For Beginners, new perspective, Recommendation, Review, Video Games

Gaming for Beginners: Stardew Valley

To continue with the trend as of late, I’m going to try another series. As you can imagine by the title, this series will be about gaming. I realized that if someone says video games are “a waste of time” they either 1) Have not played video games or 2) they tried video games, didn’t understand what was going on, got frustrated, and decided video games were stupid. So here I am to help. To remedy the issue, instead of writing reviews geared for those who already play games, I am hand picking games that provide a challenge, have depth, and are easy enough to jump into and enjoy for ANYONE.

Story

So let’s start with stardew valley. The story of Stardew Valley starts out simple enough. You’ve sold your soul to Corporate America and are working at a job you hate just to make ends meet. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s the story of the American Dream! While at the office you remember a letter your grandfather gave you before he died and him saying “open this when life has you in a tizzy”. In the letter, is the deed to the family farm. And thus begins your journey to Stardew Valley.

Gameplay

When you arrive, the farm is a mess. Weeds run rampant and you only have enough money to buy a few crops. Thus begins your first season. You clear land, meet villagers, and tend to your harvest in the hope of having a bigger yield next season to build a farm that Grandpa would be proud of. If you’ve ever fantasized about being a lumberjack, now’s your chance. Instead of growing thousands of pumpkins, plant a thousand trees; once they’re fully grown, chop them down. Want to spend most of your time fishing, use your rod and buy a few crabbing pots along with some bait. Want to hunt monsters all day and be a miner? Buy a sword and grab your pickaxe.

What did I do? Who was/is farmer Mike? I grew bored of planting crops, so instead I built a coop and a barn and had my sheep Ann and my chicken Lucy to keep me company. Then as months turned to years, I built a wine cellar, built a greenhouse (coffee all year round!!!), and grew wheat and hops to make beer. Then I met a villager, fell in love and accomplished what I’ve never been able to do in real life; settle down!

Time

So as you can imagine, this game is quite involved. I failed my marketing final because I had the brilliant idea of buying this game a week before (still got an A in the class). However, this is a game that you could play for 30 minutes, stop, and continue when you have more time. It’s beyond addicting. It has catchy music, beautiful sound effects, a rewarding progress system, and better conversations than you have with your friends in real life. It is a game where you could start playing in the morning, look out the window and realize that the sun has already set, then keep playing till the sun rises again. What’s more, it was developed by one individual during his free time. If you spend money ($15) you’ll be supporting one man who pursued his dreams and made a beautiful piece of art.

Verdict

This game is fun for everyone. If you’re looking for a new hobby, this game is a great starting point. If you’re trying to understand why all your nerd friends would rather sit inside all day than talk to your lovely face, just give this a try. I give this game:

5 out of 5 ripe potatoes: A must play


So there you have it! My first ever video game review! It was a lot of fun to write and hope you enjoyed it as well. I plan to do more in the future and think it’ll be a nice addition to my book and movie reviews. And with any luck, I might even make a game connoisseur out of you yet! As always, thanks for reading! I’ll post a link to the trailer for “Stardew Valley” below and feel free to comment if you have questions!

Stardew Valley Trailer

Book Review, Books, Recommendation, Review

Great Gatsby: Worth a read?

The Great Gatsby. The book most read in primary school. Did I read it then? I actually can’t remember. But I’ve read it now. And what did I think? Well… Let’s first talk about what it is.

The narration is from the perspective of Nick, a classy, honest dude who moved East to New York. The book is set in the 1920’s or better known as the roaring 20’s in the US and at it’s heart sets up a great mystery. Early in the story Nick meets his neighbor Jay Gatsby, a mysterious individual who perplexes the relatively reserved Nick. Gatsby is a man who has extravagant parties and has a taste for the finer things in life.

As the book progresses, we learn more about Gatsby and his past, uncovering the mystery of why he’s called “The Great Gatsby”. Woven into the plot is a tale of unrequited love and really goes to show that it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Why you should read

The book is beautifully written. When you read the book, it’s as though you’re in the 20’s and right there alongside Nick. The book has plenty of twists and leaves you questioning if what you’re told is the actual truth. The book steadily ramps up and the climax does not disappoint when you finally reach page 180. The writing is easy to follow and it makes for a quick, enjoyable read.

My recommendation?

I give “The Great Gatsby” 4 out of 5 stars. While not perfect, it comes close. It’s a great book and certainly worth your time.


