Thursday, June 19, 2014

Game Review: Level 22 Restores My Faith In Stealth Classics


I’m just going to say this first, I am not a fan of the “Zelda” style of gaming. Those long, drawn out follow the map and complete the level styles of games just drove me to boredom too quickly. Even as a kid, Zelda barely held my interest. That makes reviewing Level 22: Gary’s Misadventures a bit of a chore for me as that is exactly what this game reminded me of.


As game play began, the controls were simple enough to figure out. You simply tap the screen where you want to go and  your little man made a run for it. Now, that seems simple enough, but then something strange happened and I realized why they bill this out as “the first stealth game set in the merciless and frenetic world of work!”

After a few short moments, it became apparent that there was a large amount of trickery involved in getting pas certain levels and obstacles. The little sleeping security guards, the cameras and a plethora of other traps were waiting for me inside the game. Instantaneously, this became a bit more fun than my old Zelda comparisons.


As I began to find my way around, my little Gary man told me that there might be some stuff to find, or how to sneak past certain areas. After about 10 minutes, Level 22 sucked me in for the long haul.


Of course, all good things have to come to an end, and Level 22 eventually killed the battery on my Lumia 925. While I was a skeptic at first, Noego completely won me over in the end and made me a very happy camper. With a $1.99 price tag, Level 22 isn’t an easy – just download me title – but if you are a fan of stealth games, it is, in my opinion, the best game for you on Windows Phone today.

So, take it for what it’s worth, and give Level 22 a try. You might enjoy steal games a bit more than you thought you would. I know I did.

Level 22

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Meet The Amazon Fire Phone

Today was the day that Amazon unveiled the newest member of their digital devices family, the Fire Phone. While the device itself is quite neat, there are very few features that the Fire possess that aren’t already main stream in most mobile devices. The 4.7” display is clear and bright. The 2GB of RAM should power a few Apps on top of their customized Kindle-esque OS. The 32 and 64GB of storage should be enough for most people and the 13MP camera should be capable of capturing those family memories nicely. Those aren’t the interesting parts to the Fire in my mind though, and I hope most Windows Phone users agree with me.

The first feature that peaked my interest was the Home Carousel. It offers one glance access to your data. Emails, appointments, photos and websites right on your home screen. Sound a bit familiar? Sure, the look is a bit different, but it’s awfully similar to the Hub system that Microsoft is slowly moving away from in Windows Phone. The first version of Windows Phone 7 was designed to give uses a one peek access to all their data – a phone to save you from your phone. Remember? Sounds like Home Carousel is a step back in that direction for Amazon.

Their X-Ray service is awfully close to the original Bing button in Windows Phone. I know that Microsoft has moved on to Cortana now, but a long press of the X-Ray button on the device will allow you to listen to music and get lyrics, look up products online and get prices, and even view IMDB information. Again, a striking similarity to where another OS just created a void.

Whispersync is the craziest feature yet, because when you combine this with the new Second Screen feature, you have someone beating Microsoft to the 3 screen concept. Yes, I said it. If this works as well as the demonstration did, Amazon just beat Microsoft at their own game. Your Fire TV is hooked to you big screen. Your Fire HDX is your new portable computer. Now the Fire Phone is the portable handheld that completes the circle. When you have all three working in harmony, you have the dream that was the Three Screen concept that Windows Phone originally was.

Overall, I think this device will be somewhat of a flop, though the concept is the best I’ve seen on the market today. Linking your shopping and personal lifestyles over 3 separate items is brilliant. Now, if they had skipped out on the exclusive AT&T deal, lowered the price to $299 and $399 for the 32GB and 64GB respectively, I think Amazon would have hit a home run. Perhaps they will learn a thing or two from this, though they obviously didn’t learn from the Facebook Phone debacle, and come back with something stronger and more palatable for the next generation device. Until then, We are just left with a fine example of a concept that Microsoft should have completed years ago and should own right now, but due to mismanagement and poor decision making, is still struggling to make work.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Back To Android: A Month Later – What Android Got Right


My usage of the Android operating system is entering the end of the first month. I now have spend adequate time with the OS to really compare where Windows Phone 8.1 is at and what it is missing to truly compete with the most popular OS in the world. There are areas where Windows Phone completely destroys Android, but there are far too many basics where Android simply has better functionality than WP does, and to be very honest, a few of these would push devices like the Lumia 1020 to the front of most people’s shopping lists.

1) The HTC One features direct DLNA playback from the stock music and gallery Apps.


The HTC One has streaming DLNA playback available right from the stock music and video players. The Lumia series requires PlayTo to use this feature – and PlayTo only works when running in the primary App position. This means if you leave PlayTo running in the background and switch over to check your email, PlayTo will stop playing at the next song. Android allows the App to continue to play regardless of what is going on in the foreground.

2) The HTC One allows for connecting external USB Flash Drives.


With a $2 cable from Amazon, you can expand the storage of your HTC One in seconds. Any external drive that does not require power can be hooked right in to the MicroUSB charging port and be used for storage. This means you are no longer limited to the on device storage for photos and videos. This feature would make a device like the Lumia 1020 the ultimate device on the planet. Can you imagine having unlimited storage in your pocket to go with the Lumia 1020 and the camera grip? It would be pure magic.

3) The HTC One offers true VPN setups and usage.


While the average smartphone user probably doesn’t even know what a VPN is, corporate and educational users sure do. With full VPN support baked into the system, Android has a leg up on the suffering Windows Phone version. Will Microsoft get there, of course, but will they get there fast enough to make an Android user skip the Galaxy S5 or the HTC One M8 before next year? Probably not.

4) Microsoft gives better Apps to Android than Windows Phone users.


This one really bugs me to no end. I can honestly say that the OneDrive, Outlook and OneNote Apps in Android gave me a better overall experience than their counterparts in Windows Phone. I know that the Outlook App is technically baked in to the system, but seriously, the Android App is quite amazing. All three of the services simply shine on the HTC One. It actually made “switching over” easier than the HTC program that does all the work for you.

I have to admit at the moment to being torn between my beloved Nokia Lumia 925 and the HTC One. HTC has done a superb job of crafting the One into the best feeling hardware I have ever owned. The metal chassis reminds me of my two favorite Windows Phones so far, the Titan and the Radar. I honestly have to admit, that if HTC releases that rumored W8, which is the HTC One M8 body loaded up with Windows Phone 8.1, I might be tempted to let my 925 go. Of course, if they would just build in support to write to a USB flash drive to my 925, I probably wouldn’t have to look at another device until the 2015 Windows Phones are released.