Peace and World DOMINATION, what could go wrong?

HUGE MEGA shout out to PRIMA INTERACTIVE for this one, they took ME WAAAAAAAY back to when I was younger, did I really just say that out loud?  Anyway, I was very excited to play this game as the last Civilization game I played….was 1…YES, people the original 8-bit graphics and weird noises.  In case it hasn’t become clear, I've been playing the latest and greatest to the civilization family…Civilization 6.   Remembering what the game was like back when you started off with a wagon and a dream, you find a place to settle and begin your adventure, you would need to ensure you have enough food for your people, then construct various building to satisfy the needs of your people, be it a granary to store their food, a barracks to protect them from pirates and then an aqueduct to help them fight fires, and so much more but those buildings were necessary to keep just 1 city happy….the name of the game is to expand your empire and have many cities across the globe.  Each city will need some attention to ensure its continued growth and happiness, but more cities mean more revenue and more revenue means easier gameplay so be ye benign or malign? Good or bad? Tax your people heavily or let them prosper under minimal taxation, the choice is never permanent you can always adjust the rate later.     All the while your expanding your empire and finding new resources and areas of interest, other nations are doing the same, the moment you meet another nation's unit you will be introduced to their leader, now civilization is quite humorous with whom they have running each nation, for example Cleopatra is the leader of Egypt, Queen Elizabeth for England and Teddy Roosevelt for America and there are a whole host of other nations that will either play nice….or wage war.  But for the most part everyone is quite friendly, and the scale of friend or foe is often decided by the Strongest nation, which brings us to one of my favorite parts of the game, NOT IMMORTAL COMBAT (TM patent pending), but yes the combat system, I'm still talking old school CIV here people I haven’t gotten to the juicy sweet nectar that is CIV 6 yet, besides constructing buildings to keep your cities happy, you will need to train Military units to defend your cities, AHAAAAA there's a twist ladies and Gents, another main focus of the game is to progress through histories various eras, from stone age to bronze to modern and beyond, you will be given a list of options to research each with its own benefits and unlocks a certain building or unit to create furthering your advancement.  And with advancements comes the wonders of the words, which can be built in a city and have a certain aspect greatly boosted, didn't I mention city aspects? No? well ok then ill take your word for it, cities have different aspects which help it flourish, production, culture, faith, and gold are what makes or breaks a city, as your citizens will demand that each aspect be fully attended and if not, then the city will start to lose momentum in development, "LET THEM HAVE CAKE", I'm sure someone famous said that, and I'm sure everyone was happy, who doesn't love cake?   The map is navigated by a “tiled” map, which means, adjacent hexagonal tiles make up the map and movement was determined by how may “tiles” would/ could be crossed, more advanced or mobile units could move farther than normal ones allowing them to traverse the map quickly, In its 8 bit style combat was pure and simple my block with a picture of a man on a horse versus your block with a picture of a man with a bow, the attacker would connect the blocks and the system would calculate who would win, this is based on the units attack power and damage, whichever unit was stronger would generally win, not to say that you will ALWAYS win, I remember being a highly advanced nation with tanks and planes and feeling pretty good about myself, I come across this poor little village on my now almost dominated continent and I thought to myself “puny insect I will now crush your insolence with my mighty tank” and my tank then perished to a bow and arrow unit….. I knew exactly how all the crew on the Deathstar felt, I continued to nuke the town twice for good measure. And if world domination isn’t your thing then you could try the peaceful way and sign peace treaties with all your fellow nations, indulging in trade and exchanging technologies, and betting the lives of all nations, but this too could crumble if your “Allies” gain the upper hand and decide to destroy you instead, always make sure YOU are the strongest nation, other nations will follow you and dare not challenge you.  The peaceful way is also less troubling in the sense that no one really wants to be friends with the bully, they will scold you and resent you for being a warmonger….I Just remind them why I’m top dog and they all play nice again.   There are in my opinion 2 objectives in the game, either destroy all other nations OR be the first civilization to advance to the space age, where you colonize the stars with your nation’s people.  Both are acceptable ends so go with whatever you feel is right, even if it means smiting an entire nation right off the face of the earth, obliterate their history and wipe their existence from memory!!!! Or be the good guy and help everyone to the final stage of space exploration.   Now that we have the basic game idea lets skip leaps and bounds ahead to CIV 6 and all its glory, the game stays true to its roots with there being multiple nations and eras to advance through, expanding quickly and developing new technologies, BUT and this is a huge but, haha I said butt, they did something amazing THEY UPPED THE GRAPHICS, *gasp*, who would’ve thought, well yes we all knew we would be seeing, in my opinion, a very visually stunning game.   The map is littered with various resource tiles, some are basic and some are luxurious which means they are a valuable trading commodity, but you will need the basics in order to survive Farms and mines to produce food and production points, the higher your production points the quicker it is to construct buildings or train units, this is vital to advance quickly as slow-moving cities fall behind in the ever going march of time.  The in-game system alerts you to a certain problem within a certain city, for example, you will be told if there is insufficient housing for your people or not enough food, or if the people get……bored…well not bored per say, but they will demand more amenities or stuff for them to do, now I know how my mother felt, “MOM I'm hungry”, “MOM I'm bored”, excuse me I think I need to call my mom.   The combat system has also been vastly vamped up and now is very entertaining to watch, your units are no longer blocks smashing into each other, they are now, actual representations of their “real world” counterparts, be it units with clubs that run towards enemy and swing like pro stars, or musket men who fire their flintlocks, it is very fun to watch the units fight each other.  There are 3 kinds of units which are pretty obvious given what they are, Ground, Aerial and naval, let it be noted that your ground units can traverse the sea but will be at a combat disadvantage. But apart from the basics of the combat, there are other actions your units can take such as, Fortify, which anchors the unit in place boosting its defensive rating, or if your unit has just emerged from a skirmish then you can Fortify heal, where the units will starting regenerating lost health, or they can “sleep” which just makes the unit inactive in place but whenever you require them to follow another instruction you can simply “wake up” the unit and they will be available to move again.   Military units will also have a range which they can attack from, your melee units will need to be adjacent or next to the tile which the enemy is on, ranged units (pending unit) will have a range of 1 or 2 tiles, however, the tiles must follow a straight line, this means you can’t attack in a J or L Pattern, this makes the player think strategically about unit placement to make use of all units available.   Not all units are available immediately even after unlocking the technology for it, some units require a certain resource and in the upper techs, a specific building, once the technology is unlocked that resource will appear on a tile on the map which you will need to build on to utilize it, you will need horses to be able to create cavalry, iron to create knights, and so the list continues.   The game also allows you to run a certain style of government, which then allows you to put in place “policies” which are a whole lot of cards detailing certain benefits to your empire, it can be military, diplomatic or economic. And each type of government allows you to put into place one or more of a certain kind of policy, this allows you to promote your play style and boosts areas which you need to further your agendas.   A very critical in-game mechanic, in my opinion, is trade, you can trade with other nations for resources, works of art or even straight-up cash.  You can also make demands of your “neighbors”, demands of whatever they have that you want, Why you bully me?  This can lead to growing a relationship or starting to turn one into a reason to declare war.  Besides trade there is another thing you want that your enemy has….information, you will need to train a spy (later game unit) who you can send to infiltrate an opposing nations city, while stationed they provide you with a view of the map which your “host” city occupies, and can be given certain missions to accomplish, be it, steal funds or technology, steal works of art, or create a rebellion within the city, All of which provide you with an upper hand. And all this can be made that much more fun in multiplayer, challenge your friends to a world domination race or face off in world war the likes of which will shatter the stars and forever scar the friendship you once had, "AMANDA!! PLEASE TRADE SOME URANIUM WITH ME, I NEED IT FOR A UHHHH...CERTAIN PROJECT IM RUNNING".   With all the strategies, unhappy citizens, impending doom of a nuclear strike and the crippling NEED to keep ahead of all other nations, you can’t help but lose yourself in this timeless game, “just 30 minutes and I’m done” will be the most spoken words on your lips followed by “I started at 5, HOW THE HELL IS IT MIDNIGHT” which is accompanied by “ITS MIDNIGHT!! GET TO BED!!”.   Right, let's ask the hard-hitting questions.  Is the game entertaining? a sound yes.  Is the game replayable? Most definitely and circumstances are always different.  Is the game for everyone? I would really have to say yes. The enjoyment of the game and the visuals and the sheer replayability of this game earns it a well deserved 9/10 stars   Another huge thanks to PRIMA INTERACTIVE  for the sponsor of this game and a chance to relive a childhood long forgotten  
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Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts – Review

Sniping games have been around for a long time.  Sniping missions have also been a staple in franchises like Battlefield, Medal of Honor, and possibly the most infamous sniping mission of all, in Call of Duty.  All of these have taken elements of sniping and used it within a combat environment.  Where action and gunfire come frequently and a constant pace.  Not many of these titles really capture the true experience of sniping. A few games have come close.  The Sniper Elite franchise tries, and succeeds mostly, to put you behind the scope of a WW sniper.  With more emphasis on a visual representation of demolishing your target with brutal bullet penetration scenes, yet it lacks the true feeling.  This is where the Sniper Ghost warrior franchise puts its hand up and zooms in on the target! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvGprYy0lZk SGW, as I will refer to it during this review, does not boast the strongest of stories.  The usual politics, some dodgy oil companies and general international espionage is the reason why you will be setting your crosshairs on a good couple of bad guys.  Although there is some reason for what you will be doing it doesn't do much in the way of linking missions or a general storyline.  During the intro, they do try and explain why it is morally acceptable to be paid for killing people...  What really makes SGW Contracts great though, is not the storyline, or actually the shooting (this is amazing though), it is the vastness of the extremely open maps.  The landscape is almost terrifyingly massive and moving around it takes extensive time.  This makes your missions so much more complex as there are multiple ways of taking on your mission.  Not only are the levels so vast, but they also vary tremendously in both visuals and environments.  This will force you to adapt your approach for each mission as you will find yourself sneaking along urban coastlines, heavily guarded fortresses and private mansions hidden in forests. Generally, sniper games or even missions would have you creep around and kill off the enemies as you come across them.  Upon reaching the intended target you would "eliminate" them and then you would be done. SGW Contracts takes a different approach.  Firstly, you will need to choose your approach carefully, stealth is non-negotiable.  But your approach can determine how much interaction you will come across.  Many of the missions require you to not only eliminate the target but often retrieve intel, or even sabotage a facility.  This will have you not only working from behind the scope but thinking about the effect your shot will have on the rest of the mission.  This approach often leads to fewer bullets fired which creates intense moments of manoeuvring past enemies instead of engaging!  Once your objective is complete you now need to be extracted, this is where your planning comes into play as well as a harsh and brutal punishment for those who think they are able to fight their way out.  This is where the large maps can become a hindrance which will see you often backtracking vast distances and hiding and watching for long periods of time.  I guess they don't call it GHOST warrior for no reason!

The Art and Science of Shooting

As in most sniper games, pulling off an incredible 1000m headshot on a driving target doesn't just happen.  it takes timing, precision and lots of science.  While the optics of your gun does provide amazing amounts of info regarding wind and trajectory of your bullet there are still many elements that you will need to contend with, and in this lies the magic of SGW Contracts.  Not only are these elements that make this game extremely difficult to play, but it also makes it extremely satisfying when everything works out!  The over-the-top kill cinematics of a bullet penetrating a skull and having the brain explode out the back does feel slightly out of sorts in a game that has very dark and moody tone.  But it does serve as a relief when the cinematics happens the moment you pull the trigger signalling that you have hit your target. Being a "ghost" level sniper does, however, come with a few perks.  You are provided with a visor that serves as communication between you and your "handler" as well as a host of other gadgets.  From the usual bombs and c4 to drones to help mark out enemies and even remote turrets that enable you to perform multiple kill shots at the same time. SGW Contracts is by far the prettiest in the franchise and playing it on the top tier console or a capable PC will have to checking out the scenery fairly often during your hiding and backtracking to exfiltrate.

Verdict

SGW Contracts is not for everyone, if you are expecting something easy, then move along.  If you don't intend on playing it at the toughest difficulty, also move along.  SGW is as close as you can get to experience what a true sniper might need to endure, apart from some of the gadgets.  The 12 hours that it can take a competent marksman to complete the game can exponentially become more if you are not a great shot.  Even though Contracts has a rather forgettable story to it, the mechanics and suspense and joy of nailing your shot and getting out in one piece is a definite reason to play it!

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

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LOGITECH CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!!!!

IT'S NEARLY CHRISTMAS!!! Logitech G and Early Axes wants to make you the lucky owner of some great Logitech G peripherals! All you need to do is the list below! Who knows the Logitech Santa might stop by for an early Christmas gift!  Head over to the EarlyAxes Facebook Group and do the simple steps below!


1: like and share the original post! 2:give Logitech G a like! 3:Tag 2 friends 4: Tell us what item in the G-Range do you like most and why! The competition will run until the 6th of December 2019! Competition is only open to SA residents!

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Need for Speed Heat – Review

Need for Speed is a name, that when said by most, brings back nostalgia and fond memories of better times.  When NFS was what it originally wanted to be, a street racing game.  Before modded cars and silly spoilers etc.  Yes, it later really became huge with the likes of the spectacular Underground, Underground 2 and Carbon.  After that things seemed to slowly fizzle out for the NFS franchise becoming a rather lacklustre title will still pumping out releases quite regularly. With the last outing, Payback, NFS seemed to have found their way back slightly.  This placed a large amount of pressure on the next outing, being HEAT.  NFS Heat is a fantastic game.  With great and vibrant environments that, mostly, feel living and lived in.  A really new and fresh day/night mechanic and Police chases that are not simply run away from with pure speed.  But where it lacks tremendously is with the cringy cast they selected.

lights, revs and narcissism!

Image result for Need for speed heat Palm City, the area that plays host to NFS Heat is basically one giant nightclub.  With blinding amounts of neon lights, and a seemingly ever-present bassline which possibly explains the narcissism of the characters...  Even though other titles like Forza Horizon has done the party-vibe before NFS Heat feels a little too aggressive and in-your-face with it.  You are a rookie on the scene in Palm City.  After selecting your avatar from a good couple of options and customizing him or her to give them the personal feel you will be tasked with getting cash to spend on your gifted clanger of a car, as well as improve your overall rep in the racing scene.  What follows is a rather familiar formula of doing races, smashing billboards and competing in a few drift challenges to build up bank and rep, cringy I know.  I found the first few levels to be somewhat slow until hitting enough rep to continue the story. The races in NFS Heat have two distinct, but contrasting, personalities.  By day, races are organized and planned with barriers and the needed all set up and ready to race.  These races generate money for you as an aspiring racer.  But it is during the night when Heat truly shines.  These races are more raw and visceral and these races act as XP races to boost your level so you can unlock cars, races and upgrades.  Although, at night you are not the only ones out on the streets.  The police turn-up their patrols and bring out their most powerful and aggressive cars.  Whether you are simply taking a cruise or mid-race if they spot you they will come after you until you either shake them or they ram you into submission. Image result for Need for speed heat Another aspect of the night racing that really adds to the drama is the fact that your rep earned at night only "banks" when you turn into a garage.  Meaning that if you get busted by the police before being able to do so, all your hard work of grinding is lost!

Cars, Cambers and Spoilers!

The underground-series made NFS famous for the over the top styling and modding.  Since the franchise has stuck with the modding and Heat is no different!  The majority of the stable of cars in Heat will look rather familiar to players of Payback.  One of the great additions is that Ferrari have decided to get back on board and they brought a large ensemble of cars to add to the garage!  Toyota, however, has once again decided to skip this outing leaving us wanting some Supra goodness, both mk4 and mk5! As is par for the modding-course, all the JDM classics from the '90s are here (apart from the Supra).  Supercars are in abundance and big American muscle can be found all over!  Many European monsters and even some fast Volvo's!  There are definitely cars for everyone!  These cars also have every fine little detail that their real-world counterparts have.  And they look especially great in the rain, as does most of the world of Palm city.  With the slightest detail such as raindrops running down body panels and windscreens. The cars' handling has also been reworked from previous titles.  Drifting can now be initiated by taking your finger off the throttle and then ploughing it through your controller to start your skid.  For the driver craving more the "realistic" feel this can be troublesome for the times you actually need to feather the throttle through corners.  Luckily this setting can be changed back to brake-for-drift.  For the first time in an NFS game, the feel between FWD, RWD and AWD can actually be experienced in the way cars handle, even if its only slight! Engine swops, as in Forza, is one of the key modding features in Heat.  This takes away some of the performance ceilings that many cars hit rather early in their tuning life!  But what really caught my eye was the way you can tune your exhaust note.  Want it loud, brash, tinny, or just want it to sound like a run-of-the-mill daily, you can tune it!  The livery system is back and as good as before.  Style your car the way you want it.  From a classic black on black to the way out pearl paint with minute rims and even those who are into the stance scene, heat has styling options to suit everyone!

Verdict

Need for Speed Heat has taken little pieces from all its previous games and built something that really lives up to the NFS games of old!  Apart from the cringe-worthy acting, Heat is a truly great and enjoyable arcade racer with great customization options!  Now, all we need is the playlist from Underground 1 and 2 and this game would be perfect!  For those who have been burned by previous NFS titles, this is your salvation!  

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for the review content

   
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All a green thumb needs is love, sunlight and AMMUNITION!!!

  The past week I had the opportunity to play Plants vs Zombies Battle for neighborville and I quite enjoyed the new take on the classic side scroller game. PVZ, as I will now lovingly call this little gem, is a very entertaining 3rd “person” shooter, actually, the first impression was that if the original Plants vs zombies and Overwatch did the BOW CHIKA WOW WOW….this would be the result.  You have attackers, defenders, and support for healing.  Not only could you be an army of sun guzzlers but brain munchers too (no Offence to any plants or zombies intended), the cleverly designer characters each with their own unique way of attacking, which gives players options and freedoms to pick and even swap out as often as they like, need a support? BOOM change, need a tank? BOOM your welcome, need coffee?.... uhh ok so the game can’t go that far but I’m sure if you ask someone REALLY nicely that could be arranged.   There is a campaign mode where you can take your soldier (be it plant or zombie) and complete tasks assigned by a very power-hungry 1 eyed sunflower, or take you hand to the PVP scene where you can go all out with friends, randoms, even that REALLY angry neighborhood kid who’s always eating peoples mailboxes and just have a blast.  The game gives you upgrades for your character and its up to you to decide how you want to upgrade, focus on defense or attack perks or bolster your healing abilities, there's a perk to match every playstyle, and the customization is one of the best features, as you can take the very innocent looking pea shooter and turn them into…..an even more innocent looking sea pea!!! Which looks like “finding Nemo” found a new hobby, shooting the undead with vegetables! Delving a bit further into the teams and their soldiers, the plants side has quite an entertaining line up, we have the classics which are our pea shooter, chomper and our sunflower, and then we have some quirky additions like the naartjie…..or orange…..anyway this soldier has a shield and walks around like some vitamin c friendly spider mech, and one that I found quite entertaining was the acorn and oak soldier, with his little rapid-fire head-mounted gun he storms the field and when enough isn’t enough, He plants himself (SHOCKER) and a few seconds later emerges from the earth atop a very bulky tank like oak (and not the okes from the club ne), and then rains hell with cannon fire.  I found myself drawn to the snapdragon, a plant as its name suggests is a fire breathing dragon, funny, I thought plants hated fire, who would’ve guessed. On the zombie line up, we got control of a superhero? Zombie….is he still a hero though? AMANDA!!! GOOGLE IF A SUPERHERO DIES AND COMES BACK AS A ZOMBIE ARE THEY STILL A HERO?  Right the “hero” zombie is more focused on melee attacks and like the CQC, we also see the football zombie, who’s traded his kicking boots for a freaking football launching Gatling gun!!!! And when he needs that “kick”, see what I did there, he literally kicks a smaller zombie which explodes, the zombies have also kicked up the tech a bit with a space cadet zombie, which can link with other cadets to form a space STATION for serious damage output, and the zombies have also seen fit to recruit a healer, a doctor of sorts which his little healing gun which he fires normally or fires a shot which sticks to a surface providing healing at a distance to himself…cl ever for something without a brain. The visuals of the game are very eye-pleasing and the combat mechanics are simple and easy to use, the gameplay is smooth and all the audio cues are spot on, a very well thought out game and delivers on a lot of fun action-packed moments, coupled with confused screaming as you get flanked.  Would I recommend the game? Yes, would I say it’s for everyone? YES, even my kids had lots of laughs watching me play this game, is it replayable? Very much so with all the characters and 2 teams, you can enjoy it time and time again. SO with armies thwarted and the battleground littered with my enemies what would I rate this game a very entertained and well-earned 8 stars. With a huge shout out to PRIMA Interactive for the sponsor code, I will be forever entertained burning my enemies with my plantable pet dragon.  
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PDP ultraslim charging station Xbox One – Review

The current-gen of consoles has brought us many positives and even more joyous occasions.  Terrific games, better graphics and finally crossplay!  With each generation the number of hours we spend with the controller in-hand increases.  Since the wireless controller became the norm since the 360 and PS3 era consumers, especially Xbox users have moaned about the usage of batteries, or the constant recharge of the PS controller.  A generation later and Microsoft has still not ditched the AA battery setup in their controller.  This means you either need to buy rechargeable batteries, or stock-up on AA batteries because you will eat through tons of them! I am fortunate enough to have access to both Xbox One and PS4 consoles and spending more time on my Xbox, the charging station that Apex Interactive sent me was a welcome sight!  PDP does make cost-conscious products.  To most companies, cost-consciousness means a budget product at a budget price.  For PDP this is not true!  Their range of controllers and headsets tick the quality box as well as the budget box!

What's in the box?

The PDP Gaming Ultra slim charging station comes with an extremely sleek and nicely designed station.  The station is extremely slim lined and minimal in design and with the space it takes up on your desk or counter.  It has two magnetic connection points as well as two mood lights to give it some RGB feeling.  At the bottom of it it also has two LED indicators to show when the controllers are properly fitted.  10/10 times I have tried to place the controller incorrectly the magnetic positioning has corrected my placement to ensure good and firm contact to the charging ports.  Many other docking stations require you to have a free USB port to plug it into.  The PDP ultraslim has its very own 2-prong plug that plugs straight into a wall socket, giving you that always-needed USB port to use for an external hard drive or headset amp. PDP also provides two rechargeable battery pack that simply fit inside the Xbox One controller the same way normal batteries would fit.  The cover is then replaced by the provided PDP cover which has an opening perfectly slotted to provide great contact between the battery pack and the charging station. With the PDP battery pack connected the Xbox One controller feels slightly heavier than it does with standard batteries but the weight difference is hardly noticeable and the result is worth the extra few grams.  During the time I spent using the PDP ultraslim charge station I put in multiple gaming sessions that lasted more than 8 hours, save for a few bathroom- and snack breaks and the batteries did not skip a beat.  In fact, I hardly got past the 50% mark that the Xbox provides to show controller battery level.

Verdict

If you are one of the players that have spent a small fortune on buying AA batteries then the PDP ultraslim charging station has your name on it.  Straight out of the box it provides battery packs for 2 controllers with the ability to charge both of them at the same time.  Not only does it serve as a charging station it is a good looking way to store your controllers when not using them.  Coming in at close to R700 it is easy to see why this is the change you need to make instead of constantly buying AA batteries!    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review hardware

 
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The Outer Worlds – Review

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5ya3X1hBWk When you think RPG titles one of the first names that come to mind is Fallout.  And you wouldn't be wrong by saying that the likes of Fallout 3 and New Vegas are arguably some of the best RPG's around.  But since then the Fallout has gone downhill.  The likes of Fallout 4 and the devastatingly bad, Fallout 76 has driven the Fallout name to an all-time low. Thankfully the people over at Obsidian decided to take their skills, which has given us titles like Star Wars: Knights of the old republic, Fallout New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity, and revive the Open-world RPG genre that was being held together but the incredible Witcher 3.  The Outer Worlds has been coming and I have tried to keep away from all the hype... Can it be the Fallout we have all wanted?  Or will it splash about like Fallout 76...  I am very pleased to tell you that this is possibly the greatest not-Fallout game EVER!

Where am I?

At the start of this game, mad scientist Phinneas Wells wakes you from an awfully long cryosleep, 70 years to be exact.  He needs your help, of course!  You are tasked to go to Halcyon, the outer most planet in the galaxy, also controlled by a bunch of big corporate entities.  The people that live, or should I say survive, in Edgewater, the first town you visit, are exploited.  The medicine supply is distributed amongst, and to those who can contribute the most, first.  The gravedigger is the first you meet, he needs a hand in collecting some money for the rent of future burial sites...  How you go about the collection is up to you.  Do you persuade, take forcefully, steal or simply kill.  The Outer Worlds takes the "choice" system to the next level with tremendously involved decision making, which sways the outcome of your choices dramatically. Another group of villagers have been lucky enough to escape, but the major of Edgewater wants you to bring them back.  Siding with the mayor means your travels in the vast wildlands of Halcyon won't only have you looking over your shoulder for monsters.  Add destitute villagers who are now fleeing from Edgewater.  Siding with the villagers will also have other ramifications in Edgewater...  Choices choices choices, can you stand by yours?

Why so Serious?

The Outer Worlds can easily be compared to the likes of Fallout when it comes to gameplay, which for the most of the time, that means it has rather strong and serious undertones.  The gameplay and mechanics certainly take most of its ideas from Fallout.  Where it does differ from the Fallout series, is in its storytelling and how it incorporates satire EVERYWHERE!  The story and dialogue choices, which are the heart of the storytelling and decision-making that really makes The Outer Worlds great.  But drawing too much from the tongue-in-cheek games like Borderlands, does make some decisions more difficult to make.  Not knowing whether the dialogue is meant to be satirical or seriously did creep into a fair amount of choices made during my playtime. Missions or side missions can be tackled much like in Fallout.  You can either try to talk your way through them if you have enough skill points on charisma and persuasion, fight your way through, all guns blazing, or try to avoid any type of conflict by sneaking around the enemies. Although the game tries to make it seem like these decisions have real consequences, unfortunately, they don't do THAT much apart from making certain factions like, or dislike you more which in turn will make them treat you less kindly when interacting with them.

More good than Bad

[caption id="attachment_5478" align="aligncenter" width="967"] The Outer Worlds_20191016111537[/caption] The above mentioned are the only slightly negative things about The Outer Worlds.  Let us start with the skills and upgrades and abilities.  In other games, you will find yourself dumping all your earned skill points into a few skills, such as strength, dexterity and vitality.  Skills such as chemistry and charisma are often almost pointless.  In The Outer Worlds, this is not the case.  Quite the contrary.  You can build an almost completely non-combat character that will still be able to fight wildlife and marauders, who don't like to reason but be able to almost talk your way out of any situation.  This opens up for tremendous amounts of replayability. The loot, inventory and upgrading system is another feature that really makes The Outer Worlds shine.  While there is a vast array of weapons and armour to loot across the many planets in The Outer Worlds, each item can be customized itself.  This will encourage you to try a host of weapons and find which work best for certain enemies.  Found a weapon that you really like?  No need to worry, weapons can be upgraded in many ways, damage, elemental damage and more, making even one of your trusty old weapons relevant throughout the game.

A friend in need

Any type of work is always better with a friend.  In the Outer Worlds, these friends come in the form of companions.  There are a total of 6 companions to be found throughout the game.  These companions each have a skill tree and skillset of their own.  Meaning each companion will be useful for different situations.  Are you the type that shoots before you ask any questions?  Pair up with a companion that has good charisma and you might not have to shoot quite as much.  Need someone with good creativity and lockpicking, maybe your companion can help with that! Some of the skills that your main character can learn have a passive effect on your companion which means you need to take great care when applying those skill points.  Not only can these companions be kitted out from head to toe, but they each also have their very own personality and back story.  As the story progresses and you find yourself moving to different planets, so the companion story arc evolves as well which makes exploring their story and missions fun and satisfying in their own right!

So Pretty!

Although I reviewed The Outer Worlds on the original Xbox One, it still looked wonderful,  colours are bright and vibrant, the worlds all look so contrast and the way each towns design and feel just add to the message they are trying to send is splendid.  Player models and faces are some of the best I've seen from a game of this type! At its core, The Outer Worlds doesn't change much from the recipe that Fallout has created, and that shouldn't bother many people, in fact, it should welcome a few of those who are hesitant about this game.  What does help its cause is the stellar performance when it comes to the story and the narrative.  Not only does it provide a great compelling story which I WANTED to follow and see through to the end.  It gives you tons of quirky and fun moments within the story.  To go with that is the brilliant cast of characters that you meet and come to love or hate as you go through this game.

Verdict

The Outer Worlds is easily the best and most polished game of its type.  It takes from other games in the genre and identifies stumbling blocks and strategically sidesteps them with ease.  The Outer Worlds also does not overstay its welcome, it is long enough to have you engrossed without boring you.  It might lack the sheer size of a title like Fallout but that is one of its greatest strengths, biting off smaller pieces and making sure each and every one of them is perfect! The Outer Worlds delivers a thought-provoking story that will have you laughing and taking on some difficult decisions within moments of each other!  A roller-coaster ride worth taking!  Could this be one of the best games of 2019...  Most definitely!    

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for the review content

 
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Its Harvest Time With Farm Simulator 2019!!!

YEE HAA ya’ll, in this review I got the opportunity to play Farm Simulator 2019 platinum edition and from first glance, I knew I was in a hayride of a time.   The opening scene of a man with his best doggo driving to the farm barn to retrieve the tractor for a hard day’s work, actually got me stoked to play the game, to say the least.  The menu screen gives first times the option of a Tutorial and yes many of us say to heck with the tutorial, but I got comfy and ran through them 1 task at a time, from learning to cultivate to seeding, fertilizing, harvesting and a great deal more, it really made me think the depth to the game was more than I initially thought.   Now fully farm ready I jumped into a career and was very relieved…I mean very surprised to find there were “difficulty” settings to help the first-timer and the seasoned farmhand, you have the option of starting from scratch, which is starting with NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH, and some start-up capital, or start as farm manager which is some land and some equipment to get you started, this of course was right up my alley.   So my 1st day started and I awoke to a bright sun and open land, I knew what I had to do, I hopped on my tractor fired up the engine and loaded my cultivator….this is when my OCD had a heart attack…. Slowly ploughing the land and MISSING THAT ONE FU…. *Ahem* that one spot and having to redo my lines, once I conquered this task I felt good and then loaded my planter….having little too NO idea I loaded the 1st crop seed and set out on my now clean lines….only to have my OCD incur a 2nd heart attack.  Now having my crops planted and the wait for the next part I had the chance to investigate the in-game menu’s and I learned that the game has a “stock” system which is all the mills/stations/etc. which are buying which crop/product and at what price, this gives you the opportunity to really make a clean profit by holding onto your produce as we will now call it, and selling it when the item(s) are in high demand. After much look into my pitiful balance screen which outlines all expenses and all income, it details animals and crops, machines and buildings, which helps you see what area is benefitting you and which are taking more resources than bringing in, I looked into another menu which was very interesting, this was the contracts screen where other farmers are paying for a specific farming process, such as $2567 to cultivate my land or $6845 to harvest and deliver to a select destination, this allows the player to generate income whilst waiting for their own produce to be ready.  By the time ide gone over the relevant screens my crops had become overridden with weeds….and no NOT the “special crop” kind the crop-killing kind!!! Armed with the knowledge of what to do…thank you tutorials… I was prepped and ready only to discover….I did not have the required equipment to do so, so I find the button which brings up the “buy menu” which is VERY well detailed and broken down into categories of buildings or vehicles or vehicle attachments and even trailers for transport, I found myself…. A little short on funds, now on your finance screen there is an option to make a loan of $5000 every time you press the button….but this leads to some serious repercussions…..like debt…. Ok so not SO serious but it will require you to pay interest on the loan until it’s fully paid back….which can eat into profits or savings quite quickly.   So I took the lesser road and allowed the weeds to grow….this greatly reduces the output of the field and less produce is harvested.  So I soiled away….no wait that sounds more like fertilizing…..err I Toiled away and generated enough funds for my new weeder, yay, now fully equipped for the next run I began the process at this point was my 3rd run on this specific field, this field would now require lime, and of course, a new piece of equipment to distribute it over the field.  My funds dwindling as each new machine arrived and between jumping between my harvesters and my tractors things got abit…..chaotic.  BUT have no fear the game gives you an option when inside a machine to hire a worker who will complete the task that the machine with current equipment attached is assigned to, I shed tears of joy at this point, now with 1 worker plowing and another planting, I again had the time to investigate another avenue.  Animals, yes folks, chickens, cows, horses, sheeps…sheep? Those Woolly things that give me the heebee jeebees, so I decided to dip my toe in and buy a giant chicken farm with 200 chickens…… seemed simple enough, just had to feed them wheat and let nature take care of the rest.  Suddenly a cardboard box popped up on the side and I was so excited, enjoy the small victories in life people, I grabbed the box and systematically started to fill up my shed space until I had the means to transport the boxes to a buying location….bought myself a little pick-up truck or Bakkie to our local ouens, and loaded box after box until I was full up and I checked my stock screen to see who would give the best price and set out, only to shatter my dreams, not knowing that you kinda have to wait until the box was FULL of eggs…instead of 50 boxes containing 1 egg. I'll draw my personal vendetta with this game to a close and give you what you actually came for.  The game its self is visually appealing and there is a great sense of calm as you play, a great game to play after a 10 game loss streak, the in-game radio offers some really complimenting music from rock to pop and my personal favorite electro, which I kept playing all the time, the fields are yours, to the fullest extent that you can buy a plow and expand your fields, sell them, cultivate them or scrap them to make way for an animal pen, a bigger silo or a farmhouse.   And there wasn’t only 1 kind of farming either, you could tackle agricultural, livestock or even forestry each with its own requirements, be it food or the appropriate equipment, livestock to have different needs, chickens need food and their food bowl cleaned from time to time, horses need to be trained which increases their worth.  So the player is given options and is not bound by 1 they can have multiple and spread their wings far and wide and really enjoy the multitude the game has to offer.     The options menu gives you control over a vast array of options like volumes and the norm but also some options also allows you to speed up time, switch off certain problematic aspects of the game like the need to weed the fields and stop crop destruction, and yes for those of you reading this, I, in fact, did drive over my field look back and want to jump out my window, this allows the player to enjoy an even simpler experience where you just want to farm and make money without too much hassle.   There is a wide variety of branded vehicles to choose from and there is a piece of equipment to suit your need, you can buy a very basic cultivator which covers only a small area, to a highly sophisticated one that basically plows the whole planet in 1 go, which is nice as you can start and finish a process quickly and minimize time wastage and maximize profits sooner, there is also a feature which allows you to lease a piece of equipment instead of buying it, this allows you to use it for its intended purpose without it costing too much or if you just need a quick trailer rental to take produce to a destination.   Some of the equipment can be customized, with colors or bigger/smaller wheels, a bigger engine or even special attachment arms for wider dispersal, this has a small price tag to it but getting the right equipment for the job can save you more in the long run.  The weather too has an impact on your farm, like that you can’t harvest during the rain which can be both beneficial and more so aggravating as your harvest and cultivation period gets delayed until it stops.   Above all the main features there are some well-placed details like the miscellaneous section where you can buy a high-pressure hose to keep your machinery clean, you can buy decorative items like sheds and more which adds those final touches to really make your farm a farm, and my favorite and it was worth every penny….bought a dog house WHICH CAME WITH A DOGGO!!! That was the clinching factor for me, me and my doggo lovingly named “Sprrriitz”, tended to our farm with love, care, and tennis balls.   The Multiplayer option is also quite entertaining, I mean what's better than farm shenanigans with your buds? Draw crop circles, have tractor races and harvesting competitions!  Bring your friends and really turn a profit, as many hands make light work, I Think we the EAX team should take a swing at this….I can’t promise much farming will be done but I can guarantee with undying certainty that there will be countless laughs and mistakes……I personally will see to that (insert evil grin meme here).   The game starts off a bit slow but as you buy more and expand the game becomes busier and busier as you try to manage all your fields, animals and equipment, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and will continue to play it. And once I’m a master of my craft ill start from scratch and switch on some of those options and test myself…….so never….but I digress, the game is visually stunning and the ever-present sense of peace and tranquillity really allowed me to get into it without much struggle and I would recommend it ONLY to those with patience…..as this game is all about taking your time and going through the full harvest cycle to reap the best quantity of crops you can.  To my loving wife whom I made watch me play, to get an outsider's opinion, thank you, your ideas and planning really helped me get the best management out of my farm…and your constant laughter at my failed planter lines never ceased to fill me with unbridled rage and torment.  But you complimented the game's beauty and simplicity, the diversity and the freedom to make the choices that you want to make.   Would I recommend the game? Yes, would I say it’s for everyone? No, can I honestly say I enjoyed it? Without a doubt and lastly, does it have re-playability? Undoubtedly.  There are many ways to improve and change, there is great satisfaction at starting from nothing and then being full-fledged with the biggest and best of everything, seeing the success of your hard work coming to light, and I loved the great sense of accomplishment after a full cycle and then getting that big pay-off.  Based on a lot of factors I'm happy to award Farm Simulator 2019… a strong 8/10 stars.   Now if ya’ll excuse me, I gots ta harvest ma taters….. AMANDA fetch me ma boots….its harvest time.  

Review content supplied by Apex Interactive

 
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Logitech G Pro X – Review

Finding the perfect headset is near impossible.  So many things to consider and boxes to be ticked.  Great comfort, with spectacular sound. Award-winning styling all at a fraction of the money you want to spend.  This does sound seriously outrageous, and it mostly is - until Logitech decided to make their G Pro range of mice, keyboards, and headsets.  Yes - like the name suggests, it is heavily focused on the esports scene, with many pro teams, like G2 esports and TSM, to name a few, it is only natural to assume that they are top quality.  But that same assumption brings the price into play.  If pros are using it, surely it must cost a kidney and your firstborn son - wrong! The Logitech G Pro X has come as a saviour to those looking to tick all the boxes, on a budget!  Take a read and see that the G Pro X is the headset we have been waiting for!

Design and build

  Logitech has been known to make real spectacular headsets.  From the space-age look of the 6 and 9 series to the more toned down 4 series.  The G Pro range takes some design cues from both these and lands firmly in the "perfect" zone.  Logitech built a gaming headset with the style and grace as if it came straight out of the 1940s!  The G Pro X screams class, without raising its voice.  The first, and a most obvious sign that Logitech was being serious with the G Pro X, was the exclusion of any RGB.  The flat leather headband is generously padded ensuring hours of comfort.  With the simple imprint of PRO on top. Beautifully rounded pill-shaped earcups with a matte black finish around the sides, and flat metallic discs on the ear.  Adorning these metal discs is a simple and smooth Logitech logo.  The earcups are attached to the headband by strong, solid metal arms which hive the earcups more than enough movement to ensure very good and comfy fit over and around your ears. Logitech fits these earcups with leatherette as a standard, but provide microfibre alternative if you prefer them.  The microfibre ear cushions are very soft and comfortable and can easily be used as the default ear cushions.  For those who are familiar with the Astro A40 and A50, the ear cushions are exactly the same.  The leatherette cushions, however, are spectacular, not only do they feel really good on, but they also improve noise cancellation tremendously.     Looking at the G Pro X you will instantly see it to be a premium headset, picking it up confirms that.  It does have some weight to it but even after long hours of gaming they never seem to feel excessively heavy.  The clamp of the G Pro X does, however, feel rather tight at first, but after a few hours of tuning the fit, they become so snug that you forget you have them on.

Features

The biggest feature that the G Pro X brings to the party is the recent inclusion of Blue Vo!ce technologies!  For those not familiar with Blue Vo!ce, they make some of the best freestanding microphones around.  With Logitech acquiring them it was only logical to include their tech in the new Pro headset.  When using the DAC USB converter to connect to your PC, you will be met with the Logitech G hub.  A smart hub that controls and syncs all your Logitech devices.  Selecting the G Pro X will allow you to tweak nearly every aspect of your headset.  Firstly, the Pro X now boasts surround sound.  Virtual surround sound has long been debated and personally I have never found one that truly works, until now.  To set it up you will listen to a sound clip showing you all the different channels and allowing you to turn each of them louder or softer depending on your preference.  Amongst other options are, selecting the type of room you use the headset in and adjusting voice chat and game mixing.     Another great feature is the equalizers.  Logitech, being esports conscious, has given you the ability to download the equalizer presets from some of your favorite Logitech sponsored esports athletes.   If you are struggling to find the right mix for Dota2, or need that extra edge when it comes to CS: GO, there will be a preset equalizer for that!   And if none of them work you can create your own and upload it so others can use yours instead. Finally, we come to the main feature.  The new microphone.  First off, the G hub gives you a feature to record a small voice clip of yourself.  Then it lets you free with all the Blue Voice presets and knobs to play with.  It has preset settings for a few major presets such as streamer, broadcaster, etc.  If you need to sound beefier, there is a preset for that, needless background noise, there is a button for that.  The options are virtually endless.   In all honesty, the microphone quality is so good that I am envious of the people in my party.  Speaking to a person in real life sounds worse than this! Don't forget about the wonderful carry pouch they supply, for when you need to take your G Pro X on the road!  

Sound

At the end of the day, headsets are not defined by the way they look or the features they possess.  They are judged on their audio capabilities.  The G Pro X uses a 50mm driver that is used across most of the Logitech and Astro headset range.  But something sets this one apart.  I am an Astro user myself and it has always been my benchmark to which I compare all my review headsets.  Nothing has quite matched it, until now.  The G Pro X is easily the most accurate sounding headset I have ever come across.  It is able to blast you away with deep, punchy bass, deliver crisp and clear mids while never skipping a beat in the highs.  Most headsets struggle to deliver all 3 of these levels without having them either drown each other out or wash into each other.  Using Pro X during R6 Siege matches proved to be an unfair advantage allowing me to accurately pinpoint enemies behind the wall by means of their footsteps.  Sure other headsets can do that as well, but the Pro X gives you as a player so much confidence in your sound that you can confidently wall bang enemies.  This explains why most of the top tier pro teams use these headsets.     During games like Apex Legends and Destiny 2, I was equally impressed with how even though there is utter chaos on-screen, the sounds are precise and clear and every crack of a bullet and pin-out of a grenade can be distinguished!  The only place the Pro X does become more "normal" is when it is not being used in conjunction with the Logitech G Hub.  Using it while playing Xbox did not show up its faults, more so, it shows you that the headset is decent without the magic software.  Still delivering top-notch clarity and distinguishable tones but unfortunately no Blue Voice mic.  

Verdict

If you are in the market for a high-end PC headset, there is without question, only one option.  The Logitech G Pro X!  It is the best headset I have ever used.  Period.  This statement does come with a few T&Cs.  If you are planning on using it across multiple platforms it becomes slightly less amazing but still a viable option. The G hub does provide a lot of the magic, but even when using it without it the comfort, sound clarity and general all-round quality can not easily be matched. The comfort and build quality is phenomenal and you will spend a lot more on a lot worse quality headset if you go elsewhere.  For some, the lack of wireless will be a deterrent, but wireless also means a huge bump in price.  At R2499 the price is perfectly poised to be a great seller!  If you are a content creator or streamer the blue mic technology should be a big drawing card.  Being able to adjust every aspect of your voice to your viewers can truly make the difference between a good and a great stream.

If you are looking for a new headset, even if you are not, the Logitech G Pro X is the headset you haven't realized that you need!

   

Special thanks to Logitech for supplying the review content

     
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Trine 4 – Review

2D scrollers have never been high up on my list of games I have to play.  Thinking back, the only 2d scroller that really got my attention was Jazz the Jack-rabbit, and Duke Nukem 2D ( damn I am old).  Since then my focus has shifted, games like Doom and the original call of duty and medal of honor arrived and blew our child-minds.  Gran Turismo 2, Final Fantasy and a whole host of games and generation of consoles and games came and went.  2D scrollers were a thing of the past, weren't they? No, a wide array of scrollers were still being made.  Great ones as well.  Hence, when Trine 4 magically appeared in my inbox (thanks Apex) I met it with a strange sense of dread and excitement.  Dreading that I was jumping into the fourth installment of a series I knew nothing about.  But excited to see what the current standard of 2D scrollers was like comparing to Jazz and ol' Duke 2D. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRvbVZNqkA4

The Knight, Wizard, and Thief

If you are like me, new to the Trine series, Trine puts you in the boots of 3 playable characters.  Each with their own unique abilities.  You will need to utilize each of the character's abilities if you are to make your way through the ever-changing puzzles.  The knight has a shield which he uses to deflect incoming projectiles as well as reflect light.  His trusty sword can break objects as well as slay the troublesome enemies you might come across.  The Wizard can conjure up a box that can be used for climbing onto or hold mechanisms in place.  The Thief, equipped with a bow, can shoot 3 types of arrows as well as connect ropes to rings as well as to the boxes the wizard conjures.  Using these abilities and your wit, you need to overcome the puzzles Trine throws at you.   Trine 4 predominantly focuses on using the 3 characters and their abilities to solve puzzles.  Using the thief and wizard, predominantly, you can solve most of the puzzles laid out before you.  On the odd occasion, you might need the knight to reflect or deflect things that block your path.  There are however a few combat stages that are scattered across the stages.  These, unfortunately, do nothing for the game and I found myself wishing them to be over rather than enjoying them.  They are also rather straight forward.  Simply select the knight and bash and deflect until you have defeated all the enemies.

A happy and lovable place

  Trine 4 has the most beautiful and vivid maps and areas that I have come across in a long time.  The forests, caves and even dilapidated castles are all spectacular and lovely to see.  Even though it is a 2.5D scroller, the backdrops feel alive and vivid.  From the birds flying overhead, or the spiders and other animals crawling past in the background, all seem so natural.  This gives Trine a wonderful sense of fantasy, much like I felt while watching the Harry Potter series.  A sense of a truly living world happening around you.  To add to this lovable and enjoyable setting is the way the game challenges you but without frustrating you.  There are areas where you will get stuck for a few minutes but they do not hold you back long enough to get you frustrated.  I found myself enjoying the odd challenge here and there.  The respawn system is also extremely forgiving which will see your fallen comrades not stay downed for very long. While spending around 12 hours in Trine 4, I never once experienced a "game over".  Trine does not try to have you fail.  It does not need to keep you playing for longer by making you struggle.  It relies on its wonderful storytelling and fun, yet challenging puzzles to keep you hooked.  And hooked you will be.

Better with a friend

As if that wasn't enough.  You can also party up with a friend and have a second character, constantly, by your side.  This will see you fly through many of the puzzles but also have the game adjust itself to make it a little more challenging.  All in all the game has great replayability if you want to give it a bash solo, or with some mates.

Verdict

what really makes Trine 4 a great installment in the series is the fact that you need no previous experience or knowledge of the games to enjoy this one.  The story starts at a rather neutral point where no back story or history is needed.  For those who are not new to the series, there are many references and jokes that you will enjoy and relate to.  All in all, Trine 4 is a game I didn't know existed, yet after playing it, I am really happy I had the chance to.  Trine  4 is a happy and fun experience that will eat up time and leave you with a smile on your face and a happy heart. If you want to spend some time with a friend and take a break from the grind of the mainstream shooters or competitive racers, Trine 4 is what you need to wind down and have some casual fun!  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review copy

 
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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.

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FIFA 20 – Review

Another year means another installment of many titles.  Games such as Madden, NHL and even Call of Duty come to mind.  Many of these titles have already captured their audience, be it recently, or over decades of titles.  Amongst these are many that simply don't reinvent themselves.  Soon these titles start to carry labels like "reskinned".  Call of Duty is one of these titles have come out in a big way with Modern Warfare, hoping to shake the feeling of paying again for a game you bought last year. To some, the FIFA franchise is the same.  Not really changing things up year on year.  But let's be honest, football doesn't change.  It has been played for many years and apart from new leagues and new stars, the game has not changed.  So for FIFA to be innovative they have to look at tweaking mechanics and making it more realistic.  Which they have done a great job of over the years.  With yearly updates and tweaks to dribbling and defending and even contesting, FIFA has kind of reached a pinnacle.  Then came "the Journey"!  Creating a story mode for a sports game seemed preposterous.  But FIFA did it and did it well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOsA3mc1xGw And so we come to FIFA 20...  Another year, another FIFA title, with new features and mechanics and an all-new Volta mode!

Football made for the street!

Let us get straight to the biggest addition from Fifa 19 to 20.  VOLTA! For those who are familiar with the old Fifa Street, this it's new version.  Unfortunately, the addition of Volta means we say goodbye to the corny, yet very enjoyable, The Journey.  Volta brings football to the streets.  Playing in a 3v3 on the roof of a skyscraper while doing moves that Messi can only dream of, really makes for fun times.  Throw in incredible celebrations and solid customizations and you have a great new mode to the FIFA franchise.  Volta comes with a few modes of its own.  Not only can you play kick-off style games there is also a story to it, albeit extremely cheesy, following in the steps of the Journey, but it also has a massive customization section.  Volta does not do as much justice to a "sports game with a story" as The Journey does but it does give some variation to the football genre.

Changes on and off the field

Fifa titles generally don't seem to make that many adjustments from one year to the next, Fifa 20 is no different.  Looking at gameplay you will be hard-pressed to spot the difference between Fifa 19 and 20.  Once you grab the controller though, you will feel the distinct change in speed.  Where Fifa 19 felt very quick all the time, Fifa 20 takes that but fleshes it out.  If you play with a team known for their speed on the attack, things feel extremely fast, and visa Versa. This creates a new style of ebbing and flowing throughout a match.  In Fifa 19 even using some of the fastest players around it felt like you could easily be reeled in.  EA took some good steps in addressing this and it feels like players truely feel at the correct speeds now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgQNOIhRsV4 According to EA they have also changed some of the ball physics to make the ball feel lighter.  In my opinion, it felt heavier and I struggled to weight my passes and kicks correctly.  This can very easily be changed in future updates if more people seem to experience a similar feeling.  Apart from that, the other tweaks are all rather minor.  Animations have been smoothed out and more variation has been added. Free-kicks have been tweaked and, at first, they might seem a whole lot simpler.  At first, it feels like all you need to do is point and shoot.  You will soon learn that doing that will have you shooting all over the place.  There are many factors that come into effect when doing this.  Wind, curl, and even the quality of the kick-taker.

Career and FUT

Career mode has been a little of a step-child for the FIFA franchise.  Not receiving much love over the last couple of years and never seeing any updates.  This year is different.  FIFA 20 sees the biggest update to the career mode in a long time.  Career mode is excellently presented, as with most things Fifa, pre-seasons, training camps, all to boost your performance.  Career mode now focuses on team morale more than anything.  Red faces next to player names will indicate their morale is low and green will show high morale.  Higher morale means better team chemistry means better performances!  Morale is directly linked to player performance and the way you and your manager conduct themselves during interviews. FUT is one of the main reasons most people play FIFA and this year sees more improvements in the form of more iconic players, more team, season and individual objectives and much deeper customization options!  

Verdict

FIFA 20 is once again a strong outing in the FIFA franchise, the addition of the Volta and the reworking of career mode does give it enough to be a strong successor for Fifa 19 which in itself was one of the best in the franchise in a long time.  Volta takes the place of the Journey, which drops a small part for a large new genre of football.  The gameplay tweaks are not all good in my opinion but tweaks are still changes which is what FIFA is known for, constantly innovating the footballing genre. FIFA  fans will undoubtedly still get this year's outing no matter the verdict.   All in all, FIFA 20 is a good title, maybe not the best, but with the new Volta mode, it does offer much more in terms of being a fun, hop on and play title.  

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for the review content

 
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The Surge 2 – Review

Sequels are the toughest games to make.  If your first game was a success, then the sequel needs to pull all the good qualities of the first installment and tweak the weaker ones.  On the flip side, if your first game was rather lack-luster, then you are expected to revamp completely.  Both come with large amounts of pressure to deliver.  The Surge was a great title from the company that brought us Lords of the Fallen.  Lords of the Fallen was stunning, but was possibly too hot on the heels of the Souls franchise and copied too many ideas from the likes of Bloodborne and the Souls series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaHTdLwiIPQ

Tweaks and changes

The Surge 2 does, however, make some good changes and welcoming tweaks to the system that was used in the original Surge.  Unlike the first Surge, you now have the ability to build your own character.  No matter what character you build and choose however, you still start the narrative as a plane crash survivor after the nanites from the first game escape.  Surge 2 is more of gameplay with a solid narrative-type game rather than a strong story with decent gameplay.  The combat has been tweaked and feels wonderful.  Each rig with its weapons and armor falls into a well-explained class and easy to grasp.  Looking for a light and fast rig, the Operator is the way to go, prefer being a damage sponge, Goliath class is your go-to class.  And if you are looking for something in-between, Sentinel is your class. These classes can be upgraded using cybernetic implants, accompanied by a host of high and low tech weapons, you are sure to be having some dismembering-fun in no time!  What really struck me was how each of these weapons and armor that is at your disposal has an effect on the movement and flow of your rig.  When you are using the Operator rig you feel like you can chain attacks together and bounce between enemies like Spiderman, but on the flip side, you can be sent flying across the battlefield with a single blow. Blocking and injectables are both new systems that improve Surge 2 dramatically.  The blocking and parrying system feels like it has been directly taken from For Honor.  For those not familiar with this system, it does take some getting used to but once you are comfortable, it is extremely robust and very rewarding.  The block and parry system works extremely well when using the goliath class with its extremely slow attack speed.  Guessing the attacking direction correctly will see you parry and counter which is extremely satisfying when done correctly. The newly added injectables also add a whole new dimension to the fighting dynamic.  Even though two goliath classes are identical, applying a variety of injectables can because both these Goliath builds to be completely different.  This increases the replay-ability of Surge 2.

