In light of the recent Battlefront 2 trailer release I decided it would be good to re-hash Battlefront(2015). The TL;DR is that people are blinded by their nostalgia from Battlefront 2 in particular. I replayed Battlefront 2 on stream leading up to the release of this game. Battlefront 2 had no story to speak of. The entire campaign is a set of cut scenes amounting to essentially “Remember that battle they didn’t show in the movie? We were there!” followed by playing a bot match with the occasional objective. There was no story to speak of in Battlefront 2. The following is a review I wrote on Amazon’s feedback page in support of the game. I probably should have posted it here initially but I thought it would be most effective on Amazon. Here it is, unedited.
Posted: December 9, 2015
Don’t buy the anti-game hype from most of the other reviews. Many people are mad because the game didn’t meet their unrealistic expectations due to all the hype. Also make sure you are comparing launch numbers to launch numbers when comparing this with other games. While the two large map game modes do only have 4 maps there are 10 maps across all multiplayer game modes with many of the smaller game modes having 8 of those 10 maps available. There are some additional maps for Battles and Survival(horde mode) which stacks the deck further and arguably accounts for the content not given to a campaign. When compared with other modern shooters this is on par. For a 1:1 comparison consider the following launch time map counts BF Hardline 9 maps, COD Blops 3 12 maps, BF 4 10 maps, BF 3 9 maps, COD AW 8 maps. I could go on but I’m sure you get the point.
I’m sure there are going to be hundreds of reviews of the Battlefield Hardline Beta now that it’s in the open. I wanted to share a perspective that is a little bit different. I had the displeasure of taking part in the Alpha or Private Beta. I don’t recall which it was but I’m going to go with Alpha and you’ll see why below. This allows me to do a little then and now analysis. Lets dive in shall we?
The Battlefield Hardline Alpha, to put it bluntly was an ugly mess. It looked like they used the older Frostbite 2 engine instead of 3. The cops and robbers character models and cars looked like they were bought cheap off of Turbo Squid or some other cheap pre-fab site. The weapons were copy/paste out of BF3 or 4 and frankly so were the game modes for the most part. The only saving grace of that experience was the new game mode, who’s name I don’t recall, added where each team had an armored car on each side of the map and it was a game of attack and defense to see who had the most cash in their truck at the end of the game. I’m sure you can imagine that over all I wasn’t thrilled.
So this brings us to today and the now open beta of Battlefield Hardline.
Last week my router was fried by my lovely cable company who can’t be bothered to ground their cables. The power surge came in not on the power line but on the network line. This also took down my PCs NIC as well. The NIC is inconsequential really. This forced me in to a tough decision. Do I go with another Asus router like the two prior? I LOVE Asus routers. Not only does their stock firmware come with virtually any option a moderately well seasoned IT vet could want but they also feature a wealth of tools that make one click jobs out of otherwise complicated time consuming tasks like trying to setup QOS. The catch is that the competition has been working on upping their game with routers like the Nighthawk and the WRT1900AC.
If you’re not interested in the review and just want to get to the instructions for flashing DD-WRT go HERE.
Chromebooks are neat devices. I don’t call them laptops because they really aren’t. They can’t do a lot of the things you expect of a real laptop like playing the largest selection of video games out there or serious video production, though wevideo gets close. Of course Linux is always an option but then you might as well just buy a more capable laptop and this is a Chromebook review. Not everything about Chromebooks is bad. Most models do Internet very well and get great battery life which makes them an easy Internet on demand type of device. For many that’s all they need.
I previously owned a Samsung Chromebook 303c which is the cheap, small, ARM based model. The initial neat factor wore off pretty fast as soon as anything “real” had to be done. Open more than 3 tabs and the 2GB of RAM and no swap file makes the device crushingly slow. The size while convenient for transport gets pretty uncomfortable pretty quickly. That means they’re only good for a very shot period of use. What Chromebooks needed was to prove they could really be useful as a serious laptop. What that means is that they needed to strike the balance between more laptop like features and the truly low price point that has made them so popular. I truly feel the HP Chromebook 14 has succeeded at this.
The first thing you notice when you pull the HP Chromebook 14 out of the box is it’s weight and size. It’s significantly larger than the 11″ models but not nearly as large as a 15.6″ laptop. (more…)
First let me apologize for the vertical video above. I know that’s a travesty to the Internet. I was really darn excited for the Leap and my attempt at re-recording it turned out blurry and not nearly as good.
Day one with Leap Motion has been mostly a day of joy at interacting with my computer in a new way. Not just tapping and touching and scrolling but pushing and pulling and flying around as if my hand were out the car window. It’s been very refreshing. Lets see what setup was like.
So what is the LG Optimus L9? Lets have a look at some specs and pics.
2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 900 / 2100
Announced 2012, August
Status Available. Released 2012, November
Dimensions 131.9 x 68.2 x 9.1 mm (5.19 x 2.69 x 0.36 in)
Weight 125 g (4.41 oz)
Type IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 540 x 960 pixels, 4.7 inches (~234 ppi pixel density)
Card slot microSD, up to 32 GB
Internal 4 GB, 1 GB RAM
OS Android OS, v4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), upgradable to v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean)
Chipset TI OMAP 4430
CPU Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9
GPU PowerVR SGX540
As you can see this phone isn’t half bad. Dual core at 1ghz isn’t breaking speed records but it’s also not the slowest thing on the market. For a phone at this price point 1GB of ram is pretty decent. Outside of the absolute newest phones anything that runs decent has a 1GB or more.
