RAW Sushi Bar

Post by Mark

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Friday night I passed by RAW Sushi Bar with a few friends to try the place out. RAW is a new sushi place located in a very industrial part of Shuwaikh and currently opening just on the weekends. Actually up until last week they were opening only Friday evenings but starting this coming week they’ll be opening Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. They’re still in a soft launch phase which was why their menu wasn’t the final edition when we passed by but I liked the place so wanted to post about it.

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First to get the food aspect out of the way, we ordered a whole bunch of rolls and starters so we could try a variety of dishes. The worst dishes we had weren’t really bad but they just weren’t anything that really stuck out. On the other hand the stuff we did like we would go back for more. Their Negimaki was the best I’ve had and from the rolls we ordered my favorites were the Cali Wearing Orange and the Pink Ink rolls. Forgot what was inside them but just look for them on the menu if you pass by. One of the things I liked about their rolls was the ability to order half portions so you can order more of a variety without over ordering.

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The interior of the place was dim, industrial and trendy looking. It’s not that big with a small bar running along one side of the restaurant and four small tables scattered around. They’ll soon have outdoor seating but I think I’d still prefer the inside more just because of the mood. It’s a local business run by the owners themselves who happen to also be the sushi chefs. I asked one of the owners why he chose to open up in that location and he told me he was actually a bike builder and spent a lot of his time in that area. There literally isn’t anything else around them open that late, there aren’t even any street lights which can be a bit creepy. But, it’s where he feels comfortable and along with all the location quirks I thought they helped make the place seem that much more special.

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The only issue we really had was with the service. It was fairly slow but that was to be expected since they had only been open a handful of times and are still working to fix all their kinks. Price wise I found them extremely reasonable. We were four people and our bill came out to KD26. It actually should have been around KD31 since we ordered 4 starters, 5 different rolls, 4 waters and 2 green teas but, they didn’t charge us for two half portions of rolls because there was a mix up and we ended up getting them really late. Still, KD31 add tip plus divided by 4 is KD8.5 per person. That’s really good. As I mentioned, starting this week they’ll be opening Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7PM till midnight. Their instagram account is @eatrawkwt and here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Review: Sennheiser IE80 Earphone

Post by Mark

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Since around 2007 and up until last year I had basically been loyal to one earphone brand and thats Ultimate Ears. They were so good that I ended up going through three pairs, I started with the Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5 Pro in 2007 and then upgraded to the TripleFi 10 until they stopped working so I bought a second pair of the same ones. I just couldn’t find anything better for the price and decided to stick to them even though they had failed me. Then last year my second pair started failing as well so I decided to look for an alternative.

After a lot of research I ended up getting the Sennheiser IE80. There were a number of factors that played into my decision with the main ones being the sound signature, the price, the comfort and the brand. Trying to buy a pair of earphones without being able to try them on and listening to them is extremely difficult. Why would you choose a pair of $150 earphones over a pair of $100 ones or how much better do a pair of $500 or even $1,000 pair of earphones sound over a $300 pair? Theres an earphone at every price point and I had to go through tons of reviews and read hundreds of different comments by people in various forums before I could finally decide on a pair. What made things more complicated with me was that I didn’t really have a budget. I didn’t mind paying $70 and I wouldn’t have minded paying $500 since music is important for me and so I really need to have great sounding earphones. I think I might have even been willing to pay a $1,000 if it meant I’d be getting ear euphoria followed by a happy ending from an Eastern European model.

One of the most important factors in choosing an earphone would be the amount and quality of bass they had. I listen to a lot of electronic music and really need deep bass to thoroughly enjoy the music. But I didn’t want boomy bass and I also didn’t want the rest of the sound spectrum to be muddled. Based on what I read the Sennheiser IE80’s fit into what I was looking for. They also cost around $280 which wasn’t too bad and from all the reviews I read they seemed to be very comfortable as well so I went a head and ordered a pair last July while I was in LA.

