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Reviews

Game of Thrones – The Night King (McFarlane)

After being satisfied with Jon Snow, I decided I’d add another figure to my little Game of Thrones collection with the Night King. Mostly because Dany and Arya weren’t available, but having a villain, however lame his ending ended up being, is always fun.

The Night King continues the bar set by Jon Snow, he has a lot of nice detailing going on across his armor and in this case his face. Being a White Walker, which is essentially zombie, his skin is a bit decayed and creepy looking. This is also where his blue coloring comes from. He is a lot more clean looking than your average zombie however, but I guess that’s part of what makes him the leader of the undead army.

The articulation is pretty nice as well, the long coat is designed in a way that it doesn’t really hinder his leg movement much, which is a nice plus. Rubber skirts on figures tends to completely kill any hip articulation, which makes everything else below that useless as well.

He also includes two weapons. One is a sort of Ice Sword, though it has a long handle and is curved making it more of a sharpened Ice club really. He also has his “iconic” Ice Spear, that he used to down Viserion. He can mostly make the throwing pose but he only has “grippy hands” so he can’t pose with a fingers out “javelin pose” like he does in the show. Not a huge loss, but kind of annoying. The weapons look nice, though they also feel a little fragile.

The Night King is pretty nice on display. He can pose pretty well, though the character in the show never really did a lot of cool poses aside from stand around looking menacing before dying.

Overwatch Ultimates – Sombra

I had a lot of worry about Hasbro’s announcement of an Overwatch line. While getting more affordable versions of these characters is a nice prospect, I was very worried they would seriously screw things up. So far, it does seem to be a bit of a hit and miss line, but the hits outnumber the misses, and the misses are pretty obvious from the start.

The initial wave of single packed figures consists of Lucio, Sombra, Reyes (Reaper) and Tracer. I already have the Figma Tracer, though the Hasbro one looked a lot better in person than previous photos. Reyes still looks kind of funky and I have Reaper. So I opted for Lucio and Sombra. Both are in my top Five played heroes (Along with Tracer, Mei and D.Va) and neither have Figma figures coming yet. I wanted to start off with Sombra, who actually is my most played hero in the game.

So, right off, she looks way better in person than photos suggest. One thing I have noticed in photos is there is a weird graininess texture to her that shows up that isn’t really visible on the figure itself. The colors overall look really great and the head sculpt and paint are both really nice. There are a few places she could use a bit more paint but hey, Hasbro price point. Mostly her hand details could use a quick hit of coloring. I may add that later myself.

Articulation wise, she is, alright. It’s pretty much what you would expect from any Marvel Legends female figure. Her hips are severely limited by the long coat. The coat collar also feels a smidge too tall, since it sort of hinders her head side to side. Also in traditional Hasbro BS fashion, she only has single jointed elbows. Because Hasbro pretty much never gives female figs double elbows. On a side note, the coat looks like it might be removable, with little rubber pegs the way a lot of Hasbro’s coats are, but I am not going to test that theory myself and end up ruining the coat. She looks like she is just wearing a black body suit under anyway.

She also has weird feet. Not weird as in non functional, just weird. Her ankles are pretty wide and the feet themselves seem to be some of those rubber toe shoes, and not regular shoes. I honestly have not really looked at Sombra’s feet enough to tell you if this is accurate.

For accessories she has an extra set of hands, a Translocator pod, her Uzi, and a hacking effect that can attach to one of the hands. The accessories are all pretty nice, though the hacking effect is a little cheezy looking. It’s all solid pink plastic and it’s a little short. It’s wholey understandable in it’s design though, since Hasbro probably has a lot of breakage safety rules it has to follow for it’s figures. Anything less and it would break too easily. The effect from the Sombra Nendoroid is really nice, but I also worry that I am going to snap it to pieces anytime I look at it.

Overall, Sombra is pretty great. She has a lot of expected limitations, but she is a lot more affordable than an import figure. The whole lime scales really well with the Figma line as well, so having the Hasbro line as a supplement works really well.

Review – PC – House MD (the Game)

Legacy Interactive | Released: 5.26.2011

NOTE: This review mostly concerns itself with Chapter 1, I plan to go through at least one more chapter and if there are significant game play changes I’ll note them but otherwise it can be assumed to be more of the same.  Also this review is image heavy because I had too many good shots to narrow it down.

