Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nintendo 3DS: First Impressions


This. Thing. Is. Amazing. Seriously, it’s so much better than I thought it possibly could be. I had rather low expectations for this handheld at first. Who can blame me? The Nintendo 3DS has one touch screen, one 3D screen, and 3 cameras: a recipe for gimmicky B.S. However, I wanted to be fair, so I reserved judgement until I actually got my hands on one. The Nintendo 3DS blew my preconceived notions out of the water.
If you’re like me, the first thing you’re curious about is the 3D screen. How can an image appear three dimensional without glasses? The 3DS uses what’s called a “parallax barrier” display. It basically works like this:


The position of the barrier can change to allow for different intensities of the three dimensional effect. It is fully adjustable, so you can choose to view it in 2D, mild 3D, extreme 3D, or anywhere in between. This is a great feature because if you normally get headaches from 3D, you can choose a gentler setting and still enjoy three dimensional gameplay. If you are less sensitive to such headaches, you can experience a level of visual depth that puts most 3D televisions to shame. For each intensity, there is an ideal distance to hold the screen away from your face, and once you find it you’re rewarded with pure eye candy. (There are some prototype displays in the works that use cameras to detect the position of your face and adjust the barrier position automatically.)

Although the display resolution is only 400x240, the bold colors and amazing 3D make it seem much sharper than that. The OpenGL support that’s built into the GPU can create not only 3D shapes, but 3D textures as well. I also appreciate the fact that you don’t need to haul around expensive stereoscopic glasses. (This technology would be great in a phone or a laptop, and is ideal for mobile devices in general.) Most importantly, it didn’t rape my eyes or melt my brain like most movies do in theaters. (Yes Resident Evil 3D, I’m referring to you!)

The controls of the 3DS are also stellar. The analog stick felt very precise and smooth. The touch screen interface felt as polished and refined as many newer smartphones, and it has a nifty anti-glare coating that gives it a matte look. The device features multiple accelerometers and gyroscopes that felt natural to use when we demoed one of the augmented reality games.

Speaking of which, the augmented reality is pretty neat. There are two cameras on the back of the Nintendo 3DS that allow it to take three dimensional photos. It can use pictures of you and your friends as faces for enemies in games. Not only that, but it can change their facial expressions and move their mouths!

The main purpose of augmented reality is to combine the game play with your real world surroundings. The 3DS does this better than any phone I have ever tried. Phones and tablets that support augmented reality fail to truly immerse you because you are looking at a three dimensional world through a two dimensional display. When the 3D slider is just right, the depth of the three dimensional effect perfectly matches reality and the stunning level of immersion is unlike any other gaming system out there. We played a shooter game in which you had to aim the device at evil little helicopter people to shoot them down. It was definitely more of a mini game, but I think there is huge potential here for very unique first person shooters.


The Nintendo 3DS has many other features, so I won’t get into all of them, but here’s what you need to know:
  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • 3D movies
  • Video chat
  • At some point in the future there will be live 3D streaming from Netflix!
Full disclosure: as a general rule, I hate Nintendo. Passionately. The only other Nintendo I have ever wanted was the original Game Boy Advance. I want the 3DS so much more! Nintendo has created something truly special. If they can deliver innovative games that take advantage of the hardware, the 3DS could be a revolution in gaming.

New Wallpapers

Here are some new wallpapers for everybody, courtesy of me and Leonardo Da Vinci. I couldn’t sleep last night and Pixlr seemed like a good waste of time. I made one with the logo on the bottom (for all the Linux and Mac people) and one with the logo at the top. (for everyone else)
1280x800

1280x800

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Super Meat Boy Review


Flash games have somewhat been a guilty pleasure of mine in the past. I knew they were stupid and a waste of time, but recently when I saw the news of Super Meat Boy being released, I was intrigued and tried the prototype flash game simply titled “Meat Boy”. I have to be honest, I wasn’t too impressed and did not even want to finish the short game. Steam later had a Holiday sale offering Super Meat Boy for just $3.00. I just couldn’t resist trying it. I was quick to realize that the game difficult. I died more times on the first world than any other game I’ve ever played. I was impressed by the difficulty and controls from the very start, but still didn’t blow me away. At least that’s how it was at the beginning. After completing the full Light World (the main/easier part of the game) I knew that this was the game I’ve been waiting for since the rise of 3D gaming.


