Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chestnut Praline Latte Review (Starbucks)

         Oh, Starbucks’ you have created some truly defining things up until this point. The Pumpkin Spice latte is a thing of pure fall bliss, signaling to the multitudes that fall is starting to take shape. The Peppermint mocha was another step in a strong direction, letting the public know that now was the right time to start thinking about the holidays and the special moments they would be having, connecting and conversing with others over handcrafted beverages. Now, here we are again, this time a Chestnut Praline further into what could well be another inspired moment.

            The Chestnut Praline latte (also available iced or blended into a Frappuccino) is something of a step into a much needed direction, however, maybe not at the right moment. The drink itself is very well made, a cinnamon like flavor that is sewn together with the sweetness of the espresso itself provides the consumer with a flavor that almost echoes that of cinnamon toast crunch cereal. The drink, in standard form is excellent, the toppings are strong and whipped cream is a good choice, however, whip is removable and the drink still stands strong on its own. Blended the drink comes off a bit too sweet, not really finding any noticeable qualities (aside from being a Starbucks beverage) that make it stand out. The most needed to touch-upon topic is the crown on top of the drink; those crumbles.

            When examining anything with the intent to review, it is important to look at the subject in other lights. If a movie is under view, we must place it outside of the theatre and see what it can say, aside from the dialogue found on screen. Atop the Praline latte we find something that extends beyond the newest member of the beverage family; the topping that has somewhat changed the holiday drinking experience for me personally. The topping, while strong on the Praline, finds that it can maintain its excellence on other drinks. To be clear, I drink eggnog as I eat coleslaw; a little bit once in a while to remind myself that I am personally not a fan. However, with the toppings from the Praline, the eggnog latte is easily one of my favorite holiday beverages. The topping can also be added to a Frappuccino to give a sweet cinnamon twist, something that nothing else at Starbucks could do before.

            In short, the drink stands strong, my greatest hope, however, is that the drink is kept on board throughout the year rather than just holidays, allowing for more experimentation with the topping and allowing for more inspired moments.


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Destiny (Xbox 360) Review

 Here we go...
  First, let me say that I was worried to relesase an offical review for Destiny. As the dream child of Activision and Bungie, this game felt too big for me to look at, almost as though I was studying ancient Greek and deciding one of the god's greatness. However, upon playing Destiny, my opinons changed. That being said, onward into the critical part...
  Destiny is a beautiful game. Destiny may be one of the best looking, easiest to navigate games in recent memory. During my many hours in Skyrim I would accidentally open the wrong menu countless times, in Destiny I never have this problem, its as though controllers were built to use Destiny. The game is smooth, polished to a T and runs fast and peasefully. A feeling of isolation and lonliness captivates the player from the moment they are brought back to life. However, the "why" you were brought back to life begins to get lost in a game full of smoke and mirrors as Destiny's story quickly looses its footing.        The idea that a huge world should be filled with a mass of lore seems reasonable, however, Bungie and Activision have decided that the world remains mostly lore-free, opting that people should visit their website rather than be handed the lore in the actual game. Personally, I can understand the thinking; "If we make sure we don't overstuff the world with lore, we can keep the more casual players while the ones interested will visit the site" problems arise when you lose interest due to lack of history, there is no feeling of relevance. Star wars handed us Jedi right off the bat, Skyrim Dragon-Born, Harry Potter gave us wizards but Destiny wakes us up from death, then sends us to fetch and shoot... And fetch... And then we fetch and shoot some more. Repeat.
  Focusing on the quests, I foudn them to be Destiny's biggest shortcoming. The varity and unpredictibility was lacking almost completely. I would have a blast (no pun intended) getting into a shootout with friends during a quest, but then three quests later would be in the middle of another shoot out against slightly higher level enimes, leaving myself wondering "This? Again?" But, as I said, the game runs wonderfully so shooting and stabbing is a breeze, although a bit too easy. In Skyrim (There are a lot of games I can compare Destiny to, we'll cover that in a minute) I often found myself playing more quests because each time I finished a quest I thought "I want to play another one like that, another crazy ending, another weird twist" in Destiny I played more because I didn't want more of the same. I wanted to move past fetching and find the game that had been built up for over a year now.
PvP is fun, although almost a reskinned version of Halo, it still plays beautifully and keeps the player involved. Honestly, I was never a huge fan of Halo. Closing distance to kill and the inability to use iron sights was something I never took a liking, that being said, Destiny allows the sights but keeps the quick, double jumping, bullet-flying, action, this was a PvP system I was very much onboard with. Getting comfortable with my guns ingame flowed perfectly to PvP.
  At the end, there isn't a lot wrong with Destiny. Everything it does, with the exception of the story/lore, it does fantastically. Who are the Fallen? We don't know. What is the Traveler? There is little explanation. Why was my Gurdian chosen to bring back to life? Who cares, the game shoots well. The quest for loot with other players in Destiny is a blast, but with the hype that the game stood on, this reviewer and video game enthusiast was hoping for something legendary.
Score 7 out of 10.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Settle Review (Album) (Disclosure)

