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By Jessica Brister On 24 Oct, 2015 At 04:44 PM | Categorized As PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarBefore there was even a concept of the life simulation franchise The Sims, there was another game that was out that was one of my favorites as a child. Jones in the Fast Lane, developed and published by Sierra Entertainment in 1990, was one of the most fun simulation games of the time. Not only did it have amazing graphics for the time, but the game play was top-notch. It was literally a life simulation game for “Keeping up with the Joneses.”

The game’s goals are simple get enough wealth, happiness, career, and education points and win. The game can be played one of three ways: just with one player, one player against the computer (the game calls him “Jones”), or up to four players. Of course, this was at a time before online gaming, so those four players actually had to be in the same room, taking turns on the computer. Remember the days of the family PC? This game catered to that crowd.


The player goes through a board-game style layout with different types of businesses including a factory, a bank, a grocery store, an appliance store, a clothing store, and so on. Players must get a job, make money, feed themselves each week, and find time to relax a bit. Of course, if they want to move up the ladder a bit, getting an education is a must. The player plays a week at a time instead of days. Everything is timed in the game, so walking to a place takes time, working takes time, taking a class takes time. Even going shopping takes time. When the time is up for each week, the next player goes. Each player must make sure that they plan out what they want to accomplish each week.

With everything that the player does, it creates points. Advance in your career? Points. Finish a class at the university? Points. Buy a hot tub? Points. Sit and do nothing in your apartment? Points. The goal points can be adjusted at the beginning of the game if you want a shorter or longer game. Jones in the Fast Lane may sound easy with these elements, but there are a lot of issues that can arise including: inflation or deflation, rent being due every week, needing new clothes every six weeks, getting robbed at the bank, and even applying for a job. It’s a truly fun game, and it’s even more fun with a bunch of people hovered around one computer.


For the time, Jones in the Fast lane had amazing 256-color VGA graphics, and it was also apparently one of the first games to run in Windows 3.0. The fact that I still love to play it twenty-five years later says something about the quality of the game. Even though it’s not the latest thing, because it’s designed almost like a board game, it really doesn’t matter how old it is. It will always feel like a great board game, and those never go out of style. Though it’s an old game, the graphics aren’t what I would say are headache-inducing like some of the ones in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s just one of those special games that you always want to go back to.

Jones in the Fast Lane used to have an app on the Google Play Store that had a pretty decent port of it for Android, but that has not been taken down. I’m not sure why. If you do get a chance to run across this gem, I highly recommend it. The game is amazing, and still is relevant even today. As I always say, I learned how to live through Jones in the Fast Lane: pay your rent on time, work hard, get an education, get some stuff to make your life easier, and find time to relax. That really is the best advice to life in my humble opinion.


No GravatarFor those who want a great medium-sized tablet, there really is nothing else better than the Galaxy Tab S 8.4.  In fact, there might not be anything else comparative on the market for the size and price.

The Tab S sports the following features:

  • 1.9 GHz Exynos 5 Octa processor
  • Android 4.4 Kit Kat OS
  • 16 GB hard drive
  • 3 GB RAM
  • Super AMOLED Display (2560×1600 WQXGA Resolution)
  • 8 megapixel rear camera with an LED flash
  • 2.1 megapixel front camera
  • Micro SD card slot
The Tab S 8.2 also looks pretty slick.

The Tab S 8.4 also looks pretty slick.


This tablet is incredibly responsive.  It will multi-task nicely without issue, including those who would use it heavily for streaming and social media at the same time.  The tablet typically blasts through what most casual users would need, and does a decent job with the hard processing power for a tablet.


The Super AMOLED Display is absolutely amazing.  It by far goes above and beyond much tablets out there.  The display is incredibly sharp to the point that one may have hard time finding a wallpaper that is high enough resolution to show up properly without being incredibly pixilated.  For those who love media, especially videos, will adore the high resolution of this tablet.

The 8.4 inch display is quite nice a well.  Some might find that a 10 inch tablet is a bit too big for holding in one hand, while 7 inch tablets are just a bit too small.  This one reaches an easy medium.  It is easily held in one hand, but has a great screen size.

Size and Shape

The Tab S 8.4 is incredibly thin.  Compared to the tablets of a few years ago, this thing is so small and light-weight, even though it has a decently-sized screen.  It is easy to hold in one hand and looks amazingly slick with its thin profile.

Battery Life

The Tab S can go many days with just casual use.  However, someone who heavily uses the tablet or who decides to run Netflix or another movie streaming site for awhile will need to charge it every night.  After a few months of running the device, the battery life has stayed fairly consistent.  Extensive multitasking doesn’t drain the battery as much as it could, but it is a good idea to close all applications when done with the device.


Both the front and the back get the job done, however, photography connoisseurs might want to look at the specs first when deciding.  The ability to do video chat is great for those who enjoy Skype or Google Hangouts as well.

Operating System

The biggest–and possibly only–con to this tablet is the fact that it’s a Samsung and the odds of many Android updates are very, very slim.  In the past, older Samsung tablets have not been updated pretty much at all.


The Samsung Galaxy Tab S is impressive as a high-performing tablet.  The display alone is enough to turn heads.  However, with the performance and style, this tablet really does shine.

By Jessica Brister On 12 May, 2015 At 07:16 PM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4, Reviews, ROG News, ROG Tech | With 0 Comments
PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset-6

No GravatarFor PlayStation gamers looking for a decent wireless headset, the PlayStation Gold is a great option.  It has many features that are a must-have for online game play.  Though there may be better headsets out there with better sound quality, there really isn’t anything sufficient available for the price.