Gameplay

9.5



Super Meat Boy is a two-dimensional platformer that can induces comatose rage. Your abilities include running, walking, jumping, and jumping off walls. Simple right? Your goal is to use these abilities to get through hoards of saws and other traps that instantly kill you and finally reach your love, Bandage Girl. Besides, health is for noobs anyway.

What makes the game so great though? This sounds like a typical “rescue the princess” game dating back to Mario. What’s so awesome about the gameplay is that the controls are so damn solid. I’ve never played a game that controls this smooth. I’ve also never played a game that’s this hard before. The combination of control and difficulty is amazing! Usually when you play a game for difficulty it has to cheat you out of beating it with some cheap gimmick or enemies that just won’t die. In Super Meat Boy I almost never felt this way, it was always my fault for losing. This made winning the best feeling in the world because you know how hard you worked and deserve to move on to the next level. Death is not much of a set back as there is no loading/down time between dying and starting over so you don’t lose much progress, especially considering how short each level is. The game even rewards your failures by showing all of your deaths in the end replay.

The game is definitely catered towards a more old-school gamer audience. If you are a casual gamer Super Meat Boy might not be for you as it is extremely difficult.


Video / Audio

9.0



Danny Baranowsky is the man behind the soundtrack of the game, and he did a damn good job. There is usually one track for each world in the game with a slight change for the dark world version. The music is extremely retro, catchy, and unique for each zone. There aren’t too many sounds during the actual gameplay aside from the splat Meat Boy makes when he touches things but in this case, less is more. The title screen with the announcer yelling “Super Meat Boy!” with incredible music in the background is both hysterical and awesome. Of course my favorite effect has to be the announcer’s “Warp Zone!” when you guessed it, you enter a warp zone.

The video, much like the music, is made to look retro and at many times is obviously inspired by specific retro games. Almost all of the cut scenes reference classic games like Castlevania, Megaman, and Street Fighter. While the graphics of the game are not Crisis 2 quality, it fits its own unique retro style. This is incredibly evident in the many warp zones where Meat Boy is warped into a more retro dimension, sometimes even in black and white.


Story

6.5



As amazing as everything else is, there is not much of a story in the game. This is of course to be expected for a game paying tribute to retro style games. Super Meat Boy has about the same story as NES games. Bad guy (Dr. Fetus) steals princess (Bandage Girl) and the hero (Meat Boy) has to rescue her. I have no problems with this and a story would be weird on a game like this anyway, but that still does not justify giving this game a high score in the story section.


Content

9.0



Super Meat Boy along with having incredibly fun and rewarding gameplay also has an incredible amount of content to keep you satisfied with your buy. First of all, the game is about $15.00, but I personally found it for about $3.00. For that price you can usually expect a short single player campaign. Instead, what you get is a ton of entertainment for your buck. The game contains over 300 extremely difficult levels. These levels take no longer than 45 seconds each to complete, but expect to be spending a lot more time than that actually completing each level. There are also online leaderboards that keep time on each level that you can compare with your friends or the world. There is a slight problem with some people hacking their scores for impossible times, but it works fairly well besides that.

Each light world in the game also includes a boss at the end. These aren’t really a big part of the game, but are a nice additional feature to the large amount of platforming content. After you get the par time for each Light World level, you unlock the Dark World counterpart of that level. This level is a much harder version of the Light World level. The creators made enough changes to the Dark World to make sure it wasn’t like playing the same level though.

After completing the game, there really isn't that much to do unless you're into trying to better your time on each level. Don’t be discouraged by this though. I personally have 38 hours of gameplay after completing the game 100% (technically 106%) and some of the steam achievements. Some of which are beating an entire world without dying once. So far I’ve gotten the achievement for not dying in Hell and am now working on Rapture, so for hardcore gamers you can expect a ton of game time on your profile if you try to attempt these close to impossible achievements.

Team Meat included some other Indy game characters to play around with as well. Each character controls differently and usually has a unique ability. Sometimes if you get stuck on a level, you might want to change to another character to see if he’ll have better chances.

Super Meat Boy has been patched several times and will implement the Level Editor for the computer version sometime soon (although it is taking forever) and levels for XBLA are constantly being added.


Huevos Factor

10



I have to admit this is one of my favorite games of all time. The game blends every element of retro games so perfectly that it hits a nostalgia nerve, while also giving you an incredibly fun and rewarding experience. While right now I have put it down, once the level editor is released I will once again cause my fingers to cramp from running Meat Boy into countless saws all night long. If you don’t have this game, you are missing out on one of the best experiences you can have while gaming. Super Meat Boy is pure gaming Nirvana.


