F1 2018 Review

Since I can remember F1 has been part of my life.  From a young age I was in front of the TV watching the likes of the late great Ayrton Senna do battle with Alain Prost, until that tragic day...  I watched as Schumacher won nearly all of his championships.  What I am trying to say is that I have lived and breathed Formula 1 since I can remember.  Once i was old enough to manage the keys, it was just logical that my mother would put me behind F1 1992 on PC.  I consider myself to be quite knowledgeable when it comes to Formula 1.  Whether it be tactics, track knowledge, team history and general terms used in F1.  So when Apex Interactive sent me the new F1 2018 by Codemasters I felt like I was the right man for the job...   Image result for f1 2018 game   First things' first, I have probably not touched a F1 game since I was a kid and I can't explain why.  This means I have zero reference regarding how F1 2018 compares to its predecessors.  When I fired up F1 2018 I was simply blown away!  First order of the day, naturally, is to jump into the career.  You have the option to create your avatar and mildly customize him as well as pick a helmet design and manipulate the colors to suite your style.  Next up is choosing the team you want to join.  I would have liked to see the game start you off in a lower team and make your way up the ranks, but F1 2018 allows you to pick whoever you please, I went for the realistic approach and joined Sauber.   Image result for f1 2018 game   I considered myself a bit of a racing-sim-amateur so I went for assists, after one lap I decided to push the difficulty level up by at least 2 levels.  Removing the assists and ABS.  Suddenly the game came to life!  Not only do you have to be so connected and in tune with your race car, you actually need to use your free practice sessions to get to know braking zones, corners and your car in general.  A nifty feature that serves more than one purpose, is the training programs that are allocated to you during practice sessions.  These range from learning the track. Fuel management, Tyre management and qualifying laps.  These challenges reward you with some knowledge of how to go about your upcoming race as well as research points which you car pour into the development of your car.  And so my F1 journey begins.  After a brief introduction of the magnitude of screens and settings and adjustments that you have at your disposal I decided to jump straight into the action and headed off to Melbourne Australia.  I was met with a barrage of settings and things that I could adjust which, if I had no F1 knowledge would have blown me away.  Luckily I could grasp all the technical jargon from listening to many years of Murray Walker and made a few adjustments and set off on my first out lap... With the introduction of the new halo safety system the cockpit view is somewhat difficult to get used to.  You now have a large pillar in the middle of you field of view which complicates things...  But seeing as this is a sim-racer i chose to stick with it and i quickly got used to it.  The attention to detail on the steering wheel is simply astounding.  Not only can you see all your car info from tire temperatures to engine management settings your driver will throw his hands in the air if a fellow driver cuts you off at at turn.  All very nice touches which improves the realism.    Related image   Graphically everything looks really nice and even though you race along the tracks focusing on the road, not really the surroundings, it really has got a nice feel to the environment around the track.  I had hardly gone around the track twice when my engineer told me rain is approaching soon and that is when this game stepped up even more.  Suddenly race tactics changed.  Drivers were diving into the pits, others staying out to try and take advantage and risk of not going over to wet tires just yet.  I was panicking due to the struggle with grip I was having.  I cautiously made my way into the pits and got my wet tires.  After losing a few spots I had to fight my way back up the leader board.  I eventually ended the race in 6th position.   Image result for f1 2018 game 720p   After a few rather average looking scenes of teams celebrating etc I was taken to a debrief where you get shown how your view and rep from other teams change depending on your performance.  But what I really found post race was how intense of a racing sim this game is when you turn up the difficulty level.  Not only was my fore arms sore from gripping my controller so tensely but I was physically tired.  That is part of the beauty of this game.  Not only is it just a F1 racing game.  It forces you to know your own driving ability as well as understand the sport of F1 and how the cogs of the team work together to produce a great race weekend and how suddenly things can change due to rain.  The game seamlessly throws the rain into the mix and everything changes faultlessly.  Tyre degradation, team tactics etc are amazing!  Not only is it the type of game that focuses on all aspects of the F1 brand like contracts and team development that caters for the more die-hard fans of F1 but it can be played by casuals racers as well.   Image result for f1 2018 RDR   In between race weekends there are also classic events and short track events to change from the intense racing of F1.  You can jump into race cars of yester year and take them around shortened sections of well known tracks like Suzuka.  This brings a welcome change of pace and its a nice touch.   Overall I think anyone who is even remotely a F1 fan should get this game.  Whether you are a casual-  or sim-racer.  F1 2018 has enough to keep everyone coming back for more and the multiplayer is sure to attract many more people.  Codemasters has taken their F1 game and turned it into a franchise to compete on the level of FIFA, Madden, NBA and all the EA sports titles.  If you are any sort of F1 fan and want to play F1 when you are not watching it, this is the game you NEED!   Image result for 8 out of 10 stars  

a very special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying me with this review copy

