. You can do whatever you want. The more you kill, the bloodier you get. Pretty cool if you ask me.

2015-09-12_00005So far, the missions are pretty interesting as well. Although you end up visiting some places two or three times, the world is open, and it meshes well. Main story missions have much more content and depth than the side ops, as you would guess, but I still find myself taking on side missions just to get XP and materials. One issue I’ve got is the lack of a quick fast travel. At a certain stage of the game, you can spawn with a jeep or tank to ride in, which helps, but it still takes a while to get between points. Lot’s of uncrossable rock faces mean you will be backtracking quite often. The helicopter can pick you up and take you to other spots on the map, but unfortunately the landing zones are really spread out. Some areas don’t have one within a 10 or 15 minute run. Maybe modern games have held my hand a bit, I suppose. But with these huge open worlds, there needs to be some way to get around quicker.

2015-09-12_00003There is also a multiplayer feature, with Metal Gear Online coming in a few months (no idea what it entails though). You can raid other peoples bases to try to steal materials, and they can raid you back if you get caught. I haven’t done it yet, but it seems to be kinda like Clash of Clans for mobile platforms. It might actually be pretty cool to be sneaking around with another human looking for you.

 

CONTROLS

One of the things I’ve noticed about modern games is the homogenization of controls. In 90% of games, R2 or RT is the drive button, B or Circle or Right click is the back button, Square or X or space is jump, etc. But MGSV switches it up in a few places. There is no jump button, instead you can use the context key to climb over walls, or press space while running to dive. The dive looks like a jump, but actually doesn’t do much to get you over obstacles. MGSV is a third person shooter, but you can switch to first person. It took me a few hours, but once I found that out, I never used third person again. Your target reticule is HUGE in 3rd person, but in 1st, you know exactly where your bullet is going. In a situation where you need to hit 3 guys in the head within 5 seconds, you need 1st person. It is nice being able to switch, though.

2015-09-11_00005

Driving controls are way fucked though. The jeep is alright, even though I wish you didn’t go into time freeze slow down mode when spotted in a vehicle. You can’t shoot, so who cares if I’m spotted? I’m just gonna high tail it out! The tank is just complete doo-doo. I used it once, got caught on rocks, spun around three times, and gave up, swearing to not use a tank again.

STORY2015-09-13_00001

Here is where this game really shines. The story is nuts. I think. There are some absolutely wild characters and maaaan they are cliche. But it’s in a good way. This game is like The Expendables: THE GAME. Incredibly cheesy lines, “This is an automatic pistol, save those fancy moves for the revolvers” (said by Revolver Ocelot). Stuff like that. It’s really funny, in a serious way. The game isn’t exactly a comedy, but you will be amused, I hope. I’ve heard there are some major plot twists, but I haven’t gotten to them yet.

2015-09-10_00003

The characters are all pretty interesting. Although the men all speak like Christian Bale in the Batman movies. The only chick character, aptly named Quiet, is a mute. She is also dressed like a stripper, which has caused a lot of grief from some gamers, but there is a story reason behind it. Fanservice? Maybe, but let’s not forget other Metal Gears have had naked buff dudes running around.

2015-09-10_00010I left this image full sized, because it shows how nice the graphics are. A lot of the environment is boring desert, but some of the areas look absolutely stunning. Especially at night, lighting from small lamps and flashlights adds a new shade to already beautiful places.

All said and done, I am really enjoying MGSV.  It’s making me really want to go back and play some of the older entries, and I probably will as soon as I finish it. So far, I’d give MGSV a solid 8.5/10, possibly a 9.

-rageriley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Platform: Wii U
Price: $59.99

Overview:
Super Mario Maker is a video game that we’ve been waiting for since Super Mario Bros. First came out thirty years ago. The objective of this game is simple: use a selection of items to make your very own Mario Level. If you don’t want to create, that’s not a problem: simply play through someone else’s levels that have been uploaded. As of this article there’s thousands of levels that range from very simple, to almost impossible.

