Monday, May 28, 2012

MashButtons goes all future soldier for our Ghost Recon review

It finally happened, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has been released and we got a copy from Ubisoft to share our impressions with all of you, our near and dear readers. In this title you play as the Ghosts and lets just say all is fair in love and war, because this time around you get some damn cool toys that would make even Bruce Wayne jealous to make sure losing is not an option. Some of the stand out features present, aside from futuristic warfare, is optical camouflage, sync shot, Gunsmith and Guerrilla mode. Future Soldier is brought to us by Ubisoft's Paris, Red Storm, and Romania studios and the combined efforts look great but will the gameplay and online be as good as the game looks?

Let's start with the good stuff, this game plays as smooth looks as it looks, great. The single player is full of action and is a great way to get acclimated to equipment, which you will unlock in the multiplayer. Variety is not an issue because you can change your load outs between missions and customize your arsenal as well, using the gunsmith system, in which you are able to disassemble your weapons and reconstruct with different components. After the single player campaign I went straight for the online side of the game in which the competitive gameplay was to be expected, but Guerrilla is where I had the most fun. In Guerrilla you and your squad mates will encounter waves of enemies, up to a total of fifty waves, and in split screen nonetheless.

Unfortunately there were a couple things that had me dropping four letter bombs at my TV. The first and biggest issue while playing the story mode was the distance between checkpoints, so let's say you spend ten to fifteen minutes sneaking to the next checkpoint, sneak around a corner and alert an enemy, and bam, I get to start over again. Not immediately but after some multi tasking while I wait to attempt intercepting and taking out some baddies again, but successfully this next time. What I am saying are the load times aren't short, so try not to get caught and die. Lastly, my complaint is with the multiplayer and the lack of split screen while playing, you can only play split screen in the Guerrilla mode, and though it doesn't happen often, I would like to form a squad and take the rush online, against others and not just to take on waves of AI controlled war criminals.

At the end of the day, Ghost Recon is a near perfect third person shooter with a couple quirks to iron out and is the best shooter this year, in my opinion. Sure the single player is a bit dull at times but the action and toys make it a great primer to prepare you for the real fun, the online Guerrilla and competitive Multiplayer modes. While the Gunsmith mode was an interesting concept it is still going to take a little getting used to and a lot more weapon unlocks for me to really enjoy, but at this rate, it won't be long. If first person shooters aren't your thing or you are looking for another wonderful shooter to add to your arsenal, you won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blizzard takes us to hell and we don’t want to leave

It has been twelve years since the last trip and after all these years, does Blizzard still have what it takes to keep this non-PC gamer glued to his screen whenever he isn’t sleeping or working? Many of us are all too familiar with the franchise and those that are not, well, I am sure they have heard enough to include them in the millions that had pre ordered this title, giving Blizzard some extremely huge shoes to fill. For those few that have been living under a rock for the last decade, the Diablo games are a fantasy action RPG and the third entry puts you in the shoes of one of five character classes to fight Sanctuary’s battle against reoccurring demonic evils. With a new skill tree system, character classes, item auctioning and compatibility with Windows and Macs, lets see how it holds up after the long hiatus.
What can I say about Diablo III that hasn’t been said before? I absolutely loved the second with its expansion and though the third has its issues, it does not disappoint and will be the cause of numerous break ups and most likely some new connections as well. It is the same top down style action RPG, but more polished than the last. I am playing this on my MacBook Pro without issue and am also able to play on a work computer that is over 2 years old, so it is not the power hungry game that a lot of new titles are. The skill trees are a lot more linear as new skills and attributes are unlocked by reaching specific levels as opposed to choosing what to expand on. It does take away some from the character progression but I actually liked it more. Multiplayer has come a long way over the last decade and thankfully Blizzard isn’t living in the past, as it is easy to get games with friends and strangers alike together seamlessly. Loot, lots of loot is the reason you are probably here, well yes, there is lots, and class specific loot as well to put in your stash for those with multiple characters, but if you aren’t looking for multiple builds but more a vault full of coins then the auction house is where it is at, as it is easy to put items you can’t use or have outgrown up for cash and sometimes you can get rare items on the cheap.
I can’t say that it isn’t without its faults and anyone that has played or tried to play on day one will know what I am going to lead off with. Server outages, yeah I went there, only because with a title that has so much hype, pre orders, and fans, someone dropped the ball when it comes to projecting the needed servers to handle the load. That or someone was being cheap, either way it was a very frustrating couple of days for us early adopters, that and you cannot play offline. My only other issue was with enemy encounters. What would happen is that an enemy would move towards my demon hunter and anyone that has used the class knows that distance is key. Well, my issue was that enemies would disappear for a second then suddenly reappear on top of my character, sure it is not a huge deal as it still played smoothly and was a lot of fun, it was just frustrating to have this bug or lag that happened more than it shouldn’t and have to suddenly change strategy because of it.
This title was the last reason I needed to get my new computer. Not just for school or work, hell even photo shopping friends faces on humorous places, but because I wanted to make sure I would be able to smoothly play Diablo III. Sure some may not like it and are still pouting about the server issues, but you have to admit that when it is working, you forget about everything but the quest at hand. That is until the server goes down for maintenance again, rest assured they would be back at 2:30 PM PST. 2:29:50 PM…wiping sweat from brow, finger shaking above the login button. Go on and buy it, there isn’t any reason not to and join me, battletag dsalido81#1274, in my numerous characters’ quests for rare loot.

