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 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

ios7logo

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.

iOS 7 build shows new Accessibility option to control devices via head movements

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Date: Thursday, June 27th, 2013, 09:30
Category: iOS, News, Software

ios7logo

Ok, this could be interesting.

Per MacRumors, a new feature has been pointed out for Apple’s upcoming iOS 7 operating system that, via an Accessibility menu, allows iPhone users to control their devices using head movements.

The option can be found in the Switch Control area of the Accessibility menu, which is designed for users who need assistance with physical and motor movements.

Switch Control allows you to use your iPhone by sequentially highlighting items on the screen that can be activated through an adaptive accessory.

With the feature activated, specific movements can be used to correspond with actions. For example, the setting can be programmed to allow a left head movement to activate a tap, while a right head movement can be programmed to perform to another function.

Users can also make the left or right head movement act as a home button, start Siri, open Notification Center, open the App Switcher, decrease volume, increase volume, or simply tap.

It is important to note that Switch Control head movements are a beta function and should be used with caution, as the setting disables touch input.

Apple has always had a heavy focus on accessibility, and over the years has worked to provide accessibility options for vision, hearing, motor skills, and learning, turning the iPad and the iPhone into fully featured assistive devices. iOS 7 promises to bring even more accessibility options, further increasing the utility of Apple’s devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype for iOS updated to 4.9, adds free video messaging, other improvements

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Date: Thursday, June 27th, 2013, 08:28
Category: iOS, News, Software

skypeios

It’s one of those days for marquee iOS app updates.

Per iMore, Skype for iPhone and Skype for iPad have been updated to version 4.9. The new version, a 29.6 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
- Video messaging is now free and unlimited.

- Audio and video call stability improvements.

- Share photos more readily.

- Improved accessibility for video messaging.

- General fixes and improvements.

Video clips can be up to three minutes long, and the fact that all users can now send as many as they like has lots of positive implications for continued use of the service. A call is not always convienient, but there’s something a lot more personal about seeing someone as they’re speaking to you. Like they really, actually do want to talk to you.

Skype 4.9 requires and iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new versions of Skype for iOS and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Google Earth updated to 7.1.1 for iOS, Android

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Date: Thursday, June 27th, 2013, 06:33
Category: iOS, News, Software

google-earth-icon

This could come in handy.

Per Google Lat Long, Google has just released version 7.1.1 of Google Earth for Android and iOS.

The new version, a 29 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Google Street View.

- Improved directions and search.

- Improved user interface.

Google Earth 7.1.1 requires an iOS device running iOS 4.3 or later to install and run and can be snagged via the iTunes Store.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

iOS 7 developer beta incorporates password disable feature

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Date: Wednesday, June 26th, 2013, 07:00
Category: iOS, News, security, Software

ios7logo

As mentioned before, it’s the beta versions that point out the cool stuff on the horizon.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s latest beta build of iOS 7 makes it more difficult for thieves to get away with stealing an iOS device by requiring a user’s password to be entered when disabling the “Find My iPhone” functionality.

The new feature, found in pre-release builds of iOS 7 made available to developers, also applies to the iPad. Users can open the Settings application, choose iCloud, then “Find My iPhone,” and flipping the switch to off brings up a password prompt.

The addition addresses a potential issue that users have noticed for years, since the “Find My iPhone” functionality came to iOS 4 in 2010. With iOS 7, users who may not feel the need to utilize the passcode lock screen can still enjoy added security for the Find My iPhone feature, making it more difficult for a thief to turn it off.

Of course, someone who has stolen an iPhone or iPad could simply turn off the device, or remove a SIM card. But the new feature is just an added level of security for those who may be unfortunate enough to have their device stolen.

Still, not a bad addition.

Please let us know what you think of this in the comments.

Apple releases second iOS 7 beta to developer community

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Date: Monday, June 24th, 2013, 10:26
Category: iOS, iPad, News, Software

It’s the beta versions that show the cool stuff around the corner.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, the second iOS 7 beta was released today, sources indicating that it contains the usual “bug fixes and improvements.” A document outlining the changes is available to developers at developer.apple.com/ios7/release-notes, although several devs reported that the page is currently offline.

Developers have also noted that the update is available for iPad now, marking the first time that iOS 7 will appear on Apple’s tablet.

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

AT&T updates carrier settings, pushes Wireless Emergency Alerts

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Date: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, 07:39
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software, wireless

attlogo

This was a weird thing that popped up, but it’s hard to argue with the Emergency Alert System.