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No Man’s Sky Review

It does not matter how well Hello Games' improves and evolves the extremely ambitious No Man's Sky, it will always be considered one of the bigger disappointments in gaming history.  This is due to many factors like Sony egging the developers on as well as the gamers can be blamed for not noticing the warning signs in time.  We do not live in a world where a entirely procedurally- generated universe would ever work as well as expected, ambitious as it is it did sound a lot better than what the end result turned out.   Image result for no man sky 720p   Fast forward 2 years and Hello Games' deserve some credit, they have been grinding out new updates and fixes to No Man's Sky free of charge, as well as brought it to the Xbox.  All of those culminated to the "NEXT" update. One of the major problems with No Man's Sky is the way it was marketed...  It was never really specified what type of game No Mans' Sky was trying to be.  What it ended up being is a sort-of Space trader with elements of games like Rust and Don't Starve.  You start the game when your spaceship crash lands on a unknown planet with you as a player having zero clue what to do.  Apparently the updates have made your mission of finding the center of the galaxy as well as unearthing the secrets of the alien intelligence named atlas.  Although this goal still is EXTREMELY vague!   Image result for no man sky 720p   To achieve anything in No Man's Sky you need resources.  Your ship needs fuel as well as your spacesuit and your multi tool which is essentially a gun, scanner and gatherer.  If you do not need all the resources you have gathered via exploring and using your multitool you can sell it off at trading stations for, hopefully, a good amount of profit.  Unlike games like ARK your hunger is not an issue, in NMS only thing you need to worry about is your spacesuits' ability to withstand the extreme heat and cold of the various planets you explore. It took me a rather long time and lots of forcing to initiate any form of combat and i was rather disappointed with it.  Gun play is rather bland and flat, yet it is still easy.  It is kind of expected with a game like No Man's Sky seeing as it's not a shooter.  Secondly the game is too laid back to have its player do things you should do in shooters.  The space combat is better, by better I don't mean great, just better than on-foot combat.   Image result for no man sky 720p   The thing that No Man's Sky really does well is the visual artwork.  NMS can produce some tremendous vistas at times which can make you forget about all the grinding less than stellar game play!  Realistic clouds float around overhead when you are on the planet surface with lush fauna and flora.  Something I loved was how when you come in to land on a planet your ship passes through clouds which can be seen through your cockpit.  As much as all the procedurally generated fauna and flora along with the string of dinosaurs, aliens and dragons look great their lack of any form of artificial intelligence becomes glaringly obvious rather quickly. Multiplayer does make this rather bland game a little bit more exciting.  I mean it is always better to be bored with a friend than on your own right?   Image result for no man sky 720p   When analyzing No Man's Sky the way I have now it is easy to think that it is a terrible game.  At its core idea and build it has the best foundation for a game, only thing is that with all the updates and changes the foundation is all that has changed, it still has a rickety shed built on top of that foundation.  Hello Games can possibly fix this with lots and lots of resources being invested into No Man's Sky but whether or not it would be worth the effort is where it gets tricky.  In terms of potential No Man's Sky is endless! Maybe the problem occurred right at the start of this title's life when the hype was aiming at the stars but the end result struggles to get out of the earths' atmosphere...   Image result for 5 out of 10 stars  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the Review game 

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Razer Thresher – Review

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The Razer Thresher line is known for its quality craftsmanship as well as sublime audio, so how does the wireless Xbox version stack up?

  When the latest version of the Razer Thresher arrived at my desk I was extremely excited to try it out.  I had previously given the Razer Kraken a go and I was neither here nor there...  With the arrival of the Thresher I could give the wireless mid- to premium level headset a proper go.  With this iteration of Thresher for Xbox being the first to make use of the Xbox Wireless protocol.  This means that the Razer Thresher connects directly to your Xbox console.  No dongles, no wires, no mess!  Lets get into it! Image result for Razer thresher xbox one From the moment you open the box of the Razer Thresher you realize that you have a quality piece of hardware.  packaging is sublime and I couldn't wait to pull the Thresher out of its molded foam housing.  It has similar design queues as the Thresher ultimate and the Thresher 7.1 but just cuts out some of the expensive bells and whistles to bring it in at around R1 700 give or take a few which is a very good price range to be in considering that its only big name wireless competitor is the Turtle Beach Stealth 600.      I have now been using the Razer Thresher for more than a week and it is easily one of the most comfortable headsets I have ever used.  Razer is known for their top quality materials and the Thresher doesn't stray from that.  The headstrap is made from light but sturdy metal while it features a floating headband which adjusts to fit most head sizes comfortably.  The earcups are covered with thick high quality memory foam that allows for a surprising amount of breathing considering the leatherette-type covering.  Earcups are also rather deep and roomy making for a comfortable space for normal ear sizes.  One of the positives, but also part of the negative of this headset is the superb isolation effect the earcups offer.  Blocking out most of the surrounding sound meaning you hear only what you need to hear and nothing else...including your own voice, but more on that later. Sticking with the slick design of Razer, the Thresher as a completely retractable mic for when you are not in the need of communications.  There are Razer logos on the outside of both earcups which light up (in green of course) when connected and ready for use, or flash when being connected or ready to connect to your Xbox One console.  The PS4 variant naturally has blue logos. Image result for Razer thresher xbox one All controls, power-on/off, volume, mixer and mute are all neatly tucked away at the bottom of the earcups allowing for easy to reach controls.   With a simple press of the respective wheels you can either mute the volume through the headset entirely or mute your microphone which will be signaled by a nifty reg light at the end of the retractable mic. Image result for Razer thresher xbox one The Razer Thresher really delivers when it comes to sound.  The Kraken, the Threshers baby brother, left me rather underwhelmed by the volume as well as the clarity and destinctive-ness of different sounds.  This is not the case with the Thresher.  It delivers deep and thumping bass notes considering it is a wireless headset.  Personally I always find that wired headsets seem to have a deeper bass note to wireless, whether this is true or whether its just my ears playing tricks I do not know.  Mids are clear and even at low or high volumes the sound ranges don't bleed between each other meaning you get clear sound no matter the volume.  Voices don't get drowned out by thumping bass or screeching highs.  Where the Threshers really shone was when it came to party chat.  No headset I have ever used has made a party chat sound this good!  Mic doesn't pick up unnecessary noise making that noisy chips that you are eating less of a irritation for your fellow party members. Overall there is not much wrong with this headset and you have to go really far to find one.  The only problem I did have, and I did allude to it earlier in my review is the lack of Mic monitoring.  For those who don't quite know what Mic Monitoring is the simple explanation is that mic monitoring simply takes what your microphone picks up and plays it back through your headset so you can hear what you are shouting to your team mates.  Many people might think this isn't much of a hassle, and you would mostly be right.  But the Thresher does such a great job of sound isolation that without mic monitoring I have had my wife come into the room asking me to keep my voice down on many late night sessions. Another small disappointment is the lack of virtual 7.1, even though I am not a big fan of it, its a feature that many people love and the lack of these 2 features really makes the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 and the slightly more expensive Stealth 700 become a viable alternative.  

