All About phazer
My Game Review Blog: http://videogameholic.wordpress.com/
… Hands. And actually I'm still using my iPhone 3GS. Just that it's temporarily shelved aside while I explore my lovely new phone. First things first, about my 3GS and its not-quite-demise.
What Ails You
It (as with other 3GSes, it seems) started becoming rather laggy many months ago. But it's not like I couldn't live with it, having lived with old PCs and stuff. Then iOS 5 came, and my it breathed a new life into my withering 3GS. Not sure if I could've achieved the same effect by restoring my phone/re-installing the OS, but too late to find out I guess. So yeah, it breathed new life, but it also inflicted the curse of -40% battery life (disclaimer: figure is arbitrary). Often it would also shut itself down at ~18%. It improved somewhat after I tried the steps recommended on various sites, but the curse proved too strong to lift completely.
iOS 5.0.1 rolled along somewhat later, but it didn't seem to solve the problem (beyond the aforementioned improvements). It started dying at ~2-5% as usual, although once in a while it would still die at ~18%. Fast forward to present day, or rather, a few days ago, my 3GS started to die at around 25-30%. 2 days later it died at 50%. All of these happened when I was running an app (with the exception of WhatsApp and regular messaging etc.). It's not like I was running Infinity Blade either, it was just a transport/bus guide. That's when I decided I would definitely need a new phone. Although iOS 5.1 will supposedly fix the premature death issue, I have no idea when it'll be out, and this is a good excuse so I have no choice but to get a new phone after all.
A New Love
As mentioned in my Christmas wishlist, I was pretty interested in Lumia 800 and WP7. Sometime later that I tried it out for the first time as I passed by a Nokia shop, and fell in love with it straightaway (more towards WP7′s interface, but I liked the phone's design too). But then I came across talk of Lumia 900, which is basically the 800 with a bigger screen (3.7″ -> 4.3&Prime, a front-facing camera, I think an improved battery and pretty much it. The clincher is that it'll be $99 in the US with a 2-year AT&T contract, and that it has 4G LTE support. That's good and all, but there's just a few problems for me:
- I don't live in the US, so who knows when it'll be released locally, if ever?
- 4G is still a new business here. In fact I only just read about its launch last December. Right now there's only one telco offering it, and it's not the one I'm subscribing too. If it'll be a carrier-exclusive phone here too then it would be rather troublesome having to switch (or rather, I probably wouldn't be switching anyway). In any case I don't think the market here (or rather the WP7 audience) is big enough to warrant carrier exclusivity.
- There's no guarantee the price would be as cheap over here, but that's not much of a problem because either way it should still be cheaper than a Lumia 800, unless it's just being released as a "normal" phone.
Fate prevented our meeting... Or maybe just my impatience and dying phone. (Image: zdnet.com)
As such I came up with a few choices:
- iPhone 4S: I actually thought of getting a iPhone 4 instead due to the possible weaker battery life from a 4S, but apparently they only have 8GB (or was it 16GB?) iPhone 4s (4s as in plural), and it'll cost about the same as a 4S anyway. Seeing as how I ran out of space on my 16GB 3GS, I thought of getting a 32GB model.
- Get a Lumia and an iPod Touch: this would be only about $100 more expensive than if I got a 4S, or slightly cheaper if I traded in/sold my 3GS. The reason for having an Apple device is for the apps. Once you have 1000 apps (my actual count is around 1500), you can't quit on Apple.
- Get a Lumia and an iPad 2: however you cut it this would be much more expensive but I've always wanted an iPad anyway. Great for playing games and stuff, but also for watching videos, reading books and surfing the net in general while lying on the bed (I'm a lazy person and using the laptop isn't as comfortable, especially when mine has heat problems). But there's the problem of deciding between price, capacity and 3G or not. I suppose 32GB would be good too. I considered 64GB for storing videos but a PC streaming app would kind of negate that. And I usually surf on WiFi so 3G isn't that important, but I like to keep my options open. That and Lumia/WP7 has yet to offer tethering.
In the end I decided to just get a Lumia 800 first, iPod Touch or iPad later. I figured I didn't really need a larger screen (although I realize now that one would be nice) or front-facing camera, and by the time it's released here it might already be June or later (which is the case for UK). Technically I could use a spare phone first and get an iPod Touch or iPad at the same time, then I also decided that I didn't want to wait (mostly that).
Life with the New Wife
Well, after using it for a few days I'm still getting used to it. There are some functions and features that I miss on the iPhone:
- Keyboard feels different, even though it's a QWERTY keyboard (pretty much the norm anyway) I make more mistakes than usual. Partly also because the autocorrect isn't as sensitive (and generally not as good I would say). For example I often end up typing 'yo' instead of 'to', but it's not corrected. If I'm not mistaken it doesn't pick up non-spaced words either, e.g. 'haveyou'.
