Command and Conquer Remastered Collection – REVIEW

Throwback to 1999 school holidays in a small town. It’s been a few years since the original Red Alert game has been released but I’d just saved up enough pocket money to buy a new video game from my nearby Game Store. No – not video game store (those didn’t exist in my town then) but the actual Game Store (the purple/pink one). I can still remember venturing into the electronics section, which was blocked off with glass and metal detectors, to go and find my new video game. This was always an exciting time for me as the electronics world was so fascinating to me and still so unknown – which only added to the awe of it. I remember then seeing Red Alert in all its crisp newness - and it was on SPECIAL! I immediately grabbed it and rushed to pay for it as I’d played it a few times at a friend’s house already and was eager to get cracking at it. Rushing home and booting up the Pentium II family PC with a newly acquired Windows 98 SE operating system, I quickly opened the game and was shocked to see TWO discs in the case. Having a quick investigation of the discs, I put Disc 1 (high level logic was needed here) in my CD-ROM and started my install. If you played PC anytime in the 90’s and early 2000’s then you definitely knew about the Command & Conquer games – either by owning them yourself, playing them at a friend’s house or just knowing about them through the sheer popularity the franchise commanded during those years. Now – why throw back all the way to a school holiday in 1999 to talk about C&C Remastered Collection? That’s because of the amount of nostalgia I felt when I installed the remastered version recently and started up Red Alert (it’s the most familiar one to me). I was honestly taking photos of the cinematics and sending them to friends, both new and childhood, who I knew had played this game too and every one of them could vividly remember the scenes from the shots I sent them. Now if that doesn’t show absolute gold when it comes to a game, then I don’t know what does. Before we get into the nitty gritty, the feeling of sitting in my parent’s study playing through this game in 1999 that I still got more than 20 years later was incredibly real and I kept going back to this game now to relive those days when bills were a myth and the only stressful decisions I had to make were swim first or shower first. And based on this fact only – this game is already way worth it for me. If that’s not enough for you – let’s delve deeper into the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection.  

The Nitty Gritty

Currently, C&C Remastered Collection, goes for about R350 through Steam and the 24GB download will get you the remastered editions of Command & Conquer and C&C Red Alert in 4K, plus all expansions for both games. Both games include full single player campaigns with various difficulty levels, a Skirmish mode where you can choose the map and number of AIs, as well as functioning Online PvP so you can test your metal against friends and other fans of the franchise. The much loved Map Editor mode is also available where you can construct your own maps to try in skirmishes and against friends. For the achievement hunter gamers out there, there are 33 new Steam achievements to grab while playing through the various modes of the Remastered Collection. The game needs the following minimum specs to play on your system; OS: Windows 8.1 or newer Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E4600 @ 2.4ghz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 64000 @ 2.4ghz Memory: 4GB RAM Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 420 or ATI Radeon HD 5570 Direct X: Version 11 Storage: 32GB available space But, of course, better specs will mean better performance and high quality.  

Playing the Game

As already mentioned, based on pure nostalgic value, this is already a winner for me. If you enjoyed either of the games back in the day, I can 100% guarantee that you will enjoy it again, even if you are no longer a fan of the RTS genre. It’s also been long enough in between that you may remember parts of the game, but the game will still present challenges as you’ve (hopefully) forgotten the easy ways you beat levels and will have to learn all that again. Starting up both games for the first time, the Remastered UI ran a type of simulator thing on my PC where it checked my hardware and chose the optimal settings for my system to run at. This I found was quite good as it was quick enough, and could be skipped for the more experienced users who prefer to run their settings at custom preferences but also set the game up well for the inexperienced users who don’t know that their RTX 2080 Ti can run games higher than mid-tier graphics settings (if this is you – please send me your graphics card and I’ll send you one that can run a game at mid-tier perfectly). The game then allows you to toggle between legacy and remastered graphics at any time during the game by hitting the space bar. I almost broke my space bar in the first 10 minutes as I was smashing that thing to see what it looked like back in 1999 and what they’ve changed. I must say – this is probably one of the best remaster upscales I’ve seen as the game is smoother and much better quality and the difference is VERY visible, even to the most graphic blind gamers out there. Being an RTS game – don’t expect super realistic shadows and nature, but rather see an RTS game looking like it should in 2020. I personally feel this was done so well as the remaster team at Petroglyph Games included members of the original dev team from Westwood Studios. Playing through the campaigns of both of the titles included in the Remastered Collection, I was reminded again of the old school grind of games as walkthroughs on YouTube didn’t exist back then and so I again chose to push through and beat levels by figuring it out myself and saving often. So, if there are walkthrough and “game hack” methods on YouTube and other services, I don’t know because I haven’t checked. And that is the best way to play the game in my humble opinion. The overall playing experience of the Remastered Collection has been tweaked and doesn’t feel as “clunky” as a lot of older games do feel when you replay them. Missions are challenging and require some tactics and strategy. Rushing through them will often result in a mission failure (I saw my fair share of these while playing the more challenging missions) or in a sub-par result. Based on nostalgic value alone (which by now you would see is quite high for me), I’d give them Command & Conquer Remastered Collection a 12 out of 10. But based on a fair play of the game and taking all things into fair consideration (including nostalgic value), I would give this game a solid 8/10.

Thank you to the guys at Prima Interactive for giving us a chance to play the game and relive some of my childhood.

Read more

EnerGhack Energy Supplements – REVIEW

What is one thing that seems to get associated with gaming in a way that is neither healthy nor flattering? Pizza and Energy Drinks. Both of which I’ve had my fair share of but not because “that’s what gamers do” and more because they’re just really delicious. I'm not here to debunk the myths around pizza (By the way - pineapple does belong on a pizza) but the stigma of energy drinks especially is one that is quite well deserved as gamers usually push sleep out the way to game because of other real-life commitments forcing most of us to become creatures of the night.  I know that this was true to me as I used to consume copious amounts of various energy drinks – partially because they were so tasty but mostly because I’d probably developed an addiction to them. One thing I’m sure we’ve all experienced from these drinks (unless I’m just soft) is that it spikes us to a point, but the inevitable crash is always lurking not too far away, where we then need another drink to spike us again. This can often lead to jitters and strange sensations as our bodies go through a sugar, caffeine and other energy ingredient induced high. So why then review an energy drink? Most of us have heard of these new energy supplements targeted at gamers coming onto the market and promising us to the moon and back that they are healthier and better for you in the long run and also help you to focus, react and just stay awake generally (I write as I sip on my Pineapple/Lemon mix). But for us South Africans, most of these products are imported and come at a very hefty price tag! But there is hope – and that hope comes in the form of EnerGhack Energy supplements.     The guys over at EnerGhack were super generous in sending some my way for me to test and try. And test it I did, as you’ll soon see,  as I put it through the paces as I used it through a very busy time of my life and pushed EnerGhack to its limits, as well as my own, as I experimented with it in other areas of my life that fall outside of gaming.  

The Specs

Now for those of you in the world who like to know all the nitty-gritty about food and read the labels and other information, this next section is for you. The following information is directly from EnerGhack.   Benefits of EnerGhack;
  • very low caffeine content to ensure no jitters.
  • contains Stevia, a natural sweetener, instead of synthetic sweetener to ensure a healthier, great-tasting drink and no energy slump.
  • safe to use from age of 12 and up.
For more information on the make-up of EnerGhack and how this helps you, follow the link below. https://www.energhack.co.za/pages/nutrition  

My Experience

Straight out the gate – I just want to take a second or three to applaud EnerGhack with their customer service and presentation of their product. When I originally got my first batch of EnerGhack, it product was well packaged and came with some freebies like 2 samples of the other flavours, stickers, a small bag and a few other things all wrapped up in a branded tube to make sure everything is safe and sound in the shipping process. I have since received two more packages from EnerGhack and every time their service was swift and professional and there are always a few extra goodies to sweeten the deal. This wasn’t a test – but if it was, they’d have passed with absolute flying colours!     While most energy supplements claim to help you with reactions, focus, endurance, energy and hydration while gaming, EnerGhack takes it a step further and out of the realm of gaming and makes the claim that it will help you with studying, gym and other high energy activities. So, I took this statement are really put it to the test. Luckily this drink came at a very busy time in my life (as you will see in a bit) even though lockdown started in South Africa and things were meant to quieten down a bit, in my life – it was the opposite. So, I used the product in the following scenarios to see how it would help;  

Gaming (of course)

Being a family man who holds a rather busy job in the education industry, Gaming for me is usually a late-night thing once family time and other priorities are sorted.  Thus, fueling my need for some kind of energy-boosting thing – which lead to a rather unhealthy addiction to energy drinks (thanks for nothing Much Loco). I started using EnerGhack as soon as it arrived and tried it instead of my usual coffee to kick off a session.  I first sipped on it slowly throughout extended gaming sessions as well as downing a full serving in one go.  Both times no jitters and sugar rushes were experienced and I did feel like I could go a little bit longer before feeling the inevitable fatigue of a long day. Disclaimer – don’t down a full serving in one go because the flavours really are good and you’ll want to enjoy it over a long period of time.    

Review writing.

