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Getting My Game On with Electronic Arts!

Getting My Game On with Electronic Arts!

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Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the Electronic Arts Australia E3 event in Sydney, thanks to Husband winning tickets to attend.  It was held at an interesting venue, the Standard Bowl at Taylor Square.  It’s above Kinselas which, back in the day, used to be a bit of a “raging” nightspot.  While none of the live E3 events are happening here, a few of the gaming companies are holding screenings of their respective events.  I’ve long been a fan of EA games, with the Sims, Spore, Mass Effect, and Plants v Zombies, and I was excited to see what was coming over the next couple of years.

CrowdPeople were encouraged to cosplay Star Wars, but I think a few people were put off due to the inclement weather.  But we did see a Twi’lek, Storm Trooper, Leia, a rather good Tuskan Raider, and a very tall Darth Vader.  Husband and I went so far as to wear Star Wars themed shirts.

HusbandandIIt was a standard basic drinks with not a lot of food schmooze event.  The theme of the night was definitely “Play”. There was FIFA15 to be played, pool, pinball, and some ten pin bowling later in the evening.

Now, to the screening of the EA announcements, which is the reason we were there. (Watch the whole thing here, nb: there is lots on this video that we did not see on the night.)

MEAndromedaThe opening screen was the next chapter in the epic series of Mass Effect.  Mass Effect Andromeda looks amazing.  It teased exploration and more amazing graphic art.  There was no real information on gameplay or content, but there was the appearance of Johnny Cash’s “Ghost Riders” song. Release information was that it would be out “Holiday 2016”.  I’m guessing that means in time for Christmas.  Merry Christmas to me!

The next installment of Need For Speed was shown next.  Bringing together all of the best features from previous NFS games, including detailed customisation.  The graphics were incredible, the gameplay looked amazing, and while “car games” are not my thing, Need For Speed fans will not be disappointed.  Due for release November 3rd, 2015.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is getting a new expansion.  Knights of the Fallen Empire is a move towards player driven story.  From the sounds of it, the gameplay is going to take a “Bioware” approach, similar to Mass Effect, where your choices will affect your character and the story.  It sounds awesome, and it makes me want to sign up for SWTOR now, because they also announced that Knights of the Fallen Empire would be free for current subscribers.  Due for release October 27, 2015.

UnravelThe next game was a bit of a surprise, and quite frankly, looks completely amazing.  Unravel is a puzzle platformer (one of my favourite types) with a cute hero character.  Yarny is a little yarn wrapped character who uses the yarn available to him to go on his journey.  Not much was given away about the story, but the game itself looks like a lot of fun.  It looks like a game that will appeal to the younger gamers too.  There is no official release date, which leads me to think it will be 2016.

pvzgw2Last year Plants vs Zombies jumped out of the garden and went into full blown Warfare.  It brought some of our favourite plants and zombies into a PvP world.  The big downside of this game was you didn’t have offline solo, or split screen co-op play.  This is something they’ve introduced in Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2.  This is really exciting, as it means that my son and I can play it together.  There will also be free content updates after release.  Due for release Autumn 2016.

FIFA16I’m not a sports game person.  I think the last time I played one, it was an NBA game in 32bit graphics.  It was terrible, or more to the point, I was terrible at it.  In fact, I think it put me off gaming for quite a while.  Nevertheless, sports games have come such a long way.  Not only in the graphics department but game control and playability.  FIFA16 will not disappoint the sports game enthusiasts.  They’ve introduced even more game control and balanced play.  I think, though, more importantly, there are now women’s teams available to play, including the Australian Matildas.  In fact, so much so that one of the Matilda’s current team is going to appear on the cover of the game!  It’s very exciting.  Release is due September 25, 2015.

MirrorsEdgeThe next title got a bit lost in the presentation, in between FIFA16 and the giant announcement for the night, it wasn’t as punchy.  Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst is a free roaming, parkour style, martial arts fighting, story game.  It is the origin story for the original game which was released back in 2008/2009.  Due for release February 23, 2016.SWBFTITLE

Let’s face it, the entire night was based around Star Wars Battlefront.  At least, so said all the t-shirts that the staff were wearing, the drink coasters, and the decor.  Star Wars Battlefront is an action game played with first or third person view (which is good as I prefer third).  You get to travel within the Star Wars universe and complete cooperative missions on or offline, with bots or as a split screen co-op, but does not have an offline campaign mode.  SWBFXWingBattles are planet based, so you won’t be able to zoom around in space, nor will there be a Battle over Coruscant type scenario. The game’s online multiplayer mode supports up to 40 players in one match and 12 multiplayer maps will be available at launch. These maps will feature four locations from the Star Wars universe – Hoth, Tatooine, Endor, and Sullust. You can choose Rebels or Empire, and there are customisable options for your character. SWBFLuke There will be a few playable hero characters too, such as Luke Skywalkeror Darth Vader.  It was hard to watch the trailer and not feel super excited about the release of this game.  I’m sure that Husband and I will be co-opping this game for hours on release day!  Due for release November 19, 2015.

It’s been a while since I went to any type of release event, and I had forgotten how much I enjoy them.  This one wasn’t “official” for me, so I got to relax a bit more, which was nice.  I’m very excited about some of the games coming out from EA over the next 18 months.  Is there anything on this list that you can’t wait to play?