Here are some of the features that the Gold provides:

Battery Life

The battery life is very similar to that of a typical PS4 controller.  If both are charged at the same time, the battery will last for the same amount of time.  This provides a full day of gaming with one charge, or if a person is only casually gaming, it will hold out for a couple of days between charges.  With a standard mico USB charger, if it the batter does get low, it can easily be charged while a person is still playing with a long cable.  The one that is provide with the Gold is quite short, however.


The PlayStation Gold is pretty comfortable.  It certainly is a lot more wearable than an in-ear headset and can be worn for quite awhile with no issue.  In fact, it is easy to forget that the headset is on.  There is padding along the top and around the ears.  The ear phones themselves are large enough to be comfortable for many hours of gaming.  It can get a bit hot because it is a larger headset, which may affect those living in a warmer more humid climate.


The Gold features a noise cancelling microphone for chat during gaming.  There is an adjustable volume for chat and game volume, which is really handy.  It also easily adapts to the PS3, PS4, PSVita (using a headphone jack), or PC.  The Gold is incredibly easy to plug into a PS3 or PS4: just plug the USB in and select headset from the console.  Two PlayStation Gold’s can be plugged into a PS4 at once, making split-screen gaming with a friend very easy.  The microphone itself is very clear and, unlike the PlayStation Silver, does not have a microphone sticking out.


The Gold has a 7.1 virtual surround sound, and it does sound pretty decent.  A true audio connoisseur will probably not like it, but the average gamer will no doubt enjoy the sound quality for the price.


The best part about the PlayStation Gold is its versatility because there are many more uses for it than just gaming.  It’s great for watching Netflix while a spouse of significant other is asleep.  For those people with children, a person can watch or play something without worrying about the kids hearing foul language.  For apartment dwellers, the Gold is amazing for late night movies and gaming so that the neighbors don’t hear.  The Gold is an overall good headset

So, is the PlayStation Gold the best wireless headset ever?  No.  However, is it the best for the price?  Absolutely!  It typically retails for a hundred dollars or lower, depending on the deal.  For a comfortable and versatile headset, that is a very reasonable price.


No GravatarTake a beautiful, open-world.  Stir in an interesting plot.  Add a dash of humor.   Blend in some great first-person shooter action.  Finally, mix in some fun online game play.  This is the recipe for the must-have game of this current generation: Far Cry 4.

Released in November 2014, Far Cry 4 was developed by Ubisoft Montreal.  Following in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Far Cry 3, it is an action-adventure, first-person shooter.  It also contains some RPG elements, such as an XP system that allows a player to upgrade or add different abilities.  Although there is multiplayer in the game, one does not have to be online to play through the game.

The game takes place in the fictional world of Kyrat, a Nepal-like, mountainous country in the midst of a cruel dictatorship.  Pagan Min (Troy Baker), Kyrat’s insane dictator, rules with an iron fist while a resistance group called the Golden Path tries to take back their country.  The game takes on the first-person perspective of Ajay Ghale (James A. Woods), a refugee of Kyrat who was brought to America as a child by his mother.  Upon her death, Ajay has been requested to sprinkle her ashes in Kyrat.  After arriving in the war-torn country, Pagan Min intercepts Ajay’s bus.  Some quick rescuing by the Golden Path ensues, and now, the fate of Kyrat rests with Ajay.

Throughout the game, the player is immersed in the world of Kyrat.  There’s not a great amount of depth to the actual plot, but that is not an issue because the story combined with the colorful characters and engrossing setting make it very entertaining.  In fact, the characters are so quirky that it really makes the game enjoyable.  Pagan Min may be crazy, but some of the things that come out of his mouth are hilarious.  This may be one of Troy Baker’s finest performances to date: dramatic, wry, and dynamic all at the same time.  There are also many other outlandish characters in Kyrat as well, including two druggies, an overly enthusiastic but ignorant gun-slinging American, a man who thinks guns and religion are the same thing, and a silly radio DJ.  The game can be laugh out loud funny at times, even with a more serious underlying tone.

The characters are a definite highlight to the game.

The characters are a definite highlight to the game.

Though characters and story are a definite highlight of the game, it is the game play that really shines in Far Cry 4.  It is a slick open world, first-person shooter with a lot of upgradable guns and many different game play strategies.  The map area is large and can become more and more visible by climbing radio towers and liberating them.  The player is free to explore, although some areas are more hazardous than others.  There are also outposts that must be cleared out in order to drive back Pagan Min’s men.  These outposts can be replayed as many times as a player wishes.  Missions appear on the map in a similar fashion to a Rockstar game like GTA.

The variety of missions given in the game really keeps it interesting.  Both main and side missions seem relevant to the story line, and therefore, do not get old.  Missions can involve anything from hunting wildlife, racing on one of the many vehicles, defending a Golden Path area, or hitting supply trucks.  Since Kyrat is very mountainous, there is actually a mountain climbing element to the game that is actually more enjoyable than the last Tomb Raider game.  The most fun, however, may actually be just exploring around Kyrat in one of the may means of transportation.  Besides the traditional cars and trucks, there are wing suits, hang gliders, and a helicopter.  A player can dive out of a helicopter, go into the wing suit, and then to a parachute in a matter of moments.

The helicopter is probably the best transportation in the game.

The helicopter is probably the best transportation in the game.

Though the game may seem like a standard first-person shooter, it does have some RPG elements to it.  Players gain XP from killing bad guys and finding different items, which in turn gives them skill points.  Skill points can be used to unlock or upgrade abilities.  Some abilities, however, cannot be unlocked without doing certain missions.  And, yes, one ability is elephant riding, something that adds a whole new dimension to the game.  Crafting is another way to upgrade the character, this time by allowing the player to hold more items such as weapons (up to four can be held at one time), loot, money, and ammo.  A player must hunt for certain animals in Kyrat in order to upgrade these items.  Different weapons can be bought and upgraded as well once they are unlocked by completing certain game play elements.  There is a nice variety to the what a player can carry and can really depend on play style.  Bows and weapons with silencers are great for someone who enjoys stealth.  More flashy, automatic weapons are for the run and gun type.  The best part of the game play is that a person is not–for the most part–forced to choose only play style.

