Ryan's Gaming and Tech Blog

Honest opinions about Xbox One Gaming, Apps, Tech and More

Pokemon GO Review

The location-based mobile game Pokemon GO recently released on July 6 and so far it’s been quite popular. So popular in fact that their login servers have been having issues. Is it even that good of a game or is it just another game taking advantage of its already popular brand and nostalgia? I wasn’t sure myself how popular it was until I saw kids and adults alike everywhere gathering around virtual monuments to capture Pokemon and battle at virtual Pokemon gyms.

I’ve been a fan of Pokemon in the past and I still have my copy of Pokemon Red with a Gameboy color to be able to play it and I loved that game. This title is something entirely different though from your standard Pokemon game. It requires that you actually go out and  capture Pokemon hiding throughout the world and sometimes this can lead to into awkward situations. It’s great that it gets kids out in the real world opposed to most games but there still glued to their devices.

I remember when I first saw some leaked videos of the game in development and as excited as I was for the game, they weren’t that impressive. Sadly I don’t feel like the game’s actual release has progressed that far from the leaked video. It feels like another game that was rushed to release and has been pretty prone to bugs and glitches. Although thankfully those bugs for me haven’t led to any lost progress or Pokemon in the game.

iOS Glitches:

  • Music stops looping
  • Freezes during Pokemon capture
  • Background augmented reality view flips upside down
  • Server login issues
  • Delayed use of inventory items such as revives and health potions
  • Character doesn’t move while connected to Wifi
  • You can only click on the ground location of a game object and not the 3D object itself.
  • Save battery feature causes issues when waking from sleep mode (won’t wake unless phone upside down)

I still like the game and think it has a lot of potential but it doesn’t feel like a finished product and it could really use some extra attention to become the great game it could be and fulfill the hype. The character customization is nice but seems to fall short of making your game avatar that personal. You can’t change anything afterwards either, so make sure you like the look. Hopefully, they’ll add more customization features later but so far you’re the only one who sees your Pokemon trainer anyway. The game world render, in general, looks very plain and flat. I understand its a representation of the real world but it would great if it had a little more to it  then some lighting changes, floating white orbs, and the occasional grass rustle from Pokemon here or there.

I think one of the biggest issues that may add to the fun mystery that is learning how to play the game is the extreme lack of any real game tutorial or information how to play at all. I’ve been able to find information online on how to play but its almost completely absent in the game. It turns to the game into an adventure of trial and error which can be fun and frustrating at the same time. Its oversights like this that make the game feel unfinished.

If there’s one feature I was surprised to not have in the game yet it was the ability to trade Pokemon.  You can’t battle other players without a Pokemon Gym either. The social features in the game are limited to Pokemon Gyms and taking pictures but you never actually battle another player in real time. You only battle the AI of the Pokemon left behind by another player at a Gym.

If you decide to play the game I have a few pieces of advice to give you.

Tips:

  • Hit monuments up every 5 min for PokeBalls
  • PokeBalls are limited so try to take the time in throwing your shot
  • Turn off augmented reality to stop Pokemon from moving around
  • Include friends and family to make you experience a social one
  • Duplicate Pokemon can be transferred to Professor Oak for items
  • Force quit the app when it freezes
  • There’s no PokeCentre to heal or revive your Pokemon

Conclusion

Pokemon GO is a fun game but it feels unfinished and has quite a few bugs. It’s a free game but like most free games it has an in-app purchase model that could easily break the bank if you’re not careful with the kids. If you going to play have patience, make it social by playing with a friend, and go on a hike or bike ride. I still recommend the game because of its nostalgia and fun factor but hopefully, it improves over time.

Maximum Playtime | LEGO Minecraft The Iron Golem

My son Maximus loves to watch videos on YouTube reviewing toys, games, and kid stuff. He always pretends to be doing his own video so my Dad and  decided to help him out with creating one of his very own. In this video, Maximus builds and shows off his new LEGO Minecraft set The Iron Golem.

LEGO Minecraft Logo

Spring a surprise attack with The Iron Golem!

The sun is heading for the horizon and hostile mobs will soon be roaming the Minecraft™ landscape. You’ll need to protect yourself and your baby pig! Mine the iron ore with your diamond pickaxe, smelt iron ingots in the furnace and craft iron blocks using the crafting table. Then use the pumpkin head to create the iron golem, and spring a surprise attack on the zombie!

