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Profile for Jonathan K. Vargason > Reviews


Jonathan K. Varg...'s Profile

Customer Reviews: 4
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Jonathan K. Vargason RSS Feed (New York State)

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NBA Baller Beats - Xbox 360
NBA Baller Beats - Xbox 360
Offered by American Closeouts
Price: $12.99
79 used & new from $0.87

50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baller Beats Makes a Fresh Take on the Rhythm Genre, October 2, 2012
NBA Baller Beats is an interesting game. It was designed of course to make you a better "baller," but in the process you'll find yourself having a lot of fun. As a veteran of past music genre games from Rez to Rock Band to Dance Central, I've grown extremely tired of the genre despite the number of quality offerings available. I decided to pick this up, simply for my love of sports and to see if the Kinect could properly track a basketball (an expensive risk I'll admit).

I can safely say that this is the best motion sports game I've played and I'm not even a hardcore basketball fan (although I do believe you have to at least LIKE the sport to enjoy this game). This is a game that rewards real skill and also builds skills if you are a novice (like I am). I have found that in the week or so of having the game that my handling skills have greatly improved and I'm able to dribble between my legs, do crossovers, and dribble without needing to look at the ball. Now I have played basketball years ago back in my middle school days but I haven't really played outside of a game or two on a playground a year since.

For those that do not know exactly what this game, I'll try to explain it the best I can. Basically you are given a real basketball (it comes with the game but you can use any round bouncing ball if you wish) and you are challenged to dribble to a string of notes that come down ala Guitar Hero. You dribble to the rhythm of music and perform various moves to increase your multiplayer (if you miss it, it decreases it). If your dribble is perfectly timed you get 100 points, a bit off 50, way off 25, and if a dribble is detected without a note you lose 25 points. Of course at the end of the song you are given a star rating that can be used in the "Locker Room."

Moving on to the Locker Room, basically this is an area that allows you to unlock the full songs (by default they are shortened versions), various equipment (themed to your favorite NBA team), and background props (they seem to have one of those wavy inflatable arm guys lol). Anyway outside of player posters, NBA team basketballs, and full tracks there isn't a lot of reward for playing. There is no "career mode" like you would find in Guitar Hero or Rock Band. So depth can be an issue. Yes you can play at a higher difficulty (which does significantly raise or lower the challenge) but that is about it. Adding on top of that, there are only 30 songs on the disk with the promise of more for DLC (that has not been released yet). So essentially you are paying $2 a song if you don't count the basketball into the price which is a bit high for not having the ability to pick your music.

Finally I'll get to the last two points I have about the game. The first being the music, there are thirty tracks but what was surprising to me, is that there is a lot of variety in the music. You have representatives from the Hip-Hop genre, pop genre, alternative rock genre, and even some older music such as Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust." I don't think too many people will complain much about the soundtrack, I actually rather enjoyed it and wasn't expecting to really have much of an opinion one way or another.

My last point is that the game will help you become a better basketball handler. The game has an interactive tutorial that starts at the beginning and also has a "Move School" which teaches you how to do all of the "special moves." You can practice these moves as much as you like until you perfect it. While doing these moves and dribbling to the rhythm you will find that the Kinect does a very impressive job tracking the basketball while rarely missing anything. It is very impressive that it tracks the basketball and not just your body. It even knows when you dribble behind your back and it is very difficult to cheat the game. I am extremely impressed with the Kinect tracking.

I have a video review on Youtube if anyone is interested, my channel is DarthVargi16.

As I wrap up my review I'd like to summarize some common questions that will probably be asked (but feel free to comment or ask questions still):

1. How can I play the game on a carpet - Believe it or not I play the game on a carpet in my living room and although it doesn't bounce as well as it would on concrete, it is very playable. I do feel that I have to give it a little bit more umph when I dribble but it's nothing extreme at all. I think the only carpet that it wouldn't work on is shag carpet.

