World of Warships – The Most Expensive Free to Play Game I Have Spent Money On

*Insert epic movie guy voiceover* – In a world, where things happen, only one ship can make a difference…

Yes we’re going to talk about what is possibly my most favourite game currently (besides Forza, well, anything) – World of Warships.

This is probably going to be the most biased review I have ever written so keep that in mind as I do not intend to hold back my absolute love for this game. I mean it has issues. Every game that is based on PvP combat has issues. Usually the players but we won’t dwell on that.

Anyways, I discovered World of Warships not long before I purchased my RX 480 video cards for Farpoint (which are now in Tantalus) and initially I thought I was not that impressed by the game. And indeed at the beginning I truly believe I was not. Sure the incredibly detailed ship models were what drew me in initially but the focus on total PvP without any sort of story campaign sort of made me less impressed.

You see at the time I was still playing World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV (the latter being one of the best Final Fantasy’s ever done let alone one of the best MMORPG’s ever done in my opinion) and I still wanted a story.

cb6f34fe-ee4e-11e4-b106-000c2923ff17Well the funny thing was I kept starting up World of Warships. Over and over again. To a point where I wasn’t playing any other games much any more. To a point where I thought that I need to evaluate exactly what keeps me playing this game.

So here we are. Let me tell you why I play World of Warships. The following aren’t necessarily in order.

First of all it’s free. Of course if you want to gain experience faster there are things you can do to do that but it’s not something you have to do.

Secondly it’s a relatively quick load into the game and each match is on average about ten minutes. It’s perfect for playing when you just want a quick fix of shooting some tremendously huge guns.

Thirdly the ships are incredibly detailed. I mean to a point where the developer has told us that the recently release HMS Hood took nearly 110 days to design and detail. I mean that is some dedication. That said you see that in the cost of buying that ship. The Hood is a buy only ship that costs $44 CAD. I actually think that’s pretty fair considering the time it takes to get these models together. This is also why I have mentioned in the past on our podcast that World of Warships is the most expensive free to play game I’ve ever played.

Fourthly (?) the simulation is pretty good for lining up shot on enemies. There is no auto-targetting system. You have to lead your target appropriately if you want to hit it. And the game does not cheat and give you an idea where to fire. You get sights that give you a ballpark idea but you still need to think about what you are doing.

Fifthly (??) The different classes from Destroyer to Cruiser to Battleship to Aircraft Carrier all offer a different and unique way to play. Destroyers are fast and rely heavily on their torpedo armament and scoot in to battle quicker than anyone else. Cruisers have the best sort of all around play with relatively powerful guns while still having access to torpedos and can almost keep up with destroyers in some cases. Battleships are big heavy and for the most part slow though once you get to the later built ones they are much more maneuverable than the older ones. Battleships rely on their heavy guns for offence and their anti-aircraft guns for defense. Aircraft Carriers play a lot like an real-time strategy game in World of Warships and are really truly unique in the game. You command groups of fighters, torpedo bombers and bombers from an overhead map view while paying attention to the relative location of your ship and planning accordingly.

Sixthly (yep I did just write that) There’s a ton of things to earn while you play including camouflage of different types, different signal flags, and as you earn experience and credits you can buy new ships and ship upgrades all in a very easy to use interface. The camouflage and signal flags offer boosts to certain things on your ship during a batter. Often the camouflage will decrease the accuracy of opponents shots fired to a small degree and some of the other ones will give your commanding officer (which also offers perks to your ship by the way) and your ship more bonus experience.

There are also clans in the game now so you can run a sort of guild with your friends in the game. You can team up to 3 of them at a time as well which is great fun.

Things that nag me about the game aren’t really even game issues. It comes down to players. Every time you get a bunch of people playing a PvP game you get trolls. Every few battles there’s always one person that will be just ticked off at everyone and often times it’s their own fault. Engaging in chat only makes the infuriated so often the best thing to do is to just ignore them and report them if their language gets absolutely foul, which sometimes it does. IT’S A FREAKIN’ GAME PEOPLE. CHILL OUT!

Anyways, one of the best things about the game is it can run on a variety of older and new hardware. My brother runs the game at decent settings on a Core 2 Duo E8400 (3GHz) system with 4GB of memory and an ATI HD7770 graphics card. He says it runs great. I can run at full detail with my RX 480 (no the game doesn’t seem to support crossfire or at least you get no benefit from it so I just disable it before I play) and I get a consistent 60 or so FPS at 1080p.

