Posts Tagged ‘review’

The game has been out less than a week and I have to say it has absorbed quite a bit of my free time.  One of my co-workers has been playing with me a lot online and together we’re pretty hard to beat.  On more than one occasion my fiance has had to work extra hard to pry me away from the PS3.

My Thoughts

I have to say I was a little skeptical about this game.  I was always a huge fan of the Infinity Ward games (particularly Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2) but the new team at Infinity Ward hasn’t impressed me that much.  That said, this game removed all doubt.  The online multiplayer has been revamped and is better than ever.  While I still miss certain features from the Modern Warfare series, I welcome the new changes.

I haven’t played the campaign at all, so I can’t comment on that although I’ve heard its really cool.  I’ve focused strictly on the multiplayer at this point.  Typically my fiance plays the single player portions long before I do.  In my opinion, the campaign is just a bonus feature in these games.  Most of them last less than 5 hours and while they’re usually fun and impressive, I prefer spending my time climbing through the ranks online.

Online, I focus on playing as a sniper.  I have gotten very good over the years and my friends hate to play against me.  This game is very sniper-friendly, so I enjoy it a lot.  There are open lanes on just about every map, unlike previous games where certain maps just didn’t fare well for long range shooting.  I can play well using just about any type of weapon, but my slow and steady play style is better suited to using a weapon that often requires patience to master.

Becoming the Ghillie Monster

On Nov 7th, just before midnight,  just two days after the game released, I unlocked the ghillie suit for my characters.  My performance as a sniper in the game has increased exponentially.  The graphics in the game are extremely good and the ghille suit makes it very easy to blend into the environment.  I’ve had many people run right past me or struggle to see me, simply because I was wearing the suit.  What I’m saying is that it is well worth the effort to get it, and I’m not looking forward to the future when every sniper has it.

In past games, the ghillie suit was typically given to players after they completed certain challenges (several hundred “one-shot kills” I believe), so long as they equipped a sniper rifle as their primary weapon.  This game allows you to equip it to any character, but its a bit more difficult to acquire.

To get the ghillie suit, you need to have the “chrome barrel” attachment on your sniper rifle and complete the 3 chrome barrel challenges.  The first is 100 kills, the second is 250, and the third is 500.  So the total you have to get is 850 kills using the chrome barrel.  Not an easy feat by itself.

However, this game is also unique in that you don’t have access to every challenge at once.  In previous games you unlocked more challenges as you leveled up.  In this one, you’re given a certain amount in each category and they only change if you spend points you’ve earned or wait the 2 weeks between sets.  So in order to get the ghillie suit, you also have to make sure you have the chrome barrel challenges open in the Operations menu.

My suggestion for unlocking the ghillie suit, if you choose to do so, is get rid of all other loadouts that don’t contain a sniper rifle with a chrome barrel.  Doing this will force you to play as a sniper (which is possible on every map) and you’ll develop the play style you have to have instead of flipping back and forth and trying to maintain different skills.

By default you start with 3 loadouts available.  I used one with an ACOG scope and the other two with Variable Zoom scopes.  Variable zoom lets you play well on most of the maps and the ACOG gives you the flexibility you need on smaller or more urban maps.  Set the perks and equipment up for how you like to play (I like perks that hide me and equipment that protects me from behind) and you should be good to go.

Likes

There are a lot of things I like about this game so I’ll just focus on the things I like the most.  Since I haven’t played the campaign yet, this will focus only on the online multiplayer portion.

I really like that they’ve added game types.  I particularly like the addition of Infected.  I remember playing something like that in Halo once at a friends house.  Its a  lot of fun if you play with a group of friends.  Cranked is also pretty neat.  I’ve only played a few times but its different and I like that they tried to add something instead of relying on only what worked in the past.

The maps are really cool.  It takes a while to memorize the maps and until then its just a lot of running around like you’re lost.  Once you figure it out though they all have a lot of unique features.  My favorites by far are Warhawk and Octane since they have something to offer everyone from snipers to those guys with SMGs.

I think they balanced the weapons more.  From the time I’ve spent with the game it seems the weapons have been a little more balanced this time and I like that.  Other people may disagree but I still have nightmares from the first Black Ops where nobody used anything but sub machine guns because they were so powerful.