When I first got the IE80’s I was actually disappointed with the sound since I found them too bright and lacking deep bass. Even when I tried all the different earphone tips provided with the earphones I couldn’t get the bass to the level I needed it to be. After going back to some forums and reading up I noticed a lot of people were recommending to combine the IE80’s with a pair of Comply T-500 Foam Tips. So I ordered a pair of those tips and I’m so glad I did. They completely changed how the earphones sounded by providing better isolation which resulted in much deeper bass. Since then I’ve been using the IE80’s frequently including on 5 plane trips that were over 10 hours long. They’re very comfortable and they sound insanely good, better than any pair of earphones I’ve previously used. The only down side I have with them is their carrying case which I find a bit too big and bulky to carry and also not that practical to use. Other than that minor issue I’d highly recommend these earphones. If when you do get a pair and the bass seems a bit weak even after burning them in then do what I did and order the Comply tips as well.

I bought my pair of IE80’s from Amazon for KD86 [Link] but they’re available locally at aDawliah for KD117. The Comply T-500 tips cost me another KD5 and I bought those from Amazon as well [Link].


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Lexus NX 200t

Post by Mark

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A couple of weekends back I borrowed the Lexus NX 200t from the dealership so that I could review it for my blog. I had emailed them requesting it since I’d been admiring the car for awhile now and was curious to try it out. Lexus weren’t really know for exciting or breakthrough designs but the NX completely changed my perception on them.

My favorite color on a car is usually black, but not in this case. I was actually disappointed when I picked up the car to find out it was black. The NX is designed with a lot of sharp lines and black just hides all of them. Not only that but one of the nicest design elements in the car are the rear lights which stretch across the side of the car over the rear tire. But in black that part doesn’t show and instead blends in with the rest of the car. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to show off how beautiful the car really is in my photos because of the color, but I also figured there are tons of them on the road already so more than likely you’ve come across a lighter colored version.

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The NX is a cross over vehicle which makes it smaller than a proper SUV but slightly larger than a standard car. They always feel like oversized hatchbacks to me and the NX isn’t any different here. It’s a 4-cylinder turbo engine with front wheel drive but it never felt like it lacked any power on the road. Obviously the fact that we don’t have any mountainous roads helps a lot with that. In the States they have a hybrid model which comes with an electric motor for the rear wheels turning it into an all wheel drive car. Not sure if we have that option in Kuwait, I didn’t see any at the dealership and I forgot to ask them if they had any.

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Like all Lexus cars, the interior was plush with leather all around including on the dashboard. The entertainment system interface still feels outdated which is disappointing. They’ve also replaced their finicky joypad with an even more finicky trackpad. I hated the trackpad, it seemed like anytime I accidentally tapped it the car would change a setting or forward a song or perform some other unwanted action. The trackpad along with the outdated interface were the only things I actually didn’t like about the car. Actually come to think of it, the sound system wasn’t that great, mostly because if there was any bass in the track the rear trunk door would loudly rattle annoyingly. For the passengers sitting in the rear, there’s pretty good legroom. I’m over 6ft tall and as you can see in the photo below I didn’t have any space issues.

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Like I mentioned at the start of this post the NX is a pretty hot looking car. Lexus have managed to carve out a look that can’t be mistaken for any other car on the road except possibly their larger RX series. The starting price isn’t that bad at KD12,950. It kinda seems like a good deal considering you’re getting a good looking Lexus with a nice all leather interior and Lexus reliability. They have an F-Sport version which looks even better with larger wheels and slightly more aggressive styling, but that’s priced at around KD16,000. It’s a great car overall, but Lexus should definitely give their entertainment system interface a major overhaul. If you’re interested in test driving the car you can do so by contacting the dealer. Here is a link to their [Website]


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Review: Sphero BB-8

Post by Patrick

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With the release of Star Wars Force Awaken, a lot of new Star Wars merchandise has gone on sale like clothing, Lego’s (the Millennium Falcon is KD170!), new figurines and now a new addition, the Sphero BB-8. Being a big Star Wars I’m pretty much on cloud nine. Not only was The Force Awakens a great movie, the new toys look great and even the clothing isn’t bad at all. So I was excited to test out the BB-8 and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.