Slashin' and Lootin'

Executions are very clever and satisfying.  As before, you need to target specific body parts and once you have done enough damage, you can dismember that limb.  The animations for these dismemberments are spectacular.  But what makes it truly great is the way it integrates into the looting system.  In Surge 2 most of your loot is collected from downed enemies.  Instead of this loot just being random, the way you fight the opponent will determine the loot that they drop.  Looking for a very specific piece of armor?  You will need to find an enemy wearing that exact piece of armor and dismember it.  This gives the player reason to go and hunt down specific enemies.  At the same time,it puts an interesting take on the looting and grinding aspect because it puts less emphasis on grinding until you find the item you looking for and rather has you exploring until you find someone with that item.

The story thus far...

Surge 2 has a straight forward story that is told the same way.  The plot has its moments that are interesting but apart from that the plot feels very direct and expected. As before the story is told by interacting with NPCs and picking up recordings that tell you more about what has been happening since the nanites have devastated the world.  The story of Surge 2 will take you to a wider variety of locales compared to the first game.  Instead of being stuck in industrial areas and cities.  Surge 2 will take you to a more diverse set of locales as well as have a larger variety of enemies to contend with.  It does, however, feel like Surge 2 put more effort into building more diverse and beautiful open worlds and left out a few touches on the plot and story aspects. With the story being told via NPCs and recordings that can be picked up, and the game allowing you to explore areas in any order, the story can become disjointed if you wander into an area and get plot details out of order.  When the dust settles on Surge 2, the general feeling was that the incentive of gathering stronger loot is more than what progressing the story was.  This is not a negative point but it is something to be aware of if you are looking for a more story-driven RPG.

Verdict

Surge 2 does not reinvent the wheel when it comes to Souls-like titles, but that is not what it was trying to do from the start.  What is does do well is the basics, it ticks the boxes.  At times it feels like that is all it wanted to achieve and that it's happy with being mediocre.  Then you get into the combat and the spectacular upgrade system, not to mention the way it makes use of a parry system that really gives the combat system life.  Surge 2 might not be a replacement game for the hardcore Souls fans, but it is definitely worth the time and hours that you will invest in it.  If you were a fan of the first game then it is a no-brainer, you will love it. Surge 2 is a good game, will it be placed along with greats like Dark Souls or Bloodborne, probably not,  is it the best of the rest, most definitely!  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for providing the review content

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Borderlands 3 – Review

If you are here you probably have an opinion on Borderlands already.  Either you are a fanboy or girl, or you simply hate Borderlands.  I have yet to come by someone who is on the fence about the Borderlands franchise.  Most people love it, but there will always be the odd few who swim against the stream and declare it to be utter trash.  I fall in the first group, I love Borderlands!  So how do you write a review about the game that popularized the loot & shoot long before the likes of Destiny and the Division came around, as well as the follow-up, although maybe not in release order, to arguably the greatest game ever, Borderlands 2?  Well, why would you change a winning recipe? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Av5Eyx3bGtM

And so it begins...

Borderlands is a franchise known for going against the grain, and the opening moments prove that.  Unlike other sequels changing from the predecessors, Borderlands is so confident in itself that it dares to be familiar.  This shows how confident gearbox and Borderlands are with themselves as well as this installment in the franchise.  And it is with good reason that they are.  From the opening moments you will be met with the usual Borderlands story, you are vault hunter, tasked with helping Lilith, a Siren from the previous installments, to find vault across the universe before the calypso twins (Anti-heroes and twin brother and sister) find them and DESTROY THE UNIVERSE(queue dramatic music).  Not to mention the utterly hilarious jokes and jabs that are strewn across the wastelands of Borderlands. This is part of what makes Borderlands so great, instead of changing up their whole game they keep the things that is loved by the fans and tweak the things that can only improve the experience.  The shooting has been completely reworked to give a more enjoyable experience as well as giving the movement system a more fluid feel.  You can now traverse obstacles easily.  Graphically Borderlands 3 has taken its unique cartoon-styled graphics to a new level.  Fewer reds and oranges and a whole lot more color!  Borderlands 3 is lovely on the eye with lots of bright new colors and even MORE weapons.  As if the weapons, you will be hard-pressed to find a game that has a wider variety of truely "original weapons" .  Ranging from your run-of-the-mill shotguns to seriously interesting alien tech that instead of reloading, you throw at your enemy and explode on impact.

Welcome to Pandora

Borderlands 3 will start you on the very familiar planet of Pandora.  You will need to help clean out all the bandits from Pandora, which is rather normal, but this time around you are not stuck on Pandora only.  Your journey to stop the Calypso twins will have you traveling to many jaw-droppingly beautiful planets.  It is not a simple fast travel from the one planet to the other either.  Your spaceship is an explorable and living area in itself.  Feeling a lot like the submarine that you spend time on in between missions in Wolfenstein: the new Order.  Every environment that you have the pleasure of exploring will provide vast amounts of loot as well as countless NPCs that provide hours of laughs if you stand around and listen to their dialogues.  Borderlands 3 also introduces us to four new vault hunters who are joining in on the fight Borderlands 3 also introduces 4 new Vault Hunters:

Amara - the Siren

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xASquu1qp0 The Borderlands official website describes Amara as: "Gifted with powerful Siren abilities, Amara is a renowned champion of the people and bonafide badass. Using her action skills she can Phaseslam the ground to damage nearby enemies and knock them into the air, Phasegrasp enemies in place with a giant ethereal fist, or even Phasecast an astral projection of herself that deals damage to everything in its path."  With 3 skill trees to populate Amara can use her elemental powers to crush opponents or throw them around like rag dolls.  Amara is perfect for any fight.

Moze- the Gunner

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfmfrpgXF3k Moze the gunner is best described as: "Moze is a battle-hardened former Vladof army soldier who specializes in mechanized combat. She uses an action skill to digistruct and climbs into her bipedal tank, Iron Bear, which has hardpoints suitable for mixing, matching, and mounting high-velocity Railguns, rapid-firing Miniguns, semi-automatic Grenade Launchers, flamethrowers, pneumatic fists, and homing rocket launchers."   Moze has a history of fighting bad guys, using her trusty Iron Bear mech she is able to hold her own in any gunfight even when grossly outnumbered and outgunned.

Zane - the Operative

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GIKVcgbXXM Zane the Operative: "Born into Pandora's notorious Flynt family, Zane is a semi-retired corporate hitman who always has a gadget up his sleeve. His action skills include a SNTNL drone that flys around and attacks enemies with a machine gun, a deployable Barrier shield, and a Digi-Clone that simultaneously distracts enemies and dishes out damage and which Zane can teleport to switch places with."  Zane comes from a notorious family in the Borderlands, having seen his fair share of combat during his time as a lone operative he can use his very unique skill set to take on whatever Pandora, or the other planets can throw at him.

FL4K - Beastmaster

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NG3HwDD40M "FL4K is a wandering robot who always brings one of their three loyal pets into battle to buff stats and attack enemies. Their action skills let them send forth dive-bombing Rakk, teleport Gamma Burst-irradiated pets through rifts, and even Fade Away to temporarily become invisible while moving faster and regenerating health."  FL4K is the perfect lone hunter, with one of his three pets that help in battle, when FL4K is around even the toughest hunters become prey.

Glorious Weaponry & Missions Galore

A common trap that games like Destiny and the Division fall into is monotony, the endless grind can become extremely draining and painful.  Borderlands avoids this by keeping a frantic pace of new weapons, enemies and weapon archetypes.  Another way that Borderlands keeps your interested is by making ALL missions feel important.  If your ECHO-3 device didn't label them as side missions there would be nothing to distinguish them from the main storyline.  These side missions will have your traveling to all the planets with the odd fetch and carry mission here and the but generally, these missions do not feel like fillers rather than crucial to experiencing the full Borderlands experience.  The less-favored missions can easily be appreciated and loved by the simple humor that Borderlands throw at the topic. Gearbox was also very proud to state that they boast " 1 billion guns", they might have crooked the books slightly by giving nearly identical guns a different name and slightly tweaked stats.  But what they have done well is to give each weapon manufacturer a distinct feature.  Vladof guns have 2 different firing modes, the guns that the children of the vault don't need reloading they overheat and need to cool down.  All of these tiny elements help to sell the illusion of an endless amount of weapons to find.  Borderlands 3 takes it a step further, Each weapon has its own character, whether you have your revolver hammer cooking or the chatter of the assault rifle as it sprays lead, or the red hot barrel of your shotgun after slaying a team of skags.  These little things make you appreciate what Gearbox and Borderlands 3 have achieved with this long-awaited installment.

Friend or Foe

Borderlands has always been known for the wonderful split-screen action and endless hours of looting and shooting you can have with a buddy, or 3.  Borderlands 3 is no different.  When you join up with a buddy online, the party leader can choose whether loot is evenly shared amongst each other, with each player only seeing his or her own loot, or it can be a free for all, fastest looter wins.  Borderlands even jokes about that!  Everything is lighthearted in Borderlands.  There are also a couple of new modes : Mayhem mode, which is a wave-like mode where enemies become increasingly tougher with the reward of increasingly stronger loot.  True Vault Hunter mode (the new game plus) and circles of slaughter (true horde mode) and Proving grounds which resembles Diablo 3 rifts.  With all these modes that can be played solo or with friends as well as taking them on with each of the 4 vault hunters, you will be playing Borderlands 3 for a long time to come!

Verdict

If you are a Borderlands fan, you probably already have this game and you are neck-deep in the action.  For those who are not yet captured by the Borderlands franchise, Borderlands seems like a light-hearted game that doesn't take itself too seriously.  And on the outside that is true.  But underneath that smug exterior laced with on-the-nose humor is a very VERY, if not the greatest loot&shoot franchise ever.  Borderlands 3 takes a known and loved formula and improves on something that seems perfect. Borderlands 3 ticks all the boxes.  Great story, extremely loveable characters, humor that you will not find in any other game, original mechanics and gunplay, stunning graphics and hours and hours of mayhem and fun!  Why should you buy this game? Easy, there is no reason you shouldn't!  

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review content

           
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The Battlefield we all wanted... But it's COD   As an avid COD fanboy, this has to be the most refreshing game I have played in a long time. With a rise of jetpack gameplay that went three years strong, we finally get propper boots on the ground with the satisfaction of customization (see later on) on your weapons. Don't get me wrong, COD WW2 and BO4 was nice, but very limiting and got stale real quick.

Cross-play, FINALLY

With the introduction of crossplay, I can definitely say, this is balanced from a PC players experience, BUT. Console aim assist is STRONG. Coming from console to PC, I can clearly see why they need it, but I do not agree with the snapping on to the head, this is something that might need to be fixed as I saw many examples of skilled players abusing this. Que times will most definitely be down. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wETBUY86Fy4 With the introduction to the bigger playlist, I can say that the balance between chaos and fun is PERFECT on the 20-man domination game mode. Going through all the different playlists by simply ticking a few options is very refreshing, I really hope this carries over from the BETA. As for the "Battlefield" game mode, this is the most chaos I have ever seen in my life, but it works. But ultimately, Ground War feels like a dollar store version of Battlefield 4. As for the competitive future of the COD franchise, this will be very interesting. I love the Cyberattack game mode, this has a lot of room for growth especially when you can revive your fallen brothers in arms. This mode will punish you for your mistakes, but won't be rewarding your opponent's luck, so no more cheeky cross-map 'nades, you'll be right back on your feet. This is a very refreshing mode other from Search and Destroy and personally I hope this mode takes off. With the introduction of the 2v2 game mode, I can most definitely say this will be my favourite playlist and has so much room for growth with 3v3 and even 4v4 added at a later stage. Close quarters combat combined with having to rush to pick up a weapon can be so rewarding due to having to work with what you have. Adding on these game modes, the realistic mode feels like a reskin of normal hardcore mode all players are familiar with.

Near-perfect BETA?

Yes, this is a BETA. This has to be the most well-rounded BETA I have played in a while. Apart from the weapon balancing issues, there is not much to complain about. The versatility you get with gun customization can be very rewarding and satisfying, but the cons are just as heavy as the pros. Customizing your gun to your playstyle feels very fitting in this field of play. We as a community have been very vocal about how we feel about our games and I definitely feel the developers have heard our frustrations, this is their answer, and I love it. The modern marvels of competition, it only benefits us as the consumer and forces the market to step in the right direction, so if our hardcore fanboys can stick together and simply show the developers we will play the best games and stop being loyal to empty promises, we will change the gaming industry and bend it to our will. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmMmR3cFH24 Stay tuned for the full review at launch. Review by Jason Cloete
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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.
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Razer Blackwidow Review

When playing PC games, peripherals are your tools.  A good headset can mean the difference between hearing the footstep of the guy coming around the corner.  The mouse can get your crosshair centred onto that headshot before you get to be on the other end of the scope.  And lastly comes the keyboard.  Often overlooked as the "lesser-needed" tool.  Surely a regular standard keyboard can do the same as what the gaming, mechanical, branded keyboards can do, right? Razer is no novice when it comes to making gaming keyboards.  The Blackwidow itself is not the first of its namesake either.  The Razer Blackwidow has enjoyed being one of the top mechanical keyboards around, for a fair amount of time.  Instead of accepting their design, Razer has kept on improving, striving for perfection.  Have they achieved it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zujjicJ-qTo

The Good

First things first, the Blackwidow, is different from its brothers, the Blackwidow Elite and the Blackwidow Tournament edition.  Apart from not hitting your wallet as hard, you will be hard-pressed to tell them apart at first glance.  What really has made the Blackwidow series a firm favourite is its styling.  It has a rather understated design with nothing flashy or that screams GAMER.  At first glance, if you don't notice the Razer logo, you might mistake it for a regular office keyboard, boasting a Numpad and nothing else out of the ordinary. The Blackwidow only shows its true colours, pun intended, once you turn on the Chroma.  And with the addition of all the new features to the Synapse 3 software, Chroma has no reason to be restricted to only a keyboard or a mouse.  Your whole gaming- rig and room can now partake in the Chroma effect.  With the addition of Philips Hue, home integration is a reality when gaming, add in the game integration with games such as Apex Legends enjoying integration as a standard, and Chroma becomes fantastic The Razer Blackwidow is a fan-favourite for good reason.  it has fantastic build quality, feeling solid and well built.  Razer also puts its green switches to good use in the Blackwidow, stating that it even has reinforced sidewalls on every key to ensure there is no wobble when pressing down on keys.  The green switches provide a good balance between tactile feedback as well as being clicky.  The Green switches are also rated for 80 million keystrokes, so don't expect them to give up on you any time soon.  Typing and gaming both feel divine on the Blackwidow, keystrokes feel confident and strong under your fingers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffvneEPgPqk Another way Razer has marketed the Blackwidow for both work and play is the exclusion of the dedicated macro keys.  Instead, they use their very own Hypershift.  Hypershift allows you to assign any key of your choosing to a secondary function.  Don't worry if you have different macros for different games, the Blackwidow has onboard storage for a host of macros which you can simply flick through when needed.  If you are scared of losing those macros due to someone highjacking your Blackwidow and changing your fine-tuned macros, Razer even provides cloud storage for your macros.  This allows for quick and easy setups when moving between PCs or Blackwidows alike.

The Bad

But with the good comes the bad.  The Blackwidow has had time to refine itself and it has, very successfully, done so.  The braided cable has 3 options of routing which is nice if you have a less than normal setup, but what would make it nicer is if the keyboard had a place to store your excess cable.  If you are someone who travels a lot with your gaming gear a removable cable would actually be the best feature.  Another slight let down is the commission of the wrist rest.  Leaving the wrist rest of the equation does drop the price by a substantial amount but other gaming keyboards in the same price range can throw in the wrist rest at the same price. If you are wondering about the differences between the Blackwidow and the Blackwidow elite, here is a link to the review we did on the Elite.

Verdict

The Razer Blackwidow is a great keyboard.  It boasts great mechanical keys, paired with an underrated look which looks great attached to an office computer as well as a fully-fledged gaming rig.  Being subtle when it needs to be, and with a little bit of Chroma, becomes the RGB monster than Razer is known for.  Being the cheaper option to the very formidable Blackwidow Elite, whilst losing some of the extras of the Elite, does shape it to be a competitive mechanical keyboard in the sub-R2000 range.  Unfortunate to see the loss of the wrist rest, but adding this as one of your tools of the gaming trade will not leave you disappointed.      

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review item

 
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The LAW and YOU

What I CAN say….and what I CANT Hello fellow gamers, this is both an informative article AS WELL AS a direct and complete understanding of the LAW regarding Free speech & Hate Speech.  This is to help, those select few, know why you got that com ban, Perma-ban, legal warning, etc.  Complete removal of an account within EAX itself, Microsoft T&C’s, most (if not ALL) media forums will be the LEAST of your worries should you decided to test the boundaries of what you can and can’t say/do… so lets set the boundaries clean and clear and keep everyone safe. First things first, we in South Africa are protected by a bill of rights, 1 of which, is the Freedom-of-speech or Freedom-of-Expression, which allows you to do and say whatever you want within the following criteria:
  1. Freedom of the press and other media.
  2. Freedom to receive or impart (give) information or ideas
  3. Freedom of artistic creativity
  4. Academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.
Now the ugly side of the coin.  Hate Speech, this is a term used when an individual or group use the freedom of speech to a NEGATIVE effect from within the following Criteria:
  1. Be Hurtful
  2. Be harmful or incite harm
  3. Promote or propagate hate
So how can you tell the difference? A very clear, easy way to determine if you or someone else is using hate speech is this: if you are directly calling for, or yourself are causing harm or hurtful acts upon a group or individual based on ethnicity, race, gender or religion, etc then that is, in fact, Hate speech in which case you've broken a law and can be formally charged. Using derogatory terms is ALSO classified as hate speech, the Kessie Nair case is a very good example of hate speech, he is LAWFULLY being charged with hate speech on 2 counts:
  1. Calling President Cyril Ramaphosa the “K****R President”
  2. His social media posts prior to the racist outburst spurred the people of Chatsworth to engage in “sporadic acts of violence” with very racist undertones.
To split hairs down the middle acts of OR calling for acts of violence towards a certain group is hate speech which is a LEGAL cause for arrest AND imprisonment, this INCLUDES using of Derogatory terms. Let’s lay out what we’ve learned into 2 simple examples which will clearly show when you are using your freedom-of-speech and when you are using Hate-speech:  
  1. Freedom-Of-Speech
Person “A”: “HAHA I killed you more times than you did me, you suck at this game!!” Person “B”: “That’s fine, I really don’t like your poor attitude and would find great pleasure in never speaking to someone of your low caliber again” You are fully within your right to show displeasure (anger, disgust, etc) and express this towards your aggressor and nowhere have you insulted them as anything other than someone with poor sportsmanship and a very damaged attitude towards someone else's feelings.
  1. Hate-Speech
Person “A”: “HAHA I killed you more times than you killed me, you suck at this game!!” Person “B”: “fuck you, you K****R naai, I hope someone kills your family” The case in scenario 2 has 2 main factors for hate speech….1stly the racial slur and 2ndly the CALL FOR violence against the individual.  This is a very serious offense and is punishable by JAIL TIME should the court judge feel this necessary.   In some cases which I will state below the Penalty for the act(s) can be quite severe:   Vicki Momberg: Used a very racial slur (mentioned previously above) over 40 times towards a SAPS police officer and was fined R100 000 (one hundred thousand Rand).   Jacobus Kruger: Used a very racial slur (mentioned previously above) and was fired from his job within the SARS offices, to which he appealed and was immediately and without question found guilty in a judicial court.   These 2 cases are the "lesser" of the severity, there are countless others where people have been IMPRISONED, pending the offense and the severity of its nature.   The line between expressing displeasure and being hurtful is very clear and easily distinguishable.  And before anyone thinks that they found a loophole regarding hate-speech by not “directing it at anyone” even using hate speech in GENERAL on ANY SOCIAL MEDIA FORUM can be considered as being an INTENT TO INCITE HATE/HARM.   I will briefly provide clarity on "intent to incite", this is a term whereby an individual is making an attempt to provoke or promote another individual or group of people to carry out an act of harm towards another individual or group, this is NOT limited to physical harm, emotional harm is just as serious as physical harm.  In layman's terms, it's getting someone else to do your dirty work for you.   Nearly there people, finally we address the tender issue of “Context”.  By issuing a verbal slur at your so-called “friend” is not a saving grace from the law.  You may call your friend whatever you like (this is ASSUMING they are not offended or feel that you are belittling their character) in a PRIVATE capacity.  The term “private capacity” is a direct term in which ONLY THE 2 INDIVIDUALS are conducting a conversation, simplified this means that you send a message to 1 (one) person, not a group of people, not an online chatroom, not in an open-air discussion.  The issue of “Context: is very sensitive as you may call your friend a name, yes he/she may not be offended BUT someone else might.  This is a very common occurrence within social groups and I pose a personal experience in which the term “soutie” was aimed at myself, I very easily laughed it off as it was one of my close friends who said it, unfortunately, an acquaintance of another friend, did not find this funny and was immediately offended and began to retaliate quite aggressively.   I bring all these points to a purpose, the EAX Admins are tasked with keeping order and protecting our dedicated and appreciated players, irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.  We are tasked on very few occasions to bring down the hammer and remove select few players who forget that we are all human, we are all born of the same earth and we are all bound by the same rules and laws,  no one is above these laws.  And the Strictest of actions will be taken to those who take pleasure in belittling another human being for their own enjoyment.   The EAX admin goes through a due process of voting and compromise to try and benefit the offending player, a sentence is put forward and voted on and if majority fails the suggestion itself fails too until a majority vote is reached and a sentence agreed upon.  There is no process without proof, so please take care to record, or snapshot, screenshot, etc. as this is critical evidence when the hearing takes place “innocent until proven guilty”, is often the verdict as no proof is provided.  We cannot act upon someone’s word alone.   One last final note and this is not a hollow threat nor is it a scare-tactic…. We the admin AND each player are fully within their right to challenge an individual or group should a serious offense be made AND legal action will too follow. We will not tolerate ANY form of negative behavior and should someone feel the need to take action outside of legal boundaries then we the EAX admin will follow the legal requirements to formally charge them in an effort to promote a clean community and beyond our community a better country.   We are all Gamers under the same sun, let's not sully that with an ill-placed word or ill-tempered rage statement, consider the person's feelings or at the very least the legal action that can be taken against you.
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Razer Kraken (2019) review

The entry- to mid-range headset market is a crowded one indeed.  With the likes of Astro, Turtle beach and PDP flooding the market with their budget-conscious headsets.  It can easily become overwhelming and difficult to decide which one is for you.  Razer doesn't make this any easier when they dropped the latest version of their tried and tested Kraken series. I have reviewed the Razer Kraken before in its previous generation and I was on the fence.  It was decent but lacked a couple of essentials.  Let us see how the 2019 version goes about reclaiming current fans as well as tick a few of the unticked boxes of previous years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EerI8DPogkE

Design

Razer has a pretty distinct design and colour scheme.  The Kraken looks exactly the same as the previous generations.  Razer, unlike some of the other big names in the gaming peripheral game, are not scared to be bold with their designs.  The Kraken features bold and big earcups that stick out far with a bold Razer logo on display.  Did I mention it is VERY green?  Razer makes a very clear statement.  They make peripherals for gamers.  The Kraken features the same retractable microphone as in previous generations as well as the same thick padded headband. Build quality remains the same, which is not a bad thing.  The Razer Kraken feels strong and sturdy.  Sturdier than some headsets that fit into a higher price bracket.  Inside the box, you will find the headset itself, the cable with the inline volume control as well as mic mute slider, as well as a splitter for pc use.

Comfort

The previous Kraken that I reviewed had a few shortcomings when it came to comfort.  Razer did listen and they have made the earcups oval-shaped.  This makes a massive improvement in comfort around the ears.  They have also filled the cushions, which is covered with faux leather, with a gel-based foam making it fit the contour of your head much better.  The thick padded headband, as well as adjustable cups (up and down), helps to find the perfect fit.  With the Kraken being a heavier headset, the demand for a firm and strong headband is a necessity. The only letdown in the comfort department is the fact that the earcups do not have the ability to swivel.  This causes some troubles with finding a snug fit and also creates leaks which don't help when trying to achieve passive noise cancellation.  But, this can be solved if you do a few minor adjustments and find the sweet-spot in terms of position on your head.

Sound & Microphone

Ultimately, the reason for buying a headset is for the sound.  Being in the sub R1500 there is a fair amount of competition.  The likes of the Astro A10 and Steelseries Arctis 3 really set the bar rather high with wired headsets.  The Razer Kraken, unfortunately, doesn't come with a mixer so the mixing levels will need to be done in-game or via a 3rd party app.  The volume wheel sits nicely and neatly packed on the inline control and gives sufficient volume. The Kraken does a good job when listening to a wide variety of music.  Delivering punchy and deep bass which has enough oomph that you can almost feel the bass tones kicking.  Mids are very audible and allow for clear tones.  The highs are not that high and often they get lost and leak into the mids.  During times with less mid-range, you do experience the highs, but they are drowned out by the mid and bass tones. When gaming on PC, the same was experienced but this can easily be adjusted by simply applying an equalizer which then made the tone balance much better.  Unfortunately, on console, there are no equalizers to be used.  The Razer Kraken, however, does have really good spacial sound.  Playing games such as R6 Siege and Apex Legends on both console and PC.  I usually use an Astro A40 TR which uses an external amp, allowing for massive amounts of customization to try and use sound to the best advantage possible.  The Kraken obviously does not have all the gizmos the A40 TR has but it does a great job of indicating sound direction on both console and PC. The Razer Kraken retractable mic is nothing out of this world.  it does the job and it does it well.  It gives clear voice to your party without any frills.  The lack of mic monitoring is a letdown as most of the competition in this price range do provide monitoring.

Verdict

The Razer Kraken is a commendable and very capable headset.  It delivers good comfort matched with gamer orientated styling all while delivering superb spacial sound.  The sound spectrum is great but the highs can be a slight bit stronger.  Add in swivel earcups and mic monitoring and the Kraken is nearly perfect!

All in all, Razer delivers once again, keeping up their name as one of the leading names in gaming equipment!

 

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for providing the review item

 
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Greedfall Review -Xbox One

When it comes to RPG's, you are instantly drawn to the likes of the Witcher-series, or Dragon Age.  And for good reason.  They are arguably some of the best RPG's around.  Greedfall, and the developers, Spiders, decided to take a different approach.  Instead of trying to compete with the likes of CDPR, Spiders decided to go back to the roots of RPG.  Back to the Dragon Age-days.  Instead of being a completely open-world game like ESO or the Witcher, they opted for the semi-open world, which they are known for. Personally, I think this is a wise decision from Spider studios.  Instead of falling into the trap of being compared, they have taken a step back, allowing them to create their own identity.  After playing through some of the early hours of Greedfall, I was pleasantly surprised.  I was instantly taken back to the glory days of RPG's.  Where my love for the genre started, all the way back to childhood days.  From the start, you are met with deep story-telling.  The type that has you (and needs) your undivided attention.  environments that are beautifully crafted, although not as living as the Witcher 3.  Greedfall could very well be one of the hits of 2019 as long as you tune your expectations accordingly... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDnfDJ_T5ks

What is Greedfall?

Spiders does what they do best, worldbuilding, and the world in Greedfall is great.  Set in the discovery-era.  The muddy and moody streets of Serene, this first city you will step into, draws inspiration from the likes of Paris in the 1700s. After creating your character you will be met with a rather long prologue set in the streets of Serene.  It is here where you will experience many of Greedfalls mechanics and get a strong sense of what is happening to the people of Serene.  Lore can be found everywhere if you are willing to listen... Greedfall makes its intentions known from the first mission.  Get onto the ship for your voyage to the new world.  Sounds simple enough.  It is not, you have a few loose ends to tie up before setting sail.  The governor has not yet boarded the ship, still too drunk from the stupor he had the night before.  Time to put on your detective hat and find him.  Treading around Serene and asking fellow patrons is not a simple and easy way.  Asking the pub owner of his whereabout will lead you to either repairing the broken furniture from the governors rowdy night or simply pay to have them replaced.  This simple mission shows that Greedfall is not going to bombard you with "fetch and carry" missions or simplicities like other RPGs.  No, it has deeper dialogues where speaking too much or too little can change the perspective of the interaction completely.  Greedfall at its heart is a detective game and a rather good one! Once you reach the island of Ter Fradee you will discover that there is more than 1 faction trying to colonize the island.  The main reason for you heading to Ter Fardee is to find a cure for the illness that plagues Serene, as well as your mother, called Malichor.  It is not long that you will realize that characters are not divided between the traditional good- and bad guys.  Greedfall weaves a terrific story with tribes and factions having their own unique traditions and nuances and even views on actions and what happens throughout the game.  This goes an extremely long way to really flesh out the story and make it believable.  Greedfall also does not use the well-known morality system, meaning players will need to make choices based on their own moral compass.  This is very refreshing as sometimes the "right" for of justice is not always the justice that fits the crime. Greedfall is by no means a happy place like many other RPGs try to portray.  Greedfall takes on some heavy subjects in the quests which I have not often seen touched let alone peeled open as Greedfall does with its superbly written quests.  Some of these sensitive topics include colonization, religion and politics.  And without the moral system, these topics mixed with personal opinions and views can bring out interesting story arcs.

Visuals

At first glance, the graphics of Greedfall are tremendous.  Living cities with wonderful palettes of gloomy colours to match the general life at the time.  Opposingly, on the island bright and vibrant colours which match a diverse, but still realistic environment.  Taking a little closer looks will show some cracks in the graphics but mostly they are easily overlooked.  Facial customizations, yet limited, is good, the characters faces seem to match emotions when speaking and generally look life-like.  The main characters that is...  NPC's are beautifully designed but at times become repetitive in the use of outfits.  Some of the issues that do take away from the realism are that opposing faction soldiers wear identical armours. Facial animations certainly did impress when you compare it to the Technomancer, not Witcher 3 levels just yet but leaps and bounds in the right direction.  But alas, this is overshadowed but the rather clunky way the NPC's move.  Greedfall tried hard to give characters individual feel, by even introducing dialects and accents for the natives.  Although the voice acting is of really high quality and there is tons of dialogue to work through, there are times that the accent was dropped and picked up at a later stage. But as a whole, Greedfall does well to draw you in and keep you glued to the story and actions of characters around you, even if they do, at times, lose their "life-like" aspects to a robot-like movement, or lipsync being out.  All small things that a simple patch can fix.

Mechanics

This is the first aspect of Greedfall that had me doubting.  Yes, the Witcher 3 has changed everyone's perception of what RPG fighting mechanics should be.  They need to be fluid and smooth and free.  Greedfall is not that!  The fighting mechanics in Greedfall is quite the opposite, not quite as clunky as DragonAge titles of old, but still rigid.  Once you turn down the camera sensitivity, which at normal will have you spinning around the world at light speed, things are better. Greedfall does have a tactical pause function which allows you to queue up abilities such as healing, much like Final Fantasy (of old) and Dragon Age does.  The clunky fighting mechanics are less an issue and more a feature.  Greedfall made it clear that they want it to be a homage to old RPG titles, and that is what the mechanics are. Your team members, which you can swap out, all have unique traits in battle as well as in social environments.  Having the correct party member with you at the right time can be beneficial on both the battlefield as well as when trying to pull information regarding your next quest.  Each team member can be equipped with weapons and armor as well as trinkets etc.  Changing clothes do change your character's appearance aesthetically which is always nice. But one of the aspects that will have majority of RPG fans rejoicing is stats.  Everything that you can pick up or equip will have stats.  With stats comes proficiency, which Greedfall does by means of skills and traits.  Want your player to be better at blunt weapons, equip more points to blunt weapon mastery.  Want to be a better lock picker (which I suggest you focus on),  apply more points to lock picking. Combat, apart from the clunky mechanics is genuinely great and enjoyable.  Whether you are going up against a challenging boss or slaying grunts, combat is not something I found myself wishing would pass.  Instead, I enjoyed using my musket to etch away at armor until I could wield my sword and dish out a flurry of damage that even Zorro would be proud of.  Then there is a whole magic system that I have not even tried out yet! Your squad members, however, cannot be controlled much, they tend to do whatever they deem necessary which in most cases is not the needed thing.  This is a little disappointing in a way because this also creates a lack of a tactical aspect for Greedfall due to your squadmates automatically engaging the enemy when you are trying to sneak past.

Verdict

Greedfall might have its few issues, but these are easily corrected in a patch, what can't be fixed with a patch are the things that Greedfall has got spot-on!  It provides stunning narratives coupled with great stylized and visually spectacular environments that won't let you even notice that they are not completely open-world. If you are a fan of RPG's like Dragon Age, then Greedfall is for you!  It doesn't just give you the RPG fix that we have all been craving for too long now, but it exceeds that.  Greedfall is not merely a time-waster until the next AAA RPG comes along, no it is a fully-fledged title in its own right!  Spiders have come leaps and bounds from their rather poor showing on the Technomancer to delivering a great title in Greedfall. If you have time, and you like RPG's, get Greedfall.  Thank me later.  

 

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review copy

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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.
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Sea of Solitude

The vast majority of games these days tend to focus on big action or open-worlds and on the odd occasion, a gripping storyline.  It's not very often that these stories decide to touch on sensitive, and real topics such as loss, depression and other REAL issues.  Each and every one of us struggles with on a daily basis.  Maybe not one of the aforementioned issues as such but internal and VERY personal issues.  Mental health is a very real issue in all walks of life.  Many people battle this disease on a daily basis without letting anyone know.  Fighting their monsters alone. Sea of Solitude is a game that makes that phrase, literal.  Sea of Solitude is from a German studio called Jo-Mei Games.  With the help of EA Originals, Sea of Solitude is a haunting, yet brief, adventure through Kay's mind.  A place that shifts and changes from a spectacularly colourful seaside town to a dark and gloomy, monster invested nightmare.  These monstrosities and challenges are challenges that the creator herself faced in her own life.  What makes Sea of Solitude so hard-hitting is not the challenges themselves but watching them unfold.  The writer Anna Borges wrote about chronic and passive suicidal tendencies.  She said that it's like living in an ocean, but not like fish and sea creatures do, but alone with an expanse of water all around.  She went on to write that it feels like swimming through a storm.  Other times the water is clear and calm, but you are always in the ocean.  People in these situations have things that keep them going.  Treatment or support, something that keeps them afloat when they tire. To Kay, her lifeboat is that... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EDcrwDCYqo

From Darkness to Light

When you find Kay, she is in near-complete darkness.  The first words she utters: I haven't seen the sun in... I don't remember!  This sentence sets the mood for Sea of Solitude.  Not too long and you find your first spot of light.  When you reach it the world changes from the gloomy darkness to a bright, vibrant and happy place.  This is what Sea of Solitude is, as in life, finding a speck of happiness between the doom and gloom.  Not only does the light change the way the level looks, but it also changes it completely.  It will lower or raise the water level giving you access to other parts of the level allowing you to progress.  shoo-ing a few seagulls here, finding notes in bottles there.  Reading these notes shed some more light on the story of Kay, as well as the girl who came before... Sea of Solitude plays a lot like most third-person adventure games.  Blending platforming, stealth and puzzle-solving by means of environmental obstacles.  Kay is able to jump and run, she has a small wooden boat that she uses to manoeuvre through the flooded streets.  This boat is also her only safe place when she is in the dark world.  Another ability she possesses is her flare.  When Kay is lost she can shoot her flare, and it will guide her in the direction of her objective.  

Fleeting, yet lasting

Sea of Solitude is not extremely challenging, but that is not what it's supposed to be.  The game is very well designed and streamlined.  The story of Kay is told through a variety of flashbacks.  You might hear Kay and her mother at an ice cream shop discussing what her soon-to-be baby brother will be called.  Hear an exert from her parents fighting, or her brother struggling to find some attention he so craves.  All of these interactions in the form of a monologue helps to drive the story and keep the player pulling back the layers of Kays' story. It is always said that your actions and experiences shape the world around you, in Sea of Solitude, this is completely true.  As you progress and learn more about Kays' story, the world changes.  The experiences and traumas that she endures don't always manifest themselves subtly, the way they do is what makes it so impactful.  Many people in Kays' life are manifested in different ways.  Later on, Kay comes across a horrifying fish monster, or ghostly children or even a big buzzard flying overhead.  These are all manifestations of people and things that Kay has had to endure.  She also faces a monstrous version of herself, this being the way she sees herself.  Weak, bad and worthless.  But finding that glitter of light will make all the bad thoughts disappear.  

Verdict

Mental health has been touched on in games before.  Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice was lauded for taking such a big step in making it known with its dark and gritty tale.  Stories like these are normally personal and not easily obtainable or even effectively told.  Sea of Solitude is tremendously approachable.  The bright and approachable environment makes it easy to get into, and once you are in, the story will do the rest. What really makes this game great is, if you are willing to do some introspection, you might see even the slightest of a speck of yourself.  If that is the case, Sea of Solitude will multiply into something that when you reach the end, can look back and use as your own wooden boat when YOU feel like you might be treading water in an endless ocean.    

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review copy

 
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MSI Clutch GM60 -Review

Gaming mice, how far they have come.  Some of us might remember a more simple time. A time where if your mouse wasn't moving well you would open it, clean the ball tracker and off you went.  Those were simpler times.  Since then the technology has improved at a dramatic rate.  Introducing us to the optical mouse.  Microsoft might have been the leaders in that field, bringing us the legendary IntelliMouse.  Not only was it groundbreaking in terms of accuracy, but it was also ergonomically sound as well as priced perfectly. This was groundbreaking at the time.  But since then, other companies have jumped on the bandwagon and the technology has skyrocketed.  Not only has the sensor tech improved.  We have seen the move to mechanical switches, refinement of ergonomics to cater for left- and right-handed users.  Adding wireless and Bluetooth functionality, charging pads and the colour onslaught of RGB.  The big names in the mouse category such as Logitech, Corsair and SteelSeries has pushed the market to develop at such a rapid rate that it could be tough for new brands to step into the market.  MSI has decided that it wants in!  Can it claw its way into a very established market and fight it out with the big names?

Look and Feel

The MSI Clutch GM60 looks nice! With RGB under the left- and right-click buttons as well as under the logo, it does illuminate nicely.  So from a looks perspective, the Clutch GM60 does fairly well.  The feel of it is rather confusing.  Coming in at around the R1500 mark it is rather expensive.  That price would have you feel inclined to expect a more premium feel.  The Clutch GM60 comes with many swappable parts like side panels that click on with magnets as well as a swappable top cover.  The fundamental problem with them is they don't change the ergonomics of the mouse that much.  The side panels do help if you prefer to have the sides of your hand off or on the desk while working, but other than that it has no real point.  The Clutch GM60 does have a decent weight which is nice for someone who likes a slightly more meaty mouse.  Unfortunate that the weight cannot be adjusted like many others in its price range.  The swappable panels feel rather plasticky as well.  Making them feel more premium would go a long way to justifying the price. Then we get to the RGB.  RGB is not for everyone, so this section might be slightly opinionated.  The Clutch GM60 has 3 zones of RGB.  Featuring the usual 16.8 million colour spectrum. The RGB zones are all covered with a frosted type plastic making the colour softer. personally I quite like that.

Performance & Software

After some homework, we found that the Clutch GM60 is fitted with a Pixart PMW 3330 sensor.  This is a decent sensor, being used since 2016 on mice like the Asus ROG Strix Pugio and Evolve.  This sensor allows for decent DPI options and has respectable accuracy.  I personally use a Logitech G903 as my every day and swopping it with the Clutch GM60 I could definitely feel the difference.  But once again, we need to compare apples to apples, and when doing that the Clutch can hold its own rather well.  Pairing the Pixart sensor with OMRON keys definitely creates a strong and durable. The MSI software that accompanies the mouse needs some work.  One of the features that the other bigger brands have that really sets them apart is the ability to control everything from one app or hub.  Like Razer and Logitech does.  If you have multiple MSI devices, you can pair certain aspects of it and work it from the app but generally, the app needs refinement.  Everything works but feels clunky.  The RGB feature in the app, noticeably, lacks the ability to match the RGB with what is on your screen.  Unless we couldn't find it.

Verdict

The MSI Clutch GM60 is by no means a bad mouse.  Considering that this is MSI's first step into the gaming mouse section they have made a good first step.  Their biggest adjustment would need to be to find its own identity.  The Clutch GM60 is not sure what it wants to be.  Does it want to be a budget/entry-level gaming mouse.  MSI is marketing this as an esports focused mouse and it is not, but that is okay!  Instead of trying to compete in an already saturated market aimed at a small target market, they should promote it for what it is, a mid-level gaming mouse.  It ticks the right boxes.  It has customizable panels, removable cable, very capable sensor and switches, and it has programmable RGB.  Those all make for a more than acceptable and capable mouse. This makes it a really good first-step for MSI.  What they need to go and do not is focus less on features, as they did with the Clutch GM60, and focus more on their design and refinement.  Any brand can slap features on a mouse and call it good.  The Clutch GM60 feels slightly rushed and a case of accepting designs and imperfections because they were "good enough" rather than perfect.  But a brand like MSI, that is synonymous with quality, albeit, in other sectors, we can expect their next iteration of the Clutch series to be significantly better and probably rivalling the other big brands. A single sentence to describe the Clutch GM60: A jack of all trades, but (unfortunately) a master of none, yet.    

Special thanks to MSI gaming for providing the review hardware

 
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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.
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MSI Force GC30 Wireless Controller

Controllers, or as the PC people like to call them, gamepads, are not common amongst PC gamers.  Apart from the odd titles such as sporting titles like the ever-popular Fifa, some RPG...  Okay wait, many games are suitable for controllers.  So when MSI sent us the GC30 wireless controller for review, we were quick to give it a test on a wide variety of titles as well as comparing it to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One controller. Image result for msi gc30 controller 720p MSI is one of the biggest brands in the computer as well as peripheral game and with the GC30 they are branching into the gamepad market.  The GC 30 is the wired version with the GC20 being the wired.  Can the MSI controller take on, what has been argued to have been the greatest controllers around?  Well, let us find out!  

First feel

Image result for msi gc30 controller From taking it out of the box and holding it for the first time there is an uncanny resemblance to the Xbox 360 controller.  This is definitely not a bad trait to have seeing as the 360 controller is probably the greatest controller ever made.  This point also proves that the GC30 is smaller than the Xbox One controller.  The button layout matches that of the 360 controller.  It boasts two textured grips on either side which reside nicely in your palms when holding it.  At a quick glance, the GC30 can easily be confused with the 360 c0ntroller if it was not for the MSI badge that sits where the usual Xbox logo will be on the other controllers.

Build quality

The ABXY buttons act and feel the same as the 360 controller which means they are perfect, during our time spent with the GC30 no trouble or uncertainty could be felt when pressing the buttons.  One of the nice touches MSI has added is the ability to simply pull off the traditional D-pad button and swop it for a dish-like button, commonly found only on the Xbox Elite controllers.  This button comes into its own when playing combat games when quick combos are needed.  The stick length is also similar to that of the sticks on the 360 controller, which is slightly longer than those on the Xbox One controllers.

Functionality

Image result for msi gc30 controller 720pThe GC30 is a one-controller-for-all, not only can it be used on PC, simply using the default setting.  If you are an Android user the GC30 can be flipped to the Android setting and it will work with a range of games on your Android device.  The default setting will make your GC30 been seen as a native 360 controller on any Windows 10 computer.  Do you want to use the GC30 on other consoles such as Xbox One or PS4?  No problem, simply plug the wireless adapter into your console of choice and off you go!  Another big advantage the GC30 has over the competition is the inclusion of rechargeable battery straight out of the box.  This is one of the features that Xbox players have been calling for but Microsoft has never indulged in.  MSI, on the contrary, did!

Verdict

Image result for msi gc30 controller If a budget controller that can function on a pc is what you are after then the logical choice would be the Xbox 360 controller.  But if a strong all-around controller is what you are looking for, then the MSI Force GC30 is the logical choice!  Not only does it provide a wired and wireless option on consoles as well as PC, but it can also be used on Android devices.  Boasting a price tag around the R799 mark can be rather steep for some but a slightly steeper price does mean you will have a build quality that can match the likes of the 360 a One controllers  

Special thanks to the MSI Gaming for supplying the review item.

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When Kicking isnt enough.

Blizzard has created a new weapon to try stop cheaters in overwatch and it will surely bring light to some and major rage to others.  If the game detects a cheater, rather than eject the player and leave the whole team in a terrible position.....the ENTIRE match shuts down, Kinda like pulling a fire alarm, EVERYONE OUT!   Overwatch's director Jeff Kaplan announced the new system in the game's July Update video, saying "We will automatically shut down a match where we detect cheating is happening".  This might seem annoying as some people would see this as a loss on their record, however, Kaplan has pointed out that Blizzard will make sure neither team is penalized, even if you're on the cheaters' team you will not be barred from finding another game immediately.   The main gain of this new system is to ensure players skills rating aren't being boosted or taking hits and the game will simply be counted as a blip and won't appear on your record.  Its a vast improvement on systems where the game would be ruined by a cheater, leaving you with the choice of either leaving the game and facing the penalties of abandoning your team, or stay and face a dull game.  The cheater, however, will not get off so easily and will face very harsh actions taken against them.     This system may be what most games need, only time will tell, cheaters beware Blizzard is onto you
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Its your Destiny 2

Hello Fellow Guardians, i come bearing great news from the traveler.  Destiny 2 will be Free-to-play in September and it will be called Destiny 2: New Light. Yes, the game and a good portion of the DLC's will be made available such as Cabal Red War campaign as well as the Leviathan raids, plus all content from the Curse of Osiris and Warmind DLCs. It will also come with Gambit, all the Strikes and Crucible maps, and access to all destinations, including The Dreaming City, Tangled Shore from Forsaken, and the new moon destination coming in Destiny 2 Shadowkeep. So no-one will be deprived of much action once it drops.     However, it won't come with everything like the dreaming city missions, last wish raid, and so on.  So you would need to buy Forsaken to play them.  But a lot of samples will be made ready to entice us all.  There will be a custom made mission which is based on the intro to destiny 1 including your resurrection and 1st ship but past that its all brand new an not a remaster of the 1st destiny, and once this mission is complete you can head to the tower and dive head 1st into multiplayer with friends.  Exploration will be controlled through the steady unlocking of destinations so not everything is spent within the first few hours of play allowing players to be slowly introduced into gameplay.     And a really nice start to the drop will be player power levels will be around 750 but the exact number hasn't been confirmed yet but this will allow players to immediately dive into the latest content.  Bungie Wants all players to experience the game from 1st-time players to seasoned destiny guardians of lore and everyone together for what is sure to be a guaranteed must have.     SO all you guardians of the galax.....Guardians of the light if you can hold off on those itchy spending fingers you can pick up a truly beautiful game, one I know will bring countless hours, much rage and whole heaping hours of fun blasting your way across the stars.  And ill see all of you in the crucible.....ill be the one in the epic armour best guns and kick ass-iest everything.....by the boerewors stand....What? I just got this armor and don't want to get dirt on it.
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Feel like a samurai again

Kon'nichiwa dokusha or Hello Readers this weekend I had the VERY distinct pleasure thanks to APEX INTERACTIVE, to play the latest Indie remake title: Samurai Shodown.  And was very pleasantly surprised at the immediate liking of the game.

The game is a side scroll fighting game like street fighter but leaves its own mark on the classic take with its high paced and intense gameplay.  Sporting a good selection of fighters each with their own unique brand of weapon(s) from the timeless classic Katana all the way to.......a 7 sword wielding fighter, that's a lot of swords for so few arms but hey he makes it work pretty well.  The game offers gamers not only the unique story trail for each character but also online versus and even 5 levels of difficulty for the CPU.  The game has even given the few of us who "struggle" with these types of fighting games a training AND tutorial mode to give you the know how to enjoy the game to its fullest.

 The fighters have specials....Suprise, no not really but apart from your Haiduk......errrrr Lightning blade attack, each fighter can enter "Rage mode" and perform a REALLY impressive attack....if you can nail down that button combo.......don't judge me.  The game even goes so far as to give the fighters a way to disarm your opponent, leaving them not completely vulnerable but with less damage output.  You can recover your weapon or even while bare fisted.....disarm an armed opponent, so your never really out of the fight.  The overall gameplay is quite pleasing, visually stunning and the control pretty easy to master, the game offers a very well rounded samurai feel and with all the vocals and flying swords you will without a doubt be reliving your childhood movies moments, cherry blossoms falling in the background, two swordsman (Or women) face to face in an epic duel for victory.

So the big question....would i recommend the game and the answers is.....Hai watashi wa.....or yes I would for those without google translate.  The game is, in my opinion, a must-have for the fighter lover gamers out there, so challenge your friend or take on an increasingly difficult CPU and make your name legend in the sand garden of eternal destiny......

Watashi no kohiamanda o ubau.....errr. Wheres my coffee Amanda?  This is going to be a long day.... Kuso (damn).

Huge thanks again to APEX Interactive for the chance to review a sure to be classic

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F1 2019 Review

I know what you are thinking...  This is just a revamped version of F1 2018...  And you would be very wrong!  For a franchise that brings out a yearly release there is not that many things to add apart from the graphical tweak here, adding a new mechanic there, but Codemasters have had the mechanics and feel for their Formula 1 games down for a rather long time.  Being able to balance the harshness of a simulator without scaring away too many players, yet not feeling too arcade-like that makes the enthusiast uninterested.  What Codemasters did with Formula 1 2019 was much more substantial.  Not only did it receive a good rags-to-riches story to play in the career mode, it also included Formula 2 with a completely unique handling model to bite into and master.

Career mode

This is a leap forward compared to previous games in the franchise!  The career mode kicks off in F2 where a turbo problem has you lose a few positions and puts you in a situation where you need to either chase down your rival or let your faster teammate pass to do the chasing...  Your actions play a role in how your career mode will play out so choose carefully!  The F2 part of the career only spans over a handful of F2 races but gives you a good insight of what the F2 championship will be like, and from what I have experienced, the F2 Championship is very worthy and time should definitely be invested into it. After aligning with a driver academy, each of which pushes you towards a certain group of F1 teams, you will have the option of signing with an F1 team that will suit your driving style and driver attitude.  From here the Career mode is quite similar to the F1 2018 career apart from one thing, Driver transfers.  unlike other sporting titles, where players will transfer during pre-defined times of a season, F1 2019 goes along with the Fifa approach of having driver transfers and driver and team dominance mirror that of its real-world counterpart.  Gone are the days of drivers and teams being stuck inside of a predefined performance bracket, unable to change or adjust.  

 Senna vs Prost

https://youtu.be/ADzXRyDY5u8 Arguably the greatest rivalry in motorsports.  When Codemasters announced this as part of F1 2019, the ideas that came to mind were endless.  Reliving their rivalry through countless battles and situations could have made for great gameplay and some of the toughest situations which will really test the skill of the player like it did the 2 racers in real life.  But instead, Codemasters completely dropped the ball with the opportunity and decided to simply offer a measly invitational event where you run on-track completing objectives while Senna and Prost meander along 6 seconds off the pace, not much of a "rival" as the game toted it to be...  Wait, it gets worse, you only need to complete 3 of the 8 challenges to unlock the legendary cars that Senna and Prost drove.  Hopefully next time, or with future updates, the historic driver and car inclusion can be improved.  

Customization

The customization in F1 2019 is really strong, while it has an element of microtransactions, the majority of items are obtainable without spending any real-world money.  These customizations do offer a nice touch to career mode and really comes to its own in multiplayer.  It is always a good feeling when your custom painted car is flying and leading the charge in an online event.  Not only can you customize your car, but you can also change your helmet, gloves and suite as well.  A new way the game is trying to keep lobbies clean from all things nasty is the addition of a super license.

New to F1

Esports is another new addition and the portal for esports that can be found directly on the main menu will take you directly to the pinnacle of competitive F1 gaming.  Although there was not too much happening on there due to this review happening pre-launch it is sure to be a very popular section of the game.  Let's hope the ping does not affect us too badly.  The theatre and showroom are both new additions the one letting you review your automatically created highlights while the latter lets you bask in the glory of the current cars as well those from former glory days.   The Events area now boast weekly race events for which you can receive competitive points to use to purchase liveries and more.  Online leagues now become the perfect place to host your very own F1 league allowing admins to apply grid penalties and edit results while racers will get attendance ratings so you can see who your trustworthy and reliable drivers are.

Verdict

 

With good improvements to career mode, the addition of Formula 2 and a possibly strong esports scene along with the ability to host your own league, F1 2019 is able to take an already solid franchise and give it the step-up it deserves.  Codemasters have really applied improvements across the board, night races are spectacular and even the feel of bumps in the road creating nervous braking and hitting the curb too hard makes you winch as you hope your car is fine.  The only aspect that falters the perfect overtaking manoeuvre is the disappointment of the Senna vs Prost rivalry.  If Codemasters can salvage that, there is little reason it should be a 10/10!

 

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review copy

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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.  
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PDP lvl 50 Wireless – Review

Wireless headsets are something that most gamers all love until the price tag is shown.  We all hate when those annoying wires get in the way of your gaming, or they are too short to reach that comfy recliner you love to use.or just the mess they seem to create when trying to create the perfect setup.  Wireless headsets are by no means new to the market, with all of the big name companies making a wireless version of nearly every item in their headset range.  But their biggest stumbling block has been the inflated price they carry due to the wireless technology. PDP offers some of the best bang-for-your-buck gaming peripherals, catering for the budget gamer.  PDP covers a wide variety of items from controllers to headsets all at a fraction of the cost of other brands, albeit mostly wired controllers and headsets.

