Happy New Year!

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy new year, and let you know that I’ll be publishing some sort of “game of the year” list later today. I haven’t spent as much time playing video games in 2016 as I would have liked (or it might be more accurate to say that I started a lot of games and finished very few, going back to 2015). I’ve started Final Fantasy XV, Watch Dogs 2, Dead Rising 4, Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, and so on, and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of any of them. I have some serious gaming ADD. I put about four hours into Final Fantasy, and would like to play more, but I keep getting distracted. Speaking of Final Fantasy, I was ecstatic to learn that World of Final Fantasy was out for the Vita, but only put about two hours into it before never touching it again. I played the opening of Watch Dogs 2 and it seems to be an interesting game, but I need to get back to it. With all this said, my game of the year list will prove incredibly difficult to craft. This year will probably be my sloppiest list to date, and I’m sure that once I sink more time into some of 2016’s games my list will look entirely different. Maybe I can come back and revise the list in a month or two, but for now I’d like to at least post the games I’ve enjoyed most in 2016.

For now, I’m off to the gym for my first workout of 2017 (let it be known I’ve been going to the gym for months, I’m not one for resolutions) so I hope you all have a good morning and a great start to 2017!

Been a busy November

I’ve been neglecting my blog again, but November was a busy month and December hasn’t been much slower so far. I got married last month, which was a pretty awesome time!

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Also around the same time I started a new position at work and then sewed on my new rank, so that’s all been exciting and terrifying at the same time. I’ve been working longer than usual hours and have spent less time playing video games and even less time writing about them.

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I’m trying to catch up on a back log of video games, and hopefully I’ll finally start getting some stuff done. I’ve played a few hours of Final Fantasy XV and still haven’t decided if it’s something I’m going to be into or not. It just feels weird, and somewhat thrown together in a way that’s just not doing much for me right now. Also I want to check out Dead Rising 4, but I still need to finish Titanfall 2’s campaign. So much to do, so little time, so for now I’m going to head off to the gym and then hopefully have something worth writing about later tonight.

About to go live for Extra Life

Hey just wanted to pop in and say I’m about to go live with an Extra Life stream, as a member of team Giant Bomb. The link for my Extra Life profile is http://extra-life.org/participant/AVGL, and the link to the Twitch stream is http://twitch.tv/jdh5153.

I encourage you to stop by if you can! I’ll be starting off by working through some games in my Steam backlog such as Bastion, Transistor, Gone Home and Stardew Valley and moving on from there. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to make it through the 24 hours in one shot, or divide it up into two legs. We’ll see how it goes!

Thanks again!

-Jonathan

Can’t get a NES Classic?

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The $59.99 30 in one NES system that Nintendo released this week is already incredibly difficult to find. Most retail locations have reported getting fewer than ten units, and most sold all ten within hours of its release. One local game store here has reported that they ordered 12, received 6 and will not be receiving any more units for the rest of this year.

The scarcity of the NES Classic Edition, and the fact that there’s sure to be ever increasing demand as the holiday season nears, has driven scalpers to jack up the prices on the systems on Craigslist and eBay (selling for $100+). Instead of paying extra for this system, however, I have another idea. How about you head down to your local video game store (mom and pop store, not GameStop) and check out their stock of used and refurbished NES systems. Sure it won’t have 30 games pre-installed, but maybe the real thing might just be more of a nostalgia rush than the simulated product. You’ll also be helping out a local business, which is always great during the holidays.

You might end up spending a bit more for a real NES and a couple of cartridges, but I honestly think you’re better off that way. First of all, you’ll avoid being stuck with a two foot long controller cord that the Classic Edition comes with. Furthermore, you’ll be able to play many more games. The Classic Edition has no way to expand its library (except for a presumed future release for another $60 with another 30 games installed), while with the real thing you’ll be able to scope out pawn shops, flea markets and local game stores for good deals on old cartridges.

Most of the cartridges I’ve gotten recently have been between $10 and $30, but it’s much more fun actually clicking a cartridge down into the thing and firing it up for the first time (rather than simply hitting a button on a menu in the Classic Edition).

Don’t get me wrong, the Classic Edition is certainly a nifty item, and sometime down the road I might actually pick one up, but I enjoy the community of interacting with my local mom and pop game store whenever I’m looking for a new NES cartridge to add to my collection. Give it a try, you might too!

How to fix Hauppauge HD PVR 2 no sound on TV

Hey, so I wanted to post this in case anyone has run into the same issue I have. I recently got a 4K TV, and whenever I tried using my Hauppauge HD PVR 2 (Gaming Edition) with it I would get no audio output on my TV. I tried just about every setting in the Capture software, reinstalled everything, but had no luck. I would have audio just fine on my PC, but nothing would pass through to the TV.

Well by chance I disabled the HDR setting on my TV (the setting is called HDMI UHD color on my Samsung TV), and what do you know, now all of a sudden I have audio on my TV!

I hope this can help you if you’ve had a similar problem.

Best of luck!

In a great year for shooters, Infinite Warfare disappoints.

It’s been one of the most exciting years for fans of first person shooters in the history of video games. So many great AAA shooters have released this year, and for the most part they’ve all been hits. We’ve had Overwatch, DOOM, Gears of War 4, Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and now Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The last 30 days alone have seen the rapid fire releases of Gears (Oct 11), Battlefield (Oct 21), Titanfall (Oct 28) and Call of Duty (Nov 4).