We get two iPhone cases to go head to head in this review

Here at MashButtons, we take pride in admitting to our guilty pleasure that is dressing up and personalizing that which is near and dear to us, our iPhones. This time around we have received the rPET from Case-Mate and the Q Card Case from CM4. One is a barely there, molded from 100% rPET, and totes the One Bottle, One Case tagline. The other being the Q Card Case, which has a fabric slot that holds 3 cards plus cash snugly, lay-flat screen guard, and a soft-touch finish. Now that the contenders have been identified, lets see how each hold up in the pocket.
I will start with the flashier of the two; the Case-Mate rPET 100% percent recycled case. Mine came in the color Tangerine Tango Orange, sports the barely there profile, and catches the eye with its clear and glossy finish. I like this case for a number of reasons; I mean who can speak poorly of a product made up of water bottles that take up large amount of space in our landfills?  I loved the low profile and how close the SF Giants orange the color resembled but I also had two slight issues with it as well. The first would be with the fit as the top left corner, when looking at the screen, does not fit the case snugly to the phone and causes the phone to rattle some in the case. The other issue is the price, though I like the case and plan on getting the Lime Green one as well, it is hard to spend 30 dollars on a case made out of recycled materials but it is still a good cause and though I am not the most green of people I still try to recycle as much as I can.
The other case, CM4’s Q Card Case is one of multiple purposes. The first, to protect your phone of course, and the other is to take the place of your wallet. Like I say, I am a minimalist when I can be so this is a big plus for me as I am able to carry my ID, credit card, and bank card without having to tote a bulky wallet around. I do like the combination of materials in the case as the soft feel does not pull everything in your pocket out when you grab your phone and the card pocket has a leather feel making it not feel like another cheap case. The downside has nothing to do with the price as it is comparable other cases out there, but has to do with cargo space. You have to choose your selection of cards wisely as any more than three starts to pull the case off the phone, and with only or two cards in the slot, they will not fit snugly in the slot.
Out of the two cases, I preferred the Q Card Case to the rPET case. This was my preference mainly because it served a second purpose and eliminated the need to carry a wallet. That is not to say that I wont use any other cases, the rPET in particular, because there are times where I need my wallet and though I do have to act like a grown up most of the time, My iPhone cases are a small and subtle way to show my personality in the more professional work environment, while helping save the environment with a 100% recycled case.

MashButtons reviews the Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go Car Audio USB