 

SWBFLukeDarth

 

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

Google Nexus 7 Tablet

Well, there is yet another Android tablet contender in the marketplace, as of yesterday.  Google revealed, and set up for pre-order to ship mid-July, their own Nexus range offering in the Tablet market.

Manufactured by ASUS, this 7″ tablet may just be what the market needs to push the various manufacturers to do what they do, but better.

  • Google Nexus 77” 1280×800 HD display (216 ppi)
  • Back-lit IPS display
  • Scratch-resistant Corning glass
  • 1.2MP front-facing camera
  • 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm
  • 340g
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth
  • 8/16 GB internal storage
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Micro USB
  • 4325 mAh (Up to 8 hours of active use)
  • Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
  • Quad-core Tegra 3 processor
  • Microphone
  • NFC (Android Beam)
  • Accelerometer
  • GPS
  • Magnetometer
  • Gyroscope

On paper this little pocket rocket sounds awesome!  There are a couple of things that are noticeably missing.  Firstly is an “outwards facing camera”, where most tablets have two cameras, the Nexus 7 only has the front-facing camera, mainly for video calls through Google+ and the like. For me, this is not a big deal as I really don’t take photos with my tablet.  Too cumbersome and awkward.  I don’t take nearly enough photos, but when I do, it’s usually with my phone, and sometimes with an actual (shock, surprise) digital camera.

The other thing the Nexus is missing is expandable memory.  Available as an 8Gb or 16Gb fixed memory tablet, it does feel a little limited as to the useability.  Google have released this as a “media consumption device” and are really pushing “cloud storage” through the Play store.  However, currently owning a 16Gb Transformer, and I’ve never really come close to filling it up.  I’m also not in the habit of leaving things on my tablet that I’m done with.  Books I’ve read, movies or TV shows that I’ve watched I generally take off the device and store on my home PC.

The only way to order the Nexus 7 is through the Google Play store.  This is both brilliant and a bit of a pain in the butt (which requires signing up to Google Wallet if you haven’t already).  One one hand, you have direct dealing with Google, which probably keeps price down, it certainly keeps the price consistent.  However, there’s no real way to get a look at it before purchase.  There are plenty of  “hands on” YouTube videos, so you may get an idea of whether it’s for you or not.  There aren’t much in the way of accessories right now, although the Play store has a cover and additional chargers on notification for order.

Price point on the device is really good too.  At the Google I/O Keynote, the screen behind the presenter said the price was going to be $199, which means starting at $199 for the 8GB offering, the 16GB has is $249 for the American market.  In Australia, once again it feels like we are being punished for not living in the US, and we’re being charged an additional $50 per unit. The shipping cost to Australia is $20, which means for $268.99 and $318.99 you can have one of these in your hands in Australia.  The only other ‘branded’ tablet of similar configuration on sale at Officeworks for $388. 

Later this year, I had planned on purchasing an e-reader and upgrading my tablet to something thinner and more portable, which would have set me back around $1,000 total.  Instead, I think I’ll get myself a Nexus 7 tablet, it will serve the purpose of both devices.  I only have small hands, so the 7″ screen is actually perfect for me.

What about you?  Does the Google Nexus 7 fit into your technology needs?

My Transformer ate an Ice Cream Sandwich!

My Transformer ate an Ice Cream Sandwich!

icsdroidcartoonAfter much waiting, and heaps of anticipation, the update for Android’s firmware to Ice Cream Sandwich was available for download!

I jumped into it as soon as I had recharged my poor tablets overworked battery. The whole process (using my parent’s less than stellar wireless network) took about 30 minutes. Pretty good considering it was a complete upgrade. My husband’s took far less time using a cable broadband connection.

My first impressions were a bit Magpie “ooh shiny”, but I did notice that my general interface was snappier, and seemed to be a bit more crisp looking.  Part due to the new font “Roboto”, it’s very sleek.  I really like how sharp it looks.  lockscreenMost noticeably, however, on the lock screen was the new font and the ability to unlock directly to the camera. Nifty!  The face recognition unlock seems to be missing on the Tablet, which I was a little disappointed about at first.  But after reading some reviews of it from the phone side of things, given the amount of problems they’re having with it, I can wait until they sort it out.

homescreenMy homescreens weren’t that different, apart from a few icons being updated.  There is now, though, a native Google search and voice search icons in the top left corner that eradicates the need for the search widget to take up real estate on your homescreen at all.  LOVE that!  The notifications area has been updated. New font, larger time, power control bar, screen brightness control and overall it’s much more appealing to look at.notifications

One of the things that I just LOVE about ICS, is when you tap on the “recently opened” apps icon, if there’s an app open that you want to close off, you no longer have to go into app control.  You can simply swipe it off the list!  Huge time saver right there!

recent

There are a few new apps and changes to existing apps that I can see being helpful. One of which is the ability to add passwords to apps. Particularly good when allowing my son to use my tablet for some DLNA media viewing, I can password my Plume, Email and Google+ apps so that he can’t accidentally open them.

The settings area is completely different.  Things are now much easier to find, without too much drilling down into areas, only to find that it was on that other screen you didn’t choose.

settingsI’m sure as time goes on, I’ll find out more about what this new incarnation of Android OS can do.  It’s been on my tablet for a day, and I haven’t spent more than an hour or so with my tablet.  So once I’ve had a chance to play more, and push it around a bit, I’ll be back with more of a love/hate list.