The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: iPod

Deer Hunter 2014

It’s November now: both Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts are now out for PC. Am I turning my powerful PC’s GPU to that task? Nope. Instead, I’m having a riot lighting up animals in Glu Games’ Deer Hunter 2014, the latest iteration in the Deer Hunter series for iOS. Compared to its predecessor, it’s still the same in concept and gameplay, setting the player as a hunter in diverse regions with the objective of hunting down animals for money and experience. However, Deer Hunter 2014 differentiates itself from its predecessor in the weapons shop, where region-appropriate weapons can be purchased with the money earnable in-game. The premium currency, gold, is still the only way to purchase the superior rifles and shotguns: these premium weapons have perks that make the game almost too easy, although players with a degree of skill will find that the standard weapons are sufficient for the job. We compare this with Deer Hunter Reloaded, where the 30-06 Elkmaster was the top-of-the-line weapon that could be bought with the standard money, and rifles afterwards could only be purchased in gold. Weapons can now be upgraded to extend their functionality, as well. Some upgrades are necessary, while others are merely bonuses that simplify missions. Deer Hunter 2014 also introduces the concepts of regions, different areas of the game that are unlocked by completing Trophy Hunts. This adds a degree of diversity to the game, and makes hunting more exciting: the different locales are beautiful and detailed, as the screenshots below demonstrate.

  • The controls in Deer Hunter 2014 are similar to those of Deer Hunter Reloaded. I remember playing the contract missions in region one long enough to afford the region three standard rifle, and subsequently blew my way through region two. Then in region three, I bought the rifle for region five and fully upgraded its stability and zoom, allowing me to blow through region four. The standard rifles are bolt-action and have a very slow firing rate: in the standard missions, missing a shot is tantamount to failing the mission.

  • After the introductory missions, the game will ask the player to buy a shotgun for some close-quarter stampede-style hunts. The shotguns aren’t that expensive (the region five one costs some 27000 dollars) and can easily be afforded even at the lower levels. When I first bought my second shotgun, there were only four regions, and that gun was only 14000 dollars, making it ridiculously easy to purchase. The stampede-style missions are very entertaining to play, while the objective missions are far more straightforward.

  • Region three (British Columbia) is the most beautiful of all the regions, featuring verdant forests and coastal tidal pools. One guide recommends saving for the next region’s weapons while players are in their current region, but I recommend saving enough to purchase the most powerful weapons and upgrading it. This does mean playing through more of the contract hunts, and as energy depletes very quickly, it will take a while to accumulate enough money for the later weapons.

  • The region four shotgun is inspired by the UTAS UTS-15, a police shotgun with a 13-round capacity and weighs 3 kilograms when unloaded. For people who don’t want to buy Battlefield 4 to try this gun out in a game, Deer Hunter 2014 offers a chance to use it. Check out the graphics here: it still impresses me that a mobile platform such as the iPad now has enough power to output graphics rivaling the Play Station 2.

  • Some hunts recommend an assault rifle, but they can be completed using a bolt-action rifle if the player is sufficiently skilled. The standard rifles have a very long reload time, so it is imperative to ensure that every shot hits its target. By the time I finished region three, I had the region five rifle with fully upgraded stability and optics, allowing me to effortlessly complete the Trophy Hunts. These Trophy hunts are rare animal hunts that require weapons to satisfy some minimum requirements, and the upgrade costs aren’t cheap. As the upgraded parts improve, they are imported, meaning it will take time to actually use them. The import times for the region five rifle is roughly 24 minutes.

  • Get a load of that scope. It is incredibly satisfying to line up a good shot in the South Africa region: in this map, the distances to the animals are great, and the bullets will take a few moments to get there in slow-motion, making a successful shot very rewarding to watch. There’s an awareness indicator in the top-right of the screen: when it fills up, the animals begin to disperse, and sometimes, I am able to lead my shots and complete what originally was turning out to be a failing mission.

