Nintendo Switch: First Impressions

Nintendo Switch: First Impressions

Hands-on with Nintendo Switch and "Breath of the Wild"
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I was the first in line at my local GameStop for the release of Nintendo’s latest console. What started out as a duo quickly turned into a handful and then into a decently sized crowd. By the time the doors opened and we were ushered into the store, people passing by had begun to stop and question the assembled queue. I led the procession of excited gamers and bewildered parents, purchased my Nintendo Switch, a copy of "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," a protective carrying case then quickly left the store and headed home.

After several hours spent setting the new console up, playing games, and just fiddling with the system and its peripherals, I found myself extremely impressed. As much flak as Nintendo tends to get for their less-than-mainstream ideas, the Switch succeeds as the first console/handheld hybrid. From the outset, everything just works. Each Joy-Con controller snaps into place on the unit itself or onto the controller grip with a satisfying click, and they just as easily slide off for further rearrangement. I have repeatedly jumped between various control figurations and playstyles and not a single one has been uncomfortable or unwieldy. The true power of the Switch is its unprecedented versatility and ease.

The Switch’s flagship title, "Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," is a wonder to behold, whether in handheld mode or on the television. The breadth of the world in this game can feel truly magical with its grandiose ruined kingdom and beautifully populated natural vistas. It is a deceptively hard game, forcing you to do everything you can to survive in the monster-infested landscapes of its world. It is triple-A gaming as only Nintendo can make it, exuding personality even in its most intense moments. "Breath of the Wild" is at once nostalgic and exceptionally new, acting as the perfect launch title in an admittedly minuscule lineup of mostly decent to sub-par games. "Zelda" is the perfect counter to this problem and is more than enough to occupy early adopters of the Nintendo Switch for quite some time.

In the Nintendo Switch it is easy to see Nintendo’s knack for experimentation and their tendency to work outside the norm to try and give players fun, unique experiences. It is also not hard to find the past elements of their work and design philosophy in each and every aspect of the Switch. The Joy-Cons evoke the Wii Remote and its Nunchaku peripheral, yet when turned sideways each one becomes its own pseudo-SNES controller. The main console’s tablet design and touch controls come from both the Wii U and the DS handhelds, using their qualities to inform the construction and versatility of their latest oddball invention. Nintendo has certainly solidified itself as the mad scientist of the video gaming industry, concocting strange, wonderful ideas in the name of fun and technological curiosity. While the Switch may not be the graphical powerhouse of PS4 and Xbone rivalry that some players had hoped for, that misses the point entirely. What this machine accomplishes is versatility, the idea of allowing gamers to play how they want to, where they want to, when they want to.

Cover Image Credit: Taylor J. Beck

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Cell Phones And Our Communication

How Our Obsession With These Devices Has Changed Society
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There are almost as many cell phone subscriptions (6.8 billion) as there are people in the world, which is 7 billion. Everyone in our society has experienced the impacts of cell phones and the evolution of them. The evolution of the cell phone, the apps we have on our phones, and how social media impacts mental health and everyday lives all go into how cell phones have forever changed our communication with the world.

Cell phones did not always look like the phones we have today, they have changed drastically throughout the years. The first mobile phone was a Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, released on April 3, 1973. This weighed about 2 pounds, took 10 hours to recharge, and held 30 numbers. It cost $4,000.

Then came the first pocket-sized cell phone, a Nokia 6110, released in December of 1997. This was actually the first phone to have features such as games, calculators, currency converters, and calendars and marketed to the general population. And of course, came the first modern smartphone on June 29, 2007; the iPhone by Apple.

This was the stepping stone into the world of cell phone technology we have today. Today, 77% of Americans own a smartphone, while 92% of 18-29-year-olds own one. Actually, more people have a cell phone than they do a toilet. Shocking right? Modern smartphones have allowed humans to communicate with anyone in the world instantly.

150 years ago it would take the Pony Express 10 days to deliver a letter from Missouri to California. Now, that would take just seconds to send a text message. Texting today has divided people into two groups: iMessage and SMS. Those without iMessage capable devices are sometimes excluded from group chats.

