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Reviews: Bacon Insider

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I don’t believe I’ve ever done a food review before. This should be fun. Basically I saw this yesterday and thought “I suppose that could be fun.” Liz and I decided that we’ll take a walk there (about 1.2 miles roundtrip) and give it a go. At 5 dollars for the burger I knew that it was going to be quite an investment, but part of me thought that if it were even a 10th as impressive as the images they used in the pictures and videos that I’d be happy with my purchase.

I suppose we’ll work through the various parts of the sandwich and then end with some final thoughts. That is likely the most fair approach to this sandwich and the cleanest method I can use for something I’ve not done before.

The Patty

  The idea is sound. This is actually what drew me to it in the first place. Cooking bacon and then putting bits of it into a meat patty is actually a pretty cool treat. I realize you wouldn’t want to eat it every day but I can see the allure of putting such sweet merciful goodness into your gullet. The images in their advertising suggest that your hamburger will be inundated with chunks of bacon that will cause spontaneous orgasm upon consumption. The reality was far more reserved.

  The bacon bits were so small that they were nearly invisible. I had a tough time finding any with each bite I took. This was exceptionally silly because the sandwich is basically enclosed with strips of bacon which make those tiny bits irrelevant. The actual meat patty wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t gross, but it didn’t do anything for me. If you want a meat patty that will absolutely blow your mind, go get Five Guys, you won’t find it in the Bacon Insider sandwich.

  It’s also cheaper there for a far superior patty. I really like typing and saying the word patty.

The Vegetables

  The lettuce was crunchy and tasty, the tomatoes were as well. I also realize that “cheese” is not a vegetable but that was fine too. But really it was “cheese” as in “Well it’s yellow.” This was probably my second favorite part of the sandwich which is a bit problematic. If I wanted a good vegetable sandwich I’d make one at home with thick slices of tomato and honey mustard. Which, if you haven’t tried it, is so delicious it will cause you to see into parallel universes.

  But yes, awfully strange that the second most memorable and enjoyable part of a sandwich devoted to bacon is the non-bacon aspects of it.

The Bacon

  The bacon was overcooked and not in the good way. When I overcook bacon at home it is crispy and a bit charred. The taste is exquisite and it causes my tongue to dance in my mouth. This is that kind of strange meta-bacon that exists only in fast food places. It’s bland, somehow soggy and hard at the same time, and really disappointing. I wouldn’t say that their bacon is bad, because it isn’t in a relative sense, the bacon is merely average.

  But you hope that they’ll put a little more effort into something that they are marketing. Sadly this was not the case.

The Sauce

  As far as I could tell there was basically none. The picture above makes it look like a river of bacon infused sauce will flow through your veins. But what I got looked like a micron thick layer of mayonnaise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m white and thusly legally obligated to love mayo, but this was disappointing. I think back to the cost of the burger and wonder why so little effort was put into this. Why advertise it as this glorious magnum opus to bacon if it will be lacking in all avenues where bacon is involved.

  Once again I think to Five Guys, or Habit Burger, or In-N-Out, or Red Robin, and I wonder what went wrong here.

The Bun

  Hands down the best part of the burger. If I could go there and get this bun for fifty cents or something, I wouldn’t, but I’d certainly think about doing it. It was soft, delicious, and hit me in all the right ways. When I was gorging down on this burger I did so because I wanted more of the bun. Everything else was merely average. This still doesn’t do much for the burger because the one place that all burger places do well, in my opinion, is in their buns. This likely has to do with how intimate your contact with the bun is. You are holding it, smelling it when you bite down, and it too goes inside you. The rest tends to be trapped within it, awaiting processing through your innards.

Conclusion?

  The burger is average, in every sense of the word. They do nothing better nor worse than their direct competitors. I often think of Jack-In-The-Box as the “second Tier” of a four-ish tier burger domain. Of those in or below them they aren’t really being offensive with this burger. But nothing about it jumps out to me, nothing about it leads me to want to tell others to have it. I feel like there was no real effort put in and that is darn disappointing. You figure with the employees getting poor pay, the animals likely being abused, and all the other negatives that tend to be related to the industry that maybe something would come out positive. You kinda hope with all that poop you could at least say “Well at least it was really good.” at the end of the day.

  Sadly I can’t. If you get it you won’t be disappointed, it’ll be as good or bad as you find all their other menu items.

