My Week In Entertainment Wrap-up for 8/30/14

I’ve got a huge backlog of movies that need to be watched, and a growing pile of games that need to be finished. As such, this is my quick rundown of what I’ve been watching and playing for the week and my brief review.

Sunday

White House Down – Channing Tatum, James Woods and Jamie Fox star in a Roland Emmerich film. Roland Emmerich is pretty much all you need to know in this case, as he’s known to bring us over-the-top movies such as Independence Day, 2012, Stargate, etc. This particular movie is action packed, humor filled and actually has a pretty tight story. And, of course, it’s over the top in every scene. Tatum isn’t one of my favorite actors, but he does have a bad habit of showing up in several movies I enjoy.

Monday

Jonah Hex – Josh Brolin, Megan Fox and John Malkovich star in this DC Comics western. Jonah Hex is a Civil War military man who changes sides because of his conscious and pays the price by watching his family burn to death. He is left with a brand on the side of his face and nearly dies. A group of indians nurse him back from death, but he doesn’t make it all the way back, walking the land in a half dead/half living state. He is able to speak with the dead, but isn’t immortal. He is followed around by crows who appear to aid him in his journeys. That’s a lot, I know, but it works in what I saw. The movie wasn’t half has bad as I was lead to believe but I’d like to see a stronger reboot and perhaps a franchise develop. Brolin did a fine job. Fox was her usual eye candy self. And Malkovich was fine as usual.

Tuesday

A friend strongly recommended I check out Continuum on Netflix. I had a few chores to do when I came home and when I finally went to watch Netflix had some issues. Tuesday became a game night instead, getting in a few hours of Diablo 3 on the PS4.

Wednesday

Diablo 3 wins again! I’m now a leveling madman and going into the final stage of Act 3. Leveling is so much faster and easier on the console version – or maybe it’s just the fact that I’m more comfortable while playing. Not being hunched over a computer can have a real drag on time, it seems.

Thursday

I finished the main story line in Diablo 3 on Normal mode. Act V, which leads into the Reaper of Souls expansion pack is now my focus as my demon hunter, Volker, has dinged level 38. I’m a little taken aback by the new level design as it seems to go on forever with no end in sight and multiple little side cellars and rooms to step in to.

Friday

Blizzard released the latest patch for Diablo 3 on the PC/Mac platform, and we now have Seasons! Well, there’s more changes for balance and whatnot, but what attracted me was Seasons. This is a leaderboard ranked chance for players to start from scratch and compete against one another with their play throughs. No gold, no high level artisans, no stashed equipment waiting on you. Each Season sees a new character starting from the first level and playing through the entire game with nothing but what they earn. This is what I started Friday night when I got home from work. Diablo 3 Season 1.

Saturday

Saturday was my 11th Wedding Anniversary, however my wife was busy helping her mom with a few tasks, checking in on her grandmother who was in the hospital and just wearing herself out in general. My oldest son and I stayed home and hung out. I watched him play The Amazing Spiderman 2 video game and then I played a little more Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition. Exciting week, I know, but that’s pretty much how it ended. The Wife and I did get to have a decent meal together, but not alone as we couldn’t get anyone to watch the kids tonight.

Oh, and the second episode of the new season of Doctor Who! Peter Capaldi is fantastic in this role and tonight’s episode, “Into Darkness,” was excellent! I’ve a good feeling about this season.

Wrap-up

For those worried, don’t be. This won’t be a weekly thing I post about, just something I wanted to share about this particular week. It’s actually kind of sad and boring, I suppose, but considering how hot and miserable and LONG the week has been, it’s been nice to unwind with a little television and gaming.

 

 

Nintendo Just Doesn’t Get It

*Note: I actually began writing this blog post 2 days before Nintendo posted the news about their New Nintendo 3DS and plans to focus on a hardcore gaming audience. (Click here for the Wired article) Since I already had so much of it typed out, I decided to go ahead and post it anyways. As for Nintendo’s new announcement on their goals, we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out!*

Before I begin, let me say that I’m the proud owner of a Nintendo Wii U, a 2DS and our son has a 3DS. I’ve owned every Nintendo console except for the Gamecube and Virtua Boy. My love for Nintendo extends all the way back to my younger days when I first was exposed to Super Mario Bros. on the NES my cousin had gotten for his birthday. My mom, on a tight budget, managed to scrimp and save and buy me one for Christmas that year. In fact, being on the poor side of things, that one pack-in cartridge was the only game I had for about a year or two. Not once did I mind or complain. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the SNES is one of my favorite games of all time. So, before I begin with my current opinion on Nintendo, just know that I don’t hate or despise the company. We’ve been friends since way back in the day. This is just my feelings on their actions as of late.

