Monday, October 31, 2011

Come explore the Disney Universe with me | Review

So I just recently received a review copy of Disney Interactive's latest title, Disney Universe.  If you know anything about me at all, I'm a huge Disney fan/nut.  In fact, my review is only slightly delayed since I just spent the last 4 days in Disneyland.  So yes, my last week was full of Walt's legacy.

But in this forum, I'll only be speaking of the latest platformer, Disney Universe.  This is a wholly new IP that is in the vein of the LEGO franchises, with a great focus on the worlds inhabited by Disney Characters.  In the title, you begin by only having access to the Pirates of the Caribbean (also a game already in LEGO form), and it plays very similar to those titles.  However, the difference is you don't play as characters from, you play as a unique character, who wears caricature versions of Disney Characters.  It's like a non-descript character wearing costumes of Disney Characters.  This is where I bring in the similarities to Little Big Planet.  Though your avatar isn't quite as cute as a Sackboy by itself, the fun combinations of famous Disney staples are fun in their own right to mix and match.  Running around with a Stitch costume, playing through Pirates of the Caribbean scenario's is quite the juxtaposition.

Continue Reading...

Get all warm and cozy with our review of the Selk'bag 4G Lite | Gear Review

I've struggled for the past week on how to write a gaming-centric review for the new Selk'Bag 4G Lite, sleeping bag.  I've decided that I can't...however, since Mashbuttons has been branching out into some more tech gear, this does still have application.
Just like any ol' sleeping bag, the Selk'Bag rolls up nice and tight into it's own carrying case.

If you're not familiar with it (I wasn't) of the Selk'bag 4G Lite sleeping system, then you're actually in for a treat.  It's a take on your standard sleeping bag, and turns it on it's legs; literally.  This sleeping bag is not a bag but a full-body suit made from sleeping bag material.  It's made to be a wearable sleeping bag, but offers flexibility to to still give you freedom of movement.  Sure, there's a Snuggie, but that's just a blanket with sleeves, this is a full-body sleeping bag machine!  In a word, it's pretty sweet.  Imagine sitting around the campfire with just your legs in it all nice and cozy.

Continue Reading our impressions

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why EA and Microsoft may lose a longtime fan

Some of you may or may not know about the recent security breach that no one is admitting guilt to. This breach would happen to be something that has affected me along with a number of other gamers on the Xbox 360. A little background to the issue is that some dickhead has managed to have received passwords to numerous gamertags and then proceeded to purchase thousands of MS Points on accounts that happen to have their credit card on file, then immediately use those MS Points on Premium Gold Packages for FIFA 12. This in turn results in your Live account being suspended for “25 days” according to Microsoft as they research the issue, which means a number of inconveniences to their paying subscribers. Those inconveniences consist of and are not limited to not being able to access Xbox Live, losing access to save files tied to your gamertag, and missing out on time exclusive downloads due to the inability to login, oh yeah, and if you are still a Netflix subscriber, you are not able to access that either. So what the hell is going on and why will neither Microsoft of EA admit guilt? Updated: Peter Moore, you know, the head honcho over at EA has stated that the breach is not on their side. Hear that Microsoft?

If you search FIFA 12, Premium Gold Package, or Xbox Live hacked, then you will find numerous articles regarding this issue, but yet there is nothing in regards to who is at fault. The truly unacceptable part of this, aside from the violated feeling, lack of gaming online or at all unless you choose not to set up a new gamertag, is being out 70 to 100 dollars, and dealing with a customer service department which sounds like they could give a shit less about your inconvenience with their service, is the fact that this has been happening to Xbox Live users for over a month, and Microsoft claims that their servers have not been compromised as that this is actually the user’s fault. My situation is just like everyone else’s so far, ninety dollars in charges were made for MS Points to be immediately used on FIFA 12 Premium Gold Packs, called Microsoft 800-4MY-XBOX in which my account was frozen for investigation, essentially turning my XBOX into a high priced paper weight.

