Flying back east

Just a little while ago I landed in Salt Lake City and have about two hours to wait for my connecting flight to Baltimore. It was a quick flight from Boise to Salt Lake, about forty or fifty minutes, and the scenery was beautiful, especially as the sun rose over SLC as we came in for the landing.



Getting through security this morning was quite trouble free now that I’m TSA pre-checked. There was a line of about forty or so people waiting to go through security but I was able to bypass it completely and go through the TSA pre-check entrance which also allows you to go through security with your shoes on.

I should be landing in Baltimore in about 6 hours, at around 4PM Eastern. I’m looking forward to spending three weeks in Pennsylvania, even though it’s going to be about 40 degrees cooler there for at least the next week.


My time so far with RYSE


So I’ve spent a couple hours with RYSE: Son of Rome today, and aside from a few technical hiccups it’s been an enjoyable time. For whatever reason the entire first chapter of the game was plagued by flashing white bars that covered my screen during gameplay. Xbox Support on Twitter couldn’t quite figure out what might be causing that issue, but luckily after the first chapter the problem went away. It returned briefly in the fourth chapter but disappeared before the end of the level.

Ryse looks absolutely amazing in both cut scenes and gameplay. It’s not perfect, there are some minor issues here and there that take away from the moment (for example on occasion articles of clothing clip through each other) but for the most part it’s visually stunning.

The gameplay is pretty simplistic and you can mostly button mash through the game on the easiest difficulty setting, but it’s still enjoyable. You have two main attacks with X and Y and when an enemy is weakened enough you can trigger an execution with right trigger. Once triggered the enemy will glow the color of the button you need to press to perfectly execute the combo (blue for X, yellow for Y). For some odd reason even if you don’t push the button the game wants you to push you can still perform the execution, you just don’t get as much XP from it. These executions are quite satisfying no matter how many times you perform them. They’re worth performing because you have a few different abilities that get bonuses from executions. Using the D-Pad you can select one of several abilities such as health restoration, attack bonus, XP bonus or Focus bonus and upon performing an execution you get a boost to the ability you selected. This adds a bit of strategy to the mix because you’ll have to decide whether you want to risk your health in order to get a damage or XP bonus during fights.

You can also push RB to activate the Focus mode which slows down time and makes your attacks incredibly powerful. This is useful when the odds seem overwhelming and it’s quite satisfying to pull of a powerful “sparta kick” with Y that launches your enemy across the screen when it lands.

The story isn’t too compelling, but Ryse sure has some great cut scenes (two of which I highlight in the clip below). I’m about halfway through Ryse and I’m looking forward to finishing it off. It’s worth nothing the story takes only about six hours to complete, but there’s a multiplayer arena mode that I haven’t tried yet. I’d recommend renting Ryse (I got it through GameFly) and giving it a try. If you’ve enjoyed the recent Batman games you’ll likely enjoy Ryse’s gameplay. Before I go, it’s also worth noting the game is completely linear, but that’s not always a bad thing. I’ve enjoyed it.

East Coast things I miss

Next Friday I head back to my home state of Pennsylvania and I’m excited to be around some of the things I miss about the East Coast. I’ve been stationed at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho for nearly two years and although it’s been nice there are quite a few things I can’t get out here.


First there’s Sheetz, the one stop spot combines a gas station, convenience store, sandwich shop (MTO’s, or made-to-order sandwiches) and a coffee shop. I worked at a Sheetz in Red Lion, PA for nearly 6 years through college and up until I joined the Air Force. It was a great place to work, always bright, vibrant and alive even during the night shift. You had the chance to meet hundreds of interesting people a day in a fast paced environment. I also enjoyed the food. I’m excited to see what has changed since the last time I was home over a year ago. Things at Sheetz would change pretty often so there’s a good chance there will be quite a few new menu additions waiting for me when I stop in next Friday.


Next up is Yuengling lager, which is also native to Pennsylvania. It’s been my favorite beer ever since I turned 21 and I’ve never found anything that rivals it. I remember one of the first times I went out while I was at Keesler AFB, Mississippi and I tried to order a Yuengling only to be met with confusion by the waitress. It was a devastating revelation to realize I wouldn’t have access to my favorite beer in other parts of the country.


Panera Bread can be found all over the country, but for whatever reason there isn’t one in Idaho. Panera Bread is easily my favorite ”fast” restaurant and I’m quite excited to visit once or twice while I’m in the northeast.