Obviously I recommend everyone tries this game out but perhaps you aren’t as much in to naval battle? The first game this developer released was World of Tanks. Tanks are like one gun battleships to me. Never really enjoyed it. There’s also World of Warplanes. This was more interesting to me but I just didn’t like the controls. World of Warships is just so straight-forward. In fact it’s easy enough to get in to that its the first 3D game I think I’ve ever gotten my dad to play on a computer.

Seriously guys, Dan, Kevin and I recommend this one hands down as a great game to play. Again it’s even free!

Mass Effect Andromeda – Where it Went Wrong

We’ve all heard the stories about the launch of Mass Effect Andromeda. Initial reviews for the game were absolutely terrible. We’ll go over why that was and still is later on. First I want to tell you why I like Mass Effect.

Andromeda is set in one of the best science-fiction settings of all time. When Bioware initially conceived this universe and delivered it to the masses with the original Mass Effect they had created an incredibly rich universe with an absolute ton of back-story that can be read in the main menu.splash800_masseffect1

Mass Effect proved that you could have an incredibly deep story set in a third-person shooter. We had story arcs that reflected to a degree what decisions you made while you played as well.

maxresdefaultMass Effect 2 built on all of these things. It refined the combat to something a little less dreary (though in my opinion adding ammo to the game was the wrong thing to do and a step back in technology in the Mass Effect universe), the character models were highly refined and more detailed and character choices made a bigger difference including the choices you made in the previous game. Mass Effect 2 to this day is still my favourite Mass Effect game.

mass_effect_3_female_shepard-hdMass Effect 3 refined what Mass Effect 2 had begun but did not improve the game in my opinion. The loading screens were uninspired, additional characters were not interesting (including one that you had to pay for even though it was on disc) and the story ended on a huge dud even after Bioware changed it. The only thing that saved the game in my opinion was the Citadel DLC. That DLC returned to the Mass Effect I enjoyed. Right down to the elevator loading screens from the original Mass Effect. It showed a more relaxed developer making something they actually wanted to make and it works fantastic.

Of course here is where everything goes wrong.

mass_effect_andromedaAndromeda instead of refining what was already a decent game and engine threw that all out the window. They began by using the Frostbite engine which I believe was not utilized to it’s best ability in Andromeda. If you want to see what Frostbite can do boot up Star Wars Battlefront. To be sure the game is incredibly pretty but none of it looks way better than Mass Effect 3. We have more detailed textures this time around and some more polygons but that truly is the extent of it.

Next we find out the game launches with some pretty incredibly bad bugs. Animations were going wrong or not working at all, facial expressions were odd at best and eyeballs were, well scary. Then we get in to the menu system. The interface initially looks very similar to the previous Mass Effects until you begin to use it. It is the most convoluted mess of bunk I have ever used. Nothing and I mean nothing is where it logically makes sense. There are menus buried in menus and options where you wouldn’t expect them. There are a million different currencies to deal with that offer you minimal perks during the game. And, oh man just talking about all this is ticking me off.

Playing missions is OK but the tracking mechanism is useless.3208867-gameplay_meandromeda_nomad_20170317_gs

But WHY ON EARTH DID BIOWARE BRING BACK THE STUPID PLANET ROAMING WITH THE STUPID MOON BUGGY WANNA-BE. SERIOUSLY GUYS. THEY BRING THE THING BACK AND DON’T EVEN GIVE ME A FREAKIN’ GUN TO SHOOT THINGS WITH. Absolutely the worst thing Bioware could have done. PERIOD!

This all said I do enjoy the game to an extent but here’s the thing, I couldn’t put any of the three previous Mass Effect’s down. I had to play them all the way through before I played another game. That’s how good they were. Mass Effect Andromeda is an abomination compared to them and that’s just the problem.

bioware_eaIf EA and Bioware had created the game in the Mass Effect universe but just titled the game Andromeda I think people would have been less inclined to compare it directly to Mass Effect. The funny thing is Mass Effect itself (the method of faster than light transportation in the previous trilogy) doesn’t even exist in the Andromeda galaxy. There are no mass relays so even using that name for the game was silly. The game should have been marketed as a game in the same universe but it should have not been marketed so hard on it’s Mass Effect origins. It should have been pushed as it’s own game.

