Grand Theft Auto V – Review

Credit: Rockstar Games
Rockstar promised a lot for their latest entry, so much that some people believe that would not be able to deliver. I was one of those who feared that Rockstar had promised too much but after spending hours, among hours, Rockstar promised and succeeded in an every way.

Credit: Rockstar Games

In the latest installment of the Grand Theft Auto series, you take the control of not one but three main characters that you would suspect to follow common stereotypes – a gangster, a high-class criminal and a fully-fledged psycho. However each character evolves into to something quite different than what I intentionally thought once their stories unravel. Michael, a 40-something year old retired bank robber who is going through a midlife crisis that his dysfunctional family doesn’t help him through and just wants to go back to the life he used to have, a life of crime. Franklin, a young and ambitious up-and-comer who wants to leave his old “low-level crime life” behind him and is conflicted with which side of right and wrong he himself belongs on. Then there is Trevor, a sociopath who loves to go on rampages involving killing people and blowing up expensive things and just causing utter mayhem.

Each of the characters do missions that would fit them best, for example, the big-shot Hollywood type would go to Michael, the low-level crime type would go to Franklin and then all the chaotic, mayhem type would go to, of-course, Trevor.

Credit: Rockstar Games
Once you are unlock each of the three characters, you can immediately switch between them as often or as little as you like. This works by zooming out from one character then moves over and zoom in on another character in a sort-of Google Earth style view. That is what it is like to switch between the characters when not on a mission. While you are on a mission that would involve 2 or all of the main guys, the switching happens immediately in an instant. The time it takes between switching to another character when not on a mission can sometimes be inconsistent at times but that could be due to playing this game on a console that is nearing its end of the line. Another thing to mention is that when you are not on a mission and you are controlling one character, the other characters are also going about their own business, whether that be watching some TV, being chased by the cops or just causing mayhem.


Credit: Rockstar Games

The entire storyline of Grand Theft Auto V revolves around thefts, more specially heists. This is the first game within the series that heavily relies on the theme of theft since the early days of Grand Theft Auto. The three men are put in charge of a number of crazy and death defying heists. There are really the high points of the game and they wouldn’t be possible without the dramatically improved driving and gunplay mechanics. Before undergoing an major heist, the player is given the option of how they want the heist to execute, whether you want to go in a more stealth approach or go in guns a blazing, the choice is really up to the player. You also get to decide who do you want to accompany you, if for example you want an expert gunman to tag along then they would expect to want a bigger cut of the loot as compared to an amateur gunman.

Credit: Rockstar Games
The scope of the game is BIG, and when I say big, that seems like an understatement. The game creates a blend of large and small scale. For example, a simple thing like landing a helicopter, the details of the world are revealed in many layers: first, the panoramic views of the sprawling county; next, and the outline of the Los Santos skyline; just the architecture of one restaurant; the scene at the front entrance; and then the seeing a woman walking-by, while on her cell phone, complaining about how she was unable to land a role in some TV Show, and the distinct click of her high heels as she walks.

Most of the buildings can be seamlessly entered and contain well-decorated interiors that tailor to the people that work, live or play there. Each neighbourhood encloses different stores, shops, vehicles and people. Each part feels different and unique in its own right.
Credit: Rockstar Games

There are a lot of things to see and do in Grand Theft Auto V, but you won’t be able to see it all in one playthrough of the game, it will take countless hours. There are plenty of mini-games and side missions to keep you busy between main story missions, like Tennis, Golf, cycling, scuba diving, jet skiing, yoga, mountain-climbing, stunt trials and the list just goes on and on. There is one property within the game that you won’t be able to obtain with just one playthrough with all the heists; it costs around $150 Million. That would take a number of playthroughs in order to achieve that.
Credit: Rockstar Games
Grand Theft Auto V is not just an enjoyable game but it is smart and well detailed version of contemporary America. It shows the refinement of everything that was brought along with GTA IV, almost 5 years ago. It is more technically more advanced in every conceivable way but it’s also ambitious. No other video game world comes even close to something of this scope or size. There is sharp reasoning behind its sense of humor and mayhem. The game tells a compelling, unpredictable yet provocative story which never gets in the way of your own adventures in Los Santos and its detailed world.