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So what’s so cool about the Sphero BB-8? You can control it using your smartphone and it’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices so no one is left out. This little guy can move fast and can take a beating. When I first tested it out, the first thing that popped into my head was that BB-8 would make a great (albeit expensive) toy for my cat. It was impressive watching it speed across the floor especially that the BB-8’s head is attached to the body using a magnet and two little wheels so it stays in place while the rest of the body rolls. It has barely fallen off, even as I’ve hit the wall multiple times and the legs of chairs. The body itself has an “upright” position that corrects itself with the help of the stabilizers that are part of the internal mechanism. There’s also a gyroscope and accelerometer that will assist in controlling BB-8 by being aware of its movements and make subtle and slight adjustments to help you out.

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If you get tired of controlling it you can set it to patrol mode. Patrol mode works similar to the way a Roomba does. The BB-8 will roam around your room on its own and will move around objects, like chair legs or people. What’s cool is that there is an event log that that lets you know if BB-8 hit a wall or detected an object.

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The price tag for the BB-8 is steep, it costs KD69. Ultimately, this is a cool piece of tech, but it’s not something I would play with everyday. Right now I have it on my shelf next to my Samus figurine and my Super Mario Amiibo and sometimes I’ll tease my cat with it once in a while, but at the end of the day it’s a glorified figurine. House guests will find it impressive and it makes for an interesting topic of discussion. I love the BB-8 and it’s unique in a world of cheap toys. It’s a Star Wars toy that can be enjoyed by kids and adults.

If you’re interested in the Sphero BB-8, it’s available at the Avenue’s branch of Fantasy World which has a new section catered towards adults called THE EDGE. Fantasy World also has the largest collection of Star Wars toys that I’ve seen in Kuwait so far, including nice figurines of Kylo Ren, Finn and Rey.

Post by Patrick

Full Disclosure: The Sphero BB-8 was provided by Fantasy World to review on the blog.


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Herman Miller Mirra 2 vs Aeron

Post by Mark

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A few months ago someone from Midas left a comment under an old Herman Miller post I had. Turns out Midas had become Herman Miller dealers and the reader told me I could have a chair if I wanted one. I didn’t need a chair back then so I just never got back to him. Then a few weeks ago, I decided I needed a new chair for my office. I got in touch with Midas and made a deal where I’d pick up a Herman Miller chair and in return give them banner space on the blog.

Unintentionally, I ended up trying two different Herman Miller chairs, the Mirra 2 (pictured on the left) and the Aeron (pictured on the right. When I was originally deciding between the two I couldn’t really find a decent comparison so I figured I’d post my opinion on both in case anyone is ever googling a review.

The Aeron is a classic and has remained mostly unchanged since it was introduced in the late 90s. It was first popularized in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom and is even featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. The chair has a lot of history but when I first chose a chair I opted for the Mirra 2 mostly because it was one of the newer Herman Miller models and also because the color they had available (the teal) would work well with my office.

I used the Mirra 2 for two weeks and I honestly couldn’t get it setup to where I felt comfortable sitting on it for more than a couple of hours. With the Mirra 2 everything was adjustable from the height of the armrests to the length of the seat, lots of little knobs everywhere to help you personalize the seat for you. Maybe I was just never able to set it up properly and so I never got around to being comfortable in it. Then my office got a makeover and the teal colored Mira 2 no longer fit in with my furniture. So I got in touch with Midas and asked them if I could swap the chair with a black Aeron which they accepted.

The Aeron surprisingly had less customizable features when compared to the Mirra 2 but yet I felt a lot more comfortable in it right away. Setting it up was easier, quicker and the whole experience was less complicated. It’s been over two weeks with the chair now and I love it. According to my contact at Midas, women tend to feel more comfortable in the Mirra 2 while men prefer the Aeron so maybe thats why I also preferred the Aeron.

