August 28, 2014

Apple Event Announced for September 9th

Speculation about when Apple will announce their latest iPhone can finally be put to rest.  This morning Apple officially announced a September 9th event.  A specific time for the event hasn't been mentioned, but it's likely they will stick with their typical 10 am pacific.

There have been a lot of rumors about the iPhone 6.  From Sapphire displays, protruding camera lens, two larger sizes of screen, various resolutions, better battery life, and a minimum storage option of 32GB all jammed into a thinner redesigned case among other guts that will be improved.  It'll be interesting to see who got things right and who was way off when it comes to rumors and leaks.    

It's also believed that Apple won't reserve the spotlight for the iPhone 6 alone.  There are many things that people have been waiting for ever since Apple promised that 2014 would be a big year.  Here's a breakdown of a few things I'm hoping to see at the Apple Event.

iPhone 6 Release Date
If Apple follows their recent schedule, I suspect that the iPhone 6 won't be released any later than September 19th.  

iOS 8 Release
The latest iOS should be released publicly on or very close to the iPhone 6's release.  I believe we'll see iOS no later than September 18th.

OS X Yosemite
Apple will probably give some updates on the progress of the newest version of OS X, known as Yosemite.  Chances are they'll still be doing some work until the middle of October at which point, Yosemite will be replacing Mavericks. 

The wearable that people have dubbed the iWatch and have been waiting patiently for over a year now.  Apple should unveil the device, but based on recent rumors it may not be until early 2015 before it's available.  If this holds out to be true it kinda sucks because it's been on my Wishlist for awhile, even though I haven't regularly worn a watch for many years now.

MacBook Air with Retina Display
I'm starting to question whether or not this will be a reality.  It seems strange that Apple would be willing to put a premium display on the entry level lineup, but what do I know.  Retina displays are wonderful, but they aren't new technology and I know a few people who would love a MacBook Air with retina rather than the MacBook Pro.

iPad Pro?
This is one of the more 'out there' rumors that are going around.  a 12.9" iPad Pro as it's being called by tech sites who believe that Apple is looking at expanding their iPad lineup.   

iPad Touch ID
It's inevitable that Apple will bring Touch ID to the iPad Air and iPad Mini revisions.

Apple TV
Apple TV is no longer a "hobby" as they had once considered it.  It's become a very popular method of watching TV Shows, Movies, listening to music, streaming photos and more.  But it's also time for some expansion.  Apple hasn't really said much about what the next evolution for Apple TV will be but it could be a whole TV set experience, or include features that allow gaming and could even include a camera that enables it to get  in on the Continuity fun.  in  Don't hold your breath though - this is more of a "would be cool if" scenario.  

Anyway, that's my thoughts for this round.  More to come on September 9th.  

August 26, 2014

iTunes Early Release Movies (August 26th)

Here are the Early Digital releases for Tuesday August 26th. 
 Keep in mind that these titles may be available on other streaming services such as Cinema Now
if it's your preferred option for digital copies.  Links from here go straight to iTunes.

Godzilla (2014)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe

In this gritty, realistic sci-fi action epic, Godzilla returns to its roots as one of the world's most recognized monsters. Directed by Gareth Edwards and featuring an all-star international cast, this spectacular adventure pits Godzilla against malevolent creatures that, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

Draft Day (2014)
Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Chadwick Boseman

t's NFL Draft Day. A day that can change the lives of athletes and the fortunes of football teams forever. After pulling off a blockbuster trade, General Manager Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) controls the #1 pick. Up against fan pressure, an ambitious owner (Frank Langella), and a hard-nosed coach (Denis Leary), Sonny faces the biggest decision of his life. Should he go with the consensus #1 pick or trust his instincts and risk losing it all? Also starring Jennifer Garner and Terry Crews.

The Fault in our Stars (2014)
Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern
Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) share a sarcastic wit, a disdain for the ordinary, and a love that sweeps them on an unforgettable journey. Although the teens face challenges, they learn that while life isn’t perfect, love is extraordinary. Laura Dern and Sam Trammell also star in this powerful film based on John Green’s New York Times bestseller.

August 25, 2014

NHL 15 Demo First Impressions

While PlayStation owners sat idly by on Monday night, XBox One owners got their first real look at EA Sports' next generation Hockey game, NHL 15.  I'm not exactly sure how, or why the demo managed to make it onto XBox live ahead of the August 26th scheduled date, but I was certainly willing to take advantage of it while I wait for the PSN Store to get the demo online.

Since NHL 08, I have been using a PlayStation 3 to get my NHL fix so picking up the XBox One controller to try out the latest title felt a bit strange but I overcame that fairly quickly, and it'll probably still feel weird when I try the game on PlayStation 4 too.  Compared to the last few years, I found that this edition was extremely responsive.  I didn't get the sense of lag that I had in previous versions.

Presentation / Broadcast Package
For a moment I forgot I was playing a video game.  The broadcast package that EA Sports has because of a partnership with NBC is fantastic.  I love the subtle additions including city flybys, and commentators appearing high in the rafters.  The new onscreen overlays were nicely done.  It just felt more real than the old faux EA Sports Network type broadcast that we've had forever.