Not only are we able to communicate through text message, but also applications. In May 2017 there were 2,200,000 apps in the app store. Apps have made us all feel the need to constantly broadcast our lives and have a desire for instant gratification, receiving likes or favorites on what we post. We've become obsessed.

Although, many apps do actually have a functional purpose other than social or entertainment including, fitness, transportation, weather, personal finance, entertainment, etc. Apps like these, and most others, make things more efficient and time-saving for us.

Phones have enabled us to communicate with people from all the way across the world. Communication has improved from taking months for a message to travel across the country in seconds to send across the world. With the mobility of cell phones evolving each day we are able to put them away in our pocket and pull them out as needed.

Texting has also definitely changed our communication skills with face to face people. There are many people today that are uncomfortable having face-to-face conversations with others. Granted, certain things are a lot easier to say over a text rather than saying it in person. People feel that since there is a screen separating them and the person on the other side they are able to say things that they wouldn't normally say. Texting has also changed our grammar ie. “text talk” (LOL, IDK, HMU, U, WUT, SMH). Some of these phrases have even been added to the dictionary.

As you can all see cell phones have come from a 2-pound brick to a light as a feather glass device that has created improvements for our lives but also brought negative things to light. I explained just how the physical cell phone has evolved, how it brought apps to our lives and the impacts they have on us, how cell has made texting mainstream communication instead of face to face conversation, as well as the social awkwardness that they have created for our generation.

I hope with this information, you have a better understanding how cell phones have impacted our lives.

Cover Image Credit: Faye Flam

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Far Cry 5 Impressions

My thoughts on the latest installment in the franchise
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When Far Cry 5 was first announced back in 2017, it caused controversy among gamers and non-gamers alike based on it's setting and antagonists. Some went so far as to say it was a "white genocide simulator" and some native Montanans threatened to hold an armed march, based on the cover art alone. I didn't buy a copy when it released last month, but not for those reasons. The Far Cry series has always delved into controversial issues, so this newest installment doesn't phase me. I was beginning to think that the Far Cry franchise had gone stale, and the subsequently released gameplay videos didn't convince me otherwise. Far Cry 5 looked to be more of the same. My brother rented the game from Redbox last week and he let me try it out when he was finished. After playing through the first few hours, I realized that I was...somewhat right.

For those unaware Far Cry 5 takes place in the fictional Hope County, located in the state of Montana. A fundamentalist doomsday cult, led by pastor Joseph Seed, has risen to power and has influence over the majority of the residents. After several kidnappings and forced baptisms, among other atrocities, the police department is called in to arrest Seed. Things go south and the playable character, simply named "the deputy", is stranded in the isolated Hope County. The new goal is to topple Seed's hierarchy by rescuing and aiding the townsfolk, destroying propaganda, and generally causing as much chaos as possible.

I haven't played through the story( which takes up to 25+ hours to complete) so I can't give my full analysis of the game. I did, however, find some enjoyment in the time I played. First off, the visuals are breathtaking and the music is eerily calming. I could pause the game and listen to the soundtrack when I study if I wanted to! The player can also customize the deputy to their liking; one can choose their gender, race, and clothing before venturing out into the wilderness. Weapons can be customized as well.

Still, I couldn't help but notice some issues. Despite the contemporary American setting, the world feels barren. Plus my suspension of disbelief was broken a few times; if Seed is such a threat, why haven't the feds stepped in? The deputy is a silent protagonist; When other NPCs (non-playable characters) talk to you, it doesn't feel authentic. Rather than having a decent conversation, it sounds as if they're spouting exposition to you. Regarding the gameplay, it hasn't changed much since Far Cry 3 ( released in 2012). You go to an NPC for an assignment, raid and kill a settlement full of bad guys, potentially save some hostages, and save the day! Rinse and repeat... The campaign is an assortment of fetch quests, essentially. Past games in the series have done this, too. I didn't mind then, probably didn't realize it either, but I'm aware of that now and I've graudally grown tired of it. My brother had to return the game, so I didn't play as much of it as would've liked to. Maybe the gameplay improves as one progresses through the story, but from my experience it leaves much to be desired.

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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