Final Verdict  

The Razer Thresher could easily be in my favorite wireless headset in this price range but with the lack of virtual 7.1 and mic monitoring it moves into my top 3!  If those features don't mean much to you and you are looking for a great sound landscape with unrivaled comfort and ascetic appeal, then the Thresher is a must have headset!   Image result for 9/10 stars       Image result for apex interactive

As always a very special thanks to Apex Interactive for generously providing this headset for review as well as making it available to become a prize of a lucky Early Axes member! 

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Astro A10 – a lightweight punching out heavyweights!

Image result for astro a10   When most people think or hear Astro they think expensive, flashy premium headsets, and they are not wrong. the Astro A40 and A50 range are exquisite headsets, one being a wired version and the latter, a wireless version.  Astro are known for making exceptional headsets and I, using the A40 TR's as my everyday headset, can vouch for that.  You have to fork out some cash if you want to get into the Astro market...  Until now!   The A10 ( and even A20) are both premium headsets priced in the budget and middle sector market respectively.  So when the Astro A10's arrived at my desk from Megarom Interactive I was very excited to give them a go and to see how they stack up against its big brother the A40.

Unboxing

Image result for astro a10   I was lucky enough to be given time with the Astro A10 with the M60 mixamp that plugs into the bottom of the V1 controller.  The packaging is good quality as you would expect from Astro and inside the box you don't find much but a quick setup guide ( which is not really needed) the headset, mixamp with cable and a spare 3.5mm cable to use if you have a V2 Xbox One controller.  Personally I would like a sticker or 2 so I can show off that I have a Astro headset.   Image result for astro a10   Upon first inspection and feel the A10's feel light, yet not flimsy light that you would be concerned that they might break.  Build looks and feels good, using hard plastics instead of the more chrome and metal approach of the A40 which is surely the reason for the distinct difference in price tag as well.  The boom mic is fixed to the one side of the headset and can fold away nicely when not in use.  

Comfort and use

  Putting the Astro A10's on are very pleasant, starting with the earcups.  They are nicely padded with good quality foam allowing for a snug and comfortable fit and good seal without making your ears get too hot.  I do find the earcups being slightly shallower and smaller than the A40's but my ears never touched the sides or the inside of the earcups so normal ear size gamers should have no problems in that department.    Image result for astro a10   The headband has adequate padding which is perfect for those marathon sessions.   The headband, as advertised, is extremely flexible and can be bent and rolled in many forms but I did not feel comfortable testing this out but it is good to note that the headband allows for lots of flex so large heads or large hairstyles will be accommodated comfortably.  The M60 Mixamp which simply plugs into the bottom of V1 xbox controllers really is nice and simple to use.  It comes with a simple 5 button layout, a volume up and down, a mute, which is centrally located and lights up when you are muted, and 2 mixer buttons allowing you to increase, in steps, the mix between game or chat volume.  The only thing I would have liked to have seen on the M60 mixamp, like its bigger brother the M80, is a equalizer button.  During certain games I found sound to be a little tinny, but after playing with the in-game sound settings I was fine.  This would be a nice-to-have feature and makes tweaks easier.  

Sound 

Astro has a interesting design when it comes to their sound.  When you buy a budget level headset from most brands you expect a budget sound.  Astro takes this and throws it out the door.  They have one 50mm speaker system that they use in ALL their headsets, yes if you have A10 or a A50 you are using the same speaker.  That is why, for its price the A10 delivers top class sound. Using the mixamp like previously stated needs a tweak or two to get the sound just right but from there they are amazing.  I plugged the A10's into my PC first to try out some music.  It is good to note that the A10's support Dolby Atmos and Windows Sonic on PC and Console. Sound is really spectacular, bass is deep yet not overpowering to the point that it may drown out the mids and highs.  Mids are solid and clear and highs are sharp yet not ear piercing!   Image result for astro a10   Going over to the mixamp and console gaming the bass takes a little dip but the crispness of the highs and mids are exceptional. Playing games like Rainbow 6 Siege I could hear the slightest of creaks in the floor or a spent cartridge from a rifle dropping to the floor, 2 rooms away!  Alternatively when I went over to the dark environment of Vampyr the living and breathing 19th century London came to live with the A10's allowing me to hear the dogs barking in the distance and the scurrying rats from the sewers.  

Final Verdict  

If you are looking for premium sound at a budget price I think the Astro A10's is a no-brainer.  All round quality is superb and Astro after sales service is top class I have personally had great response and service from them.  The A40 and A50's are visually more impressive and use more expensive materials.  The A10's are visually more subtle but is distinctly Astro.  All-round a good buy.   Image result for 8.out of 10 stars  

A special thanks goes to Megarom Interactive for sending me this headset to review.

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Vampyr – Hauntingly Ambitious

What is Life but Death, pending...

