3, 2, 1…Your Titan is Ready to Launch – Titanfall: A CG Review

Titanfall is easily one of the most hyped games of the year. It’s not hard to see why when you consider that it’s one of the first new IP’s of the next-generation and it’s going head to head against the two heavy hitters of the FPS market: Call of Duty and Battlefield. The real question is, does it live up to the hype, or does it fall flat on it’s face?

Titanfall is an online-only, multiplayer first-person shooter (FPS), and is Respawn Entertainment’s first game. As it happens, Respawn was founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella, both of whom also co-founded Infinity Ward and are well known for their work on many Call of Duty titles. In addition, Respawn hired many former Call of Duty developers shortly after the mass exodus from Infinity Ward a few years ago. All of this experience with Call of Duty shows. Titanfall features Call of Duty’s fast-paced gameplay, a similar leveling system, and a “prestige” system to extend the life of the game. Even so, this isn’t “Call of Duty with mechs” as some have taken to calling it. While it may draw upon their former experiences with Call of Duty, the team at Respawn have crafted something wholly unique. Titanfall is different than every other shooter you’ve played. Why? Because of things like:

Story

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Despite being an online only title, Titanfall does have a campaign mode. The Campaign consists of nine multiplayer battles played on nine of the game’s fifteen maps (yes fifteen) with human players comprising both sides. I won’t go into details but the story arc itself is a rather forgettable tale of the civil war between the IMC and the Militia. The only good reason to play through it is because you’ll be wanting the unlocks. Fortunately, it only takes about four hours or so to burn through both sides of the campaign. The only memorable thing about the campaign mode is the way it’s setup. Like Brink a few years ago, Titanfall’s story is told primarily through a mission briefing and a short cutscene prior to each battle. It’s not much, but this could feasibly change the way that stories are told in FPS’s that are primarily focused on multiplayer. This might possibly be the end of the four hour mini campaign mode that Call of Duty and Battlefield have grown fond of, a mode that many people openly despise. So, while the story itself is lacking, the way it’s told may just turn some heads.

Movement

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Character movement is one of Titanfall’s great successes. Again, much like Brink, Titanfall’s Pilots are all adept free-runners. Players can run up vertical surfaces, wall-rull, and even double jump with the help of a handy dandy boost pack (not jetpack). Unlike Brink, Titanfall Pilots are incredibly fast and agile. Movement in Titanfall isn’t simply there because it needs to be, or because it’s expected, it’s a tactical skill. How you move around the map is just as key to the game as how you use your weapons. Moving around the map quickly and efficiently will not only require knowledge of the map, but will also require some quick fingers on the part of the player. Most of the map is easy to get around (movement is hardly a chore), but skilled players can reach certain areas much more quickly or even perch Pilots in some unlikely places.

Titans

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A cross between a mech and a robot, a Titan can be a very powerful tool in a player’s arsenal. Standing around two stories tall Titans generally don’t have too much trouble with Pilots in open areas. While not particularly nimble, Titans can easily squash or melee a Pilot, and their extra large weapons will make mincemeat of a Pilot pretty quickly. Running off of a countdown timer, Titans can be called into battle once every couple of minutes. Killing things or earning points as the game plays out will tike time off the timer. The better a player does the faster they get their next Titan.

Titans, like Pilots are able to be customized through a loadout. Players can choose which chasses they prefer (light, medium, or heavy) and which weapons and abilities to include in each loadout. Pilots and Titans each get their own separate loadout options, so Pilot loadouts can be mixed and matched with Titan loadouts easily.

Maps

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The locations of Titanfall are another of it’s great achievements. Putting together multiplayer maps that are balanced and fair to both teams is not easy, yet Respawn has met this challenge admirably. The game ships with 15 unique maps, nearly all of which feel very different from one another. Locations are varied, and many are a downright joy to be in. Respawn has covered their grounds here: corporate office buildings, lagoons, crashed space ships, military bases, and more all make an appearance. Some of the maps are tight, close quarters affairs that make life in a Titan somewhat challenging, while others are wide open outdoor spaces where Titan’s rule the map and Pilots scurry for cover. Best of all, while some of the maps are pretty big, none of them are huge. This means that it doesn’t typically take players long to find the action and it keeps the flow of the games running at a nice pace. Finally, player respawn locations are dynamic, so it’s uncommon to run into any spawn camping issues.

