Friday, January 31, 2014

Game Review - NBA 2K14

Today I am reviewing NBA 2K14 for the PS4, although I'm sure the Xbox One version of the game is very close to the same.

There is plenty of good and bad to go with NBA 2K14:

The Good:
  • The graphics and character models are amazing.
  • The game play is great and fluid.
  • The controls are awesome.
The Bad:
  • VC (virtual currency) is needed for almost every mode.
  • 2K Servers go down and when they are down you can't do a lot (No GM Mode, My Career, or My Team).
  • Where is the Slam Dunk contest?  I'm pretty sure you have to be selected to it in either My Career or My GM while you play through the season, which isn't as much fun as just choosing it as an option.

I'm hooked on the My Career mode, so most of the review will focus on that.  I've played a bunch of games online with my son and that's a blast too.  We've also played a lot of games in the same room, also fun.

My Career is where this game really shines though.  My Career is a mode where you create a player and then play in a showcase game, followed by a draft.  You go up against a fictitious player named Jackson Ellis, he's a real jerk and it would've be a lot more fun to get drafted ahead of him, but I was not.  I suppose if I would have bought VC then I would have been, but I was too cheap.  In an earlier post, I did admit that I spent $10 on VC to upgrade my player, the micro transactions are the only major bummer with the game.  You can earn a lot of VC with the NBA 2K14 app however and it's available on iOS and Android.  You can pick winners in the days NBA games to earn 50 VC for each correct pick.  There is also a random envelope you can click on and earn VC.  I normally get around 1500 VC a day from doing this.  You also earn VC from each game you play.  I'm at the All Star break, and I now earn 500 VC for every game I play and my character is almost maxed out.

In the My Career mode you only control your created player, and the game is only active if your player is one of the players in the game.  This makes the games quicker and easier to make it through a season of basketball.  My Career started on the Atlanta Hawks, the team wasn't doing well so I requested a trade and was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Now being on the Thunder is a lot more fun, but I'm still not a starter.  Being a point guard stuck behind Russel Westbrook isn't easy and I probably would be a starter if I stayed on the Hawks, but it was fun to request a trade and I got a trophy for it, so it was worth it.  I'm really having a lot of fun with this mode, and I can't wait to finish the season.  I wish I would have made the All Star game since there is a trophy for that as well, I guess I will have to play through another season.  There are some cheesey parts in My Career too, the way your character talks can be annoying and when you interact with other players they are mostly text.  Lebron has some recording so he talks, but most of the time it's just text that you have to read.  It doesn't take away from the mode much though, and I still play it all the time.

Playing online is a blast, my son and I play all the time and never have any lag.  This is of course when the NBA 2K servers are up, and they've been pretty good lately.  We usually choose random teams, either current or from the past.  We have nice competitive games that take about 40 minutes.

GM Mode is more of a regular season mode.  You have to work for the owner, make decisions on who you're going to sign, etc.  It's fun, but you also need VC for this mode, and I don't like that.

My Team is a mode where you buy packs of cards with you guessed it, VC.  It's fine, I bought a pack of cards to get a trophy, that's all I've done with that mode.

This game is the one I've played the most on the PS4.  I don't really know how many hours I've put in, but if I had to guess I would say at least 100 hours or so.  It's very fun, and I can live with the VC if there are easy ways to earn it, and there is, but you have to grind and remember to use the app to earn as much as possible for free.  I love playing a quick game in My Carreer, and I love playing online against my son.  I actually get excited when I earn a trophy.  If you have a PS4, it's a very good game to buy.  The game is rated E for Everyone, although there is a fair amount of reading to be done in My Career or the My GM modes.  I figure if you have young children, they wouldn't play those modes anyway.  I give NBA 2K14 a 9 out of 10.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Movie Review - 12 Years A Slave

GTuck -

12 Years A Slave is a very powerful movie and the visuals are amazing and disturbing.  This movie is very difficult to watch in spots, but it's so well acted it's worth struggling through.  Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong'0 and of course Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northrup are amazing in this movie.  Brad Pitt is smart by casting himself in the part that saves Solomon from slavery, I guess when you produce the movie you get to pick your part, but his pick is genius.  I've never read the book so I don't know how accurate it is, but if the book is as disturbing as the movie or worse, I would never be able to read it; although the Kindle version is only 99 cents right now.  Maybe it's worth a read, it's a very scary story and it really is difficult to watch on the big screen.