Design and build

Say hello to the PDP lvl 50 wireless headset!  Coming in at around R1800 you will be hard pressed to find a wireless headset for cheaper.  PDP has never created headsets that are there to attract attention, on the contrary, PDP headsets are generally sleek and minimalist-like and the LVL 50 is no different.  The all-plastic headset has a sleek and flowing design playing with matte grey and black to create a stylish look.  A sneaky gloss PDP logo can be found on each earcup.  Attached to the left earcup is the boom mic as well as the charging port, power button and equalizer button.  The right side earcup has the volume nob on it. No frills or fancy things happening on the Lvl 50, just straight to business. The build quality of the PDP is a catch 22 situation.  PDP is a budget brand and the build feels good enough to tick that box, but for R1800 you can buy a lot better quality wired headset.  Moulded plastic and some play in the movements and joins do create a sense that if pressure is applied it could break.  But comparing it to other wireless headsets, once again makes you look past these small flaws.  

Sound quality and Feel and other Features

  The PDP lvl 50 headset boasts 50mm drivers, which is a step above some of the leading brands who sometimes opt for 40mm drivers in their headsets.  The PDP lvl 50s do well during general use and have a pretty solid bass note, and acceptable highs.  The problem comes when turning up the volume.  Bass stays at a decent range but does creep higher than I would personally prefer, losing some of its "oomph" at high volumes.  Likewise with the mids and highs, at a higher volume, the mids seem to melt into the high tones making it tough to distinguish between them. The PDP lvl 50 headset does not boast many features apart from the main reason anyone would be looking at it, being wireless.  Being very barebones the only feature to speak of is the bass boost button that is fitted right next to the power on button.

Verdict

The PDP lvl 50 finds itself in a rather compromising position.  It is toted as a budget headset, and its build and features warrant that label, but its price does not match other budget headsets, yet, it is wireless, and in the wireless department it has the competition beat on price.  The PDP lvl 50 is the perfect option for the gamer looking for a budget headset that HAS to be wireless.  With great battery-life, marginally acceptable sound quality and decent enough build quality, the PDP lvl 50 is sure to find more than enough buyers    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review hardware

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Its happening people, Xbox Game pass meets Gold Live

From the looks of recent Microsoft activity, it seems that Xbox Game pass will be priced together with Gold Live very soon. Xbox Head Phil Spencer made the announcement that the Ultimate subscription will, in fact, be released for Xbox AND PC, more details will follow during the E3 Conference. A Reddit poster code-named "Siiddx" posted that the voucher itself not Only displays the image for Xbox but for PC as well the Xbox Ultimate pass offers both access to Gold Live and game pass as a singular payment instead of 2 separate ones and is scheduled to launch later this year. Also mentioned on Reddit posts are some of the game which will be available such as ARK, We happy Few, Forza 4 and hello neighbor. SO the ultimate subscription will drop for all Xbox players which I can only imagine is bringing immense delight *Insert high pitch scream here*, but it also opens up the door to the PC platform, so very exciting news which has us all waiting on bated breath.   COME ON E3, daddy needs a new game library fitted with full online capabilities, great games and another reason to ignore my work... I MEAN *AHEM*, another reason too....uhhhhh .....errrrrrr......Forget it YES ignore work. "AMANDA cancel ALL my appointments till after E3, possibly after that too....probably....just cancel everything"
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where have all the unlockables gone?

I recently dove into a really old box at home and BEHOLD.... MOTH ATTACK, just kidding, I find my old ps1 games collection, the nostalgia came rushing back to me and then made me think of something very scary. We play games and fall in love with armor sets, weapon mods and character skins but when did we have to start PAYING instead of PLAYING for them? Where are the "kill 1001 goblins to unlock this hero hat" or "drive on 2 wheels for 5km to unlock this new car"? No, we are all faced with financial ruin just to get that complete armor set that is purely cosmetic and leaves our landlord taping his foot waiting for rent money. We all understand and hate the concept of "pay to win" which gives players an advantage over others who lack the rich daddies or overcompensating parents with equally deep pockets, and many of us refuse to give in to developers greed and simply stop playing the game or play without the bought help and grind it like a legend. [caption id="attachment_4641" align="aligncenter" width="300"] My beautiful picture[/caption] I take R6 for an example this is a game which I believe in most part is still honoring the tradition of a good grind equals a good reward, you play you win or lose you earn points, get enough points BOOM new operator, new weapon skin or headgear, it does have some real money purchases for the elite uniforms but compared to what you can unlock with the points, its still a really good balance   So I ask when did we all become so eager to spend hard earned cash on cosmetics? And no ladies, not your "cosmetics" you all keep staying beautiful as you all are, where's the grind for the grand prize? where's the trick shot off 5 walls character unlock? I think its time to put down the credit cards and pick up our socks, give us something to PLAY YOUR GAME FOR developers instead of draining our pockets for inconsequential cosmetic gimmicks that you will simply change and expect us to do the same next  month.
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Setting The Record Straight

It has been said that due to "Harsh Circumstances and foul rulings" Team PUFF was "given" the victory over team DREAMHACK, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Here at EAX we pride ourselves on keeping things fair and balanced, we do not favor one team over another, nor do we "support" a singular team, we stand behind ALL our teams, from new entries to seasoned veterans.

And to further elaborate should one of our: real-life friends" be in a team which is questioning gameplay, player or even a specific instance the matter will be ruled upon by ANOTHER EAX admin member to prevent bias decisions and only truthful and honest rulings will be made

It is stipulated in our rules and regulations for each and every league that "ANY streaming of a match WILL BE DONE SO WITH A TIME-DELAY" and "Streaming may only take place should BOTH teams agree or is a final and an EAX APPROVED streamer is allocated".  We have, from day one, strived to provide a stream with a delay to eliminate any form of stream-sniping and with the new addition to our streaming roster we have been granted that ability, hence it was implemented with immediate effect. No measure to too strict or too loose to ensure all our teams are on equal footing, ANY and ALL infringements will be investigated and punished should it be required. Everyone is free to petition these rulings WITH the support of evidence. Infringements with extreme and generally immediate effects are Cheating, RACISM, SEXISM, Harassment and similar acts of misbehavior. Within reason the EAX Admin team will try to accommodate certain requests, and any kind of game changes made 30 min before the match is due to start is highly disruptive and often unfair, example map change or in the event of a scheduled stream, a change of streamer, people are asked well ahead of times and as a courtesy to them and their time, no change will be made whatsoever, so long as all rules and regulations are followed respectfully. We at EAX are not completely heartless and bans will be lifted (Pending reason for the ban) at a certain stage, were firm believers in 2nd chances but be forewarned, a 2nd infringement will result in a harsher ban up to and including permanent. No one is perfect and in the event that an EAX Admin has made a mistake, it will be rectified immediately and all punishments uplifted. So should you feel that this is the case feel free to question it but please support it with physical proof, Verbal begging and pleading will not sway rulings. And should you wish to lodge a complaint, as in our rules and regulations, please make use of the screenshot function of the infringement so we have proof on our end validating the punishment on the player or team in question. With great respect comes a mutual understanding and fewer fights and disagreements. Use your head and before you lose your cool and send a racist or sexist or IST-ist remarking, consider how you would feel receiving that kind of message. Let us all be mature adults and game on!
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McFarlane Toys Fortnite Cuddle Team Leader Review

 

To many, she is the mascot of Fortnite. With her big purple and blue eyes, that scar above the one eye and her sadistic looking stare. She was one of the earliest and skins in the game as well as one of the most popular so it wasn’t surprising when she was the first figure revealed in McFarlane’s Fortnite line. Now full disclaimer, although there are new waves within the line and so much more to come, these things cost quite a bit so that is why I’m only reviewing her now for our readers.

The Packaging

The packaging is simplistic but pops as it is covered in pink. The window display shows Cuddles, her gun and her pickaxe as well as her stand in clear view while there are product shots of the other figures in the line on the back of the box and some in-game shots of her on the side of the box. There isn’t too much else going on with the box though if you’d like to keep her in her packaging on your shelf it can work, though the box is a little big.

The Figure

This figure pops out of any environment, be it a shelf or in the bushes while posing for a photo session. Her hot pink colour scheme is complemented with white sections on her torso and shin-guards. She stands out about as much as a bobble-head pink bear would. Her fur is nicely sculpted and there are some slight shades of pink in them. The scar above her right eye is nicely detailed which shows the white under layer or her mask. The white on her belt seems to clash with the white on her torso as it is really bright which is a minor thing to gripe about compared to how good this figure looks. Her gloves are Magenta which just adds some spice to the whole figure. You’re getting a lot of pink with this figure’s colour but I appreciate the different shades of pink here and there just to add some variety. She comes in at about 7 inches tall making her 17cm.

The Accessories

Cuddle Team Leader comes with:

A Legendary Assault Rifle

Rainbow Smash Pickaxe

Cuddle Bow Back Bling

And a Base

The base is the same that came with Skull Trooper and is a standard with these figures. It’s a simple round black disk with little stilts that fit into the peg holes in the soles of her feet. It has Fortnite engraved on it too. There’s not much to it and it really is just there to help her stand upright on the shelf. The Assault Rifle takes the shape of a SCAR. It looks like it was pulled directly from the game. The paint is clean but simplistic. There’s no fancy little bits and pieces, just a gun coloured in cream paint with black edges. The Cuddle Bow Back Bling is a small solid black bow with a little peg to fit into her peg hole on her back. The peg is a little big though and it takes a lot of force to stick it into the hole (haha) but once it’s in there it’s a tight fit. It’s a nice touch although it isn’t all that much. Then comes her Rainbow Smash Pickaxe which is just wild. It’s a lama with a horn like a unicorn which is one of the most iconic pickaxes from the game. The light blue fur on the unicorn is nicely sculpted and the purple main looks like a Mohawk more than anything else. Words can’t describe how crazy this thing looks. It is a bit top heavy though so making her hold it in some positions can be a little tricky. I have noticed some bend in the pickaxe’s pole though, being a softer plastic it came slightly warped out of the packaging and even after I used the hot water/hair dryer trick it still looks a little skew to me. But other than that it looks great.

Articulation

  Cuddle Team Leader is really flexible. Though on my figure at least there are some joints that are a little too loose, namely her left shoulder where the shoulder cap keeps shifting too far in but this feels like something that is only on the figure so more of a Quality Control issue, every figure line has those.

But other than that she comes with a good range of motion:

She has a joint in the head which can be pulled off in case you’d like to put another female head on her for an unmasked version. I’ve seen people slap a Harley Quinn head on there. She also comes with a ball joint at the base of the neck

There’s a barbell or dumbbell (I’m not sure which name is the correct one) joint in her shoulders with a shoulder cap to hide that a little as well as a hinge that goes from that into her shoulder to add rotation.

Double jointed elbows and knees

Swivel at the biceps and wrists with the wrists having an extra hinge

Ball joint in her mid torso and another one in her waist so she has a lot of movement going on in her torso.

She has hinges at her legs as well as a swivel/hinge at her ankles and toe articulation.

Final Thoughts

It’s one hell of a good figure. It pops where wherever she goes. She has a unique look and a great range of movement. She’s by far my favourite out of my Fortnite collection so far (I only have three).

She’s also a well sought after character amongst the Fortnite community.

She can fit in any situation when it comes to photos, she can fill in as filler or be that crazy serial killer stalking other characters in the bushes. After all, she is a homicidal lady dressed as a pink bear. Or she could just go out on a picnic with some characters. I’ve had photos of her forcing dishwashing liquid down other figures’ throats and eating Pringles with some other characters. For a photographer, there is a lot you can do with her. But for collectors who prefer just having a desk or shelf look pretty, she adds a whole lot of colour to any environment.

  Pros Good sculpt Great Articulation Really pops Versatile for scene setting Cons The only minor gripe is that pole on the pickaxe that just won’t straighten all the way.      
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Great deals for PC on CDKEYS.com

EAX just loves to spread good news and great deals with our readers and we are going to do our best to bring all of you some of the best deals available to grow those collections and be part of the hype!!  I Myself use CDKEYS.COM and I'm Very happy to say they are safe and reliable, all transactions are immediate and the code is sent to you directly and very securely.

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The true meaning of life is love, peace and uncapped fibre

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Welcome to the Jungle…New Predator game coming soon

Predator: Hunting grounds is a new project done by Illfonic, the makers of Friday 13: the game, which pits 7 teenage survivors against 1 player, playing as Jason Vorhees in a race to escape or die violently trying. The game seems to be based on a fireteam of soldiers sent into the jungle NOT to hunt the predator but complete a mission, possibly assassinate an NPC, gather intel or even maybe find private ryan......NO MAN LEFT BEHIND ...am I right??? am I? Watch the classics people!!!! Other titles which dance around the same idea are Turtle Rocks "evolve" where 4 hunters are tasked with finding and killing a monster played by another player   Or Behavior interactive's "Dead by Daylight", where 4 survivors must fix generators to power the escape gate to escape, all the while being stalked and killed by a colourful set of killers with different abilities. Predator: hunting grounds definitely peaks a lot of peoples interest, as we all love being on the other side of the survivor killer fence, we've played previous titles where we are given the chance to play as the predator but not in the same scene and definitely not against other players. The game is only scheduled for drop next year, So we will keep a close eye on this one and hopefully it grows and develops into something we will all treasure, as we all know there is nothing more satisfying than slowly stalking your friends, instilling unbridled horror as you kill one of them in front of the others and watching the hope slowly die in the eyes of the last lone little soldier....No? just me then? Excuse me I think I need to contact my Psychiatrist.      
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Razer Ripsaw HD – Review

Streaming has become a true buzz-word in the gaming industry in recent years seeing streamers become household names like actors, musicians and sports stars are.  This shows how far gaming has come and how those remarks that your parents passed about gaming never going to pay the bills have gone out the window.  With this in mind, many gamers are trying to turn their passion into a bill-paying passion by becoming streamers. This, naturally, is no easy feat and requires lots of time and dedication, but it also requires the necessary hardware!  This is where Razer comes to the fore.  One of the key components in creating a really unique and personalized stream is the ability to overlay camera footage of yourself into your stream, allowing for more interactive streams as well as giving it some personal touches with borders and other general things to make your stream yours.  To do this you need a capture card, a device that allows you to do all these things.  Razer has recently made the leap into streaming and with that, they bring the Razer Ripsaw HD. Are you planning on making streaming a full-time job, then let's get into the Ripsaw HD and see if it is the capture card for you. First things first, let's look at the system requirements to use the Ripsaw on your PC: System requirements:
  • Windows 10/8.1/7 (64/32 bit)
  • USB 3.0 powered
  • CPU: Desktop – Intel Core i5-4440 3.10GHz or above, Laptop – Intel Core i7-4810MQ or above
  • Graphics card: Desktop – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 and above, Laptop – NVIDIA GeForce GTX870M and above
  • Memory: 4GB minimum (8GB recommended)
  • Interface: USB 3.0 only
The Razer Ripsaw HD is a small black box that can comfortably fit in your palm, with neatly rounded edges and rubber coating at the bottom ensures the  Ripsaw isn't going anywhere.  As all other Razer products, the Ripsaw can also work in conjunction with the Synapse program which can be checked by simply looking at the LED on the front of the Ripsaw, green meaning connected to Synapse, and Red is not connected.  Located next to the LED are two 3.5mm input ports, these are for audio and microphone inputs allowing the user to be able to mix these two inputs separately.  To the back of the Ripsaw you will be met by 4 connection points, USB 3.0, Component In, HDMI in and HDMI out. Connecting the Ripsaw is fairly easy, connect the HDMI cable from your console to the input of the Ripsaw and from the HDMI out to the TV/ Monitor.  With this connection done now plug your Ripsaw into your PC via the supplied USB 3.0 cable.  The software department is where Razer and the Ripsaw come up rather short.  The Razer software does not do any capturing or streaming of its own, and promptly directs you do either download Xsplit or OBS to use as your capturing software. If you are new to streaming then you will need to make a choice between OBS or Xsplit, both being similar to discreet differences.  For those who already stream you can simply continue to use the program which you are currently using which is a bonus.  On the flip side of this is the fact that the Razer Ripsaw directly competes with the newly launched Elgato HD60S.  All Elgato capture cards, including the older models, all come with their own software.  This software alone is a big reason why Elgato is such a big name in the capture card market and should always be a consideration. The Ripsaw might not come with its own software but if you are simply looking to stream to the likes of Twitch, Mixer or Youtube that isn't such a problem.  The Ripsaw is an extremely capable capture card with minimal lag between the pc.  Playing faster-paced games such as shooters might have you experiencing the minimal lag.  Although the Ripsaw has the least lag of all the USB 3.0 cards that I have tried.  

Verdict

The Ripsaw is a capable capture card that can hold its own against all of the leading capture cards, apart from the lack of software, which does make it a slightly less attractive purchase considering that it retails for a similar price to the Elgato HD60S.    

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review content

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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
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Epic Games buying up the competition

Epic Games is literally taking over the market by buying new studios to add under their umbrella. The studio that brought as many good things, and Fortnite (think of that what you will), has recently acquired the independent development studio, Psyonix, which brought us Rocket League - what's not to love with cars and giant exploding balls? This was a wise move on the side of Psyonix as it brings them more resources, both human and financial, to continue to support Rocket League's growing competitive e-sports league. They also plan to bring the game to the Epic Games store later this year. Once the game appears on the Epic Games store, it is unsure if it will remain in the Steam store but all sources and evidence are suggesting that it will no longer be available to purchase through Steam. Now what does the mean for those of you who have already purchased and logged some serious time through Steam? In a statement made by Epic, it seems clear that there are pre and post Epic store phases. Currently (pre-Epic), the game is available to purchase on Steam and it is playable and supported (obviously). Later (post-Epic), the game will be available to purchase in the Epic store but will still be playable and supported on Steam for those who have already purchased it there. However, Epic has not officially announced that it will stop selling the game on steam, it's all guessing at the moment, but that does seem like the most likely outcome as Steam and Epic are direct competitors. This buy over should not come as a surprise to anyone as Psyonix and Epic have had a long-standing partnership, dating back to the early days of Unreal Engine and games like Unreal Tournament 2004. Psyonix was even founded a short distance from Epic Games headquarters in 2001. Both companies are also well known for pushing the bar in cross-platform gaming, with Psyonix supporting cross-play in Rocket League and Epic supporting it in Fortnite (which helped fuel its rise). However beneficial this acquisition is for Epic and Psyonix, it will raise many heads as Epic continues to spend huge amounts of resources to chip away at Valve's dominance in PC game sales. Epic purchasing a studio with a hit title, and pulling that away from Steam will come as a huge blow to Valve.
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Great Xbox One Deals With CDKEYS

EAX just loves to spread good news and great deals with our readers and we are going to do our best to bring all of you some of the best deals available to grow those collections and be part of the hype!!  I Myself use CDKEYS.COM and I'm Very happy to say they are safe and reliable, all transactions are immediate and the code is sent to you directly and very securely. CDKEYS.com always has great deals popping up and on some of the latest games as well as some classics. Not only do they drop the prices on games but GOLD SUBSCRIPTIONS TOO. So don't break the bank, go online and get some of the best deals on the latest and greatest, golden oldies or even just that much needed gold sub love.

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No one knows true pain...Until you step on a lego at 2 in the morning

     
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Razer Seiren X – Review

Streaming has become the latest craze, with popular streamers like DrDisRespect and Ninja becoming household names and earning money that can be measured in weight rather than value, many everyday-gamers want to do the same, stream their gaming.  But it's not as simple as just pressing a button and begin to rake in massive amounts of money.  There are a few hardware additions that need to be made, namely a capture card, (which I will review in next few weeks), a good camera, and most importantly,  so that you can interact with your viewers, a good microphone! For streamers on a budget in recent years the go-to microphone has been the Blue Yeti microphone, being the best bang for buck microphone in the section.  With the microphone section being a rather slow and stagnant section which doesn't see monumental increases in technology through new models.  Razer decided they have had enough and targeted the budget market...  Say hello to the Razer Seiren X! The Seiren X is built off the same core as the Seiren, which is a good starting point already, and with the main aim to dethrone the Blue Yeti, a price cut needed to be made, and as with any price cut, some compromises needed to be made to achieve this.  The Razer Seiren X is the perfect microphone for the on-the-go streamer due to its driverless setup.  Simply plug it into a USB port and it will instantly be recognized as an audio input device, easy as that!  The stylish shape and presentation of the Seiren X is perfect for anyone looking for a minimalist stream setup as well as a small unobtrusive microphone. The Seiren X is really sleek and simple in its look as well as use.  Simply plug it into a USB port and you are ready, with only a volume knob and a mute button ( which will go red when muted) as well as a headphone input jack underneath, the Seiren X oozes simplicity!  The underneath headphone port allows you to plug your headset directly into the mic and broadcasting your audio through there instead of connecting straight to your pc/console.  One of the downfalls that go with cutting prices which means cutting features is that the Seiren X lacks the ability to change your capture modes, like the Seiren and the Blue Yeti has.  Luckily this does not hamper the ability of the Seiren X and many users of the Blue Yeti have made comparisons and opinions seem to be that the Seiren X works just as well without the option to change. Razer has confirmed that the cardioid pickup pattern, for those not in the know: sound is only recorded from in front of the device instead of 360 degrees around like a traditional mic ) has been specifically adapted to ensure the most pin-point capturing to date from a cardioid setup.  The Seiren X also features a handy shock mount to ensure your recording or chat is protected from bumps and other sound anomalies that may occur during streams. What makes the Razer Seiren X a very viable option for startup streamers or general gamers is the ease of use and setup.  During the review time, we used it predominantly during gaming sessions as party-chat microphone and the overwhelming response from fellow party members was that they could not believe how crisp and clear my voice sounded, even with the mic being at least 0.5m away from where a traditional headset mic would sit the voice clarity and volume was amazing.  It is good to state that when using a mechanical keyboard the clicks from the keys can often be picked up by the mic if placed closer to the left side of the keyboard.  Other than that the Seiren X is amazing!  Not being a streamer myself, I have never considered buying a loose standing microphone until this review item came my way. Verdict The Razer Seiren X has bridged the gap and has brought competition to the entry-level section of streaming mics.  Between it and the Blue Yeti, all streamers should be able to find a microphone that caters for their personal needs.  If you need something easy, and quick to use the Seiren X is your go-to microphone.  If you want more options and capturing customization the Blue Yeti will be your weapon of choice.  Both are well priced and both task them or their jobs spectacularly!  

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying review Hardware

 
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Will Apex Legends have Cross-Play?

Cross Platform gaming, or cross-play, is a topic that is hot on every gamer’s lips nowadays with gamers everywhere wanting to play with, and against, their friends on other platforms. With that being said, it will come as no surprise should Apex Legends choose to follow games, like Fortnite, down the cross-play path. And why shouldn't they? So, for those of you also asking the question around cross-play for Apex Legends, Respawn - producers of Titanfall and Apex Legends, have confirmed that cross-play is in the works but has not yet indicated when they will be adding it in to the game that has taken the Battle Royale genre by storm. Drew McCoy, the lead producer at Respawn, said to Eurogamer that they plan “to allow players to play with their friends on other platforms” at some point. This obviously generated a whole lot of buzz! It is likely that cross-play on Apex Legends will look a lot like cross-play with Epic Games, where gamers will create an account, possibly through Origin, and link their platforms to this central account, which will then be used to add gamers on other platforms and squad up with them - but this is all just educated guessing.   McCoy also said in the same interview that cross-progression will, unfortunately, not be possible because of how the game was set up in it's early days of production and this can not be reconciled. So, if you are looking to play Apex Legends with your friends on other platforms, you'll be doing it for some good old fun, and not for adding kills and wins to your counters. Apex Legends is currently free and available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Whether it will be making an appearance on Switch, mobile, and other platforms is still to be seen. So here's to hoping that cross-play finds it's way to Apex Legends very soon! Until then, enjoy the first season, look forward to new legends, choose your drops wisely, and don't get bamboozled!  
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World War Z – Review

Movie adaptations are usually not a great way to start any game creation.  Games that have been adapted from movies have, for most parts, been rather dismal in execution as well as general interest.  So when the creators of World War Z decided to take a stab at the zombie genre with a 6-year-old movie as their lead, many people had their doubts. The game might be aesthetically based on World War Z but the game takes most of its ideas from the legendary Left 4 Dead franchise.  Left 4 Dead is arguably the best zombie game ever made, it is a cult classic where teamwork is needed from a 4-man team.  World War Z takes that and ups the stakes by adding a slight narrative hook and plenty of zombies!  The difference comes with the way the zombies operate.  The movie was very controversial by the way it depicts the movement of the zombies and how they create tidal waves of death.  As you can imagine battling against a sprinting wall of decaying flesh can only result in absolute gore and with a few friends in tow, absolute satisfaction! To a seasoned gamer battling against individual zombies or even larger groups of zombies using the wide variety of weapons, that can be upgraded many times, will be a piece of cake, but attempting to take on the running wall of death will need lots of teamwork and a calm mind otherwise imminent death will be swiftly met.

Where in the World are we?

World War Z is broken into 11 levels split across 4 anthologized episodes.  As expected these levels will find players stranded in large, zombie infested, areas while having to defend themselves against the undead.  During these instances, you will be given brief moments to loot the area and set up defences such as barbed wires and automated turret systems to help fight the barrage of zombies.  If you decide to tread into these situations with randoms you might find yourself coming to a grizzly demise rather quickly, but teaming up with friends ( or players with microphones) can be rewarding as a well-coordinated team can lay waste to hundreds of zombies without even breaking your defensive line. Each of the episodes will take you to different locations, from New York City to Secret Russian military bases.  Each episode will also put you behind the sights of different characters which helps to keep the dialogue from becoming stale.  Levels are wonderfully constructed moving from vast open spaces to tight corridors seamlessly without feeling forced.  "Missions" within each stage don't feel out of place either with your team needing to find supply crates or launch codes within the stage to be able to progress.  This forces you and your team to not simply bunker yourself in and try and kill every single zombie on the planet, but move around and put yourself at risk and force teamwork to be used.  11 stages might not seem like that many but thanks to wonderful randomization with regards to weapon placements and enemies, World War Z offers a lot of replayability! Progression is found in the form of weapon upgrades and character classes.  They are all quite similar apart from the special item that they have on offer, be it grenades, molotovs, or explosive ammo drops.  The passive abilities do not come into their own until around level 10 so to reach that many levels need to be completed as sometimes the progression can seem a little slow. World War Z is not without its flaws, the character mobility can sometimes become an issue like in the instance of climbing onto cars.  Some cars can be climbed upon and the satisfaction of laying waste to the oncoming horde is great, but there is no clear indication as to why, and which, cars can be climbed and which not which does pose somewhat of a problem when running away from a swarm.  With a very well populated environment, the lack of destruction is quite noticeable with explosions not even leaving dents or craters in the surfaces.  Another mechanic that got thrown by the wayside is dodge, which would be invaluable when fighting a charging bull zombie.  Apart from that the experience on Xbox has been pleasant apart from the odd disconnect from the server that saw me lose quite a fair amount of accumulated XP, other than that it has been smooth sailing. World War Z does not stop at 4 player co-op or PvZ modes, there is also a more traditional 4v4vZ which will put you and your 4 man team, against another 4 man team and the hordes of undead.  These matches do seem to be less popular and we didn't get more than 2 matches.  The PvP matches to accentuate the dodge problem quite a bit more and for now, the PvP modes feel more like a distraction.  Maybe with future updates, they can become more relevant.

Verdict

World War Z had more things against it than in its favour when it was announced, but contrary to what was expected from a film adaptation it has turned out to be a good game.  The environment is detailed and a spectacle to see, the character models are detailed and personalized, even the zombies seem to be individual, even after being filled with lead and rag-dolled across the screen.  At its core World War Z is lots of fun, even more so if you have a group of dedicated people to play with.  It could become a little stale if Saber Interactive does not keep expanding with additional episodes in the future.  

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review game

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Borderlands GOTY – review

Looter shooters, as they are known, have become a popular type of game in recent years with the likes of Division 1 and 2, the free-to-play Warframe, the utterly loved-hated Destiny franchise and Japanese wonders like Monster Hunter World are all some of the big names within this category.  Most of these games are all redefining what looter shooters should strive to be.  Better drop rates, more variety, less-boring (looking at you Destiny) yet the real question is, where did it all begin... It all began with the daddy of all Looter shooters, BORDERLANDS...  Borderlands is where it all started, and now, soon before the announcement of Borderlands 3...  2K and Gearbox is bringing all the magic back, Remastered! When Borderlands released in 2009, it's distinctive hand-drawn art style was met with great acceptance and love, a decade later nothing has changed.  Borderlands is actually a rather strange title to get the remastered title, because, frankly, there isn't much to be improved upon...  Getting GOTY status does however package all of the DLC along with the base game, so for those who didn't take in all the DLC's originally, they are now all nicely packaged.

Visually there is not that much of an improvement when it comes to the console version apart from the 60fps gameplay and, for the Xbox X and PS4 Pro, HDR support which does give the colour pallet a new and vibrant look.  Another welcome addition is 4-player split screen as well as co-op on console!  Apart from that, not much is needed in terms of upgrade with a solid variety in campaign mission and classic comedic gold from claptrap what more could you possibly need.

Gearbox promised that The Destroyer, the final boss, would be more exciting to fight, but it is still just a bullet sponge and not that big of a challenge.  Players of Borderlands 2 and the Pre-Sequel will also receive 75 golden keys and two of the new weapons for GOTY edition.

Not having the DLC's when I originally played Borderlands, this time around it has been an absolute blast being able to experience the game that defined the genre with all of its splendour with all the DLC's and small little polishes and tweaks of the very few problems it might have had.  

Verdict

Taking an already near-perfect game and giving it a GOTY treatment is rather unexpected.  But when that game is Borderlands it is always worthy.  For those who have not yet experienced the mighty and hilariously amazing Borderlands-franchise, this GOTY edition is the perfect way to experience it.  If you are like many others, someone who has sunk tremendous amounts of hours into this game in the past, why not do it all over again, I promise, it will be just as magical as it was the first time!  

Thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review code

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Should Difficulty be adjustable? Or are we making Excuses?

The latest release to face this question is Sekiro, a game where death is constantly haunting players to the point where players are saying “they need to have an option to adjust the difficulty”.  A game's difficulty has always been a question for debate but no one has taken the time to stop and look back at all the game we’ve played over the many years and seen an obvious truth.  From the humble beginnings of the cartridge  console difficulty has always been based on the players skill and not a setting that can be manipulated,  from one of the earliest releases for PS1 Crash Bandicoot all the way to Dark Souls and now Sekiro, games have both added and removed the ability to change “how hard the game is”, O’l crash never allowed change but we climbed up and fell down and we beat the game and in the end we loved it, to an XBOX original and in my personal opinion the Father to online Multiplayer FPS, Halo, which gave gamers four yes FOUR options of difficulty from easy to normal to heroic and finally your favourite and my, LEGENDARY, we dipped our toes in with normal to get settled in but the ultimate rush was charging your warthog into battle on legendary and watching the bodies and debris fly.  To a more recent Title which has been an all-time favourite of mine Assassins creed, which in its more recent releases has given players different areas with increasing difficulty allowing players to avoid or take on bigger and more deadly enemies.  And finally your Pet-peeve and mine Darksouls, a game with ruthless disregard for player sanity as you die over and over and OVER AND OVER AND GRAAAARR…ahem but I digress, I still pressed on and nothing was more satisfying than finally beating the game and realising that all the hours of grind and frustration amounted to a sense of accomplishment. So I've bounced around only a few titles with varying “difficulty settings” but the ever burning unanswered question remains…should players be allowed to change the difficulty at will?  I say …a confident no.  We are gamers through the highs and lows, the deaths and victories, the triumphs over the bosses and the heartbreaking fall from mountains….dammit Roach, we have been moulded and sculpted by games to the point where a game says “ hey instead of playing easy and getting little satisfaction from winning…..lets go next tier and push ourselves”. If we were given full reign over how hard the game is we would always win and where’s the joy in never tasting defeat to fuel your desire to win?  Games teach us that, you will NOT always win, life isn’t always fair,  things will Not always go in your favour, but more than that teaches us how to deal with that trial set before us, you have the tools now make it work for you, here’s the challenge use your intellect to conquer it.  Last time I played Rainbow six Siege or R6 to veterans, I never saw a difficulty setting to change to allow me to play against easier players cos much like myself there are other people watching the same screen and thinking the same thing “I love this game”, our prized diamond tier players were all copper once, they didn’t have difficulty settings all they had was the will to get better and overcome their short falls and rise up to the challenge of others and EARN the diamond badge which they wear with pride . We as gamers look adversity in the face and laugh, we challenge ourselves to do what we are told is not possible, we game our hardest and we rage our hardest but never has it ever been said we QUIT our hardest and there’s a reason for that.  WE WILL NOT BE BEATEN, we all have that drive inside that won’t let us give up,  that fire in our bellies for the bigger and better loot, the spark in our eye for the next big win. Let us not use the difficulty setting as a cheap road to victory but instead a change of direction, we all have in the past taken our favourite game and used it to create humour to entertain ourselves, I myself have done this in one of my already mentioned titles, halo.  Who hasn’t played bumper cars with warthogs? Chicken with ghosts or a much-filtered version of battleships with the wraith. Let me leave you with this “perseverance breeds excellence”, practice and patience will see you to that ultimate goal of the end game credits, believe in your abilities and keep trying. We are gamers and we will not be beaten.
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Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 – Review

The Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2, is as the name suggest, the top of the range headset made by Turtle Beach.  It is the second iteration of an extremely capable, yet very complicated headset + mixamp setup.  The V1 Elite Pro, which was also reviewed by us, was a really great headset doing everything right but lacked the ease-of-use that other headsets in its class had.  Turtle Beach took a step back, analyzed their mistakes and went back to the drawing board and came back with a complete redesign from the styling to the features.  Not only did they improve every aspect of the Elite Pro V2.  Turtle Beach went to the people who would be able to provide the best feedback on gaming headsets, pro-gaming organizations themselves.  OpTic Gaming and Splyce were brought onboard to find out what is needed to make a good headset great, and that's what they did.  The Elite Pro 2 is certainly a force to be reckoned with, be it sound quality, comfort, features, it can compete!  But is the only thing that can possibly stop its class-dominance its hefty price tag? Image result for turtle beach elite pro 2

Design and Features

From the very moment you take the headset from its box, it makes a bold statement, not by the way it looks, but by presence.  If you are impressed by LED's and lavish styling then the Elite Pro 2 is not what you are looking for.  The elite series, as I have mentioned in previous reviews, all share the exact styling queues.  We had the privilege to review the white version but it is also available in black.  The glossy plastic finish gives the headset a great feel when you hold it and the subtle and small Turtle Beach logo gives an even bigger sense of refinement rather than slapping branding all across it.  The elite range from Turtle Beach does not need to be plastered with logos, they are distinctly Turtle Beach.  If you do feel the need to spice up your headset slightly, the ear cups can be pulled off rather easily from their magnetically positioned homes and swapped out with alternative designs that can be bought from Turtle Beach. Image result for turtle beach elite pro 2 The Elite Pro 2 sits comfortably thanks to the steel headband that connects the cups, the headband itself is very sturdy yet flexible.  The leather earcup padding is something to behold.  Many headsets do most things right but seem to falter on their comfort.  The Elite Pro 2, just like the Elite Atlas, has arguably the most comfortable feel to any headset I have ever tried.  The padding is infused with cooling gel, and it is safe to say that it works beautifully.  The earcups are also slightly larger compare to the V1 version which makes for comfortable spacing around your ears. The memory foam cups do a really good job of cancelling out external noise, although some noise does filter through, as passive noise cancelling goes, they are extremely good.  If they start to show signs of wear and tear, simply pull them off and replace them with new ones. The mic, which is the same as the mic fitted to the Atlas, can be detached anytime needed as it is a rather large microphone and not having the boom feature will have you either stowing it away or having it in use all the time.  Luckily it is bendy enough to ensure you will find the adequate working position. Image result for turtle beach elite pro 2 Lastly, to go with the sleek minimal design the headset itself is completely devoid of any button, sliders or rollers apart from the 3.5mm line-in from the amp which has its own mute button attached to the cable.  Other than that it is a sleek and well-refined headset with a great directional microphone ready to pick up any and every word shouted in victory, as well as mumbled in defeat.  

Elite SuperAmp

Image result for turtle beach elite pro 2 The Elite Pro V1 had a rather big and technical looking mix amp, with many buttons and sliders to make it all look rather tough to use, and it was until you found the sound to be the way you like it.  So at a glance, the V1 could be rather daunting but with some getting used to it is fantastic when small adjustments are needed.  Fast forward to the V2 and Turtle Beach has gone for a more user-friendly approach with fewer buttons and dials.  The V2 only offers a singular knob which serves only as a volume control.  It has a dial in the middle that can be adjusted and customized to do nearly anything your heart could desire from an amp mounted light.  Keeping up with the times meant that all the controls of the SuperAmp were moved to an app, either on your phone or on your pc, depending on where you are putting the Elite Pro 2 to use.  I have been using it on my phone and I do have to say it is rather good...  The SuperAmp connects to your phone via Bluetooth which is turned on by a small button on the side of the amp.  Upon pressing it a voice will announce that Bluetooth is now on.  Simply connect your phone to it and download the app and you are ready to go. Upon entering the app you will be hit with a plethora of options which can be overwhelming but working your way through them will allow you to customize your preferences to the tiniest detail.  The first and most basic option is the chat mixer, which is a simple slider which will balance the amount of game sound to chat sound.  The second slider will be mic monitoring, this has become a must since having the feature.  Mic monitoring gives you feedback from your own microphone allowing you to hear how loudly you are speaking.  This is a must for anyone thinking of streaming or even who play lots of party-based games.  No one likes THAT person who is constantly shouting or breathing into the mic. Image result for turtle beach elite pro 2 appImage result for turtle beach elite pro 2 appImage result for turtle beach elite pro 2 app Turtle Beach has created a signature sound effect called SuperHuman Hearing, this is a setting that allows you to hear a different set of sounds more clearly.  This is very useful for hearing footsteps during battle royale games.  The Elite Pro 2 naturally has this option that can be toggled on or off whenever needed.  Along with the SuperHuman Hearing is an array of smaller settings such as chat boost, which will lift your chat above the gaming noise and make chats more clear and easier to distinguish.  In this price range surround sound support is simply a must and the Elite Pro 2 does support DTS Headphones  7.1 albeit simulated,  it still does a pretty good job with the directional sound being on par with what you would expect.  The SuperAmp also comes with a few preloaded equalizers for some of the more general gaming genres such as shooters, racing, battle royale and a host of others. This is only the tip of the feature list for the SuperAmp if none of these settings is to your liking you can simply go to the next page and start creating and making the ideal setup for your needs.  Compared to the previous SuperAmp, Turtle Beach has made vast improvements to it and it has become much more user-friendly and the fact that you can take calls from your connected phone during gaming is a really nifty touch.  Well done Turtle Beach!  

Sound Quality

Image result for turtle beach elite pro 2 Sound quality is a very personal thing, and many brands have a very specific trend when refining their sound.  Personally, I have always found Turtle beach to be rather "tinny" and I went into this review with that predisposition, wow was I wrong! Turtle Beach has created a phenomenal headset with the Elite Pro 2.  Not only is the comfort level sublime it has the audio chops to match.  Delivering hearty and full bass tones while keeping the mids and highs distinct in every situation I tested them in does show that the Elite Pro 2 deserves its title as the flagship Turtle Beach headset!  Movies and music all sound great and the directional audio does great work to deceive you into thinking there are more speakers in your earcup than what there really is.   There isn't that much to say about the sound quality of the Elite Pro 2, other than it did not put a foot wrong during the hours and hours I spent with it.  If you are serious about gaming and you are looking for a Turtle beach headset that feels the same way, the Elite Pro 2 is that headset.  

Verdict

The Turtle beach Elite Pro 2 takes its predecessor, learns from its mistakes and turns itself to a headset that cannot be faulted.  It is wired yes, but, as all serious gamers will know, wired is the way to go.  Minimal input delay and best sound integrity.  What is even better is that the setup can work on all major platforms.  Swopping from pc to console, or back, is a breeze with easy setup, the Elite Pro 2 is literally the only headset you need.  But, yes there is a but, it comes with a really REALLY hefty price tag of around the R8 000 mark.  This is really expensive and could be the only hurdle in the way of the Elite Pro 2...   Image result for 9.5/10 stars  

Thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review hardware

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TurtleBeach Elite Atlas – Review

Gaming headsets can be a tricky thing,  so many brands, so many options and features all coming with an ever-increasing price tag it is sometimes tricky to balance price and features into a certain price bracket.  Turtle Beach have created their Elite category for the mid to high-end gaming headsets.  The TB Elite Atlas is one of the fortunate headsets to bare the Elite badge as well as the signature Elite styling and build. The Atlas is a mid-tier gaming headset that has a reasonable price tag considering the great build quality and accurate and concise audio.  The lack of any form of surround, be it true or simulated is a drawback, as well as no preset equalizers, might not cater to what everyone needs.  Although these things can be rectified if you are using the Atlas on PC, it is something to take note of if you are going to be multi-purposing the Atlas.  

Build and Feel

If you are looking for a colourful out of this world design headset, the Atlas is definitely not that headset.  This headset is very black, with only a few hints of silver creeping through here and there.  The Elite range all share a similar design with a very industrial feel, giving the sense of being here to do a job and not muck about.  The build is made from hard plastic as a majority which would tend to cause a feeling of cheapness but not in this case.  The Atlas still feels strong and capable while feeling lightweight enough to not have you feel weighed down after some time. The earcups have been slightly enlarged from the last experience I had with the elite range, being the elite Pro V1, which felt slightly small around the ears.  The new earcups sit snugly around your ears and are super comfortable.  Once you put them on the memory foam goes to work and they adopt the contours of your head perfectly creating a great seal to block out external noise.  The earcups are thick and soft as well as covered in leather which feel great! If you really want to change up from the black colour scheme, the speaker plates are removable and for a price you can buy custom plates to personalize your headset.  These custom plates do nothing to improve nor lessen the sound quality they are simply for aesthetic purposes.  The headband that sits under metallic headrest which looks really fantastic, it gives the headset a nice touch and stands out among the general blackness of the headset.  The foam layer is also adjustable and thick enough to stop any discomfort from encroaching on your game time. Image result for turtle beach elite atlas The Atlas microphone is the same as on the new Elite Pro 2, but for some reason it feels on a lower build quality level than the one on the elite pro 2.  The mic is plugged into the left earcup which allows for only a one-sided setup as well as no boom-feature which, if you don't need to take a drink or bite during play sessions is no problem.  The mic is directional meaning it is pretty good at picking up only your voice and blocking out all the other unnecessary noise. Sound and Audio  The quality of a headset is unfortunately not only based on its looks and features, but mainly judged on what its main intent is, to create amazing sound for whatever the circumstance is.  The Turtle Beach Elite Atlas does deliver on that platform rather well.  The main thing i noticed was how distinct the mids and lows vary, it is really seldom that you find headsets where the levels don't run into each other somewhere along the spectrum creating a washed out mix of lows and mids that can't be distinguished.  This was very evident during my time spent in games such as Insurgency Sandstorm and Rainbow 6 Siege.  Even the faintest of sounds could easily be distinguished even during intense fire-fights the sound stays true.  For gaming purposes the preset equalizer works great. Using the Elite Atlas outside of its familiar gaming environment is where its faults start to creep in.  Using the Elite Atlas to listen to music, even with a Bass -equalizer selected, results in a rather tinny and hollow experience.  This is where the lack of even a basic customization feature does leave the Atlas lacking. Another downfall of the Elite Atlas is its lack of surround sound, be it virtual or not.  I am not a big fan of the virtual surround sound as to me it is not a very true experience and in most of the gaming situations the directional setup, especially on console, ends up being more of an enemy than a ally.  When using it on PC the catch all Windows Sonic system does help but still doesn't do much for the headset in terms of functions and features.  What is even more puzzling is that you can find more features and functions in the lower, albeit lesser build quality, Turtle Beach Stealth 700 for a lower price. Verdict The Turtle Beach Elite Atlas is a very capable mid-range headset.  It has very good build quality and looks the part as well.  It can claim the award for being, arguably, the most comfortable headset in its price range with the most amazing earcups and padding you can find on the gaming headset market.  Mic pickup and quality is superb as well.  Gaming audio quality is crisp and clear with great attention to the fine audio queues in games. It seems like Turtle Beach were tasked with making a truly premium mid range headset but went bonkers on the comfort, feel and general audio quality and had no more funds to spend on features that have become almost a "standard" in recent gaming headsets. The Turtle Beach Elite Atlas still remain more than a capable headset but for those looking for a more feature-rich headset, the Atlas is not the one you are looking for.   Image result for 7 out of 10 star  

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review hardware

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Turtle Beach Recon 70 – Review

Turtle Beach is a driving force behind gaming headsets especially on console and in recent times they have starting a big drive to provide budget headsets without budget quality.  They have flooded the market with their Recon range, which is the wired range as well as the stealth, which in turn, is the wireless range.  All of these headsets are meant to be budget headsets.  Although the Stealth wireless range can still be pricey, simply due to the fact that wireless tech is still more on the pricey side at the moment.  Turtle Beach also delivers its signature styling in all their headsets.  Although they are not as flashy as some of the other brands like Astro and Razer under their toned-down styling is still a slick headset that is very capable.  These toned-down styling queues do not mean the headsets are less capable, rather it makes them more appealing to those who are looking to multipurpose their headset for not only gaming but general use as well, and Turtle Beach headsets do that brilliantly.  Turtle Beach currently has a host of Recon headsets, last of which we reviewed was the Recon 200. This time around we have the chance to get our hands on the Recon 70, which apart from the wired cable can easily be mistaken for the Stealth 700 when it comes to looks.  Let's jump straight into it!  

Aesthetics and feel

Image result for turtle beach recon 70 hd

From the first time you pick up the Recon 70 you will notice it has a fair weight to it, not nearly as weighty as the Astro A40's or a Razer Thresher but a decent enough weight to feel like you are dealing with a respectable piece of hardware.  The headset itself is predominantly made from moulded plastic which does help to keep the weight down, but in my personal opinion does create a sense of it being less "well-built".  Styling is similar to the Stealth and other Recon headsets as mentioned before.  The headband features a thin band of foam covered in leatherette which does help for the extended gaming sessions but it could be a little thicker in my opinion.  Earcups are nice and big and fit nicely over your ears with ample space inside as well, this has been a past problem with some of the Turtle Beach headsets and they have definitely fixed that with this iteration.  The earcups are also covered in leatherette which is a huge improvement on the 600 range which had cloth covering and would become extremely itchy when ears start getting hot during long sessions.  The leatherette covers also improve sound isolation and wearing the headset does cut out the outside world a fair amount.  The Recon 700 uses a 3.5mm jack to connect to any device that boasts a 3.5mm headphone port and has a fair length on the cable.  It does however not have an inline mute or volume controller, the volume controller is situated on the left earcup which can be a bit of a pain when you need to take your hand off the controller when adjusting volume.  This is a small drawback, nothing to make you doubt your decision but something to take note of none the less. Functionality, Sound and Features

The Recon 70 is aimed at the budget, and entry-level, gamer. With a cut in price to fall into the budget category comes a cut in features.  Unlike the Recon 200 which boasts a chat mixer, active mic monitoring and active noise-cancelling, the Recon 70 is a lot more bare-boned in comparison boasting none of those features apart from the superb flip mic that is exceptional and can outperform mics on headsets that are easily triple the price of the Recon 70. Image result for turtle beach recon 70 The real reason for any headset is not about the brand or the features it's about the sound quality.  Turtle Beach has always prided themselves in delivering top quality sound of any occasion.  The Recon 70 is fitted with a 40mm driver, as many of the other Turtle Beach headsets are.  When listening to music they deliver crisp and clear mids and highs.  At times the mids do seem to wash into the highs slightly but nothing to frown upon.  The lows are punchy but not as deep as I would like them. When listening to music or watching a movie, I also found that even at max volume the headset was not too loud.  This is not a problem, but in some situations in gaming when you possibly need that extra volume the Recon 70's can be found lacking.  For gaming purposes, the equalizer settings are just right.  none of the ranges are overwhelming allowing you to distinguish between sounds easily. Using the Recon 70 in a party can be a little trying at first because on no mixer.  Once you have set the mixer on console to the correct levels it is a great headset to use especially for battle royale games where communication is key.  Teammates will never miss what you are saying because the mic quality is fantastic.   Verdict The Turtle Beach Recon 70 is a budget headset, and in that range, it is a good headset and for the measly price you are paying for them, you will need to look far to find better build quality and feel.  What Turtle Beach has done is positioned themselves really well in all price classes.  Providing users with a upper- and lower price range headset.  They have also improved on the few "mistakes" on previous headsets.  The earcups are bigger and deeper, creating the correct over-ear effect instead of the on-ear effect that is caused by earcups being too small or shallow Image result for turtle beach recon 70 If you are looking for a sub R600* headset the Recon 70 is your best choice.  If you looking for a sub R1000 headset the Recon 200 is a no-brainer with all the added features. The Recon 70 is perfect for someone on a tight budget stepping into the headset arena, it provides everything one needs in a headset, no frills or fuss.  Plug in and play headset. Image result for 7 out of 10 stars  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive SA for providing the review hardware.  If you are interested in buying one please visit their website.

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McFarlane Toys Fortnite Skull Trooper Review

It’s no surprise that Fortnite has been given the action figure treatment. I’ve said from day one of Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode that these characters would make good figures. And so that day has come. It was a smart move to include Skull Trooper in the initial line up as he is by far one of the most sought after skins in the game, in fact, he was my first skin which I then used for a year straight (because I couldn’t afford anyone else and missed the first few battle passes). When I saw Skull Trooper being added to the lineup, I was quite excited but having never bought a McFarlane toy before so I had no idea what to expect. Apparently, McFarlane Toys isn’t known for much articulation so people that knew more than I did were sceptical...until they got their hands on one.

 

The Packaging

The box is quite big but its simplistic design and the broad window display is done nicely. Skull Trooper and all of his accessories are nicely displayed and the box is good enough to go on a shelf if someone wanted it to. It has Skull Trooper’s in-game portrait on the side and a preview of the other figures in the wave is found on the back. No background in the box other than a plain yellow backdrop. It would have been a cherry on top of the cake to have a printed lobby screen though. The box looks good and eye-catching enough but it’s what’s inside that matters.

 

The Figure

Skull Trooper looks amazing. Essentially he is a guy in tactical gear that drew a skeleton layout on himself which the figure captures perfectly. There’s patch work on his pants and his one shin guard is strapped to his leg with visible straps. His face captures that cartoony style that Fortnite is known for which some people might not like but that’s just the style of the game translating to figure. The figure might not stand out as much due to his dull colours but he does look menacing enough on the shelf which is what most people are after.

Skull Trooper stands at 7 inches tall (about 18cm) so he’s more in scale with NECA figures.

 

The Accessories

Skull Trooper comes with:

A Base

A Bolt Action Sniper Rifle

A Backpack

And his Death Valley Pickaxe.

The base is a nice addition. It’s a simple round black disk with little stilts that fit into the peg holes in the soles of his feet. It has Fortnite engraved on it too. There’s not much to it and it really is just there to help him stand up right on the shelf.

The Bolt Action Sniper Rifle is a splitting image of it's game’s counterpart which leaves it looking very simplistic, unfortunately. It has no elaborate detail and is just a cream coloured gun with a bit of black here and there. I suppose it can’t be faulted too much due to this being the design in the game but with the addition of gun wraps added to the game at the end of last year, hopefully, McFarlane picks out some fan favourite wrap designs to apply to future weapons with their upcoming figures.

The backpack is just a black bag with some little detail here and there on the zipper and the bag itself. It’s keeping to the dark colours that Skull Trooper sports. It fits his design, which is a very simple design, to begin with. It just clips into his back with a peg hole. The backpacks can be worn by any figure though just like in the game so it’ll be interesting to mix and match them.

And then there’s the Death Valley Pickaxe which is by far the best thing to come with him. It’s a bull skull strapped and nailed to a pickaxe but it looks so good! The brown straps add some colour to not only the pickaxe but to Skull Trooper when he holds it. The Bull Skull is nicely sculpted and I like the wash they applied to its hollowed out eyes, it looks like its staring into your soul. It looks like something a psychotic serial killer would wield (and who are we to say Fortnite characters aren’t just that?)

As with both the gun and the pickaxe, there’s a problem of Skull Trooper’s black paint rubbing off from his hands onto the lighter coloured accessories. It’s not that much of a big deal as it can be wiped off and it does give the gun and pickaxe a dirtier and more weathered look but I can see how some people would be annoyed at this. It’s just something one has to take into consideration when making him hold his weapons.

The Articulation

There is a ton of movement Skull Trooper can get into. His head can spin in a full 360-degree turn. It can look up quite well but the bandanna around his neck seems to block him from looking down, and no the bandanna is not removable. His arms can stretch out and can rotate with a swivel at the bicep. The shoulders can also move up and down with some fiddling. Double jointed elbows make for some really good pose ability as well as hands that can hinge up and down and swivel. He has a ball joint in the bit torso and a ball joint at the bottom by his waist so he can crunch, arch back and tilt. His hips are something I’ve never seen before. The joints are so well hidden one would think they’re not there but they are you just have to work them. There’s a swivel that allows them to point out and they can bend out although that can cause the white on his upper leg to rub off on the edge of his waist, again, some paint rubbing. He can kick forward decently and at least there’s some back motion. He has double knee joints which are just amazing as well as a hinge at the ankle which goes forward, back and sides to side and a toe joint.

Final Thoughts

I’d say for fans of Fortnite this is a must buy. It looks good, it has good articulation and it has game accurate weapons. For people who don’t play the game but like collecting good figures, I’d recommend it too as Skull Trooper can easily be henchman fodder for your other figures. The only real gripe is the paint rubbing which is a minor thing. He can get into some really nice poses and he can look good on a shelf. Or he can be some good luck charm to sit next to you while you play Fortnite.