It is absolutely one of the best video games ever made and that I have ever played.


Grand Theft Auto V: All Screenshots, artwork and all of the Trailers

I created a video montage of all the screenshots and artwork for Grand Theft Auto 5, but for some odd reason it would not playback when i embeded it into this post. So here is a link to the video. Enjoy: 

I also tried to upload a compilation of all the Grand Theft Auto 5 Trailers but it got taken down, so below will be another compilation by a different YouTuber.

Also stayed tuned to the blog for a review of Grand Theft Auto V in the next couple of days.

Follow Me on Twitter @sachinbahal and @Canadian_Techie


Xbox One is Coming November 22nd 2013

After months after the announcement of the Xbox One, Microsoft had finally revealed the official launch date of November 22nd 2013 in 13 countries in North America and Europe. This date is exactly one week after Sony’s launch of the PlayStation 4. It will also be exactly 8 years after the Xbox 360 launch on the same date back in 2005.

Follow Me on Twitter @sachinbahal and @Canadian_Techie
2013 Canadian

Android 4.4 will be called ‘KitKat’ and 1 Billion Android Activations

Today, Google’s Sundar Pichai, head of both Android and Chrome, revealed that the next version of Android, which will be version 4.4 and be called KitKat. Yes, the delicious chocolate treat will be the the name of the next version of Google’s operating system. There were countless rumors that the next version of Android would be version 5.0 and be code-named Key Lime Pie.

Android 4.4, KitKat
Android 4.4, KitKat

The decision for Google to go by a different code name was after the realization that “very few people actually know the taste of a key lime pie,” as said by John Lagerling, director of Android partnerships in a interview with the BBC. Late last year, an employee came up with naming the upcoming version KitKat, which is apparently a favourite snack among Android coders. And then Google decided to reach out to the folks at Nestle. Within 24 hours an agreement was made, though it’s apparently “not a money-changing-hands kind of deal,” according to Lagerling.

Android 4.4 'KitKat' Statue
The Android 4.4 ‘KitKat’ Statue at Google HQ

Also in the same post by Pichai on his Google+ profile, said he had just returned from meeting with hardware partners in Asia and also said there are now over 1 Billion Android activations He goes on to say that he “can’t wait to release the next version of the platform that is as sweet as the candy bar that’s one of our team’s favourites.” To promote the partnership, there will be specially-marked KitKat packages with a chance to win a free Nexus 7 or a Google Play credit. Also there could be a KitKat bar in the shape of the Android logo and just like the new Android statue.

Also here is a video from KitKat showing “The Future of Confectionery”.


Follow Me on Twitter @sachinbahal and @Canadian_Techie


2013 Canadian Chrome

Google Android & Chrome Event Wrap-up on July 24th, 2013

Today, Google unveiled quite a few new products and services today, most notably the new Nexus 7, just simply called the Nexus 7 (2013) and the Chromecast.

The brand new Nexus 7 (2013) has been given a minor upgrade from last year’s model. It has a 1.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Processor with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM. The display has been bumped up to have a resolution of 1920 x 1200 to give a pixel density of 323 ppi. 

Nexus 7 (2013)

It is still made by Asus. It also contains NFC and 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity and Wireless Charger support. The Slimport that the Nexus 7 has, will allow for displaying 1080p content on your TV. The front-facing camera is still 1.2 Megapixels and there is now a rear-facing camera that is just 5 Megapixels. Both the weight and the display bezel have both been slimmed down. There is also a pair of stereo speakers. It will be the first device to be running Android 4.3.

Also announced was a Unlocked LTE version which will work on AT&T, T-Mobile and Version (in the USA) and other carriers with GSM based LTE networks. The new Nexus 7 (2013) will be available on July 30th, the 16GB Wi-Fi only version will cost $229 and $269 for the 32GB Wi-Fi version. While the Wi-Fi & Mobile Data (LTE) version will be available in the coming weeks in Canada, US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, South Korea and Spain. It will be sold in the Google Play Store and in retailers like Staples and Best Buy (Future Shop & Best Buy in Canada) and now Amazon will be selling the Nexus 7.

