Need for Speed Rivals is now free via EA Access

EA Access on Xbox One continues to more than pay for itself with a growing library of free games available in the Vault. Need for Speed Rivals joins Battlefield 4, Madden 25, FIFA 14 and Peggle 2 as the games you’ll get for free with your $5 a month subscription.

I haven’t played a Need for Speed game in ages, and I didn’t expect to have much fun with Rivals, but it’s not too bad of an experience. I tend to prefer simulation racers (Forza) and have never enjoyed arcadey racers like Burnout, but Rivals isn’t too bad. Sure the “story” is laughable and should be skipped outright, but the gameplay is enjoyable. It reminds me a lot of Forza Horizon in that you’re put into a world with other racers and basically mark various events and races on your map and drive to them to start them. You’ll be able to engage in head to head races on the way if you choose and may also get pursued by the police. Any money you earn during your session needs to be banked by heading into a safe house, otherwise if you get busted you’ll lose everything you earned (however, mission progress is not reset).

The only thing I can say I dislike about the game is the load times. Stopping by a safe house to bank earnings is a time consuming process and the load screens involved have kept me from playing more of Rivals. I definitely recommend picking up EA Access and giving Need for Speed Rivals a shot though. You’ll definitely get $5 worth of fun out of it.

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How to open your Destiny fireteam to the public (Xbox One)

As of right now, every time you boot up Destiny your Fireteam is automatically set to private. In order to open it up to the public (which everyone should do if not playing with friends) you have to complete a few steps. Every single time you decide to play. That’s right, every time you quit out of Destiny your Fireteam settings default back to private.

These instructions are written assuming you’re not using a Kinect (I didn’t not bring mine with me overseas). I would assume you’d be able to cut out a few steps using Kinect voice commands, but I’m sure you can figure that out.

So the first thing you want to do is hit the Home button.10338222_10107186814198624_2771587405740673597_n

 

Next you’ll want to select the panel shown above.

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Then select My Profile.

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Select Destiny (off to the right assuming you’re currently in game).

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This is what you’ll see before you change the setting. Select ‘Requires invites’ to change it to ‘Set to joinable’ and you’re good to go.

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Hour 2 of Destiny (Xbox One): Why is there no social?

So I played through another hour and a half of Destiny last night and there are a few things I’m not quite liking. There definitely needs to be some sort of fire team matchmaking implemented, where other people on the same mission can jump into a random fire team as opposed to completing the mission alone (which is an absolutely boring and overly difficult way to play the game). I’ve tried randomly spamming fire team invites to everyone I see in the world and no one ever accepts. And there’s no way to chat with anyone in the game, so there’s no way to ask anyone if they even want to party up for a mission.

Why the heck did Bungie create a game that relies on working together and socializing in the world, and limit all social interaction to three buttons (point, wave and dance). You cannot voice or text chat with anyone in the world… So why even have other people show up at the Tower (which in any other game would be the main social hub of the game).

The shooting in Destiny is solid, but all of what should make Destiny a unique experience is severely underdeveloped.

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My first hour with Destiny (Xbox One)

I’ve been back and forth on whether not to buy Destiny leading up to its release this week. When I played the beta I most certainly enjoyed the shooter elements of the game, and it felt solid and a lot like Bungie (Halo) which was (is) a good thing. Yet one thing that really bothered me was the MMO-ness of it. The missions and enemies just sort of feel like filler with very little reward from mission to mission. At least in Halo you get some pretty sweet cut scenes (the ones in Destiny are not on par) that tie together a compelling story (is there even a story in Destiny?). I disliked the way each and every enemy takes seemingly too long to kill (have to sit there and drain its health), all acting as ‘trash’ or filler leading up to a boss and the completion of a mission. This takes out all of the speed and ‘bad assness’ you get from a Halo game. So far you always feel overly weak and helpless in Destiny.

My first hour with Destiny’s full release has been no different than my first hour with the beta release. I’m still not convinced I’m going to enjoy Destiny in the long run, and I’m not convinced the audience is going to stay tuned long enough for Bungie to do everything they wanted with the game. I tried out Defiance about a year ago and it was empty, cold, desolate, abandoned. I’m not so sure Destiny will be any better 8 or 9 months from now.