Dislikes

There are only a few things I don’t like about this game and they’re easy to get past.  During the first few hours I had a tough time with creating a class.  The addition of so many perks and the fact that depending on what specialty you give your character changes which perks you receive early made it a bit confusing.  It was quite a change from previous versions.  After a few hours though it got easier to figure out and now I have no problem at all (though I still prefer the older create a class systems).

While playing a match, the statistics screen (brought up with the select button on the PS3) has been moved.  Instead of being in the center of the screen, its now smaller and at the top right.  The benefit is that it can be left up while you play, but the downside is that its smaller and harder to read.

Muting players online.  This used to be easy from the statistic screen.  You simply highlighted a player and pushed the mute button.  Now you have to open the pause menu and select mute players.  At that point its pretty much the same, highlight a player and push mute.  Unfortunately it takes longer to do while playing and took a while to discover.  That meant I had to sit there listening to chipmunks and 13 year olds cuss back and forth the whole time.

They changed the challenges.  I always thought the challenge system they had was really good.  I don’t feel like the changes they made to that part of the game improved the experience at all.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of the online portion of past Call of Duty games, Ghosts will not disappoint.  My complaints about the game are minor and not worth worrying about (I’m just one of those people who hate change).  The game is well worth the $60 price tag.  If you don’t like that they release a slightly different version every year just to make money, then don’t buy it.  Its not significantly better than past games, and I definitely wont be trading my old ones in.  But I can say with absolute certainty that when I play a COD game during the next year it will be Ghosts.

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As some of you may already know, I own a 22lr conversion kit for my AR15.  When I bought the kit it came with one 25 round magazine and I went ahead and bought a spare.  With the 25 round magazines however, I found it difficult to use the bipod; the magazine rested on the table rather than the butt of the rifle.  Sometimes I had to extend the legs on the bipod just to achieve proper sight alignment.  I wanted something shorter that was still compatible with my conversion kit.

Black Dog Machine MagazineThe Black Dog Machine 22lr X-Form magazine was the solution.  It came in several different capacities and colors, but I opted for the shortest they had (10 rounds) in black since I planned to paint it anyway.  It was reasonably priced (in a time when gun parts and accessories are hard to come by) and it shipped much faster than I expected.

At first glance it isn’t all that impressive.  Its very lightweight (the magazines by CMMG were weighted) and made of pretty thin plastic.  But that is far overshadowed by its exceptional performance.

Loading the CMMG mags is a pain.  It takes forever to drop 25 22lr rounds in them and the spring is extremely firm.  With the Black Dog magazine, that is not an issue.  The spring, while firm, is easy to depress enough to load.  Even loading the magazine to full capacity is easy and there’s hardly any resistance.  You would expect a light spring to not feed properly, but I’ve yet to have a fail to feed (granted 22lr rounds aren’t as large as other calibers).

(2) AR15 22lr MagsAnother pleasant surprise was that the bolt catch worked.  According to the website and some information I found online, the Black Dog magazines didn’t hold open the chamber when using the CMMG conversion kit after firing the last round.  This information was wrong in my case; it works very well.  It even locks into the receiver better than my CMMG mags which occassionally require extra effort to fully insert.

Overall I think its a fantastic product.  The 10 round capacity is much better for my needs.  1) It keeps me from blasting through as much ammo.  2) It let’s me use my bipod without the magazine interfering.  25 and 30 round mags are great and I very much enjoy the ones I have, but for target practice and general use, a smaller capacity magazine will do the job for me most times.

If you’re looking for a magazine that will work with your CMMG 22lr conversion kit, definitely consider one by Black Dog.  You will not be disappointed.  My only regret is buying just one . . .

**  Updated on 4/9/13 – Added pictures and links  **

I’ve been meaning to talk about these things since Christmas but I kept forgetting about it.  Today I came across them again over at The Sportsmans Guide and it triggered my memory.  Since The Guide has them back in stock once again, I’ll give a brief little review so you know whether or not you’d like to get any for yourself.

(2) 20-round AR15 magazines coupled together

While I haven’t put a considerable amount of ammunition through them, I can tell they are well built.  They’re quality magazines that haven’t failed to feed yet.  They’re easy to load and even work pretty well with stripper clips.  They come with couplers that hold two of them together.  Swapping mags becomes as simple as dropping the two down and sliding them either left or right to insert the second.

The magazines are lightweight and can actually fit in my front shirt pocket.  Even when coupled together they take up only slightly more room than a 30-round mag.  The difference being that when linked together these are wider than a 30-round mag is so they don’t fit in most magazine pouches.