I’m also excited to be able to visit D.C. and New York City with my girlfriend who has never been to the northeast. It should be a fun time! I just have to make it through four more days of work 🙂

Ready for player 2

Today I traded in my old 120GB Xbox 360 Elite and just a handful of games at GameStop and walked away with much more than I expected. The total came to around $97 which I used to purchase an Xbox One controller with charge and play kit. I’m glad I was able to get a second controller because I’m heading home on leave next Friday through the 21st of March and it’ll be nice to play Call of Duty and later Titanfall with my brother on the Xbox One.


I love the packaging that the controller came in. The box is nice and clean and the presentation is nice on the inside (very Apple like).


Xbox Live is kinda down on Xbox One right now

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 7.40.18 PM

So I was trying to get into some Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer a little while ago but I kept getting an error saying to go to I went there and everything said it was up and running. I decided to go ahead and play some Forza 5 in the meantime and noticed that I wasn’t getting any drivatars in my race, they were all AI drivers (you can tell because they all have first initials and last names, ex: B.Smith). It turns out that Xbox Live is having some issues with the ‘social and gaming’ services for Xbox One users.

Everything else is up and running, I’m able to do most of the stuff you can do on Xbox Live, I’m just having issues connecting with friends and getting into online games at the moment. If you’re experiencing the same issues be sure to check out for updates.

Hopefully it’s back up soon!

5 days with an Xbox One



A look at the new headset controls. I like it!

So I’ve had my Xbox One for about five days and so far it’s been more amazing than I could’ve imagined. I’m in love with voice controls. It’s so easy to swap between apps or games without even picking up a controller. If I get a message I simply say “Xbox go to messages” and in less than 2 seconds I’m seeing my messages. I say “Xbox Go to Dead Rising 3” and I’m back in the game. The quick resume feature is also blowing my mind. I don’t even have to save a game, I just turn the Xbox off and when I turn it back on at a later time I can jump right back into whatever game I was playing at the exact same spot without any loading screens or title screens. Pretty awesome!

I’m loving the entire Xbox One experience. I’ve been watching TV on it via DISH Network and it works seamlessly. The other day I snapped TV and watched Modern Marvels while playing Call of Duty Ghosts. It was great because I could listen to the program as I played and if something piqued my interest I could glance up at the top right corner and see what was going on. Also I’d watch while waiting to respawn or while matches were loading.




History Channel and Call of Duty

I’m also loving the whole Xbox ecosystem more than ever. The Xbox Music app is pretty awesome. The menus and the way it displays artist pictures as you’re listening is very pleasant. I’ve enjoyed using it as I’ve done things around the house and most likely will remain a subscriber for $9.99/mo. Would it be nice if they threw in Xbox Music for free for Gold subscribers? Sure, but with music royalty fees I can’t see anyway they’d be able to do that. Spotify is a similar service and is also $9.99 a month for the full featured version.

I rented a movie using Xbox Video last night and it was quick and easy. It was actually quicker to rent a movie using the Xbox than it would’ve been via DISH On Demand or Amazon Instant Video. The quality was great and I got a few achievements in the process (app achievements are all worth 0 points so far, but will show up in your achievement list and feed as being accomplished).

Playing with friends is as easy as ever and I enjoy the party system / app. I played a bit of Call of Duty Extinction with my buddy last night and it was a great time.

I’m also loving the Xbox DVR and Upload Studio features. I’ve made quite a few videos and uploaded them to SkyDrive with ease. If you want to share these videos on Facebook or YouTube you simply logon to your SkyDrive account and you can download the .MP4 file to do with as you please. I’ll be sharing some of my videos soon, but right now I’m at Starbucks so I won’t upload them all here. I’ve been uploading them to Facebook for now but will put a few up on YouTube to share here.

I played about an hour of Dead Rising 3 last night and it’s an absolute blast. One of the most fun experiences I’ve had in awhile. Creating weapon combos and wreaking havoc on HUNDREDS of on screen zombies is a constant rush. It’s also fun to hop in a car or a steamroller and flatten zombies by the dozen.

One thing to note, the games require huge updates! Forza 5 required a 9GB update right off the bat and Dead Rising 3 required a 13GB update! The good news is that once the update is about a quarter of the way done you can start playing the game.




I still have yet to play RYSE but will probably play some today if I can pull myself away from Dead Rising 3 and Call of Duty Ghosts. If you’d like to play a game, add or follow me on Xbox Live. My gamertag is Darth Gumballs.

I’ll post some gameplay videos when I have the chance, until then have a good day!