This is not the only review I’ve written in the period of having EnerGhack and the product really did help fuel me through the long writing process. I’m generally a coffee drinker for this as the “sipping process” helps me to pause and gather my thoughts before moving on.  Also, I just really enjoy a good cup of coffee and I don’t think any energy drink or energy alternative would change that as I drink it for the enjoyment more than the caffeine (sorry EnerGhack – I still love your product). Substituting this other little joy in my life for the time being with EnerGhack, I felt that the sipping process was much the same and did allow me to pause and gather my thoughts.  But I do acknowledge that that is more due to my routine than the product itself but EnerGhack did fill that purpose so it’s a winner in my eyes.    

Exams and studying

On top of all of the other things going on in my life, I am currently studying, and June is always an exam season.  EnerGhack was once again used in place of my usual study coping methods during this stressful time and I do believe that the product was effective as I could go for extended periods of time without feeling distracted or drowsy.  With COVID-19 being around, my exams took the form of online assessments this year and so I was able to drink that during the exams themselves – results still pending so I’ll leave my comment on this one till I see the marks.

Mountain biking

Being very fortunate to live in an area with vast open spaces, I am an avid mountain biker and regularly go on rides that range from short and quick 5km rides to longer rides stretching into the 40km plus categories. I used EnerGhack, as well as giving some to my riding partner, to keep in a bottle as an addition to our 2L of water in our hydration packs. We agreed before setting out that we’d only use it when we felt we needed a bit more of a boost and not when we felt thirsty (that’s what the 2L of water is for).  After trying this across a broad spectrum of trails and rides, both my riding partner and I did feel that EnerGhack come in for the save when we needed that extra boost and we both felt less lethargic after our long rides.  Granted – that could be a placebo effect but it’s only while using the product that it was noticed so I’m going to say it’s because of it.    

Obstacle and Trail Building

Another one of my hobbies, which is a spin-out of my love of Mountain Biking, is MTB trail and obstacle building.  These builds can sometimes take hours at a time and obstacles require focus and precision in the build process, while the trail building and installing the obstacles requires some serious endurance as you move vast amounts of dirt or dig deep holes to secure the posts of the obstacle. Once again, I shared some EnerGhack with my riding partner, who is also a big fan of building, and we got stuck into the tasks.  With the aid of EnerGhack, we both felt that it kept us hydrated and gave us that little extra “go” during long and very labour intensive build processes. So again – EnerGhack come through for us here.    

Labour... yes, Labour

Yes – that is what you think it is. During this test and review period, my wife and I welcomed our second child into the world. My wife entered labour in the evening and was admitted to the maternity ward at hospital, but because of this not so little thing known as COVID-19, I was told I wasn’t allowed to be with her until she was in “active labour” (the medical boffs amongst us will know what that is I guess) and had been moved to the labour ward.  Now, if you know anything about labour, this could be 5 minutes, 5 hours or more. I then spent the night in a hospital lobby staying awake with the help of EnerGhack and a good old PSP until I was finally admitted to the labour ward around 7am the following morning.     With all coffee shops and that being closed at this stage of our lockdown in SA (not that any would be open at 2am), the only source of extra energy I had was the EnerGhack that I brought along with me – and it REALLY did help.  The minute I felt the drowsiness of a long day kicking in in the early hours of the morning, a few sips of EnerGhack really snapped me out of it and kept me going for an extra hour or so.     Overall, EnerGhack really did deliver on what they said they would and in all of the scenarios and times that I used the product, no jitters or slumps were experienced and I wasn’t left with that weird artificial sweetener taste in my mouth. While we're on the topic of taste – the flavours of EnerGhack are all incredible in their own way but mixing them literally blew my mind as the flavours merged and worked in ways my brain could not even comprehend.  I even let my wife have a few sips and her exact words were “you can taste that it’s an energy drink but its not gross at all,” which is all the proof you need knowing that my wife absolutely hates the taste of other energy drinks.     Currently, EnerGhack comes in four flavours.  These are Raging Raspberry, Blueberry Bomber, Tropical Pineapple and Cosmic Lemon. Of all the individual flavours, Raspberry and Pineapple definitely came out on tops in my books, and the mix of the two is very high up on my list of favourite mixes. Being fortunate enough to have access to the full flavour range, I experimented with various different flavour combos and my favourite mix is definitely Lemon/Pineapple, followed closely by Raspberry/Pineapple.  I even went as far as to mix all 4 flavours into one and, while not bad at all, it just turned into a “just fruity” flavour and definitely didn’t feature on my list of need to try again combos. I do hope that new flavours will be added to the menu soon like hint hint mango, litchi and guava.  

Final Thoughts.

As you’ve probably guessed it from reading this review, I absolutely LOVED EnerGhack and do feel that they deliver on their promises of assisting with reactions, focus, endurance, energy and hydration.  Their flavours taste great and the product is actually really cost effective. One tub of EnerGhack will set you back R289 and will give you 30 servings, you can do the maths on the exact amount but that’s less than R10 a serving.  And if you buy their combo deals, that price reduces even further, making it more cost effective. They also often run specials – so, if you watch their social media accounts closely, you can get an even sweeter deal. I do love that they are a local product and that does always make me happy to support local industries. Overall, I give this product a VERY solid 9 out of 10 stars.  

Thank you so much to Jan and the guys over at EnerGhack for giving me the opportunity to review this awesome product.

Read more

MAFIA III DEFINITIVE EDITION – Review

2K Games have taken on the task of releasing their MAFIA series as a newly “boxed” MAFIA TRILOGY, although their order seems a bit off.  The Definitive Editions of MAFIA II and Mafia III dropped first, with the remaster of the original game dropping on the 27th of August this year. MAFIA III originally released in October 2016 and was met with mixed feelings with it attaining only 6/10 on Steam.  With the announcement of the rerelease, we had hoped that the game would fare better in ratings and were lucky enough to get our hands on a copy to review (big up to you Prima Interactive).  So, let's dig in and have a look at what we thought about the Definitive Edition of MAFIA III.   What's it all about You play as the hardened Vietnam Veteran, Lincoln Clay, who upon his return home in 1968 notices that not all is well in New Bordeaux, a fictional setting of New Orleans. The game starts its introduction with a well-planned money heist with enough of a take that everyone involved could retire early and very happy. However, as you guessed it - this is not the case! Through massive betrayal and being forced to take a bit of a rest – as being shot in the face might require, Lincoln sets out on the world’s biggest revenge quest.  Our friendly neighbourhood protagonist recruits the help of a CIA agent who he worked closely with in Vietnam and the two start on a path to not just kill those responsible for the betrayal, but to completely dismantle their kingdom from underneath them one brick at a time, plunging their world into instability the likes of which they've never experienced from their lofty thrones. Unfortunately, this is another game that takes on the well-worn path of revenge but it does so in a unique way that almost brings a breath of fresh air into it, with snaps of real life (looking at least) clips of a court hearing to delve deeper into the slaughter that was Mr Clay’s takeover of New Bordeaux. Before I give away the whole game (this isn’t a walkthrough), lets looks a little closer at what MAFIA III is.   From the start up The Definitive Edition is not a remaster of the game, as I originally thought, but rather a repackage of the game into one collection in anticipation of the remaster of MAFIA I releasing later this year. The repackage includes the base game of MAFIA III and all DLCs, as well as the Family Kick-Back pack which gives you a few exclusive cars and weapons to make use of in the game. But is it really exclusive if everyone has it? Asking for a friend… The total download size of the game on Xbox is around 56gb and can be yours for the low low price of R549 (at the time writing), or you can own the entire Mafia Trilogy for R999. Not too shabby hey?   The Setting As said above, the game is set in a fictional version of New Orleans, known as New Bordeaux. 2K has done a great job at providing us with a huge playing space and each area having it’s own unique flare and style, as well as each of the mafia in those areas having a slight twist to them.You really have everything from man eating alligators and red-necks brewing moonshine in the Bayou to classy upmarket suburban areas with pompous denizens with flashy cars and beach front homes. There is no fast travel system available in game and so the map must be manually traversed (we recommend finding a car).   This can sometimes be a tad tedious, but I learnt to love the drive with good music and classy drifts, enjoying the ever-changing city in each of the different areas.  The game is well rounded off with a difference in the areas during the day and at night, and a full weather cycle.   Gameplay and Controls The controls of MAFIA III are fairly easy to master with it having a very similar vibe to other criminal type open world games.  You play in Third Person and control camera angles with the right stick and movement with the left.  This allows you to move in one direction while quickly having a look down an alley or through a window without being too obtuse. Combat is challenging but manageable as standing in the open will result in you getting gunned down.  Moving from cover to cover is a must - obviously.  Firing from cover is quite easy as using the aim control will automatically cause Lincoln to stand up or peer out of cover while aiming down sight.  Aim assist can be adjusted from full snap on to nothing at all. Gameplay is quite broad with various missions and collectables to go find spread out across New Bordeaux and there are a few races and just generally interesting places to go check out. Building up your team and seeing how they start to benefit you, especially if you put a little time into building up their rackets, is a nice addition to this game as it does give the gamer that little bit of motivation to focus on something else other than just plodding along the main story line. One aspect of gameplay that I personally found lacking was the actual variation in the main mission types.  After taking my second area and starting on the third, I already got that dreaded gamer’s Deja vu feeling of the same monotonous gameplay.  This feeling only heightened as I played on through the story and actually started to detract from a fairly captivating and well written story of revenge, albeit a bit of a cliché storyline. The missions really did fall into a creative rut with every mission being attack this hot spot and this one, do a few cash steals or destroy stuff to a certain value, defeat the lieutenant who came in to check what’s up and then defeat the boss once you removed all his lieutenants from the area. You’d think after 4 or 5 of these, the lieutenants and area bosses would wizen up and not walk into a well "defended area" that fell straight into the plan of our highly trained and incredibly motivated hardened killer.   Cars and Driving Although I could’ve included this section under gameplay and controls, I feel it deserved a section of its own as the driving and cars in MAFIA III were really a redeeming factor for the game in my opinion. With there being various types of cars and styles, I often found my car …ahem… shopping took a little longer as I’d find a model that I liked, drive 100 metres and see it in a better colour and slam on brakes to get that one rather.  This did lessen substantially after I unlocked a certain benefit that would bring some really good-looking cars right to me.  This did then result in my spending way too much time and hard-earned money in Big Rick’s Custom Auto getting my cars kitted just how I liked them and purring like a kitty. And then returning later again after winning more stuff in the different races scattered across the map. The driving in this game was really enjoyable as you learnt to time the drift perfectly around an intersection and learnt when the drift needed just a little more gas, a brake or a hand brake to successfully complete depending on the car, road surface, speed and sharpness of the corner you were attacking.  The sense of absolute satisfaction I got from nailing the perfect drift on this game time after time really kept me coming back for more and I really didn’t mind the long trips between places once I had this down.  In fact, I’d sometimes plan the long route on purpose just to enjoy the car a little bit longer. And the classic tunes coming through the radio, especially on WNBX, definitely helped set the mood and contributed to my sheer enjoyment of driving on this game.   Final Thoughts Although the game did fall into a bit of a monotonous grind in the missions, I found there were still many aspects of the game that kept me coming back for more and actually made me think less of the same type of mission I was playing for the thirtieth time. So, although the monotonous factor is one big negative factor for me, there were lots of little positives that helped redeem the game and turn it into an overall enjoyable experience.  The main ones of these definitely being the tunes, cars and driving. I also enjoyed the break away from the traditional Italian Mafia of the previous two games with the twist of Lincoln growing up as an African American on the streets of a very prejudiced era and carving his own type of justice to the Italian Mafia. Just one final word of warning before giving my final rating of the game. To accurately represent the times, MAFIA III does have a lot of racial and sexist slurs and stereotypes as was common in the 60’s.  2K does give a nice explanation as to why they went with this route in the opening of the game.  On top of this, profanities and nudity is about a dime a dozen and coupled with the slurs and violence, this really is a game that is made for the older crowd of gamer. With all that being said and balanced in my brain.  Taking the good and the bad, as Will Thatcher’s dad taught me, I give this repackaged version of MAFIA III a solid 7 out of 10.

