Dungeon Hunter 2 Spells a Winner

by Dave Loft

The sequel to Dungeon Hunter was recently made available for Android and it’s improved over the original in every way. I enjoyed Dungeon Hunter but I stopped playing after a couple hours. Dungeon Hunter 2 has sucked me into several hours of compelling gameplay and has shown me no sign of letting go.

When the game starts you have your choice of three classes; warrior, rogue and mage. Once you get going you will have a further options to customize with one of two specializations and dozens of skills. The game is easy to use, which really goes a long way to making it accessible. The menu and character customization screens are easy to navigate, which is often an issue with RPG’s.

The controls feel much better than the first, especially with the 3 spell buttons being separated which makes them much easier to hit in the middle of action. The only issue I had with control was often getting stuck on objects around the world.

One of the big benefits of the game is in it’s save game simplicity. Since your game save is done automatically. If you have to quit and take care of something more important, your right where you left off when your ready to resume. Which is essential for an RPG on a mobile phone.

For anyone familiar with the first game, you’ll be impressed to know that Dungeon Hunter 2 is five times the size of the first. The variety of levels and enemies are also more diverse, keeping things from getting boring. Dungeon Hunter 2 has a total of 14 Acts and a maximum character ranking of 100. My character was only at level 25 by the time I hit Act 9. So if you find it too difficult, just grind away till you rank up a few levels before taking on that hard to beat story mission. It’s surprising how quickly those earlier challenging enemies become a cakewalk.

The graphics in Dungeon Hunter 2 have improved greatly since the first one. The textures are crisp, the animation is smooth and the lighting effects are impressive. The framerate has dropped a bit from the first game but considering the style of gameplay, it’s not much of a hindrance.

My biggest issue comes down to the dialogue and character interaction. There are no voice actors at work here, so expect lots of reading. Considering the sheer amount of dialogue and the tradition of RPG’s to not use voice acting, it’s not surprising. But it would have been nice to have more camera angles and character animation during this interactions. It may be nit picky but it does leave the world feeling quite static.

It’s great to see them add online and local co op play allowing you to take your character online or off at whim. It’s a great experience when played with someone you know. But you will want them to be beside you when you play so you can coordinate better. Playing online and having no way to communicate with one another takes away from the experience and just makes it more difficult. I would love to see some voice chat capability, this is a phone after all. But it’s hard to fault the game for something that no mobile game has implemented thus far.

This is a traditional Action\RPG through and through and doesn’t make any changes to that tried and true formula. It really is just Diablo II for Android and ultimately it doesn’t get much better than that.

Score: 9.5

Official Website: Gameloft.com

For those interested, the game is only for high end of phones and must be purchased from Gameloft directly. Games can be paid with credit card or PayPal and with some carriers, carrier billing is an option. Any game purchased can be easily re-downloaded by heading to gameloft.com on your phone and selecting ‘My Downloads’ at the bottom of the page. Login with your email or phone number and any game purchased available for that model will appear. Dungeon Hunter 2 will occasionally check for updates when launched and download them automatically if needed. 

email:  android.support@gameloft.com
phone: 1-800-910-3186


Nova 2 is landing on Android soon

So every now and then I check out Gameloft’s site to see if any new games have been made available. Last night I noticed they added Nova 2 to the list of games available to Android with a release date of April 2011. Unfortunately as of the time of writing this the buy now button does nothing. I tried going to Gameloft.com on my phone but the game is not even listed.

It appears this is yet another confirmation in a string of confirmations going as far back as December that Nova 2 is coming to Android. According to what I read at the beginning of April the game is supposed to be exclusive to the Sony Xperia Play for the first month. So we shouldn’t be seeing it for other Android handsets till May. But my experience with Gameloft is that if they are making reference to the game on their site it’s a good chance we will be seeing it by the end of the week.

Keep checking the link below to see when it becomes available.

http://en.gameloft.ca/download-games/android-games/

Product Page
http://en.gameloft.ca/android-games/nova-2-android/?adid=117277

Andy Rubin clears the air on Android’s future

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I think I’m having a Gene Amdahl moment – Andy Rubin on Android Developers Blog

Epic’s Bulletstorm is out of control on PC

by Dave Loft

I had watched enough trailers, gameplay videos and reviews on this game to put on my Steam wanted list. Unfortunately with a price tag of $60 and no demo available to try I was obviously a bit apprehensive. But that changed on Monday when developer Epic Games made a demo available on Steam. I sat down after class on Tuesday to give it a first run through and boy do I hate it.