The direction and editing of the story is great.  Shows enough of him as a free man before being kidnapped and sold into slavery with flashbacks and jumping around in the story at the beginning.  Very easy to follow and you get quickly attached to all of the characters.  I highly recommend watching this film, but expect to feel strange for at least the rest of the day.  I give 12 Years A Slave a 9 out of 10.

GurleeGirrl -

Ok - normally GTuck and I agree on most films, but this one I think he enjoyed a little bit more than I.  Don't get me wrong, it's an excellent movie, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.  There were too many parts where I, as the viewer, felt uncomfortable.  I guess I knew what I was getting into by going.  It sure wasn't marketed as a feel-good movie.

Michael Fassbender sure played the role of an asshole to perfection.  Chiwetel Ejiofor was amazing.  The emotions he relayed with his expressions were crazy.  He didn't have to speak for you to feel his pain and despair.

I wasn't a fan of the way the story was told.  There was jumping around, which in the end made sense, but as it was unfolding I was like WTF?

I was waiting for Brad Pitt - and was wondering if he'd ever show up.  He does, but not for long.  His time on screen was most of the happy-feel-good part of the movie.

It's an emotional movie and you could feel an uncomfortable feeling in the the theater at times.  Of course there is somewhat of a happy ending, which caused me to be a crying mess.  Overall, the movie is totally a should-see, but I think I would have enjoyed it more at home, and probably would have watched it in more than one sitting, due to the anxiety I was feeling.  I give 12 Years a Slave a 7 out of 10.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Movie Review - Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

GTuck -

I've always enjoyed the Jack Ryan movies, whether it was Harrison Ford or Ben Affleck, it's all fun for me.  I love an espionage type thriller, as simple as they may be.  They are action thrillers and they are fun, they won't win any Oscar's, but who cares.  Maybe the story doesn't always make sense, and the action could be unbelievable, but it's a fun ride.  It's a movie that is certainly more fun to see in the theater as is any James Bond or Jason Bourne type movie, if you're into that sort of thing.  The IMAX screen and sound is perfect as well, I know we didn't see it in real IMAX, I don't really care about real IMAX anymore.  The IMAX at AMC is pretty darn good and good enough for me.  We saw this movie on Tuesday night in a theater that sits about 500 or so, and there may have been 15 people in there tops.  That's a shame as this movie is actually really good.  I give it an 8 out of 10.

GurleeGirrl -

I had seen the trailer for this a few weeks back.  I was pleasantly surprised to see Chris Pine and Kevin Costner, and the fact that it was a Tom Clancy movie - I figured it would be a worthwhile watch, and I wasn't wrong.  This movie starts off exciting and keeps going the whole time.  There is lots of action from fights to fast car chases, everything you want in a "espionage type thriller".  Chris Pine can pull off smart and badass.  Kevin Costner still has a crazy charm, and I am glad to see him back on the big screen.

We happened to see the movie in IMAX and that also adds to the excitement for me.  I totally recommend seeing this one in theaters.  I give it an 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Movie Review - Enough Said

GTuck - 

We saw the trailer for Enough Said back over the summer and I knew it was a movie we were going to want to see, we like these artsy romantic comedies a lot.  It does not disappoint, it's a cute story and James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are great in it as well.  Maybe the movies isn't as great as I think it is and it's the company that I have while watching movies like this that make it fun.  I certainly wouldn't ever watch a movie like this alone, but watching it with GurleeGirrl makes it a lot more fun and enjoyable.  I don't really know how to write a review about a romantic comedy, they are kind of throw away, but enjoyable.  I will give it an 8 out of 10.

GurleeGirrl - 

Well I can't believe that GTuck liked this one so much.  I have to agree that it was a great movie.  I wasn't disappointed at all.  I do tend to analyze movies like this, I always ask myself "is this story feasible?"  I like a story that you can relate too.  These characters are common people.  Nothing fancy or remarkable about them.  They were divorced, middle aged and average.  James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus really pulled it off.  It was believable that these two people could meet and test the waters with one another.  It worked for me.  There is a bit of humor, a touch of sadness and enough drama to keep you interested.

