Nokia Lumia 520

Let’s break down and analyse the different parts of the Lumia 520 and see what its all about, and if its worth your money.

Overall build/design

For starters this phone has a very basic look which I find pretty good, It’s functional but it isn’t also abrasive looking or ugly.

The back is made of that soft touch plastic. It provides grip,doesn’t feel ‘cheap’, and it doesn’t scratch easily. All the physical buttons are on the right side of the phone ,which is nice because you can grip your phone in your left hand without pushing some volume button or what not. The buttons are easy to push for example, the power button works great and so does the camera button (which has two stages so you can focus and snap a pic quickly).

The volume rocker is harder to push and push quickly, but you can just hold it to turn volume up/down. Also note, if you take the back off to pull off the battery or SD card, make sure you put the cover back on very well.

Overall, the phone is built solidly, it’s good looking, and everything is laid out well.

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Screen  : 
The resolution is just fine for a 4” screen, and yes, a full 1080p screen is good, but I thought it was simply overkill for a phone.

The screen gets bright enough if you want to set it to high, and does what youd expect on medium and the low settings. Also you can leave it on auto, which is what I do. It works well enough and I can always read the screen.

Colors are bright and accurate as far as I can tell however, I will say it’s a very glossy screen so reflections do get noticeable. There is some of that dark ‘banding’ as I call it at the bottom of the screen. Many phones, laptops, etc.have had this, so Its easy to get over it.

The touch screen works very well and while I’m not wearing gloves, I did put a cloth over my hand and try  it worked just as well. No bad touches or anything wrong with the touch screen.

Hardware :

Hardware wise, Nokia Lumia 520 comes equipped with a Snapdragon S4 1ghz Dual Core processor and RAM: 512 MB.

It gets the job done if you’re looking for a phone decent enough to play most of the game library from the Windows Phone Market. Has a great performance for those who enjoy typing fast but sometimes can slack on multi tasking functions with more than one game opened.

For those who are looking for the Nokia Lumia 520 for work apps and photography, you won’t get disappointed as the Snapdragon S4 performs outstandingly for the price of the phone, especially for the battery usage.

The phone comes equipped with 8GB of mass memory, and 7GB of Cloud Storage via the Skydrive application. If you’re in need of more memory you can always put a Micro SD up to 64GB’s.

nokia_2140_1364958571_lSoftware/OS :

I won’t be reviewing the Windows phone 8 in depth but I will examine it more casually. It’s a very nice OS, slick, good looking, gets stuff done without getting in your way. Yes, it has limits. Sure, the available applications are behind iOS and Android, which is a valid concern.

The store is also confusing compared to the others, so finding stuff isn’t as easy, which is a odd contrast given that most apps are very easy to use.The included Nokia software is awesome I’ll say.

Their version of maps and navigation are actually very good, hasn’t failed me yet and just as good as Google Naps/Nav.

The included software for the camera is nice – nothing mind-blowing but it’s useful and I like it. I’ll talk about the physical camera more. Mail, messages, phone, etc. are all very easy to use and look nice.
Overall, Microsoft did well with the OS here and partnering with Nokia provided a bit of extra ‘oomph’ to the mix. Go to a phone store and tell the sales people to leave you alone and try out a windows phone for a while to see how it works.

That’s the only way you’ll know regardless of how many reviews you read.

Camera :
It’s essentialy a basic camera. Nokia does well with optics so even though this is “only” 5MP, it takes decent looking and clear pictures. It doesn’t have a flash, which I don’t mind anyway but some people might find annoying,I simply find that any cell phone with a flash usually make pictures look washed out or if you don’t use a flash, it’s just dark and grainy.

It takes pictures quickly and as I said about some of the nice software, you can flash 5 pictures quickly to pick your favorite. I don’t get why people slam cameras on phones, they work well enough and aren’t the main attraction anyway, some phones come with respectable cameras now but you’ll pay for it. If you need that, get one. Otherwise, buy a good stand-alone camera you can use lenses and enjoy excellent pictures.