  These are one of the lines that really struck me when I started up Vampyr.  Vampyr, a game by DontNod studios, is set in  morbid 1918 London right after World War 1 during the outbreak of the Spanish flu.  As the name suggests, Jonathan Reid, you, are heading back from the war when you somehow turn into a vampire.  I did find that in the early stages it felt like I had missed something in the story but nothing to put you off.   Image result for vampyr 720 So as being a vampire goes you tend to have a insatiable thirst for blood.  But what truly creates a predicament is that Jonathan is a doctor.  The game does a great job of trying to tempt you into giving in to your primal instinct and lust to feed which will make you significantly stronger.  Or do you stick to your oath of protecting human life...  This is a major theme throughout your journey in Vampyr.  The game tries to tempt you into feeding on helpless victims as it even gives you more XP.  It says so during loading screens as well just to really try and tempt you. Image result for vampyr 720 This is where Vampyr really stands out.  I was drawn into the dark environment and surroundings, yes the colours and palettes are gloomy and morbid but that's what you expect from the type of game.  Upon closer inspection you will find the city is a living organism.  Every single inhabitant you come across has their own person story and whether you choose to help them in a number of quests is completely up to you.  No matter how large or insignificant their roles in the story seem, they all have a place and a repercussion to what could happen in the world if you choose to sink your teeth into them. Image result for vampyr 720 The narrative side of Vampyr is really strong, yes at times it treads on familiar and somewhat cliche grounds at time but that can be looked over easily as you strive to get behind what really happened to Jonathan and how he came to have his affliction and the eternal lust for blood.  This is what made me resist the urge to murder every single inhabitant simply to grow stronger and have nothing stand in my way.  No, I needed these people to help me piece together what really happened to me.  Killing them doesn't always show you its consequences immediately either.  I killed off a seemingly insignificant bar maiden and felt nothing for it.  She was rude to me.  I am a vampire.  I did what any normal vampire would.  Only much later did I come to curse my actions when her death triggered a significant impact on the story line.  Another aspect of Vampyr is the overall health system of districts in the city.  Kill off inhabitants of the district and the general health will decrease.  Until you reach a level where all manners of foul creatures will start to inhabit the district.  This helps to hammer home the idea of not killing for fun as keeping the districts healthy as well as keeping yourself strong is a continuous balancing act.  Image result for vampyr 720p DontNod really were being clever, you might wonder why, knowing what you know now, even kill off civilians?  That way you keep the health up in all the districts and if you get stuck just lower the difficulty level.  Oh no my bloodsucking friends, there is no difficulty level,  if you are stuck somewhere, only way to get stronger is to feed.  And we are back to the balancing act I have mentioned previously.  The civilians are walking XP, and the more you interact with them the more you learn about their families.  The more XP they are worth.  Again, therein lies the foundation of Vampyr, do you harvest the XP from that beggar on the corner who has told you about how he lost his wife and child to the plague so that you can become stronger and make the game easier?  Or do you grind it out and let him be? On to the more functional things.  Visually the game is stunning and disappointing at the same time.  It is able to set a mood of dread that permeates through each of the districts.  But it is this mood of dread that makes the game seem bland and colourless at the same time.  The environments have been fleshed out spectacularly and they feel lived in and alive.  I found voice acting to leave alot to be desired and lip syncing was not great. Image result for vampyr 720p The fighting system leaves a lot to be desired.  It feels clunky and repetitive.  You will find yourself dodging and hitting until the enemy is dead.  Nothing special here.  Vampire abilities do sweeten the pot a little bit but nothing to truly rescue the fighting system.  Vampyr could have been great, and it could still be if DontNod address the issues and patch them quickly.  For the players who are looking for a narrative journey that will have to walking away still thinking if you made the right decision long after you put down the controller, then Vampyr is for you.  Don't expect stellar combat and bright and vivid visuals.  Prepare for moody and eerie beauty.   Image result for 7.5/10 stars    

Thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying this game for review      

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OnRush – Fun-loving, fast paced Chaos

When the copy of OnRush arrived at my desk, specially sent from Apex Interactive, I was rather torn.  I am not the biggest racing game fan, yes I do love cars and I do love gaming yet mashing the two together never really got my heart racing.  More a slight flourish every now and then.  But at the same time, who would give up the chance to put a free game into their console, fire it up and play it only to have to give your honest opinion on it? So off I went, opened up the cover popped it and did the small 2.4gb update, and off I went.   Image result for onrush   At a very crude level I suppose you can call OnRush a racing game, but that is the only thing it has in common with the likes of Forza and Need for Speed.  In OnRush the aim of the game is not to beat your opponent to the finish...  Oh no, in OnRush there is no first place and last place, or even laps for that matter.  Simply a winning and a losing team, and the race itself is called a stampede.  And that is a very accurate description of it.  It is simply a mashup of cars that careen through a course causing destruction and mayhem at frequent intervals.  This somewhat chaotic approach to racing takes time to get used to but once you accept that you are not going for hotlaps and fast sectors in OnRush the game has a certain charm to it that keeps you loading up another "stampede".   Image result for onrush   Another thing I quickly noticed was that during OnRush my acceleration button was firmly planted ALL the time.  Most of the time in conjunction with the boost button, because speed makes everything better in OnRush!  The boost can be generated in a few ways, namely, taking out other players, getting air, or doing tricks and barrel rolls on bikes or driving over dead drivers tombstones. If with all that you still find yourself without boost, the game provides literal "fodder" yes they are called fodder in-game as well, which you can take out and gain some boost. Apart from the boost gauge you get your Rush meter, filling the Rush meter activates what is easiest described as your boost on steroids!  The screen blurs and a aura appears around your car with the change of soundtrack which really sells the feeling of you truly blasting of after, or ahead of the pack.  Although this Rush features surely sells the part of making you seem invincible but in OnRush you will quickly learn that you are far from untouchable!    Image result for onrush   There is also a fair amount of vehicles to choose from each bringing with them a set of advantages for example the Blade, a motorbike that leaves a trail of fire when you use Rush.  The outlaw, drains boost from opponents when you pass them.  Many more ingenious features have been built into the vehicles which I really think adds to the fun- factor of Onrush.      Image result for onrush gameplay   In OnRush you have 4 game modes at your disposal of which Overdrive is the most basic.  The aim of OverDrive is to simply rack up as many points for your team by keeping the boost going, demolishing opposing team members or activating your Rush.  This is a perfect way of warming up.  Countdown is a race against the clock where each team is allotted 30 seconds to rack up points while driving through gates which give you a few extra seconds to keep going.  Lockdown is the OnRush version of king of the hill.  You will find a circle moving along at generally the same pace as the stampede and the aim is to keep your team in this circle for 5 continuous seconds, which sounds like no time at all, until you try it...  Lastly you have Switch which ,like the name suggests, has you starting off with the starter vehicles like the blade or outlaw and with every wreck you are required to upgrade to the next class of vehicle until you reach the top class at which time your mission changes to elimination to get rid of the opponents remaining switches.   Superstar mode is OnRush's take on single player mode.  Although it feels more like a tutorial to the multiplayer than a actual campaign.  Did I mention you can Co-op with up to 6 people, that's a nice touch.  Each mission is created and made to suite the vehicle given to you which is more of a way to familiarize you with all the cars and their abilities.  