Pros

Good Paint and Sculpt

Fantastic Articulation

Decent amount of accessories

  Cons

Paint Rubbing

*I bought Skull Trooper from AWX, link below*

https://nexushub.co.za/product/fortnite-skull-trooper-figure-pid246312.html

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Dirt 2.0 – Review

The vast majority of us, at some stage during our gaming journey as kids, or adults, would have picked up a PS1 controller and played one of 2 racing titles.  Both spectacular in their own rights and they would have shaped the way you look at racing titles and which you would love and keep playing into the future.  The one would be Gran Turismo and the other was the legendary Colin McCrae Rally!  No one who ever took a spin in Colin McCrae Rally will forget just how wonderful, for the time, the game felt, racing down the muddy tracks, in cockpit view, rain and mud belting down on your windscreen as virtual driver-you, flicks through gears with windscreen wipers swishing from side to side trying to keep your view clean for long enough to not smash into a tree.  This was the epitome of rally simulation and for many people, it sprouted a deep love for rally as well as an eternal love for the 22B Subaru Impreza driven by the late, great Colin McCrae. Jump forward 21 years and Codemasters have returned with a racing title that is here to make a statement.  Saying Dirt 2.0 is a return to form for Codemasters is underselling it a bit.  Dirt Rally was arguably the pinnacle of the racing studios' achievements and with Dirt 2.0 they have done the right thing.  Taken an already great system and simply tweak and improve it in every single way possible.  Dirt 2.0 is not just a second iteration of a loved classic, it takes the bar and raises it plenty-fold on what racing/rally simulators should strive to be. Dirt 2.0 is the king of the rally simulators, and it won't be dethroned anytime soon...  

When in doubt, flat out!

These words were the maxim of the great Colin McCrae, for players new to the rally simulator scene, they would be ill-advised.  Dirt 2.0 does not hold your hand or provide many training wheels.  It is aimed at the hardened enthusiast that thrives when things are difficult and tough.  Dirt Rally (1.0) was renowned to have some of the most ruthless AI you could find in any racing sim games. Dirt 2.0 features a difficulty slider much like the F1-series of games allowing for pre-set levels of difficulty.  Sliding the slider all the way to the easiest setting does allow you to make a fair amount of mistakes and still trump the opponents.  Leaving the slider on the default settings will require some practice and concentration to climb the timesheet.  Sliding even further into the difficulty will require you to be fast, faultless and seamless.  Based on difficulty level, anything other than easy will make it tough to not call Dirt 2.0 the Dark Souls of rally games. Related image  

The devil in the detail

Simulator games strive to be as authentic as possible, as close to real life as you can get without strapping into a ridiculously overpowered car and thrashing it down narrow, winding roads, at speeds that are incomprehensible to normal humans.  Dirt 2.0 provides this in bucket loads!  From the locations and tracks that are no longer procedurally generated but rather, meticulously crafted.  This does make for fewer route options but it also allows for all the little idiosyncrasies that can be found in real rally routes, giving them more character and realness.  Dirt 2.0 has taken it a step further on this outing with its new surface degradation system which sees racing surfaces becoming more rutted or churned up the lower down the starting order you are.  Starting in 1st place compared to 29th changes your day on track severely! Deep ruts will have you fighting to keep control of the steering (using a gaming wheel would enhance this struggle significantly).  A controller does dampen this sensation a bit but there are enough vibrations and audio queues to help relay the feeling. Related image Surface degradation is not the only factor in bringing tracks to life.  weather and time of day in Dirt 2.0 does not only provide aesthetic changes it affects racing surfaces as well as the way your vehicle puts down its minimal amount of grip. Finally, we get to the cars, and if by this stage you are not yet convinced about Dirt 2.0 taking control of the many available cars you will soon find out why.  Most racing games struggle to accurately portray the way different cars feel and perform, be it mid-mounted rear-wheel drive, or front mounted, all-wheel drive to the less desirable front mounted front wheel drive.  Each of these is perfectly imitated.  Time has been taken to give each car its unique look, sound and feel, the brutish Group B cars that thunder along with a constant threat of violence, the Sierra RS500 that, if you dare to flatten your right foot ( or right trigger) will push you into another dimension.  Or jumping behind the Lancia Fulvia and putting it through its paces on a rain-soaked road.  Hearing the 115 bhp singing through to the front wheels as they spin beyond the point of grip.  Even on the controller, it is possible to feel the weight of the car flop backward when going up a hill and the steering start to jitter as that weight heaves forward when coming down a hill.  In short, the handling in Dirt 2.0 is sublime! Image result for dirt rally 2.0 cars Given the amount of detail put into the driving experience, it is understandable that a bond will form between driver and car, and when mechanical damage, caused by a moment of carelessness can be excruciating!  This being said will probably hint you towards taking a more cautious approach to racing.  But there is something to be said for dragging home damaged card fenders and bumpers scraping along the road as you cross the finish line.  

Team Dirt

Image result for dirt rally 2.0 cars Career mode, or My Team, has you building a team and a garage.  What is rather weird about it is the fact that it requires you to be online while playing it.  Possibly because of the daily and weekly challenges against other Dirt players.  Cash is a bit of a problem early on in the progression but for the players who don't like to micromanage, you can jump straight into some standalone championships.  World RX series is also one of the championship options, tracks like Catalunya, Silverstone and Mettet make their debuts in this mode.  

Verdict

Image result for dirt rally 2.0 mini Playing Dirt 2.0 has come leaps and bounds and Codemasters have revitalized themselves with their latest iterations of racing titles, including F1 2018.  There is only a single thing I can fault this game on, and its not even so much the game as it is the hardware it was reviewed on.  Comparing Dirt 2.0 on the original Xbox One compared to the Xbox X sees a drop in graphical integrity, as expected.  Don't get me wrong Dirt 2.0 looks sublime, but it looks even better on the X.  Secondly, again not a problem as much as a preference, driving on a controller does not come close to the thrill of sliding behind a serious racing setup!  Playing this with a wheel and peddle setup will see Dirt 2.0 wipe the metaphorical floor with all of its competitors. Dirt 2.0 indulges those who have a passion for motorsport, every fiber of its being has been crafted with love and attention to detail.  Driving through muddy pits with my wipers struggling to keep my windscreen clean, I can't help but see flashes of a much younger me, falling in love with what is now arguably one of the best driving experiences out there! If Dirt 2.0 does not tug at your nostalgic heartstrings, it will make you love it after the first outing! Image result for 9 out of 10 stars

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying us with the review copy

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Anthem Review

Anthem was shown to the world at E3 in 2017.  We were shown a graphically beautiful game showcasing an astonishing open world with amazingly lush environments and a densely populated wilderness which can be explored on foot or flying.  Taking control of, what can be most easily described as your very own Ironman suite, your Javelin.  Gameplay looked amazing, combat seemed to be something to rival the likes of Destiny.  Taking your Javelin into combat in any manner you choose, be it on the ground with the Colossus, which is the 'tank' class, the Ranger, 'all-rounder', Storm, controls magic, or the Interceptor, all about moving fast and getting in and out quickly.  Combining these classes with 3 of your best friends seemed great!  Having Bioware at the helm of this monumental RPG-title could only produce something stellar.  With Bioware heading colossal titles such as Dragon Age, Mass Effect and even the legendary Star Wars: The Old Republic, Anthem has absolutely EVERYTHING in its favor. When the Beta arrived players were met with gross server issues, many players clocked less than 1 hour of play during the Beta weekend due to these issues.  Still, there was good feedback from the ones who did manage to clock time during the Beta.  Roll forward to launch day, which was met by a group of fans on two polar opposite opinions.   Many were still extremely excited for what was toted to be the "destiny-killer", which is a rather big statement, but from what was shown during gameplay it could easily reach or surpass that statement.  The other half was getting ready to be met by a broken, unpolished, mess of a game.  What was found when the finished product loaded up on my console was neither the former nor the latter...

The Story begins...  in the middle?

Anthem is set on an alien planet where mankind has scraped out some sort of existence due to the brave and heroic actions of a small group of exosuit warriors known as the freelancers.  A strange alien race known only as the shapers took control of the "anthem of creation", a strange energy that permeates everything.  These aliens suddenly decide to disappear and leave all their Anthem-infused tools to cause major destruction and disruption all throughout the planet.  Leaving only the freelancers to try and clean up and resolve as much of the Anthem-caused chaos as possible... Reading that Anthem sounds like it's setting up to deliver a narrative experience worthy of an Oscar nomination at least!  Instead what you get is a story that feels unfinished and disjointed. Fort Tarsis is what you would call home in Anthem, a large, visually stunning, bastion of mankind on the planet.  Filled with many charismatic characters to speak to.  Problem is, none of these characters ever accompany you out on missions and they also never leave their set positions...  making them feel more like enthusiastic quest-givers from MMO titles than actual characters in a RPG.  Never spending actual time with them or enduring hardships causes there to be absolutely zero connection with them, and this makes the regular insights into their lives annoying and empty.  Which is the complete opposite of the enemies of Anthem which has such minimal screen time that I still have no clue as to what their mission or motivations for their mission really are? Unlike games such as Red Dead Redemption 2, interacting with secondary characters offer absolutely nothing in terms of character progression or story progression.  The interactions feel nothing more than an awkward exchange of dialogue to fill time and space.  With Bioware at the helm, you would expect Mass Effect-like characters that actually have effects on your story and even make re-occurring appearances throughout the game.  Shame on you Bioware! Completing a mission will have you brought back to Fort Tarsis to painstakingly have to trek across the whole of the fort, walking down the same streets and alleys over and over to collect a mission and come back to the launch pad to start it.  Fort Tarsis, as beautiful as it feels like a waste of time at the moment.  It is supposed to create freedom of choice and exploration but at the moment it is simply a painful way to reach the start of the next mission.

Time to suit-up!

Hopping into your Javelin and zooming off into the jungles of Bastion does make things better.  Firstly the jungles are ridiculously dense and pretty.  Secondly, yet have I to experience the joy of flying through the jungle with your squad mates on either side on the way to your next mission.  The flying makes you feel like a true hero and doing it with friends makes it ten times better!  But once the missions start, things become repetitive.  The first couple of missions feel fresh and fighting is good but after your fourth mission, things have become boring and repetitive. Whether just playing a random mission, or free roaming or taking on a stronghold mission ( these are like a 20 minute Strike like in Destiny 2), Anthem still only has a handful of objectives which the game just reuses time and again.  No matter my mission, be it finding a lost scientist or destroying a shaper relic I will ALWAYS need to defend a specified area for 30 seconds and then use my radar to find "valuable" intel on my objective, which I could not be bothered to even remember.  During these missions, you will quickly discover that a map that was toted to be large and features many hours of exploration is actually rather small and has you fighting in the same areas and caves on multiple occasions during the campaign. What saves Anthem a little is the fact that combat can be rather enjoyable.  Each javelin brings a unique combat perspective and having a squad with each type of javelin in it can become extremely powerful and make you feel like a real hero.  The essence of the combat system in Anthem functions around teamwork.  The squad will need to first inflict status effect from one ability, called a primer, before using a second ability, detonator, that will trigger a combo and cause massive damage.  Problem with the combo system is that it never gets explained apart from a short brush-over in the tutorials. Lack of clarity extends to the entire loot system.  Loot has aimless stats that is never explained and finding a weapon you actually like but happens to be weak, simply has you searching for a higher grade of the same weapon.  Even your javelins have stats which are all pretty mundane and cumbersome.

Working against its own Strengths

Anthem has so many loose threads that I constantly find myself asking why...  Why is the mission screen so detailed?  Why does it tally experience points after level 30 when these points serve no purpose anymore?  Why would I need hundreds of crafting materials if I can only craft weak gear that I will never use?  and so the list goes on... EA and Bioware have already detailed the way forward for Anthem and just like Destiny 2 and The Division, it is sure to change a great deal in future updates and possibly become a very playable and enjoyable game.  Bioware has been extremely quick to respond to comments and criticism and on how they plan on correcting problems.

Verdict

Fundamentally Anthem has a lot going for it.  Spectacular scenery, amazing flying mechanics, decent combat, but the pacing of the campaign is way off, moving at snail's pace at the most boring of parts and racing through pieces that should have been fleshed out to give the story some more meat.  Would I recommend it right now? Probably not, should it be looked at after a few updates and expansions?  Most definitely!!!  Anthem needs to focus on keeping aspects that are supposed to be fun, fun, and not let them become a choir.  But there are many aspects that can be lauded, customizing your Javelin and stepping out into the sunlight with your fresh new paint and weaponry is really satisfying and defeating a stronghold on grandmaster difficulty cannot be explained in words.  Let's hope that Bioware can shape this the way Ubisoft took a very broken Division and created a great game, with time.    

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review game

   

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JP Du Preez

Writer/Reviewer

JP Du Preez is a father that enjoys all things tech and gaming related.

He loves new tech and is always keen to unbox the next set of headphones and start reviewing them.

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Metro Exodus – Review

When Metro 2033 arrived on our screens in 2010, it was surrounded by fast-paced shooters such as Call of Duty, Counterstrike, Crysis and similar titles.  The combination of slow-paced, gameplay which has you trapped in post-apocalyptic Soviet metro rail tunnels fighting against mutated creatures seemed quite far off the ever-popular zombie genre which was gathering quite the following at the time.  But DeepSilver proved us wrong by creating one of the most suspense-filled titles that would have you jumping at every knock of a tin can and every noise in the dark as you scrounge for what little ammo there is on offer as you start moving less towards the lit areas but more towards the safety of the darkness.  Metro 2033 not only weaved an intriguing story of Artyom and what he has to do to survive but also paints the picture of the bleak existence of the human species when they are no longer at the top of the food-chain.  The atmospheric and claustrophobic narrative and gameplay instantly grabbed and sucked players in and Metro 2033 was a popular game amongst most players.  Soon after a second title, Metro: Last light took players back into the tunnels with a little more top-ground exploration and more tweaks and improvements. And 2019 sees Metro Exodus grace us with its presence.  It has been teased at previous E3's and stunned us with its grisly beauty.  But many wondered if Metro Exodus would be able to stand in the shoes of its predecessors when it ventures away from the confined and atmospheric tunnels and venture into a more open-world environment and what can be confirmed is that it has become apparent that it most certainly can! Exodus picks up 2 years after Last Light.  Exodus is a largely self-contained story that follows the main protagonist Artyom, his wife Ana, and a few spartan rangers left from the last great war.  They set out from a war-ravaged Moscow in search of habitable areas with the hope of finding other survivors in the seemingly dead, apart from monsters, world, aboard a train.  This ability to travel allows for a dazzling variety of settings that you can experience through different seasons, seeing as Exodus plays out over the time of around a year.  Ranging from snow-blanketed Moscow to sand-swept deserts and lush forests.  All of these settings are well-realized and have adequate amounts of mutants and humans both friendly and hostile. Although Exodus has broken out of the chains of the past letting you explore the more vast open expanses, some story missions will have you exploring the traditional dank underground corridors.  With the newer technology, the lighting effects are extraordinary and the audio makes these areas feel even more ominous and claustrophobic. During the first couple of hours of Metro Exodus you will be met with a Metro game that is unlike the ones that came before.  No longer will you be trapped in the tunnels but you will be met with the open and outside world, which, in its own right, is spectacular.  But you will also meet many characters, unlike the previous games where you were alone for large periods of the game.  At times some of the acting feels slightly forced and rushed but nothing to take too much notice of.  It is also worthy to note that this is the first AAA-metro title so this will be a learning curve for them.  But the narrative still remains splendid and with a clever opening sequence that brings new players up to speed with what has been happening in the metro as well as refreshes the memories of old returning players.

Crafting & Currency

No longer does the world of metro run on an ammunition-based currency, instead of having merchants and stores you now have a crafting backpack and workbenches scattered around the world.  These benches can be used to craft everything from ammunition to upgrades for your guns and armor and bracer, as long as you have the relevant parts required.  If you want to upgrade your weapons, you can dismantle weapons found in the wild and use those components and place them on your current weapon.  Even though you can craft your own bullets the game still revolves around choosing whether to take the shot and conserving ammo rather than go in all guns blazing. The backpack brings an invaluable addition to the game, having you customize and change attachments to your weapon on the fly and not having to return to base before being able to equip them makes it possible to venture in the great unknown for longer periods before being forced back to base.  A steady aim has become even more essential in Metro Exodus compared to previous titles as the enemies seem to have become more intelligent. pushing and flanking you if you give them the opportunity as well as noticing if you were to extinguish a light to create the cover of dark areas. The combat of Metro Exodus is painfully good.  You will find yourself carefully moving your way around gathering ammo to ensure your future survival when out of nowhere mutants will attack causing you to spray your hard-earned lead savings and having to start all over.  Without giving away too much, the enemy types in Exodus are really vast and combat will never feel repetitive.

Design

Metro Exodus has some incredibly detailed environments, but so do many other titles, but what helps Metro is the minimal menus and on-screen indicators.  This does wonders to help you feel engaged and the way the on-screen displays are crafted, looking down at them doesn't feel like you are looking at a menu, it feels like its just a subtle display, that, in real life, would have been there anyway.  These fine nuances are what makes the realism great.  There is no large glowing indicator on the horizon silently shouting for you to head in a certain direction.  Don't get me wrong Metro doesn't leave you with absolutely nothing to navigate with, Artyom has a compass strapped to his arm, so a subtle swing of the needle on his arm can point you back in the general direction.  Likewise, there is no map in the corner of the screen.  Instead of spotting a glitter of candlelight in a window of a cabin in the distance will show you a possible area of interest.  This way of letting the player discover in their own way does make for pure indulgence.

Fine Details

Apart from the constantly varying quality of the voice-acting, the subtle details and ramifications of your actions in Metro Exodus is something truly great.  Doing little things such as finding a teddy for a little girl on the Aurora seems like a silly quest, but coming back later to see her playing with it makes your efforts worthwhile.  Not all actions have such minor effects on the world.  Disobey an order to not shed any blood during, and your actions might come back to brutally haunt you when you least expect it.  Many of the actions and decisions will be unbeknownst to you until much later in the game, that is what makes the story so interwoven, at no point will you be able to make out which action is a good or a bad action, these actions will simply snowball till you reach the end where they will have an effect on which ending you will experience.

Verdict

Metro Exodus has not changed its recipe, it has not succumbed to the run-and-gun meta that has become the norm of late, no, Metro Exodus encourages you to take your time and not only take-in and appreciate the most detail-rich and atmospheric environment of any story-driven shooter on the current generation platform.  One of the only problems I do find with Metro Exodus is that apart from the diary entries Artyom reads aloud at the beginning of each chapter, he is a completely silent protagonist. But all in all Metro Exodus takes you on an exhilarating and sometimes, horrifying, atmospheric journey through a Russian dystopia jammed full of detail and characters both good and bad around every corner.  Should you try it? Most definitely! You will need to search far to beat the effective use of the survival horror mixed with many hair-raising moments. What cannot be argued is that Metro Exodus is one of the most visually breath-taking games around at this moment and playing it will be not only a visual treat but hair-raising bliss at the same time.  

EARLY AXES RATES: METRO EXODUS

 

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying us with the review code

  Our favorite Russian-Rambo has also wandered and experienced the horrors that can be found in Metro Exodus, here is a video review of his views of the latest installment of the Metro-franchise. Watch on Youtube
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Razer Blackwidow Elite – Review

Coming from a console gaming background, I could never understand what the fuss was about when it came to gaming keyboards and mice(?) over ordinary ones.  With the recent venture into PC gaming as well as the happy coincidence of the Razer Blackwidow elite arriving at my desk for review, I was eager to put the Blackwidow through some gaming-related tests. I am happy to proclaim that I will NEVER be able to go back to a normal type of keyboard EVER again! Razer has been known to be arguably the best gaming peripheral maker around, setting benchmarks with each top-tier creation that they make, forcing their opponents to try and keep up.  The Razer Blackwidow Elite is no different.  Although similar in design to the Huntsman-range, it removes some of the annoyances associated with the huntsman range.  You will find more discrete media controls found at the top-right of the keyboard with a ridged knob that can control either volume of lighting.  An elegant wrist rest that sticks to the bottom of the keyboard via magnets.  USB 3.0 and 3.5mm passthrough ports situated on the left shoulder of the keyboard.  No more macro keys that usually bump up the size of the keyboard and no more deeply recessed keycaps that could possibly hamper the ability to see the spectacular backlighting that the Blackwidow Elite has to offer.  It is not easy to fault the Blackwidow at all apart from slightly below average cable management and, at-times, wonky software.  But generally, this is arguably as close to the perfect keyboard you could possibly come.

Keys

  Razer, as one of the leading creators of peripheral equipment, has created their own type of key switches.  You will have an option between three different styles of keys: loud, tactile Greens, quiet, tactile Oranges, and quiet linear Yellows.  In theory, these new options make for a more comfortable and responsive key but in all honesty ( with no prior Razer key reference) they feel extremely solid and very durable and the clicky noises are nice and not too overbearing.

Features

As you would expect from premium keyboards there are nice features.  Most noticeably are the media controls in the top right corner.  Some of these features are built right into the design of the blackwidow.  USB pass-through has become somewhat of a standard feature in this class of keyboard but the 3.5mm audio pass through is a really nice touch, and the audio quality is pristine.  No matter how much I go into about how glorious the Chroma lighting on the Blackwidow is, can describe what it is to see it for real.  Using the software that you will need to download when you first plug the keyboard in, you will have the ability to not only link other chroma devices together but also set the lighting to pretty much anything your heart and mind can desire.  Razer has taken its colour profiles one step further with custom profiles for certain games!  When playing with different characters in Overwatch, your blackwidow will automatically change to character specific colour patterns.  Chroma is synonymous with the Razer brand and with the latest version of it the possibilities are literally endless with what you can achieve, the only downfall is with such power comes great complexity.  Setting up Chroma across multiple Razer products can be extremely time consuming as well as immensely challenging, yes the results can be astounding so don't simply give up. The rest of the Razer Synapse software package is rather straight forward.  Allowing you to reprogram certain keys, create custom macros, link games with profiles which are easily toggled between, as well as toggle between various game modes which disable certain buttons, such as the windows key.

Performance

Image result for razer blackwidow elite keys The Razer BlackWidow Elite was subjected to a variety of work ranging from everyday office typing and browsing to CS:GO, Apex Legends and R6 Siege.  It was fantastic throughout the many gunfights as well as a barrage of keystrokes it had to endure during the writing of reviews.   During CS:GO and Siege I did, however, find that some macros would have been nice, but it only took a few minutes to program my function keys into macros.

Verdict

The Razer BlackWidow Elite has not only impressed me, but it has made itself invaluable to me...  I cannot go back to anything else.   The couple of weeks I used it as my everyday keyboard for everyday productivity as well as gaming and it is simply spectacular.  Not only does it do the core features, typing, amazingly well.  It blends functionality with great and worthwhile functions and packages it in a stylish well-made unit.  I am 100% sure that Razer will keep improving on what is already close to flawless, and in that way keep shaping and defining their market!  If you are a PC gamer, and in the market for a new keyboard, then the Razer BlackWidow Elite is for you, if you are a Razer fan the steep price tag shouldn't bother you too much and running all your Razer Chroma items together is a sight to behold.

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review item.

 
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No, Problemgon, New World is not “problematic”. You are.

[caption id="attachment_4238" align="aligncenter" width="300"] New World @ Amazon Game Studios[/caption]

Where do I even begin? This has been coming for a while now and I think I’ve finally snapped. I’ve reached the point where I can’t just brush it off anymore as it is having a blatant effect on the gaming culture and painting it in a bad light. For the last few months I’ve been seeing a lot of “controversies” (or “nontroversies” rather?) over video games as well as pandering to people pushing agendas within our gaming communities and I think it’s about time we as gamers start taking the blinkers off and taking note of this venom that’s seeping into our culture, because let’s face it, gaming is a culture.

 Take Amazon’s new game, for example, New World, which they are dubbing as a Survival MMORPG set in a 17th Centaury style fictional land about these explorers arriving and braving the ‘new world’ full of magic and danger. Many are comparing the game to Ark but I think it looks more like Conan Exiles had a love child with The Elder Scrolls Online or older MMOs from back before I knew what the internet was. There are the typical gameplay tropes you’d expect, surviving, crafting, building and exploring but mixed with hubs and character progression akin to traditional MMOs. I don’t want to go too much into the game as this article isn’t really about the game itself. It’s about the fact that upon reading two articles from two very different websites about the game, the one site has a brain when talking about the game and asking questions about the game with the intent to inform while the other site has an agenda.

  [caption id="attachment_4239" align="aligncenter" width="300"] New World @ Amazon Game Studios[/caption]

The two sites in question are Red Bull Gaming and Polygon. I’ll provide links to both sites so that readers can read them both and come to a well-informed opinion but I will be including screenshots of certain things I’d like to comment on. So, in the same vein agenda driven ‘journalists’ like to say, this is my hot take.

Polygon Article: https://www.polygon.com/2019/2/8/18216053/new-world-game-mmo-impressions-preview-colonization-controversy

Red Bull Gaming Article: https://www.redbull.com/za-en/new-world-amazon-games-mmo-interview

An attack on an 'island resident' the caption says, pretty sure that's a zombie...but okay.

 

New World is a Problematic game according to Polygon. Why? It’s set in a new world where players are colonialists who have arrived on the shores of this new world and have to survive. It is also the time of tailcoats and Tricorne Hats which appears to be a big no-no in world building these days.

[caption id="attachment_4242" align="aligncenter" width="229"] @Polygon[/caption]

The writer of the article even states that this setting, although draws from history is set in a fictitious region. So he's upset about a game set in a make belief world that just happens to pull inspiration from the time period. I may be going on a limb here but maybe some of these journalists may be writing down words and trying to make a fuss about something without realising what the words they are jotting down actually mean? It's good to know what words mean before writing something, just a thought.

   

I'm not downplaying history here. History is full of people killing each other for land or money or just for the sake of killing each other. Greed is at the root of all evil, that we can all agree on. Throughout history, all kinds of people have been inflicting harm upon each other. This world has and always will be a bleak place. But by this 'safe space logic', certain parts of history are taboo or at least drawing from them is problematic? These ideas infringe upon creative freedom though. Imagine if all storytellers were scared or banned from touching upon certain things because it may or may not step on toes. But alas, this is exactly what these people want. They want everything to be their way, to conform to their ideas because dare it triggers someone, oh no we can't have that.

The main thing here, or at least what the writer is trying to make the main thing, is the theme of the game. But let's just point out that there are no indigenous people in this game. This is a fantasy game where players have to explore a land untamed with danger. A world where magic is real and the corruption it brings is real too. Any reasonable person would agree that there were no zombies in America during the 1600's...

[caption id="attachment_4244" align="alignleft" width="171"] @ Polygon[/caption]

Oh geez, did Polygon just compare indigenous people to zombies? Isn't that a little counterintuitive to their whole rant here? Looking at the image to the side, the writer just compared Native American Indians to shuffling zombies to suit his reasoning to take a stab at the game. Maybe he has it in for Amazon or something? Maybe he didn't get a refund for a game that offended him? I am absolutely shocked that someone who is educated enough to string words into sentences and build paragraphs would make such a twisted and unfounded connection between zombies and indigenous people. By trying to find offence the writer ended up being offensive himself. The irony is as dense as the reasoning behind all of these nitpicks.

The lore of the game is similar to things we've seen in other games, like Path of Exile. The land is cursed or corrupt hence foul creatures emerge. But the writer of this article clearly wants to paint the picture that these withered creatures are an analogy for something. If you look for fault, you'll find it. That's how the world works. Are these people really progressive? I have to ask because looking at what was written there feels very regressive to me. Is he is going out of his way, beyond all reason just to try to look for something that isn't there?

This entire article is basically one big nitpick at the game but just wait, the pulling at straws gets worse!

Now there is some fact behind this writer, as soon as he starts to make sense he tosses it right out of the window though, as expected.

[caption id="attachment_4246" align="aligncenter" width="234"] @ Polygon[/caption]

Yes, the European Settlers had been exposed to some nasty germs which buffed their immune system, this is due to plague being ripe among overpopulation and/or lack of hygiene. Everyone knows that. And yes, when exposed to the germs that the Europeans carried it wreaked havoc on the population of the indigenous people.

The society at the time was very religious and they did write this off as a justification for everything that was going on at the time and for what they were doing. It was wrong, any decent human being will say it was wrong. But again, this game has no indigenous people. The zombies that do wander are former settlers who had come before and have turned into the wandering husks that they are now. There are no villages of indigenous people that players can expose to Cholera.

[caption id="attachment_4247" align="alignleft" width="271"] @ Polygon[/caption]

The game focuses on PVP between guilds. The game even allows players to create their own Settler determining their race and gender (whether these races are fantasy races like Drawves or Elves or just the colour of the player character's skin remains to be seen) that alone throws out the writer's earlier attempt of bringing race into the game. There's this trend where these game journalists try to nitpick a thing in a game and spin it as something political and when the developer they are talking to says it clearly isn't, the journalist rebukes them and goes on about how it clearly is because, well, you know, "I want it to be and also I need to make it so for the purpose of my article". That's the mentality behind this writer. I've seen this so many times and yet again, without fail, it happened again. Have to give them points for being persistent. I warn you, dear reader, the next image is so stupidly absurd that it may cause the death of some brain cells. I at least have the common decency to give a heads up before showing such utterances.

[caption id="attachment_4248" align="alignright" width="179"] @ Polygon[/caption]

Polygon, word of advice, if a developer says a game isn't what you are trying to make it out to be then it really isn't what you are trying to make it out to be. Now you're really just grasping at straws. They say that the devs are at fault for making these analogies (which is utterly absurd mind you) and the community are a bunch of bigots for enjoying the game but isn't it funny how the only people who are complaining about this and reaching far and wide to pull at these straws are the writers at Polygon and sites like them? It's like they really want it to be the case so that they can have something to rant about. Some could argue it's all about getting clicks on their site but looking at that article I pick up signs of delusion, maybe at first these articles were designed to generate clicks but I think the clickbait game has played the players who play it. They try to depict that the gaming community is so intolerant but when one looks at the community as a whole we clearly aren't. We don't care about who loves who, who believes what or what someone looks like, we just want someone to chase that sweet Victory Royale/ChickenDinner/Apex Champion Status with.

Gaming is a diverse community and a South African Clan,  named F2O, is a testimony to that. They have brought together so many people from different backgrounds and have formed a bond like family. So no, there isn't an intolerance for diversity in gaming, there's an intolerance for bullsh*t.

The only ones who are divided are people like this who write articles like the one shown above with intent to divide. The players who got into the alpha joined looking for fun and not a sensationalized political agenda and low and behold, they are a lot happier about it.

  [caption id="attachment_4249" align="aligncenter" width="281"] F2O Gaming @ Facebook[/caption]  

Talking to a fellow writer on this site about this made me realize something, after reading this article and the article by RedBull Gaming he said how reading the Polygon one was actually draining. The article was about 95% of the writer wanting to be offended but not being able to articulate a rational argument while the last bit briefly informed him on how the game is. Whereas the one by RedBull Gaming was actually informative and a joy to read that created hype for the game.

[caption id="attachment_4250" align="alignleft" width="246"] @ Redbull Gaming[/caption] Here is an example of how different the writing is compared to the agenda driven one that was shown previously. As I said and I'll say it again, the one writer had a brain. The other had an agenda. Are we going to let agendas taint games? Must all developers walk on eggshells for these apparent gamer sites that try to find social injustices in everything? Here's a grand philosophy, I don't think the folks over at these major game news sites can truly grasp this so it may be a mind boggler, but maybe...just maybe video games are a form of escapism from the harshes of reality and we play games to enjoy them rather than be fed a political agenda/message or look for things to nitpick at? Oh wow, mind blown. The crowd goes "ah" as this groundbreaking realization is revealed to them.  If I ever get to interview the devs of this game I hope I get to talk to Patrick Gilmore who was interviewed by both parties and ask him what actually went through his head when he was asked that ridiculous question by the Polygon journalist. Because I'd really like to know. And if anyone at Polygon saw this, I'd undoubtedly be labelled as all sorts of nasty things because well, firstly I don't share their opinion and secondly, as a fellow writer of all things video games, I'm calling them out on their misguided and agenda-driven 'journalism'. (if we can even call it that..)        

Well to them, I'm sorry if my abundance of common sense offends you.

New World is expected to have a beta in the coming months but no official announcement has been made as of the current time of writing.

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Just Cause 4 – Familiar, in a bad way!

The Just Cause-franchise has always been a little special.  The special child that does things to their own beat, not caring what other people think.  Just Cause found its place with sheer and utter chaos...  Mix that with painfully cliched, B-movie action styled story line and predictable story, Just Cause 4 feels like a reskin of Just Cause 3.  This is not to say that being like Just Cause 3 is a bad thing, JC3 was a massive success and helped to redefine what true open-world creativity and destruction should be.  It is understandable that Square Enix went with the tried and tested plan and they stuck too it...  just a little too much.  Just Cause 3 was great, it has insane destruction and beautiful settings,  but 3 years since its launch,  why remake it again, slap a big price tag to it and change the 3 to a 4...  But its not all doom and gloom...   Image result for just cause 4 hd   As in Just Cause 3, you take the roll of one-man-army Rico Rodriguez.  Rico needs to visit the South American island of Solis.  As the story with all cliched action movies go, Solis is run by a bad man and his army of bad guys,  Rico needs to destroy this dictatorship and remove the oppression created by this bad man...  queue lengthy, predictable cut scenes and dialogues.   Just Cause 3 alone possessed an immense amount of gadgets to do with as you please.  From strapping rockets to cows and sky surfing 18 wheeler trucks.  Just Cause 4 takes that and gives you even more but your greatest power is the wrist-tether.  With this the island of Solis becomes as big a play area as your imagination allows, you will be zooming across the landscapes, scale buildings effortlessly or ram into enemies.   Image result for just cause 4 hd   What really made the franchise stand out from the rest is taking Rico and wandering into a heavily fortified area, be it a mine, nuclear station, harbor or factory and simply letting loose the dogs of war!  Violence is literally limited by your imagination.  Shoot the shiny fuel containers to start a cacophony of explosions with vehicles whizzing through the air, enemies are gunned down and innocent bystanders are hilariously hooked to balloons and left to dangle by their ankles...  In any other game the sight of a tank or helicopter would stop most heroes in their tracks, but to Rico, they become opportunities rather than threats.  Rico can commandeer any vehicle or weapon the enemies see fit to throw at him. But what really sets Just Cause 4 apart from its predecessors is the distinct focus on extreme weather conditions.  Rico's target is a weather guru, who likes to unleash natural weather phenomenon such as tornadoes and blizzards on his own people.  Naturally, it is Rico's mission to stop this mad man and turn his power to control mother nature back on himself.  For the imaginative players out there, Just Cause 4 can offer hours of creative-destructive fun.  From smashing things together to destroy the enemies to collapsing towers to pulverize the bad guys.   Image result for just cause 4 hd   This all sounds rather fun, and it is fun until the destructive free-roam becomes boring and you find yourself stumbling back to the story.  The story and missions are, plainly put, predictable and extremely repetitive.  Missions do not feel fresh, known elements are simply rearranged in different patterns to create a "new" mission.  Missions are also set great distances apart, in a game like this that is usually a good thing allowing for some fun en-route to your next mission but once you arrive at the new mission, it feels like you are still in the same location.  This repetition peaks during timed missions, you will find yourself restarting missions aplenty which is a sign of poor design.  UI problems are frequent and the general sense of direction is troublesome at best.  Side-missions will see you drive someplace, attack some people, rinse and repeat. Solis does offer a massive map which boasts various environments ranging from mountains, cities, jungles, beaches and an infinite variety of vehicles to use or destroy as you please.  What really hampers Just Cause 4 is the fact that it has to compete with high-detail competitors such as the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassins' Creed Odyssey which all have a living and breathing world that you step into.  Compared to them the Just Cause 4 universe just feels a little too simulated and forced compared to the above-mentioned worlds that ooze finesse and meticulously created and interwoven storylines.  Had Just Cause 4 been released at the beginning of the current generation of consoles, it would have been genre leading where video game-standard storytelling was acceptable.  Simply having Rico's mouth off a few funny lines here and there would have made the game acceptable but instead, it came out after this generation has already experienced the likes of the Witcher 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2...  Next, to those titles, Just Cause 4 feels a little amateurish.   Image result for just cause 4 hd   Square Enix clearly wanted the game to be something where it evolves to a more liberating game of exploration and experimentation but what it does is land short of that mark.  Don't get me wrong, doing the "Just Cause"-thing is still tremendously fun but it doesn't do enough to capture an audience and keep them glued.  Square Enix will need to revitalize their ideas to keep this franchise relevant and vital.  It should look back to what made Just Cause 3 such a hit.  Destroy the established order and find something fresh in the ensuing wreckage.   Image result for 5 stars out of 10    

Special thanks to Megarom for supplying the review copy of Just Cause 4 on Xbox One

  Image result for megarom
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Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem Review

 

Whether you like it or not mobile games have been on the rise for years. With our smartphones getting more and more advanced with each new version so too are the games that we find on our app stores.

One such game is Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem. A turn-based strategic RPG that includes the familiar characters from the timelessly classic Looney Tunes franchise and right off the bat, it brings a certain nostalgia seeing these characters whack each other over the head with hammers. That slapstick humour is probably one of the reasons why so many enjoyed watching Looney Tunes as a child and this game honours that in every way, from the graphics and art style to the sound and even the materials needed to tune up characters, it’s Looney Tunes through and through. The gameplay is standard turn-based RPG stuff that we have seen on the app store before. Players level up their toons and build the ideal squad then face off against the AI or teams put together by other players (more on that later) by taking turns utilizing their squads. The formula may be a bit overused for mobile games but it is a formula that is fun and has the depth that causes one to carefully plan their next move. This genre of game is similar to chess. One needs to know how their characters fit in the squad and their strengths and weaknesses. Support characters that buff and heal, Tank characters that taunt and put out heavy damage. Attackers that aren’t so good with taking damage but dish a lot of it out with Area of Effect abilities. The game feels balanced and it’s fun to see a new foe and study their abilities as you try to figure out how to deal with them quickly and effectively.   There is a campaign that that involves Marvin the Martian who has captured all the Toons and has made clones which is a clever excuse for so many different variants of the same character. (Bugs Bunny does different things to his clone, Barber Bugs and so on). To collect a character one has to acquire a certain amount of pieces that they get from a currency called “Reatomizers”. The more you get, the higher star rating the character. The depth of the game comes in the levelling up system. By gaining pieces players can evolve the character’s star level. Which levels up their base stats, then there are the XP potions that level them up according to the player’s own level and finally the tune-up levels which add passive skills as well as a boost in ability stats. These require materials like anvils and dynamite which can be gained by completing missions or telling Toons to complete time-based tasks in the game's cute town building mode. Luckily, completed campaign missions that have been cleared on a three-star rating can be “auto-won” which skips the fight and gives the rewards at the cost of the energy needed to enter the duel. Each region has specific Toons that are required to complete the missions within that region. So Desert characters are needed for the desert region although there are two separate regions, namely the WB Studios and "Avalooney" regions that don’t have their own campaigns but rather lend their characters to other regions which is a nice balancing technique if a player wants to do a desert mission but lacks any desert characters but has a few good WB Studio characters. The PVE is fun and with a quick pan of the map, one can see possible future regions in the works, like a Blueprint of a town layout in the corner of the map. It’s no surprise as characters like Taz and Tweety are featured in the loading screen but are not in the game at the time this review was written yet a quick glance at the game’s social media pages shows them in the games art style which is a clear indication they are quickly on their way and judging from the community’s response to the beloved characters, the anticipation sits heavy in the air like an anvil over Daffy Duck’s head. The PVP is where a lot of fun is to be had. Even more so with the Alliance feature. My friends and I have formed an alliance and partake in PVP events whenever they appear which is at least twice a week. These events are cleverly planned out. For every PVP fight a player does, they get a rating. To earn three stars which is the best rating one can get they need to take out each enemy on the screen. These stars contribute to the clan’s chest which levels up every X amount of stars and with each level up the chest becomes more lucrative. Best of all, once the event is over the chest opens instantly which is a good thing because the PVP isn’t only about taking stars and increasing your league points. It wouldn’t be Looney Toons without some mischief. Each region has a bank, these banks are used to open crates with good ol’ loot inside. But it takes time to open these crates. Players are then required to lay down a squad to defend that crate while the clock ticks because, you guessed it, the PVP is raid based. Your squad defends while a player tries to attack and steal. It’s all about numbers, the stronger the squad, the better the defence. The AI is quite formable so the system works well. The game's animation and characters work well. Who knew Looney Tunes would translate into a turn-based game so well? Characters behave just as you’d expect. Granny, the nurturing old lady is a healer. Houston the Bulldog is a Tank. It makes sense in this Looney world. Some of the animations are similar. Bugs Bunny’s basic attack is pulling a lever and dropping an anvil on a character while Wile E. Coyote pulls on a lever and drops a safe on a character but I suppose in a game such as this, too many different animations may be a bit too much. A nifty little feature comes in the form of a fast forward button which speeds up the animations which are perfect for sneaking in a quick few rounds while on lunch break. There is a ton of things to do in this game besides the campaign, from daily objectives to daily challenges as well as timed events and the PVP and that’s not mentioning the town mode where players have to build dwellings and send their Toons on timed tasks to farm resources. This game keeps one busy. As for microtransactions, the game feels balanced enough to make those feel like a choice and never forced on a player in order to progress which is a thing a lot of freemium and even some Triple-A games have forgotten these days. I have not spent a cent in the game and not once have I felt like I had to in order to enjoy it. The grind is there but it isn’t a ridiculous grind.  

The part of the game that does feel lacking is the Town aspect. It’d be nice to see more content there in the form of decorations and more customisable options for our little towns. Seeing the Toons march around in the streets just makes me want to make their world a nicer place to live in. Also, rotating buildings would be a nice touch.

   

Overall, Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem is as fun as it is chaotic and I'm still surprised how this game has hooked me as it has.  With the copious amount of things to do and earn and making enemies by stealing chests, this game has a lot to offer and it’s even more fun in a clan with friends. Playing this game will make you feel a tad Looney and to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with that.  It's nice to see these classic characters doing what they do best on a modern platform.  Though I really wish there were more to do with the towns.

Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem gets 9/10 carrots from me. That’s what’s up, Doc.

Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem is free on the Play and App Store

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Darksiders 3 – Review

Games in recent times have become all about either having a "massive Open-World" in which to explore!  Or "endless features", the dreaded "battle Royale" or even "no singleplayer" built into their every grain.  And with good reason.  That IS what is popular at this point in the gaming world.  Darksiders 3 takes all the above and throws them out the window.  No Open-World, no Battle Royale, No multiplayer!  What you get is a third-person hack-slash game that has almost no regard for the "norm" of hand-holding or tutorials.  Darksiders 3 feels nothing to stop your progress right in its tracks throwing a seemingly impossible puzzle or boss fight.  But with some exploration and trail and error, you can move on with the roughly 20 hour story!  In the past decade we have not seen many games not following the recipe of booming open-world exploration and playing Darksiders 3 makes you realize that that is perfectly fine!   Image result for darksiders 3 1080p   For those who have not played any of the previous games, Darksiders puts you in the shoes of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse.  War, Death, Famine and this time around you step out as Fury!  She is tasked to go and find the Seven deadly sins, which has been released on humankind due to a rather intricate backstory running through Darksiders 1 and 2.  All you need to know is that THE seven deadly sins have been released and Fury needs to stop them all.  Each of these sins are naturally a major boss fight.  The acting can, at times, be rather predictable and somewhat cheesy but this doesn't take away from the great, yet simple, fighting system that the Darksiders-franchise employs! Graphically Darksiders 3 can not stand up to the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War and many of the other major titles of the last year, but Darksiders 3 doesn't seem to care.  Darksiders 3 takes its stylized cartoonish characters and makes it its own.  The environment does look rather bland and limited but once again Darksiders 3 makes no excuses and just accepts the way it is and keeps moving forward.   Image result for darksiders 3 1080p   Hacking and slashing is where Darksiders 3 REALLY excels!  This might be a hack-slash game on the surface but you would do well to not simply meander into a large group of enemies and simply expect to mash buttons and walk out of the fight unscathed, oh no.  For you to survive, even on the easiest difficulty it will require you to observe and place some well-timed counter attacks as repayment for your enemies unkindness.  If you don't you will be  swiftly punished.  As the game goes on you will eventually build up quite the tell-signs of each type of enemy you have faced. As you continue through the game Fury will receive many arsenal upgrades which not only gives you new ways to destroy the hordes of enemies thrown at you, but with the expanding arsenal comes new movement powers which will grant you access to areas around the map which you would previously not be able to reach.  This is a clever way of re-using the same map later on during the game.  Being one of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse you would think that after some leveling up, naturally, Fury would become immensely strong which allow her to make short work of all the fodder-enemies that gets thrown at her.  But no, thanks to enemy scaling, Fury can be thwarted quite easily by normal scrub enemy.  After the first few boss-fights the tables suddenly turn, instead of simply evading and hacking away at the lifebar of the enemy boss, it will feel like you have hit a wall.  None of your coaxing will get the boss to reveal its weakness or "tell".  But with persistence relief will finally come, I assure you.  In this form Darksiders 3 goes back to old school gaming, where developers were not scared to throw immense difficulty at you, making you work for every inch you get in their game.   Image result for darksiders 3 fury 1080   Darksiders 3 is not a open-world game, instead it is more old-school.   Leading you from one room to the next all while working towards your main objective.  The next of the seven deadly sins!  During your adventure you will mainly be occupied by killing enemies but there is also environmental puzzles which will keep you occupied for awhile on more than one occasion.  

Verdict

Overall Darksiders 3 doesn't try to be like anything else.  It knows what it is and what it tries to achieve.  And for that I commend it.  Yes the environment can be a little bland, yes the graphics doesn't match what has become a standard in the current industry but that is okay because Darksiders 3 is not meant for "everyday" gamers.  Darksiders 3 comes to life when it challenges you, and it really does challenge you.  Yes this can make Darksiders 3 seem rather old fashioned, but with the way Darksiders 3 ends, maybe the next Darksiders can spice things up and bring the franchise to the modern gaming time.   Image result for 7 out of 10 star  

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review copy

 
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Interview with Toy Photographer Eric Ruiz

Toy Photography has a huge community on Instagram and the work of famous Toy Photographer Mark Hogancamp has been featured in art galleries and his inspirational story is even being adapted into a movie coming later this month starring Steve Carell.

Anyone that knows me knows that I love action figures and I like snapping photos of them even more. So I decided to do a little interview with the guy whose photography inspired me to take my toys off the shelf and tell the stories that I wanted to tell through photography.

 

This is Eric Ruiz.

   

Q: Can you please introduce yourself and tell our readers a bit about you?

A:  My name is Eric Ruiz, I'm 34 years old, I was born and raised in Los Angeles CA, I'm currently living in Xalapa Mexico. I'm a US Marine Veteran. I like Martial arts and I teach Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in my dojo down here in Mexico. I'm a fan of Marvel, DC, DragonBall, Wrestling and of course video games Ps4.

 Q: How did you get into toy photography and for how long have you been doing it?

A: I was really looking for another way to keep my mind busy, after been in the Marines, sometimes it's hard to keep your inside beast under control, so I discovered that there was a marine taking pictures of his Stormtroopers and making some war scenes with them, I started following him on Instagram (@galacticwarfighters) and I got in love with his work and I said I have to start playing again, I purchased my 1st camera (Sony DSC-300) and since I have always been a fan of action figures I started taking pictures of them, at first it was just for fun but then I started getting more and more into it, so I enrolled my self into a photography degree online, I finished a few months ago and I was very pleased with the results. 

Q: How did you discover the toy photography community and what are your thoughts on it?

A: I discovered the community when I started using the tag #toyphotography. A lot of Toy Photographers came and likee and commented [on] my photos, so I started following them and I think it's one of the greatest communities out there. 

   

Q:  Do you consider toy photography as an art form?

A: No doubt, I think the work that you put behind the scenes on a photo, the pose, the practical effects, the set up to get to the final product it's an art no doubt. 

 

Q: Tell us about the process of how you take a picture. From finding a spot to idea conception to the setup and finally taking the picture.

A: First I get the idea of what I want to do, what's going to be the figure or figures I'm going to use, then I decide if it's going to be indoors or outdoors if I'm going to use practical effects or digital effects etc. If it's going to be an outdoor shot, I make sure the spot it's suitable for the location, I like taking most of my photos outside due to the natural lighting but I also take a bunch of shots inside, if it's going to be inside I make sure the area it's clear of house items, you don't want to make a scene of Kratos fighting Thanos and there is a bottle of soda in the background, I make sure that the scenario fits or simulates the dopeness that is needed for a fight like that. 

 

Q: What is your camera setup? Do you have multiple cameras?

A: The set up depends on the environment, I always tried to keep the ISO to the lowest to avoid the graininess in the pictures, I have 2 cameras both are Sony. I have a Sony A9 and the camera I started with [a] Sony DSC-300.

   

Q: Are all your photos planned beforehand or do you have spur of the moment pictures?

A: I will say is a little bit of both, sometimes I try to recreate scenes from movies and sometimes they just flash into my head and sometimes from those pictures comes the next idea and so on and so forth.

Q: Tell us more about the practical effects that you add in some of your pictures.

A:  They are my favourite, the practical effects that I have been using are fireworks, and my best friend the compressed air, it also depends on the photo that I will be taking but the compressed air works for mostly every photo. I use it to create a bit of atmosphere. I also use flour to recreate snow, water and dirt also work really good for practical effects. 

   

Q: What is your favourite figure in your collection?

A: I would have to say Kratos from Neca

Q: What is your advise to collectors who may want to dabble in toy photography?

A: The main thing is to have fun doing it. Doesn't matter what your goal in Toy Photography is. Try to learn as much as possible about photography, maybe you can't get into a photography school but, there are a bunch of tutorials that you can use on YouTube, don't get discouraged if other Toy Photographers have a better camera of better figures, each of us have different styles and different goals and lots people have the money to invest in gear, figures etc. But that's is not the most important of all, you can have the best camera ever, but still, your photo can suck, so it's better to study and learn about photography and then if there is a chance, you get a good camera. But no matter what just have fun!

 

 

You can follow Eric on Instagram @erbigtoys as well as finding him on Facebook via the link below. Because where else will you see Thanos pushing Deadpool in a trolly?

https://web.facebook.com/ErbigToyPhoto/?

 

All images provided and owned by Eric Ruiz.

     
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Battlefield 5 Review

Never in the field of human conflict, has so much, been owed by so many, to so few!

