LTTP: Hitman Sniper

LTTP: Hitman Sniper

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After playing Hitman: Sniper, Square Enix Montreal resides on my list of top tier development studios. I loved Hitman Go but I didn’t immediately dive into Hitman: Sniper because it looked like the lame Silent Scope knock offs that litter the Apple App Store. However, when I got the game for free (or very cheap, I don’t recall which), I was proven wrong. Hitman: Sniper was brilliant.

The game was not about sniping a target or two and then moving onto the next locale because there’s only one locale to play with. I was taken aback at first but as I was unlocking missions, weapons and abilities, I slowly realized that this was about climbing the leaderboards. The missions were there to teach me how to play the game and what was possible with just a sniper rifle.

I learned how to setup accidents and triggered explosions with well placed shots. I was trained in the importance of body disposals and luring unsuspecting guards away from the targets they were protecting.

Hitman: Sniper was a game of surprising depth and demonstrated to me that it’s possible to create a score challenge game like this on mobile. I’m not a fan of the Facebook integration but I love the idea of sharing replays. I learned from others to improve my own score without having to head over to Youtube. However, try as I might, I’m stuck in the low end of the top 100 at the time of writing. Still, they successfully infected me with the score hunting bug and that’s no easy feat.

Verdict:
I like it

Ratings Guide

Apple’s Fall 2015 Announcements

Apple’s Fall 2015 Announcements

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It’s Apple Fall 2015 media day. Here are some of my thoughts on the newest products. It was a solid lineup of new products that I doubt I’ll partake but it’s nice to see Apple march on.

iPad Pro

It’s a larger, faster and more productivity oriented tablet. You want a keyboard cover? It’s got one. You want a digital pen? Apple Pencil has you covered. It sounds a lot like a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. So why would one choose one over the other?

The Surface has a wider array of support thanks to its x86 Intel processors but the iPad Pro has the edge on portability with its thinner and lighter profile. Microsoft’s on-stage support of the iPad Pro is a nice gesture but the Surface Pro still has the edge for full Office suite support.

The starting price of $799 USD for the 32GB model was a legitimate surprise to me. This places it right there with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3’s cheapest model. I doubt anyone would actually live with the 32GB model if they’re trying to be productive but it’s nice to see a relatively affordable model.

Oh and they squeezed in the existence of the iPad Mini 4 as well.

Apple TV

The new Apple TV with its touch and voice enabled remote reminds me of Kinect and the Xbox One. As expected, it has robust Siri integration and all the small luxury touches that Apple is known for. It’s essentially all the niceties of iOS brought to the Apple TV which includes iOS apps such as games like Crossy Road to the big screen. But thanks to the more capable hardware, previously console and PC oriented titles like the new Guitar Hero and Disney Infinity 3.0 are making its way to the new Apple TV as well.

The ability to pair a game controller will also enable light but more sophisticated games akin to the console. Games like Transistor will be playable on the new Apple TV which makes it quite an attractive proposition for Indie games. Curiously, it only sports an A8 processor unlike the iPad Pro and iPhone 6S.

It’ll be available in late October for $149 USD for the 32GB and $199 USD for the 64GB.

iPhone 6S & 6S Plus

An improved 12MP camera with 4K capabilities, improved LTE Advanced support and the new A9 processor were to be expected but what’s the hook? Well apparently that’s 3D Touch.

3D Touch enables the pressure sensitivity that was found in the Force Touch trackpad on the iPhone 6S. Unfortunately for Apple, demonstrating 3D Touch is difficult. From the viewer’s perspective, 3D Touch (like Force Touch) is best experienced in person. 3D Touch demonstrations simply look like people are holding their finger on something for a brief period of time which is already something that multi-touch displays already do.

Other little Apple touches like using the Retina display as a giant flash for selfies and the “Live Photos” (aka animated GIFs) for their cameras.

It’s an S revision. Solid but not Earth shattering.

Contradiction (iOS)

Contradiction (iOS)

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I never owned a full motion video (FMV) game until Contradiction. I played a few including Cyberia and Microcosm when I was younger but I don’t recall much of it. Giant Bomb’s Quick Look of the PC version brought this game to my attention but it was the investigation angle that convinced me to to buy it. It reminded me of a British take on Ace Attorney with live actors instead of Japanese sprites.

Just like Ace Attorney, the game is filled with exaggerated characters. Inspector Jenks pushes the limit on exaggerated gestures and emotes to ensure the audience doesn’t misinterpret his thoughts. Paul Rand (played by Paul Darrow) plays the sinister father and puppet master that rivals the likes of Charles Dance’s Game of Thrones performance. Then there’s the disinterested James who Inspector Jenks catches numerous times with various drugs and is unusually fixated on his fireplace.

