Game Reviews: Gears 3, Battlefield 3

Gears 3 is really easy – buy it used for the singleplayer story. If you liked the final patch on Gears 2, you’ll be right at home in Gears 3 since the gnasher (shotgun) is even stronger if that’s at all possible. The lancer chainsaw is nerfed. They honest to god brought nothing new to the table.

Battlefield 3 – This is a must buy if you like tactical shooters. The graphics are awesome. The movement through the environment is fluid and you rarely get hung up on the levels or on dynamic debris from blown out buildings. The guns are really nice.

Lets start with what everyone likes to discuss – the guns. The guns are enough to a player flashbacks. The irons are right on, the tritium sights (little white dots) are nice and the sights move correctly. The laser pointer suffers from not being a real laser projected from the gun, but it’s not jarring if you’re not looking for it. The holo sight moves proportionally to the front sight in real life, but again, it’s “close enough” where it just wanders a bit. The guns feel real – the recoil is projected back and up instead of just blossoming the sights – and the sound is awesome. I set it to wartapes with extra stereo and it’s like a theatre. The downsides: Some guns shoot Hollywood style beach ball flames out the front. The tac light is stupidly bright and needs to be toned down, you can be standing in broad daylight and still get flared.

Graphics – Fantastic. The biggest thing which makes this game shine is the field effects. The rolling clouds on the battlefield and the dirt on the windshield makes this an awesome experience. It’s really hard to put into text, but the grit-factor makes this game awesome. What will blow my mind is a map where there’s wind which blows smoke grenade clouds across the battlefield. If I see that I’m going to call this game perfect.

The vehicles: Oh god this is where it shines. The tanks feel appropriately chunky. I don’t understand the turbo-boost on tanks and similar vehicles but whatever. Click one of the control sticks to use it. The tanks will get over any terrain – slowly. Tanks now kill people appropriately violently, no more shooting the main cannon at infantry and doing pitifully low splash damage. The tank cannon can be loaded with a variety of shells and each vehicle gets three perk slots. The gunner is now more than a “bonus ticket” for when someone kills a tank, they have their own vehicle perks, loadout, etc specific to whatever weapon system they’re using. Case in point, the pilot of the jets gets rockets or a cannon, but the backseat gets the guided JDAM bombs, countermeasures and heat seeking missiles. It’s now critically important flyers have a second seat. Moving whatever you’re riding in now also affects reticle blossom for all guns on the platform, which is awesome. Note that any open seat on any vehicle is a spawn point, so attackers aren’t just limited to spawning at the carrier, they can spawn directly in vehicles. However, where this really sucks is on a public game where people spawn in and immediately bail out. Case in point last night we had a cobra pilot using it as a spawn taxi instead of shooting people. Points are shared among the crew and I believe increase in relation to how many people are in the vehicle. Party wagons (APCs) can rack up a lot of points really quickly. Base point values are doubled from previous games, but kill points with PDWs are halved.

Destruction 2.MILLION – This is awesome. I’m still finding crap to blow up. The way the first game worked was they had a series of premade buildings and after you knew where to blow them up you could simply drop them in three C4 or so. This new engine assigns a texture and destructibility to a surface, so a wall you might have assumed is sold is not. The downside is that some walls are a LOT more solid than others and require tanks to kill them to open up new routes. Brink players will be at home with this although the walls which are destructible aren’t highlighted.

The good, the bad, and now the ugly – Hit detection is crap. You used to be able to make murder holes in things and now a wall you can see through is actually not open. Generally this happens when you see rebar, the area under the rebar still counts as the wall. It’s really annoying and I suspect this will be used by snipers or vex them terribly. People still use vehicles as personal devices. The last game I played with a carrier in it (battlefield vietnam for wake island) had jetskis just for this purpose. I don’t think jetskis were really in vietnam, but it fixed the problem. The spawn system works to fix this. People dolphin dive pretty much whenever you shoot at them (jump to prone), they need to really fix this because while they don’t appear prone in mid-air like MW2, the hit detection seems to miss more often than not when they do this. Grenades (and explosives in general) behave really oddly where a grenade you think you’re far enough from will kill you, but sometimes a grenade right next to you won’t. It largely depends on if the grenade is above or below you, small variances in terrain seem to cause big variances in damage.