Winston Churchill

World War 2 saw what is arguable some of the fieriest and horrific actions known to mankind.  Gaming thrives on moments like these.  We see many games pushing the envelope when it comes to wow-ing the audience.  Many FPS titles desensitize the player from what is happening making it out as if one man with a gun and bravery can single-handedly change the course of history and that life is nothing more than waiting a few seconds to respawn or going back to a checkpoint and trying again.  Battlefield 5 wants you to experience what it feels like to be one of the many soldiers during this time.  Battlefield 5 makes you experience the futility of being just a number.  Battlefield 5 shows you the atrocities of war! Many developers have decided to drop campaigns, such as Call of Duty Black Ops 4 did to rather focus on what is popular at the moment, which is battle royale.  The few games that do decide to include a single player aspect, can often become more of a tutorial to the more popular multiplayer section.  Battlefield 5 however decided to keep the campaign, and looking at the massive production value that was put into BF1's war stories it was only right to assume more of the same when it came to BF5.  The war stories of Battlefield 5 are very much like those of BF1.  They feature unknown stories and tell the untold stories of brave men and women who fought in the great war.   Image result for battlefield 5 war stories hd

War Stories

The 4 chapters which all are roughly around 2 hours long, will take you on a whirlwind adventure through some of the most beautiful scenery ever seen in the Battlefield franchise.  Battlefield has always been known for its large-scale warfare and being a run-and-gun shooter with weapons and ammo everywhere.  This is why it is strange that 2 out of the 4 chapters of the war stories are predominantly focused around a just-okay stealth system.  Also another strange aspect is that most of these missions are fought on foot instead of using all the vehicular warfare that BF has become known for.  Apart from the intriguing stories that these chapters have to offer and the stunning surroundings and environments you will be fighting through, the BFV war stories, unfortunately leaves a lot on the table in terms of possibilities. The first chapter, Under no Flag, sees a former bank robber being recruited to join a "special" group of soldiers by a veteran soldier.  Their mission, sabotage.  Their missions take you to Northen Africa with rather linear stealth missions to start later turning into a final stand.  The storyline is rather cliched but the acting and many humorous dialogues between the two really strengthens their characters during the rather short time you spend playing with them.  During the second mission is where the world opens up allowing you to tackle each objective in any order you please.   Image result for battlefield 5 under no flag   Nordlys, the second campaign take you to a Nazi occupied Norway where you take control of a young female resistance fighter.  The best part of this chapter is the ability to jump on snow skis and silently skiing past unsuspecting Nazi's killing them silently with throwing knifes!  As you progress through the frozen masterpiece that is Norway, with spectacular views of the northern lights as well as spine-chillingly spectacular snow storms, DICE employed a new mechanic which requires you to warm yourself to avoid freezing.  The longer you stay out in the blizzard the slower your movements and reactions will become.  This chapter is great in itself but due to the resistance fighters being Norwegian this meant subtitles.  What also adds to the punch of this chapter is it showcases what many non-soldiers were willing to do to save their own countries which DICE does a great job of portraying the feeling of being a single person trying to overthrow the might of a Nazi Germany.   Image result for battlefield 5 Nordlys   Chapter 3, which probably is the best of the chapters available at launch, called Tirailleur which showcases the costs of human bravery, sacrifice and ambition.  Seeing many non-French natives coming to fight for a country they have never seen.   Not only does it showcase the mentioned topics it also deftly deals with the topic of race during the liberation of France.  Apart from all the racial and political ties during this chapter, this is the first time that you feel you are part of a platoon during a war, rather than a super - call-of-duty-esque- soldier.  From the start you are fighting next to your fellow soldiers who get cut down right next to you on either side.  For the first time you feel vulnerable, which is what it must have been like, your life can be ended at any moment by a stray bullet, and that is what is achieved in Tirailleur.  Seeing autumn leaves blowing over the corpses of your friends really hits home the atrocity of war! This is also the chapter that shows you a glimpse of what Battlefield is known for, large-scale warfare!   Image result for battlefield 5 tirailleur   The fourth and final chapter is The Last Tiger which has you take control of a non-Nazi German who has been assigned to a tank crew.  The Last Tiger being spectacular as expected with lots of tank warfare which is really well done giving you the sense of power of being in a Tiger tank yet the large target placed on you in any battle but even more so it tries to give the view of a non-Nazi who is thrust into a war he does not necessarily agree with.  DICE has gone to great lengths to make their rather short campaign have some significance with the stories they tell.  Battlefield V does a really great job of that building from the great playability of the BF1 campaign and adding an emotional connection to it.  Telling us how terrible war really is and how many unnamed people lost their lives to protect what we have today.   Image result for battlefield 5 campaign  

   Multiplayer

  DICE said right from the beginning that the multiplayer experience in BFV would be more team orientated.  Gone are the BF1 glory days of simply grabbing your Helreigel and annihilating the enemies to the point of having a score card with players sitting on 40 kills for 0 deaths, no, this has changed dramatically for the better.  DICE has taken the default mechanics and moved them a few steps closer to hardcore.  Health regeneration has been drastically changed and is now limited as well as the hotly debated TTK ( time to kill) has also been reduced making you take less bullets before you die. And the spotting system being almost entirely removed apart from a few applicable gadgets sees BFV lend from other more tactical shooters such as Rainbow 6 Siege, making for a better  all-round experience.  Snipers deal less damage which leads to a much snappier feeling of gunplay without buffing and nerfing other classes.  The removal of the spotting mechanic encourage you to spend more time being engrossed in the superb environments rather than being stuck staring at your HUD.  On a whole, all these changes have created a team-oriented experience, more accurate gunplay which makes hitting that headshot so much more satisfying which, in turn, creates a more satisfying experience. Why should you focus on squad play?  Here is why.  Health regeneration does not regen past a certain point, unless you use a medikit, of which ( unless you are a medic) you can only carry one.  When spawning you will be issued with significantly less ammo, above that ammo supplies are less abundant, meaning your support-class player has become extremely valuable.  These adjustments make you consider your actions more carefully.  No more running into situation mindlessly.  Any class can now revive a downed team mate but with less effectiveness than a medic can, another incentive to both have a medic on your squad as well as sticking with the said medic.  The revive action has seen a much needed nerf by means of making the animation somewhat slower.   Image result for battlefield 5 multiplayer revive   The weaponry of BFV feel great.  Apart from the new customization features that feels a lot closer to Battlefield 4 customization level, the overall recoil and feel of the weapons are much more predictable and manageable compared to the spray of BF1.  Classes, apart from the medic which only wields SMGs, are not limited to one type of weapon.  Support class can wield from shotguns, LMGs and MMGs.  What makes this even more magical is that each of these weapons feel unique enough to have them feel like they each have a use for different situations.  Another big change is the fact that scopes now come unlocked from rank 1.  No extra grind is needed to unlock the basic sights.  This is a very thoughtful change as there is nothing more frustrating as unlocking a new weapon but having no sights to use on it yet which sees you becoming useless for some time as you are required to run around using no sights until you can unlock them. 2 new features in the weapon system is the weapon progession and aesthetic customizations.  Weapon progression allows you to customize your weapon to your play style as you rank up the weapon giving you options to reduce recoil or be more accurate from hip-fire for example.  This way you can setup each of your weapons individually over time.  The second customization feature is aesthetic skins which are unlocked by performing certain tasks.  Not only is this a welcome feature it is also fun to be able to see a fellow soldiers skins and appreciate what needed to be done to acquire said skins rather than randomly get them in loot crates.   Image result for battlefield 5   The vehicular warfare, as Battlefield is known for, is somewhat dwarfed by the fact that, unlike BF1 where vehicles were less, you will find yourself force-picking assault class just to try and manage the sheer number of tanks or planes.  In BF1 tanks and planes were a menace but you knew that there were not that many of them.  But that was World War 1 and so we have progressed to a more mechanical age and the increase in vehicles make sense, but I can't help but feel that the relationship between infantry and vehicles is somewhat binary.   Image result for battlefield 5 rotterdam tanks     Battlefield maps are notorious for being magnificent specimens of gorgeously crafted environments that possesses the ability to make destruction seem magical, and BF5 is no different.  The 8 maps that are available from launch will take you through the war-torn streets of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.  The next map, also in the Netherlands is Devastation which showcases the destruction that was left during the battle between the Dutch and the Germans.  Devastation also features dynamic destruction so expect it to change significantly after a few explosions.  Twisted Steel will take players to the serene fields of France, with open fields which are great spots for aerial bombardments as well as sniper choke points.  Yellow fields is another French map this time taking place around a little village with lots of close quarter battles as well as artillery playing a big role in this map.  Hamada takes you to North Africa which saw many large scaled tank battles.  DICE has said that Hamada will require good teamwork in using tanks and vehicles to capture the objectives.  Airfield is the second North Africa map and sees a destroyed airfield with many burnt out planes play host to all our warfare.  The last two maps are situated in the snowy mountains of Norway, dubbed Narvik and Snow Mountain.  Narvik takes you to a ( once) beautiful mountainside village that has seen serious war,  lots of cover is provided by the war-torn buildings with a rather large bridge playing host to many a long range enthusiast .  Snow mountain, as the name suggests, wil have you battling around and in the mountains, not much in the way of vehicular warfare but do expect the occasional bombardment from above.   Image result for battlefield 5   Not all these maps transpire well to all the available game modes in BF5 but these will certainly be tweaked and corrected with future updates.  New and noteworthy additions to the already long list of game modes that we saw during BF1 are; Grand Operations which will as in the past expand as the (free) DLCs arrive over time. Conquest and Domination are likely to be the popular modes and DICE's take on the Battle Royale, Firestorm is sure to be a hit among most players when it launches some time after the launch of BF5.  

Verdict

Battlefield 5 is a good game!  Delivering what has become expected from the franchise and improving on it.  There is no embarrassment in borrowing ideas from other games like Battlefield has done.  But firstly DICE will need to take drastic measures in curbing the amount of glitches which are abundant at the moment.  If DICE can clean this up and listen to their audience in terms of doing what the audience want they will have a hit!  Graphically the game is astounding even on the Original Xbox One without HDR or 4K.  The campaign is rather short but not many people who have bought Battlefield 5 would have been buying with the campaign as their only reason for buying!  Firestorm which has not yet been launched will play a massive part in the longevity of Battlefield 5.  Multiplayer is where the magic happens and to be honest at the moment the magic is slightly underwhelming.  Yes the ideas and changes are great but they have not been executed to their full potential just yet.  Battlefield 5 is a very formidable game and if DICE do the future updates right, Battlefield 5 has the potential to trump even the likes of the legendary Battlefield 4.

Please DICE, don't let this become another Battlefield 1, rather spend some time fixing all the little niggly bits and give the battlefield-family what they truly want!

  Image result for 7/10 stars  

Thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review copy

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Farming Simulator 19 – Review – Gorgeous Monotony

Simulator games have been around for as long as I can remember.  Flight simulator was a big one and many other games strive to be more simulator-like with each outing, such as majority of the racing titles like Assetto Corsa and Forza Motorsport.  These are all more mainstream titles and if you were to delve deeper into the simulator-genre you would be surprised at how many people want to simulate everyday mundane jobs in gaming.  Games such as Euro Truck Simulator and Construction Simulator are taking realism to the next level including every inch of detail.  Simulator games caters to the inquisitive side of the human nature.  Have you ever wanted to drive a truck, fly a plane, build a roller coaster, race a F1 car...  There is a simulator for everything!   Image result for farming simulator 19 hd   Focus Home Interactive has been at the forefront of the Simulator genre with their various outings of Farming Simulator.  This time around they have made huge improvements which really makes Farming Simulator 19 something special.  Featuring a complete graphical overhaul ,which is immediately evident, Farming Sim 19 takes gets you elbow deep in the real farming experience, from starting up your tractor to sowing every seed. Right from the start it is advisable to work through all the tutorials, and they are rather extensive.  Farming is not easy, and there are many steps involved if you want to be a fruitful farmer, in real life or in the game.  After the extensive tutorials you will be able to start your first farm.  This is where you will get your first glimpse of the new reworked graphical system.  Every inch of farming from the mechanical aspects to the graphical are meticulously copied and the results are amazing.  walking through grass or crops will have them bend and sway according to the way they are manipulated.   Image result for farming simulator 19 hd   Farming simulator 19 gives you, the farmer, the freedom from the onset.  If you want to become a logging mogul, you can grab your chainsaw and build your empire one tree at a time.  If you are more interested in being a livestock farmer, which is one of the newer features of the Farming Simulator franchise, you can focus on chickens, sheep, pigs, cows and even horses.  You can also go the more traditional way of crop farming which will have you planting and growing crops and then selling them at the store.  All of these realistic options comes as a breath of fresh air as many Simulators create rather ludicrous scenarios.   Image result for farming simulator 19 hd   The options don't end there, apart from the above mentioned, you can also simply hop on your tractor, a John Deere if you'd like, which is the newly included brand by the way, and meander about the vast countryside and even do a few fetch-and-deliver or lending a hand on neighboring farms.  It's a worthy side note that neighboring farms are few and far between in the rather barren countryside.  When you get down to farming your own land is when the game becomes interesting.  Without really any sort of direction or mission you are literally left on your own with no clear objective apart from farming and amassing money.   Image result for farming simulator 19 hd   So, there you are, fresh from your tutorial, ready to face farming head-on, but what next...  And that is one of the biggest challenges of Farming Sim 19, for greenhorn farmers who have not spent time on previous titles the UI can be extremely challenging as well as having absolutely zero cues on what you should do next.  This is a double edged blade tho.  Nice in the sense that it will allow you to do whatever you want, but frustrating in the sense that even when you decide what you want to do, you might not know how to do it.  After some time you should at least be able to find your way around the UI and the magnitude of steps that go into any process that you take on.  Even a simple task like growing wheat takes many steps before you will see your very first head of wheat starting to appear.  From cultivating, plowing to sowing, to clearing weeds, fertilizer.  The list goes on.  Same goes for all the other types of farming you can try on farming Sim 19 and the 300 plus types of heavy machinery at your disposal, which sounds great but for a non-farmer knowing what 90% of them do is a challenge in its own.   Image result for farming simulator 19 hd   A nice touch that players can be thankful for, unlike real farming where you need to wait months for your newly planted wheat to grow you can now simply speed up growing times which makes the longs waits slightly shorter.  Now all of this seems rather hard work, thankfully you can hire someone to do the monotonous work for you.  You could tune into one of the numerous radio stations while riding your tractor up and down but if you need someone to plow your fields, simply hire a helper!  If AI help is not your thing  jump into the 6 player multiplayer!  This lets you join a few buddies and work the farm...  The multiplayer did see its fair share of problems joining other gaming sessions but the first patch is set to sort all of that out.  It is also good to note that multiplayer farm sessions don't carry over to your single player sessions.  

Verdict

Farming Simulator 19 takes all the good aspects from previous titles and improves in every way possible.  Graphics have been reworked and really looks great.  Farming Sim 19 is a extremely fun game to play and will have time flying by faster than you can imagine.  Hours will become minutes.  To new players tho, Farming Simulator 19, like its predecessors will cause some frustration during the first few hours as the UI is not very intuitive and does not offer much in terms of guidance.  Looking past that, Farming Sim 19 is a enjoyable title and shows improvement and expansion on previous outings.   Image result for 7/10 stars  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review game

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Call of Cthulhu – Review

If I am Mad, it's a mercy! May the gods pity the man who is in his callousness, can remain sane.

H.P. Lovecraft

  HP Lovecraft is synonymous with horror and science fiction and is endeared as one of the most imaginative figures of the genre, and even if you haven't heard of Mr Lovecraft you are sure to have heard about Cthulhu, arguably his most well-known creation.  Call of Cthulhu takes many cues from the work of HP Lovecraft to create a likeness that any sci-fi horror enthusiast that picks a good story over gameplay and mechanics any day.

Not a big reader?  Rather watch a video review?  THEED3 has you coveredTHEED3 reviews Call of Cthulhu.

Image result for call of cthulhu   After a rather strange yet intriguing intro you find yourself in the shoes of Edward Pierce, a rather blank character apart from being a alcoholic war veteran and a private investigator.  As the player you are tasked with adding skill points to certain areas of PI Pierce which in turn will affect the way clues are gathered and investigations will go.  Areas such spot hidden, which as the name suggests, will help you not get noticed as easily.  Eloquence, which will help you persuade people you speak with easily.  Strength will help you force open doors and break lock mechanisms.  Psychology will allow you to intemperate clues and make connections faster.  Occultism which gives you greater understanding of things of the spiritual nature such as magic and astrology.  These skills, and how to place your available points to them, is what creates the intrigue in CoC, there are many ways to reach your end result, but each skill will take you via a different route to get to the desired location.  With Edward Pierce being more of a medium to tell the story, it allows for less time to be spent on portrayal of the main narrator of the story and more time fleshing out the story and plot which will draw you in from the first few minutes of the game.   Image result for call of cthulhu   The game starts like most B-grade detective stories, Edward Pierce a PI with a bit of a drinking problem gets a rather peculiar case. Not much is given away during the game and finding the needed clues really is fun and shows what makes Call of Cthulhu a good solid game.  Investigating is a real delight due to the extremely atmospheric environment you find yourself in.  It truly feels like nothing you do or interact with in the environment is without purpose.  Picking up books and reading them can add to your medical talents, picking up on environmental hints, all factor in.  Edward can use all the hard-earned clues that you have so painstakingly gathered and create a sort of "reconstruction"  allowing you to see how all said clues piece together.  During these scenes it is tough to not find yourself sitting forward in your seat wanting to see and figure out where to go next, when, not by being told, but by being led, one finds the answer and find yourself simply saying "wow".  The CSI-esque moments that are all over CoC could really have fallen flat and become quite a chore like they usually are in pretty much every other detective styled game ever created, but Edward Pierce seems to have the same questions  I have, making me want to ask and investigate!  This makes a usually terrible game mechanic and turns it into one of the strengths of Call of Cthulhu. Many other sequences, such as the brief attempt and combat and stealth is a rather poor attempt at them and could have been better left untouched.  During your play-through you will also encounter a true Lovecraftian-horror portrayal of a strange version of cat-and-mouse which will have you scratching your head trying to figure out what is needed.  This takes from the attempt at being a frightening situation and turns it more to a mundane frustration. Fortunately these mundane moments are few and far between and the occult detective tale takes the forefront for the remainder of the game.  Call of Cthulhu plays to its strengths, really delving into the HP Lovecraft work and using it to create a atmospheric environment which creates its own sense of weight to your actions and the lore that can be found throughout the game.  Moving from smoke stained offices to a decrepit portside town all the way to dark and claustrophobic caves, Call of  Cthulhu will draw you in with its atmospheric brilliance.  Turn off the lights and put on a headset to truly be immersed.  Along with this you will be treated to a incredible ending with many plot-twists and revelations hitting from all angles as you make your way through the mystery that is Call of Cthulhu.  a Single playthrough will definitely see you miss out on many of the possibilities that can be created by choices, luckily the length of the game makes it alot less daunting to attempt another playthrough.

Verdict

Call of Cthulhu is by no means a perfect game.  But what it does do right is delivers a incredibly intriguing story which will have you sucked-in within the first 20min.  It also takes the element of questioning characters to another level using skills to uncover more and more options.  CoC is no tense horror title but it will have you asking questions which, luckily, almost telepathically are nearly almost a option when in questioning.  The dark and gloomy atmospheric environment that HP Lovecraft so meticulously weaves in his books can be felt from the very first step you take onto the island.  Hampered by some questionable mechanics and a measly 7 hour campaign, but if you are a fan of the slower paced, B-movies in the Resident Evil mold, Call of Cthulhu has a lot to love if you can excuse some of the areas that need refinement and can focus on what makes this game tick. Call of Cthulhu is a detective RPG set in the Lovecraftian atmosphere that immediately, and rapidly spins into intriguing,yet maddening chaos!   Image result for 7.5 out of 10 stars  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review content

Special thanks to Theed3 for the video review

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Spyro Reignited Trilogy Review

Image result for spyro   I have many fond memories of a certain little purple dragon named Spyro and playing the Reignited Trilogy was a welcome walk down memory lane with a beautiful new flare. The graphics, colours and cartoony art style are all just amazing to look at. From Spyro’s cute animations to the scenery of the levels, the modern technological advancements have really breathed a new flame into these games. The game is gorgeous, there are no two ways about it.   Image result for spyro   Also, the audio has been done over. The voice work is so much better. I remember the odd breathing between words in the older Spyro I played way back when, as if the mic was too close to the speaker but this time around the voice acting is done so much better even though a lot of it can be awkward when characters say things like “press the action button to do this!” But overall, the voices are so much clearer now. The music has also been remastered too which makes the catchy tunes more dynamic although there is an option to switch to the unedited music which is a nice feature.   Image result for spyro   Other than the graphics, voice acting and some altered controls from the original, not much else has changed. The game still plays like the old one. The controls have been altered to the better though. In the original, the bumper buttons panned the camera which was just awkward, this time the analogue sticks control the camera which does make it game feel easier than what memory serves but it is a much welcome change. Other than that, it’s still that action-packed quick thinking platformer that was adored all those years ago. With a drive to get 100% completion on all levels, players will find secret areas where they can experience mini-games or collectibles. In the first game, I managed to get 100% completion on one play through and get the secret level completed to leading me to 120% completion. But Spyro 2 is where the harder work began. That’s where the replayability starts as you only acquire certain skills to get to secret areas later on in the game.   Image result for spyro This remaster comes with the original three games, for those who didn’t know. All made dolled up for this generation of consoles. One can clearly see the amount of love and passion that the dev team, Toys for Bob, has for Spyro just by looking at the game. It’s nice to see these fantastic games made for a newer generation and for us old-timers who hold onto better days.   Image result for spyro   Although the gameplay may be considered dated compared modern games, Spyro in its remastered form still holds its own, although not an open world sandbox, the early stepping stones to that genre can be seen here with hub worlds that have portals to levels which can be done in any order the player chooses. It feels unfair to rate Spyro according to the modern-day mechanics which do promote more openness and customization. So I’ll be rating Spyro: Reignited Trilogy as a remaster and as far as remasters go, it gets a 10/10 from me.   Written by Mr Groovy B   Image result for 10 out of 10 stars
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PDP Afterglow LVL 3 headset – Review

PDP has entered the market with their budget priced hardware.  Their Wired controllers are actually really good and perform very well and at the price, they are a no-brainer if you require a second- or replacement controller and you are not looking to break the bank.  With that thought in mind, PDP brings the LVL 3 headset.  A budget wired headset with boom mic and inline audio controls that connect to the controller via 3.5mm jack. Headsets in general need to tick a few boxes,  when you are looking at purchasing a headset they should sit snugly, provide good audio reproduction as well as good mic quality for when you do play with friends, as a bonus, looking good could also factor in, but most of all the price is what makes the final decision.  The PDP Afterglow LVL 3 headset ticks some of those boxes...   Image result for PDP afterglow lvl 3 720p   The  Afterglow LVL 3 headset has a simple design, making them less in-your-face like Razer and Astro headsets.  They have a grey finish with blue inlays that fits nicely with the general blue theme of the PS4.  The two over-ear cups are padded with suede-like padding and can swivel marginally as well as be adjusted up and down.  One downside to the earcups are that they seems slightly small.  For some the supposedly "over-ear" design will end up being a ON-ear setup, not good for immersion!  The headband is sturdy enough and has adequate padding.  The build quality feels rather plastic but at R650 and thereabouts, you don't expect much more.  The Boom mic that sits on the side of the earcup is nice and long and works really well, picking up no unnecessary background noises while keeping voice chatter as clear as can be expected.   Image result for PDP afterglow lvl 3 720p   When it comes to the audio of the PDP Afterglow LVL 3 I was thoroughly impressed.  The little 40mm drivers do well with deep bass notes and high pitched treble as long as you keep the volume to the lower end.  Once the volume goes up the 40mm drivers can't handle it and will distort.  This distortion fortunately doesn't affect the gameplay too bad as you will still be able to hear what your party is saying.  The 40mm drums do well considering their size and price but they struggle when they reach extreme highs and lows.   Image result for PDP afterglow lvl 3 720p   While the PDP Afterglow LVL 3 does falter a little in the audio department it is good to re-affirm the low price.  Other headsets that can be recommended for gamers on a budget would be the likes of the Astro A10's and the Razer Electra V2's and Turtle Beach Recon 200's are all around the R1000 mark making the LVL 3 a definite contender due to its good pricing.  If PDP would make the earcups slightly larger it would go a long way to swaying many people away from the other branded headsets.   The PDP Afterglow LVL 3 is a great starter headset for someone who is new to gaming and doesn't want to break the bank before they know if they are going to really enjoy gaming.   Image result for 5 out of 10 stars  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the Review hardware

   
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Red Dead Redemption 2 – Red Dead Perfection!

AAA-titles are becoming a regular occurrence these days with so many big developers churning out titles at regular intervals, gamers have become picky.  Along with  regular big-title games being released gamers have been burnt on regular occasion with games being over-hyped, and on release those games end up being sub-par.  This can easily be because of the rush to release titles and many companies have fallen to this mistake.  Rockstar is not one of those companies... When Rockstar released GTA 5 many people said that it is the perfect game, the game that other open world games should strive to be like.  It was also said that no other game would ever beat it...  Until now... Red Dead Redemption 2 has been in development for 8 years, which is a really long time, but in those 8 years Rockstar created what is arguably one of the best games currently available.  Red Dead Redemption 2 takes the dirty and disgusting western time period and turns it into a sprawling immersive wonderland with the most living open world that has ever been created.  

Wild West at its Best

Red dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the 2010 Red Dead Redemption.  In RDR2 players will step into the opinionated and, at times, rude, Arthur Morgan.  Along with his merry band of outlaws you will find yourself hiding out in the snowy mountains at the start of RDR2.  Here you meet a much younger but no less miserable Jon Marston.  This is where the magic of Red Dead Redemption 2 starts.  Most open-world games have you exploring the vast and sometimes lush map and when the urge strikes you can head over to the nearest town, look for a large glowing icon above a NPC's head and start a mission.  This is where RDR2 starts its transformation of what the standards for future games should me.  In RDR2 nothing feels scripted. missions, side missions, treasure hunts and everything in between, just happens.  At no point does anything feel planned.  While happily taking a ride through nature you might stumble across a damsel in distress, or a man needing help with his horse's shoe...  The world of RDR2 doesn't stop if you are not interacting with it, take some time to observe the NPCs and you will find that even the wildlife go about their lives.  on many occasions I found wolves hunting deer,  bears fishing in the river, or wolves cornering a unsuspecting bear.  No game EVER thus far has created a living world like the RDR2 world.  If you tell 10 people to go and explore the world of RDR2, chances are that none of them will experience the same things while out and about.  With many open world games the novelty of travelling and exploring the mountains and rivers quickly wear off.  This is one of the ways Rockstar forces you to explore the world they created.  In RDR2 one of the controversial talking points have to be the interesting take on fast travel, with the fast travel system only unlocking further into the game and being slightly limited can be negative to some wanting to rush through the game but this way you are forced to take to horseback and explore the wonderful world that has been so meticulously crafted!   Image result for RDR2 screens   Apart from the vast open world and many things to encounter, RDR2 offers a ridiculous amount of  scripted missions, 104 missions to be exact.  To put this into perspective, GTA 5 only had you taking Michael, Trevor and Franklin on 74 scripted main missions...  Let that sink in.  In RDR2 you will spend your 104 main missions sheriff-shooting, bridge-blowing, bank robbing and the lone "follow the objective".  The main missions all have a large part in story- and character building which all happens in the craziest of ways such as inventive tasks, costume changes, outrageous modes of transport or peacefully teaching a boy to fish.   Image result for red dead redemption 2 720p   Storytelling in RDR2 once again shows why Rockstar took their time with this title.  Many AAA- titles with large production budgets and massive teams working on them still churn out rather predictable storylines with plot-twists that can be spotted from miles away.  RDR2 takes the standard of modern story telling and pushes it even further.  CD Projekt Red and the Witcher 3 was arguably the best story telling around, except maybe for The Last Of Us.  RDR2 makes both those titles look normal.  The tale of Arthur Morgan takes ambitious twists, and the epilogue is nothing short of astounding.   Image result for RDR2 screens   Lesser games will use side missions as a way to justify charging you a large sum of money for a lackluster story.  RDR2 takes side missions to the next level by making each of them worth your time.  Animal hunting alone involve tracking scents and clues before targeting your preys' vital organs for that clean kill.  The hunting in RDR2 alone is more engaging than all of the Cabela's games combined.  Apart from supplying your camp with food via fishing or hunting, you can also use your resources to upgrade certain parts of your camp which offers a management aspect to the game as well.  The camp supplies is not the only thing that needs to be managed.  Arthur needs to eat, drink, sleep and bath if he wants to be the best sharpshooter he can possibly be.  Hair and beards need to cut and trimmed and once in awhile Arthur needs to take a bath otherwise the townsfolk will not want to interact with Arthur.   Image result for RDR2 screens   Rockstar has also added some finer details, not only to the astounding world which ranges from the snowy mountain tops, the open plains with herds of bison and wild horses grazing everywhere to the swampland infested with alligators or the towns where every brick has been detailed and every NPC has a story to tell.  Rockstar has also brought a companion app that can be used on IOS and Android devices which even further enhances the immersion.  With the opening of maps being rather cumbersome, using the app allows you to have a live map next to you at all times, not only does this help you, turning your in-game map off will see your partners or other NPC's give more descriptive directions as to where you need to go.  The physics that has gone into RDR2 is simply astounding, walking through snow sees the snow adjust and fall to the way you manipulate it.  Ride through thick brush and the branches will move and bend as well as having Arthure flinch and adjust.  These little things is what takes RDR2 from being a great game to a Perfect game!   Image result for RDR2 screens   RDR2 currently has no multiplayer function with the beta going live later in November but if it is anything like what we experienced in Red Dead Redemption and GTA 5 it is sure to be wonderful!  

Verdict

Truth be told, words do not describe Red Dead Redemption 2.  Walking through your camp, stopping to play cards with your gang members, that is RDR2.  Wanting to provide food for the camp, that is RDR2.  Grooming and feeding your horse, not because you have to, but because you want to, that is RDR2.  Taking the time to sit around the fire and listen to the stories your gang has to tell, that is what RDR2 is about.  Red Dead Redemption 2 takes what other games offer and makes you feel like you want to do it, not that you have to do it.  From the moment the first cutscene starts to the moment the credits roll, which hopefully isn't soon, you will sit with a childish grin on your face.  Is this the best game of this generation?  The Witcher 3 stood head and shoulders above all other games owning that title, but it now has a partner alongside it as arguably the best game of this generation.  But with that comes a ominous toll of the bell, similar to when GTA 5 was released, does this mean the end of this generation is near? But until then we can bask in the glory of Red Dead Redemption 2!  Still not convinced have a look at the launch trailer here.   Image result for 10 out of 10 stars        

Special thanks to Prima interactive for supplying the review copy of Red Dead Redemption 2 on Xbox One

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The Hunt For Plastic

This past weekend I attended a wedding at a really nice farm out in Mpumalanga’s countryside. Before I left home I made sure to pack my backpack with a handful of action figures in case there were photo opportunities. The results were amazing and I’m still in the process of periodically uploading them to my Instagram feed, but looking back, this got me thinking. The action figures are only part of the joy in collecting and I think any collector would agree that the hunt is just as exciting.

  When it comes to collecting action figures there’s more to it than just picking one that looks cool. We are drawn to the characters that resonate with us and owning a physical version of those characters is like a symbol of the fond memories we have of watching them in our movies, series or video games. We get to embody our enjoyment of the character. Some collectors prefer to keep them in their boxes on their shelf, others display them in poses in their room but people like me enjoy bringing them to life in pictures. To tell a story that only I can tell with them. I would never see Boba Fett hunting down Rick and Morty anywhere else but in the scenarios that I create with my figures. Sharing these pictures I take with a much wider community gives me a sense of accomplishment and seeing others post their shots on Instagram inspires me. This is all just part of it, though. What excites me the most is the hunt. There aren’t many local shops that sell these things around here so I’m forced to look on the internet and spot action figures that catch my eye. For example, a Mezco Judge Dredd: Cursed Earth figure that comes with a jumpsuit, weapons with removable magazines as well as a nifty poncho. After spotting my prey I do some research which normally includes seeing how popular the figure is on Instagram and seeing what other people are doing with it. Then I move onto watching reviews to hear about the pros and cons of the figure which normally ends up making me want it more. Finally, I move onto looking at my other figures to see what kind of stories I can craft. Judge Dredd would fit in nicely with my classic Robocop figure as both are 80’s icons of dystopian law enforcement. Then comes walking around my house and yard, taking in all the information I have about the figure’s pose-ability and planning pictures around that before actually thinking about getting the figure. A lot of times I go through this process and end up not getting the figure in question. One thing a collector must accept from the beginning is that you can’t get them all. But for the ones you can get, the hunt is part of the fun. Whether it’s stumbling across it in a shop or seeing it online, the idea of having it stirs as soon as one’s eyes fall upon it. With the lack of stores that specialise in these things does seem to hinder the South African geek culture. In my area, we don’t have these things besides a Toys R Us but that isn’t a comic book store that specialises in catering for us geeks. There are a few in the bigger cities but not many people know about these things. Does South African Geek Culture need a larger soapbox to shout from? Do we need to show retailers that there is a market for these things? Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more stores across the country that catered for our need to collect and admire our collectibles? I personally think we need to be more vocal and support what little market there is in this country. South Africa was a tad late to the party on the concept of collecting action figures as only recently have I seen Funko Pops appear in stores local to me. The bigger cities are getting them first, no doubt. But I remember a few years ago not many people here knew what a Funko was while my family in New Zealand was raving about them.  

Either way, whether the market for it is strong or not, the hunt for plastic never dulls.

What do you think? Do we need more comic book shops in South Africa?

Do you collect anything?

Let us know in the comments.

   
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A Retrograde look into video games

10

Toejam & Earl

  Toejam & Earl was a funky little game. An isometric adventure game with various colourful levels that required the two heroic aliens to navigate around the strange and obnoxious human stereotypes while picking up crates that rewarded gadgets that could hinder or facilitate the players’ quest to find all the pieces of their broken funky ship. The soundtrack was catchy, graphics vibrant and the level design was superb. Each level had an elevator that took players to the next level. Fall off the map? And you end up on the level you were just on or end up on the first level. The game took ‘levels’ literally. It made the game a dangerous maze and out of all the games on this list, it is by far the most unique. With Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove in development which retains the gameplay and style of the original but with four player co-op, fans of this classic have something to look forward to.  

 

9

Aladdin

Ah, the days when movie games didn’t suck. Aladdin was a little gem on the Sega Genesis which captured the flare of the classic movie as well as adding some of its own video game tropes to the original story. The animated look and nods to other Disney films was a nice touch and the levels were challenging. Would it be too far to say that maybe Aladdin’s video game adaptation took cues from the original Prince of Persia? The similarities are there. You can see it in the gameplay. The platforming elements were crazy and the combat, although simpler than Prince of Persia, it wasn’t a walk in the park. The dungeon levels felt like a Prince of Persia game and the soundtrack could only be good being a Disney movie. I put a lot of hours in this game, not as much as another little Disney movie game that struts its luscious mane later on in my list, but Aladdin: The Video Game is worthy of its spot on my top ten list.  

 

8

Tom & Jerry in Housetrap

I grew up watching Tom and Jerry trying to kill each other every night. Something about Jerry outsmarting Tom fascinated me and looking back on how dark this cartoon really was, it explains a lot of my taste in games and series/movies. Tom & Jerry in Housetrap was a little game that borrowed heavily from the classic Spy vs Spy gameplay but it was better! Why? Because you could play as either Tom or Jerry! It had a fun story mode that referenced classic episodes like the fantastic ‘Push Button Kitty’ episode where a slacking Tom was kicked out of the house in favour of Mechano, the robot cat. Spike the bulldog and the Duckling make an appearance too in capture the flag styled levels where Jerry had to rescue the ducklings while Tom had to catch them and throw them in the oven. As the story progressed so did the house. New rooms added new environmental traps and weapons, thrown or otherwise, to use against the other player or AI. The game sported cartoon graphics and watching Tom and Jerry’s fur pull off from the vacuum cleaner just like it did in the cartoons never got old. The game was the most fun to play with a friend although I imagine it caused a lot of squabbles among younger players. As far as a Tom & Jerry game goes, Housetrap captured everything the classic cartoon was loved for. Looking back, this game is just one of the examples of why Playstation 1 had some of the best games in history. That’s how much I loved this game.  

7

Syphon Filter Trilogy

I remember spending many weekends in these three games on the Playstation 1. The story was really good and still sticks with me. It was my first foray into the third person shooter genre. The level design promoted stealth and tactical thinking but when things didn’t go to plan, shooting everyone was still a valid option. The cutscenes were well done for the era and the characters had more depth than most characters in games these days. Gabriel Logan, Teresa Lipan, Lian Xing. I remember all of them. The one character, Lawrence “Larry” Mujari was a South African character and there was even a level set in South Africa. Syphon Filter had a similar yet more grounded theme to the Metal Gear Solid series. These games set me on the third person shooter path and for that, I’ll always remember them and how much of a challenge they were. If these games get a remaster I’ll be over the moon!  

 

6

Bugs Bunny and Taz: Time Busters

Another game I’d like to see a remaster of would be Bugs Bunny and Taz: Time Busters. This game was a real gem on the Playstation 1. There were a series of Bugs Bunny games on the PS1 but out of all of them, this one stood out the most. Players could swap at any time between Bugs and Taz to complete puzzles using each characters unique skills. The AI companion was always following you and switching was as easy as pressing a button. In fact, it felt an awful lot like the Lego games just minus the lego blocks. The puzzles required thought and the action required quick reflexes. The game had runner levels and racing levels and the sceneries were vibrant. From Aztec to Viking, there was a lot to see and do in this third-person adventure game with everyone’s favourite wise-cracking Bunny and snarling Tasmanian Devil. The game captured the Loony Toons humour perfectly and with such a wide of variety of levels and interacting with so many familiar characters, it’s no wonder it was such a joy to play, especially when with a friend. We need more split-screen games these days...    

5

Toy Story 2: The Video Game

I played this on the PC, my old Windows 98’, and as far as movie games go, this was really well done. Toy Story was my favourite movie out the series and although Woody wasn’t a playable character, the game had such a good level design that I still remember most of it while the song from the first level still plays in my head when I think back to it. From the puzzles to platforming and using Buzz’s laser in combat, it all just went together in perfect harmony. The bosses on each level were a challenge and the game had a lot of replayability as each new level required X amount of Pizza Planet tokens which players had to get by winning races, defeating bosses, solving puzzles or generally helping the various characters scattered around each level and some characters gave Buzz a power up to use in that level. The bosses had a clever design too, most of them required the player to climb up to the top of the level (no easy feat) and then duel with them on top of the highest point in the level. The second level, Andy’s Neighbourhood had a Zurg Kite on top of a tree that was such a mission to get to and defeat and the boss could knock players right off forcing them to climb all the way back up to finish the job. Those boss battles stuck with me and are probably the reason why I really like fighting enemies on rooftops of elevated areas in modern video games. The game has aged badly though as the graphics weren’t very good, to begin with. But if you don’t mind ugly and just want to experience a good third person game with a touch of everything then try to look around for it.    

4

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project

The side-scrolling beat em’ up games were always more fun with a co-op buddy and this TMNT game was no different. I used to play this with my cousin every time he came to visit. We must have finished it a dozen times over and each time we enjoyed every second of it. The game had cool levels and tough bosses that made it a challenge no matter how many times we finished it. The four turtles had similar move sets but the way they used their weapons were different. Don and Leo had more range than Ralph and Mickey, or at least it felt that way if memory serves. This has gone down in my memory for being one of the best, if not the best co-op beat em’ up I’ve played.      

3

Lion King

This game was and still is the definition of a movie game done right. From the early levels playing as little Simba, jumping on bugs and pesky hyenas to the endgame where adult Simba’s mighty slap sent enemies to oblivion. The levels were well designed and had a good balance between platforming and combat. The soundtrack mimicked the movie’s score and the whole game captured the essence of the movie perfectly. I watched that movie religiously as a child and I played the game just the same. I remember the cheer I gave when I finished it for the first time, only to reboot it and start again. I spent so many afternoons on it when I was younger. The memories made in this game are going to be with me till the day I die. And for that, I will roar its praises from the highest peak of Pride Rock.      

2

Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage

I never played the first Spyro game. I received Spyro 2 with the Playstaion 1. I had no idea what to expect when I loaded it in for the first time. From an array of colourful levels and hub worlds to tricky boss fights and puzzles, this game had a lot of variety to it. It never once felt repetitive with charming characters and a good storyline with funny characters. I pretended to be sick so I could skip out of school to play this game...hence why I’m so smart today. If you missed out on this jewel then fear not as the stunning remaster is right around the corner.      

1

Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic

This game is a fond memory for a lot of gamers that I’ve spoken to over the years. But for me, it was my first RPG and it was set in the Star Wars universe which I’ve been a fan of since I was five. The story was brilliant, the semi-open world was beautiful at the time and the combat opted for a more strategic approach than a button basher. The moral choices and character builds promoted replayability more than other games I was playing at the time. I replayed this game so many times that I lost count. It is of the opinion of many that this is the best Star Wars game ever made. And thinking back, I have fond memories that remind me why that is not just a mere opinion but a well-grounded fact. We need more Star Wars games like this.            

Do you agree with my list?

Which games do you have fond memories of?

Let us know in the comments!

       
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Turtle Beach Recon 200 – Review

Image result for turtle beach recon 200   Gaming headsets is a very large market, with the likes of many big-name manufacturers such as Astro, Steelseries and the very well known Tutle Beach being some of the biggest names in the industry.  The problem with gaming headsets is that they tend to be rather expensive.  Whether it is because of the features they possess or the logo they have branded on them, gamers have become used to forking out rather substantial amounts of money to get decent headsets.  Turtle Beach is experiencing a bit of a renaissance at the moment with their new range of headsets which range from entry-level budget headsets to the top-tier headsets that the professional esports players are using.  What really makes the Turtle Beach range attractive is the features they pack with their base headsets which come in at a budget price.  Making Turtle Beach one of the most competitive headsets on the market at the moment. Turtle Beach created the Recon 200 wired headset with the new, ever so popular, Battle Royale mode in mind.  Battle Royale game modes require teamwork, therefor the Recon 200 focuses on crisp and clear microphone and accurate directional sound, for those moments you find yourself surrounded.

Budget Price, Premium Features?

Image result for turtle beach recon 200   The Turtle Beach Recon 200 is a wired headset with a 3.5mm headphone jack, meaning it can be used on nearly any device that has a headphone jack.  This makes the Recon 200 a good buy if you are looking to buy a multi-purpose headset.  Being made with Battle Royale in mind the microphone was obviously a major focus, lending the flip up mute feature from their stealth-line the recon 200 has a short boom mic which delivers tremendously clear and crisp chat, without picking up any ambient sounds.  The Recon 200 boasts the ability to work with surround software such as Dolby Atmos and Windows Sonic although it doesn't boast the compelling soundscape of its higher-end counterparts.  The key feature that puts the Recon 200 above its price-range counterparts like the Astro A10's, is the mic-monitoring which allows you to hear yourself when speaking, eliminating those awkward moments of not realizing you are screaming.  This features uses a built-in battery which is charged via the included USB cable. There are however some negatives to the Recon 200.  Gaming headsets are designed to be worn for extended periods of time, meaning they are generally comfortable to wear.  The Recon 200 earcups are clad with faux leather, which generally is not a bad thing, but when worn for extended periods of time faux leather doesn't allow for breathing causing a clammy and warm feeling inside the earcup.  Not a nice feeling after multiple hours of gaming.  The earcups are rather narrow which might have some users opting to place the headset ON the ears instead of OVER the ear as intended.  The headband which leans to the too-tight side of comfort rather than the comfortable side also lacks the padding which is required for the long gaming sessions.  Although the Recon 200's boast capable sound quality with general use, upon using it in high volume situations with large explosions and overwhelming noise, the 40mm drivers of the Recon 200 struggle and tend to distort washing out most of the distinct sounds which can generally be distinguished when using other headsets which boast the larger 50mm drivers.

Aesthetics

Image result for turtle beach recon 200 Turtle Beach really has refined the Aesthetic appeal of their headsets.  Many other big-name manufactures such as Astro sport rather "un-conventional" styling or plaster their hardware with as much RGB lights as possible ( cough cough Razer).  Turtle Beach has taken a step back and created a slick and sheek designs creating appeal for gamers and non-gamers alike to use their hardware not only in a gaming environment but in everyday situations as well without being looked at funny. The recon 200 copies the design and build of the Stealth 600 and 700 series with a carbon fibre finish, paired with matte black covering provides a classy, minimalist look.  Neatly tucked behind the one earcup you will find the volume wheel, mixer control, which lets you adjust how much in-game sound or party chat you want to hear from your headset.  The power slider and USB charging port is also situated in a neatly paired group.  The Mic monitoring, which requires the headset to be charged beforehand, is estimated to be able to be used for nearly 12 hours on a single charge.  Earcups also have a diagonal swivel which helps to get that "fitted'" feel.  

Verdict

Turtle Beach has really provided gamers and non-gamers alike, with a extremely budget friendly product with the Recon 200.  Not only is it multi-functional headset but it also has features that can generally be found on higher end headsets.  The only factors that hamper a otherwise good headset is the comfort , which should be rather high on anyone's list of necessities when looking for a headset.  The second factor doesn't really affect everyone but the 40mm drivers can be a negative for those who want loud booming volumes from their headsets. Overall, at the price the Recon 200 is a really competitive headset only matched by the likes of the Astro A10's.   Image result for 6.5 out of 10 stars  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review headset

 

   
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Dakar 18 Review – sand, sand and asking for directions

Majority of games can be generally classified into two sections: Casual and Simulation.  Gamers want the games they play to be true to life, although life is not always as exciting or easily put into a game, therefor developers tend to take some artistic license and change and brighten up the game to make it more exciting for the gamers.  No genre is more split into two categories than the racing-genre.  Gaming studios make a decision early on in development whether they want to make a title focused on being fun, casual and easy to play.  Or to go the realism route, and stay as true to realism which, most of the time, makes the game a lot tougher to get used to. Big Moon Studios clearly decided on the latter and went with the truest Dakar representation that there has been!  Dakar , which has since been moved from the the original route taking drivers from France all the way down to Dakar in Senegal.  Due to many attacks on crews and drivers and general unrest in the countries, it was decided to move the race to South America.  Dakar 18 takes you and your vehicle of choice all the way to the dunes of Peru where the race starts.  

Where the hell am I???

Image result for dakar 18 gameplay   For people who do not know how the Dakar works.  It is a race across some of the most extreme terrain without any GPS equipment with extremely long distances to travel each day.  The format being used is called Rally raid.  Rally raid is actually a really large scale navigation game seeing racers dash between checkpoints trying to beat opponents as well as not destroy their vehicles in the process.  Not having GPS devices mean the driver and navigator need to use a compass, paper roadbook and the odometer of the vehicle to navigate their way to the checkpoints. No other game puts as much emphasis on navigation as Dakar 18.  When you start up the game you will be taken through a tutorial.  It is HIGHLY recommended that you do not skip it.  You will be told how to read your roadbook and understand all the scribbles that you will find there.  Once you have completed the tutorial... do it again!  If you are not a veteran and you are highly comfortable with navigation it is recommended that you select the rookie setting.  Rookie setting will give you a Compass indicator to the next checkpoint when you are not on some form of road or track.   Image result for dakar 18 gameplay   You will be able to choose from all the vehicles that take on the Dakar rally, from the new 450cc motorbikes, quads, normal vehicles and lastly the giant trucks.  Once again it is recommended that you use the latter two categories because it provides you with a navigator that will read the roadbook notes back to you which will save you from having to flick your eyes to the roadbook while trying to keep your car from getting stuck in a sandpit.  The whole aim of Dakar 18 is to let you experience what it is truly like to compete in a rally raid.  You will need to read the roadbook, use the knowledge and hints given to by the book and then look for the visual cues in the environment to guide you to your next location.  These cues can range from a large rock, a clump of grass, remnants of a house or even a car track disappearing over a dune...  all while trying to not destroy your vehicle.  Camera modes are rather interesting in Dakar 18, the normal bumper and chase cams are available if you want but the experience only hits home when you use the cockpit view where you will be overwhelmed by the noise, as well as the helicopter view for those "tv-like shots" of you careening through the desert.  

Sand, sand and little bit of not-sand

Image result for dakar 18 gameplay   During the opening stages of Dakar 18 you are racing over dunes and through gorges in Peru which mostly consists of just sand.  This might paint a bleak picture of the surrounding but the way Dakar 18 has managed to capture the seemingly endless rolling dunes is breathtaking.  If you ever wondered what it might be like to get lost in a desert, don't look at your road book for a few minutes and you will quickly find out what it feels like. After the day-one patch (which arrived a week late) there was a large graphical upgrade which did help a rather lack luster graphical experience to become more acceptable.  Nothing special like some of the other racing titles out there but Dakar 18 does not give you the feeling that it ever wanted to compete on a graphical level.  Post patch vehicle dynamics and physics have improved dramatically.  Vehicles drive differently from other classes,  Steering the vehicle through different terrain now feels that way where as before every terrain felt the same.  This being said Dakar 18 tries really hard to be a simulator but the driving mechanics are definitely arcade like.  Hopefully this will be patched in upcoming patches.   Image result for dakar 18 gameplay   Vehicular damage is a large aspect of Dakar 18.  Simply putting foot to the floor and flying over sand dunes sure sounds enticing but in no-time you will need to stop and repair your vehicle which will end up costing you valuable minutes and see you dropping down many spots on the leader board.  The drivers and vehicles have been faithfully recreated in Dakar 18 seeing all the faces and liveries from the real Dakar rally appear in the selection menu.  This goes a long way in strengthening the realistic aspect of Dakar 18.  

Game modes? what game modes?

Image result for dakar 18 gameplay   Simulators are usually rather barren games.  Lacking enthusiastic cut-scenes, energetic music and general refinement when it comes to the aspects that they are not trying to be a simulation of.  Dakar 18 doesn't offer much when it comes to game modes.  The career which is the obvious mode that takes you through all the stages of the Dakar rally.  There is a multiplayer mode which includes couch co-op via split screen which will have you and a friend jump into any of the stages available throughout the race for some fun in the sun and sand.  Treasure hunt will see you hunt for random items through stages you have already completed.  This becomes tiresome really quickly, slowly driving around an area you have already slowly driven around in without any sense of purpose really doesn't sound appealing at all.  No matter the game mode you choose they all boil down to one fundamental idea: using a roadbook to travel through a 5.791 square mile explorable map racing from point to point with minimal assistance.  

Verdict

Dakar 18 has a identity crisis.  It does not know whether it wants to be a full on simulator or a more casual arcade racer.  Dakar 18 is by no means a bad game, yes it lacks the game modes and the graphical polish many of its rivals offer.  The fundamental idea the Dakar rally is brilliantly captured.  No other title captures the fundamentals of rally raid like this game.  Rally raid makes for really abrasive gameplay.  In any other game, racing or not, getting lost is considered a bad thing.  In Dakar 18, getting lost is where the game begins and where Dakar 18 shows what really makes it a great game.  From the start Dakar 18 can be underwhelming and frustrating with its lack-luster graphics and infuriating navigation, but if you invest time to understand what Dakar 18 is trying to achieve, you might be pleasantly surprised.  With a little open-mindedness many driving game fans should find enjoyment - even though limited - in the Dakar experience.   Image result for 6.5 out of 10 stars  

Thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review game

 
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WWE 2K19 Review

Whoo!

  WWE 2K19 is a good game... if you are a WWE fan. While for someone who isn’t, it can be a very confusing ordeal. But either way, there is fun to be had. It goes without saying that fans will appreciate it more than those who are just there to play the game. The roster has a lot of wrestlers to choose from and the character creation is surprisingly impressive. Fan or not, this game has a lot of variety to it and requires some experimenting...    

Yes, they can see you

  The character creation is impressive. From creating MYPlayer for the story mode or a Superstar, there are a lot of options from recreating oneself to creating a little green alien guy or even a Marvel Superhero. Ever wanted to see if Captain America can pin Venom down? Well, with some time and effort you could create a superhero themed wrestler. From height, to weight and even place of birth and intro, everything is yours to tinker with, including things like how much body oil they have rubbed on their muscular bodies. From their entrance walk (and if you so wish, a separate entrance outfit) to their personality and even the stitching in their clothes, the customisation options are endless. And yes, South Africa can be a place of birth for your wrestler, which was a welcome surprise. There are a ton of cosmetic items to unlock which can really add to the style of your wrestler. Facing a guy that’s ten times your size? You could put on a safety helmet just for a laugh. That’s the nice thing about this game, it has the simulation aspects in it, but at the same time players can do silly things that make it feel less serious.

Never back down

  Image result for WWE 2k19 720p   The gameplay is a tad tricky to figure out at first. Your wrestler isn’t this machine that can take hit after hit. They will eventually get tired as their stamina bars deplete and each hard hit will cause damage to their body which is indicated in the HUD in the bottom of the screen. The weaker they become, the easier they are to be pinned down. And that is an advantage highly skilled players can use against their opponents. The reversal system is a key element to success; it’s all about that split second quick time event that suddenly appears above your wrestler’s head before they take a knock. It does get a bit annoying when you end up in a loop of constant bombardment after missing those extremely fast reversal opportunities, but this is only in the beginning as when the system becomes more familiar one predict what their opponent is about to do by studying their move sets but still, the controls feel tricky. After pressing a button that supposedly did one thing ends up doing something completely different. Maybe over time these get easier but after all this time in the game, it feels like the wrestler does his or her own thing most of the time. There is a skill tree that gives players certain perks which eases things a bit which is a nice touch but it still feels like the game boils down to player skill and not a bunch of passive skills.  

Every Star has a Story

Image result for wwe 2k19 story mode

  The storyline is quite interesting. Without giving too much away, players start on the indie scene and work their way up to WWE. The story is full of that back stage melodrama that WWE is known for. So fans will surely get their kicks from the storyline which is a fully voiced protagonist. Some matches have certain objectives that are tricky to meet, like hitting your opponent in the parking lot after bringing their health down to a certain stage. These trigger dragged out cut scenes that can, thankfully, be skipped seeing as though if you lose a match, there are no checkpoints so you have to restart from the beginning.   Image result for wwe 2k19 story mode

The Sound of Repetition?

Image result for wwe 2k19 story mode   The commentary is outright boring. Compared to Fifa games or other sports games, the commentary in this one gets obnoxious after awhile. After the first few minutes the commentators start saying the same things over and over. How many times is the commentator going to say the same line that takes a stab at my opponent’s ridiculous name? Or how many times are the commentators going to ask how these wrestlers are still going after throwing each other around a bit? It gets tedious after a while. But other than that, the music is what you’d expect from a game like this; there are some catchy tunes in the menus. The crowd reacts well to the action and the sound effects are spot on. But commentary and dialogue just feels outright lazy and makes a long match a chore to shovel through which is such a shame because in a quick play match the commentary is better, yet in the story it’s just the same tedious thing over and over.

Sweat and Tears

Image result for wwe 2k19 player detail The graphics are decent enough. A lot of detail went into the wrestlers, which is expected. Seeing sweat gleam off their backs is a very nice touch. The stages are flashy and the way the characters move and react to being whacked in the head with a chair (among other things) looks spot on. Facial animations in the cut scenes are a tad on the cringe side of the spectrum though.  

Variety is the spice to life

  Image result for wwe 2k19 player detail   Not keen on the story? Well, WWE 2K19 has a ton of things to do from online multiplayer to various match types, like Hell in a Cell and the Back Stage fight scene, to name a few. There is even a tower mode where players face a series of opponents that escalate with difficulty, much like other fighting games. There is a lot to mess around with other than the story mode, as well as local multiplayer. It’s always fun to beat your friend near to death with a chair while Triple H watches on, paying no mind.

Verdict

WWE 2K19 is a fun game. Obviously fans of the sport will enjoy and appreciate it more. But even so, there is a lot to play around with and there is a character creation system that is going to satisfy content creators amongst the community, plus a story mode and a variety of modes on top of that. It’s really fun for a casual party trick when having friends over or to tackle the online scene which is where most players might spend a lot of time in. But the dragged out cutscenes with what feels like lazy dialogue, poor commentary and tricky controls hold it back.     Image result for 6 out of 10 stars  

Thanks to Prima Interactive for providing the game for this review

  Image result for Prima interactive  

Special thanks to Brendon Jacobs for the review

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FIFA 19 Review – closer to the Beautiful Game

The Fifa franchise is easily one of the most-loved franchises around.  To gamers and non-gamers alike, we have all, at some time in our lives, played a couple of rounds of Fifa.  Whether it be out of choice or whether it is after a long night out and a couple of friends grab controllers and start up any of the Fifa versions.  Early Axes has always been a fan of Fifa, not to the point where  we would sit and play every day.  When Prima Interactive gave us the code to the latest Fifa 19 we were very excited to really go deep into the latest outing in the Fifa-franchise which now has the UEFA Champions League license.