Summary

When I fired up OnRush I immediately felt some old-school Burnout in the mix and with the vibrant art-style it really gave me some Overwatch mixed in there, and even the menus all have a sense that the developers of OnRush definitely played a load of Overwatch, which is not a bad thing.  Graphically Onrush is really good, it looks, sounds and plays like a game that is meant to be fun, and that is what it is.  If you are looking for a serious racing sim-like game then steer clear of OnRush.  If you want to join a few friends, cause mayhem and have fun OnRush is your game!  OnRush will change the way you think of racing titles and that is, what I think, the developers were trying to achieve.   There is no other arcade racer like this.  Period! Image result for 9 out of 10 stars  

Thanks to Apex Interactive for being so generous and allowing me to try this game out.

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E3 2018 Roundup!

E3 2018 has finally arrived and what a spectacle it has been!  I will be writing a little bit about every developer and the titles that they bring to E3 everyday!  So lets not waste time, no one wants to read my ramblings, you want to see the games!  So lets jump in!  ( see what I did there?)   for obvious reasons I am not listing every single title announced at E3.  

ELECTRONIC ARTS (EA)

Image result for e3 2018 ea   EA came to E3 with many of there games already mentioned or leaked in some way, shape or form.  Battlefield V kicked the conference off mentioning that it will take on the Battle Royale gamestyle as well.  DICE also teased one of the war stories of Battlefield V which will surely be great like the previous single player campaigns. Next up was FIFA 19, featuring, for the first time ever, the Champions league!  FIFA 19 is set for release on September 28, 2018! Newly acquired, Respawn, teased a new Star Wars title named Jedi Fallen Order which is set during the dark times between Stars Wars 3 and far...  And yes, there will be light sabers! Sticking to the Star Wars theme, Battlefront 2 is getting new content, mainly focusing on the Clone Wars.  New maps, new heroes ( Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous)  Next up was Unravel 2, picking up from the first one but building on the emotional journey of Yarny.  This time bringing in some new co-op features that makes a already great title even better.  To make it even better, Unravel 2 is available now on EA access!  Get it now, grab a friend and enjoy the heartfelt saga that is Unravel 2!  Titles like Madden 19 , which is heading to PC for the first time in a decade, as well as NBA live 19 were also showcased promising bigger and better plays. Last but not least was Anthem...  Anthem is arguable the most anticipated title on the EA roster and they showcased some more gameplay showcasing multiplayer as well as strong RPG features.  

MICROSOFT 

  Image result for microsoft e3 18   Microsoft kicked their conference off with more than 50 titles on show!  Smartly dodging the bi question about exclusives.  First up was a Halo Infinite, it took awhile before any sign to prove it was Halo appeared but nothing says Halo quite like a shot of Master Chiefs' helmet.  Phil Spencer said " greatest adventure yet"... And that is saying something. Ori and the Will of the Wisps was up next delivering stunning visuals which will be coming somewhere in 2019.  Sekiro: shadows die twice is a new title from FromSoftware and it brought fond memories of Nioh which promises to deliver a true masterclass in the mythical Japan which will be coming in 2019.  Todd Howard from Bethesda made a unexpected visit to the Microsoft conference to show some more gameplay of the impressive Fallout 76.  It really looks visually spectacular and promises to deliver hours of playtime.  DontNod and Square Enix brought a suprise title to E3 in the shape of The Awesome adventures of Captain Spirit which, coming from the creators of Life is Strange, promises to be a thought provoking emotional rollercoaster.  To make it even better this this game is absolutely free, and available right now! DeepSilver delivered with their hauntingly beautiful Metro: Exodus.  Building on the previous iterations and expanding and developing from it Exodus is bringing a massive and awe-inspiring open eerie wasteland while you will be battling off mutated creatures as well as religious fanatics!  The long-awaited squeal to Kingdom Hearts is coming and it brings with it Elsa from Frozen.  Sea of thieves teased releases of the next two expansion hoping to bring dwindling player count back.  Microsoft newly acquired Playground games showed us Forza Horizon 4 which is set in Britain and is bringing the best open word racing experience ever!  With amazing seasonal weather which affects all players and it is coming Game Pass at launch! From here im going to run through the rest of Microsoft quickly: PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds gets new content and map. The Division 2 is officially announced and looks magnificent! Xbox GamePass is pushing for a large amount of new games.  New games available now: Fallout 4, Elders Scroll online, Division. Shadow of the Tomb Raider gets gameplay footage which will blow anything and everything out of the water!   Session  deliver the next best thing to Skate 4 with a true skating simulator. Black desert Online is coming to Xbox with a Beta dropping soon. Unexpectedly, a new Devil May Cry 5 was announced from CapCom stating: DmC is back! Dying Light 2 brings parkour aplenty. Just Cause 4 is back, chaotic as ever! Gears of War 5 brings all that you would expect! And last but not least as the conference was closing we were treated to possibly one of the best games coming in the future.  very well disguised as you will see in the video was CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077!  It was only a trailer with no gameplay footage but what we have learnt from the Witcher 3 is that when CD Projekt Red makes a game, they do it well!  

BETHESDA

Image result for bethesda e3 2018   Bethesda is known for its plethora of games and all of them with long histories ranging from the first consoles and early PC's.  E3 2018 started with the sequel to the previous-gen masterpiece Rage 2.  Learning and improving from the previous outing Rage 2 bring crazy characters, stunning scenery, awe-inspiring visuals mixed with all out chaos in the wastelands!  Next up is a full-fledged sequel to one of the fathers of the modern day shooter, DOOM eternal!  It did not show too much expect the tried and tested double barrel shotgun getting loaded and ready to do business!  Prey was launched about 1 year ago and was met with great reviews for good reason and Arkane studios were happy to announce new DLC content for Prey, namely Mooncrash. Bethesda was not done yet producing what was a rather big surprise to many in the form of Wolfenstein Youngblood, no more BJ Blazkowicz, rather step into the shoes of his twin daughters in the 1980's and see them take on the Nazi's same way their farther does!  Fallout 76 was once again mentioned with some more details showing that this title will be "completely online" even though single player would still be capable.   Starfield hints at a FPS/RPG hybrid but we will need to wait for QuakeCon for more info.  Beteshda closed out there conference with a simple teaser for Elder Scroll 6...  nothing more than a aerial shot over a coast side land with the words Elder Scrolls VI.  