- On a related note, there is no custom keyboard shortcut as far as I can tell, which wouldn't be so bad, but the dictionary doesn't seem to pick up words you use like the iPhone does (or maybe because I haven't used it often enough). Words which are obviously wrong can be added to the dictionary, but some words which are not-so-wrong are neglected.
- Multitasking works differently on WP7. To switch apps you have to use the app switcher by holding the Back button, which brings up a list of previous apps. If you start an app elsewhere (home screen/app list) it will reload the app. Also, to make the app multitask you have to quit out using the Start key. Pressing Back will, well, go back to previous menus, but if you press Back at the main menu, it closes the app completely (i.e. it won't appear in the app switcher). The good thing is that OS apps (Messaging, Email, Zune etc.) open pretty much instantly anyway. The bad thing? You'll need to remember to quit WhatsApp using the Start key (btw, opening it from notifications will also require a reload).
- Speaking of which, WhatsApp on iPhone > WhatsApp on WP7. There are a ton of features missing from the iPhone version (and possibly Android too) such has notification settings, viewing of media, user blocking etc. Like the Android version, it's free for a year and requires an annual subscription thereafter.
- Screenshot capture. iPhone has it from the get-go (or at least, since 3GS), something I didn't realize was so rare when I first had it, Android has it with Ice Cream Sandwich, WP7… Might have it soon or not so soon.
That sounded like a lot, but I'm still more than pleased with my Lumia overall. I realize Android offers a lot of customization which can make it look great, but I very much prefer WP7′s UI in general (although Ice Cream Sandwich might raise Android's standing in my books somewhat from the little I've seen). As-is, it looks wonderful without customization, and even better with a little customization (also because that's all you can do, a little), but more on that in another post. The Metro interface is probably a love-it-or-hate-it thing, but besides that the phone's UI elsewhere looks fantastic too.
It could look like this. (Image: Wiztiles)
One of the reasons I wanted a WP7 was because of Xbox Live (achievements on the go!), which serves as a games hub and a XBL companion app. I thought the Marketplace would use Microsoft Points though, but I suppose that wouldn't fit as well with the general public. Unfortunately this also means that depending on your region, you might be paying more. For example, Collapse is on sale now for US$1.99, but over here it's S$2.99. That's a US$1 to S$1.5 conversion rate, but the actual currency rate is US$1 to S$1.26 (even with bank rates and what not it would still be lower than $1.5). The thing with MSP is that you can buy it off retail as well, which would be cheaper than getting it directly from XBL.
And I already knew beforehand, but experiencing it yourself makes it different. WP7 apps are expensive. Mostly due to the conversion issue I guess. If you are in the US apps could cost US$0.99 on the App Store and Marketplace, but if you're living elsewhere you could be paying more, as mentioned. Most of my paid iOS apps are games, so I'll compare that. Angry Birds costs US$0.99 on the App Store, but US$2.99 on the Marketplace. Plants vs. Zombies, US$2.99 vs. US$4.99. Not all apps are like that I guess. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is US$4.99 on both platforms. The thing is, the App Store has sales a lot more often (and for lower prices, i.e. free or US$0.99), whereas the Marketplace pretty much only has Deal of the Weeks for Xbox Live titles (which would only be 33% off, i.e. not US$0.99). It's mostly different for non-XBL titles though, a number of which are at US$0.99 but it's hard to compare since most of the games which can be found on the iPhone as well are XBL titles.
Oh well, as mentioned, I would be depending on an iDevice for my excessive app needs anyway…
Back from the Dead
Strangely enough, when I removed my SIM card from my 3GS, the curse seemed to be removed as well. The night I started using my Lumia, it didn't die at 20%. Surprised, I left the screen on to drain the battery and it died normally. Or at least, I assume it did, I wasn't exactly looking at my phone constantly. The next day I tried to see if the battery would last, and it sure did. I charged it yesterday, and it's at 72% now. Of course, I didn't use it much, just to surf the net a bit here and there, so it was mostly on standby. It only dropped from 77% to 74% during my 7 hours of sleep though, which is a huge improvement from the previous 100% to ~70-80%. Not sure why there's such a huge jump since I almost never turn 3G on, and I wouldn't expect it to improve by that much when it's off the regular network. Oh well.
It is not your turn to die... Yet.
So far the battery seems to drain normally and die normally as well, although it also seemed to drain exceptionally fast with wireless syncing. Besides that, since it's working alright I wouldn't need to get an iPod Touch. The iPad though… Or rather, the iPad 3…?
*phew* Finally done with the formatting. Part 1 is below, and with that, Merry Christmas! (Although it'll be over in 1+ hours where I'm at .
