Insta Poker app helps you improve your game

I’m addicted to my iPad, particularly when I’m on the treadmill or in airplanes. I mostly use it to watch TV series like “The Wire” or “Sons of Anarchy,” but I also love the apps and games as well.

There’s an app for practically everything now, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see a new app for poker games. There’s a new instructional poker game for the iPhone, iPod and iPad called “Insta Poker.” As you’re playing the game and make a decision, text comments from a pro pop up to give you immediate feedback, letting you know if you made the right or wrong move, and why. The feedback comes from pros like Antonio Esfandiari and Huck Seed. So now you can kill time on a plane with a game that might actually make you money, unlike complete time-wasters like Angry Birds.

Interestingly, the hands in the game are real hands track real events, like hands that took place in televised tournaments or at other high-stakes poker games. The key to this app is teaching you strategy as you’re playing which is critical if you want to develop into an effective poker player.

The game packs for the app cost 99 cents to $6.99, with the most expensive ones having around 15 hands, so the game isn’t cheap. But when you consider how much money you can win in your poker future, or at least how much less money you can lose, then the cost is really a drop in the bucket, or at least comparable to that turkey sandwich you’re ordering at the casino while justifying several more hours at the poker table.

Payneful Memories: The Best of Max Payne

To me, there’s nothing quite like the “Max Payne” series.

As a fan of action movies, there is no game that can fulfill that itch I have for some ultra violence after watching one of my favorites like “Max Payne” does. More than that, though, the series has its own style and charm that very few games across any genre can possibly hope to match. It’s made up of a million little things that all come together to make something greater than it even looked on paper.

So in honor of “Max Payne 3′s” impending release, I’d like to reflect on ten of my favorite moments, levels, aspects, and everything else from the first two “Max Payne” games.

Mod Max – The “Max Payne” series was designed to be heavily moddable, and from day one gamers have taken advantage of that. From mods that make the game even more cinematic, to giving you the option of employing “Equilibrium’s” gunkata style, and way, way, to many “Matrix” mods, there is a strong community out there devoted to maximizing the games experience.

The two that really stand out, though, are the brilliant Kung Fu mod that gives Max martial arts skills, along with some deadlier gunplay abilities, thus helping the game become even more of an homage to the kung-fu classics that inspired it, and a mod that turns the game into a brawler set in the “Street Fighter” universe. The latter is actually kind of dull and buggy, while the former is a necessity. Both though represent the incredible ability the game has to be modded, and the creative impulses this series inspires out of its fanbase.

Innocent Man’s Story – This is maybe my favorite little moment of the series. In “Max Payne 2,” you are in a police station, when you overhear a cop interrogating a suspect over a double murder. Stay and listen and you will hear the absolute worst criminal alibi of all time delivered by a man who looks and sounds suspiciously like Joe Pesci.

I really can’t do this one justice with words. You have to see it for yourself.

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Scouting Report – The Games of May

After sitting through far too many rounds of the NFL Draft over the weekend, I got to thinking: If sports reporters can analyze players that haven’t gone pro yet, why not try to make an assessment of games that haven’t gone live yet?  So here is my scouting report on some big releases of May, including just how I think they will fare when they hit the big time.

Max Payne 3


Scouting Report

The wait for this game has had many fans feel what it’s like to be stuck in Max’s signature slowdown bullet time mode. Original developer Remedy did an amazing job with the first “Max Payne” when it came to capturing that particular brand of Hong Kong cinema gunplay, popularized by the likes of “Hard Boiled” and “The Killer“, while infusing it with some old fashioned American film noir style. It resulted in one of the most revolutionary and unique shooters ever made. For the sequel, “Max Payne 2“, they managed to blow nearly everyone’s expectations away by retaining the essentially the same gameplay of the first, but then smothering the entire experience with unbelievable amount of style, emphasized by some of the best level design ever in a game and some perfect ragdoll physics, to create what is one of my personal favorite games of all time.

