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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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.

Gumballs Plays: Side Pocket

Side Pocket was one of my favorite games on the NES. It had addicting music and the right amount of challenge to keep you trying to get further and get a higher score every time. I don’t think I’ve ever made it to the last round, though it’s never frustrated me to the point where I want to stop playing. To this day Side Pocket is still an enjoyable experience that I never get tired of.

Gumballs Plays: Hearthstone 001

I tried out Hearthstone for the first time today and I have to say it’s been enjoyable so far. Hearthstone is a trading card battle game similar to Magic, but Warcraft themed. It’s easier to understand and get into when compared to the Magic games I’ve played (2013 and 2014) and I’m looking forward to getting further into it. Hearthstone will be released sometime next year and will be free to play across various platforms.