Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time Review

posted in: Reviews 0


Plants vs Zombies is my favorite Popcap game. There’s no disputing it; it’s what put Popcap on the map for me. It’s one of the rare games that I own multiple copies of. I finished it on the PC and then completed it again on the game’s natural habitat, the iPad. Needless to say, I was looking forward to Plants vs Zombies 2 with much anticipation.

I grabbed Plants vs Zombies 2 as soon as it was available on the North American App Store. I was looking forward to the natural evolution of the Plants vs Zombies motif but instead Popcap had me traveling to different time periods and tossed out what made Plants vs Zombies a cohesive experience.

Before I move on, I’d like to point out that these tower defense games are limited on what they have to offer. Something like choice of visual aesthetic or music have significant ramifications. Tower defense games are a dime a dozen, so it’s trivially easy to drop one in favor of another.

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Apple paid for PvZ2 timed exclusivity?

posted in: Game News 0

ea-logo.pngElectronic Art’s and Popcap’s Plants vs. Zombies 2 made its North American debut on iOS a month or so ago. It launched with a bit of a fervour over its F2P implementation, managed to rack up over 25 million downloads under two weeks and that’s about it. Barely anyone questioned why there wasn’t any other version yet, we all assumed it would arrive later in due time.

I assumed the delay was to assure the game was compatible across as many Android devices as possible, I didn’t even think of the possibility of moneyhatting.

Well it turns out Electronic Arts was paid a “truckload of money” by Apple. This would be the first significant example of timed exclusivity by way of financial compensation in the mobile space.

Apple — of course — denies such allegations but Electronic Arts has no reason to lie about such things. A “truckload of money” maybe an over simplification of “marketing agreement” but the fact of the matter is, Apple is taking games on its platforms extremely seriously.

The “natural” delay that existed between iOS and Android releases of games and apps is dwindling. As tools and middleware improve, the only thing to stop or delay an app from appearing on a competitor’s platform is financial compensation. And if you were a platform holder who was looking to keep a platform as attractive as possible, worthwhile exclusives are one way to achieve that. And selecting the sequel to one of the most beloved mobile games like Plants vs Zombies isn’t a bad place to start.

Now if only we could get a quantifiable definition of “truckload”.

P.S – I should write up a review for Plants vs Zombies 2.

The Apple A7 is amazing

posted in: Technology News 0

apple-logo.pngAnandTech put up their iPhone 5S review today but I’m not interested in the phone itself per se. I’m interested in the new phone’s SoC more than anything else (the new fingerprint scanner is a distant second).

AnandTech’s analysis was fascinating. If you’ve got the time, I suggest you read the analysis in its entirety. If you don’t have time, here are some of the highlights which I thought were noteworthy.

  • 64-bit dual core CPU
  • 1.3 GHz clockspeed
  • 1GB LPDDR3

The move to 64-bit may appear premature but AnandTech has a good theory:

The more I think about it, the more the timing actually makes a lot of sense. The latest Xcode beta and LLVM compiler are both ARMv8 aware. Presumably all apps built starting with the official iOS 7 release and going forward could be built 64-bit aware. By the time 2015/2016 rolls around and Apple starts bumping into 32-bit addressability concerns, not only will it have navigated the OS transition but a huge number of apps will already be built for 64-bit. Apple tends to do well with these sorts of transitions, so starting early like this isn’t unusual. The rest of the ARM ecosystem is expected to begin moving to ARMv8 next year.

Even though Apple isn’t utilizing the additional address space at the moment, the move to 64-bit does bring a smidgen of benefit elsewhere:

As A64 is a brand new ISA, there are other benefits that come along with the move. Similar to the x86-64 transition, the move to A64 comes with an increase in the number of general purpose registers. ARMv7 had 15 general purpose registers (and 1 register for the program counter), while ARMv8/A64 now has 31 that are each 64-bits wide. All 31 registers are accessible at all times. Increasing the number of architectural registers decreases register pressure and can directly impact performance. The doubling of the register space with x86-64 was responsible for up to a 10% increase in performance.

Apple took steps towards the inevitable 64-bit future by converting every one of their own applications in iOS 7.

As always, Apple takes its GPU performance seriously. The GPU included in the A7 is the latest and greatest from Imagine Technology. The doubling of performance wasn’t evident across all the benchmarks but it did manifest itself in game scenarios. And because of its inclusion, the iPhone 5S may remain relevant for longer than before.

I cannot wait to see this A7 in the next iPad.

A Summer of Betas

windows-8-logoThe following betas are available for testing:

  • Mac OS X Mavericks
  • iOS 7
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows 8.1

I could be running beta operating systems across all my computing devices. From tablets, smartphones and laptops to home servers and desktops. I could be living on the very bleeding edge. I could but I will likely not and here’s why.

I threw iOS 7 beta 2 on my iPhone 4S and iPad 3. I’m enjoying the early look but it hasn’t been all smiles and rainbows with Apple’s latest. There were a number of app crashes, battery draining issues and just overall glitchiness. Still, I am sticking with it and will experience the evolution of iOS 7 towards Gold Master.

I have access to OS X Mavericks but unless I can eventually upgrade to the final release, I will stay away.

As for the Windows 8.1 Preview, I’ll install it as soon as I rebuild my PC. It’s an upgrade which should easily be replaced with the final release.

Windows Server 2012 R2 will likely remain unused since I have no intentions on disrupting my home server unless I can easily upgrade to the final build as well.

The computing future is always evolving and I’m pleased to catch a glimpse of what the future has in store however I can.

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