 

Lumia_520_gloves465Overall  : 
I’m impressed with this phone and even more so given the rock-bottom price.
It has some signs of a”cheap” phone such as you must manually pull your SD card out – no spring loaded ejection (this phone can take an SD card, unlike many new Android devices and all iPhone’s. The ability to add a lot more storage, cheaply and quickly, is good regardless of nitpicking.)

It’s a full, honest smartphone that has good specs and works scarily well for its price, I can see it making a good impulse buy.

FOR THOSE WHO : Want to try the Windows Phone Platform, those who are in need of a cheap but high performance phone, casual use of the smartphone abilities.

NOT FOR THOSE WHO : Are searching for a high end smartphone, that need a phone with a great camera quality, don’t want Windows Phone.

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Spellforce 2: Demons of the Past

I never felt intrigued about the SpellForce franchise until now that I had the chance to personally review one of the titles. I always thought this was one more strategy game that mixed up a random story with some RPG elements and that the game couldn’t even make it to a 6, oh boy how wrong I was…

Spellforce 2: Demons of the Past is a standalone expansion to the SpellForce 2: Shadow Wars, so no need to buy the previous games which is excellent for someone like me who didn’t played the other games.  However you must be curious on the reason on why so many people are interested in this franchise, and I’ll tell you what it is.. it’s the lore & the content.

In terms of story, Demons of the Past is the conclusion to the story of the previous games and leaves it open for the upcoming SpellForce 3. We play as the Elder of the Shaikan and our objective is simple, go to the Realm of the Gods and finish Zazhut once and for all (after he managed to get free apparently).

But it seems like the gods aren’t really happy about our decision of going after Zazhut, so they try everything they can to stop us. Demons of The Past brings some enemies from the past and we have to go against all odds to save Eo.

spellforce-2-demons-of-the-past_009Prepare to embark on a epic story just like the Warcraft RTS series

T0 be honest I’m still trying to catch up on  the story but so far I’ve been enjoying it, the game has up to 20 hours of content just in the single player campaign itself plus it allows you to play up to 3 races (Pact, Shaikan and the Undead). One can argue that the game becomes repetitive but at the end of the day it really depends on the person that it’s behind the keyboard and their attachment to the franchise.

The game itself reminds me of my childhood playing Warcraft 3 not only for it’s cutscenes and dialogues but also on the combat which requires a player to click on each character to activate it’s special abilities but let’s get more into detail about that.

Contrary to the popular myth that Spellforce is just a real time strategy game like many others isn’t exactly true, the game is very RPGish actually and requires the players to have amazing multi tasking and micro management skills. In terms of the RPG elements there’s gearing up characters with new items or spells and a huge chunk of side quests available to the player to keep him entertained.

The maps of this game are…huge.. One of the biggest that I’ve actually ever seen in Real Time Strategy games, the game has double or triple a Starcraft 2 or Age of Empires campaign map has. There’s side quests everywhere and once I pick them all I can’t really decide where to start.

Although I haven’t fully picked up on Spellforce’s Lore, in what so far I have digged I have to admit that it’s quite impressive. It doesn’t have much lore as compared to Warcraft or Warhammer but it has an impressive amount of lore especially from a franchise that comes from a studio that isn’t that well known.

If you’re a fan of Multiplayer RTS games you will definitely enjoy Demons of the Past multiplayer.  Especially if you’re a Warcraft 3 fan, you will find many things that will remind you of that game, whether it’s on the resource system, units training or even the upgrading system, players that played old RTS will feel at home here.

There’s content for everybody even on the multiplayer side of the game, you can play in skirmish mode both versus either the AI or even mixed up with others by using either LAN or Online functionality.

One of the things this game fails at is unfortunately the technical deportment, I understand that they’re using the same engine ever since the release of SpellForce 2 in 2006. They did make some miracles especially on buildings and textures but the character models are very ugly and in comparison with the other aspects of the game. In terms of graphics, it’s just disappointing. It looks like we’re playing a completely different game if we compare the scenarios with character models.

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The graphics however.. are disappointing for a 2014 game

I recommend this game to any RTS player who enjoys this type of games from the old times, I however do not recommend this game to all types of players. It might get too repetitive for some persons especially if they’re not in for the lore.