2. Isn't this game dangerous to play inside - Well the short answer is yes but it's not that bad. I do recommend a bit of an open area, I'd say I play in a good open 8x8 square without a lot of stuff. However I've had the basketball get away a time or two and nothing has broken or been damaged. You have to be really poor skill wise to have a basketball get completely away from you and hit your TV or something. I've had the basketball get away from me with doing a behind the back crossover and it hit the window. Nothing was damaged, it also has hit a few speakers and a glass cabinet door. Again no issues, but I do recommend being cautious of your surroundings.

3. I don't like the ball that it comes with - According to the directions you can use a junior sized or a pro sized basketball of any type as long as it is not completely black. I haven't tried a black basketball but I've tried some other balls, even a volleyball and they all are tracked. There is nothing special about the basketball that it comes with (infact it's kind of average TBH but it gets the job done).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 9, 2012 9:36 AM PST

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor - Xbox 360
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor - Xbox 360
Offered by Deal Source Network
Price: $9.49
56 used & new from $3.00

45 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than the critics rated, June 24, 2012
I have played through about half of the game and will update if anything changes, however I can say that Steel Battalion Heavy Armor did not deserve the panning the critics gave it.

I consider myself a core gamer, however I have no hate for Kinect, Move, Wii, or Wii-U Tablet. I believe they can compliment core games. Steel Battalion is a core game for Kinect. It is definitely not a casual friendly game. The truth is, it's not a friendly game at all. It has a good amount of challenge (although it is not as challenging as its predecessors on the Xbox). You will feel the adrenaline rush of being in a cramped tank/mech and it is easy to get lost in the moment and begin to start "flailing." This is where you will find frustration. YOU CANNOT FLAIL.

Just to paraphrase a Kotaku review of the game, they claimed that it took 10 hours to get through the first two missions in the game. Now either I am in the wrong profession or I was just able to have Kinect properly calibrated and play "within control" because I was able to complete those missions within one hour. This is a difficult game and at times it is extremely frustrating. I ended up having to completely replay a mission because of some cheap AI sneaking behind your mech in a scripted event and launching an RPG. This had shattered my viewport and my periscope so I was more or less "screwed."

That's the thing with this game, if you make mistakes, you will likely have to replay with the knowledge you had before. It's funny that the critics loved Dark Souls and Demon Souls as I understand that From Software made those games as well. However they completely hate the same idea here because it is a Kinect game. I do think this is absurdly cheap myself so I have knocked one overall star from it on this premise (I like challenge, not cheap attacks).

However now let's get to the good stuff about this game specifically. First off, as I mentioned it is very intense. In fact it is so intense, that you will see your tank mates get shards into them, die when a hole is blown through the side, have grenades tossed in the tank, you name it. You will feel sorry for the people that die (you can save all of them apparently from what I've read) so each time you play it is a dynamic feeling and challenge to restart the campaign trying to keep the people you are familiar with alive. This definitely ups the intensity of the overall game.

The controls are a point of contention. Let me say that even for me they do not work 100% of the time. However they work a good 95% of the time and I think I'm even getting better than that as I play. You cannot flail. You must stick your arm out to select things but you don't begin by reaching out fully. You simply pick up your arm and when it is highlighted, then you reach out. Even the ammo switching buttons (which are the only thing I can't do all of the time) are easier to hit than the critic reviews would have you believe. The periscope and the shield that covers your viewport have never been a problem for me. To use your periscope you simply raise your hand straight up like you are asking a question. To use the shield for the viewport you simply, raise your hand a bit and point near the handle until it becomes highlighted and then reach forward. From there you either pull it up or down based on what you need to do. It's not that difficult. All of the tank controls work similarly, like I said the only one that I have found any frustration on is the ammo switching buttons but I think I've finally mastered them too.

You also play with the 360 controller pad which is interesting. You use the dual joysticks to move like you would in any first person shooter, and you use the trigger buttons for your autocannon and mortar rounds. To be honest, I think the mix of the Kinect and 360 controller was ingenious and really works. You generally will sit in a chair for most of the game, but you can stand up which will open the hatch. From there you can put your left hand near your eyes and it will allow you to use binoculars, however this isn't a good idea if there is gunfire as a stray bullet will take you out. The Kinect controls really immerse you in the game and you really do feel the rush of combat.