Google also announced Google Play Textbooks, which is a dedicated category just for learning material. You will be able to Purchase or Rent for 6 months at a time, the books are Up 80% discounted and the comprehensive selection of titles includes textbooks from all 5 major publishing houses. The service will be available in August and it’ll sync across Android, iOS and the web.

 The new companion app to go along with the new Google Play Games Service and it is simply called Play Games. The app will show leader boards and will allow you to connect with your friends (on Google+) to challenge or play along-side. It will also track all your achievements and it will serve as a single repostitory to launch all your games (just like Steam does).

 And last but not least, Google introduced the Chromecast, which is a HDMI dongle that only cost $35. It can mirror content being played on a nearby tablet or smartphone or computer. How it works, is that the device connects to your local WiFi network and similairly connected devices using Chromecast. You will be able to display YouTube videos, Netflix content, mirror your Google Chrome window (and some people have already been able to play local PC content using Chromecast), show content from Google Play like movies (and possibly music) and soon, Pandora audio content. It is available on the Google Play Store (US-Only for now), in Best Buy and on Amazon.

That’s what it’ll look like but it will need the USB cable to power it

Follow Me on Twitter @sachinbahal and @Canadian_Techie




Best Google Reader Alternatives as of June 2013

In the next few days, Google Reader will be shut down officially on July 1st, 2013 (Canada Day). So I wanted to share some of the Best Alternatives to Google Reader and the Best RSS Readers out there, some were included in the Best Apps of 2012 . 

Feedly (Android/ iOS / Web)

This is the best of the best and most popular RSS readers out there, Feedly has a clean UI for their web app and that continues onto their mobile apps. Feedly also makes it very easy to migrate your Google Reader stuff to Feedly or other RSS readers (Press, gReader etc.)

Feedly Android App

Feedly Web Interface

 Download Feedly : Play Store iTunes Web

Pulse (Android/ iOS / Web)

Pulse is partly a RSS reader, they mostly rely on their own new algorithms to help find stories that might interest you. I personally use Pulse a lot to check up on the latest tech news, and they have a bunch of different sources that you can choose from. 

Pulse News Web Interface

Pulse News iOS App

Download Pulse: Play Store iTunes Web

Flipboard (Android and iOS)

Flipboard has similar functionality to Pulse but this is heavily focuses on a magazine design. You can add in your Facebook and Twitter and Google+ accounts to share interesting new stories, and you can link it to Pocket to “read it later” (get it because Pocket use to be called Read It Later). It does sync with Google Reader if you so desire but it will put all of your feeds into one section and that isn’t such a great idea. It’s a beautiful reader but don’t bother trying to sync your Google Reader to it.

Flipboard Smartphone Interface 

Flipboard iPad App

Download Flipboard: Play Store iTunes

There are many more Google Reader and RSS Readers out there but that’s all for now and Good Luck searching for one that works for you

Follow Me on Twitter @sachinbahal and @Canadian_Techie


2013 Canadian

Microsoft reverses Xbox One DRM policies: Say goodbye to required online check-ins and used game complications on the Xbox One

Microsoft previously said at their E3 2013 press conference, that the Xbox One would have a 24-hour online check-in requirement and they had some complex way of explaining used games on the Xbox One. Today, Microsoft has said they aren’t going with those policies that they made, and the company had this to say on the Xbox blog to help explain the situation,” I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360″ as said by Don Mattrick, President of Interactive Entertainment Business of the Xbox division . He also said this:

“An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.
Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.”

Mattrick also says that this is a direct response to gamers’ reaction to their policy, and this was also part of his explanation, “Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One,”. Another thing is that he confirmed that Xbox One games will be region-free and that disc-based games will have to be kept inside the disc tray rather than the device ripping them to the hard drive to be able to play game digitally. 

This sounds like the gamers won over Xbox and it’s all for a better gaming experience on the new Xbox One. And it could also be a way for Microsoft to win back people that may have gone to side with the Sony and the PS4 because they said there is no DRM and you can trade and lend games all you want without any online check-ins.

 Follow Me on Twitter @sachinbahal and @Canadian_Techie


TheCanadianTechie Updated Logo

Below will the newly updated logo for TheCanadianTechie, so it will go along with the colour scheme of the blog. Let me know what you think.