A MASSIVE SHOUT OUT TO THE LEGENDS AT

FOR GIVING US A CHANCE TO REVIEW THIS GAME!

Read more

Citadel: Forged with Fire – REVIEW Part 1

Citadel: Forged with Fire (from here on just referred to as Citadel) is definitely not a new game to the market.  It was launched to PC in July 2017 and has been making waves on that platform since then and amassed a horde of loyal fans. In Citadel, you play as a newly forged apprentice of the magical arts and has a strong Medieval feel to it.  It is set in the mystical world of Ignus - with magic, swords, armour, dragons, castles and flying broomsticks.  The game allows you to tame any beast, from a simple hare to a powerful dragon, forge strong alliances with other players, explore a vast and diverse world and build imposing fortresses to dominate and intimidate your rivals. So - why are we reviewing a game that's been on the digital shelves for more than 2 years?  Well, this year Citadel was released to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 so we had to see if the online-multiplayer-sandbox-survival-RPG style game was able to successfully complete the jump across the platform gap.   The FAQs and Technical Stuff Let's get the technical stuff out the way right off the bat. What type of game is this? Well, it's hard to quite put your finger on it.  Officially, according to the publishers of this game, Citadel: Forged with Fire is a "massive online sandbox RPG" but it feels so much more than that.  Think Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings meet Skyrim in an ARK style game. How big? The download size for Citadel is huge, so make sure to clear some room as this game weighs in at a whopping 5,6gb.  Yes, it was a joke, please don't run off and buy a new hard drive (although extra space never hurt anyone).  Don't let that tiny download size full you, this game definitely packs a decent punch. Can I have my own server? Yes - but at a small monthly cost through the GPortal platform. Otherwise you can host your own singleplayer server but can't invite anyone to share the joy with you there. There are loads of offical PvE and PvP servers available to play for free though. What's the cost? The console version of the game is quite a bit higher on the price spectrum than it's PC counterpart with, at the time of writing, the game costing just shy of R700 on both the Xbox and PlayStation stores. Think the price tag is a little steep?  Let's see if we can change your mind.  

Starting Up

The game menu is quite simply laid out and easy to understand.  To better get a feel of the game, I hopped into the singleplayer lobby before making an utter fool of myself being a noob in an official server (traumatic first ARK experience flashbacks). Setting up a singleplayer lobby is fairly easy but there are a lot of settings that you can fiddle around with to change you're in-game experience.  I turned up all the settings for harvesting, carry weight, experience points, etc. to essentially create myself what I've come to call a "boosted" world.  My thoughts behind this were to accelerate in-game progress to get as far as I possibly could into the experience in as short a time as possible - for review purposes of course. Once the lobby has started, you can customize your appearance, very similar to most sandbox survival type games.  Your appearance can go from somewhat normal to absolutely outrageous in any color, especially if you click random. Once created, you get to select your starting area and are given a choice of three safe locations in low level areas.  Perfect for a keen, yet inexperienced novice mage just starting out on his own. I selected Raincourt to the east and started my journey. The opening sequence is quite strange as your newly selected appearance is forged from the fire in a rather odd and disturbing manner.  It's all over rather quickly, leaving your brain reeling with so many questions...   Getting the hang of the game is simple with the tutorial quest giver standing right in the starting area with a giant glowing exclamation mark floating over their head - convenience is key. The tutorial quests give you a quick and rough knowledge of the game and give you enough skills to start you off.  These include foraging, harvesting, cooking, combat, and crafting. You are not bound to these quests and can head off on your own right away or at any point of your choosing.  The quests are not long though and quite easy to complete so I'd recommend getting them out the way and earning some free XP for levels early on.  

Playing the Game

The game opens up to you the more you play it, with the really cool things being unlocked at higher levels. You earn XP from almost any action in-game, whether it is chopping down a tree, building something or killing something, XP is earned.  Less so through more mundane tasks, like gathering wood and stone, as you level up.  Once a level is attained, you can choose to throw some points in health, mana, carrying capacity or damage.  You also earn knowledge points that you can use to unlock new craftables, building pieces, food, weapons, etc. At first, the game movement felt a little clunky but the option of first-person or third-person view really helps and I elected to stay with third-person as it felt less clunky - but each to their own. The menu system is definitely designed for keyboard and mouse and what was quite clear from very early on was that the controls have not yet been fully optimized for a controller.  Navigating around the in-game menus felt tedious and tricky to use d-pad with the absence of a mouse.  The default control configuration had some odd choices which didn't make sense to my brain, including no preset melee button. No melee button in the start of the game didn't pose too much of an issue as both LT and RT both melee by default.  Once you equip spells to your weapons, those buttons then use your spells and there is not a standard melee attack. I changed this quite quickly and elected to then reconfigure most of the controls to something that made more sense to me. After running around, building and crafting a bit in my singleplayer lobby, I hit a wall (I won't say what here, check out Part 2 for that) and couldn't proceed.   After an equal mix of frustration, boredom and curiosity struck, I hopped into a slightly boosted PvE server with THEED3 where we messed around together and tried to figure out the game further. You can see one of the sessions here; THEED3 - Citadel: Forged with Fire Gameplay Playing in a non-boosted server is definitely made for multiplayer as harvesting resources becomes very time consuming and having more than one person doing it would definitely speed things along.  Even in our slightly boosted server, THEED3 and I felt the grind of harvesting to build.  