Square Enix 

Image result for square enix 720   Square Enix had a rather strange E3 conference.  Starting out of the blue and having no one even speak apart from the intro.  Because many of their titles had been mentioned before their conference I am leaving out the likes of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 4, The Adventures of Captain Spirit, and the long awaited Kingdom Hearts 3.  So lets get the ball rolling.  Dragon Quest XI was announced and charmed many with its quirky yet warm art style and role play.  Dragon Quest XI is coming to PC and PS4.  One of the few actual new games that were announced and looks truly promising is Babylons Fall, it depicts a host of pictures during the ages and ends off in a soldier, seemingly defeated, but at the last moment using his power to slice through his foe without lifting a finger...  Nothing more has been said not even a proposed launch date. Final Fantasy XIV X Monster hunter are not new to collaborations and this one will be nothing different.  Expect some monster hunter in your FFXIV online.  These events kick off later this year.  The Quiet man was the last reveal from Square Enix and it was rather strange.  It starts as live action and switches to, what we think is gameplay, of a deaf man beating up hoodlums in a alley...  Did I mention he seems to be deaf?  Coming to PC and PS4. And just like that the Square Enix conference was finished  

UBISOFT

Image result for ubisoft e3 2018   The Ubisoft conference was, as expected, completely and utterly crazy!  It started with a massive display with dancers and bands, carnival style.  Not only was this the intro to the conference but it was the reveal for Just Dance 2019.  That jumped straight into the awe-inspiring, jaw dropping, face melting, dare I say i, most anticipated title of this generation, Beyond Good and Evil 2!  Visually spectacular into movie followed with pre-alpha gameplay footage. Next up was Rainbow Six Siege... Siege has had a unprecedented growth, the community is now 35 million strong.  But what Siege wanted to showcase was not the game, but a documentary...Another Mindset.  Ubisoft really took it to the next level with their announcements and Trials Rising was no different!  Next up was some more news on Division 2.  In a strange turn of events the next title shown was Mario Rabbids.   Skull and Bones was next and it looks spectacular! The cinematic trailer was simply spellbinding and this title looks extremely promising.  Details were given on how looting works as well as how important the environment is from the weather to the tide to the trade routes!  Check out some gameplay here. Elijah Wood himself announced Transference a first person mystery where you need to jump between players trying to solve the strangeness happening around you.  Transference comes to traditional consoles as well as VR.  Starfox and starlink: battle for Atlas was next to make an appearance. For Honor was also mentioned in the Ubisoft conference.  Until next week, if you are playing on PC you can grab For Honor for free on Uplay!  But that is not all, Marching Fire is bringing, what seems to be, the Chinese Dynasty to the mix.  The Crew 2 was up next, with its Beta being available a little while ago the new teaser simply displayed more of what seems to be a immense open world racer!  Open beta coming June 21st.  After its hiatus after some less than stellar titles Assassins Creed has come back with vengeance in the shape of Orgins.  Now Ubisoft takes the next step and brings us the Roman themed Assassins Creed Odyssey!  You have the option to pick from 2 protagonists, whichever you choose you play with that character for the whole game.  

Sony

Image result for sony e3 2018 The Sony conference, as expected was going to be highlighted by a few key titles and Sony did not waste time with showcasing Naughty Dog's The Last of Us Part II showcasing Ellie and how has grown into a woman, and a true killing machine.  The cinematic trailer blends straight into some gameplay footage showcasing how truly amazing the title is going to be.  After a brief intermission where they discussed Black Ops 4 as well as showed a new VR Tetris, it was straight back to the big titles with Days Gone which got a brief show straight to a strange looking Twin Mirror, next up a very cute looking Ghost Giant.  Destiny 2 showed a different side of Cayde-6 as he sits staring down the barrel of a gun as the camera pans showing a broken and defeated wasteland the shot goes off and you hear what you assume is Cayde-6's body drop to the floor...  The new Destiny 2 expansion called Forsaken.   After some strange flute playing we were treated to gameplay of the jaw-dropping Ghost of Tsushima.  Not many games create the atmosphere of the ancient samurai times quite like this.  Remedy did not give too much with a teaser for a title called Control.  Which looks a lot like Quantum Break from what I can see.  a Resident Evil 2 remake was very well received by everyone in the arena, coming Jan 25 2019.   Death Stranding continued its strangely beautiful display of story telling and spectacular story telling.  Sony finished off with footage of Marvel's Spiderman and it looks simply amazing!  Take a look and see for yourself but our friendly neighborhood Spiderman seems to have his work cut out for him, but he might have some help from a friend...
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Razer Kraken Pro V2 Analog

Razer really has a way of getting you excited about their hardware.  I can't quite put my finger on what it is but the feeling of opening up my box of goodies supplied by Apex Interactive and seeing a Razer box inside always gets my heart racing.  This, even after being very disappointed by the Razer Electra's!  Even taking the Kraken Pro's out of the courier box I immediately realized we are on a diffirent level compared to the  runt of the family, the Electra's.  The packaging and feel and all around look of the packaging just gave the impression that we are talking about a more serious piece of hardware.  And opening the box my assumptions were instantly confirmed...   The Razer Kraken Pro V2 analog, like the one I am reviewing, is a 3.5mm variant but it is good to know that there is, in fact, a USB version as well that features 7.1 surround sound.  My review was done on console using the 3.5mm jack.