Play-by-Play & Commentary
First of all I'd love to ask EA Sports who the heck writes their play by play material?  As a Canadian I tend to watch the Canadian broadcasts of games so I haven't watched a lot of NHL on NBC but does Doc Emmerick actually talk like this in real life or did EA hire the worst writers they could find?  It just doesn't seem natural.  Instead of saying "cross-ice pass"  we get "Geometrically to Brown."  I suppose though its nice to have a fresh voice annoy me while I play.   What I do like is the addition of Ray Ferraro from TSN adding some Ice level commentary.  He's a bit sarcastic with his analogies and this translates nicely in game during the breaks between play.

The puck acts very natural in this game.  I'd love to see a little more resistance on ice or in certain situations but overall I have been pleased so far.

Last year the NHL introduced Hybrid Icings but EA Sports didn't get it into the game.  It's definitely enabled this year and it's nice because it speeds up the game significantly when previously you'd have a race to the puck and it'd end up icing anyways.

They also have the 4 on-ice referees which is a nice touch as well.  So far they haven't interfered with any gameplay, but I suspect there will be situations those zebras will end up getting tied up in play.

Arenas / Crowd
EA touts that there are more crowd models than ever before and that they're much more in tune to what is happening in the game.  The arenas look wonderful, but I noticed that the crowd itself seems to be too synced, with the same movements/animations built into the crowd so they all turn their heads at the same time and just looks funny.

Obviously the demo isn't a finished product but it's very close to what gamers get when the title is released.  I look forward to picking up my copy on September 9th.

I just have to decide.  PlayStation 4, XBox One, or Both.

August 19, 2014

iTunes Early Release Movies (August 19th)

A huge benefit of owning Apple devices or using iTunes is that you have access to many popular movies a few weeks early.  Here are the new releases for August 19th 2014.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Robert Redford, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie & Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.
*Spoiler Alert: The events of this film have direct consequences to the TV Show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.*

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
Sean Astin, Currie Graham, Ryan Donowho

A last minute bachelor party in the Caribbean leaves a group of party-goers ashore on a mysterious island where they stumble upon an abandoned research facility. Two of them start showing symptoms of a wretched flesh eating disease. With little time to find a cure, they search for answers only to find an ominous doctor and his patient who may hold the cure... or may be their ultimate demise.

The Normal Heart
Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Jim Parsons
The early days of the HIV-AIDS crisis in 1980s New York City is the focus of this searing HBO Films drama. Adapted from Larry Kramer's Tony(R)-winning play, the film provides an unflinching look at the nation's sexual politics as gay activists and their allies in the medical community fight to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city and nation in denial.

August 13, 2014

NHL 15 Demo Details

In the early hours of Wednesday August 13th, Electronic Arts held its GameCon briefing in Germany.  Arguably the most anticipated bit of news for gamers in Canada was information regarding the NHL 15 demo.

Concerns were raised earlier this week when EA announced that there wouldn't be a Madden Demo this year, instead opting to offer a "full game trial" exclusively behind EA's paywall known as EA Access on XBox.

Thankfully, EA didn't use the same strategy for this year's hockey game.  I suspect though, its because this is the first time we're going to see the NHL franchise on the PS4 and XBox One which means next year we may not be so fortunate.

This year's demo features a 3 periods (each two minutes long) between the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers with the option of playing at the Staples Centre or Madison Square Garden.  Obviously these extra options in the demo are designed to show off the new NBC Broadcast package and the authentic arenas.

For XBox One and PS4 owners the demo drops on August 26th which will give fans two weeks to test the game and decide which version to go with when the game is released on September 9th.

August 12, 2014

XBox Exclusive: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Today developer Crystal Dynamics announced that the sequel to the Tomb Raider reboot will be an Xbox exclusive.  The game titled, Rise of the Tomb Raider, which continues the story of Lara Croft is expected to be released during the 2015 Holiday season.

Initially people speculated that this exclusive deal between Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics was a 'timed exclusive' meaning Rise of the Tomb Raider will be available on other platforms including the PlayStation 4 after a short time.  Representatives from both Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics have clarified that you'll need an Xbox if you ever want to play the game.

This is a great example of why it's a good idea to buy multiple consoles.  With titles like Uncharted on the PlayStation and Halo on Xbox its clear that developers and studios do see it's possible to be highly successful on a single platform - it's something I suspect we'll see more of in the future if console makers want to get people to continue buying hardware.

And, as much as I hate Microsoft, I have made the exception for the consoles - even though I have a 20:1 ratio of PlayStation to Xbox games on my shelves.

Update: In what can only be described as confusing, it seems as though Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics have both backed off on referring to Rise of the Tomb Raider as a full exclusive, and begun calling it a Timed-exclusive again.  What does this mean?  Well - those who don't own an X-Box may eventually get their hands on the game for a different platform.