Breakdown:
Gameplay

9.5

Video / Audio

9.0

Story

6.5

Content

9.0

Huevos Factor

10.0




Total

9.0




Introductions: Chris

Hey guys my name is Chris. I’m a bit late to the show but have been meaning to jump on board for quite some time now. I’ve been playing video games since I was about three years old so I love to see games evolve, while also having deep respect for the classics. People worry about rose tinted glasses when it comes to old games but I usually don’t have to fear it because I am constantly playing my childhood games and see how they compare with today’s.

My first gaming console was the TurboGrafx-16 system, but don’t worry about that too much, I don’t know much about it either. I then moved on to the SNES, N64, GameCube, Xbox, Wii, and the Xbox 360. I also have had a long history with computer games.

I happen to be brothers with one of the site’s co-founders, Ryan, but that definitely doesn’t mean we have the same views, but we do share the same respect for video games. While I enjoy the Xbox 360, I find my favorite games on the computer and older systems. At the time of writing this, I am playing through every console Zelda game and loving it. Even though the Wii is bashed on by hardcore gamers quite a bit, I find one of my favorite games to play with friends on it (Super Smash Bros. Brawl). My favorite games would have to be The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and Starcraft 2. This doesn’t mean that I dislike first person shooters or any other genre though. I enjoy a huge variety of games as you could guess from the huge differences in my two favorites.

I feel like I bring a different perspective to the site because I am a different type of gamer from both Steve and my brother. Like Ryan, I also try to get better at a game all the time and am never satisfied with my current skill, while still loving casual games where competitiveness does not exist.

I noticed the other contributors of the site have an explanation of their Gamer Tag on the Xbox 360, but sadly I do not have much of one. I simply tried my normal aliases and none worked, so I thought that Rusty Spatular would be a humorous substitute, somewhat playing on Mr. Krabs’ way of saying spatula.

I am currently attending UCCS and studying the abstract major of Undecided.

Name: Chris
Gamertag: Rusty Spatular
Specializations: Casual, MMOs, Indy, Singleplayer, Multiplayer, Co-Op, RTS, Competitive, Jack-Of-All-Trades
Favorite Games: Zelda Series, Starcraft 2, Super Meat Boy, Rock Band
Video Huevos Position: Writer, Editor

Monday, March 28, 2011

Limitless Review


Limitless is about a man named Eddie and a drug named NZT-48. Eddie is a writer, but he hasn’t written a single page of the book he’s working on. His girlfriend dumps him and he’s about to be evicted; things are not going his way. His luck changes big time when he runs into an old friend, Vernon, who’s a drug dealer. Vernon gives him a little pill that changes his life.


Screenplay

6.5


The whole concept of this movie revolves around a pill that increases its user’s brainpower. According to Eddie’s dealer friend Vernon, we only use about 20 percent of our brain, and NZT-48 allows a person to use the other 80 percent.

However, after running out of his stash, Eddie discovers that the withdrawals from NZT-48 are extreme, and he must find a way to replenish his stash, or his life will be ruined

I thought the idea was very interesting and well thought out, but nothing about the execution really stood out. The writing was fine, but not especially memorable. I didn’t give screenplay a higher score mainly because the ending contradicted the theme of the rest of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I actually liked the ending, but it didn’t fit in with everything else.


Acting

7.0


Limitless leaves me with little to complain about in terms of acting, but I felt like it never really challenged the actors either. It’s pretty typical thriller fare.


Style

8.0


There are some outstanding camera effects when Eddie first takes NZT-48, as well as when he experiences withdrawals from the drug. Apart from some effects, the whole time I was watching the film I was thinking that the style of the movie felt exactly like a hybrid of the movies Crank and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

The motifs, music, and even the color scheme are extremely similar to other films. The style of this movie is excellent, but it’s clearly inspired by its peers.

Nevertheless, this category is about style, not originality, so these complaints did not affect the rating.


Originality

4.5


Limitless has a creative premise, but it borrows many elements from other movies. As aforementioned, the style of this movie mimics Crank and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, but so does the plot.

Every scene from Limitless that doesn’t involve drugs feels like it was taken directly from Wall Street. For example, Eddie is working for an investment company, there is a ton of tension between him and his mentor, his mentor tries to manipulate him, etc. The list goes on and on.