 Follow Me on Twitter @sachinbahal and @Canadian_Techie


Microsoft Xbox One Event on May 21st 2013 Wrap-up

Finally, after years of waiting and anticipation, Microsoft’s next generation console is finally here, the Xbox One. The console itself will include 8GB of RAM, USB 3.0 ports, a 500GB Hard drive, an octa-core processor which is based off of AMD’s Jaguar design, WiFi direct to help connect to the brand new controller and other devices.

The actual box looks like it could be a HTPC (Home Theatre PC) but instead with a black and silver casing and a large Xbox logo. From an audio and video viewpoint, it supports 1080p and 4K, with 7.1 surround sound. It has a Blu-ray / DVD combo drive that won’t be use very much because supposedly disc-based games will be ripped to the hard drive automatically. In addition to the USB 3.0 ports, there will be a HDMI 1.4 output and passthrough, which basically means HDMI In and Out which will be used to connect with your cable or satellite box and even control connected devices using voice or gesture with the new Kinect sensor.

The New Kinect sensor has a 1080p camera, up from the VGA camera in the original Kinect. The new sensor can process about two gigabits of data per second for better accuracy of tracking movements and gestures. Everything is more accurate for better control. It even has the capability of tracking six people all at once and it can communicate with the standard Xbox controller to add some “PS Move” functionality.For example, if you lift the controller, it could life your character’s shield in game. Microsoft says the Kinect help bring together the Xbox One experience.

The controller that many Xbox gamers have loved or hated over the past few years, has now been redesigned completely for a new look and feel. The traditional “Xbox Button” has been moved up to make room for some newer buttons in the central section of the controller. Another significant change is that the triggers have a built-in rumble system, which Microsoft called “Impulse Triggers”. The d-pad has more of “cross” look to it while the thumbsticks are slightly shorter and have a textured design around the edges, to help give more grip.

The hard drive in the Xbox One has been confirmed that it is a non-removable hard drive, as compared to the Xbox 360, which had a removable proprietary hard drive. However Microsoft reps have confirmed that you will be able to plug-in external storage for more disc-space. You could hypothetically have a Xbox One with a 2.5 TB of storage (the one inside the console and a 2TB external hard-drive).

Microsoft strikes another deal with Activision to make sure the the Xbox One with get all the Call of Duty DLC first, starting with Call of Duty: Ghosts 

Microsoft announced a new Halo live-action TV series, which is created by 343 Industries and the famous Steven Spielberg. Mr. Spielberg will be a executive producer for the series. The show will provide  “exclusive interactive Xbox One content” which doesn’t mean much at the moment. 

The fine folks behind the original Max Payne and the Xbox exclusive, Alan Wake are creating a next-gen game for the Xbox One, called Quantum Break. It tells the story of a young girl, that can see through time and is able to convey what she sees, all while shown in real life. 

Forza Motorsport 5 was also announced for the Xbox One. While there is not firm launch date for the console yet, this title will be sure to arrive on launch day when the new console is released, which is most likely to be Holiday 2013 (around November, December).

Below will be some pictures and then followed by a trailer which was first obtained by Joystiq.

Xbox Studios has said that about 15 exclusive Xbox One titles will be released within it’s first year and 8 of those will be brand-new franchises. There was no indication of what those titles would be, there will probably be more information at Microsoft’s press conference at E3.

Xbox One discs will be linked to user accounts. However if you borrow a game from a friend or lend a game to a friend, you will have to pay a fee, which is full MSRP, which could mean $40, 50 or even $60.
UPDATE: Microsoft has said that Xbox One game will require a regular online spot check, to help verify authentication and there will be NO fee to reactivate a used game. (Check this article on Polygon for more info)
First off, the Xbox One is not backwards compatible with Xbox 360 discs or Xbox Live Arcade. However, your Gamerscore and Xbox Live Gamertag will be transferred over to the new console. It is the Xbox One’s architecture that won’t let the hardware run Xbox 360 games.

The Dashboard UI, still retains the current look on the Xbox 360 in combination with Windows 8 “Metro Style” look. There will be better Skype integration, to allow it to be controlled by Kinect using voice enhancements. You can receive video calls while watching movies, playing games and it will automatically snap to the side to help get it out of the way.

