Laptop and Desktop Hunt Simulator 2015 Edition Remastered

I recently started a consulting and contracting LLC. I already have a gig lined up so I wanted a desktop and laptop for business use, separate from my personal stuff. So I went on a hunt to get a laptop and desktop. I thought you guys may want to see what I decided on (maybe not though). I wanted to have a decent Windows desktop and a decent laptop for use with a VPN. Here are the systems I considered with some detailed notes,

TypeModelNotes
LaptopAsus UX305Inexpensive, reviewed well, light but capable. A good laptop for a great price.
LaptopHp Spectre x360Tablet functionality, nice to look at, reviewed well. A bit pricey though.
LaptopMacbook Pro 15"Great Apple laptop quality for a very high price.
DesktopDell Inspiron 3000 - i7 Quad CoreCheap, quick, and easy.
DesktopAlienware Gaming ThingRelatively inexpensive but very small and capable. Would maybe have some issues with the interface.
LaptopMacbookSuper light, great apple quality, decent performance for a higher price.
DesktopIntel NUC - i7-5557UVery small, pretty cheap, but is kind of a fake i7 as it doesn't have 4 cores with hyperthreading
DesktopiMac 5KRidiculously expensive and probably due for an update. This is a crazy persons choice but it's pretty.

What did I decide on?

For a desktop, I was tempted by the machines above but in the end I went with the Intel NUC. It's super small and relatively inexpensive. It also consumes very little power which is great because I can leave it on all the time without worrying about my electric bill. I also happened to have an extra m2 250GB ssd laying around so I only needed to get 16 GB of memory which is super cheap. It's a very nice system. I would recommend it for anyone who wants something low powered and inexpensive.

For a laptop, well, that's complicated. I kept coming back to the UX305 but I really liked the idea of a more capable system with a touchscreen so I went with the Spectre x360. That was a massive mistake. It looks and feels great, I mean really great, macbook quality great, but it has a few major issues. One, it crashes constantly. I kept having to shut down IE and Chrome because it hated the touch interface. Two, it felt heavier than I thought it would, which is not a big problem but I wish it was lighter. Three, the trackpad is pretty shit. Yes, it works better than some previous windows trackpads I've used but it's still nowhere near as good as a mac trackpad. Four, and the big one, there is a massive flaw with the touchscreen. When I play videos, say on giantbomb, and I scroll using the touchscreen, if you scroll over a video, the video stops and the system doesn't react consistently. It will always stop or play the video, but it won't always scroll. It's not an issue for links or images, only for video (at least so far). This was annoying and I figured if this was a problem that I found with maybe 15 minutes of use, I couldn't trust it, and I returned it.

So, I went with my default choice and got the Apple Macbook. It's not as capable but it's extremely light and has an amazing trackpad. I was worried about the new "butterfly" keys but I'm pretty much used to it after only a couple hours of use.

I came away with one basic understanding, and that's whenever I hear great things about windows laptops, I know to be automatically weary. I have never had a flawless experience with a windows based laptop. Usually, the major problem is with the trackpad. I know, some people say "just use a mouse", which is ridiculous because I don't want to have to use a mouse and I don't want to struggle with a trackpad. And this isn't coming from someone who is at all a Mac fanboy as I've had linux machines, I have windows desktops, I have an Android phone, etc. In fact, my favorite OS is probably Linux (Linux Mint is pretty great). I've tried all of the "best" windows laptops out there in the past, including the new XPS 13 which supposedly has a great trackpad. Well, it didn't.

But anyways, these are my findings. Maybe I'll get irritated at the Macbook performance at some point down the road, I'll update this with impressions in a couple weeks.

2 Comments

Kazuma? Kazuma!!!!!! My Yakuza 3 Review

I'm sure there are quite a few of you out there that were turned off of this game based on Jeff's Quicklook; if so, you're missing out. Don't get me wrong, this game has a ton of filler, and I mean a TON of filler. Whether it's playing terribly realized mini-games, going on horrible errands for townsfolk, or visiting Club Sega's amazing "shooter," Yakuza 3 has it's faults. But with every fault comes redeeming qualities. 
  
Yakuza 3 isn't necessarily a beautiful game. It boasts a low resolution, outside of in-game engine cut-scenes (you'll know what I mean when you see it), and some mediocre animations. However, there's so much fine detail to each area that the game is almost breathtaking at times. The diversity of characters walking around the streets of Okinawa and Tokyo are varied and do interesting things. Don't forget about the certain "essence" set-pieces which provide hilarious moments(old lady doing a back flip on her scooter). The buildings do look slightly bland yet they are also very unique to each area and you quickly learn to find your way around in an otherwise confusing set of environments. The visuals are mixed, but there are definitely things to love about how the game looks.
 
Yakuza at its heart, is an RPG. Sure, you fight enemies in a brawler type setting but these fights take place in what are basically random events much like any JRPG. Walking around the streets, you'll be interrupted by varying individuals, ranging from "street punks" to "con men." None of these fights are difficult and to a point, become a bit annoying. The brawling/fighting gets a bit repetitive if it weren't for the area and weapon/specific special moves and finishers that include things like picking up an enemy and smashing him on a railing or teeing up a guy's face with your golf club.  
 