  • Includes 2 Minifigures: Alex and a zombie, plus an iron golem and a baby pig.
  • Launch a surprise attack on the zombie with the secret iron golem pop-up function!
  • Mine iron ore with your diamond pickaxe, smelt it in the furnace and use the crafting table to create iron blocks.
  • Stack the blocks and add the pumpkin head to create the iron golem.
  • Accessory elements include a buildable torch and pumpkin.
  • Tool elements include Alex’s pickaxe.
  • Set your imagination free—rebuild the set for more LEGO® Minecraft™ creations!
  • Includes more than 200 LEGO® bricks.
  • Measures over 3” (8cm) high, 7” (19cm) wide and 5” (15cm) deep.

Overwatch™ “Are you with us?”

Overwatch is out

So Overwatch™ has been out for a little while now, and it seems to be advertised almost everywhere. Blizzard has always been pretty good about marketing their products, and the question that’s probably on some of our minds though is Overwatch™a hit game I should buy, or pass up on? Well, I hope to answer that question and give some more information on Overwatch™ so you can make a better decision for yourself.

I had a chance to play in the Open Beta for both the PC and Xbox One platforms, and after it’s release, I grabbed a copy of the Overwatch™: Origins Edition for the Xbox One. I’ve played quite a few of Blizzard’s games so it was nice to have some of the in-game goodies you get for the other titles.

Overwatch Lineup

What kind of Game is Overwatch™?

A lot of people are referring to this title as a Team Based Shooter or Hero Shooter. Hero Shooters focus on multiplayer team-based combat that allows you to choose from a variety of characters with preset abilities and or super powers. Some people like to relate it to Team Fortress 2 which had some influence on its development. What you get is an interesting mashup of heroes where you compete in 6-person matches. Battling over objectives to take down the other team and achieve victory.

In Overwatch, you control one of several heroes in competitive 6-person team shooting matches. Battle over objectives, take down the other team, and achieve victory. – Blizzard

Overwatch™ breaks down the lineup of 21 Heroes into 4 main classes. Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support. Each with their own personal flair for combat with Abilities, Quick Melee, and Ultimate Abilities. You’ll use these heroes to fight on 12 maps in 4 different styles.

Maps:

  • Assault – Attackers fight to capture a series of objectives; defenders hold them off until time runs out.
  • Escort – Attackers escort a payload to a delivery point, while defenders strive to keep the payload from reaching its destination before time elapses.
  • Control – Two teams fight to hold a single objective at a time; the first team to win two rounds wins the match.
  • Hybrid – Attackers first capture a payload, then escort it to its destination; defenders attempt to hold them back.

Game Modes:

  • Practice Range

  • Play/Practice Vs A.I.

  • Quick Play

  • Custom Game

  • Weekly Brawl

  • Competitive Play (Coming Soon)

Although the list of 5 games modes seems fine, most people will probably only consider for there to be only 2 real modes that people play on a regular basis. Quick play and Weekly Brawl is pretty much what everyone plays, and there isn’t a single player campaign mode that you would expect to find in most Blizzard game titles. Blizzard does a really good job though of building a backstory for each of their characters though through their marketing campaign of Animated Shorts and comic books.

Playing Overwatch

Now although the game seems fairly simple and may not have too much depth, it’s a pretty fun game. Replayability is what’s really important and is going to make or break this game because it’s purely about team-based multiplayer gameplay. The variety of character styles and abilities helps in this regard because you can really find a style of play that you like and are comfortable with. Now sometimes if you’re on a team that’s lacking, it’s helpful to try and switch up your character choice mid-game to counter the other teams playstyle. I’ve been in a match in which were being completely dominated left and right and a quick character change by myself and another player halt their advance and turn the tide in our favor.

Being able to change character in the game is great because it provides a chance for better balancing of teams. It can’t compensate for every issue, but the game does feel well balanced. During the character selection screen, you can see your teams choices, and it will pop up tips on how to build a properly balanced team and warn you when certain builds could be problematic.

Part of the fun was finding out or discovering what passive abilities certain characters had that would give them advantages over others that could be used to your tactical advantage. Like the ability to run up walls, stun, teleport, or rewind time. I noticed that some characters seemed hard to play at first but with a proper understanding of how you should play them they were much more enjoyable when played in their intended playstyle.

All the characters in the game felt like they had a personality and style that helped make them come to life beyond the gameplay. Little customizable catch phrases, emotes, and skins made it nice to be able to change the look of your favorite character. Plus the inclusion of Play of the Game replays really helps add something missing at the end game screen that other titles don’t do.