It’s been an unbelievably good year for those who enjoy first person shooters. There’s an incredible amount of variety in the games released this year, and there’s something for everyone.

I’ve been trying to check out all of the shooters that have released recently, however I think the ones that I’ll continue to play over the next year will certainly be Overwatch, Battlefield and Titanfall. That said, last night I rented Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare from Redbox and played for a few hours and wanted to share my experience so far.

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One of the first things I noticed once I started the campaign was that Infinite Warfare is certainly unlike any Call of Duty that came before it. The view of Jupiter above was not something I expected to see less than five minutes into a Call of Duty game, but it was certainly refreshing.

I had a good time picking up a variety of guns during the first few missions, and found the variety of enemies to be refreshing as well. Most of the guys are just random soldiers, but it’s interesting to see robots thrown into the mix, and even some larger bots that take a little more effort to bring down. I also enjoyed the hacking mechanic a great deal once it was introduced. Basically you can take control of an enemy robot while you’re tucked away safely in cover, and use it to take out as many bad guys as you can and even initiate a self destruct mechanism (it’s fun to run into a group of enemies and explode D.Va style) before you lose the signal during the hack.

Infinite Warfare space combat

The space combat featured in Infinite Warfare was certainly interesting. The first time you ascend from a planet and transition into space I got an eerie No Man’s Sky vibe, but you certainly have less control over your spaceship. You’re sort of guided along a set path as you ascend, and in all reality you don’t have that much control, which isn’t necessarily a complaint, it just felt weird. The same goes for landing sequences. I could basically land my ship with hardly any input, as the game guides you along a highlighted path onto the carrier. Besides all that, the space combat was a nice diversion, but I felt that it dragged on a little longer than I would’ve liked.

Infinite Warfare hair

Some of the cutscenes look really nice in Infinite Warfare, and one of the things that stood out was the quality of the character’s hair. It looks quite realistic, especially as you can see individual strands, but unfortunately once the cutscene ends it transitions back to being more of a blob than realistic looking hair. Someday video games will give us good looking hair! Again, this isn’t a complaint and it’s something I wouldn’t have even noticed had I not been blown away by just how good it looked during the cutscene above and had it contrasted with the gameplay sequence to follow.

Overall I’ve mostly enjoyed the campaign (I have a handful of missions left), but I did have some difficulty with it at times which made it more frustrating than it should be. After breezing through much of the campaigns of Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, I’ve died more than I have in both games combined during Infinite Warfare. During some sections I died as many as six times before reaching a checkpoint and getting past a particularly hairy section. I tried turning the difficulty down, but even that didn’t help and it became annoying to replay the same section over and over again just to avoid dying by a grenade or exploding car I didn’t happen to see quick enough.

How does the campaign compare to Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2? I don’t think it’s on the same level. Call of Duty campaigns have gotten more and more stale over the years, while its competitors have really stepped up their game. Titanfall 2 features easily the most enjoyable FPS campaign since Halo: Reach. The writing is excellent (mostly the dialogue of BT), the platforming in-between shooting sections has a Portal level of polish and the shooting feels great, whether on foot or in a titan. Infinite Warfare definitely tries to do things a bit differently, and at times it felt like I was playing more of a sci-fi shooter, but during its most routine moments it feels like everything we’ve done again and again during Call of Duty campaigns. I feel no drive to finish off the last four missions, and if I do it’ll only be for the achievements, not because I’m necessarily enjoying the game.

The multiplayer doesn’t fare much better. I haven’t enjoyed Call of Duty multiplayer since Black Ops II (MW3 is still my favorite) and Infinite Warfare feels like more of the same. It’s eerily similar to Black Ops III, and most of the time it’s just felt like a skin and some new maps over that gameplay. It just hasn’t been enjoyable for me at all. I just want to go back and play some more Battlefield or Titanfall. In fact, if you tend to enjoy the futuristic combat of Black Ops III but haven’t checked out Titanfall, I would highly recommend Titanfall 2 over Infinite Warfare. Even Jeff Gerstmann, a long time Call of Duty enthusiast over at Giant Bomb, has seemed to have drifted away from Call of Duty. Instead, he has been overly enthusiastic about Titanfall 2, which he scored a perfect 5 in his review.

What made the Infinite Warfare experience even worse for me yesterday, was its community. I experienced behavior that I haven’t experienced since the Xbox 360 days during my time with the game yesterday. During one of my first matches I happened to die a lot (I didn’t play a lot of Black Ops III or Advanced Warfare and needed to get used to it), and mid match I got an all caps message instructing me to “STOP DYING!!!!!!111!!”. I took the time to respond that I certainly wasn’t dying on purpose, to which I received a series of insults and a note saying they recorded my gameplay and will be reporting me for dying too much. Good to know.

But it didn’t stop there. It seems like so much of the Call of Duty community is so concerned about their K/D and winning that they’ll get violently angry at anyone who isn’t playing to their standards. I never experience this with Battlefield or Titanfall. Maybe it’s just the day one players who are the most hardcore, but I played Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 a lot on day one and everyone I encountered was all about having fun.

Overall, I don’t think I can recommend Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare to anyone but the most hardcore of Call of Duty fans. To even those fans I would recommend checking out Titanfall 2 if you haven’t. It’ll provide a similar experience with a much better and more refreshing execution, and I think the games industry would benefit from the increased success of the other shooters on the market.