Where does the frustration lie though, having no access to my XBOX for 25 days, dealing with incompetent customer service who will say anything to get you off the phone, or that this problem has been occurring for over a month and rather than admitting to system breach the blame is being placed on the consumer who pays for their services? If you have also had this happen I truly feel for you and luckily you do not have titles you have review for the number of seasonal releases, potentially ruining your relationships with game developers trusting you to play and review their products. I can say that after dealing with Microsoft’s customer service, I may be converting to the dark side, because at least the Sith Lords over at Sony can admit fault and issue a make good to make up for their error. 

This is truly an example of horrible customer service, because after numerous calls, in which I was told not once but twice, that they would put a rush on the incident to get my account live, to be later told by a supervisor by the name of Tony C. that there is no such rush. Not only that but to be told “that sucks” or “you’re a game critic, how do I get that gig?” is rather disheartening when you are a victim of fraud. Also, you have to love, and by love, I mean hate, that apparently “hacked” is a bad word when you call and that your account being compromised is not an admission to a problem with a potential security breach. I will admit I am/was a huge Xbox fanboy, but when you are treated like you are at fault for having your credit card saved on file, and that you are doing them a disservice for subscribing to their product and giving them money monthly for and advertisement filled service, it does leave a nasty taste in your mouth. 

So, hopefully this situation will be resolved shortly and to all the other victims out there, my heart goes out to you and I feel your pain. Here is something humorous to leave you with. In my conversation with the “supervisor”, I asked if he had an Xbox 360 and if he has a Live account in which he stated he did. I then asked how he would feel if this happened to him and he had to deal with the same service all of us paying customers are having to deal with, in which his response was………”I am sorry, but I cannot comment as this is a different situation”. Apparently they are not susceptible to security breaches like we are, but here is to hoping it happens to the wrong person there. That is all; I will step off my soap box now.

MashButtons reviews GrimGrimoire on the PS3

Some of you may remember a little title that released on the PlayStation 2 from a developer that may have the most artistic style I have seen in gaming, Vanillaware. If GrimGrimoire doesn’t immediately come to mind, then that most likely means you never played it or forgot about it. Vanillaware are the masterminds that brought you one of my favorite action platformers, Muramasa: The Demon Blade. This time, I am reviewing a classic real time strategy from the PlayStation 2 that is now available to download and play on the PS3. In GrimGrimoire, you play as Lillet Blan, a magician that comes to a magic school, but on the fifth day everyone disappears, and when Lillet wakes up, tasked with uncovering the strange disappearances. I know this may sound like Harry Potter, but more entertaining, I promise.
Being that I have played Vanillaware’s other titles and somehow missed this gem, I had to pick this up and see if it compares to the other titles from this developer. Low and behold, it does, maybe not as well as Muramasa, in my opinion, but definitely one to have around to go back and play over and over again. The art style is exactly what you would expect, and the story is even more than I was expecting. Though I am not a huge fan of RTS games with the exception to Warcraft, it does take you by the hand in the beginning and prepares you on your journey to uncovering the mystery behind the strange vanishing. The characters have a lot of depth and provide an adult tone to the humor and dialogue, making it tough to put down as you play on to see what happens next.
The bad, is there any? I would say it would the speed in which the story develops as it can be a bit slow at times, but the twists are worth it and playing through the levels help move it along in between long cut scenes. Also, I was not a fan of the button layout and trying to select specific units, as this is an RTS, you have to think carefully about your next move, but the ability to select the difficulty in between days does help if you find yourself stuck.
All in all, I regret not playing this game while it was on the PlayStation 2, but very happy that this was made available to play again on the PlayStation 3. I must say if you are a fan of Vanillaware’s titles and have not played this or remember playing on the PS2 and get the itch to play it again, you should definitely check it out, as their titles do not come out as often as I would like, but maybe the few and far between releases are what works best for them. Now if only they would release some art books for their games and please, please, please bring Muramasa and Odin Sphere to the PlayStation Network as Downloadable titles.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

