Tuesday, September 6, 2011

UG - Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

Like any of my reviews, this could have what some consider spoilers so read at your own risk. I haven't actually beaten this game yet, I only rented it during a free weekend and I will rent it again during another free weekend to beat it. Overall, the game has been a blast. I am going to start with the things I really like, then move to mediocre, and then to what I don't like.

I enjoy the way they did the side missions so that you can really decide whether you want to do them or not, but all of them actually seem meaningful and made me want to do them. And doing side missions is actually quite rare for me. The other thing I really like is the pay off for exploring while at the same time leaving it completely optional. For example, you can pretty much hack any door code or computer system in the game; however, if you explore enough, there is a chance you will find a pocket secretary (spoiler: the future will have PDAs) that contains a password or passcode for a system you will encounter later. I like the ability to upgrade your skills through Praxis kits that can be found, earned through XP, or purchased with money. Having all the options to add abilities is quite nice. My complaint here is I have done a lot of exploring and found kits and have purchased them and earned them, but I am nearing the end of the game and I still have lots of abilities I haven't been able to add. I would also recommend trying to keep one kit on reserve in case you find you could really use it during a mission. For example, I have gotten to places where the safe fall upgrade would have been really nice to have, but instead I had used my last one on a security hack or something. Lastly, the gun play, movement, and cover system work well, even though the cover system comes up in my complaint section. Lastly, the ability to save your game at any time is always welcomed and I wish more games would continue to offer this.

For the mediocre, I will call out the story so far. The story is entertaining, but predictable so far. Now, that is all said knowing I haven't beaten the game yet, but so far I have been able to predict each part and find myself sitting there yelling at the TV that she is lying only to find my character gets tricked because he is a fool. I believe I know the outcome of the game, but I will have to wait to see if I'm right or not. Another area that is a little weak for me is the conversations where I have to pick what he is to say. I just can't tell if it really matters what I say or not. If it does matter, then I must be awesome at talking to people because I have been getting what I need every time. BTW - the persuasion ability is lame and wasn't worth my one kit to get it and please kill the animation of my character crossing his arms in front of his chest. Every time he does it I wait for him to bust out a rhyme Vanilla Ice style.

For the bad, I don't like the switching between third person and first person view points. The majority of the game is first person, but when you go into cover it switches to third person. Switching in works well, but switching out can leave me facing strange directions and I just have trouble following where I am going to end up when I switch between them. My last complaint is a stumbled on a bug where I was doing a side mission and a core mission that both required me to visit the same place. When I visited that location, they gave me credit for the core mission, but canceled out my side mission and said I failed that mission.

Overall, great game, but I don't see a lot of replay here.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

UG - Why PS3 controllers suck!

I have never been a fan of Sony's use of the rechargeable (nonchangeable/nonreplaceable) battery in their controllers. I like being able to just use batteries. And please, no one spout off about some complete bullshit about how I can order batteries on eBay, etc. Anyways, here I am with a 3 year old controller that won't accept a charge. I contacted support and did all the troubleshooting and it is still just a dead controller. Now guess what, I hear that Sony only warranties these things for 90 days so after that I am SOL. Nice. Now lets compare cheap-ass Sony to some other awesome companies I have dealt with.
1. We received a Keurig as a Christmas gift 2 years ago. About 4 months into using it, it started acting up and wouldn't draw water all the time. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn't. I contacted them through email asking for recommendations and the first email back from them was an order notification that a brand new one was on its way and I didn't even have to send the old one back. That is customer service.
2. I purchased an APC UPS three years ago this month. Last week I suffered a power outage during a snow storm and when I brought everything back online, my UPS kept shutting off and the battery wouldn't charge and the device wasn't even recognizing that a battery was installed. I sent an email to APC and after a few emails of troubleshooting, they sent me a replacement battery, free of charge. That is customer service.
Out of these three companies, guess which two have earned a customer for a long time and a customer that will recommend their products to everyone they know (spoiler: the answer is Keurig and APC). Even my Xbox which has died multiple times on me has been fixed by Microsoft for free, everytime.
Sony, since I am willing to bet that your quality will continue to suck, why don't you make products that at least let the end users put in new batteries?

Friday, January 21, 2011

UG - Apple iPad Review

Ok, I know the iPad has been out for a long time, but I was just handed one to screw around with for the next month. I am playing with it to see how I like tablets as I am considering the Xoom for myself and an iPad 2 for my mother. After playing with it for a few days, I have to say overall I like the idea of a tablet and the design. I still am not sure how much use a tablet would get with me, but I am looking to replace the laptop that sits in my family room and a tablet might do it for me.