The Waffle Cut Sweet Potato Fries

  Incredibly bland and confusingly seasoned with pepper. But if not for the pepper the blandness would be far too great. I can’t recommend these to anyone. They aren’t bad necessarily but the regular fries are far superior at Jack. Avoid, if for no other reason than the price. I’d be more verbose about them but they don’t merit anything more really.

Average

By | 2015-02-08T21:10:37+00:00 February 9th, 2014|Okay Things, Reviews|1 Comment

Reviews: Tomb Raider

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Occasionally I find myself playing something that I know just wasn’t made for me. The New Tomb Raider was one of those times. I wanted to get that out of the way before I write this review. All reviews are from a personal perspective but I like to think I can approach things with an appreciation for their existence without actually enjoying them on a personal level.

Tomb Raider is one of the more recent “reboots” of an old franchise. Lara Croft was [in my childhood] basically a female James Bond or Indiana Jones. She was cocky, athletic, intelligent, and a one woman army in many ways. The original tomb raider games that I do remember playing were not so much about combat as they were about puzzles and – well – tombs.

This is likely a matter of nostalgia and I’ll admit I have no interest to go back and double check my memory. The new Tomb Raider started off strange enough. You are setting out on a ship and the stage is set to get you introduced to the cast. The introductions are so quick and sporadic thought that I have no connection to any of these people before bad stuff starts happening.

All I know is that one of the members of my team has a creepy moustache and his character is seemingly designed for hate and for some kind of betrayal in the game. You could argue that he betrays you pretty early on but regardless all I knew is from the second I met him I wanted him to perish. Every scene he returns for is tedious and groan worthy.

Within minutes of the opening drama you are being stabbed, punched, bludgeoned, and skewered. Lara suffers a wound that would kill about 99.99% of the people that had it happen. Somehow she not only manages to survive but forgets about it for the next two to three hours of gameplay. This game felt to me at times like it really wanted to be a movie. Just when you are started to get into the game another quick time event pops up and you are given about a tenth of a second to respond before Lara is brutally murdered.

2013-08-28_00008Unrelated. I found a strange wall of water during my journey.

  For me that was what this game felt more like. It was a grizzly death simulation rather than an adventure with a strong female lead. I wanted to like Lara and I think about the time the gameplay became genuinely insufferable I had. That was far too late though and I’ve since uninstalled. There are no fewer than four times where she should have died because she’s a moron. Every character and their cousin sacrifices themselves in one fashion or another just because she’s more than willing to get herself bludgeoned or killed.

Multiple times you hit points where an exciting climax could happen but instead she gets the shit beat out of her face or another random sharp object thrust through her body. Which is ironic because outside of these moments where you want something exciting to happen the rest of the game is a ridiculous cavalcade of action scenes ripped right out of 80’s action flicks.

Its like they had a list of rules they had to follow. “You can’t go more than 30 minutes without a sliding scene.” or “If the game is starting to feel too much like an enjoyable experience be sure to throw in a quick time event just before the next checkpoint so they have to relive a boring sequence again.”

Graphically the game is beautiful and does manage to get faces close enough to give a really uncomfortable uncanny valley effect. I don’t know if I should be upset with them for causing that in me or if I should just be impressed that they almost got it. The physics appear solid and things move or crumble as you’d expect them to in this generation of game development.

The story is extremely poorly paced with no real discernable arc. Which is exacerbated by every bad guy looking like the same two people. I shot the same guy in the face a hundred times before I started to wonder if this island had a cloning factory on it. Holy shit I can’t remember the last game where it was so obvious that every bad guy was the same guy. It was incredibly jarring for me and tore me from the experience.

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You will see an awful lot of these places. Apparently a hundred thousand people have died here in the last couple weeks I guess?

  The sound design and music is all pretty good. I never heard something and thought da heck? The controls I’m largely indifferent to. They work most of the time but the random grabs and QTEs are so insufferable and so damn numerous that I never really got into the game.

I made it to a bit after a great inferno and having the grenade launcher. Lara was finally turning into the woman I’ve always known and enjoyed. Frankly if they make another game and she is the person I knew her as (with her new character design) I will be deeply satisfied. That is…if they get different people to design the game and write the story.

I loathe quick time events. I don’t know who they were designed for but they weren’t designed for me. Saint’s Row has them but they tend to be far and few between. They also happen at times when you expect them to happen and generally failing them does nothing negative. In Tomb Raider they happen constantly, randomly, with little time to react, and the ramifications is that you have to sit through a long drawn out murder or death scene.