This almost became 25 Things I Wanted for Christmas in 2011. Had about half of it done up more than a week ago but I was thinking of some of the items to put in, and then I got distracted by Steam's holiday sale. And there turned out to be more text than expected, so un-spoiler it for the full list. Since having 25 games is kinda normal-ish, I'll list 5 from various categories: Games, Hardware, Accessories, Gaming-related and Non-gaming related.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Collector's Edition)
This probably won't be on the list of many gamers, due to the fact that they've already been playing it since its release. Unfortunately I'm not one of them though, and if I'm putting it in a wishlist, might as well wish for the Collector's Edition. It comes with a huge (12-inch) statue, which makes carrying the box a pain on public transport, an art book and a making-of DVD. Not much to say about the game itself besides awesome. Although personally, I haven't been playing RPGs much recently (my last completed RPG was Final Fantasy XIII, and possibly Eternal Sonata before that) due to lack of time, but Skyrim is definitely on my radar. The PC versions seem to have been sold out (although they are available via 3rd party retailers on Amazon for almost $200), so if you wanted that you could get the console version and sell the game itself.
Saints Row: The Third Platinum Pack Collector's Edition
Actually I wasn't aware that there was a LE version of Saints Row: The Third, but I'm not suprised anyway. Quite a mouthful though, Platinum Pack Collector's Edition. You'd think a Collector's Edition would suffice, especially considering the contents of it: a headset, soundtrack and the pre-order pack. Out of these, the headset is pretty much the main point of the CE, though I can't say whether it's worth it or not (quality-wise). For one thing though, it doesn't work with the 360. But at least the game itself is a whole lot of fun… Crazy fun. Especially with a friend, because doing silly stuff with someone else makes it much more hilarious.
Catherine "Love is Over" Deluxe Edition
I like games and shows with quirky storylines, both of which are plenty in Japan, and Catherine definitely fits the bill here. Although the game is mostly puzzle solving and I'm not that big of a puzzle fan, there are always exceptions. Unfortunately, for some reason or other, the 360 version isn't available where I'm at, much less the Deluxe Edition. Though I guess it's not really surprising since the 360 doesn't have much love when it comes to Japanese releases in the Asian region, or in Japan for that matter. *cough* Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 *cough* And actually it seems like the US version isn't region-free anyway, so I would need a US set or a PS3 to play this, unfortunately.
The only game on the list to not have a Limited Edition, which (as far as I know) has traditionally been the case for Valve games. I think I still haven't gotten Portal 2 yet because I was busy with school when it was released, and during my holidays I was trying to clear my backlog (and also because I probably bought a new game or two then). The first Portal was a game I loved and completed on the PC and the 360 (and I was sorely tempted to get the Xbox Live Arcade version which pretty much the same game). By the time I end up buying this I guess the price should've dropped somewhat…?
Dark Souls Collector's Edition
If anything I'd say I prefer the normal edition's box art. Anyway, the game seems like the type to be a hit or miss among players, and for me I think it would be a hit. I like RPGs (although not as much as I used to, I guess) and action-adventure games, and Dark Souls is a nice blend of both.
Other great stuff: I didn't include Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution in the list because I already have them, but they're definitely worth checking out. Assassin's Creed: Revelations doesn't quite make it because I haven't played Brotherhood. There's a whole lot of other games that are on my wishlist, but probably too many to list.
Star Wars: The Old Republic Collector's Bundle
I don't play (paid) MMOs because 1) I don't really play every day, which makes it not worth having a monthly subscription; and 2) my pockets aren't deep enough for that... Yet. Well, technically it is, but it also leads back to point 1 and point 2.5 whereby I would have to spend less on other areas. So yeah, about the game. If I were to play a MMO, it would be World of Warcraft or this. The contents of the CE are pretty sweet. Like Skyrim's big box (I haven't physically seen SWTOR's CE, but I assume it should be about the same size as Skyrim's), it comes with a statue, named "Gentle Giant Darth Malgus". Right. The other stuff is pretty standard for CEs, including the game's soundtrack (now who doesn't love Star Wars music?), and a bunch of in-game items, like the HoloDancer (because everyone needs their own holographic dancers).
I did say 5 per category, but I posted it in two parts on my Wordpress blog, and later on I realized I couldn't come up with a 5th item for the gaming-related category that wasn't similar to what was already inside, hence the 6 games.
PlayStation 3 (320GB) Final Fantasy XIII-2 Lightning Edition Ver.2
Actually I thought it would come with a special controller, but then again, the previous Final Fantasy XIII PS3 bundle only came with a matching white controller (although the LE version of the game had a special controller). In any case, it's a limited edition Square Enix product, and I don't have a PlayStation 3, so this would be awesome. As for the game, I can't read Japanese text but I can more or less understand the speech, but this is more for the console than the game anyway. As far as I can tell, there doesn't seem to be a LE version for the game alone in Japan, which is odd since there's one for the U.S. release.
