Need for Speed (movie)

Need for Speed poster

 

While I was home on leave my little brother had wanted to see the Need for Speed movie, so a couple nights ago we went. I’ve never been that into the Fast and Furious movies after the first one and I could only assume Need for Speed would be one of those ‘car porn’ movies. As it turns out, I quite enjoyed Need for Speed.

The story at first seemed pretty standard, but the characters really drew me in. Tobey (Aaron Paul’s character) and Julia’s adventure was the best part of the movie. I loved the way their character’s interacted, and the music and scenery along the way was just downright beautiful. Sure a lot in the movie was far from believable but the silly, over the top sequences are both thrilling and feel good from beginning to end. I also loved Michael Keaton’s character, Monarch. I’d have to say he delivers the best performances of the movie, though Aaron Paul is right behind.

I rarely find myself wanting to watch a movie for a second time, but I already want to see Need for Speed again. It was great! I’m probably going to end up taking Vanessa to see it for a second time (she loves Aaron Paul as well, especially since he’s from Idaho).

Twitch broadcasting from an Xbox One

Now that I’m back in Idaho after taking three weeks of leave I have access to broadband internet again. This means I was finally able to use the new Twitch broadcast feature that coincided with the release of Titanfall.

It’s quite easy to use as there are only a handful of settings where you can enable Kinect picture in picture video and adjust microphone volume and stream quality. You simply need to title your broadcast and off you go. You’ll be able to see a preview of the stream in the snap view while your channel chat is displayed underneath. Since you need to have Twitch snapped I recommend you use a large enough TV (or sit closer than usual). I didn’t find it distracting as I played Titanfall.

I’m still not very good at Titanfall, but you can check out what I streamed today below.

Last night’s The Walking Dead

This season of The Walking Dead has felt somewhat tame so far, but that all changed last night. I feel like this entire season is just one long setup for the arrival in Terminus and we won’t see much more exciting, fast-paced episodes until next year. Last night was refreshing, however, as something significant finally happened. We were finally shocked again. I’m hoping that the next two episodes won’t let up, but I’m not quite sure if they can do anything quite as drastic as what happened last night.

What did you think of last night’s episode? I probably should have more to say but I need another cup of coffee this morning.

Titanfall so far

Titanfall Gamefly

 

I was lucky enough to be able to get a copy of Titanfall from GameFly at release and so far it’s been quite enjoyable. I played about an hour of the Beta and two classic matches since its release (been busy this week) but it’s been fun. It feels to me like a sort of mix of Call of Duty and Halo which is refreshing. The gameplay is much more fast-paced than Call of Duty and I can’t say there’s much ”camping” to be found in Titanfall. It’s been pretty chaotic and thrilling and there hasn’t been a dull moment yet. Lately in Ghosts matches I can go for what seems like an eternity without seeing an enemy. In Titanfall there’s either a player enemy or an enemy bot at every corner so there’s always something to shoot at.

I haven’t played any of the campaign mode yet (not to be confused with a singleplayer mode) but I look forward to giving it a try this weekend. I’ll be sure to post some more impressions as I spend more time with the game.

A fun time at Laser Alleys in York, PA

Last night my cousins and I checked out Laser Alleys in York, Pennsylvania and I have to say it was the coolest bowling alley I’ve had a chance to visit. Every bowling alley I’ve ever been to has had the same old school computer terminals at the lanes (you know, with the colored buttons and all and CRT TV’s). Well Laser Alleys has modern touch screen computer terminals which were quite entertaining and easy to use.

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I love gadgets so I was pretty mesmerized by all of the things you were able to do with the computer. It could take your picture and present it next to your name on the scorecard which was entertaining in itself. You could connect to Facebook to have it post updates on your behalf (I believe each bowler could connect if they wanted. I tried it but I think I logged myself out or something). You could send text messages to other lanes (we sent a few messages to lane 7 just for fun. No reply :p). Overall the experience was great, and we had a fun time bowling from 8-10 for $6 and a good time in the arcade before we started bowling.

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New York City trip, March 11, 2014

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On Tuesday Vanessa and I spent a wonderful day in New York City. We drove to Junction Square, New Jersey and took the train to 33rd street. It was a nice, sunny, warm day in the city and we certainly enjoyed it. The only real downside to the trip was driving in New Jersey. I’ve never been more frustrated by other drivers and their complete lack of patience and regard for others. I never want to drive in New Jersey again… Unless I carry a baseball bat to smash people’s windows in with. New Jersey is a disaster. I always hated the state but now I really despise it.

Anywho, New York was fun and I’m glad we got to go.