RAGE | Review

Post-Apocalyptic wastelands, Ark's, sprawling open world gameplay following your sudden waking from a long bout of Cryo Sleep; why does this seem so familiar?  Oh, cause in RAGE, the most recent work from famous Austin-based iD developers, you immediately get a sense of deja vu if you've played any of the similar titles in the past two years.  Borderlands, Fallout 3, heck even the recently released Dead Island "feels" the same.  The problem was, i enjoyed those games more than this.

Full Review continues after the break

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cave Story 3D gets gameplay trailer AND release date

Yes, you heard me right, we now have a release date along with a gameplay trailer for Cave Story 3D. This is a title I recently purchased in the original form with some Nintendo point to see what the hype was about and had so much fun with it that I have played through twice and the only reason that I have played another time around is so I can play with the 3D features. Check out the trailer to see the compare and contrast between the original and upcoming.

Watch Rayman and Co. bubblize, you want to watch until the end

Ubisoft has provided us with another gameplay video for Rayman Origins, showing off the numerous ways to bubblize your enemies. Along with seeing some of the action, the biggest or I guess second biggest reason to watch the video is that at the end, it says if you pre order from GameStop, you get Beyong Good & Evil HD for free!

Monday, October 17, 2011

No NBA in 2012? Not needed with NBA 2K12

Who needs an actual NBA season? NBA 2K12 is so good I’ll barely notice that greedy owners and players are about to cancel the 2011-2012 season. I was a big fan of last year’s game and this year’s game is a step up.
Last year they introduced the “Jordan Moments”, which allowed you to play in classic Jordan games which were authentic from how Jordan looked, the uniforms and complete teams on both sides. This year they still have "Moments", but not just Jordan, 15 other greats were honored with classic games in their careers. The craziest/best part of these Legend’s moments is the dynamic presentation style based on the era of the player. For example, Bill Russell’s moment is presented as if you were watching a game in the 60’s, on a black and white TV.
I’ve always liked the My Player mode in MLB and NBA 2K, but I always felt like NBA was a bit lacking compared to MLB. Well, now it looks like MLB is the one that has to step its game up. This year’s version features a full NBA with pompous jack ass David Stern announcing all of the picks until they get to you. Another new part is the player interviews by GM’s prior to the draft and the post-game press conference. The post-game press conference allows you to gain or lose popularity with fans, teammates, and players around the league.
When it comes to presentation NBA 2K has always been the industry standard and not much has changed. The presentation will help you forget about the lockout, because it looks and feels like a real NBA broadcast. Commentary, pregame, halftime, highlights and post-game are all amazing.
I hate to say a game is perfect because there is always something that can be changed or approved and 2K12 is not immune from this. I would like to see some tweaks in the game play that would let you have the option of playing a more realistic style (the current style) and a more wide open style that allows more highlight type plays (dunks). But, with that said my criticism is really small and as a result I give the game a 9.9 out of 10.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Listen to the new Moguls from | Review

 So has taken on a few new products as of late to review, and apparently it's new headphone week.  This time, has sent us their top-of-the-line Moguls, a classic DJ-Style set of ear speakers that we were really hoping would blow us away...they didn't, but that's not to say they don't have an audience.

In today's fast-paced, everything is electronic world, most are listening to the newest Jimmy Eat World albums from their iPhone, iPod's or Android phones, (mostly) lost are the days where real high-fidelity meant something.  Instead, most consumers don't really know what great (or even good) sound is.  The stock earbuds for most devices aren't worth even taking out of the wrapper, but where does one go if they want a good set of headphones?  Well that depends on your budget.