If you’re interested in the multiplayer part, I’ll just tell you off the bat that this game isn’t on par with current competitive RTS games such as Starcraft 2. It’s fun to drop in and have some fun like the old Age of Empires III times but if you’re expecting a competitive balanced multiplayer game, you won’t find it here.

Overall if you’re looking for an epic campaign story and a fun multiplayer this is the game for you. If by any luck you want to play some game close to the Warcraft RTS series but in a more modern game I’ll tell you immediately that this game is for you.

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‘Clash Royale’ Review

Well, the game formally started globally early this morning along side the greatest Apple attribute we have ever seen in App Store history, so when you join Supercell’s penchant for enormous broken-out advertising campaigns, I am thinking it will not be long until they begin smashing all accessible airwaves with star-packaged Clash Royale TV advertisements. Which mightn’t always be the worst thing, as the mixture of gameplay mechanisms and genres in Clash Royale really works very well to get a mobile game.

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For the interest of being methodical here, let us suppose that is the first you have heard of hack Clash Royale. The most easy way to describe it’s as a collectable card game wherever your cards represent real time strategy game-like units that are dropped onto MOBAish multilane battle fields with two towers as well as a foundation while defending your own, you should assault.
In the event you have never played a game like this before as great as the Hearthstone tutorial and onboarding procedure is, you are still speaking not as much of a learning curve and more of a learning wall. How hard it’s to make a competitive deck for the majority of players leads to never truly ever having to find out the best way to construct a deck in their very own, and only looking up what other players are playing, reproducing those decks.

This looks a little overly fundamental- especially in the event that you are a veteran of other card games. It is really quite amazing, as with just eight cards to work with when you allow it to settle in, it becomes instantly see-through which cards are not operating in your deck and are.
The MOBA and RTS components are also considerably simplified. Success comes from not only by how intelligently you use your units, but how precisely and fast you are in a position to command them. On earth of popular RTS games like StarCraft, top-grade players are issuing their military with hundreds of orders a minute. Likewise, the split second decision making you see in top-grade MOBA play is not credible.

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Placing in which you summon these units is not unimportant, as instead of micromanaging an army, an extremely fundamental AI similar to assaulting base is used by everything. Each unit acts somewhat differently, while some attack the closest thing to them, plus some might prioritize targeting constructions. Cards possess a projecting cost related to them, using the Elixir resource that you could likewise understand from Clash of Clans. Like the majority of card games, the price of cards behind the scenes of the sport, although usually escalate with power degree is a rock paper scissors-like system where more affordable cards played correctly and in the correct time can completely counter apparently strong cards that are high-priced.
For example, the Prince is the primary larger-than-life card new players will encounter. He costs following a short interval will begin to charge toward the closest unit or construction and strike having a huge assault, and five elixir to play. The very first time you encounter this card, you will necessarily feel like it is completely overpowered. Nevertheless, after testing and thinking about a bit, you will find the Tombstone card which is uncommon instead of epic, but in addition costs three elixir instead of five, will completely shut down the Prince. The catch is, have responses to threats such as the Prince, and you have got to handle your hand of cards. The whole game is full of cards which have become powerful, but can be readily countered, although that is only one example.
A game that is typical afterward calls for initially selecting your eight cards which meld together good in a few sort of strategy that is cohesive with responses to the various kinds of hazards you may come across. From that point, you seek for an adversary, and therefore are matched up with a person that has the same prize amount as you (more with this later). From that point, you dump cards out, and find a way to knock down at least one of the crown towers while shielding your own, and ultimately ruin your adversary’s major King tower. Games possess a of requiring definitely no longer than four minutes, which can be truly only another smart wrinkle in the sport, a hard limitation.

The initial two minutes of a Clash Royale match are standard, you utilize that Elixir to play your cards and get Elixir. You win if indoors of both of these minutes you have the ability to ruin your adversary’s major King tower. The game progress to one more minute which will be generally where things get real as you as well as your competition only rapid fire throw cards. By the end of the three minutes that are accumulative, whoever has ruined the match is won by more towers. Where the first player to ruin any tower wins if things are tied, you are given another minute of sudden death. If after death that is sudden no one manages to do this, the match finishes in a tie. Ideally, you need to ruin all your competition’s towers, as crowns for every tower ruined gather. Should you accumulate ten you unlock a Crown Chest which typically has a significant quantity of cards and gold. Gold?”