But now it’s Rockstar’s turn to take the reins (and why not as that iconic R logo on the first two led many to believe it was one of their developments anyway), as they attempt to bring Max back into the limelight. So far, from the numerous preview trailers, it looks like the emphasis is on refinement of the system and not starting a revolution….as least in the single player. Yes for the first time ever, Max is going multiplayer in what Rockstar is hoping is going to be a unique attempt at that eternal question. How do you make bullet time work in multiplayer?

Prospects

I have zero doubt this game is going to be good. I have some questions though on whether or not it will be great.

It’s obvious from everything we’ve seen so far that Rockstar is not looking to stray from the established gameplay of the first two, and merely tweak it with some very welcome additions (mostly cosmetic). But at this point, many fans want the game to be more than “just fun”, and to pull that off, Rockstar is going to have to match the numerous little X-factors that Remedy populated the first two games with. As this installment is moving away from its previous Noir style roots, they’re going to have to find a way to make the new “Man on Fire”-style world and plot shine as bright and feel as unique. Failing that, it’s going to come down to the multiplayer to be what makes this game stand out in a busy market (even for a returning legend).

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Cataclysm CE features announced, I sigh

Cataclysm Collector's Edition

I’ve never understood the collector’s editions for World of Warcraft. I really enjoy the game, but there are so many easily attainable pets (which is the only thing that really entices me out of the feature list) that I can’t really understand dropping the extra cash on it. People spend money on weirder stuff, and I guess there’s enough involved to keep the crazy lore freaks happy.

Here’s what you get:

CATACLYSM EXCLUSIVE BEHIND-THE-SCENES DVD:
• Over an hour of developer interviews and commentaries, discussing the game’s development from early design through finished gameplay.
• The Cataclysm intro cinematic and major content patch trailers complete with Director’s Commentary.
• A special Warcraft retrospective examining the rich gaming history of the Warcraft universe.

COLLECTOR’S EDITION SOUNDTRACK:
• Seventeen epic tracks from Cataclysm.

THE ART OF CATACLYSM:
• 176 pages of art, featuring never-before-seen images from the archives of the Blizzard Film Department and the World of Warcraft development team.
• Progressive visuals from every stage of development – from early concepts through to finished, detailed art.

WORLD OF WARCRAFT®: CATACLYSM™ PC/MAC GAME:
• The full World of Warcraft expansion set on CD-ROM and DVD-ROM.

WORLD OF WARCRAFT TRADING CARD GAME STARTER PACKS AND EXCLUSIVE CARDS:
• One 60-card deck from the new Wrathgate series featuring two extended art cards and visuals from several of fantasy’s top creators.
• Two exclusive hero cards, marking the first appearance of goblin and worgen heroes in the WOW:TCG.
• One full-sized rule book to teach you how to play.

EXCLUSIVE IN-GAME PET:
• He may not be a breaker of worlds… at least not yet… but Lil’ Deathwing will still aid you in your titanic struggle to save Azeroth from his much, much larger counterpart.

CATACLYSM MOUSEPAD:
• A special-edition mouse pad depicting Deathwing menacing the ravaged continents of Azeroth.

See, there’s some good stuff in there. Gamestop lists the box set at $79.99.

Xin Zhao Spotlight is here

Riot posted the Xin Zhao Spotlight early this go round, giving you time to think about whether or not you’ll be picking him up at the Season One launch this Tuesday. The video gives some much needed clarification on his skillset, though I don’t think it does a good job displaying Xin Zhao’s specific skillset.

Did anyone else feel like this was more of a tutorial on the basics than a display of the potential behind Xin Zhao. That first kill on Guinsoo looked like a damn bot (I’m guessing Guinsoo was typing?) and most of the teamfights played out such that I didn’t see Xin Zhao doing a whole lot – it was mostly his fed teammates dishing out the damage and pulling down triple kills. It’s kinda tough to get a good look at any champion when you have a power combo like Alistar/Annie for teamfights. The one helpful tip was the Malzahar kill top for which Phreak used Audacious Charge. That’s about all I learned. Use it like Kat/Akali to get close to people but with a bonus AOE slow.

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