Gameplay

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Well, we’ve covered the Story, the Movement system, the Titans, and the Maps. Other games have broken the same ground with many of these things, Brink has a similar story setup and movement system, Hawken is basically Titan vs. Titan combat, and many respected and beloved shooters have solid maps design. However, when you put all of this together, you get something that you can’t really find elsewhere on the market. Playing as a Pilot isn’t as simple as combining Brink with Call of Duty. Playing as a Titan isn’t playing a slightly altered version of Hawken. It’s not Pilot gameplay, and then Titan gameplay separately. Both are interwoven into a single, unique tapestry.

While playing as a Pilot players need to keep an eye out for Titans. Faster than Pilots, Titans are large and plenty dangerous to the unsuspecting player, especially if there aren’t any enemy Titans for them to attack. Likewise, Titans need to keep an eye out for Pilots, especially in the more enclosed levels. In spite of their size and heavy armor, Titans have a weak spot. Players can “rodeo” a Titan (jump onto them), pull off an armor plate and start dealing large amounts of damage to the Titan in question, all while ignoring it’s shields. Titans can loadout with retalitory measures, but it’s an annoyance at best and disastrous at worst.

Matches support between three and six players per team, with a variety of different game types at the players’ disposal. Attrition is the “bread and butter” mode of Titanfall and sees two teams compete to see who can get the most “Attrition Points” first. Capture the Flag is the standard CTF fair with the Titanfall twist (free-running and Titans). Hardpoint is basically just Titanfall’s version of the classic Territories game type, players must capture and hold certain areas on the map to score points. Pilot Hunter is roughly a Team Death Match varient and only gives teams credit for Pilot kills. The final mode, Last Titan Standing, is an all out brawl between two teams of Titans. Only Titan kills count here. Each round, both teams face off and have at each other until only one team has working Titans. Teams must win 4 rounds to win a “game” of Last Titan Standing. Each one of the above game types comes with their own matchmaking lobby. However, there’s also a Variety Pack lobby if you prefer to swap between different game modes from match to match.

Finally, let’s talk about Burn Cards. Burn Cards are single use boosts that players earn through gameplay. Each player can carry a maximum of three Burn Cards into battle with them. Each Card is good for one life. These boosts can be simple things like “Earn extra EXP for any hits/kills on enemy Pilots (Titans/Grunts/etc.)”, or they can be pretty major boosts such as giving the player unlimited grenades for one life. The beauty of Burn Cards is that they can be extremely powerful tools when used at the right time, but the three card-per-match maximum means that no one player can “boost” their way through the whole match. Burn Cards can be activated either right before the match starts, or while players wait to respawn.

Concerns

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Every game has it’s issues, and Titanfall is no different. For starters, it’s online-only. This means that you can’t look at your loadouts, you can’t fiddle with your Burn Cards, and you can’t even play the “Training Sim” (tutorial) without being connected to the internet (a problem that’s only aggrivated by the network congestion that Respawn and EA are still working through).

Another major issue with the game is the matchmaking. First, there’s no balancing going on behind the scenes. Teams are frequently mismatched, occasionally to almost unbelievable levels. Second, going hand in hand with the mismatch issue, the game doesn’t keep teams evenly distributed. So, if there are nine players in the lobby, it wouldn’t be out of the question for there to be six players on one team and only three on the other. Other players will often join mid-match, but even playing a minute or two of 3 vs. 6 is enough to lose the game before it’s hardly started.