Building and Decorating

At lower levers, your buildings are limited to wood with very simple decorations.  Stone and other fancier building materials are unlocked at higher levels.  Once you've put in a decent chunk of time and earned the levels, the buildings that you can make are really quite spectacular. The game does not have set buildings and you can build whatever your mind and your resource allows you to.  From starting off with a simple hunting shack with a cooking fire to a beautiful castle with ramparts and towers and quidditch type pitches (yes - you read that right). Thrones are vital when building something you'd like to keep as they assign ownership of the building to you and your house and items and doors cannot be opened by anybody not in your house. THEED3 and myself got quite lucky in a PvP server and were able to steal a well established building from another player who had not yet put a throne in, saying they weren't impressed is an understatement!  Thrones also stop the building and items from decaying over time, which is a rather nice feature when trying to build a more permanent establishment for yourself our your house.   Closing Thoughts Citadel: Forged with Fire really has a lot of potential to do great things on console.  It brings a very unique twist to the sandbox survival type games which, in my opinion, sets it apart from games similar to it on the market. As an avid RPG fan, as well as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, this game really ticks a lot of boxes for me and feels a lot like Skyrim with Hearthfire DLC on hardcore mode.  Less story-driven, of course, but if you like a more open play experience where your own creativity is your only limit, then this is definitely a game you would enjoy.  There is some kind of story plot underlying the whole experience, but I've been too busy figuring the game out and building my castle to delve very far into that.  I do look forward to unlocking some of the secrets of the mysterious structures I've found dotted around the landscape of Ignus. I feel that I need to give this game two ratings. So, as a single-player game I give this game a 6/10 as it really is more focused at online play but is still enjoyable on your own. As a multiplayer game, which will be my more official rating as it is an online game, I give Citadel Forged with Fire a rising 7,5 stars out of 10. I say rising as this game as only recently made the move from PC only to multi-platform and I feel like they've done a fairly decent job of it.  With one or two tweaks to the game, namely to menu navigation and controls, this game could definitely rate higher (provided they don't break anything else in the process). With that being said, I don't feel like the issues I have mentioned are game-breaking and are valid reasons to deter anyone from buying this game. If you are into any of the mentioned movies and game styles then Citadel is definitely a game you would enjoy.

As always, thank you to the legends over at Apex Interactive for giving us the chance to review this game.

Read more

GRID 2019 – REVIEW

Codemasters, as a developer, has long since prided itself on keeping their games, cars, tracks and mechanics as true to real life as possible, putting them more in the sim racer category than in the arcade racer one, and the same is true with the latest game from them. GRID 2019 (as it has come to being called by its fans, officially titled GRID) is the tenth game in the TOCA (touring car) series from Codemasters and is the fourth GRID game, following Race Driver: Grid, GRID 2 and GRID Autosport and was launched as a reboot of the GRID franchise. Old hands to the series will be able to pull a lot of similarities and familiarities with this game and the original from 2008. GRID 2019 is jam packed with some of the most awesome tracks and rides to keep even the most hardcore of petrol head gamers and motorsport fans up to their necks in joy for a long time.

UPFRONT

We received the GRID 2019 Ultimate Edition for review. This edition comes with the base game, VIP Pass, passes for Seasons 1 to 3 and the custom GRID Aston Martin Vantage. Overall, the download size is a little under 40GB, so not too bad by modern game size standards with some games going over the 100gb mark. So – depending on your internet line, you can start your engines within a day or so of starting the download. All included in this 40GB file is more than 60 cars, ranging from Jedi F1000s to Mini Coopers to Porsche 911s – there really is something for everyone here, as well as some of the world’s most iconic tracks and some “GRID special edition” fictional tracks from 13 different locations around the world. And all of this is just the start, the new seasons will see new cars, tracks and locations added to your game experience.

THE GAME

Upon starting the game for the first time, you are welcomed in with a video of a car accident in reverse, this is the same video used in the trailer shown below. https://youtu.be/8sieDLKUEN0 The video really shows off GRID’s insane graphics and physics and is best enjoyed in 4K goodness on top tier consoles and PCs. Unfortunately, I do not have one of those and my OG Xbox One battled through the video with a few jumps and jitters, although it all still looked really great. After chatting to a friend of mine who was fortunate enough to experience this masterpiece on an Xbox One X, he said the game ran completely smoothly with no jitters and jumps – guess I’m in the market for a new Xbox then. Once the intro is done, you are thrown right into the thick of things as you pick up the controls in three different race types that give you a taste of what you can expect in your Grid journey. One thing that does set GRID 2019 from other simulator racing games, and some hardcore fans of the genre might disagree with me here, is the fact that you can adjust the difficulty so that all players across the skills board will be able to get a good measure of fun and challenge out of this game. The settings can be changed from full sim experience with realistic damage affecting performance and no guidelines or other assistance to a more casual arcade-type experience with visual-only damage, corning lines and the works. I kept the game on its “out the box” setting, which is medium, and put the pedal to the metal. Once the tutorial is complete, you are thrown headfirst into your quest to become the GRID’s best driver and you can do so while competing in around 100 different events and races in the career mode. The six different race modes to choose from are Touring, Stock, Tuner, GT, FA and Invitational. Each mode coming with its own set of cars and, with those, its own unique set of challenges and fun in racing them. Each game mode ending with a “Showdown” event that puts the player to the test in the hardest and most challenging races of the mode. One very awesome feature that GRID 2019 has is the FA mode or rather the Fernando Alonso mode. This mode allows you to race in a wide range of cars from grippy almost go-kart type cars all the way through to actual F1 cars as you challenge Alonso himself to a showdown. Rumour has it that if you beat him, you can choose him as your teammate in races. Hopefully, he’ll be a beneficial teammate – but more on that later.

CAREER

Being more of an arcade racer myself, yes – I’m sorry, and enjoying games like Need for Speed and Forza Horizon (some will say Forza is not arcade) where you can just slam into any corner and drift your way out of it with style, GRID’s technical controls was something to get used to. Timing is everything in braking and turning into corners and straightening and accelerating out of corners – doing these slightly too early will result in an unplanned meeting with the wall or a hard brake out of the corner to correct yourself while your opponent’s fly past you, doing it slightly too late and you lose all your speed as you brake to compensate or spin out and start trying to claw your way through the pack from the back. Using your opponents as turning cushions, as I so often do, or hitting into them one time too many results in them becoming your nemesis for that race – meaning their entire strategy changes and becomes more aggressive towards you as they favour running you off the track over winning the race. This seems to be a regular feature for me as I end up having half the pack trying to run me off the road. This being said, the driving AI of GRID is definitely one of the best I’ve seen, and the racers really are good and present a decent challenge at whatever your skill level is. Each event is divided into two races and your overall times and positioning is taken into account to determine a winner for each race. Some races specify finishing in the top 3 to progress and unlock the next track. Before each race, you have the option to compete in a hot lap to determine your starting position, forgoing this will start you in, or near, the back of the pack. Personally, I found this process a little tedious, but the hot lap does give you good knowledge of the track beforehand, helping you to perform a bit better in the actual event. I elected to skip this on most races and enjoyed the climb to the top – and hitting all the cars on my way past, including my teammate. The teammate system seems a little useless to me at present as my current team mate, Nick Whittle, is not the most gifted of racers in-game and usually refuses my requests for him to attack for a higher position. This may be because he hasn’t really forgiven me after I hit him in our first race together, causing him to become my nemesis – but this is not yet proven. You can change your teammate in the menu, but I have not yet done that. Each race earns you credits, as well as losing some in costs depending on your racing style (mine is rather pricey). These credits can be used to buy other cars to race in other modes or to have more cars, and better cars, to choose from in your favourite events. My recommendation here would be to focus on one or two events out the gate and build up a bit of a monopoly before branching out into the other modes and spending too much of your credit but credits are pretty easy to earn so its up to you how you manage your budget.

MULTIPLAYER

Multiplayer is a great way to really test your skills. All tracks and modes are available to you in multiplayer, you can choose your own and invite friends to it, or join an online session. As in career mode, you need to have the right cars for the right mode, and these can be purchased through in-game credits once again. Good thing is that all resources are pooled in the game, so cars you own in either career or multiplayer is owned in the other. Venturing a little into this game mode, I played a few races with an online friend of mine who is a big enthusiast of racing games and a GRID veteran. Playing a few races with him showed me how good this game can be for someone who has really refined the skill into somewhat of a masterpiece. He showed me up in almost every race as he finished first by miles with me following far behind in third or fourth if I was lucky. It was great playing with him as he often remarked on how similar this GRID felt to the original Race Driver: Grid game.  When probed a little more on it, he said the cars were similar to those found in the original and some of his favourite tracks had returned.  The handling he said was “similar but better” and he looks forward to throwing many hours into this game, both in the career mode and in multiplayer.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Although this is a game best played on higher spec machines, it runs really well on lower spec ones too.  With only a few jitters in cutscenes – but nothing groundbreaking. This game really does stir the desire in me to get a newer console to really get a true taste of what GRID has to offer visually. Being a reboot of the GRID franchise, I feel Codemasters has really stayed true to themselves in keeping this as close to the original in what worked and really improving in what didn’t back then. The racing AI is flawless and really presents a good challenge to the player.  Except for the teammate AI – which could probably do with a little polishing. All in all, Codemasters has done a really great job in creating more than just a racing game. All of the stunning visuals, challenging tracks, awesome cars with realistic engine purrs and screeching tyres, up to date and relevant commentary from your pit crew (who sounds irritated with me more often than not).  Commentators really bring it all together as a great racing experience. This is a game that definitely has something for everyone and everyone from the casual car enthusiast to full-blown fanatic will find something worth spending time on. So – to sum it all up, I give GRID 2019 a solid 9 out 10 steering wheels (shhh… just let me have this one) GRID is available to own on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows.   And will be available to stream on Google Stadia when that is released later this year.

A big thank you to Apex Interactive for giving us the chance to review this game.

Read more

NBA 2K20 – REVIEW

Knowing myself, I never thought I'd get excited over getting a new sports game, let alone a sport I knew next to nothing about a few months ago. But all that changed and I found myself sitting with the same anticipation for NBA 2K20 as 6 year old me did on Christmas morning while waiting for my parents to say it was time to open presents.  