Online play includes both player versus player and cooperative.  The player versus player aspect, titled The Battle of Kyrat, includes game play modes such as quick matches, seize the outpost, recover the demon masks, destroy Pagan Min propaganda, and defend territory.  Each mode feels very similar to the main game play and includes fun aspects such as animals and different weapons.  The cooperative is only two player, but it is quite entertaining.  One person plays as Ajay, while the other plays as Hurk, a crazy but hilarious American who loves guns and destroying stuff.  Both players basically go throughout the open world and do side missions together.  Unfortunately, story missions are turned off, but it is still a lot of fun to do the many side missions.  It is definitely the best co-op of this generation because it relies on the “you and a buddy” approach to online gaming, where it is more about fun than players trying to take the game too seriously.

To add the amazing game play, the graphics are slick.  They may not quite be the best of this generation so far, but they are quite pretty.  Exploring Kyrat is a pleasure in a very similar way to trekking around Skyrim.  However, the color palate is much brighter, emphasizing more greens and bright blues.  It makes for a great gaming experience.  And the cut-scenes aren’t so shabby either.

Kyrat is a very pretty world to explore.

Kyrat is a very pretty world to explore.

So, with a decent story, amazingly fun game play, and beautiful graphics, Far Cry 4 is a must have for this current generation, especially for first-person shooter fans.  It incorporates everything that is good with gaming, and though it might not the be the greatest game of all time, it will definitely one of the best games of this generation so far.

Oh, and Far Cry 4 has the best East Egg ever.  Google it.



No GravatarFor those gamers looking for a lot of action similar to the Batman: Arkham series mixed with some high fantasy, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor could be a good choice.  Set in the Lord of the Rings universe between the events of The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, Shadow of Mordor is a great game for LOTR fans.  But, is it enjoyable for people who haven’t read the books or seen the films or for those who are not into the series?  Yes, one can play this game without any knowledge of the series.  However, it will be more enjoyable for LOTR fans.

The game was a sleeper hit when it came out in September of 2014, a hidden gem in a sea of mediocre games that had come out that year.  Developed by Monolith Productions and published by Warner Bro. Interactive Entertainment, it came out for PC, PlayStation 3 and 4, and XBox 360 and One.  For the purpose of this review, I will be exploring how the game felt for PlayStation 4.  The game is considered an action RPG and utilizes a more open world map.

The short version of the story is basically The Crow meets Lord of the Rings.  If you haven’t seen or read either, first of all I would suggest that you remedy that right away.  However, that might take some time so here is the synopsis: it’s a revenge tale about a Ranger named Talion (voiced by Troy Baker) who is killed, along with his family, and brought back to find those that killed them (the Uruks).  It’s an interesting revenge tale, and it’s fun to see familiar LOTR characters in the story as well.  Since the game takes place between The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one can see Sauron’s minions getting stronger throughout the game.  Along with Talion, there is another undead wraith, Celebrimbor, who is helping out and giving him cool powers.  The relationship was a very similar feel to when Aragorn recruited the undead in Return of the King.   

 The biggest problem with the story is that, as a whole, it’s not strong enough to hold what I would say is the “average” person’s attention.  Sure, it’s fun, but it’s not super compelling.  Big-time LOTR fans would probably love it.  However, when I played it, I was playing more for the game play and not for the story.  As good as the beginning of the game started, it very much fizzled out over the end.

The story is in interesting idea but was executed poorly.

The story is an interesting idea but was executed poorly.

The game play, though, is very good, except for a few issues.  If you are familiar with the Batman Arkham games, Shadow of Mordor will be very easy to get into.  The game play is almost exact, and you level up in a similar way.  You fight in a similar way.  You can even change (most) attack commands mid-stride, making it easier to stop and counter and enemy.

The “RPG-aspect” (or leveling up system) of the game is very similar to the Batman: Arkham games as well.  Shadow of Mordor is not really the traditional RPG that I thought it was going to be.  When I heard it was open world, I was thinking more “Elder Scrolls.”  The game is very open world, and it’s very action oriented.  The leveling system is very interesting.  There are two skill trees to level up: Ranger and Wraith.  Each are interesting and fun to play.  There are ability points for getting enough XP, and the player can use those points to add certain powers and moves from the skill trees.  There are also options to upgrade the sword, bow, and dagger with runes that the player obtains from killing Uruk Captains (more on this later).

Overall, the basic game play mechanics of the game are very fun, but that’s not the crowning jewel of the game.  Technically, most of the game play is nothing new, since it borrows heavily from the Batman games’ mechanics.  However, the Nemesis System totally and utterly blew my mind.  It is new, original, and highly creative.  All year, I was looking for something new in gaming.  I was getting really tired of game play that is borrowed from ten or fifteen years ago.  Instead of relying on arena-style boss battles and push-the-button-oh-look-more-enemies, Shadow of Mordor gives us the Nemesis System, which I would describe as a roaming boss battle that remembers.

As you play the game, you meet Uruk Captains that can be pretty tough bosses.  If you kill one, you upset the balance of Sauron’s army.  If you or the boss run away during battle, the guy will remember you.  If one kills you, he will get more powerful when you come back (you’re already dead, so you can die as many times as you’d like–see the next segment for more details).  Not only that, but he may challenge a higher ranking Captain and change ranks.  If a normal Uruk kills you, he will get promoted up the ranks and so on.  If you die from something random, a lot of Uruks among the ranks get more powerful.  These bosses will remember that they killed you previously and comment on it.  You also can interrogate Uruks to gain information about bosses in the higher level ranks.  Each boss has strengths and weaknesses, and you have plan your attacks accordingly.