But what's really important about Yakuza and what sucks you in is the story and characters. Spend more than a few hours with Yakuza 3, skip the majority of the side-mission and mini-game stuff and you'll come to love the game. Yakuza 3 has one of the most unique, interesting, funny, and heart-wrenching stories from any game of this generation. There were moments, especially towards the end that almost brought me to tears. You'll come to love each character, especially your own Kazuma, and others like Rikiya, a local Yakuza who looks up to Kazuma like an older brother or even a father. Every character is interesting, and I mean every character. There wasn't one moment in the game where I thought to myself "oi, this character is an idiot, I don't want to spend any more time with him/her," and that includes the children; Children in most games or movies can become very annoying but these never did. 
 
Skipping most of the side-events brought the games finishing time down to around 22 hours and I could probably drop that to around 15 on a second play-through. Give it a chance, Yakuza 3 is easily one of the best games of 2010.    

1 Comments

The Surprise Games of 2010

2010 has been a great year for "surprises." What I mean buy a surprise game are those titles that totally come out of nowhere, smacking you on the face, and saying, "hey, I'm badass!" Here are my biggest surprise games of 2010, 
 
Splatterhouse 
  I think most of us are familiar with Splatterhouse, a "classic?" series released on several systems years ago. I'd heard of the re-make/re-invention of Splatterhouse at some point in time but I never expecting anything from it other than probably boring gameplay and lots of gore. The latter was definitely correct but I was also treated to fun gameplay, visually interesting design level and character design, and a hilarious and campy set of characters. It's not an amazing game, but I got through the game in two days without being bored once.
 
Nier 
  Square-Enix. . . Ugh, what have you done to yourselves? At one point in time, the announcement of a new game coming from the company would have resulted in my eyes being lit up with excitement. Now however, I tend to just not care. Fortunately, Nier turned out to be a fantastic game. Interesting characters, stories, and locales coupled with fun combat and great level design turned Nier into something special.
 
Metro 2033 
  Like one Mr. Snider, I have a thing for eastern block games. Why? Well, the eastern block tends to still hold by the old standard that gamers aren't "stupid." They develop games for the true  "core" gamer, not the guys and gals that just play ME2 and COD. Metro 2033 while not difficult, is definitely a niche title. It brought to the table a fascinating world and story, along with some amazing visuals and some fantastic gameplay systems.
 
 Other suprises, 
 
Darksiders
3D Dot Game Heroes 
Resonance of Fate 
Deadly Premonition 
Amnesia 
VVVVVV

2 Comments

The Most Disappointing (High Profile) Games of 2010

I'm sure that there are going to be quite a few of you that will take issue to these selections. That's what I'm going for though, and all criticisms are welcome; please leave out the unnecessary name calling though. 
  
Mass Effect 2
 I didn't play ME1 on the 360. My first experience with the series was about a year after it was released, on the PC. With a rock solid framerate, limited technical problems, and an easy to use control system,the PC version of ME1 was supposedly far superior that the 360 counterpart. I didn't love the game, but I did find it very enjoyable; it coupled an interesting and robust story with some decent and great characters to create a flshed-out and diverse world. The ending, in particular, was fantastic and the game is definitely up there among Bioware's best.  

ME2 did many things right, but also, many things wrong. It streamlined the action experience, bringing in a Gears style cover and shooting system with fairly tight controls. ME2 also developed a large and diverse character list with very interesting missions pertaining to those individuals characters histories. On the other hand, Bioware basically stripped out everything relating to a customizable and interesting RPG sans the character selection and missions. Any tactics and strategy relating to combat was gone, character customization was completely stripped, and the overall story was diminished into a boring and lacking narrative. I don't see why Bioware would dump all of the RPG customization and strategy unless they felt that it was a necessary removal in order to ease the development of the game. 
 
Splinter Cell Conviction 
Over the past several years, Ubisoft has gotten in the habit of "dumbing down" their games in an effort to appeal to a larger audience. The previous few splinter cells, especially Chaos Theory were fascinating and unique experiences. The Splinter Cell series was at one time, the pinnacle of stealth gaming for the current generation (Thief 2 is still king). With Conviction, like with Prince of Persia, Ubisoft stripped out the majority of the originating games mechanics. Sure, you could go into stealth, but why would you? It's far easier to pick off guys with your silenced gun rather than to hide and develop unique strategies to kill enemies without being seen. I found myself running around levels like a madmen rather than using strategic stealth tactics to take down my opponents. Without that well-tuned stealth mechanic, Splinter Cell is just another derivative shooter. 
 
Fable III 
I didn't like Fable II. I beat the game but it wasn't an enjoyable experience. In Fable II, I started off as a "good" character, trying to bring justice and love to the world. Yet as the game progressed, I become so damn annoyed with the game that I decided to just say "screw it" and started to kill everyone and anything. That's very abnormal for me. When I play an RPG I always stick to the good path; going "evil" is a good indicator of my hatred for the second game in the series. 
 
I didn't expect a lot from Fable III, but I did expect it to be an improved experience over Fable II. What I got though, was an even more annoying, irritating, and downright frustrating experience. I don't understand how this game went through a QA process without testers shouting about the annoyances of the customization system and the horrible newly designed interactive character system. Who was the genius that thought going into an in-game hub to change weapons and armor was a good idea? I would have been the first person in the development team to stand up after this was mentioned and would have said "are you crazy? That's crazy talk, no one is going to want to deal with that nonsense." Maybe someone did say that though, maybe Molyneux just offed him/her? 

73 Comments