Thanks for reading! The next book on my list is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, which I’ve only heard great things about. Already read “The Great Gatsby”? Feel free to discuss in the comments below, just be wary to avoid spoilers when you post.

 

Movie, Review

Jason Bourne: An honest, spoiler free review

Jason Bourne. The ultimate Bad-Ass. Was this movie necessary? Not at all. Was it appreciated. Yes, yes it was.

Worth a Watch?

It’s Jason Bourne, it’s Matt Damon. Enough said. Watch this movie if you loved the trilogy, it’s more of the same. Are you expecting a new Jason Bourne experience? Sorry this isn’t it. The Jason Bourne formula works and is classic.

The Action

If there ever was a movie known for action. Michael Bay may be master of explosions, but Jason Bourne has class. Jason is the weapon and no one is safe. Any inconspicuous object can be turned into a weapon and the newest Bourne does not disappoint. The main setting for the movie is during the Greek Crisis, which I personally thought was a great set up for fight scenes. Bourne is on the move, so there’s plenty of variety in venues and it’s always fun to see Bourne make use of each new situation/environment. Oh, and the car chase. It wouldn’t be Bourne without it. So if you want to feel like Bourne is snapping limbs left and right and actually cringe at the brutality, the movie is worth seeing for the action alone (and let’s be honest, Jason Bourne is all about the action).

The Characters

Jason Bourne is back. Too much Jason Bourne is never a bad thing. The supporting cast is great and serve to push the action along in the typical Bourne fashion. You have the Assassin, the friend, the agency (always out to get Bourne), and the person who plays both sides. Standard cast, nothing you haven’t already seen. The movie gives a little more background into Bourne’s personal life and does a fine job of creating a purpose for Bourne to come back.

The Story

The story, for better or worse, is the same Bourne formula we know and love. Bourne accepts the call to action, is being hunted, sneaks around, fights people, has a car chase, and ultimately escapes. I enjoyed it because it is exactly what I expected. This movie is simply more Bourne.

Final Verdict

I was a little worried when I first heard Bourne was coming out of retirement. The Bourne trilogy is one of my favorite trilogies, so I didn’t want to see the Bourne name tarnished. Matt Damon is also one of my favorite actors, so I expected a quality experience. While the new Jason Bourne isn’t blowing anyone’s mind, there’s plenty of action and I was entertained for the entirety of the movie.

Movie, Review

Suicide Squad: An honest, spoiler free review

So Suicide Squad, DC’s answer to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. If you’ve seen the reviews, they’re not great. I saw the movie and by and large enjoyed it. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it certainly wasn’t a disaster either. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Is it worth watching?

What you really want to know, the reason you’re reading this review. As a longtime DC fan, I’d say go for it. It’s a fun movie, just go in with the right expectations. I was expecting an offbeat, wacky, quirky movie. That’s what I got. Nothing more, nothing less.

The Action

If you’re looking for a fight, you’ve got one. The fighting is run of the mill but there were a few scenes that got me saying “now that’s bad-ass”. Not much else to say, there’s explosions, bullets flying, and lots of destruction.

The Characters

The characters were great, all fitting their respective roles well. My favorite of the bunch was Will Smith as Deadshot and El Diablo came in a close second. Each had enough backstory to keep you in the loop but I’d say of all the characters, Harley, Deadshot, and El Diablo had the most time dedicated to their backstories. Captain Boomerang I could’ve done without but I thought the movie did a decent job portraying his character. Amanda Waller was spot on and played the cold, calculating women we’ve come to know from the comics. Jared Leto makes a decent joker, giving more of a mob boss vibe than a completely off the hinges psychopath. The main villain was a mixed bag. On one hand there was complexity to the character yet on the other hand after the intro of the movie I felt the character was underutilized.

The Story

Everyone hates a cliched story yet that’s exactly what we got. Everyone is looking for the “next big thing” when it comes to movies and I say, “why does every movie have to be bigger and better than the last”? Some call the story muddled, but it’s all about context. This movie is creating a universe, a sort of trailblazer for DC if you will. DC doesn’t  have the luxury of creating multiple films when Marvel has already established a rich universe that is ever expanding. So yes, Suicide Squad is a lot of back story and it may seem like filler and intrusive at times, but from the context of the bigger picture, it has to be done. I didn’t notice any glaring flaws with how the story was structured. This is a very straight forward movie, no twists, no turns. It has a good amount of humor, so that is a big step forward for DC. It juggles grit with humor well. It also humanizes the villains, giving more than one dimension to characters many often dismiss as “baddies”.