I have honestly not seen anything quite like this system.  I thought it was revolutionary when BioShock had the roaming boss battles, but Shadow of Mordor has improved upon that even more.  Sure, it can be a pain when you have a boss that has killed you several times and has gotten really powerful because of it.  But let me tell you, when you finally kill the guy, you will be cheering.  I also really enjoyed the strategy element that comes in when attacking these bosses.  You can’t go about doing things in just one way because what works for one boss might not for another.  Plus, you can make decisions such as allowing one boss to live so it will take out another (Uruks like to fight each other for power).

The Nemesis System really is the best part of the game.

The Nemesis System really is the best part of the game.

Here’s the only problem with the game play: besides a lackluster story line, the game can be very monotonous.  The side-quests are extremely repetitive and the nemesis system, which should be awesome, is very overbearing.  It’s hard to do ANYTHING without a boss targeting you out, which ends up being extremely annoying after about ten plus hours into the game.  The game play doesn’t translate well overall, unfortunately.  With a poor story line, the repetitive game play ends up being boring and hard to get through.  Sure, you can blast through the man quest with no problem, but for those who like to really get into the game, it ends up being very disappointing.

The graphics are fairly good, though there are much prettier-looking games out there for this current generation.  The overall look and feel of the game was a little dark and somewhat dull, which added to the monotony of the story after awhile.  However, I can understand the developer’s choice in this color palate, since it fits well with the dire tone of the story line.

The overall tone of the game is bleak and so is the color palate for the graphics.

The overall tone of the game is bleak and so is the color palate for the graphics.

Overall, the game is pretty decent: it makes great strides with the Nemesis System, but unfortunately does not do the same with the story.  However, it is refreshing to see a developer in the gaming industry try to do something different for a change, and I have to give Monolith productions a lot of credit for that.  Although I do not feel the game is a full price buy, now that it’s been out for several months, it would be a good addition to anyone’s gaming library at bit of a discount.

By Jessica Brister On 24 Sep, 2014 At 11:48 PM | Categorized As Company Spotlight, Featured, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarIt’s been over five years since Sims 3 came out, and many fans of the Sims franchise have been very excited about Sims 4.  Although it wasn’t quite the gem that I was expecting, Sims 4 still has its merits.

Sims 4 was released on September 2 for Windows-based computers only.  It is basically a life simulation game that was developed by Maxis and The Sims Studio and was published by EA.  The Sims, like games like Minecraft, is a game that some people love and obsess over and some people “just plain don’t get.”  Despite this, the Sims franchise itself has been hugely popular; however, has had some criticism in recent years of nickel and diming players with bunches of add-ons and expansions.  Compared to its predecessor, Sims 3, there are very specific gaming elements that were improved upon and there are also very specific things that were not so good.

The first major improvement of the game was the slick new Create a Sim system, which is the way a player creates his or her Sim and Sim family.  This is actually one of the best improvements from Sims 3 to Sims 4.  It is quite obvious that Maxis really spent a lot of time into this part of the game: it runs extremely well and is very easy to use.  Plus, you end up with a Sim very close to what you wanted.  The sliders of Sims 3 have been replaced with clicking on and manipulating body parts.  To make adjustments to the body part that you want, click on it and move it around to the desired size and location.  It ends up being very easy for you to create a very customized Sim.  For those who aren’t great manipulating body parts, there are pre-set Sims that you can choose from as well.  There was also a nice selection of clothing and outfits to choose from, and they were easily sorted by types (something very different from Sims 3).  The only downside to the new Create a Sim is that the player is limited on hair, eye, and clothing colors because of a Create a Style system (more on this later).  I’m hoping that more options are added later in a patch or expansion.

 Create a Sim is by far the best updated feature for Sims 4.  In this aspect, it blows Sims 3 out of the water.

Create a Sim is by far the best updated feature for Sims 4. In this aspect, it blows Sims 3 out of the water.

The second improvement was the addition of The Gallery, an online sharing community.  Sims 3 touted The Exchange, a similar online sharing concept.  The problem with it, though, was that to get any shared content from other players, one would have to log into The Exchange from a web browser, selection what you want, download it, install it, and then boot up the game.  This was very tedious.  Sims 4 fixes this because it is all in-game sharing.  All a player has to do is click on The Gallery icon in game, and this automatically shows up while you are still playing.  You can place Gallery items on lots on the fly very easily which is a nice bonus.  Sharing your own Sims and lots is also just as easy.

You are only one click away from browsing through what others have shared.

You are only one click away from browsing through what others have shared.

Another improvement is the overall performance of Sims 4.  For those who have played Sims 3 with all of the expansions, the game engine got really bogged down.  Although this might also happen to Sims 4 in the future, the base game is very stable (then again, so was Sims 3).  The real improvement is the fact that Sims 4 runs pretty well on computers that are not high-end.  I’m not sure if I would run the game on the minimum requirements, but the game handled by laptop, which is not a gaming PC, without any issues.  Sure, the graphics were automatically toned down quite a bit, but the overall game ran great without any hiccups.  Just for reference, if you’d like to do a comparison to how Sims 4 might run on your PC: I am using an HP Pavilion dv6 Notebook with an AMD A6-34200M with an integrated graphics card and six GB of memory.  Though I have not had the time to try the game on my actually gaming PC, I was impressed with how the game handled on my laptop.  However, with my experience with Sims 3, I am concerned about how Sims 4 will run with multiple expansions added to it.

The graphics are toned down quite a bit on a lower end up, but the game play actually is very smooth as long as the minimum PC requirements are met.