At First Glance

I received NBA 2K20 on Xbox One and tapped the code into my console as soon as I could, waiting patiently for my download to start and thinking I would be able to play that evening, I was greeted with shock at the almost 80gb download size of the game, which is normal for most games on the Xbox One. Knowing my internet was not the greatest, I put off all hopes of playing that weekend. Once the download was finished, I dove head first into my first experience of NBA 2K and my ever growing fondness of the sport of Basketball. Opening the game revealed it's dashboard with various options, these include; Play Now - get straight into the action and play a quick game in any league, with any team that is available in game. MyTEAM - a collectors area where you open card packs, and have the option of buying more, to build your very own team to play with and compete against other teams online. The card packs include players - both new and legacy, ball parks, uniforms, coaches, logos, balls and playbooks from teams in the NBA. You start this mode up by naming your own team and then opening up your starter packs. Daily logins give you a pack a day to add to your ever increasing collection. There are micro-transactions available for those who want to build quickly and don't mind spending a little extra. MyCAREER - following a story line, you start as a College superstar looking to make it big in the NBA. This mode includes the MyPLAYER section where you can choose how you look, including uploading images of your own face through the MyNBA2K20 mobile app. MyLEAGUE - a sort of fantasy team area where you build your own roster and see how you match up to other players online. This mode includes a full WNBA season as the new and improved myGM mode where you see how you would cut it as a NBA team general manager, including keeping players, sponsors and fans happy. 2kTV - an ongoing talk-show that you can tune straight into from NBA2k20  

Playing the Game

Again, with my limited experience in the realm of basketball games, my lack of skill was made obvious when I was dabbling in the Play Now area. I chose my favourite team - Golden State Warriors and had a normal 5v5 match against the Philadelphia 76ers. The learning curve of this game is huge and my fingers felt stupid on the controller as I button hacked trying to figure out what I was doing. A quick look in the control settings showed me what I needed to know and I was able to play with at least answering all the shots that were taken against me. The graphics are very impressive, with big basketball stars being very easy to spot and recognise in-game (if you know who you're looking for) and the fluidity of gameplay is smooth and responsive. 2K has done a fantastic job in drawing the player into the game with realistic crowd cheering, good and fair game commentating and well place "highlight" shots of impressive gameplay moments, like dunks and 3-pointers.  

Controls and Learning the Game

As I have said, the learning curve for me was huge but it wasn't beyond reach. All in an effort to make the game more realistic, one touch defending/shooting/marking are nonexistent and timing and positioning are absolutely crucial in every facet of the game. One area that I, personally, usually struggle with in sports games is my defense, and NBA2K20 is no different. Having "mark-assist markers" on has helped me in getting into the correct position and marking the right man, because if you drop off him for even a second, a hoop is inevitable. As I got to know the controls and timing I tried to push it a bit more, with risky high press defensive tactics and ball poke steals while trying to avoid fouls. The game's defense mechanics are highly rewarding when you time it right and I did score a few fast break layups from a well timed ball poke. Timing for a shot counter and using the analog sticks to mark the pass lanes add to the complexity and realness of the game. Off ball marking is equally as tricky to master as you have to press the man and watch his movement off ball while trying to keep an eye on the location of the ball yourself. If you press him too hard he can shake you off and leave you trying to catch your balance again while he drives for the hoop. Attack all depends on your positioning and timing as well. Drive the ball up close to the hoop and go for a layup, standing in the zone will result in a 2-point jump shot and the further you are from the hoop you are, the trickier the shot (of course). If you try and shoot while being pressed - your shot will be blocked or missed, try to layup with a bigger defender standing over you - slapped down and left looking like a deer in the headlights with all pride thrown out the window.  

MyCAREER

In MyCAREER, you follow the journey of the Bay City Flames superstar who, as he's about to turn pro, falls from grace after standing up for a team mate and has to push his way to the draft. Before you can get underway in MyCAREER however, you have to make and name your own player, who will constantly be referred to as Che in the game. This player can be made by using a preset appearance, adjusting settings in game, or by uploading your own face into the game. I, of course, tried to upload my own portrait into the game because why not? This resulted in some serious frustration as I received multiple "failed to upload" messages on my app (roll all the you're so ugly jokes you can think of). I eventually succeeded and uploaded my face into the game and what a shock! Maybe it was the lighting I was in while taking more selfies for the game than most teenagers on Instagram. My "face" came out looking like a 2-tone neanderthal and I elected to rather use a preset and fine tuned some aspects of it. Appearance sorted, I moved onto the skills selection and, once again, my limited knowledge of Basketball was made painfully obvious. I chose play-maker Point Guard and basically guessed my way through the skills, physical profile and potential section of the game while promising myself that I will come back and do this all again when I know more of what I'm doing. A little more guidance through this part of the game would've been much appreciated but the hints that 2K did leave did not tell enough for the new and inexperienced players to fully grasp what they were doing there. Being pretty chuffed with the 6foot4 digital version of myself, I started the career mode and was in for a good time. You pick up the story in a crucial semi-final match, where you are the captain and hero of your college. This match is impossible to lose as the score jumps miles ahead of your opponents while you are benched during parts of the match. At the end of the match a teammate gets injured which results in him losing his scholarship. You choose to do something about this and sit out of the final - which your team loses, and you fall from grace and try to earn a spot at the NBA Draft. You go through a process known as the NBA Combine, which allows scouts to properly evaluate and assess potential talent for the league. You are asked to do various drills, which help you learn the controls of the game, and then play in a few scrimmages to increase your chances of being noticed and drafted. During this process, you are given choices to increase your rep or your skill. Choosing the one, will result in a decrease in the other and allows the game to decide your path forward as you tell it what kind a player you want to become - chasing the fame, or looking to be a NBA great. I was able to work my way up from a "late 2nd round" to "solid 1st round" pick, even though I made some serious blunders during the Combine, including completely fluffing my vertical standing jump and some of my shooting. The pressure is high during this part and I definitely cracked under some of it. Luckily - I got the invite for the Green Room and was drafted in the first round. GO WARRIORS!  

Final Thoughts

NBA 2K20 is a great game that really asks gamers to rise to the occasion in it's technical gameplay and realistic feel. The game has a lot to offer for those who are really looking for more. Loads of time can be spent in putting together your own team in my MyLEAGUE, or building dominating decks in MyTEAM and playing them in head to head matches against real players. One thing that did take away from my own personal experience was the updates. Since release date on the 6th of September, there have been 2 updates - one of which was almost 40gb and took a few days to complete on my internet line. In other countries with their big internet, these updates are not an issue, but here in South Africa - it is definitely a big point to consider. Would I recommend this game? Absolutely - if you are a sports game fan, or a basketball enthusiast then this game is right up your alley. If you aren't and, like me, like a bit of a change from your conventional gaming sessions, this game really will keep you entertained for a good few hours at a time. Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying us with a review copy.
Read more