Content

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As far as objectionable content goes, Titanfall really isn’t different than most shooters. There is some strong language, it’s not frequent, but it’s there. There is also a lot of violence and gore. In-game characters are shot, blown-up, smashed, squished, thrown, and more. As the game is a “shooter” by definition, if you have issues with human characters being shot then you should avoid Titanfall. On the up side for Christians, there is no magic. Everything is based in technology. The game is rated M for Mature audiences (17 and older) and it’s definitely aimed at older teens and adults. If you are and older teen or adult and don’t have a problem with the Battlefield or Call of Duty series, I’d say you aren’t likely to take issue with Titanfall.

Conclusion

Titanfall is an excellent first offering from Respawn. The gameplay is outstanding, the mechanics are well thought out, and the maps are varied and detailed. Yes there are some issues with matchmaking and auto-balance, but those aren’t much more than a minor annoyance in a generally excellent title.

Source Article from http://christian-gaming.com/review/3-2-1-your-titan-is-ready-to-launch-titanfall-a-cg-review

‘Our Daily Bread’ Takes Devotionals Digital with New Mobile App

Our Daily Bread Booklet

March 18 2014, The popular devotional booklet ‘Our Daily Bread’ looks to make the long overdue jump to digital with a new free mobile app available now. The daily devotional, founded in 1956; began publishing daily devotional thoughts as a resource for readers to spend time each day in God’s Word. The publication has been in circulation for over six decades and can be found in 150 countries.

The Our Daily Bread devotional app promises to provide users with convenient, mobile access to the same valuable content as the print edition with just a touch or swipe of a finger. Compatible with iOS 6.0 and Android 2.1, the app allows readers to devote time with God through their mobile devices. It also provides the opportunity for engagement with other readers, social sharing and access to past devotionals and resources, like “A Bible in One Year” reading plan.

The application offers a variety of features including daily devotional readings based on specific Bible verses, mirroring the content distributed in the print edition, relevant Bible passages accompanying the daily devotional readings, an audio version of each devotional, a journal to capture users’ thoughts and reflections, customizable user preferences and settings for those who are interested in customizing the app to their personality and lifestyle.

Our Daily Bread Banner

“It has been really gratifying for everyone associated with RBC Ministries to see the impact Our Daily Bread has made in the lives of countless millions of readers around the globe over the past 57 years,” said Rick DeHaan, President at RBC Ministries. “Our hope is that this mobile app will serve to introduce Our Daily Bread to the next generation of seekers and Christians alike, while also providing a new and convenient access point to our long-time readers.”

The Our Daily Bread mobile application is free and available on most mobile devices. Visit www.odb.org/app for more information. Or connect with Our Daily Bread on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram. To learn more about the app features, a demonstration video is included here.

Be sure to check back here for walk-throughs, a first look and review of the program to come soon.

Our Daily Bread/RBC Ministries – The daily devotional thoughts published in Our Daily Bread help readers spend time each day in God’s Word. The publication is distributed worldwide in more than 55 languages, to over 150 countries, by over 35 affiliated ministries around the globe. Our Daily Bread is available online at www.odb.org, in print, and via email, eBooks, radio, podcast, RSS, and mobile. Visit odb.org or rbc.org for more information.

App Encourages Users to “Snitch” on Businesses Performance

 Goodsnitch App

SAN DIEGO, Calif., March 12, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — Rock Church, the largest church in San Diego, Calif., has implemented Goodsnitch, a mobile app that allows consumers to provide anonymous, private feedback to businesses and organizations in real-time. Goodsnitch especially encourages users to recognize “everyday heroes” who provide great service or do an amazing job. Businesses and organizations like the Rock are able to view fast feedback and data, respond to customers immediately, celebrate employees, and improve as needed.

“Goodsnitch is an absolute home run. It’s easy for everyone involved and exemplifies the spirit we hope is always present in our church. We were amazed at the over-whelming response and results – and the ‘snitches’ are still coming in. I think it’s a no-brainer for any church,” said Rock Church Senior Pastor Miles McPherson.

