Xbox 360 – Wireless Speed Wheel

I had a bit of money burning a hole in my pocket so my son & I took a trip to GameStop.  I’ve wanted to buy the new Formula One racing game but I’ve never been very impressed with the Xbox 360 controller when it comes to driving games.  Then I found the Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel and everything changed.

I checked out a few reviews online and found a lot of positive comments on the performance of the Speed Wheel.  It’s not cheap ($59) but it’s a lot less expensive than the wheel/peddle setups that cost several hundred dollars.

The Speed Wheel has a nice design and all the necessary functions are where you would expect them to be.  It’s missing the 2 shoulder buttons found on the Xbox 360 controller but I have yet to find a game that needs them.  The triggers are a lot larger than on the regular controller and they allow a very precise application of the accelerator and brakes.

Since the Speed Wheel is wireless it relies on you holding it in front of you while you use it.  On long racing sessions this can get a little tiring.  As far as performance goes, this thing is very accurate and steering inputs are immediate with no perceived lag.  In fact, if you are using the in-game camera view that shows the steering wheel it mimics your movements exactly in real-time.

Unfortunately the Speed Wheel does not measure forward and backward motion which would make it a great controller for flight simulators.  It’s only purpose is for driving games and it works very well for that purpose.  If you’ve been as frustrated as I’ve been with the regular Xbox controller you should definitely check it out.

The WordPress Game Show – Jeopardy Style

I’ve been using WordPress (WP) for a while now & thought I knew all of the ins and outs. After playing this game I’ve discovered I still have a lot to learn.

Click the image to play the game for yourself!

I’m thinking about changing the look and feel of the Blog again.  Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a theme that I completely like.  That’s where the flexibility of WordPress comes in; I can design my own!  Now I just need to set aside the time needed to research, develop, test and implement.

 

Review – Minecraft

I’ve always liked video games and it all started for me with Pong.  Next came the Atari, Apple PC, Windows PC, Nintendo, Playstation, and X-Box.  First Person games have always been my favorite, whether it’s a shooter, driving simulator or sports game.  As long as it looks like I’m in the middle of the game I usually like it.

Enter Minecraft by Swedish creator Markus “Notch” Persson .  It’s a first person game with an unusual twist, you create the game within the game.  If you’re expecting cutting edge graphics you’re going to be in for a bug surprise.  Although “simple” the game actually takes a little computer horsepower to run smoothly.

Minecraft starts you off in a randomly generated world with nothing in your inventory.  Your first priority is to survive through the night:

Afterwards you start collecting materials to make more materials.  Stone, iron ore, coal, etc.  It’s a pretty addictive concept that is fun for any age level.  I will warn you that this game can be a time suck.  My son & I have spent hours on our respective computers building our own worlds.   There are mufti-player options as well but we have not gotten that far yet.

Minecraft has monsters that come out at night that you have to defend yourself from and animals and plants you can grow or harvest for food.  The more you get into the game the more you start to realize the unlimited potential the game has.

The process of mining is where the game gets interesting.  Once you build the right tools you can set out to find more building materials.  Sometimes you come across a cave which opens up into an underground world (complete with it’s own monsters and surprises).  Other times you can just start digging and see what you can find.

YouTube has thousands of videos online that show you what can be done.  There are people who have created full size replicas of the Starship Enterprise and others have created a Fleet of Battleships.

Minecraft can be played for free (older limited version) on the Official Website.  You can purchase the game for ~$30.  There was an IOS (Apple) version just released and an XBox edition is slated for release in Spring 2012.

As far as games go, I’m going to rate this one an 8 out of 10. It’s a new concept for me and it’s been a big hit with both myself and my son.