All in all I love the game, I could do without some of the excessive language (the game is marketed towards real adults because of the extreme difficulty, so I'm not impressed by hearing the F Word a 100 times). I recommend picking it up if you are on the fence, try the demo. It is indicative of how the game is, however the missions have a lot of variety and various levels of challenge. You will feel hopeless from time to time, but that's how I imagine war is. The story makes it seem as if it is an uphill challenge and you will feel it. You will be frustrated with the game, and not the controls within an hour of playing. I guarantee it. Grab a chair, sit about 6-10 feet away (as described in the instructions) and prepare for war!!!

Update 7/1/2012

Well I finished the main campaign and am desperately trying to fully upgrade my Vertical Tank but cannot seem to do so because of two frustrating missions. Just as an FYI, you can only upgrade your tank if you get a C Rank or better on Co-Op Missions. However you can get three upgrades for an A, two upgrades for a B, and one upgrade for a C. There are a total of 21 upgrades and 7 co-op missions (although the rumor is there will be more in DLC). Problem is, they are extremely frustrating by yourself since the AI is virtually useless outside of blowing up in the first three minutes. You have to find others to play with, which can be a chore. I have played about 10 co-op missions but unfortunately none of them have been the missions I need. Nobody seems to join my games, however that's not my big problem. The issue is, there often are not any games to join period. It seems the poor reviews have scared people off.

In finishing the game, I can say that the difficulty is a mixed bag. Some missions are extremely difficult while others are complete walks in the park. I think that has to do with it trying to be realistic. I imagine some missions in real life would be harder than others. The difficulty curve is almost non-videogame like. Also the tutorial and explanation of things is awful. You can bring people back for instance by replaying the missions they died in after it is over, and you also can upgrade your three tanks (I was only upgrading one). There isn't a great tutorial on that, but maybe I missed in in the instructions.

Control wise I have had no problem sitting about 4 feet away. I also cut off sunlight in the side of the camera which was causing interference. Since that has happened, the controls have been spot on for me. To hit the ammo type buttons, I simply go to viewport and swat straight down with my left for AP and straight down with my right for HEAT. If I want to use special ammo, I simply extend my right arm and push forward in viewport mode and it swaps there. I found that in a GameFaqs Forum.

Anyway I'm not changing the review, but I can say that the game is frustrating at times as I've said earlier. However once you get the controls down it's worth playing . If anybody wants to suffer through Co-Op sometime my SN on Live is DarthVargi.

Thanks for reading.

Video of me playing. It's tough to see the TV but you can see it works...[...]
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2012 10:04 AM PDT

Kung Fu High Impact - Xbox 360
Kung Fu High Impact - Xbox 360
Offered by discountedmediaoutlet
Price: $69.99
30 used & new from $12.29

72 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Kinect Games to Date, December 4, 2011
If you have played the original Kung Fu Live on the PS3, you will have an idea of what to expect. However, you will want to greatly increase your expectations. Unlike the PS3 version, which relies on the PSEye, the Kinect version does not suffer from finicky lighting and issues separating backgrounds from the player. So if you loved the concept of the PS3 version, but hated the hassle of getting it to work properly (it was a nightmare, but it was fun WHEN it worked), you owe it to yourself to forget the 15 dollars you spent last year, and fork over the 40 for this game. Note: It is not the same exact game as Kung Fu Live, the stages are all different.

Now as to how the game performs on the Kinect. Basically if you come into this blind, the best reference I can think of is to remember NickArcade from your childhood. Within NickArcade, characters would be "digitally" inserted into the game through a "green or blue screen." This uses the same concept, however you don't need any fancy studio equipment, but just a Kinect and some basic room lighting (nothing out of the ordinary, just use the overhead light or lamp that you already have). A live image of you is digitally transposed into the game. Movement and combat are pretty much tracked 1:1 since it is using a live video of you. Only special moves (such as doing back flips, shooting lightning out of your hand, and the like) are mapped to preset moves. You can scan in items, such as the Guitar Hero guitar and swing it around as a weapon as well. Since movement is very much 1:1 they have a movement ratio that is greatly exaggerated. You can travel several feet with a simple "power punch" (basically pushing your two arms forward with a normal spacing) or with a back flip (simply leaning back with your arms up). So play space isn't a huge issue since movement is simplified, however do be careful with punching, kicking, and swinging items around!

