Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us

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Date: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, 11:20
Category: iOS, Review, Software, Software

Injustice: Gods Among Us iOS Review
By Mr. S

Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation famously asked his viewers to name one game that has had a fun amor/item/weapon degradation mechanic. He only gives us a millisecond to think about it, but I still can’t think of one. Of course, these mechanics are essential to certain kinds of gameplay scenarios. They make simulation games like Arma feel alive, and games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R feel incredibly dangerous. My point is they have their place, and have proven to be an essential part in bringing out a certain types of emotions from players.


Level up your characters to equip cool attacks like the Green Lantern's girder...

Level up your characters to equip cool attacks like the Green Lantern’s girder…


You know what doesn’t have its place in fun video games? Ridiculous fake currencies and obvious ploys to milk the customer for every dime they have. And for what? So I can use Batman in your second rate, slapped-together clone of about three other games on iOS?

Maybe I should back it up a little.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is a iOS tie in to a very good game for Xbox 360, PS3, and WiiU console created by NetherRealm Studios. You remember those guys, right? Ed Boon took a bunch of Mortal Kombat veterans from the collapse of Midway and bought the rights to Mortal Kombat and created a very deep and brutal game with a very original title called “Mortal Kombat” back in 2011 which actually became a fighting game on par with Street Fighter 4 as one of the finest of this generation. NetherRealm also made the iOS game Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, and it’s clear that the modified Unreal engine they created for that game was repurposed for Injustice.

Normally, that’s a great time to build on what worked and fix what didn’t. Refine the already solid touch screen fighting mechanics so they are perfect, and innovate on new ways to add variety to the formula. That was not the focus for Injustice. The focus was building a compulsion loop that ultimately drives you to purchase the ridiculous currency so you get to play with the characters they showcase in the game’s intro video.


Pick and choose from your favorite D.C. heroes to fight with.

Pick and choose from your favorite D.C. heroes to fight with.


As an experiment, I attempted to play the game without purchasing any currency. I wanted to see if Injustice: Gods Among Us was really “free to play”. By that I mean, can I enjoy this game just as much as any other game without spending money? Will the refusal to give this game money make my experience suck? In a word: absolutely, but to elaborate, it was evident after the first hour that I was not going to get anywhere without a substantial amount of ludicrous “coins”. I ran into a situation where the only way I could proceed is to use all the coins I had earned on the three characters that I started off with and had leveled up, but the only way to get the cool characters with incredible powers is to save up enough coins to buy the equally ludicrous “booster packs” (and by enough coin I mean 100,000+…) To give you an idea of how hard that is to attain I was able to amass over 50,000 after eight hours of play. That number hovered at 50,000 for a very long time because you get only a fraction of the experience points and no coins for replaying past stages.

Let me put all of this in perspective. Imagine Tekken 3 with most of its characters behind paywalls? Imagine how crappy Gran Turismo would be if you couldn’t re-race championships for cash to buy new and better cars? It is true that GT does not give you the same huge payout each time, but you do make progress in a matter of minutes, whereas Injustice tasks the free player to endure hours of monotony. Imagine GT sticking you with a Ford Probe until you fork out some cash? Unthinkable! And yet, in the mobile realm, this is common practice. For those asking why, the answer is simple. “Gamers” as we know them are not the target market for this kind of game. It’s the casual players that are in the crosshairs.


Remember to level up your characters' attacks and attributes after each victory.

Remember to level up your characters’ attacks and attributes after each victory.


It just happens that Injustice also forgets them in its rush to iOS gold. Had you not read the comics or played the console game you would have no clue why there are “Insurgent” or “Regime” versions of Solomon Grundy. “Who the hell is Solomon Grundy?”, you ask. Don’t bother trying to find out on your so-called “card” because you get jack-diddly for context. No bios, no explanations for the setting, no information about their comic origin? Zip. Just a number for damage and a price tag. Fun card!

