Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

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Inspiration from a Cell Phone?

15/06/2014

Another company has done something brilliant.  I saw THIS in February and thought it was a fluke.  An amazing fluke, but a fluke.  Now this video above.  I have trouble putting words to how amazing it is that Verizon has made this commercial.  Verizon wireless services ~122 million customers in the US as of Q1 2014.** Unless my math is sub par that is >1/3 of the entire US population.

At first the commercial doesn’t appear to be doing anything wrong.  Just a parent talking to their kids and saying things that you would normally say to a kid.  I thought it was going to be a commercial about how you want to keep track of your children.  Then they drop their little fact nugget on you around the 45 second mark and the whole thing changes.

I have a daughter.  I want her to know she can be absolutely anything she wants to be.  If she wants to be a marketing executive, a secretary, a doctor, a sports announcer, a fashion designer, a trash collector, a CEO, a stay at home mom, a call center manager, a call center employee, a stripper, a single store owner, a farmer, or anything else and I will support her 100%.  Even though I know this I also know I am guilty sometimes of telling her to not get dirty, or wanting to protect her.  I try everyday and would like to thank Verizon for a reminder.

Even if Verizon does some other shady things this is one thing they got right.

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Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine Review

28/05/2013

I looked at it as if it were simple – a top-down sneak fest where I would simply be running from point A to point B. Instead, I got a game that is one part Ocean’s 11, one part Metal Gear Solid, and 100% amazing.

Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine from independent developer Pocketwatch Games is, simply put, one of the finest single player games I’ve ever experienced. Graphically, the game at first glance appears simple – blocky graphics in a top-down view don’t impress on a casual glance. But when you get knee deep, you see insanely detailed textures, beautiful shading, and amazing lighting effects. Characters animate based on their status, bloody footprints are left behind after an injury, and fire flickers from fireplaces in realistic manors that just draw you into the world of Monaco.

For me, a game can be made or broken by the sound, and Monaco is, without question, made. A beautifully composed and performed instrumental soundtrack add so much life to the game it’s easy to sit on the menu or in a safe part of a level to just listen to the sound of a piano. Coupled with the voice acting and foley work, it’s a total package of aesthetics that completely captures the player before you even have to play the game.

But oh…the gameplay. The gameplay!

You begin as one of four classes – the Locksmith, who can pick locks more quickly than the other classes; the Lookout, who moves up and down ladders and stairs more quickly, and can ‘see’ the positioning of the guards with a broader field of vision; the Cleaner, a mute brute with coke-bottle glasses that can subdue enemies by sneaking up behind them; and final the Pickpocket, a Frenchman in an overcoat with a pet monkey named Hector, who can clean out a room of money in no time. Each class has its own unique play style and benefits, and each level is varied enough that any of the classes can be used to overcome them, albeit in uniquely different ways. There are other classes as well, but at the time of this writing, I’ve only spent a small amount of time with the Mole and the Gentleman, and none with the Hacker or the Redhead.

Levels are divided up into multiple stages with unique objectives; though each revolves around ‘cleaning out’ the particular section the player is working in of coins. The player then advances to different levels, complete with different challenges – security cameras, guard dogs, fire, locked doors – it’s all in the way of you completing the great heist. All of it is incredibly satisfying to play, and it would be perfect if that were all it was.

But no. They messed around and gave us one of the most exciting and strategic multiplayer games I’ve ever experienced. Up to four people can enter a level as any combination of the classes to accomplish the specified goal. While you’d think adding more into the mix would make it easier, differing play styles and thought processes can completely derail an otherwise normal, straightforward heist. I’ve only played two player games thus far, but the conversations across the house with my friend while we play about where we should go and what we should do adds to the bedlam of an already tense game.

If I had to file any complaints, it would be that matchmaking in an online private multiplayer game is a chore, at best. It’s not readily apparent to the user exactly how to invite someone to a private session – the only reason I was able to come up with how to do so was to dive deep into menus. However, this is a minor gripe, and I can truly say the only real way to improve it would be to invite someone via the main Steam interface in the chat window. Otherwise, this game is near perfection.

Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine is brilliance in video game form, and I almost feel bad that I was only charged $15 for such a piece of art. I cannot recommend this game more highly, and feel privileged to have been able to play such a fantastic title.

Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine is available on PC via Steam.