Some levels can get pretty hairy

Some levels can get pretty hairy

Gameplay:
You use your Wii U Gamepad exclusively in Super Mario Maker which works great for me, because the Fiancée and I share the TV so when she’s watching her shows, I can play on the couch. Creating levels is as easy as taking items and placing them on the grid paper with your stylus. Levels can be as simple or complex as you want and the only limit is your imagination. Initially the items available to you were only released in waves so you would have to wait 9 days for everything to be available to you. This has been fixed with a day one patch that makes all content available at once, but you have to play constantly for the content to be released “early.” Or you can just advance the internal clock of the Wii U forward a day each time until you unlock everything.
You can choose between 4 different Mario styles: Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. Each style has different gameplay mechanics that you can take into consideration when building your levels. For example, I had a running level where you hit springs to jump. This part was broken in the New Super Mario Bros because you can pick up the springs. I switched to classic Mario and it worked fine.

The styles and mechanics change with each level.

Once you’re satisfied with how your level is built, you can choose to upload it for other people to play. To make sure there aren’t any “impossible” levels out there, Super Mario Maker forces you to clear the level yourself before being able to upload it. This also ensures that you didn’t put anything into your level that can break the gameplay incidentally.
If you don’t like making levels, that’s not a problem as there are thousands of pre-made levels for your gaming pleasure. Some are made by Nintendo and others are made by fellow players. There are challenges that you can take to tackle each level or you can just choose specific levels to play. For challenges, you have the 10 Mario and 100 Mario Challenge. The challenge has you complete 8 stages with 10 lives or 16 stages with 100 lives. Every time you play, the levels are different. You can earn up to 3 extra lives in each level that you play.

supermariomaker-campaign

100 Mario Challenge is really difficult on the “Normal” setting

Amiibo:
Do you have Amiibos? Well you can use them in Super Mario Maker. Each Amiibo unlocks different sprites and content for your levels. I only opened up my 3D Classic Mario and I was greeted with a special power up that allows Mario to spin around and fly. Also I can unlock CRT mode which makes the screen look like the old TV of yore with scanlines and everything.  The only issue is that some of the rare Amiibos like Little Mac and Villager will make it very difficult for players to have those sprites in the game as they’re the only way you can unlock the content. Nintendo has stated that they’ll be finding ways for fans to get their favorite sprite in the game, but that hasn’t been announced yet.

scan lines and everything!

scan lines and everything!

 

What I don’t like:
It’s hard to find things not to like about Super Mario Maker, but the one glaring issue is that you can’t categorize your levels or search by category. I would love to put my level under mazes or flag it as extra difficult so that players who hate super hard levels can avoid mine or make it really easy for others to find. The ranking of your level is determined by the number of stars people have given it. After you complete a level, you have the option to star it. Starring a level allows the creator to upload more levels (you can only upload 10 at the start) and it adds it to your favorites if you feel like playing it again sometime. While the system works in practice, it’s still hard to find newer levels and determine if a level is going to be good or not until you actually play the game.

What I do like:
The game is really simple and straightforward. You don’t need a degree in game design in order to develop levels, but if you are a game designer, you can make some really rad levels. Also with new levels being uploaded every day, you’ll have a really hard time running out of content. My hope is that most people keep coming up with original levels and don’t make lazy remakes of other popular levels. Also I like that I can use the Wii U Gamepad as a separate screen. Splatoon was a great game, but lack of extra screen prevented me from truly enjoying it because the TV was being used by someone else.

Super Mario Maker is a great game and I highly recommend picking it up. If you like Mario at all, you need to have this game in your library. This game should have been a launch title, but obviously hindsight is 20/20. What matters now is that this game is available to purchase and it will probably be one of the most influential Mario games of all time.

I recently purchased the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition for S6 from Samsung directly. This is a virtual reality headset powered by Oculus. After 3 solid days of testing, I can give an accurate rundown of this device.

I should preface this review by stating that I only paid $99 for it through a deal on Slickdeals. The regular price of the Gear VR is $199.It should be noted that the Samsung Gear VR I purchased isn’t intended for the average consumer. As a matter of fact, Samsung has you click 3 boxes acknowledging that you are buying an unfinished product that might not work as intended from time to time before you can proceed to checkout. They also stated that returns weren’t accepted.  I kept this in mind when I was playing with the headset.

Laundry list of what to expect with your Gear VR

Laundry list of what to expect with your Gear VR

Build Quality and Comfort

The Gear VR is made of out premium plastic with two glass lenses, a touch pad on the right side with a back button and volume rockers. The goggles have a comfortable foam padding that keeps the device from pressing against your nose and face. The foam also serves to keep the light out and provide an immersive experience. The back strap and head strap are removable and can be adjusted to be worn comfortably. Both straps have a leatherette padding that gives a premium feel. Also this Gear VR has a micro USB slot that allows your phone to charge as you’re using it. I wear glasses and I was able to wear them while having my face in the Gear VR. I used this device for about 20-30 minutes each sitting and didn’t notice any fatigue in my neck or shoulders. I did notice that my eyes would dry out after a bit if I didn’t have my glasses on. I’m sure I could sit through a full movie before I would get uncomfortable.