The graphics are toned down quite a bit on a lower end up, but the game play actually is very smooth as long as the minimum PC requirements are met.

The fourth enhancement to the game was the addition of new and better Sim interactions.  This is what Maxis really concentrated on, and overall, they did a pretty good job.  “Emotions” were a new addition to Sims 4, which can add some interesting outcomes, though I think they were a bit overrated for as much as they were touted.  The Sim interactions were much more interesting, especially since it was a common complaint in Sims 3 that the open world led to less interactions between your Sims and NPC Sims.  Because Sims 4 is not really open world, this issue has been fixed.  It is very easy to find other Sims and hang out with them.  Though open world is lost, it is very fun to talk to multiple Sims at once, which is another new addition to the game.


Although you lose the open world feel, it is easy to find and meet new Sims.  I was able to find this Sim within seconds of starting a new game.

Although you lose the open world feel, it is easy to find and meet new Sims. I was able to find this Sim within seconds of starting a new game.

The last major improvement in game play is the ability to have Sims multi-task, which is a new thing for the franchise.  In previous Sims games, a Sim could only do one thing at a time.  In Sims 4, a player can make his or her Sim to multiple things at once.  This element adds some interesting game play to the mix.  For example, I had my Sim reading a book.  When I saw the bladder meter go down, I had my Sim use the toilet.  I was delighted to see that my Sim took the book to the toilet and continue reading on it, much to my amusement.  This ability to multitask has made the game play a bit more fresh, though the novelty may wear off after a bit.

Sims are no longer forced to do one thing at a time.

Sims are no longer forced to do one thing at a time.

With all of these improvements, it at first glance seems as if Sims 4 can do no wrong.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad with the good, especially if you are a die-hard Sim 3 player.  One of the biggest disappointments for Sims 4 is the fact that the open world concept of Sims 4 was nixed for a world of segmented “neighbordhoods.”  The open world of Sims 3 was a revolutionary part of the franchise that really took the Sims to a new level.  I tried to keep an open mind and thought that if it was done right, neighborhoods might not be so bad.  Unfortunately, the neighborhoods concept in Sims 4 are not that great.  The six sections of each neighborhood do not feel connected, and you have to use your Sim’s phone to get anywhere.  The loading screens didn’t bother me that much, but I was hoping that you could walk or jog from one neighborhood to another (unless there is something that I haven’t figure out yet).  The Sims 4 “world” is not that large, either.  There are technically two worlds that come with the base game, but there are only actually six neighborhoods for each world, and there’s not that much to each neighborhood.

This is the neighborhood selection screen for Sims 4.  As you can see, your options are limited for places to go.

This is the neighborhood selection screen for Sims 4. As you can see, your options are limited for places to go.

Another Sims 4 disappointment was the lot building system, which was supposed to be a major improvement from Sims 3 to Sims 4.  Overall, the building system was actually a disappointment.  It is indeed pretty easy to make corrections and add rooms on the fly, but it actually takes longer to build anything overall when compared to Sims 3.  This is mostly due to the crazy camera angles that the game forces you to look through.  I even spent extra time trying to play around to see if I could get the angles any better, but I still haven’t found any style that I like.  I am hoping that this eventually gets fixed in a patch or update.  I was also very disappointed to see that the current lot size limit is 50×50 residential lots for Sims 4, which makes it hard to create massive mansions (large for Sims 3 is 60×60 or 64×64).

This is not my idea of a McMansion, but this is apparently as large as residential lots get so far in Sims 4.

This is not my idea of a McMansion, but this is apparently as large as residential lots get so far in Sims 4.

The third disappointment is the lack of entertainment options for Sims in the Sims 4.  I do understand that you are purchasing a base game when you get Sims 4, but I really was expecting a bit more, especially after getting it for a “next-gen” price tag.  There are no swimming pools, cars, or a large open world to explore, so that game can get a bit boring at times.  There are some interesting skills that have been added for the game, but overall, I found that this aspect of the game was lacking.  The game might pick up a bit when expansions start getting added, but it really shouldn’t take a bunch of expansions to make the game fun.

Oh, I do miss cars and wandering around the open world of Sims 3.  Sims 4 entertainment options for Sims seems a bit lacking in comparison.

Oh, I do miss cars and wandering around the open world of Sims 3. Sims 4 entertainment options for Sims seems a bit lacking in comparison. (Photo of Sims 3 game play)

Another Sims 3 gaming element that Sims 4 left out was the Create a Style system.  This system was a unique way for players to customize pretty much anything in the game.  Maxis ditched this element for a set of pre-selected colors that you can choose from for clothing or home building/decorating.  Unfortunately, the pre-selected colors weren’t that great.  I had a hard time creating the house I wanted from what they gave me.  It felt like a lot of “basic” colors were not included in the pre-selected ones, such as white.  This made creating a custom home very tedious, and I never quite ended up with what I wanted.

Sure you have a lot of colors to choose from in the pre-selected colors of Sims 4, but sometimes getting a basic color like white is almost impossible.

Sure you have a lot of colors to choose from in the pre-selected colors of Sims 4, but sometimes getting a basic color like white is almost impossible.

Lastly, I was disappointed to see how Maxis went with the Sim careers this time.  There are some interesting careers in Sims 4, but it really doesn’t matter because you don’t really to get see them at work or interact with work that much.  Sims 4 works a lot of Sims 2 with jobs: when it’s time for work, you leave the lot and disappear for awhile.  There’s not even an animated carpool or anything; you just run off of the lot.  It’s a really annoying and disappointing aspect to the game that I hope eventually gets patched.  When Sims 3 came out, some people complained about the “rabbit holes” (where a Sim would disappear into a building and come out when they were done).  What they actually wanted was to be able to see and control their Sims at all times.  What we got in Sims 4 is the elimination of rabbit holes for Sims disappearing off of  the map altogether.  This does not solve the rabbit hole issue, but it does actually make things worse.