Build Quality and Feel

Image result for razer kraken pro v2   The Kraken Pro V2 feels great in-hand.  All the materials used feel really good quality and the finishes are really nicely done.  In its price range it has a very good blend of materials used.  My daily headset is a Astro A40 TR which itself is a heavy headset. The Kraken Pro V2 is much lighter coming in at only 322g (thanks Google) which in comparison, felt like nothing on my head which does help for those extremely long play sessions.  The headband, which is covered in "leather-like" material, has Razer etched into it which really gives a nice touch as well as the sponge being good quality even tho its almost not needed as the weight of the headset being so minimal.   Image result for razer kraken pro v2   The top half of the headset also comes with adjustable sliders giving the wearer a large range for all sizes of heads.  Coming to the earcups and cushions which is probably one of the more important aspects of any headset.  The Kraken Pro cushions are exceptional. the leather covered foam feels magnificent over your ears and they sit snugly enough to block out sound and not too tight causing discomfort.  Their size and depth are also perfect, never did I experience any of my ear touching sides of the cushions or even touching the inside either.  The comfort level is exquisite and it is up there with my all time most comfortable headsets!  The outside of the earcups also get the expected Razer treatment with its cool mesh finish and a large Razer emblem brandishing the earcups they are unmistakably Razer!  

Microphone and Cable

Image result for razer kraken pro v2   Moving further down the headset, the microphone which is neatly retracted into the earcup allowing for a neat, stowed away look when not in use, is extremely flexible which allows for great positioning of the mic.  A added bonus is the fact that the mic is extremely good.  It picks up voice chatter really well without allowing for lots of ambient noise to filter through.  My party members were thoroughly impressed by the microphone quality of the Razer Kraken Pro V2 and their verdicts were all that I sounded much clearer and closer compared to my Astro...  It hurt a little writing that... This being the stereo version of the Kraken Pro V2, it works with the newer Xbox One controller as well as the PS4 controller and pretty much every device that has a 3.5mm output jack.  The braided cable coming from the headset has a inline mute and volume control which is rather nifty.  Being 3.5mm connection there is unfortunately no mic feedback but that can be excused.  

Audio Quality

  Audio quality...  The biggest thing a headset should strive to be good at.  The final hurdle at which so many headsets falter.  The Razer Kraken Pro does however not.  Listening to music was good.  It has decent levels of bass and the highs hit the mark most of the times.  Listening to some electronic music really showed off the punchy bass and sharp highs!  The mids were slightly underwhelming at times getting lost in the bass punches.  The same can be said for gaming, generally the sounds are good.  Ambient and nature sounds in games like the Hunter: call of the wild and Sea of Thieves were really good.  But during the chaos of games like COD WW2 and the intense focus on sound in R6 Siege the mids did feel a little muddy and got lost.  For the asking price tho you would have to go looking a bit to find something that drastically out performs the Razer Kraken Pro V2 headset. Image result for 8/10 stars  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for so kindly supplying this review headset

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PDP afterglow controller – Review

I am rather full of crap, and I am happy to admit that.  So with the arrival of the PDP afterglow controller I thought that I had already made up my mind.  The original Xbox one controller is really really good.  good weight to it, good build quality and it just works.  I have had both my controllers since launch of the Xbox 1 and i have not had any problems, they have been dropped ( I cried a little when that happened) yet they keep going.  So my opinion was instantly that the PDP afterglow was nothing more than a cheap knockoff with a few added gimmicks and that it would show its own flaws within a few hours of playing with it...  Could I have been more wrong...

Unboxing

  The unboxing of the PDP afterglow is nothing to write about (ironic).  Simply the controller in a box.  No frills...  Literally!  

Features

Image result for pdp afterglow prismatic wired controller 1080p   The PDP Afterglow controller is a wired Xbox One/Windows 10 controller.  It has a clear plastic finish which is rather cool to see all the insides on display.  It really makes you appreciate all the work that goes into a controller that, on a daily basis becomes our gun, sword, steering wheel or even the item that grants up the opportunity to be true gamers and experience many lives lived. On the surface this controller simply looks like a wired controller with some cool strip lighting inside, 2 programmable wheel/buttons at back of controller and that is it...  But it is not!  The Prismatic, as it is called, looks very subtle from the outside but boasts a fair amount of gadgets and features for its measly pricetag. Firstly, the signature prismatic LED feature can have you quickly cycle through a variety of colours and have you choose your favorite one.  Or have the colours just change at will.  If you have the need for zero distraction, simply turn it off.  All of this without even having to move your fingers off your favorite keys on the controller.   Image result for pdp afterglow prismatic wired controller 1080p   Personally I play alot of FPS games which as most people know really give your analog sticks a pounding.  Any hardcore gamer has either had to bid farewell to a trusted controller due to stick lean or dead zones becoming too big to bear.  The PDP controller has superb sticks!  Made extremely well I find more grip and accuracy with them than the original controller sticks.  They are also slightly longer which helps when you need the extra precision to get the game-clinching headshot at the death. I still have the original Xbox One (someone want to sponsor a X, for review purposes???) so my controllers are still V1 without the 3.5mm jack.  So when I do reviews of newer headsets which only come with 3.5mm jacks I resort to using the ever elusive chat adapter.  Anyone who has ever needed to look for one of these babies knows what a struggle it is.  With the V2 controllers out now at least 3.5mm jack is now a standard but at close to R1000 for a controller buying a new one for just the 3.5mm jack is ridiculous.  Luckily the Prismatic is, once again, here to save the day.  Coming in at easily under R500 the Prismatic is the logical upgrade!   Image result for pdp afterglow prismatic wired controller 1080p   Dual Rumble drives with Red LED's that flash when vibration is activated also adds a nice touch in games such as racing when you wander off the track, or get shot in a FPS.  Great feeling triggers also add to the good feel in hand that the Prismatic brings to the table. Another way that the Prismatic steps ahead of the standard controller is with its dual multi-function wheels that has 6 programmable actions...  Where can you find a macro-enabled controller at this price anywhere else?! Image result for pdp afterglow prismatic wired controller 1080p When I was reviewing this controller the PDP hub on the Xbox store did not want to recognize my controller so I did not have any time to play with the app at the moment but I will update the article once I have got it working.  But honestly I don't think it is even needed as all features can be used without the app which is a welcome features in my opinion.  