The Journey Continues

  Image result for fifa 19 720p   The last time we laced up our boots was with Fifa 17, and that is the last time we spent time with The Journey.  Many people prefer games with some sort of story and Fifa's The Journey brings that story to a otherwise great sports game.  You take control of Alex Hunter, his kid-sister Kim, and best friend Danny Williams as they each go through their career and possible career in football.  You will need to make choices which affect the story in subtle ways.  Be it making a conscious decision or a brash emotional decision.  The decisions affect the way your manager, coach, the public and your fellow players feel and act towards you.  During your journey you will have rival players in your own team which as you interplay with them more and more, your teamwork will increase making you play better alongside them.  As in the previous Fifa Journeys, you have to attend team practices during the week which increases stats.  The Journey also allows you to customize your player with clothes which is seen during the really well scripted cut scenes which are used to progress the story.   Image result for fifa 19 720p   We are simply loving The Journey.  The gameplay is extremely smooth and there are some nice added features such as flicking the ball to a teammate when receiving a pass under pressure.  Add even more minor tweaks such as body feints, precise ball controls and more, comes the same opposite effects.  Balls bouncing off chests and knees when you don't time your flick just right will see the ball roll away and into a opponents grasp more often than not.   Above all the new tweaks added to Fifa 19 the new animations is just phenomenal and makes the game play fantastically smooth.  During the roughly 16 hour long "campaign" which plays through 3 consecutive running storylines you will help Alex adjust to the life of a superstar at Real Madrid.  Help Kim through the struggles of being a 17 year old football prodigy in the USA womens team at the World Cup.  And finally Danny, as he struggles with staying in a team as well as being compared to his estranged older brother.  

Game modes  and Features Galore

Image result for fifa 19 uefa 720p   Fifa 19 also focuses more on realistic passing, gone are the days of just simply passing to the fastest player on your team and watching them round the whole team to score goal after goal.  Passing now requires you to create space as well as perfect your pass strength.  Lots of emphasis has been placed on strength, physically strong players will no longer be able to run attackers off the ball and steal it. The biggest addition to this years' Fifa outing is the huge addition of the UEFA Champions League.  All the drama of the Europe's Top Club Competition is on offer.  The instantly recognizable music and graphical overlays that are used throughout the season is perfectly done to create a perfect realistic feel.  The level of detail, which in Fifa's case has always been amazing, is simply breathtaking making it feel like each match could be one happening in the real UEFA league right this moment.   Image result for fifa 19 720p   Player models and details are also ever improving from the beads of sweat during a game, to the fog and even snow that changes the feel of the game completely!  If it is a windy day, loose fitting jerseys can be seen fluttering in the wind. The UEFA Champions League and its little brother, the Europa League, are seamlessly woven into all modes including career mode.  Kick-off mode which has been stagnant for very long also sees a complete rework delivering new modes such as House Rules which sees rules, some of which come straight from the playground, such as Headers and Volleys while some bring more chaos to the beautiful game such as " no rules" which as the name suggests makes everything acceptable.  Jumping onto the Battle Royale wagon Fifa 19 brings Survival mode.  Survival mode sees random players being ejected from the scoring side which in theory sees the trailing team gain the advantage.   Related image   FUT returns to Fifa 19 with even beefier content.  Play the Journey and you will unlock FUT content.  There is now also live content updates in forms of FUT-cards.  These new modes go a long way to spice up the rather stale normal game modes since its launch with Fifa 97.  It is still unclear whether these game modes will hold much interest in the months to come after launch due to them being available (strange as that may be) offline, this being said these modes are a welcome addition seeing as the pro club and career mode seems to be virtually untouched.  Another nice touch added to FUT, albeit largely untouched, is Division Rivals.  Division Rivals has you compete against players of similar skill level for weekly rewards.   Image result for fifa 19 house rules

Final Verdict

With a plethora of new modes and additions really beefing up an already fantastic series, FIFA 19 is able to build on last years outing in significant fashion.  Although not all of these additions might hit their intended mark they do however more in the correct direction making the franchise better with each outing.  The addition of the UEFA champions league, house rules and the new Gears-of-War-esque shooting system definitely does enough to get players, old and new, to buy FIFA 19.  Although we all know that FIFA fans would have bought FIFA 19 no matter what the reviews read.  The Journey adds a good, albeit scripted, campaign which I personally enjoy.  EA Sports have really catered for a whole new market with their Journey-like campaigns in other sporting titles as well.  Old fans will quickly jump into career and FUT, while more casual players will love the Journey as well as the house rules which is perfect when you have a couple of mates over!  Nothing says boys night quite like Fifa-night!   Image result for 8/10 stars  

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying this review game

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The Golf Club 2019

When I think of Golf I instantly think of immaculately cut fairways, pristine greens and well kept bunkers.  impeccably dressed golfers casually walking up and down after a little white ball.  Sinking birdies at every other hole, all while the calmest voice known to man comments on how well they are playing.  In reality for us non-golfers, golfing consists of wading through thick grass looking for your ball while shouting a string of profanities after each shot all while other golfers stare and make comments on your less than acceptable dress-sense...  Or is that just me?   Image result for the golf club 2019   When we think of Golf in gaming Tiger Woods is the one and only name that comes to mind, yes we had Rory McIllroy which was rather lack luster affair.  Since then EA has seemingly washed its hands with the golfing franchise, someone needed to step into that role.  Golf Club has stepped up and taken it upon themselves to be the leading, if only, golfing title around.   Image result for the golf club 2019   Previous outings in the Golf Club franchise were nor here nor there.  But HB studios endured and with the help of 2K games they have acquired the PGA Tour which makes the Golf Club 2019 bolster its course stock by adding 6 real world courses including TPC Sawgrass ( home of the Players Championship) and TPC Scottsdale ( home of the Phoenix Waste Management Open).  These courses are all included in the career mode with fictional courses filling in the blanks.  This is still not ideal but its a major step in the right direction. The Golf Club has always strived to be a golfing simulator and not a casual golf game like the EA franchise was.  Golf Club 2019 does not falter on that promise!   Image result for the golf club 2019   Stepping straight into the career mode I was met with spectacular vistas and sprawling grass and superbly recreated courses!  It is a worthy mention that the character creator is immensely deep.  I am not even going to try and describe how many customization options the Golf Club 2019 provides.  I found myself simply relaxing and letting the cutscenes play between walking to the tee and teeing up etc.  The chirping of birds and the wonderful crack of a well-struck shot made we wonder why I never picked up a club in real life!  I was however expecting a little bit of player likeness, by no means was I expecting to tee-up with the likes of the new and improved Tiger but some form of likeness would have been nice.   TPC_DeereRun_Playershot_AA(2)   Commentary, at times, feels a little out of place during the career but generally I found commentary to be one of the main parts of any golfing title to help me relax, which in The Golf Club is really important when it comes to actually playing golf.  The progress system, which sees you play against a rival player on the tour as well as letting you unlock sponsors such as Under Armor feels like enough reason to make you come back and try and improve your score and attributes.  It is also good to see that in  the multiplayer aspect that your upgraded stats and abilities which you build during the career, does not influence you, creating a level playing field.   TPC_Summerlin_Hole5_TeeShot_AA   Finally stepping onto the course, the mechanics of Golf Club 2019 are astounding!  This is by far the most challenging and rewarding golfing-sim on the market.  Firstly, the swing mechanic relies heavily on swing tempo, which takes some time to get used to.  The slightest of hesitations during the transition from back- to forward swing and you will quickly be trudging through the thick and unforgiving roughs.  But when you get it all right and you hear the crack and see your ball sailing straight and true down the fairway, that is when you appreciate the 20 shots you shot out of bounds or straight into the bunker.  Once you feel a little more comfortable with your shots it becomes extremely satisfying when you hit a rather bad tee shot but, playing from the rough and you create your own shot with varying power and spin and you scramble from there!  Truly an amazing feeling.  After all of this you might find yourself, if you lucky, on the green.  This is where Golf Club 2019 is shoulders and neck above any other golf game.  The Golf Club 2019 does not call itself a simulation for no reason.  Golf is difficult, and putting is one of the toughest yet most satisfying parts of golf.  As player you don't get given much except undulation of the green.  You need to read, decide and judge speeds to keep the ball rolling to where you intend it to go.  If that is not enough trying to play the real-world courses will have you languishing in pain after reaching the par 5 green in 3 and still walking away with a double bogey, simply due to the punishing putting system. the animations in Golf Club 2019 are really well done, the way your golfers' knees buckle when you miss that important put, the anger and frustration of a miss-hit tee shot to the fist-pump after a birdie put.  The crowd animation as a whole seems like it was stripped from a PS2 -version of Tiger Woods,  the crowd claps in unison sometimes not even facing the right direction but these are all minor and can be easily over sited.   TPC_Scottsdale_Hole3_Teeshot_AA   As a whole the Golf Club 2019 is a very solid title and if you as player is willing to invest some time and effort into this title you will be richly awarded with a tremendously good game.  What makes the experience even sweeter is that all your mistakes can easily be chalked up to doing something wrong, that causes you to adapt and improve and once you know your weaknesses and play to your strengths, the Golf Club 2019 will be the most addictive golfing sim you will EVER play!   Image result for 8.5/ 10 stars  

thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review title

  Image result for prima interactive   written by Aiden Markus edited by JP du Preez
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NBA 2K19 – Review

I am a South African, on the sporting front we thrive on Rugby, Soccer and Cricket.  From a young age that is what we are instilled with.  The girls would play Netball or Hockey, both of which I do not know much about the rules apart from either getting the ball in the hoop or in the goals.  But recently my friends from Prima Interactive were friendly enough to send me a review copy of 2K's NBA 2K18.  For those of you who are not familiar with the title it is the latest iteration of the yearly Basketball franchise. Being South African, as well as being on the short side, Basketball has never been anywhere close to on my radar.  So when this game arrived I had to brush up on my Basketball knowledge.  While NBA2K19 was busy installing I checked out some Youtube on the basics of basketball as well as some history of 2K gaming developers.  2K is the company that brought us gems like Mafia 3, the Bioshock franchise and ofcourse the Borderlands series!  Just those names alone should give a clear indication of what potential NBA 2K19 has to be great...  Or fall short of the amazing company in which it finds itself.   I did some reading on previous versions in the NBA franchise games so that I could make a better comparison.  NBA 2K19 has taken massive strides to bring gameplay as close as what is currently possible to reality.  Not only does this bring forth stricter simulation it also rewards players with more skill and punishes those who lack discipline!  One of the first things that are new to NBA 2K19 is the Takeover meter.  Takeover has the potential to boost or weaken your players key attributes.  It is a pretty simply system.  Do what your players' type of player does best, be it defense, dribble, passing etc, and do it well and the takeover meter fills.  Once filled, all those skills will get a boost making your player even better at what he does best.  This places emphasis on the fact that once NBA player find their rhythm they can single-handedly take over a game.   Image result for nba2k19   Compared to previous years, it is now considerably more difficult to even get close to the hoop against AI defense without running some form of distraction or running play ( yes I learnt some jargon).  Shot meter color and position can now be changed and positioned to suite your personal preference.  Something I definitely experienced and like alot is the accuracy and preciseness of on-court actions making for quick and accurate responses when you need to make adjustments.  layups and shots now show the shot meter more clearly as well as the shot meter staying with you for longer and giving you a more clear indication of when you should release.  Some say the new system makes it alot easier to take shots, I did not experience it that way at all it took me quite some time and a barrage of profanity before I sunk my first shot. On defense you need to really be attentive on the player you are defending, you cannot spam the button to stay on the ball handler.  You need to manually contest each shot and if you do not pay close attention to possible fakes you will waste your opportunity and the attacking player will have a open shot.  

Becoming a star

Image result for nba2k19   Previous MyCareers have not been lauded for their compelling stories,  I watched a few videos on how the stories played out and they are cringe-worthy.  NBA 2K19 turns up the drama and makes it believable!  Called "the Way Back".  Your created player, who was unfortunately not drafted, starts off in China trying to make a name for himself before making his way into the G-League and later winding up in the NBA.  As usual you develop rivalries and relationships along the way which is told by truly spectacular cutscenes.  The cutscenes truly blew my mind!   Some well known voices and faces lent themselves to these cutscenes, the likes of Anthony Mackie, Haley Joel Osment, Michael Rapaport to name but a few.   Image result for nba2k19 neighborhood   MyCareer focuses on the grind.  After many hours you will arrive in the NBA.  This is where the writing disappears and you find yourself in the Neighborhood, players of old will recognize this as the social hub where you can practice, play ball, complete activities and, ofcourse, purchase things.  Here you can spend virtual currency, which can be obtained by playing ball, or you can spend your hard earned money and upgrade your player faster.  The Neighborhood aspect is something I truly love because it serves as a social gathering place as well as a facility but my only concern is because it hinges on a social input, I hope that their is enough interest to keep it alive way past its initial launch and keep thriving for months to come.   Image result for nba2k19 neighborhood  

Franchise and other modes

The franchise mode, which has been known to be tremendously deep and customizable, does however not get the quality-of-life upgrades like MyCareer gets but it is still deep enough to make it a worthwhile adventure to undertake.  MyGM plays exactly the same as previous years continuing the truly terrible story, called "The Saga Continues".  The textbox filled, sleep-inducing snore-fest has no voice acting and shortly after starting it I quit, so unfortunately ( fortunately) no more from that side.   Image result for nba2k19 blacktop   MyTeam, 2K's version of EA's Ultimate team, still craves cold money to really make itself great.  Yes you can simply grind away for in-game currency but I which they could move away from the blatant emphasis on microtransactions. Last, but not least, there are the 2 game modes known as Blacktop and 2KU.  Blacktop gives you the option to show off your streetball skills in either 1v1 up to 5v5 giving you access to all the greatest players past and present.  2KU on the opposite end of the scale, teaches you all the in's and out's of the game.  For new- and old players it's worth the time to check out 2KU to keep up to date with all the latest refinements that has been brought to NBA 2K19.   Image result for nba2k19 blacktop

Final Verdict

NBA 2K19’s focus on realism is somewhat daunting at first, but once you get the hang of all the new changes it is easy to appreciate why they were made. With crisper player animations, more lifelike visuals, and more balanced gameplay, NBA 2K19 is an incredibly rewarding basketball sim that  compels you to learn all the game’s intricate maneuvers. NBA2K19 has made me want to watch Basketball and has a story mode that can easily compete with the likes of Madden and FIFA!   Image result for 9/10 stars  

This review title was provided by Prima Interactive

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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!

  Image result for apex interactive      
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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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Bravado Gaming vs. The World

For a long time South Africa has been in the background regarding international eSports. We are struggling to get noticed and gaining international experience. Long have we waited for this to change. It is about to change. Bravado Gaming is arguably the top CS:GO team in SA. They have for long dominated the scene with epic wins and a massive fan base. Yes I am a fan boy. With numerous local titles under their belt they set off to find a challenge. Enter Project Destiny. In partnership with Alienware and Intel, Project Destiny became a reality. Lets have the boys in blue explain it to you: “Project Destiny is Bravado Gaming’s project and plan to raise awareness of the talent and skill found amongst our local gamers and bring not only investment and popularity to our community, but also to provide greater opportunities for all of the gamers in South Africa, opportunities that I could never have imagined being possible.”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGVHe-HRsA0 They will be sending their entire 6 man CS:GO squad consisting of Aran “Sonic” Groesbeek, Dimitry “Detrony” Hadjipaschali, Ruan “Elusive” van Wyk, Rhys “Fadey” Armstrong, Johnny “JT” Theodisiou and Tiaan “T.C” Coertzen to live and compete in the USA. I had the privilege to have a chat with top entry fragger, “Fadey”. EAX: What is your overall experience competing in the US? F: My overall experience so far is very enjoyable, it's so different to the local stage and very well produced it's amazing. To sum it up the stage is bigger, the prize pools are bigger and there is a lot more eyes on you than back home. EAX: What is the skill gap like, compared to SA? F: The skill gap is more based on teamwork than individual abilities. It has already helped us so much since we moved to NA to play more as a team. It's something very new when you first play against these teams here is that they are always ready to support another teammate, whether it be with utility or with fast trading. I think the biggest factor influencing the skill gap is the fact that these players from NA/EU get exposed to a lot more tournaments on a weekly basis than we do in South Africa. They also have a much larger pool of players/communities so naturally the skill develops quicker. EAX: How are the guys coping being away for an extended period of time? F: So far everybody is coping pretty well and everything so far has been pretty good for us all. Obviously we all miss some people from back home, so we always look forward to coming back to SA. The biggest struggle was the initial change and adaptations that we had to make in terms of doing your own chores and always cleaning up after yourself. Basically just doing your part as an individual as you would do in game to contribute to the bigger picture. EAX: Do you think your leap to compete abroad will inspire other teams to follow suit? F: Other teams would most likely be inspired to follow suit if they see us accomplishing achievements and hitting our goals. Considering the opportunity that was given to us (Bravado Gaming) to create Project Destiny by our sponsors: Intel and Alienware, we can only hope that we will inspire other big companies/corporates in South Africa to invest more into organisations/causes/projects such as ours to try and achieve the same and grow their organisation and players more.   EAX: When will we see you back in SA? F: We do plan on visiting SA towards the end of the year and also If we get any autobirths into big tournaments in SA we will definitely consider making the trip even though it can be quite costly EAX: We mainly focus on the greater community. So we have a lot of aspiring pro players. I just need a few words of inspiration for the young guns looking to climb to where you are and beyond. - My main words of inspiration would have to be practice and hard work, it pays off. If you want something and you enjoy it then the hard work isn't hard. - Fadey - At the end of the day it's exactly like any other sport. What you put into it is what you'll get out. You have to put in the time and effort to reap the rewards. - Detrony Bravado will be achieving new heights for SA eSports and obviously themselves. I think I can not only speak for the whole Early Axes community but also for the whole of South Africa if I say that we are 100% behind you guys, and you have already made us proud. Follow their progress on their Twitter and Facebook pages.
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Late Shift – Review

I recently took the plunge and got stuck in with gamepass and my oh my am I pleasantly surprised...  So many great titles to choose from.  This all turned into me spending increasing amounts of time behind my console.  I realized this and thought maybe I should try and find a title that I can either get the missus involved in or have her co-op with me.  We have tried all the minecrafts and split screen co-ops and she enjoyed it but she wanted something that grips her and tells a story. I scoured through the many titles available with Game Pass and that is when I saw LATE SHIFT.  I had no idea what it was about but Lauren said it looked interesting so I downloaded it.  No hype, no reviews, no videos watched, nothing.  I was going into this blind, which, at times, is a better approach.  No hype means no let down if the game turns to crap in the first couple of minutes.

WHAT IS LATE SHIFT?

  I fired up the game and what met me had me intrigued from the onset. I am not going to give away too much in terms of story line and plot but I rather want to focus on the type of game LATE SHIFT is.  How often while watching a movie have you wanted to shout to the actor to run away, or to keep their mouths shut instead of blabbering on like an idiot.  We all have.  LATE SHIFT gives you that option.  You make the decisions and influence the story and decide what happens to the mild mannered car-guard...  I know what you are thinking.  "This is a telltale-type game where I make decisions" blah blah blah.  This is something totally different.  This games doesn't wait for you to make a decision to continue it plays like a movie.     LATE SHIFT is great on more than one level.  It incorporates gaming, which we all love, and watching a move, which we love as well.  This correlates to even the people who don't have the controller in their hands can still participate in watching this interactive movie.  This makes it great to do with gaming and non-gaming friends and family alike.

THE STORY 

With a not-so-mainstream game like LATE SHIFT its easy so expect a pretty shallow and lack-luster story and acting in this cinematic-game/interactive movie (you decide). The basic story is that of Matt who works the late shift, hence the name, at a parking garage.  Not too far into the game/movie he gets himself embroiled in a heist of a valuable artifact, which ultimately threatens to destroy his life and possibly kill him.  The script and the acting is that of a top class big budget movie.  The author himself is known for scripting movies like Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr.  

VERDICT

  Image result for late shift game   LATE SHIFT doesn't fall into either category.  If you are looking to watch a movie then its not quite a movie, if you are looking at playing a game then you are going to be disappointed with the lack of involvement.  But if you can appreciate LATE SHIFT for what it is, a interactive movie, you will be greatly rewarded.  With a wide variety of endings, I've only managed 3 so far, this provides you with a movie that has the possibility to draw you in multiple times and surprise you with every outing.  If that isn't the best type of movie then I don't know what is. If you have Game Pass and you want to spend some time with friends or loved ones enjoying a movie yet get some gaming in whilst doing so, LATE SHIFT is perfect for that.   Image result for 5 out of 10 star
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Burnout Paradise Remastered – Review

>>>NO CRASH TEST DUMMIES WERE INJURED DURING THIS REVIEW<<<

*They were all on sick leave.*

  Burnout Paradise was first released over 10 years ago, yes 10 years, on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  The game was a sure hit with beautiful visuals and the trademark Burnout crashes. Back then, yes it still feels like a lifetime ago, the game felt great as a arcade racer, looked amazing with detailed car models and mind-bending crashes, felt like you were watching crash test dummy videos as the cars crumpled and buckled from the impact. 10 years later how does the remaster stack up? Let us have a look, shall we?  

GAMEPLAY

  Comparing the game from when I played it on Xbox 360, it is still exactly the same game. That being said, in no way is it a bad thing, oh no, the game is still addictive fun and a sheer joy to play. Burnout is the only game to turn crashing from an “Ah Damn!” moment, to a “Daaayum!!” moment. There is just something about watching a car approaching the moment of impact in slow-motion... For those who played it, and bought the DLC, you are not missing anything. It is still all there, ready to be taken for a spin once more, with improved visuals of course. For those who didn’t play Burnout Paradise on the Xbox 360 and PS3, now you have NO excuse. Lastly, for those who are new to Burnout Paradise, it is basically an Arcade style racer highlighting the crashing of cars at stupid fast speeds, all while taking part in several game modes spread out in the open world fictional city of Paradise City. In Free Roam Mode is where you find most of the fun. You are tasked at finding and smashing billboards, find marked shortcut routes and really large ramps to get some good air.  The formula is really basic, no fancy tricks, but it is an exhilarating feeling when blasting between cars in the opposite lane while your boost is like a refill drink at Burger King.  That moment gets somewhat elevated when you manage to hit a ramp.  Even though the cars feel a slight bit on the light side in terms of weight, the impact from landing indicates anything but. Each vehicle has its owns stats and type, making it easy to select the right one for the job.  Removing any form of trial and error from the equation and putting you straight into the action.  Believe me, comparing stats is fun.  Trying to figure out which is best, but when there is smashing to be done, I want to be there as soon as possible.  

SOUND

The soundtrack, in typical EA fashion, is mainstream and as always varied with music ranging from Rock to Hip Hop.  The mass majority of the music is perfect driving tunes.  Even though the selection is unchanged from music that was popular back then, it just further enhances the nostalgia.  Whether you just cruising, or speeding like a bat out of hell, the music is a fine choice. But let’s talk about the real soundtrack of the game, when the cars crash. As stated before, when you are about to hit an obstacle, it goes into this slow-mo moment, at this point you see the car make contact and you witness the carnage.  It is the sound of how the car crumples, that is the soundtrack.  The twisting of metal while colliding into another car is sheer enjoyment on the ear, your eyes can’t have all the fun. With all the music and The Sound of Crashing aside, there is a Radio DJ by the name of DJ Atomica making the atmosphere enjoyable as if you are part of some big event in the city.  At the start the DJ acts as your guide, telling you about what is what and what to do as you take part in an event type for the first time. Having a DJ in a racing game nowadays is almost a standard, but when Burnout Paradise was released, it was refreshing with its own personality and made sessions enjoyable.  

VISUALS

Image result for burnout paradise remastered jensen The original Burnout Paradise was great looking game on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Even for an arcade racer, the graphics was always smooth and solid no matter how aggressive you are during a Road Rage or just flying off jumps. In the remaster the visuals are as crisp as a frozen lettuce leaf.  The resolution has been bumped a lot to give it a razor sharp look.  60 frames per second has never looked so good. Burnout Paradise is not shy on its selection of vehicles. The 150+ on offer is also a treat to look at, even when turning that sleek sports car into a Dinky Toy against a concrete wall.  

VERDICT

Burnout Paradise Remastered is by no means a new game, but it’s a firm reminder of a simpler time of arcade racing. 10 years, yes still feeling old, has done nothing to its charm and doubt it ever will.  Burnout proves that chaotic fun is still the best fun.  Keep your fastest lap times and drift bonuses, I want to see carnage at breakneck speeds while cars are flying into other cars like no one’s business. If arcade racers if your thing, Burnout is your game. If you want to play something truly amazing, Burnout is your game. Want a racing game for you and your friends, Burnout is definitely your game. That being said, if after all that you are still not convinced you to get this timeless gem, then let me leave you with this….    

I would jump into Burnout Paradise Remastered in a heartbeat to simply relive the nostalgia, therefore I rate it...

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying me with this review copy.

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Razer Electra V2 analog – Review

Image result for razer electra v2   The first thought that comes to mind when I think of Razer is  Chroma, Chroma and some more Chroma.  The over the top light show that Razer has become known for which adorns many of the Razer kit has become synonymous with the Razer brand.  When the Razer Electra V2 arrived at my door I assumed that Chroma would be a distinct feature of this headset as well. After doing a little research I found that the Electra V2, in fact, does not have chroma and with the lack of Chroma comes one advantage.  The price tag.  The analog version of the Electra V2 comes in under the R1 000 mark which makes this the first Razer headset aimed at the budget-gamer.  Personally I think its a good decision from Razer to approach the budget-gamer market as with the ever increasing price of life many gamers are starting to look at cheaper budget headsets.  Can the Electra V2 compete with the likes of the Astro A10, and numerous Turtle Beach models? Let's find out!  

LOOK AND FEEL

Image result for razer electra v2   The moment I took the Razer Electra V2 from its box I knew that the quality was good.  Nothing flashy like some of the other headsets that Razer produce.  Just a good strong build with nice material used.  The Electra V2 only uses black except for the edge of the inner earcup which is set in the signature Razer green, as well as the cord that plugs into the controller or headphone jack via a 3.5mm connector.  A subtle Razer sign sits on each earcup.  The headband design is very popular and I find this one, which comes straight from the Razer Tiamat, to be very comfortable.  It does however not offer a large range of adjustment but this did not bother me as it did fit snugly without being too tight. The earcups, which are not fitted with memory foam, sit comfortably enough but nothing spectacular.  It is important to note that the earcups on the Razer Electra V2 are rather shallow which, for most people, would mean that your ear might touch the inside of the earcup.  If that does bother you then I do suggest trying them on for yourself before spending your hard earned money. The earcups do however have a rather good range for swivel as the gimble that they are attached to has quite a large angle for travel meaning they should sit snugly on nearly any shape head.  The Electra V2 is also extremely light which makes marathon sessions that little bit easier by not weighing down on your head and ears.  The left earcup also houses the volume slider and the mic mute button which are both self explanatory.  The boom mic, which can be removed when not used, is extremely flexible and very good with picking up my chatter and not any ambient noise. The Electra V2 is rather short on features with only a simple volume slider that is situated on the back of the left earcup, which is easy and intuitive to use.  Simply slide it up to increase volume and down to lower.  Right below the slider you will find a push button that serves as the mic mute button. The Razer Electra V2 is not flashy by any means, and is a prime example of functionality over ascetic appeal.  

AUDIO QUALITY

 

 

Like the look and feel of the Electra V2, the audio follows suite.  It is, simply put, a little boring.  Not in a bad way at all.  But you will never hear anyone rant and rave about the punchy bass, or the boosted upper range to hear the footsteps of someone lurking around in PUBG.  Instead, everything is rather unremarkable.  Nearly every headset in this price range uses punchy bass and elevated highs to hide the, sometimes cheaper, smaller drivers that is used to drop the price tag.  The Electra V2 does not do that.  It does not hide the fact that it uses 40mm drivers instead of the more commonly used 50mm drivers.

The bass region I found to be rather shallow, but as expected from the 40mm drivers fitted to the Electra V2.  Mids are a touch veiled but gives just enough to make vocals nice to listen to.  At times the highs were slightly too gentle for my liking but they still provide enough detail to allow a good image. A good comparison would be like wearing a comfortable, yet bland t shirt.  The Electra V2 delivers a rather flat but gentle sound which can pass quite easily for the less hardcore gamer or someone who plays in a rather quiet environment which will not overpower the 40mm drivers as they try their best to give you their best. The Razer website states that the Electra V2 produces a balanced sound.  Never has any statement been more true than this one, which I suppose creates no illusions on the capabilities of the Electra V2 headset.  Razer does not advertise them as phenomenal, ear-shattering headsets.  It is a normal blue-collared headsets that does its' job as advertised.  Nothing more.  Nothing less. I did find the Electra V2 to be slightly on the soft side in my opinion, even with the volume slider turned all the way to the maximum at times it felt just that little bit too soft.  

CONCLUSION

    When buying a headset we all want something a little fun, and exciting!  You are, after all, buying a gaming headset!  In this price range the Astro A10 and the HyperX Cloud Stinger will give you more excitement, along with 50mm drivers. But if warm and boring is what you are going for then the Razer Electra V2 is spot on.  The most subdued Razer does nothing wrong, but it doesn't do anything spectacularly either...  

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for providing this review item.

  Image result for apex interactive     Image result for 5 out of 10 star  

 

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Turtle Beach Elite Pro with T.A.C. – Review

It was a morning like all others, a Monday and I arrived at the office unsuspecting of what was waiting for me at my desk.  I saw the box from Apex Interactive and I assumed it was a headset for review.  One of the Razer headsets to be precise, which I was  very excited to try as I had not yet had the privilege to test one.  But what greeted me when I opened the box simply blew my mind.  Ruan Kraft had been singing the praises of the Turtle Beach Elite Pro headset since we mentioned competitive gaming scenes and shoutcasting, little did I know that he had taken it upon himself to send me one for review! The Turtle Beach Elite Pro is considered one of the best wired headsets around, and for good reason!  Turtle Beach is well-known as arguably the best headset and peripheral creator around.  I say arguably because I am an Astro fanboy.  I personally use the Astro A40 TR as my everyday headset and this is the direct competition to the Turtle Beach Elite Pro so for that simple reason this is going to be a rather lengthy and in-depth review. Currently the Turtle Beach Elite Pro is not sold by retailers in South Africa, yes you can find them online but at a totally ridiculous price of around the R8 000 mark with the T.A.C. amp.  With a little inside info I can tell you that once they are brought to SA the bundle will cost you around R5 500. In the premium wired headset class where the Turtle Beach Elite Pro and the A40 TR reside, it is very difficult to find anything "bad" with any of these headsets.  With the amount of money you pay you would expect this.  So when I mention a aspect of the headset that is "not so nice" do not think it is terrible, because it isn't!  It is still extraordinarily good.  With this said, lets get straight to it.  

UNBOXING, AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS

  You know you are dealing with quality when even the outside of the box feels like good quality.  Upon opening the box I was met with a very interesting facts and stats leaflet.  Upon reading it you realize all the research, time and effort that Turtle Beach has put into their headsets!  It really is magnificent!  A thin layer of velt covers the headset where they sit snugly in their holder.  Again, you know you are dealing with quality when things are covered in velt, the only time I have ever owned anything covered in velt is when I bought my fiance's engagement ring.  Would I place this headset in that category?  Most definitely!   Image result for Turtle beach Elite Pro 1080p   Carefully taking the headset out the box the first thing I noticed was the weight.  Although not heavy enough to be uncomfortable you do realize you have something in your hand, or on your head. The more you look at the Elite Pro the more you notice all the really fine intricacies that they have put into this headset.  To start, Turtle Beach really did think of everyone, whether you have a bigger or smaller head this headset will work for you.  By adding a nifty head adjuster slider on either side of the top of the headset, you can simply slide the sliders to adjust the tension at which the headset will sit against your head.  This will be a welcome relief to the gamers with larger heads.  I did not need to play with this function too much.   Image result for Turtle beach Elite Pro 1080p   The earcups, which I will get to soon as they deserve a mention of their own, are also adjustable in two separate ways.  If you have a "higher' head and you need the earcups to move further down, Turtle Beach has once again got you covered.  They have three defined positions that have visible markings for you to be able to check that no one has adjusted your perfect setup.  The earcups can also swivel around which helps a lot when you want to get the perfect snug fit. The earcups on the Elite Pro's are extremely well made, the outsides are covered in black leather.  The cushioning used is simply exquisite!  The memory foam is thick and very soft.  Pressing down on the foam for long periods of time didn't cause it to not instantly bounce back to its original position.  I do not wear spectacles but I did give it a try.  Turtle Beach are big on creating headsets that are comfortable for spectacle-wearers and this headset takes the comfort level to the next level, the foam is so soft it simply moulds around the spectacles without leaving even the slightest of gaps for external sound to sneak through.  

COMFORT

  The Turtle Beach Elite Pro's are made with such quality, the comfort is almost expected!  This is what I expected, but I possibly bought into the hype and the excitement and I was left slightly underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, like I said earlier, in this price range nothing is bad.  As I have grown accustomed to doing when  I receive a new headset for review, I give it at least 2 days to find the perfect "fit", fiddle with all the movers and sliders.  Move it forwards, backwards, up and down until you find a comfortable position.  During this time I did find the earcups to be simply mesmerizing!  Never in my life have I had something this soft and comfortable over my ears.  Not even the pillow I sleep on at night provides this comfort.  I did note the earcups sealing off very tightly against my head which, at the time, felt and sounded like a good thing.   Image result for Turtle beach elite pro software   During many, and I mean many hours of playing a variety of titles consisting of the vast openness and bustling streets and cities of Assassins Creed: Origins,  the frustrations and profanities of PuBG and the heart pounding pressure and intense stand-offs of Rainbow 6 Siege, the TB Elite Pro's did their job spectacularly.  Over this time I did start to feel a slight ache in my ears which I thought could be a common old ear infection or something that would go away with time, but it persisted.  After taking a quick change back to my regular headset I found this ache to have disappeared .  This had  me perplexed.  After consulting a few people in the know I found that it could be cause of the extremely good seal that the Turtle Beach Elite Pro earcups create!  Don't get me wrong, the good seal is definitely not a drawback of these headsets, it is just one that I personally have.  The seal is amazing I don't hear anything, the noise cancelling is superb I have not come across anything quite like it. To put my experience into a simple sentence: The comfort is so terrific that it literally hurt my ear...    

SETUP AND EASE OF USE

  Upon unpacking the Elite Pro I was met with many cables, which I  thought I knew where they went.  I was mistaken.  I rummaged through the cables to find some help via a diagram or even some instructions.  What I did find was a Turtle Beach sticker, who isn't a sucker for a sticker?  There is no form of instruction on how to setup your headset and TAC amp except to resort to good old faithful, Youtube.  Turtle Beach has a very informative video on how to do the setup for either PC, Xbox or PS4.  I will admit after watching the video, I realized that I would never have figured it out myself. I will start with the PC setup, which is very easy.  Simply slide the slider at the back of the TAC amp to pc, plug the micro USB into the amp, and the USB into the PC.  Plug corresponding cable from headset to amp and you are done...  Yes that simple.  If you are running Windows 10 you should have the Windows Sonic option if you right-click on the audio settings on your task bar and you are ready to go and slay monsters or drive to your hearts content!   Image result for Turtle beach elite pro setup   PS4 is also rather straight forward.  For PS4 you will need to slide the slider to PS4, obviously.   Add the optical cable from the TAC amp to the console.  Set your audio settings on the console to use the optical cable, if you are not already using that for sound and you are golden!  Simple, with no fuss. The Xbox One is a different beast, this is where I started to not enjoy this headset as much as before.  Setup is similar to the PS4.  Start by sliding slider to XB1, which can be confusing as the slider markings are a little confusing.  Again, use the optical cable and the USB cable like for the PS4, use the appropriate cable from headset to amp, BUT, (this is what annoyed me) use ANOTHER 3.5mm cable from your controller into the amp for your mic control. This is all fine and dandy if you have a gen 2 Xbox controller with the headphone jack built in, but if you have a Gen 1 controller on the other hand you are going to need a chat adapter...  The chat adapters are so scares these days that I am pretty sure they are worth more than Bitcoin shares. So to sum it all up, with PC you have a single cable from amp to PC, and a single cable from PC to headset.  PS4 adds one extra cable from Console to Amp.  XB1 takes it one step further and adds another one from controller to amp which takes away the freedom that you should have when using your controller.  This was a big negative to me.  

AUDIO & T.A.C. AMP

  The first time I experienced the audio quality of the Turtle Beach Elite Pro was on the PC, simply jamming to some music while working.  Nothing spectacular, nothing special just listening to my favorite band, when suddenly, the band made a mistake, no it can't be?  I went back and listened to the part again.  For the first time since I started listening to this bands' music I had heard this little extra note.  Only after that happened did I  sit down and really listen and suddenly a whole new spectrum of sounds opened up to me!  It was like I was hearing for the first time!  The Elite Pro's plays the slightest and smallest sounds so well that it redefined what music should sound like to me!  So on the music part the Elite Pro's had a thumbs-up from me!  Moving on to the Consoles and gaming... After the setup and once again watching the setup video on the T.A.C. amp I finally jumped into some gaming, first I explored ancient Egypt in Assassins Creed Origins where I took a stroll through some of the cities and towns to see, or rather hear, what new sounds I could pick up.  And I wasn't disappointed.  While strolling through Alexandria I came across a woman sweeping, I could literally hear the broom brush sweeping the cobbled street...  I was dumbstruck by how crisp and clear things sounded!  The clarity of the the Elite Pro is simply amazing!   Image result for Turtle beach elite pro setup   Next I moved on to Rainbow 6 Siege to test out the directional accuracy as well as the ability of the Elite Pro headset to make sounds distinguishable during a gunfight or other actions..  Once again I was not left dissapointed.  After jumping through a window in one of the stages, I proceeded to step on many shards of glass, which in the past I didn't even realize was happening, I then placed a trap and waited for my victim.  With some help of the handy drone camera I found an unsuspecting victim in the room adjacent to the one I was in.  This was the perfect opportunity to test the Elite Pro directional ability...  Without the use of the camera, I could hear the player walking around the room, hear him change from primary to secondary weapon and even hear his steps as he left the room and proceeded to walk straight into my trap.  Never have I realized the extent to which a good headset is essential in a game like this. Moving on to the T.A.C. amp options, and there are numerous. Image result for turtle beach tac   The T.A.C. amp, or Tactical Audio Controller, serves as its own sound card when used on PC and MAC, and a sound mixer on console.  Apart from the normal volume control, which has a very nice LED to show your volume level, and a press button to mute all audio, it comes with a small mic-mute button which also indicates when the mic is picking up any noise.  This is great when you want to make sure your party members are not hearing anything they shouldn't be.  The T.A.C. has 4 sliders, GAME - which mixes your game volume and chat volume.  BACKGROUND NOISE LIMITER - this is a nice feature if you play in a very noisy environment, turning this up will eliminate all the background noise that feeds back into your ears while playing.  For normal environments this slider can be left at the bottom.  OUTBOUND MIC BOOST - Do you have that one member in the party whose voice is always so soft you can hardly hear him/her?  This slider will make sure that person is not you.  Simply sliding it up will ensure that your voice is amplified to your friends headsets.  MIC MONITOR LEVEL -  This one is for the streamers,  this allows you to hear your own voice through your own headset, just to make sure you are speaking clearly and everyone can hear you properly. With the T.A.C. you also get 2 buttons at the top that give you access to the audio presets, 16 presets to be exact.  4 categories, Gaming, Movies, Music and stereo with 4 presets for each category.  You do have to memorize the order that you set the presets using the Turtle Beach software which you download and install on your PC and MAC.  Presets range from Signature - this is a setup that Turtle Beach have created which has a good balance on all levels.  For the gaming category, you also have a footsteps mode which will improve ambient sounds to help you hear the incoming targets or enemies.  Music features include acoustic, live and bass boost presets.  

SHOULD YOU BUY?

  Turtle Beach has made a superb product with the Elite Pro and you will need to spend a significant amount of money to get better than this.  Is it better than the Astro A40 TR?  I would say they are like for like.  If you like Turtle Beach and you are looking for a Tournament Ready wired headset, the Elite Pro is a no-brainer, if you are like me, an Astro fan, I will stick with my A40 TR. In the premium price range in which the Elite Pro's are, quality in terms of the build, audio and features are standard.  And the Elite Pro's truly show what innovative designers and engineers Turtle Beach have creating their products. Before this headset review I had not been the biggest fan of any Turtle Beach equipment, but thanks to Apex Interactive and Turtle Beach that created the Elite Pro's, it is safe to say I will definitely consider a Turtle Beach product in the future.  So to answer the question, would I buy this headset?  I most certainly would!   Image result for 9/10 stars  

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying me with the review item.

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Corsair M65 Pro

There are few days that can be as terrible as the day that your trusty mouse dies...  No not your pet rodent companion Roger which has survived many drops from high shelves and multiple occasions , no, I mean your sword, your weapon, the one thing that stands between you and being taken down by those pesky zombies.  Once you can step beyond the the trauma of losing a family member the next step usually is to start looking for your next mouse.  And luckily I, FauxFilms, am here to help. The Corsair M65 Pro, released in 2014, is tailored towards FPS gamers and for it’s R1099.00 price tag, it does not fall short in what it promises to deliver. The overall build of the M65 Pro is magnificent.  The cable is braided and feels durable and the USB port is unique in design, so it will be easy to distinguish between other USB devices. After some extensive use, there doesn’t appear to be any ware on the mouse, nor any annoying squeaks or sticks to the wheel or buttons on the mouse, which is great considering many of my previous mice that I had all started showing signs of fatigue and ware.  The shape of the mouse is tailored towards those who have a flat handed grip over a claw grip.  The weight of the mouse can also be adjusted to your liking with three removable weights.   Related image   The M65 Pro comes with two programmable buttons as well as a third “sniper” button on the thumb which can switch your DPI on the fly for long range sniping in FPS games or could be programmed as a third programmable if you chose to do so.  The scroll wheel feels great and its actuation force and scroll intervals feel close to perfect.  The DPI changer is useful too and can reach a maximum of 12 000 DPI.  Although I have never met anyone who uses 12K DPI the software allows you to program 5 various levels of DPI as well as the “sniper” button DPI switcher.   Image result for corsair m65 pro rgb 1080p   The software also allows you to program macros and actions for each button on the mouse, which combined with the two fully customizable RGB lights on each end of the mouse and DPI light, give you functional and aesthetically pleasing customization.  The software allows you to save profiles which could be used for various games as well as a surface calibration which slightly improves the mouse’s accuracy although I didn’t notice a big difference after calibrating. As for the sensor, the M65 Pro uses an optical sensor which I have found very reliable and prefer it over laser, however that is not to say that laser sensors are worse, as the battle between optic vs laser is one of personal preference.   Image result for corsair m65 pro rgb 1080p   Overall I am really happy with the performance of the M65 Pro and find the sniper button extremely useful in games like PubG and Fortnite.  However in games where you can customize your aim down sights sensitivity, it can be used as a third programmable which is also useful.  If you are looking for an mouse for FPS gaming and are looking for a mouse around the R1000 price range, I can highly recommend the Corsair M65 Pro. Special thanks to FauxFilms for writing this review!  stay tuned for more future PC content. Written by FauxFilms Edited by BigJapester11
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UFC 3 – a Rookie’s Review

As the title suggests, this is a first look at a UFC title, so be aware I have zero reference points...  Gloves on, mouthpiece in!  Time to step into the octagon.

EARLY IMPRESSIONS

I have never touched a UFC title before, well maybe a demo… I think. So for me this is completely out of my comfort zone in terms of gaming.  New territory I have only seen in videos.

So my impression of UFC 3 was, at most, daunting because I had no idea what I’m getting myself into. So I took a deep breath and Pressed Start.

So I jumped in and went straight for the Create-A-Fighter mode, I was greeted with a fair amount of options to play with.  I am happy that there is variety in the mode to create all manner of fighters.

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After creating the perfect representation of myself, a chiseled behemoth of a fighter, with dashing good looks ( I have to recreate myself you know ;) )   I proceeded to a few practice fights. I quickly realized that the beat’ - em - up style is vastly different from those of Tekken and Dead or Alive. So I had to adapt or this wasn’t going to go south, rather quickly!

I took my newly created fighter into Career mode, and adapted style of playing a beat’em game, to the Octagon to see how it goes.  It didn't.  I lost by way of submission.

My early impression thus far is good.  I got my butt kicked in the first fight, but instead of making me want to quit, it made me want to learn from this and adapt even more, which I did and won by knock-out.  It felt great landing that knock-out punch, so much that I wanted it more. So my journey as UFC fighter began.

GAMEPLAY

The game has an extremely solid feel to it. This is further enhanced by the incredible graphical detail of each fighter.

The movement is different from what I am use to in games like Tekken.  I want to say a delay but the word delay must be taken with a pinch of salt.  This style makes me plan my offence and defense very carefully.  With this slight "delay" comes a sense of strategy, aimless button mashing will get you knocked down and out before you hit your second sequence of buttons.  Strategy is key.  Well timed and thought out attacks are devastatingly effective compared to button mashing a front hand jab hoping to drop your opponent eventually.

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The character model movement is spot on.  How they react to getting punched and kicked gives you the visual feedback that you actually doing damage.

UFC 3 matches are not to be considered a sprint race, quite the opposite they are marathons.  If you go all out throwing punches and kicks like you playing an arcade brawler, you will lose, badly.  You have to manage your stamina and decide when the right time to attack is.  Landing a blow against an opponent that is blocking compared to missing entirely, I would rather take on a block.

The grappling side of things is a monster in its own right, this is truly a art form that when mastered can be magnificent but as a beginner it can be tough to get to grips with.   The ground game can be handled easy, but when it comes to a submission move, it is difficult for a new comer as the feedback on that is rather minimal. It is easy to lose at submissions when you are new to UFC, but as they say, practice makes perfect.

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Damage is also indicated accurately like a real UFC fight.  Faces swell up and blood get spilled, and when landing a heavy damage dealing blow,  the screen tilts and wobbles as your opponent stumbles, all while the crowd goes wild.  It may sound like you are winning, but the fight can drastically turn with just one well-placed kick to the face. So it is always best to keep your guard up.

GRAPHICS

As far as the graphics go, it looks really great. You would easily mistake the game for a live UFC match on the TV if you gave it a quick glance.

The character models are super accurate and when landing those punches to your opponents face, you can see the blood, sweat and fortunately no snot, flying off your opponents face.  Keep in mind also, it counts for your fighter too, but it still looks great none the less.

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I will be honest about a few things. Some of the character models look weird, almost like cartoonish, but this does not mean they don’t pack the punch they are famous for.

In game there are some graphical oddities like certain head movements when punched or kicked, arm movements and even fighters walking into the ring barrier like it’s an invisible wall, but these are not game breaking or even enough to take you out of the moment.

All in all, the game looks great from start to finish and custom characters fits in like they were meant to be there.

REPLAYABILITY

UFC 3 has all the bells and whistles like any other beat’em up title. Fight Modes, Career Mode, Practice Mode and Online Fights.

Fight Mode is your straight up jump into a fight and enjoy with no loss or gain, just plain old fun.  It is also the best place to get a feel for the game in a real fight.  You can get the same in Practice Mode but in my opinion it’s only good for practicing to land punches and kicks. It also makes you a tad lazy in managing your stamina.

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Career Mode is where the game really shines.  You can either choose any of the existing fighters in the roster, or create your own, and yes there is even a feature to upload your own face to your fighter.  After you tinkered with your fighter’s appearance and style, you start your career with a starter fight to lead you into what the UFC is about.

In career mode your stats do not simply build until you are a unstoppable force with a iron chin.  You have to train to keep your health and stats up for each upcoming fight to ensure you have the best chance of winning.  You are assigned points you can spend on various activities during your training.  From gym sessions to self-promoting to create hype.  This does give you the sense of being more involved with your fighter’s progress, making each victory well earned.

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I decided to go onto the online octagon and see how I would stack up. I obviously expected to get my butt handed to me on a silver platter.

I didn’t do too badly actually, I still lost, but It was exciting and fun.  I still have a long way to go if I want to be an online champion at UFC 3, but until that day, I will have to train hard.

UFC 3 also boast and Ultimate Team mode, which does have a fair share of loot boxes but this is only within the Ultimate Team mode. You can also acquire other items via the store that you buy with in game currency. Items switch up after a time limit so it’s never the same.

From all that is on offer, UFC 3 is a rather beefy package to sink your teeth into.

FINAL VERDICT

UFC 3 was nowhere near on my radar of games I would try, but I’m sure glad I did. It’s a proper brawler that I can see being used as a way to settle arguments.

It isn’t everyone’s type of fighter, but I would recommend it if you are a gamer that enjoys these type of games with friends.

I will be spending more time with UFC 3 because my victories feel earned. I genuinely get stoked when I get a knockout on my opponents.

Just like the real UFC, I stepped out of comfort zone and gave this game a try only to discover I loved it.

   

Image result for 8 stars out of 10

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for sending me this review copy.

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Written by: Ghost86 Edited by; BigJapester11  
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SteelSeries Arctis 3 – Review

    SteelSeries has been a leader in competitive gaming peripherals for a very long time and the quality of their hardware has improved with every new item they produce.  They have worked tirelessly with many of the top Esports teams around the world to find out what a true gaming professional might need to be the best.     They have truly defined what gaming hardware should strive to be from keyboards, to mouse, to mouse pads.  Steelseries does it all.  And their headsets are not to be taken lightly either.  Steelseries offer some affordable headsets that are very competitive. This is why I am very eager to get the SteelSeries Arctis 3 out the box and on to my head!  Lets jump in. With the arrival of this Steelseries headset I was really excited.  I have never tried any Steelseries headset before and when I got the opportunity I certainly jumped at it. The packaging is very sleek and straight to the point.  Inside the box is the headset, obviously, and two sets of cables.  One set has a micro USB on the one side, that plugs into the headset itself.  There are 2 attachment cables that plug into this cable.  One has a single 3 pole 3.5mm headphone jack, for use on Consoles and mobile devices.  The other has a double 3.5mm jack for speaker and mic separately for use on your PC.  This configuration lends itself to universal use which is great!  Except if you buy this headset to use on V1 Xbox One controllers which do not have headphone jack connection without an adapter.  Steelseries can definitely state this situation more clearly on their packaging as I couldn't find any of this info outside the box.  Looking past that little hiccup, it took me a few seconds to figure out the cable connection options but once I got it I was impressed with the versatility. The Arctis range are the more entry level range to the Siberia range which is the Premium Steelseries headset but with a lower price tag you would expect some functionality cuts.  Some how SteelSeries delivers a top notch headset at a budget price.  

Looks and aesthetic appeal

  From the moment you pick up the Arctis 3 you can feel the quality is good, build is strong yet light, finishes feel good in hand and makes you feel like you are handling a quality product.  The matte black finish and small chrome finish gives it a very minimalist finish compared to any of the Astro or Turtle Beach headsets which feature some outlandish colour schemes or designs.  The overhead strap mixes up the plain black finish with a mono tone headband makes this headset perfect for everyday use and if you don't want to attract some attention with your headset.  If you want to spice things up you can customize your Arctis 3 with the 5 options of headset colours and the 8 headband options ranging from plain to funky which caters for all the characters out there. The microphone on the Arctis 3 which is neatly retracts into the left earcup and is hidden nicely when not in use can be positioned perfectly and the quality is spectacular as SteelSeries is known to have.  There is no other way to say it, the microphone on the Arctis 3 is absurdly good!  

Comfort

Image result for Steelseries arctis 3   During my first stint with the Arctis 3 I found the headset to sit comfortably over the top of my head due to the very clever headband which causes the headset to feel light on your head which is great for long sessions of gaming or listening to music.  I do find the earcups slightly shallow with my ears touching the inside of the earcup if it is not perfectly positioned.  It is good to note that I have normal sized ears so smaller ears will have no problem.  I also found that the earcups, although very comfy with the soft foam sometimes sounded like they don't seal nicely against the side of my head causing some of the outside world noises creeping in around the edges.  This is not a deal breaker by any means. After a couple of hours of use I did notice a few more little quirks of the Arctis 3.  The earcups have a way of "sucking" against the side of your head creating a rather closed off sound which is great for immersion and blocking out external factors but it also amplifies it when the seal is broken and you get that intrusive outside noise.  That seal also causes your ears to get hot and sweaty and I found myself taking them off after a hour long session just for my ears to take a "breathe" Upon even more hours of use I have yet to find that "sweetspot" when it comes to sitting perfectly.  I find myself constantly adjusting positions to find the correct one.  In single player games where I do not need to speak to my team meaning my jaw isn't moving the Arctis 3 sits beautifully. I still would like a little more breathing space for my actual ear lobes but this is all personal preference.  