I’m not saying that this would have greatly improved it’s reviews but I think for most people that play games this would have improved their feelings on the game. The original trilogy were absolute masterpieces to behold nigh unlike the Knights of the Old Republic games that came previous to them. To compare a game made by what is essentially Bioware’s backup studio is unfair. Should EA have allowed the farming out of the game to a B studio? No I don’t think so but it’s a typical EA decision and often why we see big game brands getting cancelled as we have now seen for Mass Effect. The next release has been put on indefinite hiatus.

All I can say is way to go EA in ruining yet another fantastic franchise. Every time they touch something great they seem to find a way to screw it up. It can’t be the bean-counters fault in this case since Andromeda had a huge budget.

What do you think made Andromeda fail in the eyes of so many?

Lenovo X131e – Cheap and Tough As Nails (Does That Even Make Sense?…)

I know, I know, this laptop is so old it could have grand-kids. Thing is I honestly think its a hidden gem of the tech wold. Nowadays our cheapest laptops are Chromebooks (and really not so cheap when it comes down to it in my opinion) but they are limited in what they can do. I mean sure they will perform what you need as long as you don’t need to use any other software than Google’s cloud services.

That said we are looking at an 11.6 inch AMD E2 1800 (1.7GHz) dual core powered laptop that was initially designed for the educational sector. Yeah the E2 1800 is a relatively weak processor nowadays but it’s still good enough to play some lightweight games in between tackling some email and commenting on your sister’s latest chocolate lab picture on Instagram.

While mine was successfully upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for free during Microsoft’s upgrade campaign at the launch of Windows 10 I really found the computer to be sluggish. I mean it was more responsive than Windows 10 but you could tell that the E2 1800 was really at the edge of real functionality. That combined with a 5400 RPM hard drive it really moved slow. Of course slow is relative and I am comparing to my Ryzen system Tantalus equipped with an overclocked R7 1700, 32GB of memory, Samsung EVO boot OS drive and crossfire RX 480s. Yeah so we’re looking at two extremes here.

As you’ve seen with some recent posts I have been exploring the world of Linux deciding if Linux would be the way to go for this laptop. Turns out Linux makes this laptop really sing. While the E2 1800 is ancient nowadays most Linux distributions are super speedy on the older hardware. Even with the slow laptop hard drive this system runs pretty quick. Again quick is relative but believe me I can tell the difference.fedora

So the final distribution I went with is Fedora. Now I didn’t use the default desktop environment of GNOME 3. I can’t stand GNOME 3. It’s just a slow way to navigate to anything you have installed on your computer. Graphically it looks neat but if functionality suffers that a negative point in my book. After the initial installation of Fedora I went ahead and installed the MATE desktop environment. It’s slightly lighter on the notebook’s resources but still looks good doing it’s thing.

I customized the desktop a bit to be sort of a hybrid of Windows and Mac. The default setup is to have a top and bottom taskbar. The top taskbar is really more of a menu bar for your programs and your settings. It also contains the clock, status icons and quick launch icons. This is OK to me but to make it better I removed the bottom taskbar completely to give me some more screen real estate in fullscreen mode and I added what’s called the Windows Selector which is the same as seeing what programs are open on the taskbar in Windows.

See this is what is great about Linux. It’s very customize-able and because of this you can really make your computer feel your own.

At idle the CPU runs at about 5 to 10 percent which is isn’t too bad and memory usage is around 1.1GB out of my upgraded 8GB of memory. Pretty great eh?

I haven’t gamed on the system yet though as this is primarily a mobile computer to use while I am on the road. Just basic web browsing, some YouTube and of course writing these articles for redbluegreen.ca.

Linux is a far cry from yesteryear where every five minutes something would go wrong and you’d inevitably have to open a terminal window and run some obscure commands you’ve never seen before but someone says to run them on a website somewhere, operating system. Yes that was a run on sentence but I think we can all agree. At least those of us that have used Linux in the past.

This all said right now on Ebay you can buy THREE of these laptops for $280 dollars US. That’s a bargain people especially if you are looking for a tough as nails laptop that can take a few hits and doesn’t take up a lot of room in your luggage.