The headset is a nice clean white

The headset is a nice clean white

First time use:
Using the Gear VR is really simple; you just put your phone in and the Oculus software automatically starts to install. You’ll need to create an Oculus account and add a credit card to use the services. Once the setup is completed, you’ll be guided through a quick tutorial to using your device. The start menu allows you to start up frequently used apps, go to the store, and view your library of apps as well. The start menu is hosted in a full 360 degree lobby that gives you an immersive experience.

The set makes you look goofy, but the inside is cool.

The set makes you look goofy, but the inside is cool.

Apps:
The issue with new technology is that applications are hard to come by. It’s a chicken and the egg scenario – for a device to sell, you need apps. To get more developers to write apps, you need people using your device. Samsung has partnered with Oculus to get a decent amount of applications on their device, however, most of them are glorified tech demos. Here’s a rundown of a couple of the ones that stood out:
Oculus Cinema (Free):
Oculus Cinema is a video view application. On any other device, the app would be a basic video player, but with Oculus the video player puts you in an empty theater and you can watch movies on the big screen. You can choose different locations such as a home theater, ant village (you’re a tiny ant and watching the movie on the phone), Large theater, the moon, and the void which is just a large screen on a black background.
Jurassic World (Free):
Jurassic World is a two minute tech demo that you can show your friends. You’re sitting on a log watching a Brontosaurus wake up and eat leaves. The coolest part is that it’s in 3D and I actually caught myself looking away when it came up to my face. There’s nothing more about it, but it’s cool to show your friends.
Oculus 360 Photos (Free):
Oculus 360 photos is probably the best non-gaming application for the Gear VR. There are about 50-60 photos that you can view in the 360 degree environment. The photos of action events tend to fall short since the image breaks in certain parts, but the 3D generated art is stunning. Photos are of various locations like on top of the Eiffel Tower to a farm witnessing a UFO abduction.

The 3D works really well for this experience. It's like sitting in a theater.

The 3D works really well for this experience. It’s like sitting in a theater.

Games:
Any new technology that comes out needs to serve at least some purpose that sets it apart from any other gadget that you have in the house. The games that are available on the Gear VR are not some easy port of Angry Birds; they are well thought out and utilize the features of the device. Games vary from free to 10 dollars and have a variety of mechanics that range from basic puzzle solving to immersive 3D adventures like Legend of Zelda. There are plenty of games on the shop, but since I pay for my own titles to review, I was limited temporarily to free titles and demos:
Esper ($4.99) – A basic puzzle solving game in the same vain as portal – you’re a voiceless test subject who has ESP and you need to learn how to control it. I liked this game because when you use the touch pad on the right side of the Gear VR, it’s like you’re actually using ESP. The game is really basic, but utilizes the Gear VR to create a fun game.
Proton Pulse ($2.99) – A 3D Brick breaker where you control a glass paddle and hit a ball back to break bricks. Nothing too special about this game, but for the price, it’s a nice proof of concept game, but you can get dizzy as you use your head to move the paddle back and forth.
Temple Run VR (Free) – this is one of the only titles I actually recognize by name alone. Temple Run VR is the exact same concept as the Android and iOS versions, except its first person and the environment is 360 degrees. This is one of the better games that I have played because it gives you a real feel for what the Gear VR is capable of. You get a sense of speed as the game moves forward and you can also look behind you to see the monsters chasing behind you. Of course you need to be facing forward to avoid any of the obstacles.

This is a screen shot from Temple Run VR

This is a screen shot from Temple Run VR

What I don’t like:
I don’t like that the device has a habit of overheating too easily. This didn’t happen with movies or viewing basic applications, but when viewing 3D intensive games, the device would clonk out within minutes of launch stating that the device was too hot.

Also the lack of system selling apps really prevents me from recommending the Samsung Gear VR. Especially at $199. I got mine for a heck of a deal and I love it – and paying $100 less than the going rate kept me from asking too much out of my new bleeding edge gadget. Not to mention, this only works on 2 phones – the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. There’s another model that fits only the Note 4 and there’s rumors that they’ll be releasing another Gear VR for the Note 5 and S6 Edge +.