The good thing about the PS3 is that the games are region free, and Blu-ray region codes are pretty broad (Japan shares the same code as North and South America and Southeast Asia). Plus supposedly a lot of Blu-ray movies are region-free to begin with.
PlayStation Vita (3G/Wi-Fi model)
To be honest I haven't been checking up on the Vita much since its announcement, and I'm quite surprised at some of the stuff I'm reading now. 1) No removable battery, even though the battery life is only 3-5 hours of gameplay. 2) No video output. Actually it doesn't affect me in any way but I would've thought that it would be a good way to show off the Vita at a friend's house or something. 3) The pricing. Previously I've only heard of the U.S. pricing, which is pretty reasonable at US$299 for the 3G/Wi-Fi model, but now I realize that in other countries, it's about $100 more expensive. And of course, even more so if you're importing the earlier Japanese/Asian release. If not, you'll have to wait 3 more months for the 22-23 February 2012 Western release. Game lineup looks (Japanese lineup is about the same) decent enough; if I were to get a Vita I would probably get Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
Nintendo 3DS The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Special Edition
Not to sound like a broken recorder, but 1) I haven't played a Zelda game and 2) before this I wasn't aware that the 3DS was region-locked. I guess the latter isn't much of a problem if you're in the NA/EU region unless you fully understand Japanese and buy Japanese games occasionally. In my case I would have to do some research if I buy a local Asian set, since I'm not quite sure if it's a separate region on its own. And if it is, whether US games would work. And, again, the good thing about Sony consoles is that they're region-free.
As for games, the 3DS still doesn't have any titles that would really make me want to buy the platform for (wishing for it is a different story). There are a couple that I am somewhat interested in, but they're definitely not enough. Maybe the next Pokemon game will change my mind…
(As of now (or a few days back) Razer announced that the release would be delayed until January 2012, instead of being released in time for Christmas) The Blade boasts some impressive specs (it is a gaming laptop after all) and a 17.3″ screen, but it's still pretty compact with a height of 0.88″ (2.24 cm) and a weight of 6.9 pounds (3.16 kg). There's also the Switchblade UI which lets users customize key options, display extra in-game information, and also functions as a touchpad. Surprisingly there's not much official information about it on the website. You can learn more from the PAX 2011 Keynote Speech and Q&A:
- Power supply is about a third of normal ones, or 5.9″ x 2.3″ x 0.7″.
- Battery lasts about 6 hours while idle and 2.5 while gaming.
- The Blade doesn't have an optical drive.
- HDD is 320 GB, but there may be models with different sizes in the future.
- Battery is built-in.
- The top Switchblade keys are fully customizable; you can set your own images and functions (e.g. press/touch a friend's photo and send a Facebook/MSN message). It comes pre-loaded with hotkeys for games, and will be updated as games are released.
- The bottom part is like a built-in smartphone, which is the case: while in a game, you can surf sites like YouTube (to look for walkthroughs) or Facebook (to chat with friends) etc. Razer is also working with developers to have various apps for it.
- That's the secondary mode if you have a mouse, the primary mode is a trackpad, which is FPSes
- Overheating doesn't seem like it'll be an issue.
- 7:21: "Can you talk about the durability with an aluminium case?" "It's more durable than plastic."
- While other computers will have a blue USB 3.0 port, the Blade will have its own green port.
It ended up being more interesting than I thought, hence all the text.
Nokia Lumia 800
I'm using an iPhone 3GS now but my next phone will probably be a Windows Phone 7. I love the simple and clean look of the Metro interface (which is also why I love WordPress) and it has Xbox Live after all. With the Windows 7.5 Mango update, the platform is more robust than before. App-wise there's still a long way to go though, and apps were the reason I bought an iPhone. Ideally I would use a WP7 phone as a secondary phone while my main phone would be an iPhone (4S or whenever 5 comes out). Although the Lumia 800 isn't particularly outstanding compared to the iPhone 4S or Android's flagship phones, it's probably one of the better (best?) WP7 phone available. Tried it out a Nokia shop a few days ago, and I'm in love with the interface. Everything feels much slicker and smoother than the iOS and Android. I would say the iOS has the best software, Android the hardware (which is pretty obvious since there's so many Android models) and WP7, unfortunately, probably only has the best OS.
As it turns out I'll have to split this in two as well, since there's a character limit.
My Recent Reviews
Here's a compilation of all the Halo 3 live action clips so far. Hi-res version available on Bungie's site.
Project Sylpheed gameplay video Part 8
Project Sylpheed gameplay video Part 7