Audio Quality

My first experience of the Arctis 3 was using it on PC while starting this review.  I was listening to a wide variety of music which ranged from metal, classical, dubstep and while the audio quality was good it only really came to life after downloading the SteelSeries Engine 3.  With this software I could play with my equalizer settings as well as activate virtual 7.1 surround and play with noise cancellation settings for the microphone.  I am a sucker for customization and this program really impressed me.     Next up is using it for some gaming, my choice of games to test a headset always includes Rainbow Six Siege for the simple reason that the game requires you to be extremely aware of your spatial surroundings and pick up on the slightest creak of a floor above you or a crack of glass under a boot in a room next to you, which is a perfect test of the audio fidelity of the Arctis 3. In my experience thus far I find the party chat to be extremely clear, I have yet to hear such a clear party chat, and with the exceptional mic the Arctis 3 has your mates will never miss a word you say, unless your ISP lets you down.  The settings allowing you to control your mic pickup sensitivity eliminates those pesky players who breathe into the microphone.   Image result for Steelseries arctis 3   When it comes to in game audio I am a little on the fence.  Audio quality is good don't get me wrong.  Maybe I just had higher hopes for it.  Not having a equalizer button on hand to change up to suite each game is a little disappointing.  I would have liked to see an adapter with a equalizer or 2 as presets.  But the Audio is still crisp and very clear!  Voices are astonishingly good while other mid range tones seem sharp and at the correct height.  Highs are high enough but get drowned out by mids when the action starts to get big.  The lows are where the Arctis 3 dissapointed me the most.  Once again when there is not too much happening the lows are deep enough to match what is happening on screen but once the action picks up the lows are lost and make a slight appearance every now and again.  Even playing with the equalizer on the PC software fixes it slightly but having to actually disconnect and change it is a disappointing factor. All-Round the Arctis 3 is a very worthy headset and can be extremely versatile, but as a hardcore gamer headset I would say it is very competitive in its price range .  

Final Verdict

The SteelSeries Arctis 3 is an extremely capable headset and can do pretty much everything!  Perfect 1-headset-for-all!  Audio quality is very good and even though it currently, at time of reviewing, is going for under R1000 this would be a no brainer for anyone looking for a wired headset even in the R1500 market.  If was in the market for a headset under the R 1000 mark I would buy this for myself! With great Audio for all-round use and sleek and clean looks will allow you to wear the Arctis 3 in public without getting any strange looks by people passing you. Only personal niggles I experienced is the lack of a chat adapter for older gen Xbox controllers and the fact that they do not sit as comfortable as the Astro's do but that could just be my head being weird.   Image result for 8 stars rating  

I would like to thank Megarom Interactive for being so kind as to supply me with this review item.  Check them out at the link.

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STEELSERIES APEX M800 Review

From the moment of opening the box, you can tell the SteelSeries Apex M800 is gaming keyboard that means business and it comes with all the bells and whistles to do the job.

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 DESIGN

Before plugging it in, I took some time to inspect the hardware. It is a sturdy keyboard and feels strong. Strong enough to whack your friend over the head for taking the last slice of pizza during the LAN session. (Please don’t as this theory has not been tested)

The M800 is somewhat different to a normal mechanical keyboard. The switches is of a linear design, so you won’t be getting that clicking sound when pressing on the keys. It’s also worth mentioning, because of this design, the key stem is 1mm shorter than the traditional 4mm, making it very responsive and quick.

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Another striking feature is the spacebar, yes that landing strip in the middle. Most people, including myself, will find it strange because of the size but it works well as it is always in reach. This makes the design of the keyboard great for gaming and typing. What?! Typing? On a keyboard? Nooooooooo *mindblown*

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The USB cable is threaded making it more durable than normal rubberized cables. There is two USB plugs, one for the keyboard itself and one to power the two USB ports at the back. These can be used for your flash drive, mouse or even a desk fan.

FEATURES

The Apex M800’s main feature, besides being a mechanical keyboard, is its RGB illumination. When plugging it in, it lights up like a Christmas tree with its bright LEDs. The colour switching across the board is mesmerizing and extremely fun to play around with using the SteelSeries Engine 3 app. It is where you can tinker with all that is on offer.

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I have played around with colour switching for a good while and it is just amazing what you can configure. My favourite setting is the Equalizer. This is exactly what it sounds like and to see it in action puts a rather stupid looking grin on my face.

Button Mapping is easy and the whole keyboard can be mapped to your liking. Same goes for the LED configuration, you can either use the pre-sets from the app or you can crazy and give each key its own colour and effect.

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That being said, keys can be configured for Discord, CSGO and Dota 2 by default with the option to even make your own app. (This option shall not be reviewed). With 6 Macros buttons on the left side for dedicated mapping, again, this makes the M800 perfect for gaming or work related tasks.

Underneath the M800 you have four large rubber feet to keep the board in place. The two back feet can be interchanged with the bigger ones for those who prefer a keyboard at an angle. However, even when lying flat, it still feels incredible and is a joy to use, so the raised back is down to preference.

LIFE WITH THE M800

As an everyday PC user, and owning a rather older mechanical keyboard, I have grown to love mechanical keyboards and I don’t think I will ever go back to normal keyboards, also I don’t think my hands will allow it either. Mechanical keyboards are just amazing and believe they must become the standard.

But how has my experience been with the M800? It is one of the best keyboards out there, it feels great and is fun to look at when you made a setup on the app for a custom colour configuration.

Traditional mechanical keyboards make you sound like a pro hacker at work when you just to normal typing and use in general, due to the clicking sound of the keys. With M800 you can game and type away without sounding like a machine-gun on full auto at 12am.

ROUND UP

The SteelSeries Apex M800 is a fun and serious keyboard.

With the ability to setup each key individually for binding and colour, great for gaming, comfy for work and just so damn pretty to look at, I recommend it to anyone.

Image result for 8/10 stars   Once again I would like to thank Megarom for providing me with the hardware that I have done this review on. Image result for megarom Written by Ghost86 Edited by BigJapester11
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EAX Top Games of 2017

  2017 has been a year of many great, less great and complete and utter rubbish things happening in the gaming world.  From the launch of the most powerful gaming console ever known to mankind, to the EA micro transaction-lootbox scandal ( sorry too soon?). Many new titles have come along some of them amazing some of them having extremely large hype and not being able to hold true to all the hope and promises made by the developers.  We at Early Axes have certainly not played all the 2017 releases but we have certainly played a good few.  So we thought it to be a good idea to give you all a little insight as to which titles we would pick as our personal top 5 games of 2017. Please take note that these are all opinions and even though many of you might not agree with all of these choices, we just wanted to share what we have- , and enjoyed playing during the course of 2017.  Some games might not make the list due to them not being available at the time of compiling this article. So without further ado, lets get into it!  

EliteJediGamer1 ( Richard Roth)

  2017 has been a rather busy year for me, I will rather not disclose the amount of games that I have bought during 2017 (upwards of 130, but who is counting right?)  Having a very large library of games to choose from, some of them not being launched during 2017, I have decided to only mention the ones that are from 2017, so here goes. There seems to be a trend among my top 5 from the wide open areas, huge cliffs and beautiful vistas of Ghost Recon: Wildlands.  Sneaking around the jungle.  Holding your breath, and waiting for the precise moment to pull the trigger on that 1 perfectly placed shot to take out the target that is over a kilometer away in Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3. Image result for ghost recon wildlands When not playing them I found myself drawn to the brutal yet beautiful The Surge, with its Dark Souls-esque fighting style where one wrong step will lead to your untimely, yet countless, death. Image result for the Surge Once you get the hang of it though it is a amazing and satisfying game to play!  Keeping to the trend of beauty mixed with some gun-play Call of Duty: WW2 grabbed me and pulled me into the muddy and blood-soaked trenches where it delivered one of the most stellar single player stories that I have experienced.  It had me caring for me wanting to enlist!  Until I felt how heavy those rifles are, as well as how terrible the food is!

Top game for 2017:

WOLFENSTEIN 2: The New Colossus

Image result for wolfenstein 2 wallpaper Easily my favorite title for 2017 must be the new and better than before Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, takes everything that made the previous game so great and dials it up to 11!  The cast is instantly likeable characters, outrageous weapons, bone-chilling villains that all give emotional context to the high-tech uprising against the Nazi's!  A definite must-have for anyone who is a fan of Wolfenstein and to new-comers as well!  

CptJack2308 (Rudi Cronje)

  2017 has been quite the mixed bag for me, I have made a couple of terrible purchases which I would rather not mention but I have also made many fantastic purchases!  I have had a eye on one of my favorite Action-RPG games since it was announced that it is coming to the Xbox One.  Path of Exile, it takes what we have learned to love from the Diablo games and rolled it into a epic grind!  Fun alone, even better with a friend!  When getting tired of grinding through awesomeness I like to jump into the Nomad and blast into the Mass Effect Andromeda universe, grab some of my crew and save the universe. Image result for mass effect andromeda wallpaper Sticking to the space theme, saving the universe is not always done by simply chatting to the enemy sometimes you need to grab a gun and do it for the Puppies (Destiny reference)!  Always fun grabbing a few mates and having a dance off, hitting the crucible or taking on a strike for some epic exotic loot!  Destiny 2 is one of my all time favorites!  As I am writing this I realize that I am a slave to the grind, isn't that from a song? Image result for destiny 2 Anyway, this game was very nearly my favorite of 2017, from a small production team, it is not perfect but they have given us one of the best European-RPG's I have ever played, Elex.  Elex has swallowed up so many hours of my second half of 2017 and it doesn't seem to be letting up anytime soon!

Top game for 2017:

Call of Duty: WW2

Image result for call of Duty ww2 I have never been a big Call of Duty fanboy, but without any convincing WW2 caught my attention, grabbed me, pulled me into the trenches and onto the beaches of Normandy and blasted me with a tremendous campaign and a intoxicating multiplayer, if ever there is a game that will make me forget to shower or eat, THIS IS IT!  

AXG Jaczerdio( Jacques Coetzer)

2017 has been a variety year for me, I have enjoyed a wide variety of genres and it has been great!  I have dared to enter Ardennes forest with my fellow soldier.  No mission too Difficult, no sacrifice too great!  Call of Duty WW2 has me coming back to it time and time again.  On a lighter note I love jumping into my pimped out car of choice and heading into the outback for a Australian adventure, meeting up with my mates and cruising the beaches in Forza Horizon 3! Did someone say Goliath run?! Image result for forza horizon 3 After a few relaxing drives along the Australian coast it is time to strap on my blades, grab a stick and start body checking the hell out of anyone who gets close to the puck.  Yes I am a South African but NHL 18 is simply bone-crunching poetry in motion and it is addictive!  Swapping my stick for a cape and a mask gets me into some superhero and super-villain combat of Injustice 2...  Who doesn't enjoy being Batman? Image result for injustice 2

Top game for 2017:

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Image result for player unknown battlegrounds Yes yes I don't have to say anything I can see you all nodding your head in approval!  PUBG is simply amazing.  Every gun shot and swing of a frying pan brings pure childlike delight!  I am sure most of you are either already playing this or have pre-ordered and are patiently waiting for launch day!  See you on the Battlegrounds!  Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!  

Ghost86 ( Adriaan v Niekerk)

I know I know Call of Duty WW2 , trenches, Normandy, epic story even better multiplayer but hey what can I say its a awesome game!  Moving on swiftly, Ghost Recon Wildlands has also been listed before but I am pretty sure they have mapped the whole of Bolivia, no jokes, the map is practically endless, there are numerous things to do and partying up with 3 friends make it so much more satisfying. Image result for halo wars 2 Real time strategy games rarely find their home on console, and at the same time the name Halo is synonymous with the Xbox...  Put them together and you find the masterpiece that is Halo Wars 2!  Lots of time was spent drumming my opponents into submission and it was all worth it!  Switching over to the awe-inspiring Forza Motorsport 7, I am not capable of words to describe what an amazing racing title this truly is.  This is the closest I have come to driving, without the risk of being hijacked or hitting a pothole. Image result for forza motorsport 7

Top game for 2017:

Assassins Creed: Origins

Image result for assassin's creed origins After a couple of rather lackluster outings from the once mighty Assassins Creed franchise the delivered, and boy oh boy did they deliver.  Slaves building a large city from sandstone and sand as far as the eye can see has never looked this good!  Not to mention the fighting and parkour system we have come to love and expect from the franchise.  Partner that with a new protagonist and amazing story telling and you have my favorite game of 2017!  

MaxRager1990(Aiden Markus)

  2017 has been not only epic on a gaming front but on a personal note as well.  Shoutout to my newly wedded wife ;)  Like many others my picks have been partially influenced by my fellow EAX admin and moderators. 2017 saw me jumping into a foxhole with my mates and literally trying to stop the acts of the Walking Dead literally with the zombie mode of Call of Duty WW2.  I am only realizing it now but 2017 has seen me trying to save many people, factions and even the world.  After tearing up some Nazi-zombies in COD I spent immense amounts of time trying to stop more Nazi's, the not-zombie kind, with the help of trusty BJ Blazkowicz and his merry band of rebels kicking ass and taking names in Wolfenstein 2: the New Colossus! Image result for for honor 1080p Like I mentioned above I am saving EVERYONE!  With the help of some orcs and goblins that I may, or may not have, bullied into helping me, I was defending Middle-Earth from the evil clutches of Sauron and his ever increasing army!  Talion and Celebrimbor had my slicing and dicing my way through countless enemies making me feel like a true warrior of the realm in Shadow of War!  These dreams of being a glorious and legendary warrior was soon crushed by a quick slice of a katana, and my greatness was cut down and I was left to face the steep, yet oh so satisfying learning curve of the brutal For Honor. Image result for shadow of war 1080p

Top game for 2017:

Cuphead

Image result for cuphead 1080p Cuphead had me all giddy inside for the simple fact that I was expecting to be taken back to my childhood of gaming.  Oh how wrong I was!  Cuphead seems like a child-like game on the outside with its exquisite design, look and feel.  But what lurks under the pleasant exterior is a truly curse-word-extracting run and gun game.  Defeating a boss or getting past that level that has had you contemplating throwing your controller against the wall is so extremely satisfying that it makes this game my favorite title of 2017, after my wife changing her title from ms to Mrs that is ;)  

BigJapester11 (JP du Preez)

2017 has brought with it many surprises, some of them good and some of them bad but on a gaming front games need to be seriously bad to be considered bad, and in 2017 I did not experience one of those games!  In no particular order I have been pummeled by so many Viking warriors and embarrassed by countless Samurais but yet For Honor keeps drawing me in!  There is something about the art of swinging a weapon at your opponent while shouting profanities over a mic that excites me!  Almost the same way that destroying an opposing teams' will to play Call of Duty WW2 by racking up the killstreaks does. Image result for for honor 1080p But I am also a sucker for beautiful graphics, with sprawling environments that ooze authenticity, couple that with a soundtrack and sound effects that takes you back to the movies and Battlefront 2 had me awe struck by its shear beauty ,and a actual campaign, skip past the loot crate-gambling saga and some less than stellar matchmaking preferences and still it is a amazing game in my opinion.  On the topic of beauty, I don't think one can mention gaming-beauty without Final Fantasy XV.  Being the franchise that got me into console gaming with FF8 which i raked in upwards of 180 hours on, I was very excited to jump back into the Final Fantasy-verse and I was not dissapointed.  Mixing the best of the old with the best of the new to create a masterpiece! Image result for final fantasy xv  

Top game for 2017:

Sea of Thieves (alpha)

Image result for Sea of thieves Yes yes technically it has not launched yet, but this is my article and I am in charge!  I spotted this game when it was first announced.  I kept a keen eye on it and when the chance came to sign up for the technical alpha I jumped at it.  A couple of months in and I have been part of every single play session and the improvements per session that is being made is phenomenal.  I have been a pirate for so long now that I am called a pioneer in their eyes, maybe in some other peoples eyes as well with my eye patch, peg leg and parrot riding shotgun on my shoulder.  I suppose the smell of rum on my breath doesn't help either (hic).  Sea of Thieves is setting itself up to be an amazing game to either go it alone or join a few mates, have a few canisters of grog and sail the seven seas, plundering ships and looting islands!  

Voxfan (Pierre Wheeler)

  This year I have not had too much time for gaming, but yet I find myself grabbing my controller and heading into the outback whether it is for a quick hoon session or just a casual drive along the coast, don't forget a epic session of cops&robbers with my SAPD livery.  Forza Horizon 3 is always my go-to game to blow off some steam!  When all the steam is blown off, I take my cars onto the track and try my best to post some respectable lap times without leaving most of my hard worked designs are imprinted into the barrier around the courses of Forza Motorsport 7. Image result for forza motorsport 7 After receiving some banter from my fellow drivers I like to jump into the trenches, like all my fellow EAX members seem to do, and play some Call of Duty WW2.  I might sound like a stuck record but for anyone who has not had the privilege to play this game, do yourself a favor and make a plan to get it, it is amazing!

Top game of 2017:

Assasins Creed: Origins

Image result for ac origins Again, this is not the first time this game features on this list with good reason.  I don't know what I enjoy more about Origins, if its the satisfying battle mechanic that allows you to feel like a real assassin as you silently dispose of your target.  Or is it the overwhelming attention to detail that Ubisoft has so lovingly crafted into this game.  From the water details to the sand blowing in the direction of the wind.  This game is majestic and deserves to be one of the best titles of 2017  

mR fUnKtAsTiC33 (Alex Pfoss)

Image result for Overwatch 1080p 2017 has been rather underwhelming in my opinion but sometimes we just have to push through and make the most of what there is on offer.  Overwatch had the attention for most of my evenings whether I was solo queuing or hitting it up with my buddy MaxRager1990 it always provided good competition and I would recommend this to all multiplayer enthusiasts.  Sticking to the competitive scene I found myself revisiting a game that was really broken at launch but has since seen lots of work done to improve it, For Honor!  It looks like a hack and slash style of game from the outside but like its Ubisoft brother, R6 Siege, it has a steep learning curve and crushing an opponent is so extremely satisfying. Image result for cuphead 1080p Call of Duty WW2 makes another appearance, as it has with nearly everyone of us.  Same old COD magic, I can't quite put my finger on what makes it so addictive but it just eats away at any free time you thought you had.  Moving away from the competitive style games another of my favorites for 2017 is the side scrolling platformer that hides its Dark Souls-like difficulty behind brightly coloured levels...  Cuphead!  I loved and hated this game at the same time giving me many nights where I simply pondered my existence and also, how to beat that damn boss!  

Top Game of 2017:

Fortnite Battle Royale

Image result for fortnite battle royale Much can be said about the Battle Royale genre at the moment, PUBG announced it and brought it to the foreground but Fortnite was clever by making the Battle Royale section of its game free to everyone it captured the hearts and controllers of many PUBG-awaiting players, including me.  Hiding in a bush as a unsuspecting cartoon-style character comes running past you and then blowing him to kingdom-come with your over-sized shotgun never gets old!   Before anyone gets upset and annoyed with our choices, as you can see we all play very different games and we do not get sponsored any games to test, so the games we mentioned are the ones that we have bought personally and tried out.  We may have missed some that you like, why not tell us about them in the comments! To all the Axers who are still reading this, a very special thanks to all of you who have made this project worthwhile.  We strive to create the best content possible and deliver top quality content as often as possible. Here is to 2017!  Lets make 2018 a even bigger and better EAX filled year! See you on the flipside!
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Star Wars Battlefront 2 – the Force is strong, mostly!

Much can be said about Star Wars Battlefront 2. Good, bad and some neutral. So let’s start with the good.

CAMPAIGN

Star Wars Battlefront 2 starts off right before the destruction of the Death Star and then continues on from there. You are put in control of a few characters throughout the story, but the main focus is on Iden Versio, an Imperial Special Forces Trooper of Inferno Squad. Image result for star wars battlefront 2 2017 Playing through the somewhat short single player campaign, it is evident that not enough was fleshed out with the characters, if you are a new comer to the Star Wars universe. However, it is still an enjoyable piece of the game. Let us be realistic here, Battlefront was never known for its single player, so actually having one this time around is fun and great to look at. Image result for star wars battlefront 2 2017 With 13 chapters, it mixes up the gameplay on foot and in vehicles. Both plays, and feels great. Whether you are in First Person or, Third Person view, you will be pulling off headshots and Starfighter kills with ease. But don’t let the game’s first outing with a story side make you believe it’s a cake walk, even on normal difficulty the A.I. can take you out if you are not careful. The selection of weapons on offer is not huge but very distinct and can be changed up via loadout boxes throughout the mission. They sound like they were pulled straight from the movies and packs the same punch. Blasters obviously don’t run on ammo, but with an Active Reloading style mechanic in place, all weapons either have the quick reload or the damage boost. It is not a unique system but it works really well. Image result for star wars battlefront 2 2017 Vehicles segments also has the choice between First and Third person viewpoints. I myself prefer the Third Person perspective. I didn’t lose my accuracy and I was far more aware of where the craft was in the environment, but mainly because I like the look of vehicles. The story itself is fast and goes from one big scene to the next, which not entirely a bad thing, but a few more chapters wouldn’t have hurt. Other than that, it’s a treat for a Star Wars fan. Image result for star wars battlefront 2 2017

[PLEASE NOTE]

Some Bad News Below...

 

MULTIPLAYER

Battlefront 2’s multiplayer is what it’s famous for. It is pure Star Wars style battles between The Empire and Rebels, for the most part anyway. Seeing blaster fire flying into the air, fellow soldiers getting shot down right in front of you or explosions ripping vehicles apart with devastating force, it is all there and presented really well. However that is when I actually did play a few times. Most of the times I was in and out of menus trying to find a match. At times I felt I was playing around in the menu more than the actual multiplayer side of the game. Related image The reason for this is mostly due to the controversy leading up to the game’s launch.  With micro-transactions stating and drawing a line between the two types of games out there, those who just want to play and those who spend real world money for huge advantages. With that, I suspect a lot of gamers didn’t buy the games until further notice. Because of this, it hinders my review for Battlefront 2’s multiplayer. With the lack of a Server Browser, it makes looking for match manually, impossible. Image result for star wars battlefront 2 2017 Even though the multiplayer side of things is currently unreachable, Battlefront 2 does offer non-online arcade options. It can be played solo or with a friend via split screen co-op or versus. Battle Scenarios is pre-set encounters from the various eras of the Star Wars universe with unique rewards to unlock. Custom Arcade lets you tweak the battle styles for some jump in and have fun style action. With the standard Hero characters and the standard troopers to choose from, these two modes has a decent amount of fun within them.  

FINAL VERDICT

Star Wars Battlefront 2 is fun game, whether you a Star Wars fan or not. Graphics are stunning. Cut-scenes have a beautiful level of detail that you would think you are watching a movie. The game’s menu deserves special mention here. It has the standard Star Wars theme orchestra music playing in the background. Icons representing the different modes are animated with a wire frame outlining of well-known items. I am sad the multiplayer had such a troubled start but I am hopeful it will be in full swing in no time.  

As always I would like to say a special thanks to Prima Interactive for providing me with this review copy.

  Image result for Prima interactive   Image result for 7 out of 10 stars Written by: Ghost86 Edited by: BigJapester11
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L.A. Noire – 1940’s bloody Glamour!

There are few games that sets the tone and atmosphere of the 1940’s as perfectly as L.A. Noire. While not a new game, it has always been at the back of my mind since its first outing on the Xbox 360 back 2011. Image result for la Noire xbox 1 720p The first question I was asked was “Why Play It Again?” Short answer, “Why Not?”   L.A. Noire’s setting of a 1940’s Los Angeles is historically accurate enough to keep me just wandering the streets. It gives an idea of how life was back then. It was a time of good old fashioned hard-work, and that carries over to what L.A. Noire is about. Image result for la Noire xbox 1 720p The game puts you in the shoes of Cole Phelps, a man of the law, tasked to solve crimes and mysteries. This involves searching and inspecting clues in the environment and question people to help your investigations. It is made interesting by the game’s unique feature of realistic facial animations. This is where you have to use your own initiative to tell if the person in question, victim, witness or suspect, is either, lying or telling the truth. You have to watch their faces when they talk and make a judgement. Image result for la Noire xbox 1 720p Wrong judgment calls don’t impede your progress in the story, but it does influence your overall rating after each case. This leaves enough room to replay the cases again to better your score. L.A. Noire is not a remaster, but the facial animations is still incredible. It is rare for a game to use such a feature that makes the player have to use their own instinct to get answers out of the people they interrogate.   Compared to other open world titles, L.A. Noire is smaller, but a fairly decent size of the city is given to explore and will take some time to drive from one point to another. The story itself plays off in a somewhat linear fashion, but it still gives you the chance to go off the beaten track. The city itself is beautiful, it’s a joy to drive through and has the personality and charm that is a pleasure to get lost in. Image result for la Noire 1080p Controls wise, the game feels good, but there was times it was just a slight bit clunky, but never so much I felt like throwing my controller like a broken boomerang. The driving side of things is in a sense Overly Sensitive. Cars are rather twitchy when taking turns which translates into the feeling of them being lightweight but still pretty solid. You can either drive yourself or let your partner drive to the set destinations, which then give you an overall better rating at the end of the investigation. Image result for la Noire 1080p Since you are part of the police force, more careful driving is required. But with the authentic sounding radio channels and sweet old school jazz, driving like a law abiding citizen almost comes naturally. Then again it could be the fact that you are not driving a sports car.   L.A. Noire is as much a joy to play now as it was on the previous generation. Again, it is not a remaster. It is a straight up port and is perfect if you missed it the first time and want to break away to something truly unique in presentation and style. From start to finish I wish I could have experienced the 1940’s in person, but L.A. Noire gives me that opportunity and it deliveries it beautifully. Image result for la Noire 1080p   Once again a special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying me with the game to review.   Image result for 8 out of 10 stars Reviewed by Ghost86 Edited by BigJapester11
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Syndrome Review

Step into the shoes of Chief Technician Galen onboard the Valkenburg, a spaceship that has lost power and seems to have no occupants onboard, or does it? You awake from a deep cryosleep dazed and confused only to find darkness and absolutely no one around. You quickly discover that some alien life form was brought onto this ship and has resulted in the entire crew either being dead or converted into crazed, blood thirsty creatures. How will you escape? Syndrome is a sci-fi survival horror game developed by Camel101 and Bigmoon entertainment. It is played in the first person view. Now if you enjoy a good horror game that has many jump scares you will most definitely enjoy this one. With a relatively small install of 5.47GB, you will be playing in a flash. But don’t judge the quality based on this as dynamite comes in small packages. An issue I encountered quite quickly was a slight graphics glitch where the inventory menu and certain parts of the game looked incredibly grainy. I sent this info through to Bigmoon entertainment and within a few days they had released an update that fixed all the issues and I was on my way again. Image result for Syndrome game 1080p Syndrome is best played in the dark as the lighting is extremely low due to a power failure aboard this spaceship you find yourself stranded on. The aim of this game is to explore, interact with objects, find supplies and hopefully weapons which you quickly realize are scarce. It has an eerie soundtrack that plays constantly and is great at achieving a rapid heartbeat and instilling fear deep within your mind! Image result for Syndrome game 1080p Early on in the game you are contacted by two characters, Commander Neomi and James "Jimmy" Marko. Commander Neomi asks you to come to her location and help her and her marines out of an area they are locked in. James "Jimmy" Marko warns you that Neomi cannot be trusted and convinces you to try and restore power to the ship, in order to travel to a more populated system to find help. While exploring the passages of this huge space craft you encounter these mutants that are quite difficult to kill so I found myself evading them rather than fighting them. James helps you over a radio to find your way around but, the deranged creatures are relentless and very quick to attack if they hear you. So far I have come across a creature that can't be killed so you have to avoid him at all costs. It took me a few tries to realize I couldn’t kill him(frustration was rife). Related image I have played Syndrome for about 2 hours now and I am enjoying it. I found the plot to be very clever and was impressed by the originality of the storyline. The graphics are good and the gameplay is quite fluid. I do however feel that in order to appeal to a larger group of gamers the developers could’ve made the game a little brighter as I believe a lot of people would be turned off by the sheer darkness. Also, the combat style is quite simple and primitive and you find yourself hacking away a little crazily sometimes without achieving much damage. Related image I am optimistic that there is more to come regarding Syndrome. It is obviously not an AAA game but has a lot of potential to be great. Is it worth all the frustration of sometimes feeling out of control, I think. If this was the developers objective, then I feel they have achieved what they set out to do. If you are a fan of this Genre, give this game a try. You might be pleasantly surprised. Image result for 7 out of 10 stars Keep gaming….EliteJedi
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State of gaming in SA

At Early Axes we mostly spend our time gaming and discussing gaming in general. Obviously. We are all avid Xbox and/or PC fans. We have a love for gaming and the community. All aspects of gaming, from tech to eSports. We cover it. Now, have you ever thought about the state of gaming in our beloved South Africa? Where is it going? Do we have SA developers? What is the SA eSports scene like? What is the growth and interest like? I'm here to (hopefully) answer all these questions. It has been a while since I first wanted to write this piece, but the timing wasn't right. It is now. I have always been a gamer, from the first Wolfenstein to the latest Wolfenstein II. I've been around the block. Played various games on various platforms. I'm a "from the roots" gamer, I like to see where everything starts and what the driving force is to make the industry a success. I had a chat with a few of the Early Axes guys to see what they had to say. I was surprised at their replies and angles they took on my simple question. "What is the state of gaming in South Africa?" I combined these thoughts and came to a conclusion. Do we have SA developers? Game development have come a long way in South Africa, there are a bunch of awesome games currently being developed. We just recently featured Unearthed, an up and coming adventure game by indie studio Mad Matter Creative. Most of us have heard about Organsphere, another adventure title with a bit more local flavour. Although we got some fantastic games lined up, it just seems that we are struggling to gain the investment needed in SA. Thus, titles take a long time to see the light. We have the skill and brainpower to achieve great things on the development front, but unfortunately due to lack of funding, most of our great developers leave our shores for greener pastures. We have our very own South Africans working on Wasteland 3, a fantastic AAA title. I believe we will gain investor interest in the future, it's just a matter of time. The overall growth is good and healthy, although it is extremely slow. We are getting there. Just keep supporting our developers. Is our tech up to date? The main platforms in SA are Xbox, PC and PlayStation. I am not going to go into which one is better, as I believe all platforms have their pros and cons. We are lucky that we are up to date with all the platform an peripheral tech. Although, together with games, they are becoming increasingly expensive due to our crippled economy. Besides this our only issue will be our internet infrastructure and lack of servers for online gaming. All of us have heard our friends shouting over a mic: LAAAAAGGG!!! This is the main issue that haunts us as gamers in South Africa. Lag. The lack of local servers and bad internet connection doesn't only affect the casual gamers, but spills over to our eSports scene. More on eSports later. We are not completely in the dark though. With fibre lines rapidly spreading and the cost getting cheaper each year, we can finally start seeing the light regarding slow internet as the norm. We have also received some local servers from mainstream titles like Battlefield and more recently Rocket League. The local servers has enjoyed a fantastic reception and much less raging gamers. Let's hope these local servers has pushed game sales and more developers will consider servers in SA. What is the SA eSports scene like? Something I have a great love for. The local eSports scene has grown rapidly with no sign of stopping soon. Despite our limitations. I have been to most major eSports events and everytime I was blown away by the amount of support these guys get. Proper rivalries are being born between top teams and fans. People walk around with their favourite team shirts. Some friendly banter occur. All evidence of a ever growing scene. Major corporate companies are starting to invest millions of Rands in eSports and the respective teams. Production companies like Mettlestate are being formed to support this scene. Players earn millions and travel overseas to compete in various titles. Professional gamer will soon become a profession. Won't that just be amazing? Although our eSports scene is mostly focused on PC, consoles are starting to enjoy some more attention. We got a good Call of Duty scene going on PlayStation. Halo has had success as an Xbox eSports. These are just to name a few. Organisations like ACGL and Telkom's VS Gaming are major contributors to local eSports. Go check them out if you are into competitive gaming. Even Early Axes has its own Rainbow Six Siege league.  Unfortunately we struggle to compete on an international level due to bad ping and horrible connections. Under the circumstances, SA eSports is a core part of our ever growing need to compete with the best internationally. This is the fastest growing part of the SA gaming puzzle. What's our communities like? Something close to our hearts. I personally regard this as the heartbeat and force behind gaming. We have some major communities and forums to our full disposal. Be it platform or game based. These communities are full of useful information, competitions and more. Without these, there would no eSports, no new developers and no up to date tech. We create the demand. If you want to see gaming grow in SA, you need to support the communities. Be it by sharing specials, new tech, news or interesting articles. You are a part of this growth. Without the gamers we have no heart, we have no force. To summarise, SA has a healthy growing gaming scene. I like to believe that one day we would be a true competitor in the world of gaming, internationally. Just a few creases we need to iron out. Please let us know your thoughts.
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Razer Wolverine Ultimate Controller Review

Razers in the past, could be recognized by their outrageous colours and over the top designs, as well as a strange liking in calling their controllers after some sort of cat...  Previously the Wildcat was a over the top wired controller trying to compete with the luxurious Microsoft Elite controller.  With its large green grips and enormous Razer logos plastered all over, it was never going to win any styling prizes.  But that wasn't what Razer was going for, they wanted to be the ultimate in premium gamepads, but alas they failed in that to. So Razer went back to the drawing board, dropped the cat name, replaced it with a catchy stronger title, toned down the styling and what they created was sheer brilliance! The Razer Wolverine Ultimate is a modular, remappable monster that can easily be called the best Premium wired controller for the Xbox out there! Lets Jump in...  Pun intended ;)

What's in the Box

Image result for Razer wolverine ultimate case Upon opening the Wolverine I was met with a beautifully packaged unit, that sits snugly in its protective carry case.  This carry case feels like quality and even though it might copy the elite carry case it serves a purpose, it protects your investment.  Inside the carry case there is an additional D-pad, as well as a domed analog stick, as well as a longer stick. The usual manuals and warranty paperwork is in the box as well along with the USB to micro USB cable which is a good 4m long.  It is good to note that the micro USB end of the cable is moulded to fit into the controller so do not lose this cable as your other micro USB cables will not fit!

Design and Feel

Upon picking up the Wolverine the price tag made sense.  It is really really well built, Razer has toned down by adding the chroma strip to border the Xbox button, (which can be turn off via the Razer Synapse app).  The rubbery palm grips help keep the controller from moving around too much in your hands during play. But what makes this controller different from your standard controller is the customization ability so lets start with the interchangeable parts.  The analog sticks as mentioned above, simply just pull off when you want to change them, they are held on with magnets, which are great for quick and easy changing, I found myself swapping short and long analog sticks between rounds of Siege which was great. The short press mechanical AXBY buttons are weird to get used to at first as the travel on them is so minimal causing me to press them too early at first.  This is where my eyes started to open as to why Elite and Premium controllers DO make a difference or give you the competitive edge! Yet another amazing feature that Razer has incorporated is the ability to set your travel distance on your paddles.  When playing racing games your paddles can be operated as usual giving to good throttle and brake feathering abilities.  When jumping into Call of Duty or Siege where you need that scope and fire buttons to react lightning quick, simply flick two little sliders over and you have quick press triggers!  No more getting shot before being able to fire the shot!  Again, the Wolverine is justifying its price tag. Now we get to the extra buttons the standard controllers don't have.  Usually on the other premium controllers you only have 4 remappable buttons, all found underneath the controller for your unassuming digits to use in case of emergencies.  Razer goes one better and provides you with 6 buttons, four at the bottom and 2 on the shoulder!  Straight out the box Razer has set up the two longest back paddles to be a kind of toggle for sensitivity, hold in the left paddle and your sensitivity will drop right down low for when you need to be more precise with shot placing etc.  Pull  the right paddle and the opposite will happen, sensitivity will go right up giving you the ability to quickly spin around and catch that enemy sneaking up behind you. Now I can hear all of you saying "but I don't need all these buttons" and I felt the same way, until I started using them in-game. Whilst playing COD WW2 multiplayer I specifically realised the use of these buttons. The problem with any fast paced game is that you need to take your right thumb off the analog stick if you need to use any of the buttons and that is when you get caught, having the mappable buttons I could easily reload and swop between my weapons all the while keeping my sights ready for an enemy wanting to capitalize on a unsuspecting player! Another point to the Wolverine.

Extras and Features

I am a sucker for customization!  I will sit for hours customizing my face in Fallout without ever starting the game, so when I discovered the Razer Synapse app on the Xbox Store I was instantly in love!  Using the app you can change all your programmable buttons as well as set different profiles for them.  Yes, if you are playing one game and need a certain button to be at your fingertip, you can program it to be there, but you also play a different title where you need a different button to be in that same position?  Don't fear, Razer gives you the ability to flick between profiles with a simple button on the chat adapter that is built into the controller. Press the button watch the light change colour and you are ready for your alternative button layout. the Chroma feature, which is unique to Razer, is the light bar situated at the top of the controller.  With the Synapse app you can control this light strip to flash, pulse, respond to vibration , move in waves or just cycle all 16.8 million colours that it can produce.  Or, if you don't want to be distracted by the rainbows of colours parading around your controller, you can simply switch them off.

Final Verdict 

The Razer Wolverine is an extremely capable controller, in my review time I could literally see the improvement of my game just by using the controller.  It is something to get used to at first as the buttons feel different and respond differently to the standard controller.  The build is good and the features are easy to use and are very effective at what they are intending to do.  There are however a few minor points that I have to point out. The fact that it is wired only and the cable being 4m long can cause problems for users that sit further away from their consoles, but the wired part has a flip side to it.  The reason for the wired connection is to eliminate delay that you can get from using the wireless controllers.  For pro or serious gamers, those few milli-seconds can be the difference between winning and losing, but for a more casual gamer, and with our lack of local servers, adding a few milli-seconds on to your response time isn't going to make that much of a difference. Due to the lack of wireless which in turn means no batteries, the Wolverine is slightly on the light side to my liking.  I would prefer a little bit of extra weight to it but that can be achieved by adding control grips or something of the sorts. The chat adapter with all of its buttons is great but creates problems for gamers that use headsets with chat-pads attached...  Also when I was using the adapter on the controller I couldn't change my party and in-game audio mixer settings, after a couple of attempts I gave up and decided to use my Astro A40 through its own amp. Overall looking past the minor flaws that I mentioned above, I would get this controller in a heartbeat!  Razer has found the sweet spot in the Premium controller market and they can honestly give the Elite a run for its money! Image result for 9/10 stars

As always thanks to Apex Interactive for allowing me to test this magnificent piece of hardware!

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Need For Speed Payback – Chaos and Destruction done Right!

From the moment you get control of the car, you know Need for Speed Payback is going to be a very fast and very over the top action racer. On the surface, the game looks great. It is a visual treat of glossy shine and more wheel spins than a Vegas slot-machine. Cars glisten like they just rolled straight off a car showroom floor and roar like monsters when revving them up. Image result for need for speed payback customization 1080p Seeing as NFS Payback is an arcade style action racer, it is not without the camera angles to boot. When doing a burnout, a slide around a particularly bendy corner or taking out a pesky cop car during a chase, you are presented with a view point to boost the moment of awesomeness. Thankfully these viewpoints can be toggled while in game with same button changing your camera. Rather handy when you want to focus on the race at hand. My favourite part of this action camera is when taking out said annoying cops during a high speed chase. My least favourite part is that said high speed chases are story locked. Image result for need for speed payback customization 1080p The backdrop ranges from Urban to Desert, each with a generous offering in size and beauty to look at while just cruising along. The off-road sections are new to NFS. While not a stranger to off-road vehicles, it is a first to actually put them to use for their intended purpose, which makes for some fresh gameplay. No matter what the race type, there is a car for it. The car count stands at 74, which doesn’t sound like a lot by any means, but those on offer are some of the finest. Image result for need for speed payback customization 1080p The upgrading system is different from what is usually the standard. Parts are unlocked via Speed Cards when winning races, the selection of parts cycle at Tune Up shops after a set time or you win them from Rolls. So you might not always get the part you want, but they always make your ride faster. This is not the ideal system, but to be honest, I would prefer the classic Putting-Whatever-I-Want-Into-My-Car system. Need for Speed Payback also offers a rather nice Photo Mode, with some decent settings and filters, anyone can take brilliant snapshots of their cars. Just pressing a button, you can take a photo right in the middle of the action. Image result for need for speed payback customization 1080p Now, scratching a bit deeper, there is a story to Need for Speed Payback. As the title suggests, it’s a story of betrayal that all leads to, well payback. In all honesty, do not expect a Hollywood script of drama and full character development, all that has been reserved for the main part of the game, the cars and driving. The main characters here are Tyler (you), your buddy Mac (the off-road nut) and Jess (the one saving everyone out of a tight spot). Each of these characters are unique in their own right, but they don’t bring something truly special to table. But again, I am letting the cars do the talking with screeching tires and thunderous engines. It is high octane action that Need for Speed is famous for.   NFS Payback is fun, fast and ferocious and it makes that evident from the start. If you are a Need for Speed fan and like your arcade racers, this will make you smile.   Image result for 7 out of 10 stars      

thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying us with this Review copy!

Image result for Prima Interactive   written by : Ghost86 Edited by: BigJapester11
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Unearthed: Upcoming South African multiplayer FPS

South Africa is not exactly famous for our epic game development. It seems like this is going to change soon. Enter Unearthed. Unearthed is a sci-fi multiplayer experience currently in development by South African based indie studio, Mad Matter Creative. The developer makes use of the Unreal engine. And as we know this creates some beautiful characters and breathtaking environments. Early Axes had the privilege of taking an inside look at what founder of Mad Matter, Ragel Alheit, has planned for the game. Players awaken in in a vast citadel known as The Root, where they can explore the open world map and search for resources, battle for prestige in the arena, or defend outposts against enemies. The seamless environment will create challenges and opportunities to fit most playing styles. With an ever changing environment, Unearthed will push you to your limits. This means that it is unlikely that you will see the same environment twice. Deserts may become flooded and reveal lost ruins. Dense vegetation may succumb to a harsh drought. You never know what will appear next. Each environment has its own set of threats and challenges. From Falling rocks in mountainous regions to exploding flora and dangerous fauna. Each environment should be approached differently. Thus survival is not just about collecting food, controlling body temperature and searching for water Once you have gathered resources you will be able to sell them on markets or make a living as a crafter. But by now you know it wont be as easy as gathering one valuable resources and creating an abundance of one product. The economy will change according to supply and demand. Markets will fluctuate in response to player trades. Fancy being a tinkerer or inventor? You will be able to build and create robots and other fanciful inventions. Or rather become a farmer and breed livestock, some exotic some familiar. The possibilities are endless. While combat is restricted to FPS, explore the world with the view you prefer. Interact with your natural surroundings which can aid you with cover, evasion and escape: inspired by parkour mechanics. Unearthed features both melee and ranged combat with numerous weapon and defensive systems, ranging from primitive elements such as swords and spears to rarer phasers and personal shields. Unearthed's goal is to provide a player with a game where the feeling of discovery and surprise remains ever present. Unearthed will run a Indigogo crowd funding campaign soon to get the game launched and expand the team. You can be sure that we will support this with everything we have.  You should too.  This is about all the detail we have thus far, keep an eye on the Early Axes site and Facebook page for more upcoming details. We honestly believe that this game will put SA on the map as an up-and-coming game developer.  Ragel has developed and funded the project to where it is now, all by herself.  Imagine what she can achieve with an expert team and the necessary funds.  Ragel, you have the full power of the Early Axes community behind you! Go check out their Facebook page and visit their website. Mad Matter Creative was kind enough to send us some of the first Pre-Alpha animation and atmosphere test videos. Check it out below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlUW29zNKMc  
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Turtle Beach Stealth 600

Image result for turtle beach stealth 600 Hardware reviews are very difficult to be objective about, and they are also really tough to do if you can't get your hands on the hardware you need to review, for obvious reasons.  So you resort to desperate measures.  Beg, borrow and often "borrow for extended periods of time" became the modus operandi.  Luckily with the help of an awesome company called APEX INTERACTIVE SA those days are now over!  The first headset that Ruan and his people sent me to try is the Turtle Beach Earforce Stealth 600, yes it is a mouthful its not just you... From the moment I was told that the Stealth 600 was on its way to me I was ecstatic!  I had never before reviewed a Turtle Beach headset and all my gaming buddies, bar one or 2 Astro faithful, all use a version of the Turtle Beach so I was excited to see what the fuss was about. When they arrived I quickly tore off the shipping plastic and basked in the beautiful green box.

Whats in the box?

The headset is well packaged, I wouldn't call it magical, I mean its packaging...  But it does the job.  Inside you have the headset itself, a USB charging cable and a small booklet on how to use and connect the headset. Image result for turtle beach stealth 600Image result for turtle beach stealth 600 Connecting the headset to the Xbox was fairly straight forward, if you have ever connected a controller to your console the process should be familiar to you.  Simply hold the bind button on the console as well as on the headset until the little green LED situated at the bottom of the left ear cup is flashing and you will be greeted by an audio chime as well as an onscreen message telling you the headset has been assigned to the profile that is currently logged in.  So far so good!

Controls and Features

This being my first Turtle Beach experience, I had heard so many things about the supersonic hearing and how it will improve your environmental awareness by many folds, I, being a R6 Siege player was eager to see how this can help me bridge the gap from a Gold ranked player to an elite Platinum hero, more on that further down. The Stealth 600 are of course wireless, which is great if you already have a fairly crowded gaming room and setup, one less cable DOES make a difference, and to have the freedom to move around without worrying you might trip over a cable is also great.  The batteries on the Stealth 600 seem decent, I never had a problem with it dying on me but it is good to note that my longest session was around 5-6 hours and not one hiccup during that time. The microphone of the Stealth 600 is extremely sensitive and clear, my online buddies all asked if something had happened to my voice overnight and no one complained of hearing a lot of background noise from my side.  It is a very short and small microphone sitting on the left ear-cup, unfortunately if you prefer your mic to be on the right there is no option of swapping it to the other side.  Want to mute that cough you feel incoming?  Simply flip up the mic and it will mute. Image result for turtle beach stealth 600 Seeing as the Stealth 600 is wireless you have no adapter plugging into your controller where you can control the audio intricacies, all of this is also on the left ear cup.  What I found, but this will improve as you get to know the headset, is that I often found my fingers spinning the volume knob instead of the party mixer causing me to either blow out my eardrums when I turn the volume up a touch too much or I would miss out an essential call out during a tight Siege match if i mixed the in-game volume over the party volume.  This is all just caused by not having spent more time with the headset so I wouldn't worry too much about this. The equaliser presets, which the button is ALSO located on the left ear cup, are all very well balanced, they cover most preferences so you are sure to find one that suites your liking.

Let the Sound do the Talking!

I consider myself a Astro fan boy, from the moment I placed my Astro A40 TR's over my ears I fell in love. The sound clarity and fullness blew me away, I was sure that the Stealth 600 wouldn't even get close to my dearly beloved.  Boy was I pleasantly suprised!  the 50mm drivers of the Stealth 600 are superb.  They deliver decent deep bass tones and beautiful higher notes.  From the quiet intense moments of Siege, to the bone-chilling nothing-ness of the Turing Test to the all out madness of Battlefield 4 they never missed a step and I was truly impressed!  The Supersonic hearing had me hearing operators entering a room walking over broken glass on the opposite end of the house which truly blew my mind (and helped me blow theirs as well)  In the sound department the Stealth 600 truly punches way above its price range.  Only once did I experience during a barrage of large explosives the bass couldn't keep up and i heard a second or so of hollowness but other than that, faultless!

Look and feel, less spectacular...

From the very first look the Stealth 600 headset looks very attractive, slick and sharp lines, lots of black with the Xbox signature green on the inside of the cups as well as sneaking out around corners and edges with the ever present Turtle Beach logo found inside the ear cups as well as proudly sitting on the outside, this Headset looks the part without a doubt Image result for turtle beach stealth 600       Image result for turtle beach stealth 600 It is when u pick them up and put them on that my excitement faded.  They are very plastic, which is what you would expect from most headsets in this price range so I don't consider this a problem, but they do at times feel flimsy.  They are extremely light which is great for some but I like to feel that i have something that I just spent my hard-earned money on, once again that is an opinion.  the cups can be adjusted height wise as well as swing forwards for a few degrees, yet I struggled to find a truly comfortable position on my head.  I found myself constantly fiddling to find a more comfortable position which I was dissapointed about. The ear cups although they look beautiful, are rather shallow.  I don't have particularly out of the ordinary ears, but I found my ears to hurt after a hour of so of gaming, and also sweating.  The foam of the cups are not great, they do cater for spectacle-wearers with a nifty cut-out allowing your glasses to sit comfortably and not get squashed. I was very disappointed with this aspect of the Stealth 600 as they were really ticking all the boxes up to this point. Still, the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 headset is a really good wireless headset and I think you would be foolish if you do not consider them if you are in the mid-range wireless gaming headset market! It is good to also note that they are compatible with Windows 10 PC's but you will need to buy the wireless adapter which is unfortunately sold separately.

Once again A BIG thank you to APEX INTERACTIVE SA for supplying me with the headset

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PUBG has a launch day!

READY YOUR FRYING PANS!!!

Image result for pubg 1080p We finally got a release date on Player Unknown Battlegrounds for Xbox One. 12 December. This is D-day. With a live stream from Paris Game Week on the Xbox Mixer channel we finally got a PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on the Xbox One through the Xbox Game Preview program. Image result for pubg xbox   This has been a long time coming. The Xbox community has waited since it's Xbox one announcement at the E3 gaming conference. Since March PC players were able to enjoy the ever popular Battle royal game. Leaving console players jealous. The popularity within the PC steam community was overwhelming with 8 million concurrent users at its peak. Incredible! Here are a few screens that have been confirmed showing the Xbox running PUBG showing us the map we will be able to dominate solo or take over with the help of a couple of friends! Image result for pubg xbox Now the Xbox community will leave PS 4 guys jealous. No news on the release date for PlayStation as yet.   Who are all excited to get into this game, I know I am!  
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The Turing Test – So much more than a puzzle game!

When I started The Turing Test I had absolutely no clue what it was about, I had kept myself from reading reviews, watching some Youtube videos, even just reading a description.  Too many times before has a single bad review or remark spoiled a game for me and I was not taking this risk again.  Then again after playing Oxenfree, (read my review here) which is another great title that was on offer with this month's Games with Gold subscription, I didn't have high hopes to be met with two great titles in one month.  But was I mistaken...   It is good to know what the Turing test is, except for it being a first person puzzler in which you navigate a range of rooms with puzzles that gradually increase as you continue.  In the real world the Turning test was developed by Alan Turing in 1950 as a way to test a machine's ability to exhibit  intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.  So keeping that in mind I jumped into The Turing Test.   You awake on a spaceship guided by a friendly (questionable) AI called Tom guiding you through the beginning stages all while explaining the situation that has befallen your fellow crew and the ship you are on.  Many people might be saying this is a Portal-copy but The Turing Test is void of all the humor found in Portal, instead Tom, your new best AI-friend brings up the interesting topic of free will, what it means to be human and of course the AI test the game draws its name from.   The Turing test has a very effective way of storytelling, not only does Tom tell you what has been going on while you were in cryosleep, but you are able to scratch through your fellow space explorers personal belongings while on the hunt to find them, where they are trapped (or are they?) within the space ship.   I could go into details about how each puzzle room felt a little familiar and hospital-like in their squeaky clean look and how the Europa, your space ship, never developed its own sense of character but it doesn't really matter.  Same with the puzzles, yes after a few puzzles all the ones that follow felt familiar, yet I did not care.  Around the mid-way point in this 7 to 8 hour game the story and plot start driving you to the next puzzle.  I have yet to find a title that had me this driven to jump through metaphorical hoops, and physical platforms, to get to the next stage JUST for the next bit of information and to figure out what is really going on the Europa!  Don't worry, unlike Portal or The Witness, the Turing test never turns its puzzles up to 11, it seems contempt with simply scratching the surface in terms of puzzles and rather having you enjoy it than getting frustrated and losing the plot of the story. The Turing Test is so much more than just a puzzler.  Once you reach level 3 or 4 of the puzzles, you, well I, started to find myself thinking more about what my AI friend Tom was saying and I became weary of him, thinking more of what he was saying rather than just accepting it, and when the plot twist hits, which it will, it comes without warning, the whole story is turned upside down, and you will feel and contemplate existence and what really makes us different from computers.  This is when the Turing test really hits its straps as a story driven game more than a puzzler.   Not only is this gaming visually wonderful to look at, even with its monotonous rooms, when you do see a change of scenery it is tremendous, all while giving you a visceral experience all while probing your feelings towards a scenario that is ever increasing in the extremely technologically driven world we live in today.  After Life is Strange I did not think a game will be able to pull me into its narrative quite like that again.  The Turing test did, and it had me laying awake in bed contemplating life.   If you haven't downloaded it yet, I would highly recommend this title if you ever need to just get away from your daily routine of Battlefield, Call of duty or Forza.  Get it before it goes off Games with Gold for the month of October.  
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Elex – Review

A rough start with a steep learning curve (If you not used to Piranha Bytes Games), but after a few hours It grabbed me so that I couldn’t stop. A fascinating world with great lore and a story that works well. At first I was skeptical, Elex does not set the bar high when it comes to first impressions, but having spent money and having the need for a RPG I stuck around, just long enough to allow it to blow me away.  Not that it’s perfect in anyway nor does it represent AAA quality standards, but the world is so believable, the variety of quests are great and the exploration is phenomenal.  Let me take you through my experience with various different elements of Elex. Combat Combat is where they throw you a curve ball, when you not used to playing Piranha bytes games. Death becomes your best friend in the early stages of the game and until you understand that there is no level scaling and higher level creatures are placed on your path from the get go, you will have a tough time traversing from place to place. Piranha Bytes changed their old approach and opted for  a stamina based system, making combat a beast on its own. Placing correctly timed attacks while focusing on your Stamina bar, while you dodge incoming enemies and at the same time keeping track of your special bar (that was a mouth full) is something to get used to but makes combat, although it needs work to smooth it out somewhat, extremely rewarding. Weapons gear and armor When you start questing in the first couple of hours, weapons and armor are hard to come by, you struggle to adapt to the way enemies populate the vast environment, but when you finally get the hang of it and know your way around, exploration gets easier and finding epic loot is worth the blood sweat and tears. Firstly, there is a vast and nearly unlimited amount of different weapons and gadgets from normal one-handed swords to grenades and laser spewing rifles. Piranha bytes made sure to give every player the freedom of choosing weather you are going the old school medieval way or the futuristic sci-fi  way. This is where they put a lot of effort in. Each and every weapon has its own animations making that weapon feel unique to its class and although the combat system itself is a bit rough, they placed a lot of effort on the uniqueness of an item. The only aspect of Combat that does not sit well and feels completely out of place is the use of guns. Guns feel clunky and all gun type weapons felt exactly the same and was not entirely a satisfying experience. Exploration This is one aspect of the game I would recommend other developers to follow. The world of Magalan is a harsh and dangerous place making exploration difficult at times, but it is so rewarding that you want more. It never becomes a repetitive grind and each place you explore, you feel the need to explore more and wander off track just to see what’s next. The landscapes smoothly merge with each other and the environments make Magalan feel like a real living and breathing world. Although some areas lack visual presence, the sheer size of the game world and the amount of detail they placed in the world makes up for poor visuals and is something you can overlook. Skills and leveling. Leveling up is a simple system but as exploration it is deep, rewarding and gives character customization a lot of depth. Gaining a attribute point each time you level up to spend on 5 different attributes and selecting which way your character grows. The spending of points become more difficult the higher you level as you will need to spend more points on a single attribute to advance the specific attribute as you progress. But skill points can only be spent with certain trainers that you find in the game world. The leveling system felt really good and makes you feel that you are actually progressing your character according to your play style. Choices Games often carry on about how choices affect the outcome of your story, some games pull it off well and some don't. Elex on the other hand pulls it off from the minute you start the game, you will notice that choices can have tiny effects on quests or on normal dialogue between your character and NPC's or your choices might have far reaching consequences affecting the entire outcome of the game. Different choices also influences  your Cold meter, which will either go up or down depending on the different choices you make and it has an overall influence on how NPC's will react to your character. Verdict  All in all Elex is a good RPG with an ambitious approach that needs a bit more polish. Elex delivers on everything you would want from a RPG,  from exploration,crafting, combat and deep customization. Elex brings back some old School RPG elements in a fascinating and mostly breathtaking game world. With sometimes clunky mechanics, poor facial animation and a combat system that needs some work. I would recommend Elex as a good RPG that ticks a lot of boxes but requires some technical improvements. The studio is definitely working towards the right direction. I rate Elex a Good: This review is based on the Xbox one version of the game.
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Astro A10 – premium on a budget

Related image Most of us have heard of the headset brand Astro and we all instantly think seriously pricey pieces of hardware am I right?  For the most part you are correct, both the A40 and A50 headsets come with a hefty price tag, but they are both spectacular headsets in their own right. Whether you go for the wired A40 version or the wireless A50 you will definitely not regret it! They also come in a TR version that provides you with even higher sound fidelity but all of this just adds to a already large sum of money, or a kidney if you are that way inclined. But what Astro has done with the A10 is bring its premium sound, build quality and overall bad-ass look that they are renown for in their A40 and A50 models and packaged it in a budget headset that appeals to the majority of gamers that are on a tighter budget. I was skeptical at first, being a Astro A40 TR user myself I was curious to find out what the A10's bring to the already tightly contested "entry-level" price bracket, and boy oh boy was I impressed!