What's the point of these fun careers if your Sim disappears during the workday?

What’s the point of these fun careers if your Sim disappears during the workday?

Overall, the Sims 4 is a stable, solid game that has a lot of great elements.  If you are a fan of the franchise, you will probably like it.  However, it does have a lot of issues in which I hope get resolved in the future.

smoking mirror 2 title

No GravatarIt’s been a while since I’ve played point and click adventure games; they were a childhood staple for me. Most kids had either a Gameboy or a console, both if they were lucky, for me it was adventure and educational computer games. I grew up in a strict household where if we were having fun we better be doing something that wasn’t making our brain rot so that’s how I ended up playing lots of point and click games. From what I remember most of those games probably wouldn’t be much fun for me today, but those mystery and puzzle games had always been fun to figure out. Apart from Nancy Drew I hadn’t really ventured in the point and click adventure game genre since but Broken Sword 2 has refreshed my curiosity.

smoking mirror 2 title

Definitely not for kids it’s the second game in the Broken Sword series which revolve around the adventures of George Stobbart and Nico Collard. The remastered game is available in both PC and mobile devices in download format. In this installment Nico goes with George to investigate a carved Mayan stone she came across while investigating a drug ring. When she goes to a professor’s house to get more info George is knocked out and she is immediately abducted. The game has you step in the shoes of both Nico and George to unravel a strange conspiracy that puts their lives in danger and might have the fate of the world rest in its balance.

The controls are easy to figure out in both mobile and computer with options to look, talk, pick up, and interact depending on the nature of the thing you’re clicking on. With simple controls you’re free to examine and figure your way through the game. One of the things that has always been frustrating for me was the common stuck feeling I always got when playing through these types of games, but Broken Sword 2 has hints to help you through the game when you need a nudge. My favorite thing about the hint feature is the games give you escalating hints that go from slight nudges to detailed instructions on what to do the more hints you ask for, which allows you to still get the satisfaction of figuring things out and not have to consult walkthroughs if you hit a brick wall.

This game is hard enough to not be a one sitting game, requiring me to stop playing halfway through so I don’t finish by the time the sun rises again. According to Steam I played for 8 hours, your experience may vary.


Perhaps what made my game drag out so much was the witty dialogue and excellent voice acting, which had me pick every talking option with the other characters. If you’re like me in that aspect you’ll enjoy some of the jokes throughout the game, one of my favorite involves a tequila worm I picked up, and you have the option of showing it to most characters you encounter in the game with Stobbart himself seeming to notice his strange attraction to the worm as the game progresses. Everything else is top notch too. This game came out in the 90’s so there’s only so much you can remaster until it loses its old fashioned charm, and to me it seems tweaked enough to still feel like a game from the era but enough retouching to make the game look like a really good version of its old self. The cut scenes are some of the most gratifying things you get out of the game and push you to see how the story ends. The new game even comes with a prequel comic, a great bonus for such a satisfying game.

Smoking Mirror 2 bonus comic

So what I’m saying is you should definitely check out the remastered version of Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror, it’s a great game. If you want to watch the trailer be mindful that it might contain some spoilers.


No GravatarWatch_Dogs is the much-anticipated blockbuster game from Ubisoft that makes hacking look cool.  While the game feels very GTA-inspired, it actually stands on its own as a unique game play experience.  The game is a lot of fun.  It will definitely sell a lot of copies and make Ubisoft a lot of money.  However, it does not feel like a game that is going to stand out as one that people will remember for years and years down the road.  There’s a lot to like about this game, but unfortunately, there’s not much to love.


Note: This review is being done for PS4 without any added DLCs.  PC users have complained of issues about the game.  My colleagues have reported buggy problems with the game as well, point to the Conspiracy DLC as a possible culprit.  I personally did not have any of these issues, but it is good to be cautious. Watch_Dogs is a third-person/driving action adventure game that was released on May 27 this year.  It was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft.  It is an open-world game that allows that player to explore the streets of a digital version of Chicago.  The game incorporates an online multiplayer element as well as several “mini games” throughout the main game. The story follows hacker Aiden Pearce, an anti-hero who skirts the law in order to bring about justice.  After a hacking heist that went bad, Aiden is bound and determined to go after the people responsible.  Known as “The Vigilante,” he is ready to bring down the people who messed up his life.  Overall, the story was pretty strong.  It’s actually a lot deeper than any GTA plot, and it definitely gives the player some things to think about.  Is it memorable for years to come?  Probably not.  But it is entertaining and does hold some value.

Aiden Pearce is a very cool character.

Aiden Pearce is a very cool character.

Game play is probably one of the game’s stronger points.  For one thing, there is a variety for the player.  Some of the game is car-oriented.  Other parts are solely on foot.  Most missions highlight Aidan’s hacking abilities, which are a nice added bonus to the game and can be quite fun.  The game play is often compared to a GTA game, but they are really only similar.  In Watch_Dogs, unless the player wants to go the “evil” route, killing pedestrians and police officers is a “no-no.”  Much of the game involves strategy and sneak skills.  It is very similar to a game like The Last of Us, where the player can go the sneaky route and not shoot a single round or go the more direct route and get into a fire-fight.  Having the option to do either adds to the game play variety.  There is also a skill point tree and a HP system.  Aidan learns new things as he gets more experience, making a ten minute police chase seem a lot less annoying when the player gets points after it.

The game may look like a GTA game, but it actually plays very differently.

The game may look like a GTA game, but it actually plays very differently.