  • A while back, I finally unlocked region five and was grinding contract missions to afford the best assault rifle. The other assault rifles are inferior, and since I was going to buy an assault rifle, I might as well go for the very best. Assault rifles certainly makes the contract hunts easier with their semi-automatic fire and magazines, but a sufficiently skilled player could probably get by without an assault rifle for the contract hunts.

  • The Alaska update brings to the game a fifth region and new guns. The Alaskan sunrise looks beautiful, and brings to the game a sense of immersion that one is actually hunting. The graphics in Deer Hunter 2014 far surpasses anything seen in Deer Hunter Reloaded.

  • Players will have the opportunity to take on wolves, deer, mountain goats, caribou, lions, rhinos, hippopotamuses  and even elephants during their travels. Once the player completes the Trophy hunts and standard missions, those are locked, but the contract hunts can be played indefinitely.

  • Weather and day-night cycles add an additional amount of depth into the game. While not shown here, only rifles can equip an infrared module: these are necessary to hit the correct spot in the target on some missions, and heart shots are difficult to score. Infrared batteries drain very quickly, so it is advisable to upgrade those alongside the stability and zoom attributes. These are the biggest elements for Trophy hunts: assuming a player has a powerful rifle above the regional requirements, upgrading only the stability and optics will allow a player to progress quite quickly.

Deer Hunter 2014 retains the energy concept from Deer Hunter Reloaded; while still obstructive and limiting, the amount of energy each mission requires is easier to understand and the game also gives the player a countdown on when their next unit will replenish. The only weakness in Deer Hunter 2014 compared to its predecessor is the fact that the game does not support iCloud synchronisation, meaning that removing the game will cause all progress to be lost, and that progress cannot be imported from one device to another. All in all, Deer Hunter 2014 represents a substantial improvement over Deer Hunter Reloaded, minus the lack of iCloud support, and is an ideal game to play in short intervals. As a free-to-play game, Glu Games is quick to recommend spending some hard currency on upgrades and energy replenishment, but players can nonetheless enjoy the game fully without ever spending a penny. Just like Deer Hunter Reloaded, Deer Hunter 2014 is an excellent game to play periodically, such as while waiting for a train to show up.

Amairo*Clock

Danny Choo’s Culture Japan releases yet another fun clock, Amairo*Clock, in the same lineage as its predecessor, DRACLOCK. In terms of functionality, it is identical to Draclock, being able to read back the current time (in Japanese) when the screen is tapped, notifying one about their birthday and possessing a built-in alarm. While the core mechanics are identical, Amairo*Clock features new characters from the eroge Amairo Islenauts and features voice acting from said game’s original voice actors.

  • Amairo*Clock was released on May 2, 2013 and requires iOS 6.0 or later, as well as 501 MB of storage space.

  • This app is completely incapable of operating in landscape mode on the iPad. However, give the image a good look and realise that landscape mode’s absence is probably not sufficient a detractor from this app.

  • I was enrolled in a introductory Japanese course a year-and-a-half ago. As it stands now, I retained some of the material, but for all intents and purposes, I am illiterate in Japanese.

  • The ability to use custom backgrounds is über pro: here, I have a background from Interface Lift, a site that hosts superior quality wallpapers. I use their wallpapers to liven up my desktop at the lab because said office space has no windows (we use Mac exclusively and are located at the core of the building).

  • As previously, there is a battery indicator and options menu: when I wrote the reflection for DRACLOCK, I had zero iOS experience. Presently, I have programmed a few iOS apps, although the bulk of my work remains in development for Mac OS X (and more specifically, physiological simulation software).

  • What I look forward to most would be a Mirai Suenaga version of these clock apps, featuring Mirai Suenaga and her sisters in a similar fashion. As I come across these apps by pure chance, I am not certain whether or not such an app would be reality.