 Impressions

  As I said earlier in this review the Prismatic arrived at my desk and I had made a opinion of it without trying it.  To be honest when it arrived I didn't even open it until the next day, I was that convinced that it was going to be bad.  I have never been this wrong.  Yes it is wired, and that is probably the only negative I can find for it.  Even being wired is not such a turn off.  If you game at a desk or you sit fairly close to your screen or TV then wired is not a problem.  Hell this controller serves as a Xbox and PC controller at half the price of a standard console controller! I am struggling to find the words to describe the feel of this controller.  If it was not for the smooth plastic finish compared to the slight matte finish of the Microsoft controller, in a dark room you would not know you are using a 3rd party controller.  The build is solid, when the vibration is activated it does not sound like the controller is falling apart.  Button presses feel strong and true, not hollow like many cheap controller do!  Simple controls on the controller to control the LED, Rumble lights as well as chat and sound volume are self explanatory and I caught on much faster than I have with other controllers such as the Razer Wolverine which I reviewed before.

Final Verdict

  This is a very easy verdict to make.  If you are in the market for a new controller and wired is not a problem, the PDP Afterglow prismatic Controller is a no brainer!  Cheaper, better, with more features than the original Microsoft controller you would be a fool to not get this controller.   Image result for 9.5/10 stars  

Once again a special thanks to Apex Interactive for always being at the forefront of the latest and greatest tech and allowing me to review them as they arrive!

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FanCon and an interview with Kinpatsu Cosplay

FANCON Cape Town was started in 2016 and has quickly become a must for anyone interested pop culture.  If you do not know what to expect when you visit ComicCon, or FanCon, prepare yourself for a vibrant and lively aspect of everything from comics, pop culture and everything geeky.  If you are ever in Cape Town during April/May and you consider yourself even the slightest of a geek/nerd, then do not hesitate.  FANCON is for YOU! Our intrepid admin, never shying away from anything geeky, were naturally drawn to FANCON where they basked in the amazing stalls selling the most interesting content.  Rubbing shoulders with authors, cosplayers, comic book illustrators, costume designers to only name a few.  Some of the big names that were on display at this years FANCON were Yanick Paquette a comic book artist known for his work on Xena warrior princess and Gambit.  Declan Shalvey who has worked on Deadpool, Punisher and Venom.  Our very own homegrown talents like Sally Partridge and Loyiso Mkize who is well known for being great short-story novelist and the creator of the superhero comic Kwezi, respectively.  While making there rounds and meeting many of the wonderful people making there way through FANCON, our own Alex and Aiden had the opportunity to interview South Africa's most well-known Cosplayer Kinpatsu.  For those of you who do not follow cosplay, Kinpatsu has been recognized worldwide for her incredible talent and craftsmanship.  This is no easy feat as cosplay is in its infancy in South Africa when you compare it to the larger areas like USA, Europe and Asia.  She has won many of the local conventions and many on the international stage as well.  Alex and Aiden caught up with her to have a chat and here is what transpired: Alex: how did you get the name Kinpatsu? Kinpatsu:  I am actually a blonde...  And Kinpatsu means blonde in Japanese.   Alex: How long have you been Cosplaying and how did it start? Kinpatsu: I have been cosplaying for 6 years now.  I try my best to get to all the conventions I possibly can.  This is my second FanCon.  It all started in 2011 when I went to rAge in South Africa.  When I saw it I decided I really wanted to try it and do it.  a Whole year went by and nothing happened.  Then I remembered that we were getting close to rAge again so I may as well try it out.  So I used clothes from my cupboard and made a costume in a week.   Alex: Why do you cosplay? And what does it mean to you? Kinpatsu:   For me, Cosplay is a way to combine the two things I love which is being creating stuff and crafting, and then ofcourse videogames, anime and those kind of things so it combines the two things I enjoy most.   Alex: Who are you cosplaying as? How do you choose your character? Kinpatsu:   Today I am cosplaying as X23 from Xmen.  I kind of just start making what I'm most excited for or whatever is most prominent at the time.  Like for this one there was a big Marvel group so I decided which character can I create in a week because I changed my cosplay plan.   Alex: Do you make all your own costumes?  Do you need to spend alot of money to make a good costume? Kinpatsu: This costume specifically, I started yesterday in a couple of hours, but some of the bigger ones take between 3 to 5 weeks to make.  Some costumes are expensive when it gets to creating armours for example when you use a technique called casting then it gets pricey but in general it can be as cheap as you want it to be by using whatever you can find.   Alex: What advice would you give to aspiring cosplayers? Kinpatsu: I would say do it!  Many people say I want to do it but they never take the jump.  Start small, its a start.  You will love it and you will just want to keep coming back for more.  Even if its made from stuff at home.  Or even if you reuse a costume just keep doing it.   Alex: Who is your favorite international cosplayer? Kinpatsu: I actually have three, they are Yaya Han, KamuiCosplay and Jessica Nigri   Alex: Where is your next convention? Kinpatsu:   My next convention will be in Latvia next month.  2 weeks ago I was in Columbia.  After this I am off for a month then I head to Germany and then doing my own trip to Las Angeles. For those of you who want to follow Kinpatsu, here are all her social media links.  FacebookTwitter If you would like to see some of the cosplays that were at the convention please take a look at the gallery below. [ngg_images source="galleries" container_ids="38" display_type="photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails" override_thumbnail_settings="0" thumbnail_width="240" thumbnail_height="160" thumbnail_crop="1" images_per_page="20" number_of_columns="0" ajax_pagination="0" show_all_in_lightbox="0" use_imagebrowser_effect="0" show_slideshow_link="1" slideshow_link_text="[Show slideshow]" order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"]    

A special thanks to Aiden and Alex for taking the time to visit FANCON and flying the EARLY AXES flag.

   
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