Price wise, you can pick up the Aeron for KD250 while the fully loaded Mirra 2 costs KD295. To get those prices though ask for Ed or printout this post and take it with you. That puts the Aeron around KD40 cheaper than the price on Amazon while the Mirra 2 around KD10 more expensive. If you’re interested in getting one, here is the Midas office furniture location on [Google Maps]


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Brunch at ORA

Post by Mark

Friday brunches are usually reserved for Cocoa Room but on Saturdays I like to go to other places. Recently it’s mostly been Street (their egg and shroom bao is a killer) but last week while having dinner at ORA I found out they had a brunch menu on Saturdays. So I passed by a couple of days back to try it out.

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Their brunch menu really only has 3 or 4 breakfast items with the rest being mostly dishes you could have for lunch or dinner. That’s not a bad thing but if you’re expecting a bunch of intricate breakfast items cooked up by their talented Chef Tiger, you’d be disappointed.

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I ended up ordering the Short Rib Eggs Benedict to start with, and then a Steak & Egg Donburi to share with friends followed by French Toast & Banana Tempura for dessert. The steak & egg was easily my favorite, the eggs Benedict was also really good except the hollandaise sauce was cold which made the whole dish seem like it was cold. Finally I didn’t like the french toast but thats because I didn’t read the description of the dish properly and turns out it had peanut butter and I hate peanut butter.

Overall not a bad option for a Saturday brunch although I do hope they add more “breakfasty” options to the menu. They open at 11AM and brunch is served till 2PM. If you’ve never been to ORA before click [Here]


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Poêle – Artisan Café & Bakery

Post by Mark

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Poêle is a new cafe and bakery that opened up recently in KIPCO tower. I passed by last week for lunch and its now officially become my new favorite spot (for now). When you first walk in to Poêle you’re greeted by a beautiful display of baked goods, salads and deserts. The interior is subtly stylish with lots of white and beautiful large artwork by the extremely talented Ghadah Alkandari. Theres a huge communal table right in the middle surrounded by smaller white marble top tables all around. We sat near the window because I wanted as much natural light possible in case I was going to take pictures but really, because of the large windows, the whole place is beautifully lit.

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Their menu mainly consists of salads with a secondary menu for daily specials. There were four specials to choose from on the day I passed by and I ended up going with roasted seabass while my friend went with their chicken special that was stuffed with turkey. I also ordered their quinoa and butternut squash salad while my friend ordered their chargrilled broccoli. The presentation of all the dishes was really impressive and made my life so much easier when it came to taking pictures. Everything we had was delicious and I wouldn’t mind ordering the exact same thing again the next time I’m there. After we were done we headed to their food display near the entrance and chose our desserts. I ended up going with the chocolate and praline tart which was rich, savory and didn’t leave me feeling too guilty afterwards. The presentation of the desserts were also visually pleasing and comparable more to a high end restaurant and not a small cafe.

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One more thing I wanted to highlight before I ended this post was the staff, from the host to the waiters everyone was very professional and knowledgable. Price wise its on the high scale but because of the whole experience from start to finish it doesn’t feel over priced. My quinoa and butternut squash was KD2.650, my sea bass was KD6.700 and the chocolate and praline tart was KD2.750. There really wasn’t anything I could knock about the place and since its down the street from my office I’ll probably be passing by very frequently from now on. Poêle is located on M2 in KIPCO tower and you can check out their instagram from more pictures and information [Here]

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Video Game Review: Star Wars Battlefront

Post by Patrick

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Star Wars is one of the most recognizable entertainment brands with a huge cult following 38 years after the first film was released. The gaming studio DICE is also a great studio with a reputation for making fantastic large-scale multiplayer shooters. So you’d think putting these two together you’d get a home-run of a game but for some odd reason, Star Wars Battlefront isn’t the game it should be. Instead, it’s an online-only bare bones multiplayer shooter.