Amairo*Clock is rated 17+ in the iTunes App Store for “Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes” and “Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity”, given that the characters can be given swim attire in the options menu. The most notable feature, though, is the capacity to choose custom images for the background. Like its predecessor, Amairo*Clock is a simple app that carries out its functions very well, and this time around, is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad.

Deer Hunter Reloaded

Deer Hunter Reloaded is one of the many hunting games released by Glu Games. Exactly as the title suggests, the game is about hunting various game animals in a realistic environment. The game offers two main modes of gameplay: missions that give experience and money for completing certain objectives, and a stampede mode that allows one to compete head-to-head with friends by taking on waves of stampeding animals. The game itself plays extremely well and has several unique features that diversify gameplay, such as the presence of an X-ray mode, allowing players to target specific organs in the animals, and the occasional night mission, which requires a pair of night-vision goggles to complete. Deer Hunter Reloaded possesses scenic environments and realistic animal behaviours. The game also possesses music and ambient noise that is befitting of the hunting community. The scope of the hunt varies substantially, allowing players to shoot anything from deer to bears. The gameplay itself is very straightforward: a player swipes across the screen to aim and uses on-screen buttons to fire, scope or use the X-Ray/Night vision.

  • One of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is the rare hunt; upon succeeding, one gets their weapons plated in gold and also obtain 20 gold, the unit of currency required to purchase the in-game items that improve gameplay.

  • The environments include snow-covered forests, deserts, Rocky Mountain creeks and so forth, immersing players into the hunting experience. I found that attempting to beat the levels with the weaker rifles result in the animals getting away or attacking, but I see no need to buy power-ups for the missions owing to these minor inconveniences.

  • With a bit of persistence, I acquired the .50 SpecOp rifle, a rifle based off the Barrett XM500. The best weapon in the game, the .50 SpecOp costs 5000 Gold (roughly 96 dollars Canadian), but has an incredible statistics: dealing 263 damage points, it has an eight-round magazine and 128x zoom. The next best weapon in the game is the MIL-3000 Assault, which also costs 5000 Gold. The more affordable rifles include the 7.62 Mod Sniper (1900 Gold) and the .338 Rip Magnum (1600 Gold), but are considerably weaker than the .50 Spec op.

  • Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay a penny for the .50 SpecOp rifle. In practise, the .50 SpecOp is incredibly overpowered and will cut down almost anything in a single shot regardless of where it hits. The zoom allows players to precisely pick out target organs in missions, and in stampede mode, allows for domination. I pair the SpecOp with the standard Tommy Gun for most missions.

  • The 30-06 Elk Master is the most effective hunting rifle players can buy in-game using standard money. One of the perks about Deer Hunter Reloaded is the ability to play offline. In Stampede mode, the object is to shoot as many things as possible as quickly as possible to advance to the next wave.

  • Unlimited X-Ray and Night Vision costs 600 gold each: to purchase both with the .50 Spec op costs 6200 gold altogether, but also future-proofs a player permanently. Once players pass level 17 and unlock the 30-06 Elk Master, the animals require increasingly powerful weapons to take down, as a single shot to the correct area will be meaningless.

  • The MIL-3000 assault rifle is an automatic weapon capable of delivering a large amount of firepower to a target in a short time. In practise, it is not particularly effective for campaign missions (where I never use automatic weapons), given that its spread may hit a non-target region. In Stampede mode, automatic weapons are fun, but will not yield the same bonuses as single shot weapons.

  • Upon acquiring the .50 Spec-op, it is strongly recommended that one saves their progress to iCloud so they do not lose the rifle. Saving to iCloud allows a player to also load their game and purchases to other devices: as long as one is careful not to overwrite the game with their preferred weapons, this mechanism proves to be effective in making the weapons persistent.

However, Deer Hunter Reloaded also has its share of limitations. For most players, the items that make gameplay more worthwhile can only be purchased by gold, which is infrequently earned and can only be practically obtained using real-world currency. Moreover, the energy limit prevents the amount of time one can spend playing the game. At the end of the day, Deer Hunter Reloaded is probably suited for casual gamers looking for a reasonably made free shooter with good graphics. The costly nature of the better guns is probably a detractor, as are the energy limitations, but for those who are content to fire a few shots while waiting for a train to show up, Deer Hunter Reloaded is an excellent game.