Progression and Leveling

Right now when you level up in the game you don’t any stat boosts but you do get rewarded Loot boxes. They can contain a variety of vanity items that allow you to personalize your favorite characters in-game look, emotes, catch phrase, highlight real poses, and more. These Loot boxes can also be purchased for real money if you’re too impatient to get more trying to find the certain item your looking for. You also gain credits through loot boxes, or through selling items or duplicate loot box items. These credits can be spent in the Hero Gallery for specific character skins.Overwatch Loot Box

Loot Box Pricing:

  • 2 Loot Boxes – USD 1.99
  • 5 Loot Boxes – USD 4.99
  • 11 Loot Boxes – USD 9.99
  • 24 Loot Boxes – USD 19.99
  • 50 Loot Boxes – USD 39.99

Conclusion

Overall Overwatch is a great game if you like quick gameplay that doesn’t require a huge investment of time to get started. It’s a fairly simple game that’s approachable for all gamers and can be a lot of fun if you’re playing with friends online. Although if your friends bought it on another platform that could be a problem since it’s available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. I definitely recommend it if you love team-based shooters. The quirky nature of the characters should keep you coming back for more.

My only gripe about the game was that is was the first Blizzard game title ever that wasn’t released on the Mac!

My only gripe about the game was that is was the first Blizzard game title ever that wasn’t released on the Mac! That was a real stunner since I’ve been playing their games for years. I’m sure development on 2 new platforms was consuming for resources and they just decided to focus on what they though we get a broader target audience for the game.

So I guess that only leaves one question to be answered…

Xbox Play Anywhere

So Microsoft had a variety of things to announce to the public at E3 2016, but something that really stuck out to me was a new digital game title feature called, Xbox Play Anywhere. Although I guess it’s not so much a feature as a fundamental change in the way that we utilize digital video game purchasing and play.

So now, when you make a purchase of Xbox Play Anywhere digital title, meaning not every game right now is going to support this at the moment, you can play it on both your Xbox One, and Windows 10 PC, or maybe Boot Camp Mac running Windows 10.  You’ll own the game on multiple platforms, and you can sync your save game data across devices as well. You can even play multiplayer with your friends on other devices.

Things to consider

Now this is something that honestly has probably been on the minds of several gamers who own a variety of devices. Who wouldn’t want to buy a game once for all their devices? Now one problem that that most people don’t consider is that Microsoft has once considered initiating multiplatform cross multiplayer once in past already, but they didn’t. Now, why would this even be a bad thing? I can finally include my “PC Master Race” friends to play games along with me finally.

Now this is where things get interesting. In the past, Microsoft apparently had performed some research and testing on releasing cross platform play around 2010. They decided to test things out by putting your average PC gamer against some average console gamers. The results were pretty definitive of what would happen if the plan was put into action. As Nicholas Deleon of Tech Crunch put it, “Every single time the PC gamer killed the console gamer. And I don’t mean killed as in “fragged,” but killed as in the PC gamer knocked the teeth out of the console gamers every single time.” Now this might not be the case for every type of game since some games play a little bit better with a controller opposed to a keyboard and mouse but it was quite a concern.

Every single time the PC gamer killed the console gamer. And I don’t mean killed as in “fragged,” but killed as in the PC gamer knocked the teeth out of the console gamers every single time. – 

Playing on consoles with XIM4

Now I myself wasn’t too concerned when I first heard about this, but I had my own reasons why I wasn’t concerned. This mostly had to do with the fact that I myself have been using some 3rd party gaming hardware that allowed me to take advantage of some of the benefits of the “PC Master Race” control scheme on my own Xbox One. It’s a device called the XIM4. It allows me to hook up my choice of keyboard, mouse, gamepad, or other input devices to a Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, or PS4 used a wired controller and additional wired connection. Now on that on its own isn’t enough since each games buttons, and aiming is different but it has a comprehensive library of mouse sensitivity and aim profiles customized for each game available. Once setup though I may not be godlike in gameplay, but I definitely have a serious advantage in mobility, and aiming that is obvious when I switch back, and forth between the two control setups.

Here’s a preview of a XIM4 in use:

Conclusion

When it comes down to it though having Digital Titles with the Xbox Play Anywhere feature is going to be pretty nice. Even if you’re playing with elite PC gamers, it means you can recruit your own heavy hitters into your team play. It’s going to benefit people who want to play games with all the friends, and not feel like their excluded because their a casual gamer who plays on a console. Playstation has been heading towards a similar goal for some of their game titles. If Microsoft and Playstation do finally link up their multiplayer servers then things in gaming are going to get real interesting because platform choices may become an issue of that past that prevents you from playing with your friends online.

What do you think about Xbox Play Anywhere?

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