Using two 20-round magazines gives you 40 round capacity for only a slight amount of extra work.  In addition, should 30-round mags ever get banned, these fall in with slightly lower capacity.  Doubt that would help considering they want us using only 5 or 6 rounds, but hey, smaller magazines are easier to hide . . .

Regardless of where you stand on the magazine ban-wagon, for $30 (less if you’re a member) you can get 120 rounds of magazine capacity.  That’s really hard to beat considering most 30-round mags are going for around $30 each!  This deal probably wont be available long, so grab them while you can.  I can assure you that you wont be disappointed.

Of course if you want to go big then you can always buy this instead . . .

Its been a long time since I’ve purchased a dedicated video camera.  I’ve been using my Samsung GalaxyS for videos recently and it works great, but it just can’t do what I want.  So when I started looking for a camcorder, I went to Best Buy.

The salespeople were nowhere to be seen, so I started looking around and playing with the various models on my own.  I tried camcorders by Sony, Panasonic, and more, but I stopped and spent most of my time in front of the Samsung models.  I own 2 Samsung tvs, a Samsung phone, a Samsung Tablet, and now a Samsung camcorder.  I love their products and they’re an easy company to deal with.

I wasn’t able to test video playback in the store, but I did get to look through all the settings and try the zoom and image stabilization.  Focus was very fast and I was able to zoom the entire length of the store and read the price tags.  I was impressed with how it worked and especially the $179 price tag.  So now I get to test all the features.

Pros:

  • Easy to use:  I was able to pick it up and start recording as soon as I opened the box.  Nothing complicated about it.
  • Can take pictures as well as video:  Being able to take both video and pictures is pretty handy.  See below for quality comparison.
  • HD video (1280 X 720):  Even after editing, converting, and compressing for Youtube, quality is still impressive.  Straight out of the camera its simply incredible
  • HDMI output:  Almost all tvs now have an HDMI input, so having HDMI as an output on the camera means I can just plug it in and watch my videos in true HD.
  • MP4 video files:  In the world of file types, the MP4 seems to be the most modern.  Most phones use them now and in my experience its been easy to edit without losing much quality.  I’m no tech guru, but I am pretty certain the MP4 is superior to most other video file types out there.
  • 52X optical zoom:  Optical zoom is always superior to digital zoom because digital zoom distorts the image.  Optical zoom (from my understanding) uses only lenses and glass to zoom.  One reason I love my DSLR is the interchangeable zoom lenses; no need to rely on digital enhancement to see farther.
  • Image stabilization:  As I mention in the cons below, this thing is too light.  Having the camcorder automatically stabilize the shot for you (or try to at least) is a huge benefit.
  • Accepts SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards:  Any time you have several options its usually a good thing.  After years of going through cameras and phones, I have several of these cards laying around.  I still bought a new one though since 8GB was only $8.
  • Can still record while charging/no battery:  While not practical, I have already used this capability twice.  I can sit on the couch and record things inside or out the window, even when the battery is dead, as long as I have it plugged up.
  • USB Charging (includes wall outlet):  USB charging is standard on most devices now.  The days of product specific chargers is gone (thank goodness!).  I can charge this thing anywhere I go (new cars are even equipped with USB ports now) and that’s always a plus.
  • Removeable/replacable battery:  No product should ever be made without replaceable batteries (Apple I’m looking at you).  Products that are unable to outlive their battery life are pointless and being able to change batteries allows me to carry a spare (I have 4 for my DSLR) when traveling.  There are few things worse than witnessing something amazing only to find out you have no charged batteries to record it with.
  • Built-in speakers for playback:  There’s nothing worse than catching your buddy just as he trips and falls on the ice and being unable to play back his f-bomb and cries of pain.  There’s no downside to including speakers, yet some companies still don’t.
  • Stereo microphones:  Why not?  Guys always brag about their stereo systems and how impressive it sounds, but all that is wasted if your videos are recorded with only one mic.
  • Lens-cover reminder:  Its easy to tell when the cover is on; the screen stays black.  Sometimes though it takes a second or two for that to register in your head.  Having a message flash on the screen is a simple reminder that doesn’t get in the way at all.  All companies should have little features like this in my opinion.