Q&A with Akromah’s Tale Developer – The Inside Scoop

I always get excited when I hear of a new game being developed, especially when that game is right up my alley in terms of what it offers - RPG, fantasy, get lost in a new world type of game. So you can imagine my excitement when I was first made aware of a new game, called Akromah's Tale, and even more so when I found out it was being developed by a South African, because local is lekker right? So we got the inside scoop with the developer of this game, Ian Jamie Pillay, and asked him a few questions about the game, himself and a couple non-essential need to know questions. And here it is - straight from the mouth of the man himself. Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where you come from, what you do for a living, etc. A: Born in SA, Durban (27y/o). Studied Bachelor of Computer science, and have been making games since i was in grade 10. Currently I am a big data specialist at Standard Bank. (Machine Learning, Data & AI) Q: What kinds of games do you usually find yourself playing? A: Anything really. my favourites include Fifa, Dota2, Cod/ BF, any RPG (big final fantasy fan), MMO fan (GW, Wow, ESO etc), God of war (my best game ever) Q: If you had to choose your top 5 all time classic games, what would they be? A: Classics? Spyro, Tomb Raider, NFS Underground 2, Prince of Persia, Diablo 2 -the man has good taste- Q: As a person who is developing a game, what aspects of games do you find you most enjoy in other games? A: Fluid movement is vital, being an rpg fan, my favourite aspects are definitely the combat system (flexible impactful combat) and story narration (story driven like the new gow/ horizon/ witcher) Q: Tell us a little bit about your game. What is it about, what type of game it is, etc. A: Type of game - It is a fantasy action RPG with platforming and stealth elements. high emphasis on story narrative, and fun game play! About the game: Akromah's Tale follows a young adventurer, who lives a normal peaceful life, with his friend. Until one day the very foundation of his beliefs are ripped away from him. With only one way forward, he looks towards an uncertain future - with the intent to right the wrongs of this world. Together, Akromah and his untrustworthy companion, Tayle (whose soul is trapped inside a utility bag), will learn devastating magic and the difference between friend and foe. They will look to find peace and justice through his ideals for the world he once knew. -it's got me hooked- Q: What was the inspiration behind this game for you? A: The game actually started off as a sidescroller, but over time with my friends it grew into what it is now. aspire for a quality game that is genuinely fun. Witcher 3 for sure - quality before greed! -did he just say Witcher? Consider the game bought- Q: What type of character development does the game have? A: Levels, gear, etc. It will have levels, but cant say for sure how it will be implemented. thinking of leveling skills/ armor/ mechanics instead of generic hero levels. Q: What do you find the hardest for you in your process to develop this game? A: Time management for sure! I enjoy programming so I don't mind that solo, but managing this game and my job kinda forfeits a social life (excluding 2 the friends from high school who are helping with story line and some other niche areas) Q: What do you hope gamers will get from your game? A: Fun, emotional experience, building a legacy for the game/ the studio Q: Is this your first game? If not, what other types of games have you worked on? A: Not exactly. I've made a few horrible games during high school, and a mobile sidescroller a few years ago which gave me a ton of experience for this game. (lessons, do's and don'ts) Q: Where do you see yourself going with game development? A: Ideally full time game studio, but that isn't going to happen anytime soon - ha ha. Q: When do you expect your game to be complete and where would people be able to get it from? A: Hoping for mid 2020, Currently aiming at Steam on PC, but hoping, with the help of a kickstarter etc, PS/ Xbox consoles. -holding thumbs for console release as well- Q: What kind of specs should we be running to play your game? A: Mid to high range definitely, but still hard to improve performance (GTX 1050 + should run it well) -so fresh potato PCs should work fine- Hopefully that's gotten all of you salivating at the mouth as much as it has me. NOW! For those need to know questions. Q: Long walks down the beach or a stroll in the mountains? A: Neither, locked up in my room with my pc, internet and snacky/ concentration food. -touché- Q: Pepsi or Coke? A: tap water, gave up fizzy drinks a long time ago - ha ha -he chooses health and longevity over pure liquid enjoyment, fair enough- Q: Skittles or rascals? A: Astros -a man who refuses to colour inside the lines- Q: What’s your favourite colour? A: Fuchsia -yeah... I had to google that- Q: Do you believe the earth is flat or round? A: Round -there is hope yet- Q: If you had to choose one, Playstation or Xbox? A: PlayStation FTW -that's a pity- Q: You’re stranded on an island - what 3 things do you have with you to survive? A: unopened FedEx box, Wilson volleyball, and an Ice Skate. -uhm... ok? He's going to have to explain this one- Q: Who was your first celebrity crush? A: Kim Possible (don't judge me - ha ha) -no judgement there! I'm sure there's a lot more of you in that boat than you realise- This game seems to tickle all the right places, with diverse biomes and ecosystems, interesting sounding story and character development, mystery and intrigue, an untrusty companion, cool art style and awesome looking adversaries. I, for one, am very eager to join Akromah on his noble quest. Have a look at the final teaser for the game right here... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHktg_sA4Ao&feature=youtu.be And while you're at it, why don't you give the man a subscribe on YouTube. And if you want to follow the game on other social media platforms, choose your poison below.
Read more

The latest from Nintendo

Nintendo recently announced the Switch Lite as the latest addition to their growing family. But what is it exactly? Now most of us are well aware of the Nintendo Switch that was released in early 2017. A console that not only links up with a TV, but also has a portable screen, a controller that breaks apart and all the other little "gadgets" that Nintendo could think of. Good thing they did, as the Switch was an absolute hit! However, the Switch is still crazy expensive here in South Africa, with the cost of it being around 6Gs at the time of this article. So is the Lite a smaller, cheaper version of the Switch? Like the iPhone XS is to the XS Max? Or is it a watered down version of the same product, like any lite/diet version of drinks? We'll let you decide that for yourselves. Before we delve into it, retail price has not yet been confirmed in South Africa, but it has been announced at $200. Don't all rush to your converters to see what we'll be paying here just yet. As is the norm, we know that it'll be a good R1500+ more than the overseas selling price. So what exactly is the Switch Lite? The Lite is a handheld console designed for the Nintendo users who prefer the portable capabilities of the original Switch. It is slightly smaller, will not be able to link up to a TV and it doesn't have the Switch's trademark break-away Joy-Cons, rumble or motion feedback. All of which lends to the "portable system" focus of the Lite. One massive improvement to the Lite's overall design and feel is the addition of a D-Pad on the left side of the device - something fans have been asking Nintendo for since the Switch was released. At the moment, the Lite is available in 3 colours - Yellow, Turqoise and Grey, but there is also a limited edition Pokemon Sword and Shield design pictured below. One other interesting point to mention is that not all current Switch games will be playable on the Switch Lite, due to the Lite's reduced functions. So you will have to check on the back of your case to see if your favourite Switch titles are playable in handheld mode. Along with the Switch Lite, Nintendo also announced a new version of the Switch which is said to have a longer battery life in it's handheld form. Not much else is known about this "enhanced" version of the Switch, except that it may feature a few internal improvements on the existing Switch model. If you are interested in getting your hands on a Switch Lite, they will be releasing in South Africa at the same time as the rest of the world (thank you Nintendo for having an established presence in our country) and will be on shelves on the 20th of September this year. Pre-order is available at select (overseas) vendors though. For more infromation on the Switch Lite, have a look at this video straight from Nintendo.
Read more

All you need to know about E3 2019

The time that most gamers have been waiting for is officially here! E3 2019 brings us all the latest and greatest news and inside looks at some of the most highly anticipated games, and a peek at some new developments. For those that are interested, E3 2019 officially started with the EA Play event but you can watch the rest of it right here; https://earlyaxes.co.za/e3-2019-live-streams/ And the rest of the event looks like this;
  • Microsoft - 22h00 CAT Sunday 9th June
  • Bethesda - 02h30 CAT Monday 10th June
  • Devolver Digital - 04h30 CAT Monday 10th June
  • PC Gaming Show - 19h00 CAT Monday 10th June
  • Ubisoft - 22h00 CAT Monday 10th June
  • Square Enix - 03h00 CAT Tuesday 11th June
  • Nintendo Direct - 06h00 CAT Tuesday 11th June
  E3 2018 brought us a lot of awesome news, so we can only imagine what E3 2019 is going to bring! If you missed any of the conferences, don't worry! You can catch up on all the E3 news here.    

EA PLAY

The EA Play event brought us news from the gaming giant on some of their latest developments and updates to some of their current big titles. The event included information on titles such as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Apex Legends, Battlefield V, FIFA 20, Madden NFL 2020 and The Sims 4. So let's break it down and see exactly what's happening.   Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Now this is a game that I, personally, have been keenly following since its announcement a few months back. The EA Play event treated us to 15 minutes of gameplay footage and WOW! What a game this thing is shaping up to be. The game is canon and is set just after Order 66 was given so, for those Star Wars fans out there, it's set between Episode 3 and 4 and before Rogue One. The 15 minutes of gameplay showed our blue lightsabre wielding protagonist, Cal Kestis, running through spider infested levels and kicking some serious Imperial butt! We are introduced to some of the force powers swordmanship that is available in the game, and both are really impressive! We are also introduced to Star Wars' next very lovable droid (move aside BB-8) in the form of Buddy Droid 1, commonly known as BD-1. This little guy is essentially your backpack as we see him dispensing health vials, as well as projecting holographic maps and accessing power ports for you. He's a very active little guy and moves around on Cal's back as the various situation's demand it.   If you missed the gameplay footage, you can check it out here.
Once the graphics and things are polished on this game, it really is looking to be a killer! Apex Legends The next item up on the list was details on Season 2 of the latest Battle Royale game to take the world by storm. This information included a few weapon buffs, details on a new weapon, what the next battle pass will entail and a new Legend. The new weapon is the L-STAR which can only be found in care packages, so you can only know that it's going to be powerful! There are no attachments and ammo for it so you take it as you get it, kind of like the Mastiff. The biggest excitement in this part was the announcement of the new character, Wattson. She is a defensive type character, with a background in electrical engineering, that places energy type fences as barriers for her squad. Her ultimate ability can block anything coming towards her and her team, recharge the squad's shields AND accelerate Wattson's fence cooldown so she can place more. Another added bonus is that she can fully charge her ultimate ability with one Ultimate Accelerant.   Battlefield V The latest game in the Battlefield franchise got some screen time at this year's EA Play event and, in it, we were informed of a whole lot of new things coming our way. The first, and probably biggest, piece of news is a new map, called Al Sondon. This is a massive map that focuses more on the large scale battle side of things which Battlefield has always been known for. They also spoke about Marita, a new map which recently dropped into play.
We were also introduced to Operation Underground, which brings back memories of the much loved map from earlier Battlefield titles, where players have many flanking routes to get behind enemy lines as well as a more intimate, in your face, style of battle. There was also a lot of talk on the next step for the Battlefield V franchise, Chapter 5. The team is hard at work trying trying to recreate one of World War 2's most infamous battlegrounds, Iwo Jima. This include new weapons, vehicles, and possibly gamemodes that were specific to that aspect of the war.   FIFA 20 The FIFA franchise is definitely one of EA's biggest and best selling titles and fans to the game are fiercely loyal and look forward to any and all new developments in it (as all game fans do I guess). The EA Play event focused heavily on the Volta game mode that is new to FIFA and coming to FIFA 20. This game mode brings football back to its roots, the streets!
The gamemode is very similar to the FIFA Street games but, rather than being a standalone, it is now included in the main game. Volta brings with it new gear to customise your player's look and feel, as well as a female character creator. In the main game, the usual updates and modifications have been made to bring the title closer and closer to the feel of actual football (minus the gamer actually playing and getting tired - we wouldn't want that). There have also been major tweaks to the freekick and penalty systems. All of this will be seen and felt when you actually play the game.   Madden NFL 2020 The biggest conversation from this game will be the live updates (South African internet users groan) that will happen to the game during the NFL season. This is really cool as it'll keep your game as authentic to the real thing as possible! This includes player line-up changes as well as plays that the teams use in the NFL, keeping your playbook for each team as close to the actual NFL coach's as possible. Have a look at the reveal trailer here.
By the way - GO STEELERS!   The Sims 4 Now, this was a feature that surprised me! EA Play brought a new expansion for all the Sims lovers out there (myself included). Sims 4 Island living is here and is dropping on Console on the 16th of June and on PC on the 21st of June. As with all Sims expansions, you can expect new fashion and home items and a new location, which I'll talk about in a bit, but some of the really cool additions are these; There are mermaids - you can create and design them, interact with them, and they have powers. You can go underwater and SCUBA dive - time to explore the deep and dark places of the Sim world. You can befriend dolphins - that's just freaking awesome. Now, back to the new location. The Island Living expansion brings an active volcano into the Sims world. Not much is known about this yet but the possibilities in my head are endless! The Sims 4 is also taking an environmental awareness stance (big up to the creators on this one) in that if you don't look after the island, like littering and such things, the game will get worse. So pick up the litter and look after the environment - in the game and out. Take a look at this trailer for the new Sims 4 expansion.
   