Occasionally something that seems slightly ridiculous shows up on my radar and I just can’t help but give it a try.  House MD the Game falls into this category.  The company behind this isn’t one I’ve ever heard of but judging by their website they specialize in this sort of point and click mini game based adventure game.  They also have some games based on other popular prime time shows available.

I am a fan of the show, sort of.  I really enjoyed it up through the end of Season 3.  After they broke up the original team and started adding other subordinates things started slowly moving downhill.  I can’t say I’ve watched much past maybe halfway through Season 4.  This game features most of the more current characters so it is at least based on the what’s relevant now as far as the show goes.  Everyone is there, House, Wilson, Cuddy, Thirteen, Foreman, Cameron, Chase, and Taub.  The graphics on this are good enough that everyone is easily recognizable.  I won’t go so far as to say they are great though only because some of the facial expressions House gives are a little… odd…

The game itself does a decent job of replicating the general aspects of the show.  There are 5 Chapters or cases to solve which must be solved in order.  There is the basic set up, some inconspicuous situation leads to a person landing in the hospital.  House and his team brainstorm and test for various illnesses.  There’s even the “side patient” clinic side of House’s job that shows up.  Eventually after several failed diagnosis, House has an epiphany moment (through the use of a bouncing ball mini game) and the solution presents itself to the world more or less out of nowhere.

This plot aspect actually annoys me but it’s consistent with the show and much of modern television these days.  They throw so many Red Herrings at you that there isn’t any way to actually piece together the mystery even if you’re paying attention.  There is just an “ah-hah” moment and it’s done.  Not a complaint against the game mind you but that gimmick reeks of annoying writing.

The game play itself involves reading through the narrative and solving several tasks presented to you.  These tasks are timed mini games.  You do procedural tasks which are, slightly annoyingly, spelled out step by step, so no real challenge.  These involve things like “whip the area with  sponge, stick the needle in the arm, no slide up to insert the needle, put the vial on to the end of the needle”.

There are also search and find the clues games.  These involve panning around a scene looking for clues as to what may have caused the illness.  These are a little weak because you mostly pick up random objects, none of which end up having much to do with anything.  The third of the more common puzzles is the brainstorming sessions.  Several different diseases float around on the screen.  You must select the correct one to move on.  As you select answers, letters that match will be revealed helping you to sole the answer.  Also letters are revealed over time slowly.  Generally you’ll do 4 or 5 of these in a row as House tells you all the reasons you’re wrong.

The whole thing reminds me a lot of the Pet Care style games my kids play.  Basic mouse movement based tasks presented to the player with no true threat of loss.  This is a very casual game in that it’s meant to appeal to people who don’t really play games.  The type who don’t want to get a game over screen ever, they just want play a house episode.

Much of the game is very dialogue heavy.  I can’t really decide if it’s good or bad or just off.  I have not really paid attention to the show the last few seasons so maybe house has turned into a “Sex one liner every other sentence kinda guy” but I don’t remember him being quite this randomly nuts on the show.  The worst comes from the clinic patient.  House more or less mocks her the entire time telling her she needs to fatten up repeatedly only considerably more rudely.  House is an ass but he’s not really all that flat out MEAN.  I’ve included several choice selections in the screenshots, you’ll want to enlarge them to read it though.

The simplicity will probably turn off a lot of more hardcore gamer types.  It’ll likely turn off people who just like more action in their game.  It’s not real terrible for a mostly text based narrative style adventure game.

Here are some extra images I didn’t have room for….  Click to make them larger…

Sentinel – Roll Caskett (AmiAmi Exclusive Ver)

I’m pretty picky anymore, so it’s not super often that I end up slightly disappointed with a figure, especially one that is expensive that I didn’t randomly pick up because it was marked down to nothing at Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, the 4 Inch Nel Roll Casket gets the pleasure of being slightly disappointing.