Cons:

  • Focus is not as quick (or accurate) as I had thought:  It sometimes takes more than one or two seconds for the camera to figure out where to focus.  And it doesn’t always know what I’m looking at.
  • Small, even for my small hands:  My hand wraps all the way around the body and reaching both the record button and the zoom require me to bend my fingers more than a comfortable amount.  Finding the photo button is also a challenge for my fingers.
  • Light:  If firearms have taught me anything, its that weight isn’t always a bad thing.  If something is really light and held in your hands at arms length, its difficult to hold steady for most people.
  • LCD playback is not as clear as actual video:  The LCD display obviously isn’t HD, so playback isn’t going to match the actual quality.  Unfortunately this sometimes makes it difficult to see if the video you just shot is good or not.
  • Playback is sorta confusing at first:  You’ve gotta press and hold to the right more than 3 seconds to activate fast forward.  Tapping right or left only once goes to the next video, even when viewing playback full screen.  Stopping fast forward or reverse requires that you press “OK”.  Pressing the opposite direction reverses the playback.  Just a little confusing initially.
  • Mini USB:  The current standard for phones is Micro USB, and I personally think that should’ve been carried over to this.  Mini USB hasn’t been standard since the PS3 was released.  Having all my cables utilize the same connections makes things a lot simpler but I can live with it like it is.
  • Can’t close the LCD screen while charging:  This is probably to help stabilize the camcorder itself to prevent falling or leaning on the cable.  Unfortunately it takes up twice as much space this way so charging is a little less convenient.  Maybe I’m nitpicking here but I would prefer if it could charge while closed.
  • Have to charge batteries IN the camcorder itself:  This is only inconvenient if you intend to use multiple batteries.  My DSLR uses a seperate charging device for the batteries which means I can be charging one while I’m using another.  There are probably devices built for this purpose that you can buy, but it should’ve come with the camcorder itself in my opinion.

Neutral:

  • Auto upload to Youtube:  I honestly haven’t even tried using this feature because I haven’t had internet at my dad’s.  But I also wouldn’t use it because I like to check everything on a computer first so I can edit anything if I need to.
  • Pictures (at a distance) are not that sharp:  Definitely not HD quality but its not a DSLR or anything.  It does what its designed for and nothing more.  Pictures of things close up are really good but zooming at all diminishes the quality significantly.  See below for comparison.

In a day or two I’ll add I’ve added some photos and videos to let you judge the image/recording quality for yourself.  But until then, Hopefully my review can at least give you an idea of what the Samsung F90 camcorder has to offer.  I’m definitely pleased with it and think I made a good investment.  As time goes on and I get more and more videos uploaded, perhaps it will speak for itself.

If you’ve used this product for yourself and have an opinion of it, please feel free to share it.  I didn’t find any reviews of it at all online before I bought it, so let’s get some up.  Whether you love it or hate it, let me know in the comments below.

Taken with Samsung F90BN under ideal circumstances

Taken with Samsung F90BN under ideal circumstances

Taken with Sony a300 DSLR under ideal circumstances

Taken with Sony a300 DSLR under ideal circumstances

Make sure you watch this video on the best quality setting if you want to judge the recording quality.

**  More photos and videos to come  **

I don’t talk about my job that much (I have my reasons for that) but today I’m going to a little just to give some backdrop to this product.  The people I work with are constantly breaking things on a day to day basis and its my job to find the parts and pieces they need in order to fix and maintain everything.

One thing we go through quite often are flashlights.  Just about every employee has one and sometimes they get lost, dropped, run over, etc.  They break and its my job to find replacements without spending a fortune.  I’ve been doing this job since July and the only flashlights we’ve found to be extremely reliable are those that are made by NEBO.

I’m not authorized to purchase a flashlight for myself though.  I don’t really need one because I sit behind a desk and do computer/paper work most of the day.  But a few months ago I managed to repair one that had broken inside using pieces from several different broken flashlights I had in my desk drawer.  Its an older REDLINE model and its not in the best shape, but it cost the company nothing and I now have a flashlight when I need one.  I keep it secured on my belt using one of the NEBO flashlight holsters that I bought with my own money.

Flashlight in holster REDLINE Flashlight

The REDLINE flashlights that we purchase use 3 AAA batteries.  They have 4 settings:  100%, 50%, 10%, and Strobe.  Mine only utilizes 100%, 50%, and strobe because some aspect of it is still broken.  Being able to change the light mode is helpful for battery life because you don’t always need 100% brightness to see what you’re doing.  Even though my light is partially broken, it doesn’t seem to suffer any loss of battery life compared to the others we have.