The controls in this game are some of the worst I have ever seen. Leave it to Epic to fuck up something so simple as a fps on a PC. The biggest issue is with the mouse and especially high DPI gaming mice. I had to turn the mouse sensitivity all the way down and it was still too much. So I then had to turn my mouse down from 5700 DPI to 800 DPI to get it to move at the right speed. But it still just didn’t feel right and was saddled with quite a bit of lag.

Then there was the menu navigation which had you moving around with W and S rather than the mouse. This is just lazy work on the developer’s part. It might make sense to have your move forward and back on the left stick to move around the menu, but it doesn’t work on a PC. Some menus would actually let you use the mouse (I hate inconsistency) but since I had to turn the mouse sensitivity way down, it felt way too slow in the menu.

The game is also very hollow, monotonous, repetitive and clunky. AI is very scripted lacking any sort of intelligence. Gameplay follows a strict guideline of kick, lasso then shoot. Sure you could just shoot, but the shooting is terrible and when you aim down the scope the sensitivity seems heightened making it more difficult to aim.

Bulletstorms clunkiness comes from the movement and ultimately derived from the controls. You hold space bar to slide, but also to jump over things. So if you slide to an object you can’t just hold space bar to jump over, you have to let go then press again. Not really that terrible, but what it sometimes chooses to jump over is really annoying. In my last game I slid to a barrier and pressed the space bar to jump over it only to have my character jump to the right. It was at this point that I realized my character had jumped into some kind of hole in the game. A hole I could no move, jump, slide, lasso, kick or shoot my way out of. After that I quit the demo, uninstalled it and removed the game from my wish list.

I really have grown to hate Epic in recent years and it mainly stems from their outspoken hatred of things I love. It’s clear from the games I’ve played in recent years that any of the talent they possessed in the past is long gone. Rather than complaining Epic should probably just stick to making Xbox 360 and iOS games where things are very predictable and their customers will buy anything.

Epic should also stop whining about how hard a platform is to develop for. It’s pathetic when a company with a history like Epics lashes out publicly against a platform they don’t like. I for one say good riddance and look forward to what a more capable and innovative competitor will do in their place. But I do want to thank Epic for making a demo available as it saved me from wasting my money on this big piece of EPIC fail.

No Netflix, No Hulu… No Problem

by Dave Loft

The studios just don’t get it, if you don’t make the content available legitimately, people will find another way to get it. So far there isn’t an option for Android users looking for a way to watch Hulu or Netflix on their device. The reason for the delay has been blamed on concerns of DRM. The reality is that no matter how DRM is implemented, it will eventually fail. Then theres the other question and arguably the more important one. Who is going to use an Android app that requires a monthly subscription as a means to steal content and share it on the web? It’s far more likely to be done using a cable box and a PC.

Now at least in the US Amazon has an option for Android users to buy and stream videos to their Android device. Unfortunately in Canada, the only option for Android users is to buy a DVD and rip it into a format the phone can play. Which is a rather time consuming process and in the age of digital distribution, rather ridiculous.

I stopped buying physical media a long time ago. I get my music from Rdio, my comics from Comixology, my books from Kobo, my TV from Hulu and movies from Netflix. I try to stay as legitimate as possible but when it becomes more difficult to use, or worse it’s just not available, I tend to head to the types of sources the studios wish never existed.

Rdio, Comixology and Kobo have apps that allow me to enjoy my content on the go. But since the movie and television studios haven’t yet learned what the music labels learned several years ago, they are currently hurtling towards a cliff in Bugatti Veyron at 407 KMH with the brakes from a Volkswagen Jetta. Subsequently customers are being lost in the very holes they created by not offering a competing service.

So what do I suggest for TV on the go? TV Shows Stream, which is available on the Android Market for a one time purchase price of $5 from Loading Home. TV Shows Stream provides as the name suggest a method for streaming TV and it offers more content than Netflix and Hulu ever could.

When you click on the show you like, it will give you some general information about the show as well as a link to IMDb and the option to Add or Delete Bookmark. It’s really easy to use and and is a necessity considering every letter of the alphabet has hundreds of show listings. At the bottom will be a list of seasons with each episode name and number listed inside. Once you click on the episode you want you will be given a list of links to watch from. On occasion some of the links will be dead, hence the reason to have several to choose from.