This past Sunday, Rock Church implemented Goodsnitch, asking church attendees to download the app and provide feedback on the church as well as use the app recognize at least one everyday hero at a business they visit during the week. More than 800 Rock attendees have already downloaded the app, and Rock Church has received more than 170 “snitches” to date. Additionally, Rock Church attendees have snitched on more than 100 local businesses. Combined, Rock Church attendees have recognized more than 200 “everyday heroes” in San Diego since Sunday. Stories of these everyday heroes ranged from small expressions of kindness to acts that were life-changing.

One attendee snitched on the Parking Ministry who helps manage traffic on Sundays, “It’s raining today and they are out there. Thank you parking team for serving in this way.” Another snitcher recognized an emergency room nurse at Kaiser Permanente, sharing, “My daughter and I were brought to the hospital after an accident and Steve went above and beyond to ensure we were taken care of!”

Together, Rock Church and Goodsnitch want to use technology for good in San Diego. Goodsnitch represents an “instant outreach” opportunity for church members. In as fast as 30 seconds, church members can recognize and encourage unsung heroes in their community. Rock Church witnessed first-hand the impact of recognizing staff and volunteers with real feedback.

Goodsnitch offers users a chance to shift their perspective from the anonymous and negative cyber communications, which are prevalent in online posts, to a perspective highlighting the good work of others and providing a means of communicating constructive criticism to the appropriate person.

“We allow ourselves behaviors online we never would in person,” says Sherry Turkle, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor at MIT, in “Why Is There So Much Negativity on the Internet?” by Kate Rope as published on RealSimple.com. “We do things online that hurt and damage real relationships: We’re curt with people we work with; we’re aggressive with people in our families; we bully people we go to school with.”

Goodsnitch aims to reintegrate positive feedback and constructive criticism into the consumer and company relation.


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“There’s a lot of evidence to support the fact that positive emotions fundamentally change the way our bodies and brains work,” says Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D., a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in “Why Is There So Much Negativity on the Internet?” as published on RealSimple.com. “What we’ve learned is that if people increase their daily diet of positive emotions, it makes them more resilient, more socially integrated, and physically healthier.”

About Rock Church
Rock Church is San Diego’s largest church and the 29th largest church in the nation according to Outreach Magazine’s 2013 “100 Largest Churches.” Pastor Miles McPherson, a former NFL player, started Rock Church in 2000. More than 14,000 people attend Rock Church’s five Sunday services at the three campuses: Point Loma, San Marcos and El Cajon, Calif.

For more information, go to sdrock.com
Follow us on Twitter (@therocksandiego) and Facebook (The Rock San Diego)
Rock Church 2277 Rosecrans St., San Diego, CA 92106

About Goodsnitch
The Goodsnitch mobile app empowers consumers to provide anonymous, private feedback on their experiences to every business and organization and recognize everyday service “heroes.” Goodsnitch is free for consumers through the App Store and Google Play. Goodsnitch has free and customized mobile, web and tablet customer engagement and employee recognition “fast data” solutions for businesses and organizations of all sizes including the Dallas Cowboys, Life Technologies, Robert Half International and Rock Church. Goodsnitch delivers every piece of user feedback to businesses or organizations free of charge.

Goodsnitch was founded by former Salvation Army National Chairman and Goldman Sachs Partner Rob Pace and provides its custom products to many non-profits free of charge.

Lecrae Makes Cover of Huffington Post

Huffington Post Lecrae

March 11, 2014 — Lecrae has made the cover of the latest issue of The Huffington Post Magazine (http://www.huffingtonmagazine.com/) online which is available now for iOS devices. The article, written by Jon Ward; and is entitled The Cool Christian: Bringing God’s Word to Mainstream Hip Hop.

The Cool Christian

Lecrae is currently signed to Reach Records (http://www.reachrecords.com) and lives with his wife and children in Atlanta, GA where they serve as worship leaders at Bluprint Church.

The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonmagazine.com/) publishes thousands of investigative reports, feature-length narratives, news stories, blog posts, link-outs, videos, slide shows, and infographics, sparking well over a million comments from readers.