Sky Gamblers- Air Supremacy

Sky Gambler is a combat flight simulator designed by Bandai Namco, released somewhere back in March 2012. Originally costing 4.99 in the app store, I chose to pick it up during a sale out of curiosity. The app drew my eye with its incredible graphics- while the gameplay and concept do not introduce anything new to the table (Metal Storm Wingman is one of the first combat flight simulators designed for iOS, and is free of charge), the game was advertised as having a diverse range of missions, and unlike Metal Storm Wingman, permits for offline gaming. The idea of offline combat, coupled with a half-off sale, were sufficient for me to decide on the purchase.

  • Compared to Metal Storm Wingman, Sky Gamblers has superior graphics in every respect. At five dollars, the game is priced reasonably, but at only two dollars and fifty cents, that is a bargain I couldn’t pass up. I purchased the game on the Thanksgiving long weekend and have since gotten through most of the campaign.

  • The aircraft in Sky Gamblers can be acquired through unlocks (in addition to in-app purchases), making it easier to obtain high level aircraft without spending a cent after buying the game. The F-117, A-10 Thunderbolt and even the SR-71 make an appearance in the game, along with reverse-winged experimental aircraft.

  • The ability to change perspectives and fly an aircraft from the cockpit is an incredible touch: players looking for the Ace Combat experience can switch it so that only the HUD is shown. Remember the F/A-18 mission from Battlefield 3? This time around, you’re piloting the aircraft.

  • The campaign is entirely skill-based and players have access to a pre-defined aircraft during each mission. This makes it unnecessary to purchase any additional planes just to complete a mission.

Sky Gambler puts the player in the role of a fighter pilot, allowing them to fly various missions to complete objectives. The aircraft can be controlled in one of four means: two of these are intended for novice players, and the other two are designed for hard core players who desire more control of their aircraft. Both novice and advanced controls can be accelerometer based or touch-based. Players can also accelerate/decelerate their aircraft through on-screen touch controls. Finally, combat implements, namely the auto cannon, missiles and countermeasures, are deployed via on screen controls as well. Players are offered several perspectives to fly their aircraft from, including third and first person. The gameplay options are varied and diverse. Aside from a campaign, players may also wish to complete dogfight missions, or go head to head with other players in online matches. In the event that one is offline, they may also go head to head against computer players. Players are rewarded new aircraft and experience points for completing missions; with sufficient experience points, players attain new ranks and unlock additional aircraft in the process.

  • Things can get very messy with the sheer number of targets on the screen. Fortunately, the multi-target missiles and radar make it easier to keep track of what’s where. The radar is also useful for tracking missiles once the player’s aircraft is painted: paired with the use of countermeasure flares and special manoeuvres, it is considerably easier to dodge missiles in Sky Gamblers compared to Metal Storm Wingman.

  • While the weapons selection is limited, it allows players to get comfortable with a small set of weapons. Moreover, this makes online matches more balanced: players with superior weapons in Metal Storm Wingman could win matches on the virtue of superior firepower alone, but this is not the case in Sky Gamblers.

  • Skilled pilots can perform moves between skyscrapers if they feel inclined. It really says something about technology when portable devices like the iPod Touch and iPad can run games that rival a GameCube and PS2 in complexity and detail.

  • Having tried both Metal Storm Wingman and Sky Gamblers, I conclude that Sky Gamblers is ultimately more fun and is more oriented on actual skill rather than grinding. That said, there is a learning curve associated with piloting an aircraft in Sky Gamblers. Once this is overcome, there is little doubt that Sky Gamblers is a brilliant implementation of an arcade combat flight simulator for iOS.