CenturyLink Arena in Boise and its rip-off beer

So I’ve been to an Idaho Steelheads game at CenturyLink Arena in Boise and bought large beers and thought nothing of it. But now it has been revealed in a YouTube video by an aware consumer that they have essentially been selling the same amount of beer in both their regular and large sizes, ripping off thousands of customers for who knows how long.

Sure they’ve now made a statement vowing to fix the problem, but they’ve already lost my trust. I enjoyed the hockey, but I wouldn’t buy any food or drink from them in the future. Not cool CenturyLink.

South Park: The Stick of Truth, first impressions

Yesterday I picked up South Park: The Stick of Truth on Steam. I didn’t know a whole lot about the game, other than it had a lot of hype behind it, but I watched about 15 minutes of a Twitch stream the other night and knew I had to get my hands on the game. I would really enjoy playing it on the Xbox One, but unfortunately it’s only available on last gen consoles and PC.

I played about an hour of it last night and it was hilarious. The game feels exactly like an extended episode of South Park, thanks to it being written by the show’s writers, and the art style is dead on. It’s a blast to explore the world and find all of the little references to the show and the combat is enjoyable and hilarious as well.

I look forward to spending more time with the game.

Manually installing an Xbox One update

Today the “Titanfall” Xbox One update was released which brings with it a ton of welcome changes (party system updates, friends system updates, twitch live streaming and much more). Since I’m spending a few weeks at my dad’s house on leave I was worried I’d have to scramble and find somewhere to go in order to download the update on my Xbox. He has Hughe’s Net in the house which has a 5gb monthly bandwidth limit and I’ve been using my iPhone as a hotspot to play Call of Duty and Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare online.

Xbox One system update

Luckily, I discovered it is possible to manually update your Xbox One using a USB thumb drive. All you have to do is follow the instructions over at the Xbox Support website. Basically you download a zip file, extract it onto a NTFS thumb drive, plug the drive into one of the Xbox One’s USB ports and hold the bind and eject button down for 15 seconds as you turn the console on. After the Xbox makes the power up noise twice you can let go and the update will install.

Xbox One controller update

That’s it! Now my console is up to date with 6.2.10698.0 firmware. It was quite easy and painless. I downloaded the firmware at the library and installed it when I got home. For whatever reason Xbox Support does not recommend updating in this manner, but if you have limited access to internet or limited bandwidth I’d say go ahead and update manually. I didn’t run into any issues.

Having a surprisingly good time with PvZ: Garden Warfare

plants vs zombies garden warfare cover

I have to admit I’ve been having more fun with Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare on the Xbox One than I thought possible. I’ve enjoyed everything about the mobile games, from the ‘cute’ art style to the addictive gameplay and you’ll find everything you love about PvZ in this third person console shooter. Garden Ops is an addictive blast. Basically you set up a garden and have to defend it against waves of zombies, which is the basic premise of the mobile games. The similarity stops there though. You and up to three other players will have to work together to succeed in surviving the zombie onslaught. There’s a variety of classes to choose from such as the peashooter who is a offensive ranged unit to the sunflower which is the healer class. You’ll want a variety of classes in your party to make survival more likely.

You can also plant consumable plants in pots around the map which will aid in your defense of your garden. There are several different types of plants each with its own advantages. You can strategically plant sunflowers to create healing rally points while you want to place some offensive plants near your garden in case you get pulled away and can’t make it back in time in the event a few zombies make it through your defenses.

Garden Warfare achievements

The game rewards you with coins for various accomplishments such as getting kills, surviving waves, completing a perfect wave and also for completing challenges it throws at you. During boss waves there’s also a chance you can earn some bonus coins (I just landed a jackpot spin in my last game which awarded a whopping 10,000 coins!). You’ll use your coins to buy packs of cards that vary in value and include consumable items, cosmetic items and more. The more expensive the card pack the better chances you have of nabbing uncommon and rare cards. I’ve enjoyed decking my plants out in the rare loot I’ve gained from card packs (especially the 10,000 coin card pack!).

There’s also a split screen co-op mode which I played a bit of (it’s pretty much the same as Garden Ops mode). The only downside is that both players must have an active Xbox Live Gold account and you must remain connected to Xbox Live at all times. PvZ: Garden Warfare is not an offline game and requires an internet connection at all times.

Lastly, there’s multiplayer which includes team deathmatch and a variety of other modes. I played a few team deathmatches and they were quite enjoyable. The gameplay is colorful and silly but no less competitve than other shooters. I had a lot of fun in deathmatch, but Garden Ops is my favorite mode. It’s worth noting you also gain experience and coins in the competitive multiplayer modes.