I’m also more than a little disappointed in their marketing for trying to make one of the murder scenes look like a rape scene just to get controversy (and marketing) for the game out into the internet. The character who is killing you (who looks like everyone else while supposedly being an important character) only rubs your leg suggestively because they needed the clip for marketing. There is literally no reason why he does it and the second he does it long enough for a commercial reel he suddenly chokes you to death.

Tomb Raider feels to me like it wants to be too many things at once. A jack of all trades but a master of none. The platforming is alright but marred by unnecessary and constant (extremely unlikely) changes in speed and tempo. The combat is marred by derpy controls and zerg like shortcuts instead of genuinely interesting combat AI. The story is just a complete mess and you are never given time to give two turds about the cast you are saving.

I’m disappointed because I was excited to see the new Lara Croft. I think her character design is great and if they get better writers I think the future installments will be great. For now I have a character who butchers 90 men without batting an eye and then cries in the next cut scene over something trivial like a stranger being shot [trivial in respect to the massacre she just committed].

This same weirdness came up in Far Cry 3 and it was just as jarring there.

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Oh right! I did kind of get perforated through my intestines earlier didn’t I?! Guess I should notice finally.

  It’s not a bad game but its not for me. I feel like the experience is what you get when you play a game. Had this not been Lara Croft but any random protagonist I suspect it would have gotten lukewarm reviews from most people. It was the fact that it was Lara Croft presented like a human that got everyone excited. She is an opportunity for a game to have a strong lead that isn’t your generic Nathan Drake character.

It’s average. Certainly gorgeous but that can be said about basically any expensive new title. If you see it on sale give it a check but don’t expect anything new or interesting. Lara deserves better and I hope the next game does that for her.

2013-09-02_00004

Blood for the Blood God!

By | 2015-02-08T21:08:53+00:00 September 2nd, 2013|Okay Things, Reviews|Comments Off on Reviews: Tomb Raider

Reviews: A.R.E.S. : Extinction Agenda

areslogo

For those of you that haven’t heard of this game before (and a refresher for those of you that have heard of this game before) A.R.E.S. [herein called ARES because those periods are not friendly on my fingers) is an indie game developed by Extend Studio. The following review represents my feeling about the game after playing it for 4 hours. Take from that what you will.

The game features (as far as I’ve found) four different weapons that each has their own special use. The starter gun is a laser pistol called the Zytron Blaster which provides moderate damage to a single target. Second is the Laser SMG which provides light damage with a high rate of fire. Thirdly is a wide angle weapon that ignores solid objects called the Wave Emitter. Finally a nice energy rocket launcher called Photon launcher. I wager by the explosions that it is causing that it is not – in fact – launching photons.

But who knows seeing as that is not something I’ve ever done myself. Normally I’d be a bit disappointed with so few options for weaponry but I tend to give games more or less criticism based on the size of their teams and budgets. Overall the four weapons each provide a nice variety and they each satisfy different roles. I fell in love with the Wave Emitter once I had it and found myself using it through most of my play. They can all be upgraded 3 times and by the third level up they’ll be trashing just about anything.

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The Wave Emitter majors in kicking ass and ignoring collision detection. It minors in taking names also…

  You will also have access to two different types of grenades. The EMP Grenade Stuns and the HE Grenade manages to both kick ass and help you reach places you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. These are nice mechanics that I really like. The controls using a gamepad are really great and I don’t think I can recommend playing this game any other way. Well most of the controls are really great. Your avatar handles a bit like a brick which I suppose makes sense given that he’s a big hunk of metal. Basically if your head so much as taps something you instantly rocket straight down to your death – 100% of momentum is lost.

Another feature is the hidden database entries found throughout each level. These provide both backstory or additional information and improve your stats in meaningful ways. This is nice and adds incentive for you to explore each level fully. At the end of the maps the score tells you how many of the fragments you’ve found in that level which helps prevent the process from being tedious. I still have nightmares about collecting pigeons in GTA IV and reaching 199 but simultaneously hitting the bottom of my checklist. I was so furious I have still not played that game again.

 

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Good idea and well implemented.

  You will require three different materials for all your upgrading needs. These are in fairly abundant supply as they drop from all mobs in game. The major problem is that you will need a lot of supplies to make health packs which will slow your progress through weapon upgrading. I can’t harp on this too much because this means that you’ll be more careful and try harder.