Not everyone can afford a $300 pair of beats by dr. dre but most can justify a sub-$100 pair of 'phones as an upgrade from the stock.  Are iFrogz' new Moguls the answer, coming in at a SRP of $69.99, but found online for around $50 on Amazon?  The new Moguls are an over-the-ear style set of cans that don't really fit OVER the ear, but more "rest-like-pillows-on-the-ear" type.  The best headphones are able to block out external noise by completely covering up, almost cupping your delicate ear drums, in this case the Moguls just rest on pillows of sound. 

Their sound quality is better than those of the stock variety, sporting 50mm drivers and a frequency range of 10-30,000 Hz, so there is some bass here; but I found the full-range lacking in the highs and mid-range.  I'm used to using Sure in-ear buds however, that typically have more of the mids and highs, and not quite as much bass, a typical trade-off of the smaller form factor. 

As a test, I had a fellow co-worker try out the new cans that doesn't have much knowledge or experience in the headphone department, usually content listening to his Pandora from the built-in monitor speakers of his PC, who had this to say of the headphones..."These are great, I love them, so much better than the built-in speakers".  Of course they are.

And so my point of who these headphones would be ideal for is presented before me.  These are perfectly fine units for those who want to upgrade from the stock equipment, however if that same person is an audiophile, they will quickly be looking elsewhere to much more respected names in sound (Bose, Sony, Sennheiser, etc), but to the uneducated, I can see alot of users happy with these.

The overall build quality is about on par with the $50 price-range, and the multiple design/color options is always a nice plus for those looking to stand out, but for the time being, I'll be sticking with my Sony's.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MashButtons has a shocking time with the Spider Man Edge of Time Review

Activision has just released their latest superhero title featuring not one, but two Spideys in Spider-Man: Edge of Time. In the latest adventure, you take on the role of both the classic Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 in an effort to fix time and prevent disaster caused by the death of Peter Parker. Using a pseudo portal connecting the two timelines, you will see how your actions in current time affect the 2099 world. The story in Edge of Time is brought to you by Marvel’s Peter David, the co-creator of the Spider-Man 2099 series and put into game form by Beenox, the crew responsible for Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Now, let’s get the shock to the review!

Before going into my review of Edge of Time, I did get a chance to play Shattered Dimensions, though not a big fan of the gameplay or story, it was enjoyable as a comic book fan and the inclusion of four Spideys. That being said, after playing a short amount of time with both amazing and 2099 Spidey, I was having a blast. The dialogue is great, with a lot of humor, references for comic fans, and of course drama. Both Spideys also control rather differently and you are able to upgrade and acquire moves and abilities for either and/or both SMen. Along with the smooth fluid gameplay, load times do not take long, and the story flows smoothly with a lot of action to make it harder to put down and faster to play through. There are a number of villains from Spidey’s past that come back to thwart the hero which is always fun to see who will make an appearance next.

A couple things that I noticed off the bat was a lack of environments, I mean you play a lot in the Alchemex tower and it just seemed like the environment lacked variety and space. The game is also pretty easy on normal mode and is very forgiving to the player as I noticed if I died, I would be revived from the closest checkpoint with more life than I had before my shocking demise. At times it was hard to navigate where I had to go next, but there is a mode similar to the detective mode in Batman Arkham Asylum to locate key items in your current area. The environments also seemed small and cramped, I mean you are Spider-Man, you should be able to use your webs to traverse locations fast and smoothly, but most of the time I would be web slinging my super arachnid into a wall or ceiling, so that was more of a fight than my battle with Anti-Venom, well not really, but close.

All in all, as a fan of comics and the Marvel universe, I had a great time. Sure it had its ups and downs but I felt like its shortcomings were overshadowed by dialogue and story progressions. The cause and effect of your actions between two timelines was a unique way to play through a game but seems like the risk worked well for Beenox. I think the more hardcore gamer may not appreciate it as much as the Spider-Man fans, but it is a solid action title with a number of Easter eggs, average length, and upgrades to keep you coming back for more and playthrough in a matter of a few days at just a couple hours at a time.