The real crime of it all is that underneath all this bull, this blatant and game-breaking monetization, there’s a good game. A game that, with a bit more polish, some multiplayer, and the complete removal of all this microtransaction mess for a clean US$5.99 price tag, could be one of the best best 3D touch based fighting games on iOS.

Back in my home state we had a little thing called the Iona Free Fair. It didn’t cost you anything to get in the door, but if you wanted to park, go on any rides, or, dare I say, eat food, it was insanely expensive. I don’t think I need to tell you what word often replaced “free” when the fair came up in conversation.


The real crime: You're not going anywhere without throwing a few bucks in to snag character upgrades along the way...

The real crime: You’re not going anywhere without throwing at least a few bucks in to snag character upgrades along the way…


Injustice is the Iona Free Fair of mobile titles. Make sure to get a tape recorder close to Ed Boon on his deathbed, because I’m almost certain the man who has created some of the best fighting games in history would agree: It’s not up to NetherRealm’s sparkling standards.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is available for free and requires iOS and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

Apple releases Mavericks Developer Preview 3 to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, 08:38
Category: News, Software

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Mavericks is coming…

Per MacNN, Apple has posted OS X 10.9 Mavericks Developer Preview 3 on Monday. While it is too soon to notice any significant changes or improvements, the beta is focused on compatibility and performance issues, as well as integrating the forthcoming “iCloud Keychain” feature. The update is still dealing with assorted known issues, including some that render it incompatible with even the last Mavericks and iOS 7 betas. Installation on production machines remains strongly discouraged.

The update, which is just over 1GB in size, doesn’t support virtual machines made by VMWare Fusion, nor does Adobe’s After Effects CS6 work properly. A number of functions in DP3 are not backwards-compatible with previous versions — such as new Fusion Drive volumes, screen recordings, Recovery Partition reinstalls and iCloud Keychain. The latter, an expansion of the ability to sync keychains between devices, still has a number of serious known issues.

The iCloud Keychain proposes to move the centralized storage of secure passwords, website usernames and other important data to iCloud, with entries encrypted using 256-bit AES. This enables users to take more advantage of the built-in Password Generator that creates unmemorable complex passwords for online accounts, since users don’t have to remember the password itself, just the one master password that unlocks the keychain and can be used across any devices the user has.

The release notes refer to issues with QuickTime Player, Aperture, Photoshop, Maps and others. The new update does include a newer version of OpenSSH, 6.2p2, but also lists a number of odd bugs such as “the headphone port on the new 2013 MacBook Air will not operate unless headphones are present at boot” and “on some machines, frequently sleeping and waking may result in the machines restarting,” indicating that the latest release is still far from being ready for public consumption. Migration from Windows is still not supported, and network migration from earlier versions of OS X requires a Migration Update (for Snow Leopard and later) that is only available from the Mac Dev Center.

The forthcoming Mavericks promises users long-requested features such as Finder Tabs and better multi-monitor support, extensive efficiency routines that should prolong battery life, improved Maps, a faster Safari, iBooks for the Mac and many other new and improved features. It is expected sometime in the early fall, although no exact release date has been released.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Geekbench entry hints at next-gen 15-inch, Haswell-based MacBook Pro

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Date: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, 07:14
Category: MacBook Pro, News

macbookpro15

This could point to something cool down the road.

Per MacRumors, a new entry that surfaced last month in the results database for popular benchmarking tool Geekbench 2 appeared to reveal Apple’s next-generation 13-inch MacBook Pro. Many observers had expected the update to come at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, but Apple has yet to release the new machines.

The post appears to reveal Apple’s next-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro, carrying a code name of “AAPLJ45,1″. As with the 13-inch model, it is not clear whether this machine is a Retina or non-Retina model, although Apple has been rumored to be leaving the non-Retina models without any further updates as it seeks to phase out the line in favor of an all-Retina lineup.