The one thing I was really worried about was the display not being 720p. IPS means good color and nice dark blacks so the sharpness was at question. I was pleased to find that the combination of display density at 234ppi plus the good quality of the panel results in a very nice looking image. I even compared it side by side with a friends Galaxy Nexus and speed was comparable and the image quality was as good or better.
My final point of concern was Ice Cream Sandwich. I know quite a few people ascribe to “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” but Jelly Bean does bring quite a few performance enhancements and new features. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the phone moves along very quickly and smoothly. This means if you root and re-rom to Jelly Bean you should be getting even better performance.
All around this is a large, sharp looking, fast and affordable phone that just works well. We’ll enough to satiate my gadget lust for an HTC One and rest assured that’s tough to do. Of course this is subjective.
So let’s see how it stacks up in a couple of synthetic tests Antutu and Quadrant.
I haven’t played Tomb Raider extensively, in a meaningful way, since the original. I’ve put in no more than an hour in to each with the exception of Tomb Raider Underworld which I put a solid 7 or 8 hours in to. Having enjoyed at least a few of the previous games really made me want to like a Tomb Raider game. Thank goodness Tomb Raider(2013) delivers!
Lets start with the visuals. This game is gorgeous! I’d probably classify it as a true next gen game. Even on my AMD A10 with an AMD Radeon 7660G GPU on medium settings the visuals are stunning. Expansive draw distances are everywhere and managed with no visible popping or anything of the sort. The set pieces in the game take that huge draw distance and fill them with huge, high, beautiful terrain. The attention to detail is off the charts. Not only is the game beautiful earning it that “next gen” title but there is new technology at play with things like TressFX and the Crystal Engine in general. TressFX will destroy your performance unless you are running a beast of a graphics card so flip it on, see how it runs, and then flip it back off if your system can’t handle it. Crystal understands that they’ve thrown some new tech at you and has graciously included a benchmark in the game so you can play with settings and get a feel for what your hardware can handle.
Game play rests heavily on the concepts and foundation laid down by the likes of Uncharted and of course earlier Tomb Raider games. None of that is a bad thing. While Uncharted’s some what awkward stumbling, loose footing feels a bit heavy and maybe slow at times most of Laura’s trips, stumbles and frequent falls feel lighter and faster. If that is supposed to be indicative of the characters different size and weight that’s fine but the pace and weight of Laura’s bumblings result in a much tighter well controlled experience. Speaking of a tight well controlled experience the shooting in the game is beautiful. It doesn’t float, Laura changes stance and grip on weapons based on the cover available and her own stance at the time(sneaking vs. upright). While I’m sure some shooter fans, tactical shooter fans no doubt, want more control over the character these auto adjustments really make the game fun. It frees you to spend less time figuring out how to approach enemies and more time looking at the environment that those enemies are in. As mentioned above its such a beautiful environment!
The story is not unlike many ship wreck stories told so many times except that the setting is some what unique for video games. That is an island that is decidedly Japanese filled with rich Japanese style and a hint of world war 2 artifacts that succeeds at both feeling real and yet fantastical at the same time. This is an island that isn’t just difficult to find but one that has been inhabited by both descendants of those Japanese souls that resided there so long ago as well as previous survivors of both boat and plane wrecks over the many years since the island was lost. The story is ultimately an intricate interweaving of both survival but also discovery of the secrets contained on the island. This is pulled off VERY well! You are sucked in to this world and want badly for both Laura and her friends to survive. At the same time you crave finding out whats in the next room or over the next hill.
Multiplayer runs in the vein of some of the Tom Clancy games or the the likes of Uncharted. This is in no way a bad thing. The same solid shooting from the game makes it’s way in to the multiplayer and a wealth of unlockables for character skins, weapons and weapon attachments. Everything is up to snuff. The only real points I could dock Tomb Raider comes in the form of a lack of multiplayer maps. There are 4 or 5 game modes but only a grand total of 5 or 6 maps including the one currently downloadable. Some of these maps also appear to be ready made for particular game types. I played several games of death-match and every game was the same map. I also played quite a few rounds of the supplies game type and only experienced 2 maps. Sadly this makes multiplayer rather repetitive. As of this writing a new map pack has been released on the Xbox 360 but wasn’t showing up for the PC version yet. Hopefully it’s a large number of maps to make the multiplayer experience a truly well rounded experience.
While other reviewers have nit picked how these elements play out or are integrated they seem to miss the fact that they then point at the game as a whole and call it a great game. This is because all the elements are measured appropriately. To use a food analogy the ingredients are individually delicious and leave you wanting more of each but when you put them together you eat them up like a fat kid eats cake. Having the craving for more is not a bad thing.
All in all this game is spectacular. I highly recommend it to any one who fondly remembers Tomb Raider or if you’re just after a grand adventure game that will have you climbing to the top of a radio towers on top of a mountain and then climbing to the depths of a dank tomb.