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Review: NHL Gamecenter Live 2014-15 App

October 20, 2014 | by Mike Chen | Comments (0)
NHL Gamecenter Live 2014-15 App
This year’s NHL Gamecenter includes mobile user interface improvements.

Note: The free version of Gamecenter is essentially a highlights-and-stats app for both consoles and mobile devices. This review covers the premium version.

The new NHL season is upon us, and with it, fans are inundated with advertisements to purchase NHL Center Ice (the TV package) or NHL Gamecenter Live (its online counterpart). For years, Center Ice was the most convenient way to get wall to wall NHL action. However, in recent years the functionality of NHL Gamecenter has propelled it to the forefront. The new iteration of Gamecenter is upon us, which leaves two big questions. First, is it any different from last year’s version? Second, is it worth your money?

PROS

Streaming: NHL Gamecenter is essentially an on-demand app for your consoles and mobile devices. Any locally broadcast NHL game is now available for streaming, usually with both home and away feeds.

DVR Capabilities: Start, pause, and replay games on demand. For example, if you want to watch a complete game that’s already in the middle of the second period, you have the option to watch live or start from the beginning.

Cost: While Center Ice is priced by each individual telco provider, Gamecenter is a flat fee through the NHL. That means that in some cases, it will be anywhere from US$10 to US$30 cheaper than getting the TV package.

Multiple devices in multiple formats: One Gamecenter purchase enables the app in all its forms: PC, console, and mobile. This is important because each of these is different. The PC version is the most robust, with all sorts of features such as picture-in-picture and live data. The tablet form offers all video feeds, highlights, exclusive content, and news/stats. The console form is barebones: game feeds/highlights and stats. One improvement over last year is a unified login, so you can activate Gamecenter on your device or console without having to find a computer for verification.

Improved UI: While the console version is essentially the same as last year, both the app and PC versions have improved user interface designs. Streamlined, simplified, and modernized, the best way to sum it up is to say that it’s simply easier to get what you want.

CONS

Blackout rules: Sorry, you’re not going to be able to watch your local team without a proxy server. Also, you can forget about any national games — anything broadcast on NBC or the NHL Network means it’s not available on Gamecenter. Note that these blackout rules also apply to Center Ice.

Quality: With the TV package, you’re getting consistent HD-quality video (assuming your provider supports the HD broadcasts). With Gamecenter, it’s up to your Internet connection and wi-fi speed. This leads to buffering and quality-downgrade issues. For us, frame rate was a consistent problem on our standard AT&T UVerse connection with wi-fi.

THE VERDICT

NHL Gamecenter Live provides the same game access as Center Ice, along with extra video/text content and the ability to restart games as they’re broadcast. In addition, your subscription propagates to numerous devices. The trade off is video quality. If you’re willing to deal with hiccups in streaming quality, NHL Gamecenter provides people with consoles and mobile devices a more robust experience than the standard TV package.

Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below what you think of NHL Gamecenter Live 2014-15 App.

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Video Game Review: Styx: Master of Shadows

October 16, 2014 | by Mike Chen | Comments (0)
On paper, it’s hard to believe that there hasn’t been a game like Styx before. It’s essentially a combination of PS2-era Metal Gear Solid with a dash of Assassin’s Creed, all set in a D&D-style world. As a character, Styx is likable enough, the environments are big enough to allow some flexibility in how you get from A to B, RPG-style character progression gives you choice in how you grow, and Styx’s magic abilities add a unique flavour to the genre.
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Video Game Review: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments

October 2, 2014 | by Mike Chen | Comments (0)
Traditionally, adventure games have been about finding items and solving puzzles by using those items. The developers at Frogware recognized in the age of online tutorials and help videos, this model is a bit outdated. Their approach, then, is for players to experience the gradual accumulation of clues and information on cases, all leading to an ultimate accusation and sentencing. It’s a twist to the old formula and it works well — Crimes & Punishments feels like the type of adventure game that has evolved into modern sensibility.
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Video Game Review: NHL 15 (PS4/Xbox One)

September 27, 2014 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
Hockey Ultimate Team and Be a GM are still largely menu driven, and if there’s one area that EA Sports consistently mucks up, it’s the user interface. Clunky and slow, the UI looks like it was built for tablets rather than consoles. It’s a relatively minor quibble but it does add to irritation when trying to do something simple like sort your roster.
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Video Game Review: Watch Dogs

June 10, 2014 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
Virtual Chicago looks great, particularly with next-gen lighting and environmental effects. It’s not the best this young generation has produced, but it’s certainly impressive and — more importantly — immersive. Individual character models don’t fare nearly as well, particularly the faces. We’re guessing this is due to the immense amount of information the game is constantly loading, from NPC details to hacking opportunities to vehicles and buildings at far drawing distances. You’ll notice this particularly in two areas: cut scenes that feature a lot of facial expressions and the info icons over NPCs, as their headshot shows with their data, such as where the person works, what their hobbies are, and how much money they make.
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