For fans of Megavideo, TV Shows Stream offers an option to login to your account from the homepage. Without a Megavideo account, you will be limited to 72 minutes of streaming video from their links. For anyone who doesn’t have a Megavideo account I would suggest using Karambavidz or Loombo videos. They offer excellent quality, no time limit and can be loaded into an external video player, rather than played within the browser using flash. The battery life and playback controls on your Android video player is definitely better than the browser.

For anyone looking for movies, I would suggest MegaViewer Movie Streamer Pro. It’s not quite as good as TV Shows Stream. While TV Shows Stream’s UI is very sparse, it’s also very usable. MegaViewer Pro is just badly designed and lacks any options whatsoever. But the biggest issue is the inability to bookmark your position in the movie to save it for later. This issue is made worse with the players inability to fast forward or rewind. But even with those issues as it stands, it’s still the best option for streaming movies to your Android device. MegaViewer’s selection doesn’t have everything, but what it does have blows away what Netflix can offer.

Now the nitty gritty. The act of streaming movies and TV shows you haven’t paid for is not exactly legal, yet it isn’t illegal either. It currently lives in the gray area of the internet where major corporations have yet to sway governments into changing laws with which to prosecute anyone who partakes in it. Currently it comes down to the act of sharing content that will get you in trouble. So wither these apps are OK to use or not really comes down to your personal beliefs and morals. But if you pay for cable, satellite, Netflix, Hulu or any other video distribution service that fails to offer an option on your mobile, you now know of your alternatives.

It’s interesting to see the studios doing just what music labels did ten years ago. They don’t provide an option so an illegitimate option takes it’s place. Then by the time they figure it out and make something available they have to convince people who have gotten used to the free alternative to start paying again. The funny thing is the free alternatives may never have even existed had the studios made their content available from the beginning. It will be at that point that the studios turn to lawsuits to solve the problem they created in the first place rather than try to innovate.

So for now enjoy the freedom while it lasts and give these apps a try. If your interested, bear in mind they do require Android 2.2 and slow phones need not apply. Also don’t expect the longest battery life if you plan to watch a lot of video. With the display on, a data connection in constant use and a heavier CPU load it’s really no surprise to see a significant drop after finishing a movie. So if the morals and stiff requirements don’t scare you away, MegaViewer Pro and TV Shows Stream are truly great alternatives to Hulu or Netflix.

Black Ops goes for $36

by Dave Loft

So if you check Direct2Drive or Steam you will see Call of Duty: Black Ops is on sale from $60 down to $45, wait what? Yes $45, but if you check Direct 2 Drive you will see that this weekend only they are offering 20% off all of their games and the discount even works on games on sale. Hence the $36 price tag. Just use the coupon code, marchmadness upon checkout to get the discount.

But maybe you don’t want to use Direct2Drive and like the convenience of Steam, no problem. After purchase you will be given a download link and a product key. You can take your product key without downloading anything from Direct2Drive and activate that key with Steam. Once activated you can actually download the game purchased from Direct2Drive through Steam. If you don’t like Steam and much prefer Direct2Drive you can download the game directly from them instead. But as soon as you go to install Black Ops, it will install into Steam anyways.

If your interested in Call of Duty: Black Ops I highly suggest picking it up this weekend. It will most likely never get this low again till the end of the year. For anyone who does have it already. You can find me on the battlefield under the name o4k3R and you may want to take note when I stab you in the back. Happy Fragging.

9 Essential Apps to Keep in Sync

by Dave Loft

Living part of my digital life on a desktop and the other on a smartphone has presented itself with a few difficulties. The question is how to keep what you do in sync between your devices? Sure you can plug it in with a cable and sync your files but who wants to use a cable, especially in 2011. Theres also limitations in what can be done with software like iTunes or even just transferring files in file explorer. Because it’s really more than just files that need syncing. It’s also places, ideas, thoughts, notes and experiences that needs a solution that bridges the gap. In the following article you will read about the 9 apps I use everyday to keep in sync.

The first app I will showcase is Chrome to Phone, it’s a Google app that can be installed on any Android device with 2.2 or higher. It requires a extension in browser to function. If your on your desktop or laptop reading an article and you want to finish reading but you have to leave, just click Chrome to Phone and the site will automatically load on your phone. This app also works with YouTube videos and Google Maps. If you prefer looking up directions before you leave this app is very useful. Hit up Google Maps to chart your route then push it to your phone, saving you from having to map it on the smaller screen.