In addition to the similarities to other movies, it also has many clich├ęs. Russian gangsters, greedy corporate executives, and seedy drug dealers are all recycled characters with little depth, and they represent the majority of roles in Limitless.


Message

2.0


The message of Limitless is, predictably, drugs are bad for you. The problem is that this theme is undermined throughout the entire movie. Despite the negative side effects, NZT-48 essentially gives Eddie a perfect life. This is quite a problem for a movie that discourages drug use.


Huevos Factor

8.5


Despite its numerous flaws, Limitless is definitely a worthwhile watch. The lack of originality does little to hurt the film’s appeal; it may imitate other movies, but at least it imitates good movies. The concept is first-rate, and it carries the movie even when the execution is imperfect.


Limitless is in theaters now.

Breakdown:
Screenplay

6.5

Acting

7.0

Style

8.0

Originality

4.5

Message

2.0

Huevos Factor

8.5



Overall

6.3


No Shift 2 Midnight Release

Sorry Need for Speed fans, GameStop will not be doing a midnight launch of Shift 2: Unleashed tonight. You can probably get it at Walmart at midnight, at some locations anyway. If not, then Target opens at 8 AM.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crysis 2 Single Player Review



The year is 2023 and New York has fallen plague to a strange alien virus. The once busy city has been reduced to a desolate ghost town. Its only inhabitants are either infected or working as privately owned CELL agents. As if that weren’t enough, threat of alien attack looms constantly over this broken city and only you can stop it.

Being the sequel to the 2007 critically acclaimed FPS Crysis, Crysis 2 has big shoes to fill. Crysis 2 is the first game ever to showcase the CryEngine 3 game engine, and its developers have claimed it has the “best graphics you’ve ever seen”. It has also been said that Crysis 2 exhibits some of the most sophisticated AI in video game history. These are, without question, huge claims to make. I guess we’ll see if C2 lives up to them.


Gameplay

8.5



When I first sat down to play Crysis 2, I have to be honest, I thought it was going to be a mix between Halo and Call of Duty. These thoughts, however, were quickly extinguished as I actually started playing. C2 is its own game.

The suit, as the multiplayer demo said, “is a game changer.” It gives you the ability to switch between armor and stealth modes as well as perform extreme feats of strength and speed. All of these abilities wear on your suit’s energy. Energy replenishes quickly when not in use and encourages “hit and run” tactics.

C2 also features a combat visor which allows for quick assessments of battle situations. In most large firefights the visor will point out tactical opportunities in the area such as sniping points, tunnels for flanking, and even weapon stockpiles.

Combine all of that with on-the-go customizable suit and weapon upgrades and you have a very versatile game. Crysis 2 allows for very customizable play that embraces individual playstyles. Not everyone plays the same way, and Crysis knows that.

Despite all of this, the game really feels unfinished. In just one playthough I noticed many glitches that kept popping up. The AI probably is partially to blame for this and definitely does not live up to the hype that the developers put on it. Good AI is seemless and makes you feel like you are fightning a living, breathing thing. The AI in C2 likes to run in tiny circles.

Video / Audio
10


To steal a developer’s words, Crysis 2 has “the best graphics you’ve ever seen.” It may sound dramatic but trust me, the visuals are astounding and will take your breath away. These visuals are placed in front of a backdrop of incredibly epic music with superb sound effects and mixing. Simply put, Crysis 2 is a beautiful experience.


Story
7.5


The story of C2 is quite interesting, contains good twists and is supplemented with quick flashbacks from the suit’s past. Something C2 does that most games don’t is show you the victims of New York’s struggle. The game takes you through the tunnels where the infected have taken refuge. Their rambling and stumbling gives the player a true sense of sympathy for these sad, lost people.

Unfortunately, the character depth in C2 is almost nonexistent. Bad guys are angry, good guys are worried, that’s about all there is to it. The silent protagonist act really doesn’t help this and results in you knowing very little about any character.

Content
9.0


Crysis 2’s single player campaign is relatively lengthy for an FPS and yet never feels tedious. It also features a competitive multiplayer. Overall, C2 ensures that there are many hours of gameplay for you to experience.


Huevos Factor
9.0


Crysis 2 is a great game with industry changing graphics. The constant glitches hurt the games immersion but really do not affect the overall gameplay very much. This game is fun from begining to end and I would highly recommend it.

Breakdown:
Gameplay

8.5

Video / Audio

10

Story

7.5

Content

9.0

Huevos Factor

9.0


Total

8.7

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Best CD Rates