The accuracy is tracked very well, the game does seem to think physical jumps are sometimes back flip gestures, but you're usually having so much fun you do not care. The game is also challenging in two ways outside of the occasional missed movement: the first one being that you will work up a sweat, although the missions are short, within 5-10 minutes you may be winded; secondly you will find that the computer can be quite brutal, you MUST learn to block and dodge. That being said, it is quite fun to mix up your attack strategies and try different moves to defeat enemies.

Also worthy of mentioning are the "digital comics poses." You basically from time to time are asked to fit the silhouette or outline of a character and mimic that pose. Your poses are captured photographically into memory and then used in the comic strip and are often rather humorous. Finally there are a few different game modes outside of the main story (which can be completed in 3-5 hours, although you probably won't be playing it in one playthru unless you are a ninja in real life). You can create your own scenario in "Mayhem Designer" and can also play multiplayer matches where the other players use the controllers to control your enemies (I think it would be virtually impossible to play two or more people with the Kinect sensor, somebody definitely would get punched or kicked).

The only real issue I have with the game (outside of the somewhat unforgiving difficulty at times) is the length of the game in general. Although there are other modes outside of the story mode, you aren't getting a lot of game for $40.00. It's generally about the same length as Kung Fu Live on PS3 which was offered last year at $15 and still felt a bit too high. However, since the game is an absolute blast to play and you will likely go to the mayhem designer several times just for a quick workout or battle the main quest length can only be considered so far. Ultimately the game is very entertaining, and in some ways, it may be the best Kinect game I've played. If you're like me and loved the PS3 version but could barely play it because of the unrealistic expectations of room lighting (this works perfectly under average room lighting) this is a must buy. If you have not played the PS3 version, you will likely be even more impressed since it is truly one of a kind and in a genre all by itself.

It's a shame that game media outlets will more than likely trash this game (if they even review it), since it definitely is the best Kinect game I've played this year (IMO way better than Kinect Sports Season 2 and even Dance Central 2). Although it isn't perfect, it's well worthy of being played by every Kinect owner with enough room to punch and kick around your living room (watch out for lamp shades and pets!).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2013 7:30 PM PDT

Samsung LN46C750 46-Inch 1080p 240  Hz 3D LCD HDTV
Samsung LN46C750 46-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D LCD HDTV

77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great TV and a reasonable price for 3D Entry, April 28, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Samsung C750 is the most reasonable 3DTV on the market in terms of price. Not only is the television fully 3D compliant with the new standards, it also is an excellent 2D LCD television as well.

The 3D aspects of the television are the most interesting and what separates it from most other LCD's (including Samsung's 650 model). Although there is not much in terms of content to try out, I have watched Monsters Vs. Aliens 3D, Played Avatar the videogame on the PS3, watched the Masters in 3D, and tried out the 2D to 3D Conversion on live TV, movies, and games.

Unfortunately with all 3D sources, I have experienced some "ghosting" which is a problem where you see a double image. That said, I did manage to configure my Samsung 3D Bluray Player to the correct TV size (by default it's 55 inches) plus I upgraded the firmware and that seems to have made a large improvement. I suspect the picture size spreads out the effect and will cause even more ghosting than normal. With Avatar the game, I left the 3D effect at 1, set the correct TV size and viewing distance, and chose side by side 3D (you have to set the TV to match this) and the effect was brilliant! I do still see ghosting during cut scenes, but during gameplay it looks fantastic. The Masters, was a bit of a mixed bag. It is also side by side 3D and at times it is brilliant (when the camera pans around the environment your jaw will drop) but the first time you see severe ghosting you are taken out of the moment. However, I think once Cable and Satellite receivers are more 3D ready, you should be able to configure for the screen size, depth, and viewing distance.