Online – EA servers are down constantly. This is how every battlefield game to ever come out has been. What’s really annoying is PC servers show up in the server browser but if EA central is down, you can’t join them. It’s not clear to me if you can join PC games or not, but it’s really annoying to see them in the browser and get the error “Could not contact EA online” when trying to play multi. I’m sure this will be fixed shortly.

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Apple Wine: First Fermentation Done Without Cider/Wine Yeast

This is the first time anyone to the best of my knowledge has written up anything about fermenting apple juice/cider with something that isn’t cider/wine yeast.

My LHBS got their apple cider buckets in and I had to make cider. The recipe (I am working from a recipe since I have little cider experience) calls for diluting the cider to 10 gallons and throwing in two yeast packets. The tasting room at the homebrew store had some really good stuff. I am confident in this recipe. However, before we got into the recipe at the homebrew store, I had to do test runs. Test runs are like most other homebrew things where I take cheap glass jars (1 gallon) and put whatever I want in there. In this case, I prefer carlos rossi wines. My wife likes their blush and their sangria, and I like to ferment things in them. 1 gallon is also a good size since 1 gallon will scale to 5 easily. (There are scaling issues with some recipes, but generally unless you’re working with spices it’s mostly immaterial).

I got one gallon of standard issue apple juice, and 1 lbs of brown sugar. I heated the apple juice just enough to get the sugar to dissolve and put that in my carlos rossi jar. The carlos rossi wine jugs accept 6 or 6.5 bungs, I prefer 6.5 because it’s harder to push them into the neck. In one jug of delicious fortified apple juice I put in WLP001 (Cali Common) and in the other jug I put in WLP530 (Abbey Ale). Then I let them sit. The WLP001 sort of poked along (it’s known for this), but the WLP530 went off like a rocket. The WLP530 took a month to stop bubbling, the WLP001 was done in two weeks or so.

But, how does it taste?

The WLP001 is basically a bitch drink, it tastes like sweet cider, which is still very drinkable with no discernible alcohol taste. For something which is firmly session beer (4%), it’s quite drinkable. We also found mixing it with mead gives it really interesting notes. The Abbey Ale yeast managed to get it’s cider up to 8%, but it’s wonderfully dry, sharp stuff without being offensive. The abbey ale yeast managed to be fruity with just a touch of ester, it had a wonderful warm nose and a sharp taste on the tongue. Even for being still, it really came out well, and I would love to carbonate it.

That being said, the 10 gallons from the main batch is going to consume both my kegs if I keg it, but I plan on bottling as much as I can and possibly force carbing the rest. The main batch is fermented with wine yeast, but I almost wish I had done a five gallon batch with the abbey ale yeast and 5lbs brown sugar. Well, there’s always next year…

The current state of the kegerator: Orange soda, ginger beer, two ciders

Grain Mill

My wife got me a grain mill for our anniversary which is absolutely sweet. This is a three roller mill, which means that I can flake the oats of the apocalypse (or just get a nice crush). The problem is it’s a bit on the small side. This means it might take awhile to crush, but if I were hurting for time I wouldn’t be making my own beer. This is the roller mill from wheat grass mills (link). There’s no size reference on the website so I will give you a picture:

From Drop Box

Blackberry included for scale. The blackberry did not go through the grinder. As you can see, this isn’t a huge system. That’s good though, it still needs to be hand cranked. For reference, it has three settings (small flake, large flake, flower) but these settings have a stop between them for giving us six total settings. To further make this hilarious, there’s really nothing stopping you from having stops in between there so long as you keep your hand on the adjustment knob.

How do we get more grain in there?

Make a funnel!

It comes with a wooden box which protects the plastic funnel for shipping, so I didn’t see a problem using that for something else. I was already at walmart for the dog food bin (air tight, 50lbs, or one grain bag) so what else could I do but buy a cheap bowl?

I took my vibratory cutter and plunge cut the bottom of the bowl. To get the right shape, take the wood it shipped in and trace it on the bottom of the bowl. Cut on the inside of these lines so that there’s a tight fit.

 

From Drop Box

Happy Halloween! Now all I need is to buy bulk grain and roast it myself and I am set! Special thanks to my awesome wife for getting me MOAR BEER TOYS.