Sometimes this will infuriate you because mobs respawn the second you leave where they first spawned and in some cases you’ll enter a new map only to instantly be hit by something. Once you know what to expect the game becomes a breeze but needing people to be omniscient is bad game design and one of the short comings of ARES (along with the clunky jump mechanics).

They have a level select in the game which reminds me a bit of megaman. If you want to go back and get a better score in a previous level or use your new powers to get database entries that you missed it’s a matter of a few button clicks. In many ways ARES does what it is trying to do well. It’s a nice adventure game with good designs and respectable graphics. Only a few things keep it from being a better all around experience.

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Screw this part with every fiber of my being. Screw it to hell and back again.

  The bad jumping mechanics and handling really really punch you in the face during this elevator shaft sequence with the leviathan. Where you might die 30 times in Super Meat Boy in the course of 30 seconds the loading times after dying are usually incredibly painful. This is one of the biggest short comings of ARES. Shorter periods of time between dying and action would really take the sting out of the platforming as a bag of stones.

The music and sound effects are neither remarkable nor problematic. You will ultimately forget them but I much prefer that over obnoxious sound design choices. Similarly the story is very very generic and is almost a carbon copy of one of the most popular space RPGs in the last decade. In defense of the ARES writers that particular story is incredibly basic and difficult to not copy when dealing with these sort of themes but I don’t know if that’s a good defense.

I find myself going back and forth a lot with this game and really that’s how I felt about it the whole time I was playing. I kept being introduced to something I liked and then a short while later it punched me in the dick. It’s a noble first attempt (presuming this is their first game) and I’d certainly be proud to have this on my resume. And did I mention that the Wave Emitter is badass?

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NGHHHHH SO GOOD!

  I can’t promise that you will like this game. I also feel the price point is a bit steep given how topsy turvy the experience was for me. But I will admit that after I went back and ground threw mobs to level all my weapons that final boss fight felt good. Note that the video below does show the last boss but frankly it literally spoils nothing. I cut out any story stuff. Feel free to skip it if you wish. It’s a little lacking in terms of drama but I assure you before I ground out my gear this thing trashed me…probably because I suck.

I MAKE THE PEW PEW! >: (

It’s not a bad game though. It’s really on the precipice between average and good. I’d feel like I was being a bit disingenuous if I put it at good. A few small tweaks and it most certainly will be there though. If you see it on Steam Sale it can’t hurt to check it out and it will probably grow on you. I know the more I played it the more I liked it which is not the case for a lot of random games I get.

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Click Sexy Wave Emitter Man if you are interested in buying the game or checking the Demo!

By | 2015-02-08T20:18:54+00:00 August 5th, 2013|Okay Things, Reviews|Comments Off on Reviews: A.R.E.S. : Extinction Agenda

Reviews: Diablo III

 

HouseSo I’ve been playing Diablo III a fair bit this week, experiencing the life of House the Witch Doctor. Not entirely sure what my goal was, the game is, after all, incredibly long coming. There is an upper echelon of gaming sequel delays that few franchises exist in and even fewer wish to find themselves in. Once you are in this place it is almost impossible to make a game that really matches up to what people expect.

I don’t even remember Diablo II anymore. I know it had fun gear, silly secret levels, and the general premise of good vs. evil. Other than that there is a large amount of nostalgia that I just wasn’t a part of. I wasn’t interested in this genre of game. But I am one of the suckers out there that loves to have pretty boxes laying around their house. With that in mind I picked up Diablo III and I must say that without a doubt it is one of the nicest boxes I’ve ever purchased.

The art book is also quite good, the amount of thought that went into the artwork and character design for this game is rather remarkable. This raises the question for me, that I think many people are asking, why wasn’t there as much (if any) thought put into the actual storyline? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the video sequences, they were systematic and basically form fit to be awesome. I felt as though Blizzard had a checklist of what makes a video awesome and they put it all in the scenes, I wouldn’t mind watching each of them again, but there are almost none of them to speak of. This is one of the greatest tragedies for me, someone who buys blizzard games largely for the cut scenes.