So, the figure itself is pretty decent, and I really like the Classic Megaman that I have. The real insult of this figure is the price and the dual release. The version I have is the AmiAmi.com exclusive version. It includes a hatless head and a mini figure of Data, the little save monkey from Mega Man Legends (Rockman Dash). The regular version has a hand holding a wrench and a head with Roll’s giant hat. The thing is, this figure is roughly $70 USD, and there really isn’t any reason that these two figures shouldn’t have just been “one release”.

What makes this really stand out is that in the same order, I received Figma Widowmaker, which is like twice as much figure and a ton of extra parts, for less cost. I mean, I realize these are different companies, and Figma is a lot bigger than Sentinel in terms of everything, but it really makes it obvious how much Roll is really price gouging it.

The figure itself looks good, all of the colors are nice and the sculpt looks really great for the most part. She holds together pretty well, in fact, I had a little bit of trouble getting her head apart to swap the faces it holds together so well. The joints though are a little ugly. Sentinel’s joint system works great on robots where everything is hidden by armor, it works a little less well on Roll, who is more human looking in appearance. She also has a little trouble with balance, primarily due to her skinny body and huge head. There is a stand to help hold her up, but it’s the huge claw style and kind of looks rediculous when wrapped around her.

Aside from the previous complaint of “the second figure should have just been accessories”, she really is kind of anemic on accessories. She has open hands and fist hands, though the open hands are very straight fingered and look a little weird looking. There are two face plates, one smiling, and one winking, a few more would have been nice given the cost of this figure. Then of course there’s Data, who has an articulated neck but not a lot else to do.

I don’t have a lot else to say. I hope she does all right because I would love to get Tron Bonne eventually, but I hope they have the sense not to split her up needlessly across two expensive releases. Another unrelated side note, I kind of wish Megaman Volnut would get a re-release, he’s pretty expensive on the secondary market these days, so my Roll is a little lonely. I have an old as the hills model kid but it looks pretty awful.

Forza Horizon 4 (PC, Xbox One)

Microsoft – 2018

The Good

  • Stunning Visuals
  • Gameplay has a ton of variety and courses and cars
  • The car Livery system is pretty great

The Bad

  • The PC version is a pretty mediocre port of the console version
  • There are a lot of bugs.
  • The Online Scene isn’t great

Racing is a genre of games that I don’t really obsess over but I often come back to. It’s quite possibly my secret favorite genre. I bought an N64 so I could play Cruisin USA, I played a ton of Gran Turismo 2 on my Playstation, I played a bunch of Need for Speed games. the only X-Box 360 title I have played with any amount of play time was Forza Motorsport 4.

I’d been kind of looking at trying one of the Forza games in the Windows 10 store, though I was a little apprehensive early on because, well, it’s the Windows 10 store. I’ve used Windows 10 enough that I can say I’m ok with keeping it around some so I went ahead and decided to dive into Forza Horizon 4, which is the newest title in the series. It was on sale and I had a bunch of Bing Rewards credit so I picked up the Ultimate Edition for a steal and have been playing it pretty regularly since.

So, Forza consists of two core series. The Forza Motorsport Series is a more traditional “Pick a race and run it” style game, the Forza Horizon series is a more open world experience. Each of the Horizon games take place in an approximation of a different real world region, Forza Horizon 4 takes place in the countryside of the UK near Edinburgh. It centers around the Horizon Festival, which is a sort of gathering for racers to show off their skills in different types of racing. The point is, there is some sort of vague plot to this game, you meet with some of the organizers and they give little cut scenes occasionally. Each race type culminates in a longer showcase event, that one of the characters has been building up to. It’s not going to win any writing awards, but it’s there. There are sub stories as well, though it all amounts to an excuse to drive a car and win some sort of race.

For example, one of the sub stories is a series of events hosted by a Vlogger who is showing off cars that appeared in video games over the years. Like the Ferrari from Outrun or the
Lamborghini Countach from Test Drive. Another has you participating in a series of outlandish stunts as you work do some side work for a filmmaker as a Stunt Driver. There are a series of special event races which culminates in a Halo themed run driving a Warthog. Another has you race a massive hovercraft as it storms over the terrain.

These are all in addition to the more standard races that make up the core Horizon Festival series. The Horizon races are broken up into types you might expect, Off-road racing with trucks, Street races with lots of tight corners and turns, Road races which are a little more forgiving than street races and have a few more straightaways. You start off with only a handful of events available but unlock more as you level up your skill in each type of race. Eventually the entire map is essentially covered in events.