This movie is not the type that you have to see in a theater to appreciate it.  It's a great flick to watch from the comfort of your own cozy couch.  I give it an 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Movie Review - American Hustle

GTuck -

I had high hopes for this movie.  Turns out I was becoming quite the David O'Russel fan and I didn't even know it.  I really liked Silver Lining Playbooks and Three Kings and enjoyed I Heart Huckabees and The Fighter a lot.  This movie just didn't do it for me, and I don't really get all the praise that's out there.  The acting is great, it's very well acted, but the story isn't that great and it's boring and predictable.  If it wasn't for the great acting and being set in the late 70's, the movie would get an even lower score from me.  The costumes and the setting were the best parts.  The first 30 minutes is definitely boring. I know I was bored.  Then the story picks up a little bit, and then it's boring again.  I'll certainly never watch it again, and I wouldn't be upset if Amy Adams wins an Oscar for it, but it's so boring.  I'm not quite sure why Jennifer Lawrence is getting so much praise for the movie either, she's fine in it, maybe it's just her character that's so annoying.  I think that Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner are just as good in the movie as Jennifer Lawrence.  Even Louis CK is great in the movie, and I haven't heard anybody mention that.  The next person to tell me they loved this movie is really going to have to tell my why, because I'm really not sure why you would.  I'm interested to read GurleeGirrl's take, she liked the movie even less than I did.  I give American Hustle a 6 out of 10.

GurleeGirrl -

Well unlike GTuck, I really had no big desire to see this film.  The trailer didn't give me any indication that I would love it, but I had some interest since Silver Lining Playbooks was one of my favorite movies last year. I actually paid to see it twice at the theater!  That's RARE for me.  So I did go into it with an open mind.

First, I will say the movie was cast well and that the 5 major characters nailed their parts.  Everyone loves JLaw, including me, but this wasn't my favorite part for her, although she did carry it well.  Amy Adams was amazing.  She carried sexy off pretty well too, although I've never thought she did before.  I fell in love with her awesome 70's hair.  Her cut-down-to-her-navel dresses had me saying WTF?, but I guess I'm just lucky I never had to dress the 70's part, because it would be a big fail for me.  The fashion was my favorite part of the whole movie.

Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale both were deep into their characters as well.  Christian Bale just has an ability to make you forget that he is extremely attractive, because when you see him in this - he's far from it.

Now what didn't I like?  The story.  It wasn't amazing, it wasn't surprising, it was a little too predictable, although at some point I was questioning what was actually going on.  So maybe I'm just a moron.  Like why, out of nowhere, is there a shot of Bradley Cooper's character snorting cocaine?!?! Just one?!?! I don't know what I was supposed to get out of that.

I was pleasantly surprised with a DeNiro cameo - which he pulled off just fine.

I felt the movie was LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG and if it wasn't for the wardrobe and music to keep me entertained, I would have really been pissed.   I am sad to say the great acting just wasn't enough for me to love it, so I give American Hustle a 4 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Movie Review - Lone Survivor

GTuck -

Went to see Lone Survivor on Friday night and I loved it.  Didn't love the crowd, everybody in the theater was sick. I don't know if I can go to the movies anymore during the winter; at least maybe not on a Friday night when the theater is packed.  It really grosses me out, but this isn't about how I hate everybody else at the movie theater, it's about the movie Lone Survivor.  I really loved the movie, all the visuals are fantastic and the acting is great as well.  All four of the main actors:  Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster and Emile Hirsch are great and believable as Navy Seals and Eric Bana is great as well.  It's very graphic and cringe worthy in quite a few scenes, but I highly recommend it.  I give Lone Survivor a 9 out of 10.

GurleeGirrl -

Like GTuck, this movie was a total hit in my book.  This movie is intense.  It's not for the faint of heart.  There is plenty of visuals that are disturbing, and at times I found it very hard to watch.  The combat scenes are action packed, and really had me feeling anxious.  I obviously knew what was going to happen, but it sure didn't make it easier to watch.  Lots of tears were shed too.

I think what I like most about the movie is that it isn't necessarily about one person, it's about an entire Seal unit.  I have a brand new respect for our men and women in the military.  I just can't imagine that anyone can be prepared for what these soldiers were faced with.  It really is insane.

I give Lone Survivor a 9 out of 10 and HIGHLY recommend you see this one at the theater.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Killzone Shadow Fall Review

I finally beat Killzone Shadow Fall.  This game is pretty hard for a first person shooter.  I did a few levels multiple times, before surviving long enough to move on.  I’m very happy I beat it, and I liked it a lot.  The story isn’t that great, but then again the story isn't great in any of these types of games:  Call of Duty and Battlefield as examples.  I liked the story enough, and the different play styles you get to use during the single player are fun.  The free fall levels were challenging, but fun and the game has the best graphics that I've seen on the PlayStation 4 so far.  I also enjoyed the levels when you are floating around in space as well.

Killzone Shadow Fall gets an 8 out of 10 from me.