Thanks to the one and only Major Nelson, I got a new headset at PAX West 2017. The Ghost Recon Wildlands Y-350x Headset for Xbox One and PC. Over all it has been a nice upgrade from my Microsoft Stereo headset. Thanks to their deep base from the 60mm over ear drivers and 7.1 virtual surround sound. Though so far the best part is the memory foam padding keeping my ears from hurting during those long play times. While all this sounds great, there are some drawbacks.
First up, to keep these headphones from draining the controller’s battery too quickly, Thrustmaster attached an inline power pack that you can charge separately.
The problem is now you always have this floppy thing attached to your controller, and it is always pulling your headset down. I am not sure why they couldn’t have just made the control pad for the headset bigger, and hid the battery in that, since you can’t detach the two from each other anyway. Speaking of the control pad, here is a look at it:
It is pretty easy to control once you get used to it, and the back lights are nice, but the problem is the back light doesn’t stay on for very long, so sometimes you have to push something real quick to turn on the back light before you can find the right setting.
The last annoyance is probably the biggest. When you first turn on the Thrustmaster Y-350x’s there is audible hum/buzzing. It is supper irritating. Though once you give the headphones a slight workout the buzzing stops. It is like they need to get a range of sound pushed through them to calibrate themselves. Then they sound great.
All in all I like the sound and the bass these headphones are able to provided, but they are not perfect. However, for the money they probably perform much better than other $150 headsets, and you can get them for as little as $100 if you look around. With The Ghost Recon Wildlands Y-350x Headset you just got to learn to live with their little flaws. Which is a shame because with a few design tweaks they could have been truly great, but since I got mine for free, who am I to complain?
I know I didn’t technically review Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 1, but I did say its group play was one of the best things about PAX West 2017. Episode 2 continues Telltale’s great work. It has been so fun to watch them throw out certain parts of the Bat-cannon and replace it with their own. The Telltale Batman universe is fascinating. To see how so much has changed, but how much still stays the same.
Front and center with these new lore changes is Harley Quinn. Episode 2 completely reimagines her relationship with
Joker John Doe. I want to know everything about how this new Harley ticks. Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 2 also introduces a lot of other Bat-criminals, but I won’t spoil who shows up. Though it is quite a list. However, their changes don’t seem to be as major.
I was quite happy to see that the game runs better in Episode 2. It was a rock solid 60 FPS the whole way through. Not that you need that precision timing for a Telltale game, but so many of their other games can get so stutter-y that it takes you out of the story, so for at least with this chapter, everything looks great.
I am also curious what other choices I could have made. I may have to play it again to see what I can screw up. For now, I will just have to bide my time for Batman: The Enemy Within Episode 3, and it is teasing a reunion that I can’t wait to see play out. I have said it before, and I will say it again. Telltale should just do all the DC superheroes. I would love to mess up their Justice League’s group dynamic!.
The Handmaid’s Tale is a terrifying show produced by Hulu, but it is not terrifying because of a ghost or a psychotic madman but because it shows a future to the United States that for some seems unfortunately possible. While it would take a lot for that future to take place, you don’t have to look too hard through history to find examples free nations taken by tyranny: Iran, Venezuela or everyone’s favorite villains Nazi Germany, just to name a few. It turns out that desperate people make bad decisions.
In the not to distant future most women in the world have become unable to have children, and this sends the world in to a downward spiral. A Pseudo-Christian group has used the unrest in America to take over, and the women that are able to have kids are forced to breed with the leaders of this group to give those men and their wives children. These unfortunate women are called Handmaids. The show follows a Handmaid by the name of Offred (Elisabeth Moss).
The Handmaid’s Tale never backs away from anything. It shows this bleak future in unflinching detail. While I know some Christians are upset at the show because they are worried people might get the wrong idea about Christianity, you don’t have to know much about Christian theology to know that rulers of ‘Gilead’ (The Former USA) have warped the Bible for their own evil purposes. Which is probably why most people in Gilead aren’t allowed to read the Bible.
A show about institutionalized rape would be hard to believe or get in to without good performances, and thankfully The Handmaid’s Tale has a lot of talent on screen. There aren’t many weak performances, and Elisabeth Moss is able to work her way through the wide array of Offred’s emotions almost perfectly. Considering about half of the show is just Elisabeth Moss close ups, she does an amazing job getting the audience to feel what Offred is going though.
