Monday, 30 September 2013

Game Review: Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA 5)

Less than two weeks ago,Rockstar games launched a follow up for their flagship series,Grand Theft Auto.It took the world by storm,creating record sales within less than a week.I was lucky to pre-order a copy via Fllipkart and got the games two days prior to its release.

For those who didn't watch the trailer,the game revolves around three people;Franklin Clinton-An average grove street homey who works in the vehicle repo business. Michael Townley(De Santa)-A successful bank robber who is retired with real family issues.Trevor Philips-A lunatic businessman specializing in meth and arms.The plot revolves around how they meet and solve each others problems and their ambitions to make it big.Although the number of missions are short(69 to be exact),it will still suck you into it.

First impressions were good.There is a lot of places to be discovered, from traffic infested cities,to desolate mountain tops. GTA 5 boasts of a huge map size,more than their previous games put together,so there's places to be explored if you're bored. Rockstar has also included animals in this game,so you'll never know when a mountain lion will jump on you or when a shark decides if it wants to reenact Jaws.Cars,bikes,boats and planes can be bought online(for those who want their own vehicles),properties ranging from garages to golf courses. Rockstar has really brought everything possible in the real world here.Inclusion of the stock markets,LCN and BAWSAQ(classic Rockstar wordplay) was something out of the blue.So this means that even after you beat the game,there's a lot of things to keep you interested.
The graphics on this game is absolutely stunning.From the protagonist getting wet if its raining,to glares during sunny days,Rockstar has really taken a long step from their previous games.Vehicular detail have been improved,taking styling cues from real-life brands like BMW,Jeep,Audi,Jaguar,Mini and so on.The game also features an option to lower/raise the roofs for convertibles.Also customization makes a return for GTA:San Andreas,so you can trick up your ride to stand out.
The music in the game have been carefully selected to include more of the popular songs of today.Artists from Johnny Cash to Rihanna have been featured to suit all tastes.The games also plays a certain song during some missions to build up the moment,a nice touch.
Combat has been improved,although it took some time for me to get used to it from GTA 4.Guns can be upgraded(Thank God!)The weapons range from gasoline filled jerry cans to rocket launchers,just the thing you need to cause mayhem in the city.Taking cover from shots have been improved and health regenerates to half when the protagonist is stationary.
Missions are specific for each protagonist ,but in some like heists,they join together allowing the player to switch in between.Plenty of side missions for each character to do.Random events can also be interfered by the player,like stopping a robber and to choose whether to return the stolen item or to keep it.
GTA 5 has really improved from the disappointing GTA 4 in almost every way.Cars handle better,friends don't call to hang out while you're busy trying to not get killed,the Internet is more functional,and for the guys…the strip club is gonna blow your mind!They should have put in car dealerships,who buys cars online?But it's definitely a must have game

This was a guest post by Stevan Thomas, our brother who was held at gunpoint to write this post!!

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker Today – Bose Soundlink Mini

Let me start by saying – never judge a product by its brand. Just because it’s an unknown brand does not mean it’s products will be bad, likewise just because a speaker is from Bose does not mean it’s going to be good (but in this case it is).  A quick background - I tend to listen to music on my phone when I’m getting ready for work in the morning as it’s a bit inconvenient powering on the living room speakers. Recently there have been a number of portable Bluetooth speakers entering the market so I was intrigued however they all were rather disappointing for the reasons mentioned below. I soon abandoned the thought of buying one since they were (IMHO) toys. The Soundlink Mini is one that I can, with all confidence say, is not a toy. 

What makes it a ‘great’ speaker, specifically when talking about a portable Bluetooth
speaker segment? Before I answer that let’s talk about the main challenge faced by this segment – Poor sound quality and low volume levels due to small sized speakers. There’s no getting away from this. If you want pocket-sized speakers you have to sacrifice on sound quality. You see most good portable Bluetooth speakers can go loud enough to fill a room however they cannot reproduce base notes and typically sound tinny like a mobile phone speaker, albeit louder. This is because base notes can only be produced by larger woofers/sub-woofers which move a lot more air. You can never truly get reasonable base reproduction on a set of speakers that fit in the palm of your hand … or can you?

Enter the Bose Soundlink Mini – this is one of those rare combinations of great tech, beautiful packaging and stunning performance. Not only can this almost pocket-able speaker easily fill a room with clear, crisp music but it can also hit those low notes. If you are in the market for a portable speaker to take with you on your travels, or friends parties or even take around the house – you owe it to yourself to check-out this device. I’ll be honest, it’s expensive at 200 USD. In India it retails for a bit more at 252 USD (Rs. 16,000). This is twice as much as many Bluetooth speakers in the market however I do feel it’s easily twice as good.

A couple of tips with the Soundlink Mini – it has base port at both front and back of the device so I get the best performance if I keep it on the floor near a corner of the room or wall. Keep about 5 inches to a foot of space from the wall for best base performance – depending on the type of music you listen to. Also play with the equalizer settings of your phone to get the best performance out of the Soundlink Mini. I use PowerAmp and I keep tweaking if for different genres. 

Limitations – 

  • The Bose Soundlink cannot be used as a speaker phone
  • It has a rather limited battery life of 5 hours continuous usage 
  • It uses a proprietary charger (no Micro-USB)
  • It cannot charge your smartphone (like some other units)
  • It has limited controls on the device and no remote
  • It’s rather heavy for it’s size because of its powerful magnets (for me this was a good thing but others may disagree) 

Another great alternative is the UE Boom which has none of the above limitations but cannot match the base frequencies of the Bose. 

This is a guest post by Prithvi Raj. To be more precise, all the gadget reviews in future will be done by him. :)

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Movie Review: Sandcastle

We were contacted by Ginger Liu from Ginger Media & Entertainment to do a review on this movie.

Sandcastle is the first feature film by well known Indian theatre personality, Shomshuklla Das.

The movie revolves around Sheila, who is an aspiring writer from an upper middle class family in urban India. She has the perfect life, at least to the outside world, married to a very successful man who's able to provide her everything to live a comfortable life. They both have a beautiful daughter.

Sheila finds her life boring and far from perfect. She's tired of being the stereotypical wife, attending to her wifely duties and being a good mother.

She's sick of the routine,being a trophy wife, and lacks a sense of achievement, a condition all too common in urban India.

She comes across Maya, who tells her to build her own sandcastles with her life. Maya tells her to follow her dreams and not be a doormat letting people walk all over her.

Sheila starts writing her book with Maya's help by using her as an inspiration. Maya in turn helps her to stand up for herself.

Sandcastle has been nominated in the London International Film Festival 2013 under the Best Foreign Language Feature Film

Shahana Chatterjee as Sheila has done a commendable job playing the complex role of someone who's got all that she needs and still feels an emptiness.

The movie is an in-depth albeit slow narrative into the life of the modern Indian house wife - her comfortable yet boring and under-stimulated life. The women in urban India can easily relate to the movie.

My only gripe with the movie is that it could have been a bit more fast paced.

My rating: 2.75/5