2D to 3D is unique and has its moments of brilliance but also has severe drawbacks. Let's put it this way, you won't confuse Monsters Vs. Aliens 3D in it's native 3D format for watching Monsters Vs. Aliens in 2D to 3D conversion. The conversion (you can change the depth) actually can be quite blurry with some material and most material isn't worth watching converted. Some movies like Star Trek are kind of fun but I wouldn't buy the television strictly for this feature.

2D content is fantastic. The color (even the black level since you can configure the backlight without having to hack the firmware), sharpness, and overall features (such as MotionPlus) are astounding for the price range. I actually have turned off MotionPlus simply because it gives non sports programming a "Spanish Soap Opera" effect. I did run into a bit of a strange issue that seems to have gone away by resetting the cable box where the picture bounced up and down using a Time Warner HD Cable box hooked via HDMI (you need HDMI to view the Masters in 3D). I really can't hold that against the TV, it was more the cable box but I've read of similar problems with some Samsung models so there does seem to be some buggy firmware with the box.

Overall if it wasn't for the ghosting issues still being present (it could be the content, but I cannot be sure, I'd like to test more 3D Televisions) and the 2D to 3D conversion being slightly underwhelming I'd give this TV a perfect score. As it is, if you are in the market for an affordable HDTV and want the 3D option, you can't go wrong. You have plenty of inputs (plus two usb slots) and the TV is a beautiful compliment to your entertainment room so I highly recommend this television (it's nearly $1,000 cheaper than the LED model of the same size).

Edit as of 5/12/2010:
I've had this TV now for a few weeks and gone through a firmware update, tested some more functions, calibrated it more, and updated the firmware on the Samsung 6900 3D Bluray Player twice.

I want to change my comments on 2D -> 3D conversion. I don't know if it's the firmware upgrade or what, but now I definitely see a difference in most scenes (I have the depth up to 10). Games like Uncharted 2 with a map like "The Village" look fantastic converted. I've also managed to get Avatar (The Game) on the PS3 to look great with side by side 3D with minimal ghosting. Since the firmware update and the 3D Optimize option for the TV, Monsters Vs. Aliens 3D also looks very good.

I did have a stupid moment where I noticed a huge lag playing something like Rock Band and finally realized there is a game mode. Since going to game mode, I have no issues playing videogames and the response time is virtually nothing now.

I absolutely love the TV, it does have some flashlighting (You don't see this unless the screen is ENTIRELY black) but 2D content looks fantastic and 3D is impressing me more and more. For a while it was even cheaper than it is now on Amazon but the price went back up. It's still worth it. I see some people bashing the TV simply because the glasses aren't included or it's not competing with the Panasonic 3D Plasma models but they obviously haven't seen it. Everybody that has reviewed this TV on Amazon owns the TV, some sites people are reviewing 3D Ready TV's without actually owning it. I've seen reviews based on a 5 minute demo and they couldn't even tell you the firmware level. Believe me this TV is awesome and once you experience a true 3D source, you will have little doubt 3D is the next wave in TV (it may be a few years until it reaches mainstream).

I'm also giving it 5 stars since the firmware update since ghosting/crosstalk has gotten a lot better (it's still not quite perfect but very impressive).

Final Edit: 10/24/2012:
If somehow you still are looking at this particular model (you find it cheap somewhere used or something) be very wary of something. I knocked two stars off my review for this, after a few years your TV will begin flickering. This is a common defect of many Samsung LCD TV's and is absolutely unacceptable. Samsung won't really own up to this problem and expect you to pay a technician to fix the TV. The problem is with the power supply to the backlights which causes the seizure inducing flickers. You can work around this by lowering the backlight until it stops flickering and then set it back, but this is annoying and poorly done. Alternatively you can take apart the back panel and simply cut the following jumper: JP852 if you have an earlier model (BN44-00341B or BN44-00343B), otherwise cut jumper JP854. This never should be necessary and I knocked two stars for this from the original review.
Comment Comments (26) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2010 6:27 AM PST

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