Money doesn’t always equal success. I’ve heard it said recently that Nintendo could operate at a loss for years and never feel the heat as their games and consoles tank. I’ve heard it announced that the 3DS alone is holding the company afloat in the sea of next generation consoles that they’re swimming in. But the truth be told, money isn’t everything. When you have lost sight of your audience and continue to rehash the same material on consoles that don’t live up to “next generation” standards, then all the money in the world can’t save you in the market you’re in. This is where I believe Nintendo is now, and I worry that they still just don’t get it.

The Wii U is a fantastic gaming machine, don’t get me wrong. But Nintendo has never really come out and said exactly why it took them nearly 2 years to bring games people want to play to market. Wii U games line-up on the horizon looks awesome, with franchise hits like Super Smash Brothers, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta, etc – the console is finally offering the consumer something. There’s a problem though: those consumers have already invested their money in Xbox One or Playstation 4, leaving the average gaming household broke from another big purchase in the gaming market.

Since E3 2014, Nintendo has also noticeably picked up their Twitter presence. They are right in there with Sony and Microsoft in hyping digital offerings, future releases, locations where you can play upcoming games and so forth. It’s all a case of too little, too late, it seems in most everyone’s eyes I’m hearing from. Even now, with all these great titles on the horizon, the Wii U going on 2 years old, and people are looking at it going, “Well, I’m still gonna wait and see how this plays out.” In my opinion this goes back to the fact that most gamers, especially the new hardcore audience Nintendo wants to attract, has already chosen their console for the next generation. And why would they want to step down (a harsh choice of words, I know) in hardware when they’re already at the top of the food chain with one of the two major players?

Another issue Nintendo needs to address is their storage solutions. I realize external hard drive units are very affordable right now, but to the average gaming family (yes, I know, they’re targeting hardcore, but that’s not going to be a viable crowd for awhile) the thought of having to spend $250-$300 (if you get a bundled game) and then having to turn around and buy an extra, separate storage unit on top of that seems a bit extreme. Launching their console with limited storage was suicide, especially now that they’re churning out tweets daily about downloadable content. They’re even offering expansion dlc for games like Mario Kart 8 and Sonic, but where do they think people are going to store these space hogs?! The last several years, from the Wii to the Wii U have been a nightmare to watch for me. Bad decision after bad decision seems to be the norm around the Nintendo offices.

My hope is that Nintendo wakes up and smells the coffee. Going after hardcore gamers isn’t a viable long term solution – those gamers already have their platforms of choice. If you’ve talked to a fanboy of either Sony or Microsoft, you know how stuck on their systems they are, and they aren’t going anywhere. Continuing to focus on their family friendly MiiVerse – where they will block your profile from others if you even post your gamer tag for other services because they think you’re trying to contact little kids outside the MiiVerse – isn’t viable because those kids and families will eventually grow out of Nintendo’s offerings and want something more. Then again, maybe that’s the plan! Get them when they’re young, grow with them, then have the hardcore offerings so they never even have to look at those other guys.

Who knows, maybe that little scenario I just concocted might work. If that isn’t what they’re thinking of for long term gamers, they’re more than welcome to use it. Go ahead, I’m fine. No compensation necessary. :) I mean no ill will toward Nintendo, of course. I’m still a fan and a proud owner of the Wii U. I’ve got to find an external hard drive that’s suitable for our needs, of course, but that’s beside the point. I’d just like to see them pull their company together, focus on delivering a promise of a solid, long term gaming solution to their dedicated customers and stop with the half-assed business plans. Give us a console with decent built-in storage. Give us a console that will play these great Wii U games that are headed our way. Give us a console that will rival the Xbox One and PS4. Give us a console with 3DS integration as a choice other than the GamePad (that has terrible battery life).

In short – if Nintendo wants us to give them our hard earned money, then they need to stop screwing around and give us a solid, acceptable, well thought out gaming experience.

Thank you, and good night!

 

Free Games for September 2014!!

Xbox finally joined in and announced their free Games with Gold offerings for September. Playstation announced theirs earlier this week. Now I just have to decide if any of them actually tickle my fancy enough to download!

XboxLive_GamesWithGold_EN_RGB

Xbox Live Games with Gold offerings for the 360:

Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine – This game sounds interesting, but from the graphics alone I’m not sure if it’s my cup-o-tea. I’ve come into a spot of my gaming life where “classic” looking games (or old graphic-style games) just irk me with all the beautiful work we get nowadays. IGN gave it a 9, though, so for gameplay alone I may give it a shot. It’s available from September 1-16th.