Regardless, I’ll continue to play on and hopefully find some more things to like about Destiny. You can check out my first hour of gameplay below (once it’s finished processing shortly). I’ll be streaming to my Twitch channel in the future, so be sure to stop by if you’re interested in how my Destiny journey is coming along.

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Gumballs Plays: Super Mario 64 (badly) part 2

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Worth reading: The New Yorker 1 Sept 14: Why we Walk

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Last night on the bus ride up to the DMZ I read an awesome article in the September 1 issue of the New Yorker. Adam Gopnik’s “Heaven’s Gaits” was quite informative, intriguing and well written. Everything you might already expect from a New Yorker article, but I found this one in particular to be beyond exceptional.

The article begins by pondering the question of why people walk.

In the famous diagram, Darwinian man unfolds himself from frightened crouch to strong surveyor of the ages, and it looks like a natural ascensio: you start out bending over, knuckles dragging, timidly scouring the ground for grubs, then you slowly straighten up until there you are, staring at the skies and counting the stars and thinking up gods to rule them.

Adam then explores Matthew Algeo’s work in “Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America’s Favorite Spectator Sport” which tells a fascinating story about competitive walking which I never knew ever existed in the first place. The article is worth reading just to learn about this fascinating piece of history alone.

He also talks about the Frédéric Gros book, A Philosphy of Walking, which explores the three different types of walkers (contemplative, cynical and contemplative-cynic). Another interesting examination that I couldn’t do justice to by trying to summarize, just read the article!

I absolutely loved reading this article and recommend it to anyone and everyone. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite lines from the article.

There’s no point in walking if you’re not getting ahead, even if the track you’re walking on turns out to be a perfect oval, taking you home.

 

 

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Gumballs Plays: New Super Mario Bros

So to this day I’ve never made it past the first castle in New Super Mario Bros., either for the Wii or DS. I usually repeatedly die over and over again in the same spot and get frustrated and quit. In this run I don’t even make it to the first castle… Enjoy!

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Spent a day touring Korea’s DMZ

I spent most of today touring the DMZ (demilitarized zone that separates South and North Korea) and I have to say if you ever happen to be in Korea it definitely needs to be on your to do list. It was quite powerful to see everything. Despite its name, the DMZ is one of the most heavily militarized zones in the world, and it’s crazy to be there and see it all. Down here at Osan it still feels very distant and I honestly can’t say I give North Korea much thought ever, but you can tell the people who work in the DMZ area take it quite seriously, and I have all the respect in the world for those who work there. I have to say I was especially impressed by the South Korean soldiers I saw, they have more discipline than I could ever hope for.

I have a ton of photos, but the two I’m sharing below are two of my favorites. In the JSA (Joint Security Area) it’s quite powerful to watch the South and North Korean soldiers standing watch, constantly watching the other. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to stand there always looking at each other and never communicating. Pretty powerful stuff.

South Korean soldiers standing guard.

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A lone North Korean soldier stares back at us.

 

 

 

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The 2014-15 NFL Season is underway!

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The 2014 NFL Regular Season has begun as the Seahawks lead the Packers 17-10 in the first half! I’m pumped, can’t wait to see how the Ravens do this season. Unfortunately most Sunday games will be on at 2AM Monday morning here in Korea (and I’ll be at work), so I ended up subscribing to NFL Rewind to watch the games (which I’ll use with a VPN since it’s blocked outside of the US). Since I’m stationed in Idaho I don’t get to watch many Ravens games on TV anyway (I have DISH, so no Sunday Ticket for me. I had it last year thanks to the Madden 25 Anniversary edition which was quite nice).

Hope you enjoy all the great football on the way this weekend!

 

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This is why I should never play platformers

Today I decided to try out Mario 64 (I played it back on the N64 but sucked at it and never got very far into the game). I played for about an hour while streaming to my Twitch channel and I got further into the game than I ever have before. Not without some major frustrations however, as you can see in the video below. I apologize for the music, I didn’t realize I streamed the entire time without recording desktop sound so I threw in some YouTube approved music. There’s also no commentary because my roommate was sleeping and no one was in my channel anyway.

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