The benchmarked 15-inch MacBook Pro, which carries one of Intel’s new Haswell processors and 16 GB of RAM, received a Geekbench score of 12497, roughly in line with the current generation of the machine. But as was seen with the MacBook Air released last month, Haswell’s biggest benefit comes in efficiency, with Apple being able to boost the battery life on those machines to up to 12 hours.

The chip included in the benchmarked machine is a Core i7-4950HQ running at 2.4 GHz and offering Intel’s new high-end Iris Pro 5200 integrated graphics. Intel’s promotional materials for Iris previously showed graphics performance gains of 2-2.5x for this i7-4950Q with Iris 5200 compared to the i7-3840QM with HD Graphics 4000 found in the current stock high-end Retina MacBook Pro.

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro has, however, historically also included a dedicated graphics chip for improved performance, although it is unclear exactly what Apple’s plans are in this regard for future generations. With Intel’s integrated graphics seeing significant increases in performance, it is possible that Apple could, at least on some models, forego a dedicated graphics chip in order to push battery life even higher.

As with the 13-inch model benchmarked earlier, this 15-inch model is running a custom build of OS X Mavericks, in this case 13A2052. The machine is also running a Boot ROM dated June 24.

Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro currently offers 7 hours of battery life, and while Apple may not be able to duplicate the 80% increase in battery life seen with the MacBook Air’s switch to Haswell due to other power-hungry components such as the MacBook Pro’s Retina display, the company may still be able to offer substantial battery life improvements in its new machines.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 7 beta 3, adds extensive changes across the board

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Date: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, 07:50
Category: iOS, News, Software

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The third iOS 7 beta is out, complete with a fairly massive list of updates and changes.

Per AppleInsider, Apple Apple on Monday released the third beta build of iOS 7 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to its development community for testing, addressing pre-release bugs related to a range of issues, including Messages, iCloud and AirPlay.

Those with authorized Apple developer accounts can update their devices directly through the Software Update section of the built-in Settings application. Monday’s launch confirms an earlier rumor that Apple planned to follow a two-week release schedule.

The third beta includes the following fixes and changes:
The third beta is said to address a number of issues that previously existed when using Apple’s iCloud services. Specifically, users familiar with the accompanying release notes said a number of problems associated with the new iCloud Keychain feature have been fixed in beta 3. Issues that also existed with Find My iPhone and Bookmarks toggles have reportedly been addressed.

Apple also indicated to developers that it has fixed an issue in the Messages application that would present an empty message list on a clean install of iOS 7. Another issue that would cause Messages to crash when viewing attachments on two separate threads has also been addressed.Fixes in iOS 7 beta 3 are wide ranging, covering issues with push notifications, iCloud Keychain, Messages, and Newsstand.

Developers testing iOS 7 beta 3 will also no longer be prompted with authorization alerts when Newsstand background downloads using HTTP basic or digest authentication are initiated.

The latest beta also squashes a bug that would not save per-app settings in the Background App Refresh option in Settings. In addition, an issue that would not respect custom Passcode Lock and Auto-Lock settings has been fixed.

Apple has also reportedly addressed a common issue where some apps may receive either duplicate push notifications, or no push notification at all. The app switcher has also been updated to show all suspended apps, Apple told developers.

Finally, a bug that would not allow Reminders to work with VoiceOver functionality is said to have been addressed.

As before, Apple has warned users that the second beta “should only be deployed on devices dedicated for iOS 7 beta software development.” The prerelease software is not intended for use among the general public.

As such, a number of known issues are said to remain in iOS 7 beta 3 in a range of applications, including Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Safari, Passbook and more.

The second iOS 7 beta was provided to developers two Mondays ago, on June 24. It added new voice options for Apple’s Siri personal assistant software.

Apple gave developers the first beta of iOS 7 a month ago at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. That was also the first time the world, outside of Apple’s team, got to see a major design overhaul for the platform.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new iOS 7 beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.