The map itself is pretty good size. It can take a pretty good while to circle the entire area, and even just traveling across it can take five to ten minutes, depending on how much you go off road or what car you’re driving. In addition to race events, there are all sorts of activities on the map itself. Speed Trap challenges to achieve a high speed at a certain point, Drift Zones where you accumulate points by drifting around a series of turns, or Danger Signs where the object is to see how far you can jump your car. Like regular races and mini stories, doing these activities, unlocks other activities.

When all of this gets old, there’s also the hourly Forzathon events, which are sort of impromptu gatherings of players who all work to do the world activities for accumulated points. These, admittedly, get a little old, they last 10-15 minutes and it involves doing the same speed trap or danger sign jump over and over and over and over while a meter inches upwards for the group. It really feels like these could be given some more variety, maybe a series of checkpoints for everyone to race through that span the map or something. These events give special Forzathon Points which can be used to buy special weekly exclusive items.

Thinking of buying, the game’s other progression system is through accumulating cars and player outfits. You can’t exit your vehicle but your avatar appears on race start and completion screens and shows up in your car driving. You earn clothes and cars through a variety of methods, winning races and leveling up the different race types is one. You can outright buy cars with your winnings. You can also win prizes through Wheelspins which are earned from victories and leveling up your character. These are pretty much what they sound like. A big prize wheel spins and you get an item afterwards.

It’s notable to add that there is no real world cash shop. You buy the game, and that’s it. The Wheelspins especially feel like something that would normally be a “pay $1.99 and get a wheelspin” item but there is no way to buy extra wheelspins. They must be earned by racing. This is good because frankly, micro transactions are kind of hurting the game industry. It’s a little frustrating since it means you get a loot box that you can’t control and may get some garbage emote out of it instead of that rare car that happened to show up as an option. Fortunately the game pretty much showers you with Wheelspins.

So, while there aren’t any micro transactions, this does lead into my first complaint. I purchased the Ultimate Edition on sale, so it didn’t seem too bad, but the game kind of feels like it almost needs the $99 Ultimate Edition package, for anyone who has any intention of seriously playing the game and the expansions. In addition to including the current (Fortune Island) and unknown second expansion, the Ultimate Edition comes with a ton of cars and the VIP Pass, which includes a bunch of perks like double experience and free wheelspins and whatnot, all things that make the progression of the game fly by.

My other major problem comes from how shoddy the PC port itself feels. The game itself plays well and looks great and on the whole, I am happy, but it has a lot of weird quirks and a lot of bugs that feels like they stem from the whole “Windows 10 Cross Play Xbox experience” or whatever it’s called. For example, there is an elaborate and nice Photo Mode in the game, but the only way to get the photos into a useful sharable format is to first share them to your Forza Profile on the Forza website. I mean you can print screen them, but the actual export produces a much nicer quality image.

I also feel like the lack of a user defined radio stems from this weird Xbox wrapper. The in game radio is all right but gets a little old after a while, having the ability to point a user radio station to a folder of MP3s would be amazing. You can play whatever music you want of course on something else, but the game is really bad about auto turning to a new radio station during races and the console version apparently doesn’t have a way to permanently mute the radio at all on the volume slider. Between this missing feature and the lack of screen shots saving to the drive, it’s like the game just doesn’t have access to the file system. It’s more of a Windows 10 problem than a Game problem, but it’s kind of a problem.

On Windows 10 problems, I have also had problems getting updates to take and the game to launch, a problem others have had as well. Sometimes it just doesn’t launch with no helpful errors. I also had to do a complete reinstall to get the Fortune Island DLC to take.

I also kind of hate the complete lack of in game chat, which i understand is also a side effect of the cross play aspects with the Xbox One. The text chat is all done via these little emote meme phrases and you can only “equip” 4 at a time.

Most of these problems, aside from the literal game breaking updating issue, aren’t game breaking. The pluses really outweigh those negatives. Racing games aren’t for everyone, but this one is pretty awesome. It’s visually amazing and the lack of micro transactions despite how easy it would have been to add them is really great. I’d definitely recommend the game, especially if it’s on sale.