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Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition – Review

Following on from my last game related post, I forgot to mention that I bought without hesitation, Beamdog’s ‘Icewind Dale’ for my iPad. This is my review which mostly concentrates on the accessibility and nostalgia regarding these games. Readers can find performance reviews with in-depth opinions elsewhere very easily. This is from is more personal, we know these games are great.

I spent some digital gold for it because I love older RPG’s (mostly for the sprites and top down perspective) and I have always thought ever since the inception of the original iPad, that RPG’s games would be a perfect game for such handheld devices. I wasn’t wrong when the Baldur’s Gate series eventually did come out as its own enhanced edition and I don’t feel I’m wrong this time either. The nostalgia has struck twice because of Beamdog.

The accessibility is definitely easier than it is on the PC because of the portability and even easier considering the touchscreen we all take for granted. I contain within myself a bit of buzz when carrying these classic adventures with me all day and choose to play them whenever I want, at a doctor’s appointment or on the subway. I remember installing these games from multiple CDs and then needing to store them safely. Can’t believe we all use to do that, along with returning video tapes and DVDs (some of you already don’t do that right?).

My level 8 Dragon Disciple, also my first. I never made one in Baldur's Gate.

My level 8 Dragon Disciple, also my first. I never made one in Baldur’s Gate.

Icewind Dale was first released 14 years, being 20 years old back then meant I grot bored and frustrated quickly after trying to loot the first dungeon and never played it again. Today I am more likely to finish it, I’m already past the first dungeon I quit on all those years ago.

‘Icewind Dale II’, I enjoyed more, played more, and my method for finishing it, was more of the same meaning I didn’t actually finish it. My hope is the sequel is also enhanced later down the line.

It’s been my fault for not being able to finish these games. I always have this problem with these RPGs, but at the same time I like putting down these games that I can pick up weeks or months later. The accessibility offered has a sharper edge to it than any Swashbuckler’s sword!

YOU GOTTA ROLL WITH IT.

Accompanying the release of IWD are of course the usual comments and criticisms. Some regard the lack of story (there is a story, but whatever), group interaction or no NPC’s as weaknesses. I don’t, they are a strength in two ways.

I’m writing this review from the perspective of somebody who loves the Forgotten Realms and the Baldur’s Gate games, but that same somebody who needs a break from all the story quests, the side quests, the character quests and the general management of my party members as and when they start fighting or romancing each other. Compared to the BG series, IWD is far more refreshing at the moment because it is easier to get up and running (no Irenicus dungeon here*). Icewind Dale is on equal terms for character creation, gameplay wise it’s a leaner, more linear game so that the mental overhead required is far less than that for BG1 and BG2.  A temporary fatigue has set in with the BG games as I’m just in the mood to kick arse with a +3 something, repeatedly (sorry, I don’t know what the good weapons are yet in IWD)!

Dungeons, dungeons and more dungeons! So many indoor spaces, being outside is rare but a welcome break from the claustrophobia that IWD gives you for the most part.

Dungeons, dungeons and more dungeons! So many indoor spaces, being outside is rare but a welcome break from the claustrophobia that IWD gives you for the most part.

Also because IWD is mostly combat orientated, that actually makes it something far more casual for new comers to take an interest in, this strength is backed up by the new Story Mode (which I have tried when I couldn’t get past this particularly hard boss that was a little girl but turned itself into a giant lizard casting magic, sorry i don’t know the name) where party members are invulnerable and gain double experience point rewards! This makes me wonder how the Diablo and World of Warcraft games are vastly more popular, it’s probably down to their accessibility and arcade mechanics**. I’m happy for this type of feature as maybe it will get other players into the Forgotten Realms setting as it expands (Trent Oster, the lead developer of Beamdog is on record saying he wants to do Baldur’s Gate 5!).

*Really wish there was a way to skip that part of the game for seasoned players.

** This makes me wonder why Adam my co-host on JPG Podcast doesn’t play any forgotten realms title, but gets engrossed in his Diablo series. Something which I played myself, but I was attracted to the history of the Forgotten Realms and its complexity. I’m a dice chucker at heart rather than a mouse clicker.

Written by jonathanjk

November 17, 2014 at 14:39

iPad Mini Retina Review

Note: This review, isn’t going to go into detail about the iPad and its apps, this post merely serves to illustrate why I bought a new iPad Mini over the iPad Air.

Last year I bought the iPad 4, I would have bought the mini if it wasn’t for the fact the mini’s screen wasn’t a retina screen. I didn’t even give the mini much thought back then, other than to say that I would have bought one if the screen didn’t show those now out of fashion, computer pixels.

I already own an iPhone 4S and the MacBook Pro with retina screen. I had gotten use to this type of screen so why take a step back?

Jump ahead one year into the tail end of 2013 and Apple release the updated mini, but they love to give us, the consumer, some choice. They did this by updating the larger endowed iPad, cutting down its size and making it thinner and lighter. The weight reduction is quite significant.