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DICE for the uninitiated, are the studio behind the critically acclaimed Battlefield series, a game known for its online multiplayer. It features large scale maps, destructible environments, vehicles, and objective based modes that encourage team work. Battlefield also features a character class system: assault, engineer, support and recon classes. Each class has unique abilities, for instance engineers can repair vehicles while support units can revive fallen soldiers. The Battlefield games also feature an unlock system that encourages you to play more to gain more weapons and more customization features, like skins for your guns, new camo for your soldier or new attachments for your weapons. Battlefield has been my favorite multiplayer shooter because of all these things. All in all, if any studio was going to make a new fantastic Star Wars game, DICE would be it.

But DICE played it too safe. Star Wars Battlefront feels like an introduction to online shooters for the casual gaming audience which in itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are nine multiplayer modes with some of these multiplayer modes having up to 40 player battles (so 20 v 20). Each mode has up to four or five different maps based on the Star Wars worlds Tattoine, Hoth, Endor, Sullust and Jakku. You can choose to either be a Rebel soldier or a Stormtrooper and as you level up you unlock new weapons, gear and abilities. When you’re fighting you’ll also come across various items you can pick up on the battlefield which includes things like shields, turrets or the ability to control certain vehicles. Once in a while though, you’ll come across an item that will let you take control of a hero or villain like Han Solo or Darth Vader, depending on which side you’re fighting for.

Read the rest of this entry »


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Call of Duty: Black Ops III Review

Post by Patrick

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What can be said about the Call of Duty franchise that hasn’t been said before? For better or for worse, the games don’t really evolve much. I enjoyed last year’s Advanced Warfare, I thought the campaign mode was fun and I enjoyed maneuvering with the EXO suits. It gave the game a sense of verticality that it was missing. Going into a Call of Duty game you already know what you’re going to get. So I expected a short, but fun, adrenaline filled campaign mode, great multiplayer and a decent zombie mode. Sadly, what I got out of the game was something much less. It’s disappointing how far the campaign mode strayed from what they created in Black Ops II which had had branching paths and multiple endings, and had a narrative that was captivating and intense. There’s a lot of content in Black Ops III, but it’s a case of quantity over quality.

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I primarily enjoy playing single player games. So the first thing I did going into this new Call of Duty was just that. You start off by creating a character, choosing the gender and then a face. The problem is the majority of the faces all look the same. Not sure why they didn’t include a simple feature that allows you to pick a face and then a hairstyle or something along those lines. Being able to choose to play as a badass woman was cool though. But then I got referred to as “him” within the first few minutes of the game and that should give you an idea of how much attention went into campaign mode. It’s pretty lazy all around. The Call of Duty games aren’t known for their writing, but they have a reputation for being enjoyable. The campaign in Black Ops III was paced weirdly, the tutorial levels were too long and when major things happened, the game didn’t really do a good job at building any suspense or any sort of climax. Things just sort of happen. On top of that the narrative seems to be pieced together by borrowing basic themes and ideas from other games, like Deus Ex Human Revolution. Your character has a set of special abilities, some of them are cool like being able to control enemy robots or making enemies explode, but some of them are lame, like sending a swarm of cybernetic flies to distract human enemies. If you’ve played Bioshock, these should feel familiar, because they work kind of like Plasmids. When you finish a mission you’re sent back to your base where you’ll be able to walk around and interact with computers to upgrade your abilities, customize your character, look at the collectibles you’ve found or read more about the narrative, which is cool but I didn’t really care enough for the story to really spend my time there.

So what are some things that I liked in campaign mode? There were some fun firefights, some of the abilities you get are cool to use and the game ran incredibly smoothly. One other thing I really appreciated was the fact that you can play campaign mode in split-screen with a friend. It’s nice to see developers still include this especially when you have 343 Industries removing split screen from Halo 5, which I personally thought was a really dumb move since split-screen was such an important part of the Halo games. But I digress, that’s a different post for a different time. Finally, it was cool seeing Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica) in the game, I hope she does more work related to this industry.

