Saturday, April 26

Food Review: Al's Deli

Cuisine: Deli/Brunch/American
Price: $50 (4 dishes and drink)
Location: 492 Queen Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland

Walking into Al's Diner I was greeted by a d├ęcor which was a mix between an American diner and a cafe, the tone setting the mood for casual dining. When I spoke to the server I was happy to discover that everything in Al's is freshly made. This includes the bread, meat, cakes and milkshakes. It's rare to find an eatery where they make everything in house, so I was immediately excited to start eating! I was overwhelmed by choice, everything sounded delicious. I decided to start with the Mexican inspired bagel of the week and cheese cake, before moving onto a Mega Main and Moose Ears. I had chocolate milkshake to drink.

I had to try the cheese cake, and wasn't disappointed. The base was crunchy with a bit of sharpness to it, I think it was lemon. The cheese struck the balance between firm and soft. It had just the right consistency that it held together on your fork, but melted in the mouth. The topping's strawberries were fresh, though the jelly was perhaps too sweet. A fantastic slice of cheese cake and a great start to the meal.

Tuesday, April 1

Game Review: Diablo 3 (Patch 2.0)

Genre: ARPG/Dungeon Crawler
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac
Release date: 15/05/12
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

Diablo 3 is the long awaited sequel to the monumental Diablo 2. At launch the game was plagued by the always online requirement, Real Money Auction House (RMAH) and poor looting. 2 years later some of the issues have been fixed with the addition of the 2.0 patch. The RMAH has been removed, loot itemisation vastly improved and heroes have been furthered balanced. Unfortunately the always online requirement still exists, which may severely hamper your ability to play the game. 

Diablo 3 is set some 20 years after the events of Diablo 2 with a mostly new set of heroes. You choose from the Monk, Wizard, Witch Doctor, Demon Hunter and Barbarian. Each hero has the option of male or female and each features unique voice acting, which is appreciated. I created a female wizard, after playing a Sorceress in Diablo 2, and started on Hard difficulty.

Jumping into a new game the most striking feature is the dated visuals. While as usual, Blizzard's art style is strong and can make up for some deficiencies, the game clearly lacks in the graphics department. Characters are rough and low quality, which is especially noticeable when you take a closer look. Textures are also muddy. While it doesn't detract from the experience, the game certainly isn't beautiful. That said the presentation is otherwise impeccable. The voice acting, sound effects and sound track do a great job in bringing the world to life. 

Characters are especially visually lacking

Like its predecessors Diablo 3 drops you straight into the action, this time in the town of New Tristram. Your hero has followed a mysterious falling star and finds New Tristram beset by the walking dead. As your hero stymies the tide of monsters, you uncover the larger demonic plot and the threat to the world at large. Blizzard's recent attempts at story telling have been somewhat ham fisted and Diablo 3 is no exception. The game features B movie tier villains and so much hair brained bravado from your hero that it's hard to take things seriously. This is especially unfortunate as Diablo 2 managed to craft a brilliantly sombre atmosphere.