Final Verdict

It’s a fun movie. It’s not the big blockbuster everyone will love, but as far as the DC cinematic universe is concerned, it’s a step in the right direction. The characters are fun and complex and while the story is very standard and cliche, that by no means makes it a bad movie. So go ahead and spend ten dollars on the ticket, I thought it was worth the money.

Business, Review

The One Thing: Worth a Read?

So, what is the one thing? Well, that’s the idea behind this book. People are constantly making themselves busier and busier but for what? People try to achieve a work life balance but only find themselves stressed and frustrated. This book challenges this belief and instead refers to the “work-life” counterbalance. If you’re working, your focus should be on work. If you’re “living” your focus should be on life (family, friends, yourself, etc). This is just one of many ideas touched upon in this book.

Readability:

The book is easy to read and is very engaging, often riddled with pictures and diagrams. Gary Keller and Jay Papasan take the time to literally underline important concepts in the book, as if you were making notes in the book yourself. It’s a cool and memorable idea, and makes it easy if you want to refer to the book later on. The end of each chapter has a “big ideas” section that covers all the key concepts.

Application:

This book is extremely useful. I read the book a few weeks ago and a lot of the concepts have stuck with me even though I haven’t been practicing all of them. This is a book that gives you specific techniques to do more with less and really helps you manage your time more efficiently.

Final Verdict:

Amazing book, I’d put it high on my list for “must reads”. I’d say it was just as helpful as “how to win friends and influence people” and “7 habits for highly effective people”. If you’re someone who feels like you want to make the most of your time and not waste it doing things that don’t matter to you, pick up this book!

Business, Recommendation, Review

Good to Great Review: Is it worth a buy?

So “Good to Great”,  was it good or was it great? Well, that’s a tough call. As an “essential” business book I found it a little meh when compared to the works of Stephen Covey and Dale Carnegie. Th basic premise behind “Good to Great” is that in order to make the leap from good to great, a company must have “disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action”. It’s a fun idea and what I liked is the book found this information through extensive research into companies. For that fact alone it’s worth a read. This is a data driven book that tries (and largely succeeds) to marry the data to “universal rules”. I thought Jim Collins was a good author, being honest and transparent in his language. He does tend to repeat a lot of the concepts but for the most part I never felt like it was going in circles. So what’s my recommendation?

Recommendation: Worth a Buy, but I’d definitely wait until you’ve read some other “essential” business books. The book can get dry at times but there’s a lot of good material to read. Can also apply what you learn to your everyday life (although not to the same extent as “7 Habits” and “How to Win Friends”).

Note: I listened to the audible version, which was fun because Jim Collins himself narrated it and added extra snippets that weren’t in the original book. As far as content, there are a few diagrams which couldn’t be shown that are in the book but that Jim Collins took the time to describe in detail. As far as using this book as a reference, I would most likely recommend the hard cover.

Movie, Recommendation, Review

Movie Spotlight: Inside Out

This week is very content heavy but I honestly just felt like writing and it sure beats doing homework for my summer classes.So what better way to start (or finish) your Saturday than with a movie recommendation! Inside Out is a fantastic movie and not just for kids, believe it or not (thank you Pixar!). In fact, if you have kids, I would advise caution with this movie as it is one of the saddest movies I’ve watched in recent years, and even though I’m a guy and guys don’t cry, I got choked up multiple times throughout the film. Truth be told, I was dragged to this movie because I thought it was going to be a kids movie! The plot centers around an 11 year old girl, Riley, who moves to San Francisco and chronicles her experience adjusting to school and life in general. The movie goes back and forth between Riley and her 5 main emotions represented as cute little people inside her head: Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Sadness. The writers managed to envision a world inside Riley’s head and shows the brain as both a machine and a vibrant wonderland of thought and emotion. The world is fully realized and ever structure inside the mind is well fleshed out in what is perhaps the most fun interpretation of the human brain. Move aside, anatomy books, just have your students watch inside out instead. So there you have it, a brief rundown of inside out. I don’t want to go into too much detail in case you still haven’t seen it, but I would definitely give it the thumbs up. One of the best movies I’ve seen in recent years.

Final Verdict: 10/10

One of the best movies I’ve seen, beautifully written and executed, I could not find a flaw even if I tried.