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So it’s pretty known fact that most players will spend most of their time in multiplayer. Unlike the campaign mode, I enjoyed my time playing against other people. Multiplayer mode in Black Ops III is slightly different than its predecessors. The biggest change in multiplayer is that you now have to choose from a set of characters called “Specialists”. You start off with four to choose from and you unlock more as you level up (there’s 9 in total). Each Specialist has their own personality, look, their own set of abilities and a unique special weapon. It’s a shame that you can’t customize them much. You unlock different kinds of cosmetic equipment as you play with them, but it just takes too long to unlock anything. There also isn’t a large variety of armor either. Another slight change in multiplayer is that the game doesn’t automatically unlock weapons for you as you level up. Instead “unlock tokens” make a comeback. You gain experience and level up, and you’re awarded with unlock tokens that you can use to unlock new weapons. You still get rewarded for using a weapon consistently with attachments, like scopes or paint jobs. There’s also a good variety of maps (12 to be exact) and most importantly most of them are fun. Like I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed Advanced Warfare and I enjoyed the way you were able to move through the maps. I think they’ve improved on that in Black Ops III, but instead of Exo suits you’ll be using thrusters, which is a momentum based system, allowing you to jump more than once, wall run and slide across the ground. All in all, multiplayer is pretty solid.

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Zombie mode is now fully fleshed out and has its own campaign mode called Shadows of Evil. You take control of one of four characters who are voiced by Hollywood celebrities like Jeff Goldblum and Ron Perlman. You’ll be navigating through the fictional Morg City slaughtering zombies while you try to stay alive. This mode is only cool if you’re playing it with other people, it’s not worth investing your time in if you don’t have friends to experience it with. You can go online and play with random players but it’s not as fun, especially if you can’t properly communicate with them.

At the end of the day it’s unlikely Black Ops III will win over any new fans. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the franchise then chances are you’re going to enjoy this and you’re going to welcome the new (albeit slight) changes to multiplayer. The question remains if the game has the longevity that the previous games had, especially since customization is extremely limited. Specialists are a cool addition, but I don’t believe they really change multiplayer enough. There’s a ton of content here, but there’s no real reason to go back to the campaign mode once it’s over and the zombie mode can be frustrating if you have no one to play with. I’m personally sticking with Destiny for my first-person needs because that game just has more things I enjoy. It’ll be curious to see what direction Call of Duty goes from here now that they’re futuristic. How far will they go? Or will they go back in time and bring back their World War II games? Or maybe they’ll play around with a time travel mechanic and develop a game that features World War II and futuristic stuff? Time will tell.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III was supplied by X-Cite. The game is available on PS3 (online only), Xbox 360 (online only), PS4, Xbox One and PC.

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Post by Patrick


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Guitar Hero Live Review

Post by Patrick

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For those of you who don’t know, I was in charge of posting video game related posts in the now defunct Entertainment section of the blog. Since Mark merged that section with the rest of the blog, I’ll now be writing about video games in the B-Sides section while posting reviews of major game releases here on the main page. Last week Mark was able to hook me up with his contact at X-Cite who will now be sending me games to review on the blog every now and then, first up is Guitar Hero Live.

Guitar Hero became a massive phenomenon when it was first introduced back in 2005. Six games were released, 12 if you include the specialized versions of the series like Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Guitar Hero Smash Hits. All those games were released within the span of seven years between 2005 to 2011. That’s nearly two games a year, which is a crazy number for such a short period of time. So when Activision announced Guitar Hero Live, it wasn’t a surprise that most people felt skeptical about it.

My only real experience with Guitar Hero prior to this was Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock at a friends house. And all I remember of that game was playing Muse’s Knights of Cydonia over and over again, trying to get a perfect score. It was a lot of fun and I could see why people obsessed over it and why Activision milked it for all its worth.

Guitar Hero Live is meant to be a fresh new take on the whole franchise. A reinvention. There are two main aspects to the game. Guitar Hero Live and Guitar Hero TV. Guitar Hero Live is the single player “campaign” mode where you play as a guitarist for different bands that Activision created for this mode. Each band plays a specific genre of rock, so the folk-indie band for example plays songs from real bands like The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men.