A Fortunate Bath.
Disclosure honestly was not a group that I had much association with. I found them based on a free song I was given and that a friend and I took as a joke due to how catchy it was. Although it was a joke I secretly enjoyed the song (When a Fire Starts to Burn) and would listen to it when I was on my own. This song led me to the group, the album and eventually to not understanding why this album has the problems it does.
Don't misunderstand me; this album is strong when it does its job. The songs Latch and F For You are both easily memorable. Add When a Fire Starts to Burn to that list and you have an album that walks the thin line between simple beats, catchy lyrics and a simply brilliant mix of them. However, when Disclosure steps off of the line the mixture looses its excellence. The later half of the album seems to lose the spunk of the start, almost as though the later songs were intended to float to another album but inspiration ram dry.
While the negative influence from later on may seem like a lot, I am talking it up more than I'm talking up the good to be found; the songs that are good are great. Latch holds the ambient sounds that resemble the most brilliant moments of video games of the 90's such as Donkey Kong. While that may be an odd comparison it is a terrific backdrop that the song builds on.
Complexity bathed in simplicity is something that few electronic groups make sound so sweetly as Disclosure does here. While the simplicity does often flow through, the blend still shines brightly when it is found.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition Review (TU 15)

Hours, blocks and a few mistakes.

  It was easy, we quickly gathered wood, moved through the terrain until we found a place we wanted to build a house, turned the wood into planks, the wood into tools, the tools were used to gather stone and then that stone was turned into a mansion, a castle, an underground series of tunnels and a series of other creations. Its a story as old as Minecraft itself; blocks, devotion, imagination, dedication and innovation until imagination is painted throughout the entire world. After TU 15 (Title Update 15) on the Xbox Minecraft still holds its charm and draw but now offers more of all of the things that PC players have access to. With trading and villagers now in the game its not just about the player any more. However, with the good updates came the bad, blocks are strange when you try to mine them, flashing as though they are trying to leave but unable. All in all the changes are a refreshing change to the game, making it so you and up to 7 others have more to do and more blocks to play with.

Score 8 out of 10

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Recess Album Review (Skrillex)

A Step in no direction.
While listening to the album the first time through excitement was high, the idea that Skrillex was back with another album to change how I thought of bass drops and sound mixing was exciting to say the least. I've listened to Scary Monsters and Bangarang numerous times, enjoying both albums for the blending of sounds while keeping dance alive, however, in Recess, Skrillex's newest musical offering, I found enjoyment harder to find. Let me be clear, this is a good album. Recess is exceptional, F**k that and Stranger are both amazing. That being said, the album doesn't change how I think of Dubstep, Brostep or even Skrillex, it just adds to reasons why I like his music. Aside for the mentioned songs the rest of the album feels almost pointless, coming closer to a "Skrillex's best unused mixes" rather than an album which is disappointing, with some work these all have incredible potential.
In the end I enjoy this album, although it did not captivate me like Scary Monsters, its good to see Skrillex making fresh pieces while still staying true to his sound.

Score: 7 out of 10.

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