Destiny: The Taken King Review

destiny01My relationship with Destiny has been troubled.  In the year since it’s launch, I’ve been flustered to understand why I’m even playing.  The game had such potential, but there were gaping problems; The story line was cut last moment, leaving a confused journey where nothing made sense.  There were 3-4 weapons that dominated all others, and if you didn’t have one yourself you were screwed.  And oh man, was it seriously repetitive; You would play the same jagged story with the same boss again, and again, and again…

There were a few positives though:  Excellent use of resources, perfect FPS controls, and many fights that really make you think and play your best.  It was easy to see how Destiny could have been the best shooter ever, which is why the constant let downs are what ultimately drove the title to simply “good”.

DestinyTakenKingGuardians When The Taken King (TTK) was announced, it pissed off fans even more.  They were charging $40 for the 3rd expansion, totaling $140 cost for all expansions for those playing since the beginning.  The fact new players get the whole bundle for $80 does little to relieve the pocketbooks of those who’ve been so dedicated. I even had a friend blow up at how Activision and Bungie were “ripping people off” and it was “complete bullcrap” that they charge so much for such limited content.

But then it came out.  Here we are, three weeks after launch and I’m still completing new parts of the story line.  They’ve tied events together and explained how the heck humanity ended up worshiping a giant space-ball.  They added new enemies who now interact with each other more.  There are a TON of new weapons and the upgrading system has been improved dramatically.  There’s a new raid which I’ve heard is good but my guardian is too weak to attempt, so… working on that.

BungietkkIt’s not only the new content that’s great.  Bungie went back and added new levels to the systems that were already in place.  This finally feels like the game that was supposed to be released in the first place.  The Gunsmith now has “field test” guns that you need to use in specific ways to earn reputation, and that reputation opens new quests, gives legendary guns, and some think hold secrets to the best loot in the game.

Person-Vs-Person (PvP) is even better now. The Crucible has always been fun and TKK has added multiple new play modes. Control, a game where you have to overtake and control certain areas of the map, was always a crowd favorite and now there’s two versions, fixing a primary complaint where controlling the zones became secondary to racking up points off kills.  Thorn (a thorn in players sides) is much less used thanks to the PvP nerf I haven’t cursed or thrown my controller across the room once!  Go me!Destiny-8So what’s the final say?  This is the game we always wanted it to be.  It has groves of content, a real “love for the grind” attitude, and a sense of community I really haven’t experienced before.  Destiny is now one of the best shooters on the market, if not ever.  Guardians, see you on the battlefield.



Oh God No: How to stop a Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger

comcast01Friday morning Comcast executives approached the FCC with questions on what hurdles it would face if they pursued a merger with Time Warner Cable.   The first thing to understand is cable companies share the lowest customer service ratings of any industry.  Why?  Probably because of the poor customer service, bandwidth caps, and outright denial that customers want fast internet speeds.

The thought of two of the least customer centric companies in America merging into one super Goliath of crappy service should be a scary thing to many. The two companies have a near duopoly on the cable market in our country yet have been known to have secret, sneaky ways of trying to keep a monopoly;  TWC gets some areas, and Comcast gets others. “We won’t step on your toes if you don’t step on ours.”

What’s wrong with that?  Less competition means higher costs, more absurd fees, and less incentive to progress.  That all sounds like things we want, right?  Wrong. The FCC has it’s work cut out for them over the holiday weekend.  This is a good opportunity for the new chairman Tom Wheeler to prove pundits wrong and put the hammer down for the American people. Tom Wheeler used to work as a lobbyist for the cable industry so it’s fair to be a little concerned.

fcc01In 2011, T-Mobile and AT&T tried a merger and the FCC blocked them.  That’s spurred fierce competition in the wireless spectrum as T-Mobile has revamped it’s Uncarrier initiative to provide more flexible and less expensive plans, as well as other features such as free internet for tablet users. This is a perfect example of why competition is a benefit to the rest of us.

With new gaming consoles like the Xbox One, the Playstation 4, tablets in 34% of households, and smartphone adoption rate in the US above 90% so many devices are now connected and rely on a consistent.   Bandwidth caps will just mean more cost for less internet access.


The New Xbox One: Microsoft’s Ploy To Take Over


With so much excitement around the new gaming systems, Microsoft had a lot to win or lose at their event today revealing the new Xbox, dubbed the ‘Xbox One’ as in, the only ‘one’ system you’ll need.  While the Xbox was revealed later than Sony’s PS4, it actually got the jump on releasing images of their system.  They also gave us a good look at how Microsoft plans to use this system, both to the benefit and detriment to you, the consumer.  More details?  Read on.

First, the upsides.  Microsoft plans on replacing every other set top box you own… which might be nice considering how many remotes we have.  It responds entirely to voice, so imagine saying “Xbox, on.  Watch tv,” and sitting back to relax without having to find the remote.  “Xbox, watch a movie,” will instantly switch on a DVD, and when you’re bored, “Xbox, play a game” will switch back to your latest-saved conquest.  Cool.  An improved Kinect sensor is also being added which now reads both orientation and depth and can help you control the entire system without even touching a controller.  It is clear Microsoft is looking to turn this into a media center and not ‘just’ a game console.  There are 13 titles getting readied for release and with a number of franchises such as Halo and Forza exclusive to the system it looks like we’ll in for a number of really cool games.

Speaking of games… that’s where what seems to be bad news comes in.   Remember when you used to bring the new game you bought over to your buddies house to play with them? Ha, ha! Not so more, little gamer.  Microsoft’s way of “protecting against piracy” means games aren’t played off the disk you buy them on.  That info is downloaded to the hard drive and matched to your specific Xbox Live account (Did I mention, an active Xbox Live Account and subsequent bill needs to be paid before you can use your system?) and will not allow duplicate usage.  That means you’d have to bring your entire gaming system next door and stack in on top of your friend’s identical gaming system just to play.  What?  Xbox has said to be working on a way to disable games when you’re done so you can sell used games, but nothing has really been announced and who knows how that will pan out.  Need any more proof Microsoft has ditched the hardcore gamer as it’s consumer and broadened that to anyone with a television set… Xbox 360 games will not be backwards compatible.  If you were planning on selling your Xbox 360 in order to finance the Xbox One, think again.  If you do, sell off every game as well because they’ll be useless.  This also means I’ll need another system attached to my TV if I want to play any of those games which kind of goes against what the Xbox One is all about.  Why did they do that?


What’s funny is immediately after the announcement of the Xbox, Son’y stock soared. That’s good news for the Playstation 4 which seems to be more focused on the end consumer.  I’m not sure how this will all play out, but as a former Xbox supporter I’m timid to give my support to yet another corporation who values making money over my happiness with the way their products work for me.  Hm…