While both tablets were out of stock, I played with the demo units in the Apple store. My arms still got tired holding both iPads while reading the web. This was something I didn’t think would still happen, obviously the arms weren’t as quick to tire while using the Mini. I remember holding the iPad 4 and then having to lean on one side or switch to the other during long sessions. I didn’t want a repeat of that.

My biggest worry though was screen size if I purchased the Mini, I felt like I couldn’t give up the 9.7 inch screen, would I miss out by going with the 7.9 inch option? Would Paper feel awkward to draw with? Would Baldur’s Gate be as immersive on the iPad 4? What about the smaller keyboard?

In the end, my thoughts switched to the discontinued Apple iBook line of laptops.

Back then there were two sizes of laptop and I remember owning the 12 inch version. It was cheaper, held the same amount of storage (with the right upgrade option), the 14 inch was always slightly faster than the 12 inch and to top it off, there was no advantage with the larger screen, they both had the same number of pixels, with the same resolution! Okay, the 14″ had a larger battery, but was it worth the extra weight?

The iPads today can almost be compared in the same way, in fact Apple markets the capabilities of the Mini as being equal to the Air, but just with a smaller screen. If you can deal with that, I would say splurge for the smaller one and opt for more storage.

I did exactly what I’m recommending to you and I can’t believe the iPad Mini has twice the processing power and there is 64GB inside this, (that’s double compared to my iPad 4) the combination of storage, size and the power present in my hand is simply awesome.

I’m also happy to say I definitely made the right choice, I can’t think why I was considering it so much. My gut feeling paid off and this one feels right for what I want to do. Both tablets overall are very portable, but the Mini more so, the experience is just more intimate. The screen on the Air feels slightly more awkward now, awkward in the way you can carry it in your hand, place it around the home or buying an accessory for it that will add even more weight and girth.

The product designer Dieter Rams once said, “less is more” and it certainly feels that way with the iPad Mini.

Written by jonathanjk

November 24, 2013 at 12:17

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Once Magazine (iPad Magazine)

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This is a quick shout out for the excellent publication that is OnceMagazine.

If you have an iPad and are interested in reading about what other people are doing in the world through engaging photo stories, multimedia and written articles, then I suggest you check out OnceMagazine on Apple’s Newsstand.

Every issue comes with three stories from around the world by three contributing photojournalists and writers. There are no adverts to speak of and it’s only £1.50 a month on subscription (about $2-3 dollars). That’s 50p for each quality story (around 90 cents), with no advertising! That’s great value alone and over time builds into a great archive of content you can look back on and research.

I work in a university environment and use my iPad during lessons to show work off instead of running downstairs sometimes for a book in the library. It’s a great reference tool for  me and students.

This is also your chance to support an independent venture on Newsstand. If you want something different to read I really suggest you take a look. For me it’s the only thing worth subscribing too at the moment.

So please check it out. Oh and the first issue is actually FREE.

Twitter, App Store link.

Written by jonathanjk

May 21, 2012 at 19:02

App Review ~ Portfolio Pro

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Portfolio Pro 1.02

Fifteen months ago I interviewed Nick Kuh for this blog and reviewed his iOS app, Portfolio To Go (link to review). In our interview, Nick stated he had taken Portfolio To Go to it’s logical conclusion – a well refined app that did the job he expected it to do, in fact Nick considered it a learning experiment (it was his first iPad app).

It seems since that experiment, Nick has been busy on his latest and arguably his most important app yet, Portfolio Pro. Portfolio Pro caters to the professional image maker for presenting content to clients. Portfolio Pro is primarily a playback tool, with Nick sticking to his belief that an iPad should be consumption device, not a content creation tool. This makes for a simpler, lighter, easier to navigate app; eschewing many options for editing content. In an ever increasingly crowded market, will this approach still be successful?  Let’s find out.

Website  – www.nickkuh.com

iTunes link – Portfolio Pro

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Written by jonathanjk

May 12, 2012 at 20:46

Learning German and the Paul Noble Language Institute

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‘Nobody Wants to Learn German’.

Supposedly people aren’t interested in learning German, Spanish and French are more popular when compared. A local college near me has stopped offering their german course and I had waited nearly two years to enroll on a Paul Noble language course.

No wait, that doesn’t make sense. If nobody wanted to learn German, why did it take me that length of time to get on the course? The title of this heading is pretty much the take away response from both the local college and Collins; the publisher of Paul Noble language courses.

It’s only with persevering with enrolling that I secured on place on the course. No small feat when classes are limited to eight students per class. It’s only after I turned up the Saturday that I discovered Collins were lying to me, they ARE releasing study at home versions this September, my situation was almost as confusing as trying TO actually learn German!

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JPG Podcast #5 – The One Where Adam Likes the Massive Robots.

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In our 5th show, Jonathan Morris and Adam Hale discuss Star Wars Machete (again), the Red Letter Media movie review website, the soon to be released Avengers movie with a defence of Captain America, Wired’s article on iPhone battery savings, a ranty discussion for and against televised wrestling which turns into some nostalgia as well.

iTunes link, direct download link.

Show Notes

Written by jonathanjk

April 27, 2012 at 07:35

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