  • There’s weather in Sky Gamblers that changes dynamically. I remember once starting a game and then it started raining in the middle of the match. Seeing scripted weather changes is one thing, but seeing things change dynamically is quite impressive.

The graphics are the probably strongest elements of Sky Gamblers. Locales and aircraft are beautifully textured, and the scenery in general is amazing. Players may notice that there is weather in the game: on occasion, clouds roll in and it will start raining, and other times, haze appears, covering the battlefield and forcing the player to slow down. Particle effects like explosions and fire are visually stunning, and destroyed aircraft sometimes will break up in the atmosphere. The gameplay element is particularly important: as a novice to combat flight simulators, having the option to control my aircraft through simple mechanisms is particularly welcoming, allowing me to familiarise myself to the game without a particularly steep learning curve. Finally, planes are unlocked rather than bought with real-world currency, giving incentive for me to join the occasional match for experience points (that said, there is an option to purchase the aircraft, although this is unobtrusive and given as an alternative to unlocks). Coupled together, these factors give Sky Gamblers immense replay value.

iOS 6- Initial Impressions

iOS 6 is Apple’s latest operating system for its mobile platform was released yesterday, bringing over 200 new features to the table for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. While most of the features are unable to be used by older devices, there are nonetheless enough new functions to make iOS 6 worthwhile. Below, I consider some of the updates that I’ve acquired for my systems. I will totally ignore Siri because the iPad 2 gets shafted, and I doubt I’d ever actually use it even if I had the capability.

General Changes

Can you spot the difference between the screens for iOS 5 and iOS 6? Aside from the new clock and maps icon, it’s pretty hard. iOS 6 brings a few new changes to the table, some of which are useful, others are awesome, and yet others are outright disappointing. From my own perspectives, Facebook integration, improved sharing mechanisms and Cloud-sync in Safari were the most useful. While nothing revolutionary like the multi-touch gestures for iPad, they nonetheless find application when I’m browsing a page on the iPod touch, head to the next class, come home and then pull open the iPad and the page resumes where I was previously. Subtle things like that give a sense of connectedness that Apple’s Developer’s pride the iCloud for.

Maps

The new maps is probably an update that I could have lived without: the new maps are nowhere near as detailed as Google Maps (which allowed me to view the outlines of individual buildings on campus) and gave transit times for the next bus. Moreover, the regular maps mode looks simplified and cuts back on details. Without StreetView, the application feels constrained in what it is capable of performing. The only function I found to be novel is the 3D flyover: avaliable for some cities in North America, they depict the buildings in 3D. This function is awesome for showing off, even more so since that several cities I find relevant are depicted. I’ll stick to my GPS for driving for the time being, but if Apple continues to tune and improve the maps to stay competitive, this shift away from Google might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Clock for iPad

This should have been included with the original iPad: a world clock, alarm, stopwatch and timer with the classic Apple UI. It is clean, effective and gets the job done while looking more unified than most stopwatches and timers I’ve seen out there. That said, this clock has nothing on Living Earth HD, an app I discussed a while back.

Music for iPhone and iPod Touch

While most people find the music app for the iPad offensive and hard to use, the  revitalised music app for the iPhone/iPod Touch is actually awesome. It has been given a slick recolouring, but otherwise, acts exactly the same as it used to. The update for iOS 6 does not re-implement lyrics for the iPad: from a personal standpoint, this is omission was the only offensive thing I found about the iPad’s music app, not the changed UI.

Changes to Settings

The settings menu has been modified to accommodate several new functions, as well as bringing BlueTooth to the top of the menu like WiFi. I listen to music regularly on external speakers, so this change is most welcome. The addition of the “Do not disturb” option is also a useful one: there are times where notifications pop out of nowhere and disrupt me. This is something I’ll probably end up using quite a bit. Finally, a sharp-eyed view will have noted that the top status bar (with the clock and battery) will have a different colour than it used to. This is because it has been made to take on a similar colour as the currently running app. While it won’t affect any system operations, it is a nice touch.