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American Hustle

Welcome to 2014, New Year, new beginnings and all that, so what do we have to kick off the year?

american-hustleOh…American Hustle, another movie that got nominated for a thousand things and everyone loves it…and I don’t.

By now you’re probably thinking I do this on purpose, just to be contrarian, or for the attention, but it can’t be helped. I see a movie for what it is and how it makes me feel, and American Hustle nearly bored me out of the cinema, but it was so strange because I felt like there was a good movie here, and maybe it was just not for me.

American Hustle stars Christian Bale as the con man Irwin who is married and has an adopted son, and technically only married so he can take care of his son. Amy Adams stars as his partner in crime and lover, Sydney or her fake name Lady Edith. It also stars Jennifer Lawrence as the typical soon to be ex wife of Christian bale, very Jersey Shoreish but more on that later. And last but not least, Bradley Cooper mostly known for the Hangover trilogy, plays a power hungry CSI agent named Richie. The movie starts at a scene later on the story and then it actually goes  back to when Bale meets Amy. Ok, that flash-forward really helped the story a lot because…The filmmakers thought it would be interesting…? Pointless decisions aside, Bale falls in love with Amy and shows her his con loan company scheme, because doesn’t everyone show their new girlfriends their criminal activities? Well Bale knew what he was doing because she chooses to join rather easily and they live happily stealing money from people. Their perfect world is shattered by Richie, when he uncovers their scheme and only decides to let them go if they catch four con men for him.

Interesting premise, so why did this movie fail so much in our eyes? And let me get one thing of the grid, I like these actors, they are really good at their jobs, all of them. Amy Adams is a bit “wooden” in her deliverance sometimes but not always, and she can get her emotions out  there. Okay, so let’s start outlining this movies shortcomings, and how they may have been improved, shall we?

First, the pacing is horrible. I can appreciate a slow pace but when you have a movie this big and you “slow pace” it, you make the movie longer than the Hobbit even if it isn’t. The reason for this were really long talks, and pointless scenes, like Christian Bale doing his hair or the 5 or 6 music montages they did. I can appreciate good music, but it’s a movie, not a playlist. They should have just kept the essential parts to build character and to outline the story and dialogues that are memorable and interesting. With so many dialogues in this film, hardly any sticked in my mind.

The convoluted story. We start out with a premise full of potential, and then we get to about 5 subplots and it just does a bad job of balancing all of this, i mean, lets count:

You have Christian Bale and Amy Adams, their relationship that Amy Adams causes some trouble in for no apparent reason, Richie and Amy Adams and their pseudo romance, Bale and his son and wife, their con scheme to catch the 4 guys which turns into a political hunt for corruption which leads to Jeremy Renner playing the perfect Mayor…, then Jenifer Lawrence, Bale’s wife gets involved with this other guy, and it just keeps going and going, introducing more characters and wives and family, and each one of these has a ton of talking scenes which aren’t really that interesting or fun to watch because of my next point. Why not stick with the simple story line when you couldn’t handle the messy type of plots? There is just so much character back-story that it’s just hard to explain the film. Sure it makes it all feel more full and real but I would argue its too full, way to full and without a proper conclusion to being such a heavy load of story.

The characters are unlikable, which at first surprised me because the characters sound good on paper, but when you make them douche bags and also unlikable douche bags to the point where you don’t care if Irwin (Bale) divorces at all, we don’t care if Amy Adams gets together with the CSI agent, we don’t care if Jenifer Lawrence gets hooked up with that other guy, do you even realize how this sounds so far?

It ends up sounding like a goddamn soap opera. I don’t know about you, but I came to watch the very real and very smart world of con men. That story is charismatic and fresh, not this. Marital problems and bitchy wives and an FBI agent who whines like a little boy because he is in a power rush of trying to be someone, which makes him learn nothing by the end by the way, completely ruining what could have been a great character sub-plot.