The graphics in Watch_Dogs really demonstrates what the new next-gen consoles can handle.  The level of detail is amazing.  From the potholes in the street to the reflection of the rain to the dampness of Aidan’s coat when the player makes him take a plunge in a river, the graphics are definitely a highlight for the game.  Happily, though, the graphics are not the only good thing about the game.  The graphics could be horrible, and the game would still be a lot of fun to play. This game is a lot of fun.  Whether it be the smooth game play, the cool hacking abilities, the cute mini games, and the online play, the game can truly hold its own.  It is easy to blow thirty plus hours on the game without really even trying.  There’s a lot of game play variety as well, which helps to keep things fresh and the player still interested in the game.  Even buying it at full price, the player will get his or her money out of the game. Overall, there is a lot to like about Watch_Dogs.  It’s fun.  It’s hip.  It’s cool.  However, the biggest problem with the game is that it’s not exactly “epic.”  Even though Ubisoft will probably be making more sequels, the game doesn’t exactly feel memorable.  It’s not exactly “top video game of all time” material.  In fact, it’s not even close.  It doesn’t have the same feel as some other games that make you think about them even years after playing them.  Watch_Dogs is definitely a good game, but it’s not a great game.  That’s not exactly a problem, since most gamers don’t expect every game to be great.  But we can hope, right?  

By Sean Jacobs On 2 Jun, 2014 At 04:33 AM | Categorized As Indie Spotlight, Reviews, Uncategorized, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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One of many upcoming Unity engine games developed by independent studios. Press Play presents to us Max: The curse of brotherhood heads the way on Xbox One’s indie showcase 1st class. Just like the title infers this title is based on a tale of two brothers. One is a seemingly tween aged boy who is starting to outgrow his slightly younger sibling, just like the old story goes. Max the older brother decides to very early in the game (Actually, the beginning sequence) to go online to his worlds popular online search engine humorously named “Giggle” Max has one goal in mind, getting rid of his little brother. Max finds an odd website geared towards witchcraft he then recites the words to a spell on the sorcery site of ill will. Surprisingly to Max a portal opens up behind his brother and a creepy looking hairy armed beast snatches scrappy little brother Felix from their realm to another dimension. Max instantly understood his misdeed and goes after Felix right before thee portal closes.  



Max: The curse of brotherhood is a solid puzzle/platformer, it is the best platformer available on Microsoft’s flagship console to date. This title is endowed with great puzzle solving elements and classic gameplay mechanics that made this genre the most go to genre to date. This title has its moments of difficulty and I probably at the time of writing this review have logged in 11 hours to beat the game. I have yet to 100% complete the game currently my completion is at 52% progress in game objectives and 82% XBL achievements.Max: The curse of brotherhood was perfect in mostly all areas, I will give you what I liked and what I didn’t. I will start with the worst elements of the game.




The only part of the game that was lacking, while this title is littered with voice acting keep the game interesting and progressing the narrative of the game. My biggest gripe with the story element of Max is that the story is bare bones in terms of the epic journey Max is obviously on. The story progression is only pushed forward by in game animations and short game engine video sequences. The character progression is also leaving me wanting more, out of the five characters focused in on in this game zero characters backstory was moved forward if built up at all Max really did not impress. I must strongly say that’s while for me story in a platformer or any game is considered one of my four pillars of a solid game whereas Story, Gameplay, Controls & Art direction take precedence above anything else. Max’s other three pillars transfers the weight onto themselves helping you to forget the lack of story and focus in on everything that makes this game awesome!  


“…the best platformer available on Microsoft’s flagship console to date”



One of the most premier pillars of this game, Max: The curse of brotherhood really shines. As Max you will utilize the power of your marker endowed with magic (pun not intended on my end) This “Magic” marker Max has will gain multiple powers which all are derived from nature. Earth, Trees, Vines, Water and Fire will all be at your disposal soon as you unlock them from their temples. Each power adds to your arsenal and can be used at anytime to traverse your way through each level. You will use Earth to create platforms to lift Max up to get past or trap enemies. You will be able to create bridges and platforms with the powers of the Tree,Max will also be able to create customized shapes of branches like steps, ramps, rafts and any weirdly shaped object to get you through the levels. You can snap off and drag your newly created objects across the stage for puzzle solving purposes. Vines can be used to cross chasms by swinging or by crossing over them hand over hand also, you can ascend or descend within the stage. One great thing about all of your powers is that you can combine them in inventive ways to Solve your way through the end. One such way is creating a tree branch then drawing a vine connecting it to the branch either helping you cross something or maybe you can find other ways to utilize this new object to further your goals. Water will allow you to draw custom shapes to ride the waves or direct them at molten lava to turn it temporarily into stone creating platforms to get out of a flaming hot situation. You finally get to have fun with Fire when you create projectiles to pummel some of your enemies into a powdery dust or use the projectiles to break down barriers. I’m sure with all of these powers available to you by this time in the game you will be able to find other tricks to barrel your way to the end.  



The key to saving your little brother Felix is you “Magic” infused marker this is how you will draw your way through each stage and you will find that when it comes to control this element is spot on. You as Max will start the drawing process by pressing RT+A buttons while using the left analog stick to draw the shape you want your select power to turn into. You can then cut/ erase your object by holding RT+X button and crossing the objects path using the left analog stick. While playing I have had zero experiences where these controls were anything less than superb while, you will understand the control scheme early on it will take more time for you to master them later on within the game. Later you will get more imaginative battling your way through each level creating strings of power combinations making you feel like you are ready for anything. Max: The curse of brotherhood animations moves smoothly with seemingly cruising at a steady frame rate. Press Play has created this puzzle/ platformer with speed runners in mind in my opinion.  