There is only one thing Chrome to Phone doesn’t do and that’s push links from the phone to your computer. So that’s why Paddy Foran created android2cloud. When browsing on my phone I often come across videos I want to watch, it allows me to push it to my desktop or media center PC so I can watch it on the bigger screen. It’s really the ease of use and how natural it works that it becomes so natural to use.

When I first got my Android phone I really wanted a way to sync my desktop bookmarks to my phone. I downloaded an app to do it but shortly after I realized what a terrible idea it really was. Many of the bookmarks I have saved were just not useful at all on my mobile phone. After some searching I finally found what I really wanted, which was to store the articles I came across. I would use this service to bookmark links that I wanted to read but did not have time too. Chrome to Phone was great for the right now experience but this app was perfect for saving it for later.

The app I speak of is aptly called Read it Later. When I’m on my phone and I come across an article I want to read later, I use Android’s share function and hit Read it Later. The app on the phone actually downloads the text of the article so even if I’m on the subway, it’s still accessible. It also adds the article to my Read it Later online profile. So from the comfort of my desk, I can actually finish the article. Once read I can check it off my unread list and it gets moved to a list of read articles. I also have a plugin in Chrome called ChromeItLater which allows me to store articles for later right from desktop. This app has literally transformed the way I read.

For anyone interested in moving files between the phone and the computer I have two suggestions for you. The first is Dropbox, which allows you to store 2GB’s of data in the cloud for free. You can download the app to your desktop OS to automatically keep a folder in sync with their servers. From any computer you just need to go to dropbox.com where you can download or upload any file you wish. I have dropbox installed at home and at school keeping my class files in sync and with me wherever I go. When I’m on my phone its very easy to upload files to dropbox using Androids share function. To download just load the app and select the file you want, it’s easy to use and has completely replaced my USB drive.

If your looking for a more direct way to transfer a file to and from your Android phone I highly recommend giving Samba Filesharing by FunkyFresh a try. This app requires a rooted phone but is such a good app that it’s worth rooting just for this. The app is dead simple to use, you just need to set a username and password and then your good to go. Once running it will list the address you need t to type on your computer to access the drive. But from a Windows 7 desktop I only had to select network from the file explorer and within a few seconds of scanning the network it will show Android on the list. Once connected you will have full read andwrite access to your SD card to do as you wish.

The next piece of software is 1Password by Agile Web Solutions. This app allows me to have one place for storing your account logins, banking, product keys or anything else you want to keep private. The desktop application is required to create entries and is unfortunately quite costly. But I have tired half a dozen applications that do what this app does and none of them work as well as 1Password. The key to it’s success is utilizing Dropbox to keep the phone and desktop in sync. This app has allowed me to use wildly long and difficult passwords for all my logins I use throughout the day. With this app I just need to remember 1 password to retrieve them, hence the name.

The next app is for the worker on the go. The business man who lives and breathes office software. Word, Excel and PowerPoint editing is not very well represented on Android. So far Google has only made the web based version of Google docs available for editing on the phone. So it’s come to the third party developers to offer an alternative and I have found my favorite in Documents to Go by DataViz. There are three ways to get your documents on your phone and working with Documents to Go. With the first requiring a cable I’m just going to ignore that one and talk about the other two. The second option requires another app, as I mentioned before I suggest Samba Filesharing or Dropbox. The third option is the one I use, Google Docs.

I have completely got rid of Office on my desktop and just use Google Docs for everything now. It’s easy to setup Documents to Go with Google Docs and once done the option for it is accessible right on the home page. This is not an app I use everyday but it’s an app that’s there when needed and it’s a life saver. For the everyday simple note taking a streamlined quicker to get in and out app is recommended. I have tried many note taking applications on my phone and the more I try the more I appreciate Evernote. It’s well polished, quick, efficient and everything I write is available from my account online or my desktop.

Evernote makes an extension for Chrome that I use if I want to take notes about any article I’m reading. When using the app on the phone you can also clip files, pictures of voice recordings to the note as well. The desktop app makes using the service a better experience, especially if you don’t always have a net connection.

The only downside to Evernote is its list making ability. A good way to make to-do lists, grocery lists or any other list your heart desires requires another app. I use CloudList for all my list needs and what I love about it is the syncing and sharing feature. I have a grocery list I share with my wife. We can both add to the list and whoever goes and get’s the groceries can check off the list.

All of these apps will allow you to have a cohesive experience between a phone, tablet, netbook, laptop and desktop. Which as a result frees you up to just use your device and enjoy it any way you will.

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