Like the name suggests, you’ll be playing live shows with these bands. Activision filmed a lot of footage to flesh out this part of the game. If you’re doing well in the song crowds will cheer, bop their heads to the song and your bandmates will be rocking out. If you start screwing up, crowds will start booing and yelling things at you while your band mates look on at you in disappointment or just insult you in some way.

I enjoyed this mode, it’s fun, it’s silly. The presentation is great, it feels fantastic when you’re playing a really challenging part of a song and the crowd erupts in joyful glee when you nail it. I just wish there were more songs and that it lasted longer. I’m also confused to why Rihanna and Skrillex would be in this guitar focused game, but they are.

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After you’re done with Guitar Hero Live, you’ll be spending a chunk of your time in Guitar Hero TV. Guitar Hero TV is an online only mode and is equivalent to old school MTV. You’ll find two channels that play music videos non-stop throughout the day. Each channel has their own set of programs. So there’s a program that just plays heavy metal songs while another just plays indie hits. These channels play music videos all day and you can jump in and play whenever you feel like it. Since this mode is online you’ll be competing simultaneously with other players who are playing that same song. At the end of each song you gain experience points and coins. Every time you level up you unlock various things like special abilities and player card designs. You’ll be able to spend coins in various ways, for example you can spend coins to increase specific stats like how often your special ability recharges. You can also spend coins to buy more play tokens (which I’ll discuss in a little bit).

Guitar Hero TV also includes the song catalogue which includes over 100 tracks. To play any of these songs you need to use a play token. The biggest point of focus in this mode are the play tokens. Every time you play a song, you use a play token. They’re limited. There are three ways to get play tokens. Every time you level up, the game gives you a bunch of tokens. If you save up enough coins you can buy them. Or you can use real money and buy tokens. The game also offers 24 hour unlimited play for the entire song catalogue for $6. One word to describe play tokens would be “controversial”. Some people hate it, some people get it. I’m in the latter. The reasoning behind Activisions micro-transactions in Guitar Hero Live is that they want to avoid what they did in the last generation. They don’t want to keep releasing Guitar Hero games or release a ton of paid DLC like Rock Band. Instead they want to build Guitar Hero Live as a platform. New songs that will be added to the game will be added for free. This direction doesn’t seem so bad compared to Rock Band where each song costs $2. We’ll see how it works out in the long-term but so far I’m optimistic.

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Putting all that aside, the game is fun. If you weren’t a fan before, I doubt this will change your opinion of it. But if you did enjoy the previous games, this game feels like a step up and a step in the right direction. I had a blast playing on my own and I also had fun playing the game in a group (Mark really sucks at it btw). If you attach a mic to the console, lyrics will pop up on screen and the game will keep score on vocals. You don’t actually have to own a proper mic either. A Playstation Camera or headphones/earphones (like the iPhone ones) with mics work. There’s also an official Guitar Hero Live iPhone app you can download on your phone that will connect to the game and turn your phone into a mic. You can also get a second guitar to add a second player and compete against one another. The game also does well for people who don’t normally play video games. I had guests over on the weekend and one of my guests doesn’t normally play any video games, but they were hooked on Guitar Hero the moment they grabbed the guitar.

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My biggest concern isn’t with the actual game but with the plastic guitar. The guitar itself looks good and it feels good to hold. But after playing the game over the weekend, one of the buttons was already giving me problems. Thankfully it was an easy fix. I had to open up the fret board (11 screws) and I found that there was some dirt on the inside of the button. Once I put it back together, the guitar was working like new.

Overall the game is a ton of fun and it’s something I’ll be playing for quite some time, especially when I have guests over. Hopefully they’ll add some Queens of the Stone Age or Foo Fighters, because this game could definitely use more of that. There’s a bit of an imbalance when it comes to the song selection in the game, there are too many recent hits and not enough grunge and alternative songs.

You can find Guitar Hero Live at X-Cite for KD31.9 which is a pretty great deal since it’s being sold for $99 in the U.S. My review copy of Guitar Hero Live was also provided by X-Cite.

Score:

Post by Patrick


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