But, you are saying, what about the awesome gameplay? Warcraft III, Starcraft I and II, etc, etc. No, I’m sorry, in one way or another I’ve always been on an endless journey to see a video unfold. This is ironic seeing as I am not a big fan of cinema in general. I much rather would read a book than watch a film, something I don’t think many people know about me. Perhaps it is the act of hiding the videos behind a challenge that raises my interest in them.

As you can see I’m sitting at level 52, what you may not know from this is how many times I’ve played through the entire game.

HowFarI'veCome

I haven’t reached that marvelous “Inferno” Difficulty, I will admit that I’m glad that I chose Witch Doctor as my class of choice. I’ve played with all 4 other classes and I wasn’t all that excited, they all seemed neat but I found myself delighting in my frogs, little tiki men, blow darts, and Cuddly Wuddly’s.

My companion of choice through the game was the Paladin, I can never remember his name so I’ve dubbed him “Palli Dan”. He wanted to shrug off the social demands of his people and decided to roll with an “I” instead of a “Y”.

We ventured far and wide, to the darkest depths and to the highest highs. But I found myself surprised by just how remarkably short this game is. This game is considerably shorter than Starcraft II, as in if you took cheats and gave yourself invulnerability in Starcraft II and rushed the entire game, you would beat this one faster.

You’d beat this one multiple times, faster, actually. Which normally is not a complaint I make, a solid gaming experience that is fast is just as desirable for me as an Epic fantasy adventure. But when your company is sitting on enough money to buy a nation I tend to expect a bit of padding. Some sort of grand adventure that really grips me by the balls and says “Listen to me or you are going to get hurt!”

I didn’t really find it here, the people I actually found interesting were far and few between by the end. The general rule of thumb is that if a character is in any way likeable, you won’t be seeing them for more than a fraction of an act. The Scoundrel being perhaps the only exception.

As the game started to slow down for me, as those joys of loot drops and streamlined glories started to dry out, I found myself needing a reason to go on. That’s when I decided upon finding this illusive “not-cow level”. It involved one late night (last night) and a fair bit of boss grinding but by the end of it I had my prize.

 

Herd It

Sadly I thought I was taking screenshots of the actual gathering process but it turns out that Diablo III decided that after 7 screenshots it was really not enjoying my company and it ceased to save a single screenshot after this point. Lucky number 7? Fraps came to my rescue after that problem and the rest of my screenshots were taken with it.

I had ground out 150,000 gold and the items needed and I was on my journey. Now it was just a matter of finding the doorway to this wonderful world of happiness. The true final level of Diablo III, as it is I’m already spoiling secrets here so you might want to turn away. Oh god it is too late! You’ve already peaked at the image just below this line of text! I’m sorry!

Udderly

Sprouting from the corpse of a fallen bovine, here was the Ghost of the Cow King, bringing me to the promised land. The cookie cutter nonsense of Good Vs. Evil was a thing of the past, what I had now was the true plot, the most exquisitely crafted monolith of environmental design.

All it required was a leap of faith.

Whimsyshire

A flash of rainbow brilliance and House could see nothing, then he heard rumors of a majestic candy mountain…the fog parted and there he was…Whimsyshire.

Whimsyshire The End

I had ventured across the beautiful landscape of Whymsyshire, seen the prancing ponies, the cuddly bears, and walking flowers. Pristine waters and lush green grasslands padded my tired feet and it was at that moment a rainbow formed over my head.

I had come to the end of the road, the last real event of Diablo III, all else was unnecessary and frankly boring. House sat back with Cuddly Wuddly and I tapped the alt and F4 keys. A few minutes later I was here typing this up and I think I’m done with Diablo III.

It’s a short game, the initial impression is strong. But you will soon find that all the gear is effectively the same, your only goal ends up being your DPS. Before you know it the game becomes a race to the finish of you dealing your DPS faster than your enemy, two glass cannons waging lighting quick war.

It’s not a bad game at all, but it feels more like a tech demo. I wouldn’t put it on the same level as Spore because it actually functions and has actual gameplay elements. I think if the auction house leads to monthly updates this could still end up being one of the best games ever made, but for now it is merely average.

So I’ll just be slapping that tag on here. I may come back to it and finish those last 8 levels, maybe even tomorrow, you never know. But I think it is much more likely that I’ll spend my time sorting magic cards and writing some kind of story.

The Crew

The saviors of all existence, minus the bad part of it.

By | 2015-02-08T20:10:42+00:00 May 19th, 2012|Okay Things, Reviews|Comments Off on Reviews: Diablo III