The Handmaid’s Tale is not for the weak of heart, and it shows the fall of the USA, which some people may take issue with, but sadly The Handmaid’s Tale uses the past for its version of the future, so we would be wise to listen to what it has to say. Even if we reject its conclusion. The Handmaid’s Tale is worth watching if you have access to Hulu, or maybe just paying for Hulu for a month to watch it. Who knows, you may even get through the show during your seven day free trial.
Cuphead was a game I wasn’t sure I was going to play. I knew it looked good, and that it played well, but it is basically a collection of artfully created Mega Man boss battles. Then just to change things up they throw in some Contra style run and gun stages, and few Ikaruga style shoot ’em up levels. In other words, all the games I loved, but was terrible at as a kid. Thankfully while Cuphead isn’t easy, it is fair, so after playing a level fifteen times or so you can usually figure out what you need to do. Its challenge plus its amazing style means Cuphead is fun and unique experience.
In the game you take control of the titular Cuphead. He lost a game of dice with the Devil and now needs to collect all the Devil’s contracts for him. Of course to collect those contracts you need to shoot different guns out of your fingers. These guns are elixirs you can buy from a local pig/merchant and then pour in to your cup shaped head.
The contract levels are pretty much just boss battles. The creatures are upset you are collecting their contracts, and they fight back. They usually go through several mutations, and figuring out the pattern to each mutation is the key to success. Though for some of them you do take to the skies and shoot them with your plane while tons of stuff and the boss’ attacks fly at you. To get money for the pig you need to complete the run and gun levels to find the golden coins that are hidden inside them.
The big draw of the game is definitely the art. According to the developer, StudioMDHR, everything in the game is hand drawn, and it looks amazing. Which consequently makes the game even harder because sometimes you get caught up looking at the gorgeous animation. Every still-frame from the game is almost background worthy. I mean look at this:
And that sort of stuff is on screen non-stop.
Listen, if you have $20 to spare, there is nothing quite like Cuphead (except: Mega Man, Contra, and Ikaruga), and it is well worth checking out. If only for the art alone it is worth the money. StudioMDHR needs to release a photo mode just so we can save all these images for the backgrounds of all our devices. I never thought I would like a game like this, but so far it is a ton of fun, and well worth the Amazon Promotional Credits and Bing Points I spent on it.
Epic launched their version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds a couple of days ago: Fortnite: Battle Royale, and it has proven to be very popular, but you may be asking, “How does it compare?” So far, not too favorably. It can’t quite figure out what it wants to be. The game features Fortnite’s zany style, but it doesn’t seem over the top enough, and at the same time due to it’s arcade-y shooting, simplified inventory and lack of a prone position it definitely isn’t as tactical as PUBG. Not to mention at this point there are no vehicles.
The game plays basically the same way. At the start of the game you and 99 friends get launched from a flying party bus, and then once you are on the ground you scavenge for weapons while the playable area of the map shrinks over time. The difference is that you can destroy buildings, trees, cars and rocks, and then use those resources to build ramps and forts. Early on you will build a lot ramps to get to good weapons and whatnot, but for the most part you will not build any forts or towers until the end of the game when it is easy to figure out where the ‘eye of the storm’ is going to be. So it is pretty much PUBG for the first three quarters of the game and then Fortnite for the last little bit.
The game has its pluses. For new players the simplified inventory should make getting in to the game easier. The cartoony graphics means it runs well on consoles and just about every PC under the sun, and the towns don’t look quite as cookie-cutter as they do in PUBG. Plus the net-code seems to be much better, but so far it just doesn’t have the same hook PUBG does. It is just missing something.
I am not a game developer, but to me Fortnite: Battle Royale needs to play to its strengths. Crank up the crazy fun of their mode. Make it the quicker wilder version of Battle Royal, and make building stuff more integrated in to the whole game, not just the last five minutes or building the occasional ramp. Right now Fortnite: Battle Royale just makes me want PUBG on console even more. However, The Paladin and I have already won Fortnite: Battle Royale, and that is something I still haven’t done in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.