Now, I am saying upfront that it is a nicely built device and it works well, but now I will go into my arguments of why I don't like it and I am talking both hardware and software.My biggest complaint of the iPad hardware wise is the weight. This thing weighs more than I expected and it does wear on me if I'm using it for a long time. Lets just say this isn't going to replace an eReader, not to mention reading on a backlit screen for too long sucks. My other hardware issue is that there is no front camera. I am waiting for iPad 2 for my mother just because I want her to have a front camera for using Skype. I know Apple's MO is to slowly release hardware upgrades and I hate that, but it works for them so screw me.

Now for the software, this thing is a big iTouch, that is it. I won't go into that any more as it has already been discussed. The keyboard is responsive, but I don't get how awesome everyone says it is. I don't like that it always shows the keys on the keyboard in uppercase. When I type passwords, I have to keep checking if the shift key is hit or not. Also, there is no predictive text and that requires me type out every single character. I think I would be much more efficient with less spelling errors if it had predictive text. I am also at a loss on how everyone raves about the market. I had a hard time just browsing for random applications so maybe I just need to play with it more to get it.

In closing, Apple made a whole new market with this thing and I am impressed by it. This almost has me convinced to buy a tablet, but I can say that it won't be an iPad for myself. I want ports, storage options, I want choices, etc. One example is I would like this to replace me having to carry my laptop on vacation, but I would like a way to transfer pictures off of a camera to a tablet to free up space on the camera's memory card. That will never be possible on an Apple tablet. It is likely that the Xoom will support USB devices in some way and it is likely that I would be able to transfer things to it. I also don't like that this tablet is portable, but to get most anything on it, I have to connect it to a computer - that sort of kills the mobility for me.

Update: I will give PG credit for thinking of this, but tablets need profiles. Tablets are more shared than phones and so now certain applications such as Facebook and syncing with your email doesn't really work all that well. I don't want my gmail coming to my phone and my tablet. And if my wife is using the tablet, she doesn't care about my email and she wants to launch the Facebook app under her. This also makes lots of widgets worthless. I guess we can just use it purely as a laptop and log in to the sites under different accounts and I can disable all sync stuff....I like the idea of profiles. Get the scientists working on the profile technology, chop chop.

Update2: After 3 weeks of use, I have figured out that for my purposes a tablet just doesn't cut it. I ended up going back to my laptop for everything and the iPad because a very expensive weather station. For my use, I will actually be going with a MacBook Air next. The instant on/instant off is awesome to me and combine that with the full functionality of a laptop, that makes it a fit for what I want to use it for.

UG - Motorola Atrix 4G

I have to admit that I am in love with the concept of the Motorola Atrix 4G. Just look at these specs/features:

  • Dual core 1GHz Tegra 
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 4" screen
  • Android 2.2 (Wish this was 2.3)
  • Battery: 1930 mAh
  • Supports 48 GB memory
  • Fingerprint login security
  • Webtop when docked with laptop or full keyboard/monitor/mouse
  • Webtop allows saving state
  • Full Firefox in Webtop
If you haven't checked it out, go hit Google and see some of the demos of this thing, especially when it is docked in the laptop or HDMI/keyboard/mouse dock. I love the UI Motorola created for docking called Webtop. Somehow they got full Firefox running and the thing automatically saves state when you pull it out of the dock. 

I only have two concerns with this device. The first one is that it is for AT&T only right now, but I am hoping that changes, but I am not going to bag on one carrier or another, but AT&T doesn't do well in my area. My other concern has to do with Motorola continuing the trend of how this thing can be used. I don't want to buy this phone and all the accessories to find to out that future phones from Motorola won't support the dock concept. I hope these features get added to all their high end phones and that way I can upgrade without having to re-buy everything. Those are the only things that really hold me up about buying this, but I love the idea of this phone.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

UG - iPhone on Verizon: Quick Thoughts

The blog sites and tech sites are running rampant with stories of the iPhone being announced for Verizon next week because Verizon is hosting a special event. Oddly enough, I wasn't invited, but I digress. You can go do a Google search to find all the articles and all the discussions about whether that is really being announced or not. I for one, don't buy it just yet because I can't imagine Steve Jobs stepping out of the spotlight for this announcement. Even if he is there, I still am surprised he didn't host it at Apple. But I am wondering if some other stories are showing that this could really be true. The past couple of days have also held stories about Verizon changing the time frame for new phones (20 months up from 12 months) and a 14 day return policy which is down from the original 30 day return policy. This makes me wonder if those are signs of an iPhone being released on Verizon. I believe that both companies are power hungry and love to throw their weight around. All you have to do to see that is go back to the time when the iPhone was first launched on AT&T and read the stories about how Verizon turned it down because they wouldn't meet Apple's demands. I can just picture these latest changes having to do with some strange demands from Apple. Who knows, I like to just throw things out there.