It was up to Inspector Jenks and I to uncover the truth behind Kate Vine’s death. Everyone in town is guilty of something and they would often lie about things. I had to point out those contradictions to move the story forward and in half a dozen hours or so Kate Vine’s murder was solved. Unfortunately, that was just the tip of the iceberg and many loose threads will require a sequel to tie up.

I enjoyed stitching together the facts and evidence to unravel lies but the inventory and user interface was a chore to navigate. I missed obvious clues due a combination of impatience and cumbersome U.I design. I resorted to a walkthrough and discovered answers were right under my nose but were buried behind scroll bars. It was frustrating but I didn’t let it deter me.

The most glaring issue with Contradiction (outside of the obvious typos) is with the contradictions themselves. There are numerous contradictions that should be acknowledged as such but they overlooked it and I’m stuck exclaiming “C’mon! That’s totally one!”. I hope they handle it better in the sequel because that’s a bummer to think you have one over the characters only to have it yield nothing.

Contradiction is exactly what I wanted from a full motion video game. It has exaggerated acting, a wide array of little scenes that transitions from scene to scene without becoming annoying. My only gripe against is are logistical and the lack of polish in the user interface. With those issues in mind, I still enjoyed my time with Jenks and gang and hope to see them return in a sequel. I just hope the recent GiantBomb exposure doesn’t ruin the magic.

Verdict:
I like it

 

Announcements Ahoy, Mon Capitan

Announcements Ahoy, Mon Capitan

OS X El Capitan

This year’s OS X release isn’t going to be the overhaul like Yosemite was. El Capitan will offer fixes, refinements and other nice but not so sexy changes.

I welcome it. I welcome features like Expose side-by-side so I can stop using BetterTouchTool for the sole purpose of including Windows Snap.

I look forward to Metal, Apple’s low-level API, improving rendering performance across the board. I don’t play graphically intensive games on my MacBook Air but hopefully this gives the user base fewer reasons to switch over to Windows just to play games.

I’m hoping OS X El Capitan breathes new life into my MacBook Air like Mavericks did with its power optimizations.

iOS 9

Unsurprisingly, iOS 9 looks to follow El Capitan’s lead and focus on refinements and improvements to performance, battery life, security and usability.

I use Siri regularly for sports and weather updates. On occasion, I ask her to figure out the name of a song or some trivia but her accuracy remains so suspect that I tend to stick to the basic inquiries. Apple promises to address accuracy and capabilties but I’ll believe it when I see it. The day, I don’t feel the need to launch Google Search for reliable voice inquiries is the day I’ll consider Siri a dependable digital assistant.

Apple continues its trend of adopting popular ideas into its own apps and gently pushing out competition. Notes and News apps were their latest efforts. They gave Notes additional word processing capabilities for simple note taking and News (rebranded Newsstand) is now a Flipboard clone.

My favorite iOS device isn’t the iPhone. It’s the iPad and Apple finally gave it some love with the addition of multi-tasking and a new shortcut bar that sits on-top of the keyboard. Fortunately, I have an iPad Air 2 which supports the new multi-tasking functionality. But if I was an iPad Air user, I’d feel a little miffed knowing that a key feature like multi-tasking won’t be making back to mine. I understand the limitations (the Air 2 has 2GB of RAM) but not everyone will.

And the Rest

WatchOS 2 is coming as well and I know exactly one person who’s excited by that announcement. The native app support is a step in the right direction. I’m curious what developers will come up with in that space. I doubt they can make the thing appealing to me though.

Apple Music is now a thing. If the likes of Spotify, Rdio and other music streaming services aren’t to your liking, maybe give Apple Music a try? They’ve hired humans to make a 24/7 radio station a reality. No idea how that radio station will fare Apple promises it’ll be better than having algorithms select the music.

I didn’t know what to expect from Apple Music but it wasn’t whatever they announced. Jimmy Iovine started by pointing out all the streaming services available and how it’s fragmented. I thought that was going to a segue into a Wallet (they renamed Passbook) or News app amalgamation app but for music. That would have been a logistical nightmare but that would have been nice.

Pre-E3 Announcements Continues

  • 1TB Xbox One Console will take over at $399.99 USD
  • New Xbox One controller revision features wireless updates, 3.5mm audio jack & minor refinements. Costs $64.99 USD
  • Xbox One wireless adapter for Windows will be available in autumn. Will cost $24.99 USD
  • Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst will see the light of day in Q1 2016
  • Halo 5: Guardians will have 20 maps at launch & 15 free maps by June 2016
  • Dark Souls 3 will be available in early 2016
  • Marshawn Lynch will be in Call of Duty: Black Ops III
  • Call of Duty lives for another year on PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360

Thought of the Day

As soon as I saw what 2015’s OS X release was called El Capitan, I thought of Q and Captain Picard.

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