“…this is a pleasant platformer sure to please”












I love the pre-rendered design the character models have. Each stage has its own unique feel they reflect what powers you will use or obtain as you delve deeper into each environment. The dramatic camera angles immerses you into the game along with having background, mid & foreground activity happening all at once or separately. As small as Max is in scale to the world he is apart of the camera plays a large part in bringing you close into the excitement or show you the grandeur of the environment. The large, lush, beautiful environments coupled with bright visuals and particle effects Max: The curse of the brotherhood’s graphical fidelity and camera work is unbelievable for the measly $14.99 you will pay for this small and jam packed title.


I must admit that I am a newcomer to the XBL lifestyle I am typically drawn to Nintendo and Sony’s consoles yet I have kept an eye on on the games out, Last Xbox I owned was the original one two whole generations ago. This generation I have all three eighth generation consoles with that being said out of all three consoles Max: The curse of brotherhood is one of my top 5 puzzle/platformers so far available.This outer dimension out world that Max sent his brother into has a history I would like to sink my teeth into further. I only hope this game does well enough to garner yet another return to this franchise. If you have any apprehension about trying this games out I highly suggest you purchase this title right from the Xbox Store this is a pleasant platformer sure to please.



No GravatarSurvival horror isn’t exactly my favorite gaming genre, but I saw that Outlast was for free on PlayStation Plus a couple of months ago.  I can’t say no to free, so I downloaded it and spent some time playing it.  Just for the record, this is the scariest game that I have ever played.  It’s so scary that I had to stop playing for awhile.  It is just downright frightening.  This type of genre is not my favorite, but Outlast was unique enough for me to buckle down and play through it.  Here is what I thought:

Outlast is a survival horror game developed and published by Red Barrels.  The game play is in first-person perspective; however, it cannot be described as a first-person shooter because there is not actual shooting.  The game came out for PC in September 2013 and was released for PlayStation 4  this February.  It uses the Unreal 3.5 Engine.  Outlast is more of an indy-game, but it has so far gotten some good reviews from critics.

The story follows journalist, Miles Upshur, a mild-mannered reporter who unfortunately doesn’t like fighting back.  Upshur has gotten a tip from a person only known as “The Whistleblower” and is going to check out some crazy things going on at Mount Massive Asylum.  At first glance, the asylum looks like it’s not even in use: there are no guards, doors are locked, and everything appears are be abandoned.  After breaking in, Miles comes to the realization that there is some really dangerous and scary things happening in the asylum.  Instead of gathering evidence, escaping becomes his main goal.

What could possibly go wrong in a creepy looking asylum, right?

What could possibly go wrong in a creepy looking asylum, right?

Overall, the story was pretty interesting, but there was something lacking in it, as if Red Barrels could have done a little more with it.  It’s a typical horror plot with some slasher elements.  The game is really, really scary.  Incredibly scary.  I found that there were times where I’d scream and throw down the controller.  Gamers looking for scary will not be disappointed.  However, I was hoping for a little bit more of a story than that I got.  Players get a lot of jump scares but not a lot of meat to the story.  The gore is pretty amped up, though.  In fact, it is a huge aspect of the game: severed heads, bodies everywhere, and pretty much anything that would remind you of a Saw movie.  Squeamish players would probably not like this game, but if this is your type of thing, you’ll probably like this game.  As a game in the horror genre, Outlast is one of the best that I’ve seen.

Outlast is in first person perspective, but this is not a game about fighting for your life like most first person games. Upshur is described as “not being a fighter,” so unless a scripted scene takes place, the player’s options are to run, hide, or die.  This was quite annoying for me at first because I can’t stand games where I can’t fight back.  I’ve always thought that if anyone is pushed far enough, he or she will find something to fight back with, even if it’s just a make-shift melee weapon.  Then again, I will say that not being able to fight back makes the game ten times scarier.  There’s nothing more frightening than running from something trying to kill you that makes your heart pound a bit harder.

Instead of fighting, the player will spend a lot of time hiding in lockers from the inmates in the asylum.

Instead of fighting, the player will spend a lot of time hiding in lockers from the inmates in the asylum.

As a journalist, Upshur gathers evidence by filming his surroundings.  The only light you get to use is from the night vision on the camera, which is very handy since many of the areas are pitch black.  Unfortunately, the night vision is hard to see out of.  This may actually make the game scarier in a way.  You also have to conserve the night vision because it will drain the battery quicker.  You can find more batteries but depending on the difficulty, they can be few and far between.  In true survival horror-style, you have to be a bit stingy with the batteries if you want to use the night vision during the really important times.

Overall, the controls are a bit stiff, and I found it kind of hard to move around the way I am accustomed to in most newer games.  When climbing ladders and scaling ledges, you can’t look down, which was quite annoying.  The game really didn’t feel as polished as other games in first-person perspective that I’ve played.  I was disappointed with this because I might have liked the game a lot better if the controls were a little more fluid.

The graphics were unfortunately the most disappointing part of the game.  Initially, I didn’t notice them as much because many of the areas are really dark.  However, after looking at bit closer, I noticed that a lot of the inmates at the asylum weren’t designed very well.  They didn’t look that great.  I’m not a video game graphics expert, but the characters looked like they were lacking a lot of detail.  If you look at them up close, there isn’t a lot of detail.  This was disappointing for a game that pretty much came out on PC and next-gen console only. Then again, I do understand that this game was a smaller project.  Besides, you probably won’t notice it that much anyhow because it’s always so dark when you play.

There's something off about the way the characters are built.

There’s something off about the way the characters are built.

Though I don’t really like the survival horror genre, the game was pretty interesting to play.  I doubt that I will be playing it again because I don’t like spending my free time feeling scared.  However, if you are looking for a game that will scare you, this is definitely the game.  Overall, most fans of the genre will enjoy it, and  I am now a little curious to see how Outlast will compare to the upcoming The Evil Within, which comes out in August.

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