Since the display is limited to the Galaxy S6 Edge, you’re still going to see some of what users like to call SDE – the Screen Door Effect. Basically since your face is so close to the display, you’re still seeing individual pixels despite the massive PPI of 577. This doesn’t come up too often, but you’ll need computer rendered video moving at 60FPS for it not to be noticeable. Live action video takes a mega hit because most video is 1080p and when halved, it becomes 540p which is really noticeable when it’s right in your face.

Some games require a Bluetooth controller which the Gear VR is VERY picky with. My Moga Pocket wasn’t able to be recognized by the system so I’ll have to spend 30 dollars for one that is.
What I like:
It’s a VR headset. The sky is the limit to what this thing can do once I start to crack it open and play with custom applications only meant for people with PCs and Oculus units. Out of the box it’s kind of lame – but if you’re a tinkerer and like to color outside the lines, this is a perfect starter unit for those who don’t have the beefy PC to run Oculus at home. Plus it’s portable; I’m getting married in 3 weeks and I plan on taking this on the plane to our honeymoon. Big screen movies on the plane!
Overall the Samsung Gear VR is off to a wonderful start, but it’s not there yet. It will probably be another year or so before it’s ready for consumer hands. And even then, what applications will be done with it? Will it fall flat like Nintendo’s Virtual Boy? I hope not because I really want Virtual Reality to work – I hope that the people behind Oculus will come up with some killer applications that will make more and more people want a VR headset for their own. Like what iPad did for tablets.

Exploding Kittens is an easy to learn game that allows up 9 people the ability to destroy each other without leaving a mess. Each game typically lasts 15-20 minutes depending on how many people you have playing. We played with 4 people (1 deck) and 9 people (2 decks)
Brief rundown of a round of Exploding Kittens:
One person shuffles the cards to make sure that there is 1 less exploding kitten than players and also ensure that each player has 1 diffuser card. Then they pass out 4 cards per player. The player to the left of the dealer goes first. Gameplay is a little different than most games because each player plays a card first then draws at the end of their turn. There is no limit of cards that the player can have in their hand. It’s a combination of UNO and WAR.
There are 6 action cards: Skip, Attack, Nope, Shuffle, See the Future, and Favor

A typical hand of Exploding Kittens involves goats and rainbow barfing cats.

A typical hand of Exploding Kittens involves goats and rainbow barfing cats.

Skip – Allows the player to skip their turn – this means that you don’t need draw a card and risk getting an exploding kitten
Attack – Similar to skip, except the next player has to play 2 rounds instead of one.
Nope – Cancels out every action except Defuse and Exploding Kitten. You can Nope a Nope as well to keep the action active.
Shuffle – Shuffles the deck
See the Future – allows you to see the top 3 cards on your deck.
Favor – you can have 1 player of your choosing give you a card of their choice.
There are also 5 different cards that have no action. If you collect 2 of the same card, you can pick any random card from another player’s hand. If you collect 3 of the same card, you can pick a specific card from another player’s hand. You can also combine multiple Nope cards as well.
If you draw an exploding kitten and you have a Defuse Card, you can prevent the kitten from exploding then put the card back into the deck. If you do not have a defuse card, the kitten explodes and you’re removed from the game. The last person standing wins.
What I like about this game:
It’s not complicated. The game takes 5 minutes tops to grasp its concept and then after that you start to develop some really interesting strategies.
It’s fast: Each game that we played lasted 15 minutes at the most which meant that we got a lot of games in and everyone who played was able to develop their own strategies.
What I didn’t like about this game:
The game felt too easy: There needs to be something other than the Defuse card to prevent the Exploding Kitten from exploding. I feel that this game could have a couple of other elements to add depth to the game. We might make some house rules where the Kitten has a chance of exploding by rolling a six sided die. This is the first edition so I’m sure expansion packs will provide more challenging.

Overall Thoughts:
Exploding Kittens is a well thought out game that is easy to learn and can be a lot of fun depending on the experience of the players. We definitely had a great time seeing how well we could hide the Exploding Kitten in the deck. We also made the game even more interesting by placing the Kitten right on top and making it obvious that we were doing it. Exploding Kittens is one of those games that you can play while drinking and not have to worry about losing track of what’s going on.

A great game to play with friends

A great game to play with friends