The Xbox One runs on three operating systems simultaneously. There is the main system OS, which is used to run apps, like Skype and other non-gaming apps.There will be some Windows 8 aspect of the Xbox One,   with such things as Snapping two apps side-by-side and separate apps can be pinned to the edge of the TV, to allow gamers to use Xbox apps while playing a game, watching TV or browsing the internet.

 Follow Me on Twitter @sachinbahal and @Canadian_Techie



Google I/O 2013 Day 1 Wrapup

Today was the start of the first of three days of Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O this year’s is the 6th to happen so far.
There were a large number of announcements made today at the keynote.

  •      Google: 900 Million Android activations and over 48 billion app installs
  •      Google Play Games Service
  •      Android Studio: A brand new developer environment for Android
  •      Google Play Services updated with cross-platform Google+ sign-in, Google Cloud Messaging and new location APIs
  •      Google Play Music All Access
  •      Redesigned Play Store Web View
  •      Samsung Galaxy S4: Google Edition (The S4 made into a Nexus device) releasing June 26th, 2013
  •       Google Play in Education
  •      Google+ redesign, with photo features that automatically help you show off your best photos while enhancing them
  •      Google Hangouts: A Cross-platform Messaging system across Android, iOS and Chrome
  •      Button-Free voice search in Google Chrome by just saying ‘OK Google’
  •      Google Now: updated with voice reminders, emails and public transit data
  •      Google Maps redesigned for Android, Web and a Google Maps iPad app coming this summer
  •      Google Maps integrates Google Earth and Street View in a newly redesigned interface 

    Google: 900 Million Android activations and over 48 billion app installs

    There have been over 900 Million Android device activations so far. That is compared to 100 Million in 2011 and 400 Million in 2013.

    Google Play Games Service

    The new service will allow Android game developers, (like Glu Games or Gameloft) to be able to save their game progress with Cloud Saves, where you could play on one device and then continue later on a second device. They also added achievements and leaderboards to the mix. There was going to be a demo of some of the multiplayer features on stage but failed due to connection issues. Some of the multiplayer features include the ability to let you compete or play along with your friends on Google+ or other people in your favourite games.

    Android Studio: A brand new developer environment for Android

    It is built off of the IntelliJ IDEA, and it features things like multiple layout view, to be able to see what your app would look like on a wide range of Android devices. Any tweaks and app revisions to the code will show up in real time while inside the development console, also Play Services like Cloud Messaging will be integrated.

    Google Play Music All Access and New UI

    It is a new Music subscription service, to compete with the likes of Spotify. It is integrated into the Google Play Music App after an update.
    Once you launch the app after the update, you will be greeted with a screen with an option to start a 30-day trial of the subscription service. If you subscribe to the service before June 30th, you will only have to pay $7.99 a month and then after that it will cost $9.99 a month. IMPORTANT NOTE: You will need to actually accept the subscription if you want the 30 day trial, and be ready to cancel it if you don’t plan to use it longer than a month.

    Google Play Music has also been completely overhauled with a brand new UI, which is very slick. It is has been simplified and it is much easier to navigate than before. If you swipe from the left, you are shown a new navigation panel, where you can choose between Listen Now, My Library, Playlists, Instant Mixes and Shop. When you swipe left or right on the Now Playing screen, it will skip to the next or previous song, the same works for when you swipe left or right on the bottom of the screen of when selecting a song.

    Samsung Galaxy S4: Google Edition (The S4 made into a Nexus device) releasing June 26th, 2013

    The Samsung Galaxy S4, one of the most awaited smartphones of the year is now technically a Nexus device. I believe that nobody saw this coming, I think more people were expecting a White Nexus 4 or a successor to popular Nexus 7.

    This Galaxy S4 runs Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) just like the normal S4 does. However there is no TouchWiz on it whatsoever, zip, nada. This one is completely un-tampered with only pure Android.

    It will be available from Google Play on June 26thin the US, with no mention of availability in other countries. It features a Nexus User Experience, compatibility with T-Mobile and AT&T in the US, 4G LTE support, 16GB of on-board storage along with the Micro-SD card slot, an unlockable bootloader which means it will work on any GSM carrier that supports it around the world and it will prompt system updates. And all it will cost is $649, which is $300 more than the Nexus 4 16GB.

     Follow Me on Twitter @sachinbahal and @Canadian_Techie