Halo: Reach – Available from September 16 ’til the end of the month, my son has already laid claim to this game. His friend has a copy and he’s anxious to jump into some multiplayer with it. I’ve never been big on the Halo series, so it looks like my son may be the only one getting any real enjoyment out of this months selections from Microsoft.

PlayStation-Plus

Playstation Plus:

Playstation 4 owners may be overjoyed at this month’s selections. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those overjoyed folks. We’re getting:

Velocity 2x – Another arcade title, and a sequel to Velocity Ultra, which features platforming levels and ship battles. I think I’ve mentioned briefly before that I’m about over arcade titles. 

Sports Friends – A party game with 4 mini-games you can choose from. Yay … 

Once again, the fantastically huge line-up of Playstation 3 and Vita gets the love. Horde, Joe Danger, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale … yeah, that’s where the payback for membership comes from. But, I’m the one that chose PS4 as my main gaming platform, so it was my call :) One day we’ll start getting a better selection of games, I’m sure of it! 

In the meantime, Xbox wins this one by default with Halo: Reach, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe next month I won’t be as disappointed in my “FREE” game selection!

My 1st Attempt At Streaming

Today was my first time attempting to stream from the PS4. The first video only had a video resolution of 320p, but after upping the stream quality from the PS4 Twitch settings, I got it to offer a nice crisp 720p. My son is already excited at the possibilities, talking about what he’d like to play for posting to Youtube.

Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition (PS4)

I anxiously picked up Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition for the PS4 yesterday on its release. Now, it’s true that I have the game, Diablo 3, on my Mac and have completed it through the first 3 difficulties. But that was before they brought out the expansion, updated the game in some major new ways and brought out even more new ways to play. And more new levels of difficulty, might I add! So, how does the console version of a major Blizzard (yeah, yeah, technically Activision-Blizzard) game play? Well …

If there is one thing you can count on from Blizzard Entertainment, it’s quality. D3:UEE is no exception here. The game graphics have been zoomed in for the television, as opposed to the smaller graphics on my little 13″ Macbook. They look pretty darn good, very clean and colorful in the dark and gloomy setting of the world. Characters move smoothly and the voice overs are pulled straight from the original game. Lighting details, sound effects, music … it’s Diablo 3, folks. There’s nothing new in this department, just fine-tuned for 1080p television love.

shoppingUsing a controller on a PC/Mac game has never felt more comfortable. Especially when your main interface with the computer is clicking the crap out of a mouse button and occasionally fingering a number key between 1 and 4. Diablo 3’s controls come through nicely on the DualShock 4 controller and I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Each control and their action is clearly labeled on the lower left of the screen as you play through the campaign. I almost prefer the controller to mouse/keyboard for Diablo 3 now, having played it this way.

Content-wise, you not only get Diablo 3, but you also get the expansion, Reaper of Souls and all the goodies that come with that chapter. That means a new playable character class, a whole new Act and new gameplay options. Blizzard has also said that they see no reason not to push patches from the PC/Mac version through to the next generation console versions as well. This means that if the PC Diablo 3 gets a major change via content patch, console users should expect to see the same sooner or later.

If I have to pick one major issue with the game, it’s damage. When encountering large groups of mobs, damage doesn’t seem to distribute evenly. With that, I mean that shooting blindly into a mob that’s surrounding you might see three mobs go down in 2 shots while the third one takes 10 more hits to cut down. The auto tracking of enemies is also a good and bad thing. It’s good because it’ll automatically lock onto an enemy as you approach it. When encountering a large mob, however, it can harm you more than help because it might lock on to an enemy in the very rear of the mob, meaning everything else around you might as well not be there. This is where the ability to sort of direct an attack comes in handy, sort of. Targeting is the second issue the game has, for the very reasons I’ve just been discussing.

And did I mention MULTI-PLAYER?! That’s right, just like its Daddy, Diablo 3 for the console allows you and up to 3 other online friends to rumble it out in the dungeon crawler. If that isn’t enough, you can also do local multi-player with another party member. I have yet to try either of those options, so I can’t really give you the nitty gritty, but will update this blog post in the near future.

The Quick & Dirty Lowdown:

Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition is a great console adaption of an already fantastic game from Blizzard Entertainment (Activision-Blizzard). If you’ve played the PC/Mac version then you’ve played this, but if you just want a great button-masher for your console then it delivers. Beware tricky targeting and uneven dispersal of damage between large mob groups. Includes Reaper of Souls expansion and potential for future updates from Blizz. Also, link your Battle.net account and receive a free in-game gift! As an added bonus, if you’re playing on a Sony Playstation, you’ll also have exclusive content to look forward to, such as custom Rifts and armor sets.