Per The Mac Observer, wireless carrier AT&T began pushing an update to iPhone users over the weekend that adds support for Wireless Emergency Alerts. The WEA system sends text messages to smartphone owners alerting them to physical threats like earthquakes and tornados, man-made disasters, AMBER Alerts, and Presidential alerts.


carrierupdate

The update is being pushed to the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, and doesn’t require any action on the user’s part since it’s delivered over the air. Once installed, alerts will appear as special text messages and are delivered based on your location. For example, if an AMBER alert is issued for a missing child and you’re in the same city, you’ll see the notification.

The update is free, and since it’s a carrier-supplied update, it won’t appear in iOS 6′s built-in Software Update feature.

Microsoft releases long-awaited Office Mobile 365 for iOS

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Date: Friday, June 14th, 2013, 06:58
Category: iOS, News, Software

office365ios

You’ve been hankering for a native version of Microsoft Office for iOS for some time now.

And it’s arrived.

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft on Friday released its Office Mobile 365 app for Apple’s iPhone, allowing users with subscriptions to the productivity suite to access Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents on the go.

With Microsoft’s Office Mobile, users can view documents stored in Microsoft’s SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro or SharePoint, as well as read and edit Office docs sent as email attachments. Additionally, owners of Windows machines can remotely access documents that were recently viewed on a desktop client.

Another PC-only feature is “Resume Reading,” which allows Word documents opened from SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro to automatically jump to where users left off on their Windows computer or tablet.

Microsoft says documents are optimized before being viewed on the iPhone, while support for charts, animations, SmartArt Graphics and shapes comes built-in. Also available is an in-app Slide Navigator in PowerPoint and a function to help with presentation practice.

The application offers the following features:
- Edit – You can make quick edits to Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

- Documents Remain Intact – Formatting and content remain intact when you edit Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents on your phone.

- Edit While Offline – Your device doesn’t have to be continuously connected to the network to work on an Office document that is stored online. You can view and edit recently used documents even while you’re offline. Your changes will be saved online when your device reconnects to the network or to Wi-Fi.

- Create – You can create new Word and Excel documents on your phone.

- Comments – You can review comments that have been made in Word and Excel documents on your phone and add your own comments.

- Share – When you’re done with your edits or comments, simply send the document in email or save it to SkyDrive or SharePoint.

Office Mobile comes in at 58MB and is available from the App Store as a free companion app for existing Office 365 subscribers. The app requires an iOS device running iOS 6.1 or later to install and run. Microsoft Office 2013 for PC is required for recent document and resume reading.

If you’ve tried Office Mobile 365 and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iOS 7 user interface still under development, could see major changes from version presented at WWDC

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Date: Thursday, June 13th, 2013, 06:24
Category: iOS, News, Software

iOS-7-Logo

You know that new, flatter look demoed for iOS 7 at WWDC?

It’s probably not the final version.

Per The Next Web, sources familiar with Apple’s latest mobile operating system said the iOS 7 beta, as well as the preview shown at the WWDC keynote on Monday, is a “mid-stride” snapshot of the work being done behind closed doors.

The pace is so quick that some of the builds used to present the OS on stage two days ago were later versions of what was seeded to developers in the iOS 7 beta. It can’t be confirmed which feature sets are more advanced, though the beta version is slightly inconsistent with the OS demoed on Monday by software engineering head Craig Federighi.

The fact that iOS 7 will change before it is released seems obvious in that the software currently in the hands of developers are beta versions meant for testing. However, while backend and UI tweaks are expected to change for early build software, the radically different new design language of iOS 7 is also reportedly largely under construction.

Interestingly, Apple’s senior vice president of Industrial Design Jony Ive, who is now also the head of the company’s Human Interaction section, called on in-house marketing design teams to flesh out the much-ballyhooed first party app icons.

The sources said both print and web design personnel laid down a framework of color palettes and a general “look,” which Ive’s app designers used as guidelines to produce what was seen in the iOS 7 preview. As with operational facets of the OS, these are also works in progress.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said iOS 7 is the biggest change to iOS since the first iPhone was introduced in 2007, and from a design perspective that rings true. Ive and his team have managed to dismantle almost every theme and nuance that the OS has amassed over the preceding six years and six generations. From skeuomorphic iconography to UI and UX, the new iOS 7 tears down almost everything, replacing it with a clean, if not controversial, design. Apple has managed, at least in these early builds, to achieve a feel that is at once completely new and wholly familiar.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.