Shortly after getting and reviewing Verbatim’s Store ‘n’ Go USB 3.0 external hard drive, they figured to shoot us over the Store ‘n’ Go 8 GB Car Audio USB Drive. Little did they know was that I have had about as much experience with car stereos as I do with video games.  Nowadays if your car does not have a USB port, it is likely a dated product, but those of us that have a head unit that does have a USB input likely have multiple thumb drives chock full of tunes or one of the numerous iPod/iPhone models that seem to be the only MP3 player head units support. With the Store ‘n’ Go USB drive, the drive is a low profile drive that does not stick out like the typical thumb drives, but just enough to be unobtrusive and is designed specifically for use in car stereos along with just about anything that supports images and music through USB connection. Lets see how this performs in comparison to the handful of the 2 and 4 GB thumb drives piled in my console.
I often times switch between my iPhone and thumb drives in my car stereo when commuting to work, gym, desert, wherever. I also prefer a large music selection for my mood and like it loud and not on a CD, my stereo tends to make it skip. So when I pulled this little drive out of it’s packaging, I had it filled as fast as I could. The design of this compact drive is small enough to be barely noticed when plugged in and the size (8 GB) is enough to keep you from tampering with the on drive library for a substantial amount of time. Store ‘n’ Go is right, you simply just plug it in transfer folders or files consisting of MP3’s, eject, place in car stereo and forget. I had no issues in regards to any of the said process, but did learn that .m4a files would not play from the drive, thinking it was my head unit, I tried the same files from the iPhone and it worked, so I had to make sure to use strictly MP3’s on the drive. Lastly, in comparison to the transfer speeds seen in the Store ‘n’ Go external hard drive I previously reviewed, this drive’s transfer speeds were significantly slower.
In my time spent with this itty bitty thumb drive, I can easily say that this is a must have for anyone that has a car stereo with a USB input, even if you have an iPod or iPhone. The size is by far the best part of this drive as it adds up to 2000 songs without sticking out of the head unit and being an eyesore all for an affordable price of $21.99. Though it does not keep me from hooking up my iPhone to my stereo, mainly because it does not support .m4a files. It does add variety and for me, that it a major plus side as the standard size drives tend to stick out and get bumped around. That and 8 GB is a nice sized drive to the point where you will have enough to listen to without having to update your playlist often.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Heroes of Ruin finally has a multiplayer trailer

So this was one of the few games I have been really excited about for the 3DS and Square Enix has provided us with a multiplayer trailer for the upcoming gem, Heroes of Ruin. This action RPG was announced a while ago but has stayed on my radar ever since, so I figured some of you folks would want to check it out before it’s release on July 17th.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Assassin’s Creed III gets epic gameplay trailer

News keeps trickling in regarding the upcoming title in the Assassin’s Creed series and this time around in comes in the form of a gameplay trailer. Not only does it show gameplay for the upcoming title, but gives a bit of background to the protagonist's story. This game is shaping up to be amazing looking and if the prior entries are any indication of what’s to come, and then we will have an epic title on our hands. Fingers crossed it doesn’t see delays like those seen regarding Bioshock Infinite.

New event mode announced for Dragon’s Dogma

Ur-Dragon, as told by the legends is an immensely powerful dragon, which appears in the Everfall beneath Gran Soren in Capcom’s upcoming action RPG, Dragon’s Dogma. The Ur-Dragon event mode pits players and pawns to form a team to collectively take down the beast and reap the rewards of the hunt once defeated, but be the one that deals the final blow after a number of encounters and you will get the maximum reward, those helping will still get both common and rare items dropped. The challenge will be available day one when the title releases on May 22nd.

Record of Agarest 2 gets racy limited edition

Aksys Games has provided us with their recent press release regarding their strategy RPG series, Record of Agarest War. Though the series isn’t new to racy content, this time around they are using sex to upsell the limited editions of their recent entry and hey, why not if it works. The contents included in the package are as follows.

  • Inflatable Felenne Doll: An adorable inflatable doll that will make a nice addition to any location that you can feasibly place it.
  • Compressed 8 x 12” Hand Towel: Conveniently compressed into a heart shape, this towel is the ideal object of your desire for when you need a small object that expands into a full hand towel.
  • Collectible Artbook: Titled “Heroic Trials from the Lands of Agarest”, this artbook is a humdrum addition to the many boring books you’ve read recently. Or so we would like others to think…

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sceptre takes our gaming to the third dimension