As far as durability is concerned, these things are beast.  They’ve been run over, left out in the weather, and dropped more times than I can count.  I’ve seen them fall violently to the concrete and suffer only scratches.  The only one that has ever broken was the one I have now and that was an internal component.

These flashlights are also really easy to work.  You could argue that all flashlights should be easy to operate, but I would respond that most don’t have 4 different modes that are activated with only one button.  To change the mode you’re using, all you need to do is cycle the light on an off within a second or two; half-pressing the button also seems to work for me.  If you like to use your flashlight in a certain mode you can leave it on that setting and then when you turn it on next time (provided its been off at least 5 or 6 seconds) it will still be there.

Another useful feature these flashlights offer is a magnetic base.  Many times you can let the metal hold the light for you, freeing up both hands.  Its also useful on occasion to reach into relatively small holes in order retrieve metal objects such as screws or bolts.  Its not an incredibly powerful magnet but its strong enough to hold the flashlight up.

The number of lumens these lights provide change between each version.  The one I have is 220 lumens at 100% but I think some of the newer ones we bought were 230 or 240.  I suggest you check the website if you’re interested in what the current models provide.  In addition to the flashlight I covered in this post, NEBO offers many others including some that mount to firearms.  Definitely give the website a look if you’re in the market for a new flashlight.  They’re well worth it.

I’ve noticed a huge increase in traffic to my blog lately.  With that increase in traffic I’ve only noticed a very slight increase in comments and an even slighter increase in subscribers.  I know the content I provide isn’t extremely professional or original in some cases, but I am trying to improve that all I can.

With that in mind, I thought I would ask my current subscribers and viewers to help me out.  What would you like to see more of on here?  Is there anything I could provide more often or less often that you would appreciate?  I’m still new to most of this blogging stuff but I really enjoy it and I want to be able to provide content that people enjoy.

So if you don’t mind, take a few seconds to vote in the poll below and leave a comment if you can.  Let me know what you like about my blog and what you don’t.  I want to hear it all; you can’t improve without criticism.

I doubt it would take much effort on my part to convince you that I spend a large amount of time online.  From reading about guns to watching video game and movie reviews.  I do it all.  The internet contains way more information than any one person could ever consume in a lifetime.

In the past few days I’ve come across several videos that I would like to share with you.  They all feature guns and I think they’re all pretty neat.  Some are for gun rights, some are for training, and some are just for fun.  But if you’re into guns, I doubt you’ll find any of these videos to be boring.

AK47 Tactical Reload Drills – I think this is a really good video, even if you don’t own an AK47.  The AK47 is designed pretty similar to how my Mini-14 is set up, and I will actually be able to use the drills in the video exactly as shown.  My favorite part of the video is the “Strong hand emergency reload”.  In the event you become injured and can only use one hand to shoot, it’s important to practice how to do that.  And that’s a skill that can be practiced with any rifle.

 

We’re Free Already – This is apparently a new ad by the NRA.  It talks about how we the people give our government power.  It’s not the other way around.  “We grant them power.  We protect them.  We’re free already”.

 

UTS-15 12 Gauge – FPSRussia is at it again, this time with the UTS-15 shotgun.  I like his videos because they’re kinda funny and full of guns and explosions.  In this video he takes the shotgun and pits it against some fire extinguishers, a toilet, and lots of paint cans.  And yes, I know he’s not actually Russian . . .

 

AR15 Deer Hunting .223 – The videos is of a guy hunting deer with an AR15 chambered in .223.  Lots of people say the .223 cartridge isn’t powerful enough to take down larger game, but it’s not true.  The video is of him shooting the deer up to the 1:45 mark.  After that it’s pictures of the bullet wounds and the damage the bullets caused (somewhat graphic).  Now tell me again how an AR15 isn’t a hunting rifle.

 

Ruger SR22: Special Ops Ready?! – Yea, ok, I’m a Ruger Fanboy.  I’ve loved every Ruger firearm I’ve ever shot.  And I own two.  I bought my SR22 on a whim with no prior handgun experience and no knowledge of which 22 pistol was best. I went in blind, handled the guns, and chose the SR22 hands down.  Maybe this video is just to stroke my ego a little for picking such an excellent gun, but it’s an interesting (albeit long) review of the Ruger SR22 pistol.

 

That’s all for today.  I might do some more posts like this in the future since I’m always finding new videos, but not sure yet.  Let me know what you think about some of these in the comments below!