MICROSOFT

 E3 2019 officially kicked off with Microsoft showing us some of the things we can expect from them in the near future and, with Sony nowhere in sight at this year’s conference, Microsoft took full use of the opening. We got details on the next generation of Xbox, codenamed Project Scarlett, and a look at the trailers of games like Halo Infinite and Gears 5, as well as when we can expect them to drop. These are just some of the things that were revealed at E3 2019 but if I told you all the secrets up front then there would be no point in writing further… So let’s break it down.   Project Scarlett After months of speculation and rumours, Microsoft FINALLY let its fans know what to expect from its next-gen console and, man, what a machine it is! This thing is said to have 4 times the processing power of the Xbox One X and manages to run at 120 fps, double that of the One X (yes – we know PC Gamers, we know). Project Scarlett also boasts 8K resolution, more photo-realistic lighting effects thanks to new and improved ray tracing (google it – I had to too). Now we can go on about all the other tech stuff but the thing that piques my attention the most is a new breed of SSD, which is said to be 40 times faster than current SSDs available on the market – hello super-fast loading times. Take a look at the reveal video here.
All of this will be coming to a store near you sometime near the end of 2020.   xCloud With streaming services, like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, is all the rage at the moment, it was only a matter of time before gaming twigged onto the true essence of “cloud-stream gaming.” We’ve gotten pretty close to it with services like EA and Origin Access and Xbox Gamepass, but those are not true cloud-stream gaming services as a download of the game is still required. xCloud is Microsoft’s next big market changer as it allows the game to play a game without actually downloading it onto their device but, rather, having it stored in their own private corner of the xCloud. This service also turns your console into your own “little” cloud and gives you the ability to play games on almost any device, from almost anywhere. I’d imagine this service is going to need a pretty big and steady internet line to play (shakes head in South African) so I’m not sure how functional it’s going to be in countries that don’t have mega-WiFi – Only time will tell I guess. This new service will become available from October this year.   New Elite Controller After just releasing the Elite V2, which was a colour change with some improvements of the original Elite, Microsoft announced the launch of the Elite Series 2 wireless controller. It is said that this controller has over 30 new ways to play like a pro. Some of these ways being adjustable-tension thumbsticks, interchangeable components, tons of customization options on the Xbox Accessories App on Xbox One and Windows 10. It’s also said to have a rechargeable battery that will go for 40 hours between charge cycles. And it's damn sexy too!   Gears 5 and Halo Infinite New instalments for some of Microsoft’s biggest, and most loved, exclusive game franchises are on their way to a console near you (provided you’ve bought it). Have a look at these trailers to get some hype!
 
Gears 5 will be available from the 10th of September this year! While you can expect to see Halo Infinite in the later months of 2020 and will be launched on Project Scarlett.   Elden Ring The studio that brought us Dark Souls has given the guy, who gave us the first five books of A Song of Ice and Fire and the good seasons of A Game of Thrones, yet another reason to not finish the final two books! But you know what? I’m not even mad… George R.R. Martin (the guy) and FromSoftware (the studio) have collaborated together to bring us the fantasy game we didn’t even know we needed, Elden Ring. This game looks great! See for yourself here.
  Microsoft Flight Simulator One of the best and most iconic flight sims and games, from my childhood, is making a comeback after almost a decade of leaving a gaping whole in the video game industry.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is one of Microsoft’s longest-running product lines and has been largely regarded as one of the best flight sims available to the general public – although that might just be my own sentiment talking. Coming in 2020 on PC, you can once again take to the skies in the plane of your choice, from light aircraft to huge passenger carriers, and fly anywhere in the world, night or day, rain or shine and land at realistic, real-life airports and landing strips all over the world.   Cyberpunk 2077 A game that has already generated so much hype since it’s sneaky reveal at E3 2018 has generated even more if that’s even possible. But have a look for yourself.
No - you weren't seeing things. Yup - you really did see that! Watch it again if you don't believe me.   Surprise Game Reveal Staying true to form, Microsoft unveiled a game we weren’t expecting! The Blair Witch Project is being turned into a first-person horror game that looks a lot like Silent Hill. This game is sure to give even the most hardcore horror gamers out there a fright or three. Have a look for yourself if you don’t believe me.
Other Features The Microsoft conference was jam-packed full of goodness, if you missed some of the other games that were revealed, check out their trailers here. Outer Worlds
Bleeding Edge
Minecraft Dungeons
Battletoads
 

BETHESDA

  Bethesda, never one to leave their fans disappointed once again brought the magic...  Opening with a touching tribute and shout-out to the players, and what we as the players, mean to Bethesda. Todd Howard was first to take the stage and apologised for the rough start of Fallout 76.  Next was The Elder Scrolls: Blades, the very popular mobile game.  New features such as dragon questline and single person arena modes.  The features don't stop there, Blades is coming to the Nintendo Switch! Fallout 76 https://youtu.be/DyhceJEIhBo Fallout had a rocky start, but with tons of updates it has become a rather happy community, and now, the latest update called Wastelanders,  bringing with it Human NPC's, more main quests, choice and consequences as well as a host of new weapons and gear.  A new and refreshing game mode is also included, Vault 51 needs a new overseer, and in true gaming logic, the only way to decide that is by way of...  a Battle Royale... a 52-man fight to be the overseer, named Nuclear Winter! Ghostwire: Tokyo https://youtu.be/MZBcNP8_FVE Ghostwire Tokyo is a new paranormal action adventure game.  This title will take you to Tokyo where people are going missing, your job is to find out why.  Along the way, you will meet both good and bad spirits, who will aid or increase your struggles during your adventure.  Looking at the trailer, it would seem that a great deal of your time will be invested in trying to discover which elements are normal and which are paranormal... Elder Scrolls: Online https://youtu.be/XpfOjHzEPuQ Dragons!  Dragons have come to ESO.  Elsweyr was recently launched, allowing players to explore the homeland of the Kajhit and try out the new necromancer class.  The previous season of ESO showed us how dragons were brought to the world of ESO, now see what they are doing to the world and its inhabitants in the new world premiere!  Introducing the new order of dragon hunters that will be launched with the next expansion called Dragonhold which will complete the season of the dragon.  August will bring Scalebreaker, a dungeon-crawling release adding much-requested gameplay to the ESO game. Elder Scrolls: Legends (mobile) https://youtu.be/RlKDNzwYoSE Bethesda is really investing in the mobile game genre, and taking their biggest names and taking them mobile.  ES: Legends is a card based game coming to mobile, similar to Gwent.  ES Legends will be available for download immediately. Rage 2 https://youtu.be/1Rps7WKTYr4 With the release of Rage 2 Id Software has created what is arguably one of the best open world shooters ever, and they are not planning on stopping there.  In the near-future Rage 2 will be getting its first expansion bringing with it a host of new characters, missions, vehicles, and weapons.  The new expansion is called Rise of Ghosts.  Oh and wait, you can now drive... a Mech!!! Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (VR) Time to head back to Europe and kill some more Nazis, this time in VR!  You find yourself in the shoes of a French hacker working for the resistance, hacking the Nazi war machines and turning them on their creators! Wolfenstein: Youngblood More weapons!  More custom playstyle and MORE NAZIS TO KILL!  What is better than killing Nazis?  Killing them with a friend!  Grab a friend and jump to the 1980s, BJ is missing, you take control of his twins on the hunt to find their dad, either doing it solo or with a friend!  This is going to be BLOODY GORGEOUS! https://youtu.be/XVGsNUnrvAI Deathloop Deathloop is a new and interesting title coming from the creators of Dishonored.  Showcasing 2 assassins stuck on an island prison/paradise, depending on who you ask, in a timeless loop hunting and killing each other over and over. With Arkane studios at the helm, Deathloop promises to bring a mind-bending story as well as providing many ways to approach and complete the task at hand. https://youtu.be/qclEO3QxclY Orion (new game-engine tech) https://youtu.be/8n61-78vBM0 With all the talk of game streaming, Orion tech can be applied to any game engine and make it more efficient for streaming!  Up to 20% faster per frame and 40% lower bandwidth,  for us, this means faster streaming of games as well as making it cheaper and less-hungry on data.  You will still be able to stream your game at max settings even if you live further away from data centres.   DOOM ETERNAL https://youtu.be/uxBQmSXrDxM DOOM is arguably the poster boy title for Bethesda, and Doom Eternal solidifies this statement!  Insane speed, tremendous amounts of blood and gore!  Doom promises bigger and better!  Demon slaying is the game, and DOOM Eternal brings the newest and best way of doing so with new map designs, new weapons and new enemies to try them on, all while finding your own way of slaying!