Maybe you were rooting for Jeremy Renner, the mayor, but he seems way too likeable to be real, he does seem like that guy who you would like to hang out with, doing everything for his family sort of puts corruption through different eyes and it’s a good idea overshadowed by everything else the film throws at you.

Amy Adams comes off as really unlikable, she screws around with the FBI agent because why? Because she all of a sudden feels that Irwin doesn’t love her influenced only once by Richie. It felt like “You shouldn’t love that guy” “Okay.” What the hell?

Again, I really did not expect any of this from a hustler film. There could have been a fun Bonnie and Clyde element in place but this pointless breakup was poorly motivated and leaves us once again throwing our arms up muttering “What?”

This movie has a lot to say about love and life, and none of it seems that interesting. With all these long talks about love and life and everything you might never want to know, it says nothing memorable at all. They really should have watched what Don Jon did and take a queue or two from that great film.

I’ve seen movies narrow down everything this film was trying  to say for about 20 minutes, to a single quote. For example, Amy Adams has this thing where she doesn’t want to have sex with Richie until “It’s real”. Richie being a psycho douche bag keeps pressuring her to it until she hits a breaking point, so this takes up what feels like 30 minutes of award conflict. And now, The Watch(2012). ” Sex is for love.” Done! Freaking done! And the fact that it is a father saying that to a daughter resonates a lot more than two people who are cheating. Amy is cheating on a dude that is cheating on his wife that he doesn’t even love anymore, but she has some kind of hold on him? So what are you trying to get across, movie? What does this story amount to?

The answer seems to be near to nothing. It creates a big mess and leaves you with more of a headache than any kind of lesson learned or time well spent.

(And yes I just said The Watch is a smarter film than American Hustle, deal with it)

This is a little nitpick section just to show you how confused the filmmakers got with this over complicated story. Ok, first of all when we first see Amy and Bale, Amy mentions that he doesn’t like being touched. When we fully circle back to that scene, it’s never mentioned once in the entire film, did they forget?

For a film about cons, the cons are also not very impressive. I mean, real life con men can steal all your money before you know what happened, so Irwin’s plan? To lie about being a loan company and promise tons of money just for 5,000, and then never give said money, on the basis that it wasn’t approved or something. OK that might work but come on, he has an office, you’d think one guy would get pissed off enough to go beat him up and call him out to the police.

There’s a lot of editing timing issues and bad cuts, awkward yells and a scene of Jennifer Lawrence singing while vacuuming that is worthy of a genuine face palm, also they sort of overplayed the “sex appeal” in this film for example the low cut dresses with plenty of side boob shots to go around, which can be excused for aesthetics or something. If they didn’t use so many shots to take advantage of those dresses, or in a scene when they are searched before they enter a place, and they only show Amy Adams skirt being lifted up to show her legs. It’s not much but it sort of deteriorates the classy nature of the film, no?

I feel kind of sorry for Christian Bale, he is a great actor who always puts his body on the line, starving for the Machinist and pumping iron for Batman. For this film, he put on a lot of weight and a beer belly, he did an amazing job and he made this film more bearable. It feels like a waste of a good actor to me.

And my last point, the ending. I didn’t like it, because…Well I can’t spoil it but I think it ruined any moral or dramatic satisfaction it was setting up, because all these characters kind of represent different human flaws and they are all fairly bad people in their own ways. You could have made a good moral out of this like many films have, but you dint, it wasn’t even that clever or impressive, really.

All in all, I may be wrong. This movie really did piss me off but it had so much potential, great actors, interesting story, lots of good points to make and lots of charisma to show, but it just fell completely short of what it could have been. It was an academy film, some may say, and it paid off. I do think there aren’t any nominations left to give it and maybe that is the real plot twist. The whole movie is a con to get nominations, now that would be a good ending.

It’s hard to score this film. I want to give it less than Inside Llewyn Davis because at least that film didn’t bore me so much, but then again this film seemed like it knew what it wanted to do, it just didn’t know exactly how to do it, either way. What I wrote here is the truth as I and the other members of this site see it, take from that what you will. My personal recommendation is to stay away from this film, but if you think you can bear its awkwardness and dragging slow pace in exchange for its charisma and other good elements, this may work for you.

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