I recently got an email in regards to reviewing a 3D TV from Sceptre and while I am not a huge fan in terms of 3D, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to see what it is like to game in 3D, with exception to the 3DS as the screen is small and gives me a headache most of the time I use it. The unit we received was the E320BV-FHDD 32 inch LED 3D HDTV, and while it seems like a mouthful, that is the last time I will refer to it in such a manner. Now to get the features out of the way, this set comes fully equipped with 3 HDMI ports, 2 passive glasses, USB port, and 1920 by 1080 maximum resolution, time to break out the 3D games and see if this set makes them pop.
Let’s start from the beginning, I was a bit skeptical of the newer brand and how it would look in comparison to the older, well trusted brands. The first thing I noticed upon setting up to play with, was the 3 HDMI inputs….hooray! Next up, it is a nice glossy black TV that is not only thin but has a narrow border as the speakers are in the back instead of the sides or bottom. The picture was vibrant, significantly brighter than my LCD when viewing in standard 2D. In order to put the 3D to the test, I decided to use my 3D Blu-Ray of Disney’s Tron Legacy, Up, Uncharted 3, and Wipeout Fury. The amount of depth that was added on all was nice and subtle, not in your face abuse of the still newish technology, making your eyes strain. The only thing I noticed was that the picture isn’t as bright or as detailed in the games, but may have just had to be done to be able to keep gameplay running smoothly. Not only was viewing mostly painless, but switching between 2D and 3D was faster and easier than I anticipated.
I typically use a sound bar as my home audio system, not relying on the television’s speakers for audio. In the purpose of my review though I had to quit spoiling my ears and see how the audio on this TV performs.  I did not particularly enjoy the speakers on this set as they were on the back side of the device and put out a distant and somewhat muffled sound. Like I said, with a surround sound or sound bar you don’t have to rely on the set for sound. Two sets of glasses come in the box, which is nice for two people, but unfortunately my household consists of three people. Luckily, Avengers had just come out and wanted to see it in 3D, so after the movie, I gave the theater glasses a shot, and what do you know they worked and are actually more comfortable in my opinion. Lastly, I had stated 3D viewing was mostly painless, what I meant was I had no problem viewing movies or playing games, but anything longer than a couple hours of use, I would feel a slight headache coming on.
My opinion has been on the fence regarding all this 3D that is being shoved down our throats, I love 3D movies, but hate wearing the glasses, the Nintendo 3DS does not require glasses but hard to keep the image in focus if you move at all. After spending time with Sceptre’s 3D TV, I really enjoyed it, it was a bit small for the size but if the bigger ones look as good as this, I know where I will be looking when it is time to replace the LCD I currently use, as the price is nice, I don’t use my TV speakers now, it has a vibrant picture, and it has Energy Star V5.3, that’s right, an estimated yearly energy cost of 11 bucks.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Confirmed, Ragnarok Odyssey this year to US

XSEED has sent us a pleasant little little title that did so well in so well in Japan since it's release 3 months ago. That title of course being Ragnarok Odyssey, an action RPG title that we can expect to play on the Vita. This is great news for anyone that is familiar Ragnarok Online universe…or fans of a certain monster hunting title. Unfortunately, the closest we got to a release date was 2012.

Hitman: Absolution screenshots prove still alive and pranking

I must admit it has been a bit quieter around here lately, the scary thing is that it is the calm before the storm in which is E3. One of the best looking games of last year, Hitman: Absolution has been making some noise lately with the periodical, Hope News Times, and now the latest screens. Normally when we get screenshots, you can't really tell what is going on, but in these…I will let you watch the prank unfold.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

MashButtons goes soft AND pastel for this case review

So id America must have liked our previous review so much that they provided us with a new iPhone case to review. This case is the Hue, priced at just shy of twenty bucks and is a two-piece case that comes in a variety of pastel colors. We were provided the light blue case from id and put some miles on it for this review, and as some of you may remember, we were pleasantly surprised by the spark earbuds and instantly fell in love with the gasket case at CES, let's see if this creative accessory company can keep me singing their praise.

What I liked about this case was mostly the colors, though I have never been a fan of pastels, the cool colors matched with the white phone just gives a soothing feeling every time I look at it. Most of the cases in which I have reviewed are all one piece, but in this instance, the Hue is a two piece case that provided protection to the back of the phone along with protection to the screen by providing a screen protector to keep your device in tip top shape. The case is also very secure in that it does not move or rattle in the casing.

There were a few things that caught my eye and continued to catch my eye every time I looked at my phone. The first would be that the pieces did not line up correctly around the volume buttons and that there is a slight separation of the two pieces on the top and bottom of the phone. This didn't bother me long as the case is secure and does not come apart easily. The last issue I had with the case was that it was difficult to keep clean. The soft coating seemed to pick up any dirt or oil that may be on your hands or any other surface it comes across.

I must admit, id America did not stand out to me as a large player or even a recognizable player in the iPhone case game. I mean, almost anyone that has an iPhone is familiar with Speck and Griffin, and a lot of the start-ups and knock offs aren't around long to keep bringing new creative designs. In the case of id America, I think their creative team has done a great job so far in their design of accessories for uber popular phone, but will a couple great designs be enough to keep their catalog expending? I hope so as the products I have seen and reviewed for them have all been top notch while also being reasonably and competitively priced.