SQUARE ENIX

Square Enix is a powerhouse company boasting some of the biggest game names in the industry and at 2019 E3 they did not hold back!   Final Fantasy VII remake Yes, it is finally happening, after many years in development hell and many sneak peeks at previous E3 conferences, Final Fantasy 7 is finally getting some worthwhile info to share.  With visuals that are simply breathtaking, this, arguably the greatest in the Final Fantasy franchise will pull at heartstrings of new and old alike.  Final Fantasy 7 is going to be large it will spand 2 bluray discs!  New players to Final Fantasy 7 should not worry, the game has been tailored for newbies and veterans alike.  Gone is the turn-based fighting system and welcome to the FF15-style combat system. Final Fantasy VII will drop on 03:03:2020 https://youtu.be/eBZyJl7_OPM   Life is Strange 2 After Life is Strange 2 and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, comes a continuation of one of the most emotional roller coaster rides you can possibly have in a game.  Daniel is starting to control his powers and meets up and shares it with fellow friends and foes along the way.  Life is Strange cannot be classed in words; all you can do is simply experience this narrative splendour for yourself. The latest chapter is available now https://youtu.be/yqrQ44bQdaY   Dragon Quest Builders 2 The builders have been abducted and it is up to you, and your mysterious partner to save them!  Defeat the children of Hargon and become the master builder, but wait, building is always better with a friend, now you can call on your friends to help you save the world! https://youtu.be/pBcRuaBOeX4 Battalion 1944 Battallion 1944 is getting many new features and game modes as well as new weapons!  As well as a new multiplayer system allowing for easy leagues and tournaments as well as major bragging rights.  Check out the fast-paced video to see all the newest additions to what is sure to be a classic. https://youtu.be/_-I3KsAQOtQ   Square Enix Music The music app that gamers want!  You now have Square Enix game soundtracks at your fingertips!  Simply hop onto all leading subscription services and listen to your favourite Final Fantasy soundtrack immediately!
  Final Fantasy 14 – Shadowbringers The third expansion for the immensely popular FF14 game is coming,  it releases on July 2 and brings with it enough content that would warrant a new standalone title.  New jobs, gunbreaker and the dancer, new races and even more.
  Outriders Outriders is from the creators of bulletstorm and Gears of War, from the video it seems to be a shooter set in an alien time period and sees 3 humans making a stand against an enemy alien force.  One of the human characters are seen to be using telekinetic powers.  Can this be a new challenger for the Gears of War crown?
  Final Fantasy VIII The Final Fantasy that got me into gaming is getting a remaster.  One of the biggest games in the franchise and the title that rooted a name in the Western markets is being remastered!  To the fans of the game, this will be a welcome remaster and to the new players, it’s worth every hour spent. https://youtu.be/liHKeemjdbI Avengers Finally, an Avengers game that can be excited about.  This only being a announce trailer, it didn’t give much in terms of gameplay but it sees the Avengers taking on a new enemy.  And it seems that the Avengers have lost and the human race has lost faith in them...  But they are not going to take it laying down! https://youtu.be/qpa4JXn5lVk Stay tuned for more information on E3 2019...

UBISOFT

With a much-anticipated audience waiting to see what 1 of the leading game developers had in store, we had some ups...but maybe not enough?

Ubisoft threw a varied assortment of interesting trailers and line ups at us from new additions, to a new movie to a tv show ripping on game development and a PC subscription service. Let's start with some of the lesser yet still interesting news, it involves the latest in the assassins creeds "Odessey" which is getting a story creator which allows you to create and design your own quests using a web-based tool.  And scheduled later to drop on us is "discovery mode" very similar to origins Education mode. https://youtu.be/uLJGDiATv_s We move onto some more interesting news and news some of us have been waiting eagerly for... The new Watchdogs game, set in good ol jolly England, well Britain to be more exact, and the biggest twist on the game? You can control virtually ANY character in the game from that tough looking biker to sweet old Agnus, allowing you to build up your own crew of vigilante hackers. https://youtu.be/3orYqGDSDUk Ghost Recon: Breakpoint has already been on everyone's lips but who could've anticipated that Jon Bernthal would be a prominent role in the game, he even showed up on stage with the very best doggo "bam bam", the game is scheduled for launch October 4th. https://youtu.be/P2tOLL_sAYk A Very strange and unusual announcement was that Rob McElhenney, creator of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is making a tv series which mocks game development and is titled "Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet", no one is quite sure where Ubisoft fits into the plot but many of us can guess. https://youtu.be/8A6eaEL2EN4 And Siege fans we were gifted with the announcement of Rainbow Six: Quarantine, its a co-op Squad based survival FPS, and is being spearheaded by a whole new Montreal Team, Will it be with new operators? will it be something similar to outbreak? we can only wait and see. https://youtu.be/DbL-ZpBle64 And another PC subscription is making its way out of the woodworks, as Ubisoft Unveiled Uplay Plus, which offers over 100 games INCLUDING its DLC and is set to hit your screens September 3rd. Kinda Exciting news of a Division movie which will be coming to NETFLIX and is being directed by Jake Gyllenhaal, Will it be able to live up to the hype the game had? and we are all dying to see who will take on the iconic roles of our beloved agents. https://youtu.be/1YuIKUJA31w Step up Sports fans as Ubisoft drops a new game title into the mix, Roller Champions is a competitive multiplayer roller Derby set in a futuristic vibe.  And will set to be free-to-play when it drops. https://youtu.be/cFdyq9I1HZo The team behind Assassins creed Odyssey is working on another yet slightly smaller project called "Gods & Monsters" which dives into Greek mythology, it actually looks pretty good, but we sit in our now butt worn seat for more info, all we know is it will be available 25 Feb next year. https://youtu.be/Egzb6_HCqQw And with that readers Ubisoft drew to a close, leaving us hungry and wanting more.  Did Ubisoft run out of ideas or are they planning to hit us with earth-shattering news in the near future, Ubisoft, in my opinion, is a well-liked and dedicated development team, with everlasting potential and a drive to keep us all entertained.  Were you all excited or let down by the Ubisoft panel? we would love your honest opinion on our FB page, drop us a comment and let us know.  
Read more

What is the Amico console?

Now before you all think this new console is coming to compete with Google Stadia and push "the future of gaming" even further out of reach for our potato internet South Africans, it's not. In fact, it's not even really the "next" thing in gaming but rather the "previous" thing. The Amico will appeal to all the older guys in the gaming community, as well as all the retro gaming fans out there! The Amico is the latest console made by console legend from the past, Intellivision. These guys have been around since 1979 and were one of Atari's biggest competitors through the 80's. These are the guys who started the console war! Now some of you newer generation gamers are thinking why would I want a remade retro console? Well, this thing is shaping up to be pretty cool and quite advanced. It includes things like WiFi (WOW), two colour touch screen controllers, HDMI and USB ports (so it will work with modern TVs) and - wait for it - RGB LIGHTING! It can't get much cooler than that! This console will be a hit for young and old alike. It's designed to bring the social lounge aspect back into gaming and will be simple enough to use and play for even the most technologically disadvantaged folk and no-skill gamers among us. The Amico's ease of play and simplicity will definitely be a party maker, and if you have more than 2 people at your party (is it even a party with 2 people?), there's a controller app for the Amico that allows you to connect up to 8 players into a game!  They are also including competitive online multiplayer and leader boards so that you can compete with your friends for bragging rights and some unique achievement trophies. The console will be hitting the market late 2020 and will be coming in at the very tempting price of about $180, with games going for $2.99 to $7.99, every one of them exclusive to the Amico! The console will launch with several built-in titles and over 20 games in its online store, including Earthworm Jim. As they said, they are creating a console that parents will want to buy, not one that they are asked to buy. That's a bold statement but Intellivision is really working hard at making the Amico appealing, and there is definitely a large and growing group of gamers who would be into this console. This console will definitely do well on the market and will surely become a feature in most homes, with it's highly niche target market and affordability. Intellivision is doing a lot right with the Amico, but let me not bore you by going on about this console, here is a video from Intellivision themselves telling you exactly what you can expect from the Amico. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xokUnn1lBGA And if that's not enough for you, check out their website; www.intellivisionentertainment.com
Read more