Good Looks on a Budget

It might not have all the metal and shiny bits and features that its older (and richer) brothers have but the A10's have a impressive sleek and sturdy look for a plastic headset around the R1 000 mark!  For all money it is a baby brother of the A40 sporting the big boxy cups and bendable mic that you only have to flip up to mute, clever trick there Astro!   Sporting a range of colours ranging featuring Blue, Green and Red that are aimed at the Xbox One, PS4 and PC users.  Luckily either headsets will work with your choice of platform unlike the older brothers that have platform specific colours and capabilities. The 2m long cable has a handy inline volume slider and can be easily detached making this very suitable for travelers.

Snug fitting, maybe too snug...

The A10's fit cozy, a little too cozy at times. With my A40 I can play for marathon sessions without feeling uncomfortable, with the A10's I found the earcup space to be smaller than my A40's leading me to feel the need to take a quick break after a few hours, but nothing to warrant not getting the headset, hell the comfort is alot better than many other premium headsets.  The headset is also extremely light, weighing in at only 340g.  Unfortunately the A10 cups can't swivel 90' like its big brothers but it can adjust up and down to help with comfort

Good sound at a Good Price

Image result for astro gaming The A10's impressed me when it came to their sound quality, delivering punchy highs and solid deep lows for every game.  During R6 Siege matches it gave me clear indication of footsteps and where enemies were placing explosives and during a quick hoon through the Australian outback in Forza Horizon 3 I could pick up very crisp squealing of  my tires all while comfortably chatting to a mate.  At this point I was regretting buying my Astro A40 TR's but the A10's do fall short when it comes to music.  the mid range sounds sound muddy and not as clear.  But still overs way better sound quality compared to other headsets in its price range.

Verdict

Astro has brought us a very very competitive headset in the A10.  It is easily up there as one of the best in its price range.  Astro has a strong foot hold in the premium market and they are looking to extend that grasp by way of the A10 and later the A20 (its wireless) brother.  With its typical Astro design and wonderful ingame sounds this is a must get for any person looking to buy into the Astro family!  They also have top-notch support via their website and I can account for their amazing service, having no problem sending me a spare inline mute cable when I wasn't sure if it came in the box, free of charge! Image result for 9/10 rating  
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Shadow of War – a review of my experience thus far!

For any true Lord of the Rings fan Shadow of War is simply a must!  It has a very authentic LOTR feel and places you right back behind enemy lines in the boots of your favourite Ranger Talion with the infused spirit of Lord Celebrimbor.  Together they are back slaying orcs and taking names!  As of yet I am not too far into the game so I will give you a brief review of aspects that I have encountered thus far without giving away the plot completely! Lets jump in(to Mordor!).

Difficulty

Image result for shadow of war Middle-earth: Shadow of War has three difficulty settings.  Easy – to play through and enjoy the story. Normal – some features of the nemesis system are implemented but not the whole experience as well as captains and warlords are easier to fight.  Nemesis – This gives you the full experience of the nemesis system which makes Middle-earth: Shadow of War such a unique games.  That being said don’t expect to cruise through this game without dying, ALOT!

Captains and Warlords

Stepping into Mordor you will find many foes but along the treacherous way you will encounter Captains and Warlords, these brutes are more ferocious and powerful than their underlings.  In Shadow of War after defeating captains they will come back after a time, but unlike Shadow of Mordor, these captains come back changed Orcs or Goblins, definitely not in a good way either!  They will look different, fight differently and even say different things! Image result for shadow of war With my luck I have found the only orc captain with some South African heritage.  His name is Shaka and I have killed him multiple times.  First time killing him I didn’t use an execution to kill him I just kept on pounding him until he succumbed to my blows.  Second time I used an execution but ended up chopping his arm off and stabbing him through the stomach.  The third time he died by poison and this gets me excited to see how he returns and whether he returns at all, they say third times the charm...

Captain’s quests

A large part of Shadow of War consists of building an army to fight the might of the evil armies!  With this you need to dominate enemy captains and make them see that your way is the right way, and better than dying!  Dominating enemies will turn them in your favour and they will do your bidding.  When you dominate a captain and want him to do something for you command him to either fight another captain, become a warlord’s bodyguard, which can be very handy when you need him to betray his boss and kill him so you don’t have to.  In the previous game these events would be marked on your map and you could do them as you please, well, things have changed in Shadow of War, you now have a time limit.  If you decide to interfere with enemy missions you lose a turn on the other outstanding quests.  Each quest has a three-turn limit and then it resolves itself. Image result for shadow of war This makes the game little bit more interesting because you think of sending a weaker captain you control against a stronger enemy captain and help him out but that is not always the case.  Sometimes you give that weaker orc up to get two stronger captains because of the time limit.  This gives the game a very strategic aspect when it comes to picking your battles.  You sometimes need to lose the battle to win the war.  In the words of Cersei Lannister: “this is the game of thrones, you either win or you die”

Dominated Captains

Image result for shadow of war dominating an enemy xbox The developers really changed it up when dominating a captain or warlord compared to the first game.  In Shadow of Mordor once an orc is dominated he is forever loyal to you and the only way for him to leave your army is to die.  In Shadow of War orcs get dominated and join your army but don’t think that is a done deal.  Certain races, Orcs and Ologs, have a little trait called “blood brothers”.  Once you dominate one of these and then try to slay one of their own expect a betrayal from one of your once “loyal” captains.  I experienced this first hand during a particularly tough battle with an Orc when out of nowhere 4 of my “captains” arrived and in an act of betrayal proceeded to help their brother in beating me into submission!

How to train your Dragon, I mean Orc

Image result for shadow of war main character As mentioned before Shadow of Mordor the only way to improve your captains and warlords level are by doing commanding them to do missions.  In Shadow of War you get a second choice…Pit Fights!  First rule of Pit club is nobody talk about Pit club!  No really this is way better than doing missions, it gives you a better sense of how your captains fight and of course anything goes in these fights.  Any traits they have for extra troops, mounts, traps and bombs are in the fight.  You can’t partake in these battles but it sure is awesome watching a angry Olog turn a Orc into moosh!

Final Thoughts

All in all it’s a good game.  Monolith did a stand-up job and improved a lot on the first game to really showcase Shadow of War as a bigger and better and improved in every way from Shadow of Mordor.  It’s a game that will keep you busy  and if you get bored with the single player , just head over to the online conquest section where you try and take over other players fortresses.  I did not mention this in my review because I have yet to try it.  Only part that leaves a slight bitterness in my mouth is the dreaded loot boxes.  In my opinion this has become a cancer in the modern games.  I prefer to embrace the grind to make my captains and warlords powerful rather than fork out some of my hard earned cash on a virtual improvement. If you like the first game you will love the second,  new comers to the series should check out some specials to find Shadow of Mordor to really understand and appreciate this game.  

My Final Rating for this game is 8 ½ out of 10

Image result for 8.5/10  

written by Willie Botes, Edited by JP du Preez

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Xbox Games Pass List

Below is a list of the current Xbox Game Pass Titles. We will keep updating this list as soon as new games are added.

[Updated on 29 September 2017]

Current Xbox Game Pass Titles

Xbox One

  • 10 Second Ninja X [added September 1]
  • Bard's Gold
  • Blood Bowl 2
  • The Book of Unwritten Tales 2
  • The Bridge [added September 1]
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • The Bug Butcher (coming October 1)
  • Costume Quest 2 (coming October 1)
  • D4: Darks Dreams Don't Die
  • Dead Island: Definitive Edition
  • Dead Rising 3
  • Defense Grid 2
  • Devil May Cry: Definitive Edition
  • Dirt Rally
  • Electronic Super Joy
  • F1 2015
  • Farming Simulator 15
  • The Flame in the Flood
  • Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
  • Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition
  • The Golf Club
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Halo: Spartan Assault
  • Hue [added September 1]
  • IDARB
  • JumpJet Rex
  • Knight Squad
  • Kyub
  • Layers of Fear
  • Limbo
  • Lumo
  • Mad Max
  • Maldita Castilla EX: Cursed Castle (coming October 1)
  • Massive Chalice
  • Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
  • Mega Coin Squad
  • Mega Man Legacy Collection
  • Metro: Last Light Redux [added September 1]
  • NBA 2K16
  • OlliOlli
  • Payday 2: Crimewave Edition
  • Pharaonic
  • Pumped BMX+
  • ReCore: Definitive Edition [added August 29]
  • Resident Evil 0
  • Resident Evil 6
  • Roundabout
  • Saints Row IV: Re-elected
  • Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell (coming October 1)
  • ScreamRide
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
  • So Many Me
  • State of Decay: Year One (coming October 1)
  • Steredenn
  • Strider
  • Sunset Overdrive
  • Super Mega Baseball: Extra Innings
  • Super Time Force
  • The Swapper
  • Terraria
  • Tower of Guns (coming October 1)
  • Ultratron
  • WWE 2K16

Xbox 360 (Playable on Xbox One)

  • A Kingdom for Keflings
  • A World of Keflings
  • Age of Booty
  • Alex Kidd & Co. (Sega Vintage Collection)
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
  • Banjo-Tooie
  • Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2
  • BioShock
  • BioShock 2
  • BioShock Infinite
  • Borderlands
  • Bound by Flame
  • Braid
  • Capcom Arcade Cabinet
  • CastleStorm
  • Comic Jumper
  • Comix Zone
  • Dark Void
  • De Blob 2
  • Defense Grid
  • Dig Dug
  • Double Dragon Neon
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
  • Fable II [added September 1]
  • Fable III
  • Final Fight: Double Impact
  • Flock
  • Galaga Legions DX
  • Garou: Mark of the Wolves [added September 1]
  • Gears of War
  • Gears of War 2
  • Gears of War 3
  • Gears of War: Judgment
  • Golden Axe (Sega Vintage Collection)
  • Grid 2
  • Hexic 2
  • IDARB
  • Iron Brigade
  • Jetpac Refuelled
  • Joe Danger: Special Edition
  • Joe Danger 2: The Movie
  • Joy Ride Turbo
  • Kameo
  • King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match
  • Lego Batman: The Video Game
  • The Maw
  • Metal Slug 3
  • Metal Slug XX
  • Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine
  • Monday Night Combat
  • Ms. Splosion Man
  • MX vs. ATV Reflex
  • N+
  • Neo Geo Battle Coliseum
  • Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
  • Pac-Man CE DX+
  • Pac-Man Museum
  • Perfect Dark Zero
  • Sacred 3
  • Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space
  • Sam & Max: Save The World
  • Samurai Shodown II
  • SoulCalibur
  • SoulCalibur II HD
  • Spelunky
  • Splosion Man
  • Stacking
  • Street Fighter IV (coming October 1)
  • Streets of Rage (Sega Vintage Collection)
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2
  • Toy Soldiers
  • Toy Soldiers: Cold War
  • Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown
  • Viva Pinata
  • Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise
  • XCOM: Enemy Within
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Path of Exile – Review

The first ever PC-game I bought as a kid back in the early 2000's was a little title named DIABLO 2, yes many gamers might laugh and pass comments like "wow you are old", or "Diablo 3 was so crap" and they would be correct on at least one of those 2 statements...  But no matter your opinion on the top-down RPG genre, Diablo refined and perfected the craft and for many years Diablo 2 was untouched as the epitome of this genre.  Then came Diablo 3...  In an attempt to attract new players to the genre and game, Blizzard decided to, in my opinion, dumb down the game in terms of controls as well as story and gameplay and with that they drove away alot of die-hard fans.  Many updates and patches and lost fans later Diablo 3 became a playable game but the genre felt old and stale and when a lesser known title, to me at least, PATH OF EXILE, happened to stumble into the foreground I didn't have much hope for it. But was I surprised beyond belief! Path of Exile is more hardcore and less polished than the likes of Diablo 3.  Deciding to drop some of the aesthetically pleasing aspects for ludicrously deep character progression which you will go far to match in any game.  When I started the game up I was met with a overwhelming creation screen, overwhelming not in a bad way, but in a good way.  The amount of  options when creating your class of character was staggering.  Here is a quick bit of info regarding the classes:

Classes and skills

  • Duelist: He fights with melee attacks and can also summon an AI minion to fight alongside him.
  • Templar: Fires projectiles, including three balls of lightning at once and a chain lightning attack.
  • Witch: A female spellcaster with high intelligence.
  • Ranger: She uses a bow and is extremely dexterous, but can wield swords as well. Despite being a glass cannon, the ranger is my class of choice.
  • Marauder: A melee fighter with tremendous strength.
  • Shadow: A dexterous and intelligent fighter, he uses short-range weapons and traps during battle.
  • Scion: She can develop into any character build thanks to Path of Exile's skill system. This makes her an advanced character, and she must be unlocked later in the game.
this is only the tip of the iceberg tho as the skill tree system is something magnificent.  The passive skill system is similar to many other RPG skill trees but instead having a individual skill tree for each character, Path of Exile decided to create one big tree that can be accessed by all the characters. You can mix and match abilities by unlocking skills along various branches which you can use to reach other areas of the skill tree.  With this in mind it might take first time players a few tries to find the style of character that suites their play style.  With such a vast tree, respecing your character is quite a tortuous job.

Gameplay and Combat

[ngg_images source="galleries" container_ids="1" 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"] Like most RPG titles Path of Exile places a large emphasis on exploration and collecting loot.  It has small MMO elements namely public towns where players can meet and group up or trade some unwanted items.  With titles like this you normally place skills on a hotbar.  Path of Exile amps this up by allowing you to use RT to access another host of hotkeys allowing you to apply a magnitude of skill which to devastate your enemies with. Fighting feels tight with lots of variations between the characters, during combat you will auto target your enemies and might not always target the closest target which can become a slight irritation if you are a more hand to hand combat character which will see you walking through a group of enemies to attack the one right at the back, taking some serious damage in the process. Health potions and other benefit providing potions are assigned to the D-pad as well as the bumper buttons.  These carry limited charges that refill when you visit a town. Tapping down on the D-pad brings up the map, which on a massively random-generated map like these, are extremely useful when trying to find your way around. Inventory management also gets a Path-of-Exile-spin to it.  Each item takes up a varying amount of space in your bag.  What this creates is that you will think more about what you're picking up as to the amount of loot you pick up.  Other titles will see you picking up just to pick up and sell when you reach a store later, not Path of Exile. Scrolls are much the same as other Diablo-like games, one is used to identify rare items, the other to teleport back to town.  Town portals are significantly more scarce than in Diablo so travels to town will be alot less frequent.

Overall impression

You could be forgiven for not expecting much from a 4 year old, free to play title like Path of Exile.  Hell I did!  Most companies who have tried to make a title to rival the likes of Diablo have failed miserably over and over again.  Path of Exile is definitely not a mega-budget title like Diablo but you would never say that when you play it.  Yes it is not graphically as good as Diablo but wow does it do all the other parts so stupendously well! Whether you are playing this solo or with a friend or 2, this game is very enjoyable for anyone who is a fan of the genre.  Best part is you get a free to play game without all the usual Free-to-play limitations.  Looking at the history of Path of Exiles on PC you can expect a multitude of updates to fix, improve and expand this game.  The developers have even promised extensive graphical improvements for the Xbox One X.  There is also rumors of couch co-op coming in the near future which will make this title even more enjoyable!  
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Oxenfree – a true hidden Gem

Games with Gold for September might be mostly notable for major titles like Forza Motorsport 5, with all of its extras and expansions, Battlefield 3, playable on Xbox One via Backwards Compatibility and then a lesser known title named OXENFREE.  I had not heard much about this title but me, being a sucker for a free game, decided to download it as it didn't have a very large download size, and fired it up to give it a go before I pass judgement on what would most likely be a rather weak title. When I fired the title up I went in with a blank slate, zero expectations.  That's a good thing right? no expectations mean zero chance for being let down.  Boy oh boy was i pleasantly suprised!  What met me was a game with a very unique painterly art style that really tickled my fancy the moment it started.  What drew me in from the very beginning is the simplistic beauty yet when you dive a little further into the details you will find an immensely well fleshed out environment that  takes note of all that is needed. Image result for oxenfree 1080p The setup for the game goes as follow:  "Every year in the small town of Camena, a group of high school seniors secretly spend the night partying on a nearby decommissioned military island.  This year the group includes you - Alex- and your newly introduced stepbrother Jonas.  You have just met up with your best friend Ren, his secret crush Nona, and Nona's constant companion Clarissa to start the night off on the beach"   Image result for oxenfree Yes I know what you are thinking it sounds like a cliched thriller but I promise you that these high school characters are not just going to be murder-fodder.  From the very beginning of the game the character development is constantly evolving.  during the first couple of minutes of the game I had found myself simple standing around on the boat where the opening scene plays out, listening to the characters chat about their lives as I grew to know them.  It was like being a invisible friend to the then, party of 3. To say that the characters in Oxenfree are constantly chatting would be a understatement.  You play as a female named Alex, who can walk, talk, interact and even do some basic environmentally based puzzles if the need arises. You will also encounter ghosts that scare and threaten you but none of these things are really what define Oxenfree, it is primarily a game about conversation, and the heart and soul of this game is the speech-bubble interface. Image result for oxenfree 1080p During this 4 - or so hour adventure there is hardly a time that the characters are not constantly chatting, with that comes the need to pick Alex's responses with the speed that you would expect in real conversations.  Oxenfree does not offer any pauses, much like real life, with constant banter between the characters with quick responses required from you to avoid the conversation moving on without you.  Not in a bad way that some games continue whilst assuming you have made a response and they go off on their next pre-programmed rant.  No, if you decide that your silence is a valid response to the last conversation the game will acknowledge that and so the game adapts.  If you were to interrupt someone mid-sentence they will notice that and react to that now, and in future conversations... This whole concept might sound similar to the systems used used in Telltale and Bioware titles but this one is much more advanced and in depth than any of the aforementioned titles.  The speed of this system at work is what truly sets Oxenfree apart.  This feature while being the pinnacle of the game can also be the most frustrating, but in the frustration it shows you just how close to real life it is.  Not giving you time to deliberate a choice, forcing you to make quick, bold and sometimes silly choices that can and will come to haunt you.  What really hits this conversation mechanic home is the stellar writing nad strong voice over performances, expect ums, uhhs, incomplete sentences, thoughts and trail offs that don't lead to anything in particular.  It really feels like you are speaking to actual human beings.  All of the attention to detail and meticulously crafted dialogue mechanic gives Oxenfree an immense story with alot of texture and depth.   Image result for oxenfree 1080p I know I have sung the praises of mainly one aspect of Oxenfree so let me try and digress slightly and give you some further insight into this title without giving too much away of what is to come. Oxenfree has a supernatural aspect to it which I will let you discover for yourselves but there are certain spots on the island that you find yourself on where you can pull out Alex's radio and tune into otherworldy frequencies.  This is where the supernatural scares will start to come in.  All the frequencies that Alex find, hint at the dark and twisted history of the island that had remained hidden for decades.  This game has you taming the supernatural forces, save your friends and trying to find the truth behind what really happened on the Island. My personal opinion of Oxenfree would be that it is a really worthwhile title, if not for the interesting storyline or the beautiful scenery, then for the wonderful dynamics and mechanics that are at play in this game. I have been quite the fan of titles like the Telltale series and games with similar mechanics but I can easily say, thanks to a little Indie Title called Oxenfree, none of the other games in this genre will be able to match this perfect little gem.  I certainly hope to see more from this studio in the future.  
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Update 1710 is here, for some!

It is that time again, yes update time.  For some the dreaded "an update is required" will strike fear into their hearts leaving them longing for the good old days of no-update consoles.  But alas this is the present and with that comes constant innovations and changes to our console of choice. This last week saw some lucky insider program members be able to update to the latest OS build namely 1710 which, for those who are interested in these things, seems to be creeping closer to the Windows 10 build which is currently at 1710 as well.  Enough of that lets jump into what new wonders await you post update, whenever that might for you non-insiders ( seriously become an insider it's free and you get access to cool stuff)

Make your house a Home

With the latest update Xbox have decided to focus on the look, feel and movement of the dashboard.  It has been updated to focus mainly on speed, and expression.  You can now place all your important thing be it, friends or games, just have them right there at a glance.  It is simple as well, select the friend or game you want, press menu,and select add to home.  This creates an entire block of contents that can be manipulated how ever you see fit. More blocks will appear according to your habits and they will evolve with you as your habits and likes and dislikes change.  If you are part of the Insider Program head over to the "custom home page" quest to learn more on how you can make your Home feel more like home.  

Effortless Guide Navigation

With the recent update using the guide has become even faster.  The new layout gets you to things you want to see, faster.  Switching between tabs is now improved by using the left stick or D-pad to quickly navigate through menus.  Sign in, Achievements, multiplayer( parties, LFG and Tournaments), people, home and recent messages, broadcasts and captures all now have their own tab in the new guide.  

Make moving easy

Copy and moving of content has been one of the major complaints on the Xbox forums and so Xbox have decided to listen to the community and they have introduced a new easier method of moving your data. Simply head to Settings>System>Storage select your connected device Use the "transfer" option to move content between harddrives Using this feature allows you to either move content in bulk by using the select all feature, or move them individually. no more waiting for your queue to empty so you can copy another game to your external drive.     With all these wonderful features it is easy to forget that this is still in development stages and that is why Xbox uses the Insider group to test and iron out the kinks before the mass roll out to the larger audience.  I myself have not experienced any of these problems and I have really given the new update a fair share of testing but Xbox do state the following issues may occur  
  • Installations may fail - reboot and start update or install again
  • Pins movement on Home causing crashes
  • Xbox Insider app might lose focus - restart app
  All in all these problem are not anything that should hamper you from deciding to be a Insider.  You can try the Insider program and see how you enjoy it.  If it is too much for you you can move to lower rings to receive less frequent and unstable builds of the OS or you can even opt- out of the Insider program in total.
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COD WW2 BETA – a View from the Trenches!

With the WW2 Beta weekend at our backs and everyone settling in to there normal mundane routine of life I thought it fitting to write a short, I hope, review,recap, call it what you want, of Call of Duty World War 2 Beta.  Please do take note that this is a Beta so don't go knocking it with statements like "Battlefield 1 is better" because my simple yet to the point reply will be " well, it is COD, not BF!"  What people forget is that COD is a completely different title to the likes of Battlefield.  COD focuses on the fast frantic pace that only a Call of Duty title can accomplish.  Yes COD has been dominating the Shooting Genre since the franchise came to fruition many years ago.  They have had there ups and downs namely Modern Warfare and Infinite Warfare respectively.  But none the less the fans keep coming back to the titles in a hope of going back to the glory days of WW2, and finally that day has come. Image result for call of duty ww2 Lets get stuck in!

the Trenches of Normandy are back!

With Call of Duty coming home, so to speak, to where it all started in World War 2 they have left all the technology where it belongs, in the future.  This makes the combat more gritty, tactical and realistic!  If they are doing this to the Multiplayer section of the game expect the Single player side to be even more gritty and tactical than ever before.  From the initial startup of the game it is instantly recognizable as a COD game.  COD players will know what I mean by this it is something I can't quite verbalize.  Yet, there are a few key differences.  Firstly boosting has been removed from the game completely which I think is awesome, it also gives the game a slightly less frantic feel adding to the tactical gameplay.  It really gives you a slightly more relaxed feeling when you know that some robotic terminator isn't going to come wall-running over your cover and murder you while you aim down the sights! Image result for call of duty ww2 beta maps The weapons also feel like accurate representations of their historical counterparts barring a few tweaks that I personally think needs to be made to the damage inflicted by the weapons.  Personally I didn't find larger caliber weapons to have that feeling of being more powerful like they should, but this is why it is still a BETA and Sledgehammer have sent out a survey to all those who partook in the BETA to get their impressions on what they would like to be changed or liked and disliked.  (good on your Sledgehammer). Image result for call of duty ww2 beta maps aachen What I did find to be a very nice touch was the ability to have a closer inspection of your gun mid-match.  Pressing the Y button would make your soldier look at his/her weapon of mass destruction and revel in all its glory or not-glory depending on how good your aim had been up to that point. At this point I can hear the BF fanboys and -girls say that the weapons are not as accurately depicted as it is in BF etc etc and I will once again say:  This is a BETA and this is COD!  right, moving on! Image result for call of duty ww2 beta weapons  

Less Frantic, but not Slow!

  With the exclusion of the technological aspects which made the previous titles like Infinite Warfare, Black Ops 3 and Advanced Warfare so fast-paced and frantic, it has made the game feel less rushed but by no means does that translate into a slow-paced game.  WW2 still requires some speedy reaction times otherwise you will find yourself at the respawn spot quite often.  This should not deter new players as you get the hang of it quickly and once you get to know the maps your deaths will slowly start appearing less and be replaced with your name being on the left of the kill feed instead of the right.  For Non-COD players new to the franchise there is going to be a rather steep learning curve if you decide to venture into the campaign before jumping into the multi player as players will be investing serious time into the multiplayer from the startImage result for call of duty ww2 beta The graphics immediately caught my eye, I had been playing BF1 pretty much non-stop from launch till about 6 months ago so i had grown accustomed to BF1 graphics and in WW2 they are different and that is exactly what made me smile.  COD isn't trying to copy Battlefield, they don't need to, they stick to their signature look and that works for them, the numbers don't lie.  The lighting and and weather is spectacular.  I noticed it even more when I was frantically scrambling through a half-demolished french farmhouse trying to flank a few unsuspecting soldiers around the corner.  The environment is  really well populated and react well to the interactions such as running through water or firing into it.  Sledgehammer games really did the research on this one in terms of capturing the time period as well as the locations and costumes.  

Perks & Classes

The Perks & classes might have a different name but they are essentially the same as previous COD titles with loadouts and perks.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  Why fix something that isn't broken? Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions You have the ability to choose between Divisions, for example, Airborne, Infantry, Mountain, which will each give you a different array of perks. Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions Basic Training skills give you the ability to carry a primary weapon as a secondary for example.  Nothing to major from previous COD titles Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions  

Game Modes

Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions During my time with the BETA I did try each mode at least once but playing solo is not as fun so I played what the majority of the party wanted to play.  Lots of Domination was played but I was mostly interested to see what the new "War" mode had in store.  In War mode you will have an attacking and defending team, there are a few loose story based objectives that the attackers need to capture in order to move on to the next eventually reaching the final objective and winning the round if captured.  During the BETA only one war map was available.  What I found that 2 of the objectives namely the Bridge and the Church was really tough to attack with rather tight choking point causing the attacking team to get slaughtered severely if they did not have a plan! Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions   It is a refreshing modes with endless possibilities so I really hope that Sledgehammer games can make it work to become a signature game mode for all future COD titles  

Teaching WW2 to a new audience

In a interview one for the developers said that they feel they have a huge responsibility to try and be as accurate in their portrayal of the horrors of WW2 seeing as the last time they ventured into this era was around 10 years ago.  The audience has changed significantly!  To the older audience who were gaming back when COD started out this game will be a way to show how far the franchise has come and to the new audience it will be a benchmark for future titles who want to stake a claim in the WW2-era fast paced shooters.  

Final Verdict

Call of Duty WW2 Beta was very fun and I am sure that old-COD players who have long dreamt of returning to where it all started will excited to get boots on the ground come November.  For players new to the COD franchise prepare yourselves for an immense campaign like we have come to know with all Call of Duty titles (except IW), their signature Zombie mode as well as an amazing fast paced multiplayer that will keep you saying "just one more round" until the early hours of the morning. Yes there are a few things that need to be fixed and changed and Sledgehammer games is doing a good job of ironing that out by means of surveys and BETA sessions.  So if you are not yet convinced on this title because of a few things be sure to fill out those surveys and pester them with what you want to see via social media, because we as the players have the sway and the major companies are inclined to listen if you are willing to speak up! Hope to see you all in future BETA's or in the Trenches or on the beaches come November! Image result for call of duty ww2 beta divisions    
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Razer Wolverine – the New kid

Image result for Razer Wolverine The premium and elite controller market has in the past been dominated by the likes of the Scuf brand of controllers.  Later Microsoft joined this one-sided contest and brought its A-game with the Elite controller.  Now a familiar name in both console and PC accessories is back with yet another masterpiece.  Razer bring the Wolverine controller with the hope to dethrone the mighty Elite controller from its imposing, customizable throne!  With many years of experience and countless accessories behind its name, lets see if Razer has what it takes. Image result for Razer Wolverine   Straight from the onset Razer comes out swinging in its traditional fashion of flash.  As with nearly all of Razer's latest creations they feature a multi color LED  strip that is capable of creating around 16.8 Million colors by ways of Razer's own Chroma software.  This allows you to really amp up the atmosphere by setting the LED strip to whatever color your heart may desire. Don't think that the Wolverine is just a gimmick.  It matches Microsoft's Elite controller in terms of providing 3 variants of thumb sticks, normal, conical and extra long for a varied feel depending on what is required for each occasion. Image result for Razer Wolverine Two D-pads are also provided to suite the users preference.  Be it a fixed round disc or individual D-pad buttons. The Wolverine starts taking the fight to the Elite controller with its 6 programmable paddles that can be removed if not needed.  It also boasts a quick on board control panel which allows users to swap programmable  button profiles as well as turn on "Hair-trigger mode" Image result for Razer Wolverine The Wolverine has only recently been announced so not too much is known as of yet but here is a list of what we know so far.  It will be retailing for around 160 Euros which to us is around the R2 500 mark which still comes in under the Elite controller. Here’s a list of features for the Wolverine Ultimate:
  • Remappable 2 Multi-Function Buttons & 4 Triggers
  • Razer Chroma lighting with full 16.8 million color options
  • Interchangeable D-Pad – Choice between Individual and Tilting Designs
  • Interchangeable Thumbsticks
  • Hair-Trigger Mode with Trigger-Stop for rapid-fire
  • Quick Control Panel
  • Tactile Switch Action Buttons
  • Ergonomic Non-Slip Rubber Grip
  • Razer Synapse for Xbox app
  • Razer Chroma SDK enabled
  • Play Anywhere – Play on Xbox One or PC
  • 3.5 mm audio port for stereo audio output and microphone input
  • Carrying case
  • Detachable 3 m / 10 ft lightweight braided fiber cable with Micro-USB connector
  • Approximate size: 106 mm / 4.17 in (Length) x 156 mm / 6.14 in (Width) x 66 mm / 2.60 in (Height)
  • Approximate weight (without cable): 260 g / 0.57 lbs
As more details become available and a possible test unit comes my way I will give you all a more in-depth review.   If you are a Razer-fan then I am sure that you will be interested in this one!
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Turtle Beach XO Seven Pro – The way its meant to be heard!

Turtle Beach XO Seven Pro

Headsets now-a-days have become so varied in price, looks and functionality that it is extremely difficult to look at only one.  The headsets of today range from dirt cheap to take-a-loan expensive.  With a wide variety of brands out there it is tough to make a educated decision.  I myself am a Astro man but after testing this Turtle Beach I was pleasantly surprised. Image result for turtle beach xo seven pro pics

Unboxing

  The magic starts right from the word go.  Apart from the expected headset you get Turtle Beach's own version of the Microsoft chat adapter as well as two break away cables.  One for the Xbox and the other for other devices with a in-line mic.  A microphone boom and a micro USB cable is also included.   Image result for turtle beach xo seven From the very first glance it is difficult to deny the shear beauty that is the XO Seven Pro.  Sturdy yet lightweight and from the moment of slipping them on you realize they are built for comfort!  50mm earcups with memory foam cushions makes it feel like you have your favorite pillow strapped to your head while also providing superb noise cancellation.  Whether you are using this headset for work, music or gaming it blocks out the outside world while allowing you to immerse yourself completely.  For those of you with the bigger heads the headband is also cushioned and adjustable.  

Setup

  Image result for turtle beach xo seven pro Setup could not be easier!  Simply plug the adapter into your controller, plug the headset into the adapter and you are good to go!  The microphone boom is removable if you feel the need to get away from your pesky online friends that keep nagging you to play that one title that you so utterly despise!  The minimalist approach when it comes to cables and no batteries to be charged makes this a very nice no-fuss headset.  

Sound

Image result for turtle beach xo seven pro 1080p

I know that we all skim through headset reviews to this exact point.  Not many people really care alot about what their headset looks like, if its comfortable, yes that is important but what really matters is whether it sounds good! The XO Seven Pro sounds...  GOOD!  Due to obvious limitations brought by the adapter sound is only rendered in stereo but this is nothing to be sad about.  This headset makes even stereo sound really really good!  What I personally use to differentiate a good headset from a poor one is the subtle sounds that are generally not even heard.  Take for instance a game like the Witcher 3, have you ever taken a moment and just stopped and closed your eyes and listened.  Really listened to the living environment around you. From the wind changing directions to the rustle of the leaves to your trusty steeds' hooves scraping the beaten pathway...  The XO Seven Pro allows you to indulge in every single one of those delights. What makes this headset extra special is on the adapter you have a little wonder-button called "superhuman hearing".  At a push of a button your headset goes from great to AMAZING!  With a press of a button you suddenly experience a sense of awareness that I cannot put into words!  Sounds develop more depth, bullets sound more piercing as they fly by you.  Explosions rumble into your bones!  You basically have Cinema-style sound right on your ears!      

Functionality

  Like the normal chat adapter, the Turtle Beach one comes with the ability to adjust the mix between chat and game volumes.   What the Turtle Beach offers above the standard is the ability to pick between microphone presets.  Add either bass, treble or just let the normal levels pass through.  Thanks to mic-monitoring you can adjust how much background noise get sent to your party members allowing you to avoid feedback from your tv or just ambient noises. Another added benefit to the XO Seven Pro's is the fact that they look great, meaning you can wear them out and about if you want to listen to some music while walking the dog.  The in-line mic works great for talking phone calls.  You can also personalize your headsets by exchanging the faceplates on the back of the earcups to give them that personalized feel.   Image result for turtle beach xo seven pro 1080pImage result for turtle beach xo seven     If you are in the market for a decent headset or you are tired of your entry-level gaming headset then this is definitely looking at the right headset!  You will never go wrong with purchasing a Turtle Beach headset and like many others have before, once you purchase a Turtle Beach you will never want anything else!    
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New Xbox One UI update

August has been a exceptionally quiet month for gaming with not much to talk about in general.  One of the talking points is the new Operating System for the Xbox One family.  Currently only going out to a selected few Insiders who have been able to make their way deep into the realms of the elite Alpha Ring were allowed to download the latest iteration of the OS which boast a quite significant change in the look and feel compared to the current one we all currently use.   With the new update that will effect both console and PC users, Microsoft has focused on making the experience more fun, personalized and social.  Microsoft has gone to the community and asked what we as users want and they are delivering on every new update they bring.  The major talking points are the changes coming to Home, Guide and Community as well as updates to Avatars, Game Hubs and Profiles all coming in following updates.  PC users will receive updates to the game Bar and Gaming settings menu.  Lets get a little more up close and personal with the new features:

Make it YOUR Home

.GIF of new content blocks on Xbox One The first thing that users will notice when firing up there freshly updated console will be the new Home screen.  This new design is part of a design that Microsoft is calling the fluent design.  The design is focused around speed customization and expression.  Microsoft has taken the best of all the previous versions and the best aspects thereof and has added and improved them all which has led us to this.  Your tiles and pins and everything will evolve and change along with what you do.  Playing more Forza Horizon 3 lately?  Your tiles and pins will show more Forza content.  From your friends who also play Forza and their screenshots or captured clips, to activity feeds from major figures in the Forza community. .GIF of Community UI on Xbox One Another awesome feature is the removal of the screens you flip through when moving from home, social, and my games and apps.  This means easier access and less waiting which in turn means speed and fluidity which makes us all happy!  

Your  Xbox YOUR Community

.GIF of new Activity Feed filter Getting connected with clubs and friends have been dramatically improved.  The entire activity feed has been revamped to show more content at a glance.  When you take a closer look the items and images will be displayed in glorious full screen mode.  Comment are easier to read with the new full screen comment section.  Game Hubs, Profiles and Clubs have been revamped to make them more dynamic and engaging.  Currently the only title to be found in the Arena section is Killer Instinct, this will be changing as well and Arena will soon bolster a large array of titles to get everyone in the competitive spirit a shot at the glory. Game bar on Windows 10  

Game Bars, Game Bars everywhere!

In the past enabling and disabling the Game-mode feature was a serious mission, you had to turn it on and off for individual games, not anymore!  With the new Game bar coming to the PC, the game mode button will be right there on the game bar easy to see, easy to access.  Using mixer, the game bar will give you a ton of extra features.  It will give you options to broadcast game-only audio, or system wide audio.  For the days that you might have some networking problems the kind people at Microsoft have decided to include a Xbox Live network Troubleshooter options to the settings menu right there in the Windows 10 setting menu which means you can sort out your issues quicker and get back to what you really want to do, GAMING!

Microsoft has promised to listen to the community and they are doing just that.  They have a top notch insider program that is open to anyone where you can sign up to try out the early versions of the updates before they launch to the public.  This is where feedback is given from all the insiders in terms of what needs to change, improve or removed.  Go and check out the Insider Program and become part of making Microsoft and Xbox great!
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Projector vs TV – Which is best for you?

BIGGER IS BETTER, right?  Not necessarily, with the ever growing demand for screens to go bigger and bigger many people have started to look towards projectors as a way to combat this ever growing demand for a bigger screen.  In the past projectors used to be really expensive costing nearly as much as the contents of the room you are placing it in, add all the changes you need to make to accommodate the projector and its screen, most people decide against this and purchase a smaller (yet still large) TV.   Here I will give you a few pointers that should help you during this tough time of choosing whether to get a Projector as well as giving you a few pro's and con's of owning a projector.  I'm sure we all own a TV of some shape or size hence i will be focusing more on Projectors.  It is also good to note that i will not be taking 4K projectors into consideration as they are currently very expensive and would just defeat the object of looking at the best unit for best price.   Lets get straight to it, So you want to watch TV, sport or play games on a 100 inch or more screen, but you also don't want to break the bank to do it, then a projector is what you want.  Before running out to get one here are a few Pro's and Con's of Projectors. PRO'S
  • Screen size - with the right setup you can easily have a 100 inch screen right in the comfort of your own living room.  No more going to the Movie Cinemas you now have your own with the added benefit of being able to pause to go for a bathroom break or to grab another snack
 
  • Cost - As a whole projectors are cheaper than any comparable TV.  TVs that are 75 inch will cost you around the R35 000, with a projector delivering FULL HD setting you back around R10 000.
 
  • Viewing Experience -  Many people tend to think that with a larger screen comes lower brightness levels, this is true but with slightly decreased brightness comes less strain on your eyes providing you with a more comfortable and immersive experience.
  CON'S
  • Light - Light is the major drawback with owning a projector, unless you will be enjoying your projector in a room with curtains or blinds drawn you will not have the best experience possible.  Even in a dark room the picture beam can still be affected when someone passes by in front of the beam.
 
  • Lamps - Projectors have a extra added cost of lamps, depending on your usage and lamp settings, you will need to replace lamps periodically.  Lamps life generally ranges from 1 000 hours to 2 000 hours. So use it sparingly if you do not want to replace bulbs too often.
 
  • Sound - Some projectors come with built in speakers, others don't.  Realistically with a screen heading in the direction of 100 inches you would want a Home theater audio setup to take full advantage of your monstrous screen.
  So after all of that you still want a projector?  Fantastic, lets see which is best for YOU!  Projectors can be used anywhere you can find a power source, a flat surface be it a smooth wall or film screen, and enough space.  Depending on your setup you can either mount your projector to the ceiling via a roof mount or stand it on a table or a shelf. The room that you decide to turn into your cinema room will need to be dark and large enough to accommodate the screen size you wish to have.  Ambient light or light falling directly on your screen will cause images to look washed out.  This is because a projector uses true black for any part of the image that is black meaning it simply turns the light off in that area so if there is external light falling on the screen your contrast will be severely affected. Here are a few key things to consider when comparing projectors:   BRIGHTNESS - Many people will tell you brighter is better, this is not always the case.  The brighter your images become the less crisp they will be as well as the strain it places on your eyes will not help when you are trying to sit through a long sports match or a drawn out movie.  Brightness is measured in Lumens, if your room is dark then consider looking at brightness levels ranging between 1300-1500 lumens, as the ambient light increases so will the required Lumens, most projectors run around 2000 Lumens. SCREEN OPTIONS - the cheapest option is to simply display your image on a smooth wall, if this is not a option you can either buy special reflective paint to use on your walls that will help show better picture, or you can purchase a dedicated projector screen.  Many of the newer models of projector can compensate for walls that are painted in light coloured paints eg beige. CONNECTIVITY - Projectors come with garden variety connections but in modern times the only connection you should consider is HDMI, this is the only way to ensure true native HD picture being displayed. THROW DISTANCE - When setting up your new projector it is essential that you look at the throw distance, this is a calculation that can be made that will help you find the correct distance that will help your projector display at its best.  Be sure to check the throw distance and use the calculator above to work out if your projector will work in the room that you are planning to use. FAN NOISE - Projectors generate heat and they use fans to cool them, certain models can be noisy and with a increase in price so the noise levels will decrease.  This is a important thing to consider if you are someone who who has a problem with noise.  It is also important to mention that you should place your projector in a area where it can have enough air and space to have enough air flow to ensure that it doesn't overheat.   If some of these points I have mentioned can be a possible problem that you will not be able to solve then maybe investing in a large TV would be the best option.  My personal opinion would be to analyze what your main use will be and whether or not buying a projector can become an inconvenience.  If it is then a TV is the way to go.Hooked xbox one up to the projector for our daughter     I really hope this article has shed some light on projectors and what you should look out for when considering or buying one.  For any further questions send me a mail and I will gladly help and give opinions.        
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Titanfall 2 – One Year Later

Titanfall 2, a name that is met with many different reactions, none of them bad.  But what really sprung to my attention when I asked around regarding this title was the fact that so many people would say something along the lines of “ wow I still really really want  to get that” or “ I am definitely getting it once it’s on special”.  So many people love the game without even having played it which is very rare, not many other franchises are able to get that reaction from people but yet Titanfall 2 has not received the attention and fanfare that it truly deserves.  So let’s have a look at Titanfall 2 roughly a year post launch!   Titanfall 2 was created by Respawn and EA which already gives it quite a pedigree, but where I think it met its first stumbling block was when it got released too close to a big Rival in Battlefield 1, secondly not much hype was made of Titanfall 2 in comparison with Battlefield 1 which was also created by EA and DICE.  Never the less Titanfall 2 soldiered on and in good fashion.  Let me get into the details for those of you considering picking up this title.
  • Campaign
Image result for titanfall 2 1080p wallpaper Respawn and EA really listened to the fan after the lack of success of the Original Titanfall, so with that they gave the sequel a single player campaign.  Not only did they give you a roughly 7.5 hour campaign, they gave you 7.5 hours of pure unadulterated magic!  The visuals are spectacular, polished and vibrant!  The characters, be they human or Mech are loveable, yes I love my mech don’t judge me.  You feel a sense of attachment and care for your metal friend!  The story might, at times, be a little cliché but it is easily forgotten when you truly take it what is given to you!  Even if you had to play this game only for the campaign I would recommend it!
  • Multiplayer
Image result for titanfall 2 1080p wallpaper If you haven’t gone out and bought Titanfall 2 yet, and you are still reading this article then this section should make you jump up and get it.  Multiplayer is where Titanfall 2 truly stands head and shoulders above the rest, it is simply intoxicating!  As a pilot you have a few abilities which I won’t get into too much but it creates a fluidity of motion that can only be compared to Mirror’s Edge but even more fast paced and accurate.  You can seamlessly go from grappling up a building to jumping to a wall, wallrunning, jump while cloaked into an amazing execution.  Did I mention the amazing ability to use Mech robots?  With the creators ditching the old Titan loadout system for a more distinct variety of Titans each with their own skill set it made for a more balanced and fair fights.  The multiplayer experience also offers a lot in terms of continuing to play, with lots of unlockables etc.  Servers are stable I have been able to count on one hand the amount of issues I have experienced over my time with Titanfall 2.  Matchmaking is also very good, I never felt like I was completely out played by an opposing team which means the balancing is really well managed.  With around 14 game modes and a always increasing plan on providing more in the future this game has really got a good recipe going.
  • Season pass/ DLC’s
Image result for titanfall 2 1080p wallpaper Ahhh what can I say about this topic, many people hate the idea of paying extra for premium features others agree with it that only the hardcore players should be willing to spend extra money on features to make them better.  With Titles like Battlefield and the COD franchise sticking to the Paid-DLC approach it has seen, especially Battlefield 1 in South Africa, a rift between players, many servers are not used and stand empty because not enough season pass owners play on them, for various reasons.  If you are the only one of your friends with a season pass, playing on DLC servers can be very lonely.  Yet again Titanfall 2 has the jump on the competition.  It delivers regular and meaningful updates and DLC’s to ALL players.  Yes you read correctly all DLC’s are free to everyone who owns the game.  Each DLC to date has produced new maps, Titans, pilots and even a game mode!  This is very good for the game health as you won’t close off your player base behind paid-walls.
  • Conclusion
Image result for titanfall 2 1080p Roughly one year later and Titanfall 2 is only improving, it might have been a little slow out of the blocks but ever since that it has been ever improving and producing good content that really treats its players to a amazing experience.  This title puts a smile on my face and makes my heart race every time I start it up.  I will enjoy it until the next iteration makes its appearance and I will be sure to grab it. Titanfall 2 might be considered as a less of a success compared to larger titles like Battlefield and Call of Duty but it is a extremely well made and polished game!  It has a smaller player base than its rivals but I have never had problem finding a match to play.  For anyone who has not yet experienced the exhilaration of calling down your first Titanfall, when you play it you will know what I mean, this game is a gem and you truly need this as part of your library! Hope to see you all on the battleground Pilots. PS : if you haven't heard yet TitanFall 2 is heading to the EA ACCESS vault really soon!
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Becoming a streamer part 2 – Microphones

By now you have read my first article where I covered 3 capture cards and you have got one and you have since started setting up your streams and hopefully have had a few people watch your streams.  Now its time to step it up, time to start involving your audience in the stream, yes they might send messages that you can read on the side of your screen or however you have set it up, but you are playing, you don't have time to text back and when you do speak back to your audience you get crappy sound from your headset microphone.  Time to get a proper MICROPHONE!  Lets have a look at a few microphone options. a very important thing to understand before reading this article is to understand how these microphones get tested.  Things I looked at was:
  • Recording quality - we tested all these mics in the "cardioid" setting meaning infront of mic, which is where you will be when using these mics
  • Adaptability - these mics need to perform well under varied circumstances hence the best mic might not be here because it only performs well in specific enviroment
  • Form Factor - this might not be a fashion show but you don't want to stare at a hideous creature on your desk when streaming, and neither do your viewers
  • Price - because we are not rich, yet!
 
  • RAZER SEIREN PRO
Once again Razer comes to the party with a absolute monster of a microphone that can hold its own with some of the best in the business.  The build quality of this unit is superb, almost everything is metal with only a few plastic pieces scattered around but nothing to be concerned about.  The front features a LED that shows Mic gain, headphone gain and current polar pattern.  Directly below this is the headphone volume control as well as a mute button.  This mic features 4 polar patterns namely stereo, cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional.  Each of these patterns have their own purpose and they all deliver very well.  I can go on about this microphone and all the neat little buttons it has and lights that make it so much more attractive.  This unit also has an extremely low noise floor which is great if you don't have a room or studio that is perfectly quiet. Add in the fact that it has amazing frequency response and you have a great microphone. The Razer Seiren pro prices at R4 500.  
  • TURTLE BEACH STREAM MIC
Related image Turtle Beach is a well known name among gamers with their astounding range of Headsets, but they have proved that they can compete on the Streaming Mic stage as well with their aptly named Stream mic.  A general rule I have is the less you pay the less you should expect but this mic defies this rule, the construction is functional using varied materials to give it a decent weight and feel.  In my opinion it has a classic look with it swing arm and shape of grill with a nice turtle beach emblem at the top with a very nice looking mute button on the front with a LED ring to show muted or not.  The Mic comes with a magnitude of audio options and a really comprehensive program to adjust every little aspect of the audio quality, the only downside to many options is that it can be difficult to find the perfect setting for you.  As said earlier this mic is cheaper than the Razer meaning lesser audio quality but no reason to ignore this microphone as a real option.  The really unique feature is that it can be integrated to your party chat and any 3.5mm headset can be connected to it and it will feature a mic monitoring feedback. Turtle Beach will give you this Stream Mic for only R 1 800.  ( personally my best choice for first time streamers)  
  • BLUE YETI MICROPHONE
Straight out of the block I need to tell you this mic is seriously big, it is very tall so take this into consideration if you are considering this unit.  This microphone is a really pleasing unit, it delivers really good sound quality and is relatively inexpensive for the quality of audio it records.  It is very comfortable in an array for circumstances that would flummox most mics during stream sessions.  It might fall short when it comes to gizmo's and tweak-ability compared to the previously mentioned mics but this is a very versatile unit which delivers really good sound and has decent build quality for the price.  The only negative is when using the mute button the click can be picked up in your stream which could lead to some annoying clicks if you are planning on muting during your sessions.  The design is nothing exotic or out of this world but for some this is a good thing, it looks like a mic, it acts like a mic and performs like a mic, therefore, it must be a mic. The Blue Yeti retails for R3 500   Good luck all future streamers, always remember to persevere and you will succeed!
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Becoming a streamer part 1 – Capture cards

Most gamers play for more than just a way to pass the time or because they like gaming a little.  True gamers are passionate people and they are passionate about what they love, GAMING!  With the likes of Youtube, Twitch and Mixer promoting gamers to create and stream live content so that millions of viewers can watch so to has the demand for better capturing equipment.  With the Gaming industry sitting at just under $100 Billion and streamers like controversial PewDiePie racking up $15 million a year more people are trying to get into streaming and for this one of the crucial tools you will need is a capture card.  So lets have a look at 3 of your best options around.  
  • ELGATO GAME CAPTURE HD 60
Image result for ELGATO capture hd 60 When it comes to capture card Elgato is the name everyone knows.  This version of the device doesn't disappoint.  Its sleek pebble-like design makes for easy positioning and it blends in seamlessly with your current setup.  Setup is straight forward, HDMI cable from console to Elgato, from Elgato to your TV, and a USB cable from Elgato to PC.  Software comes with the card that allows for editing and recording or streaming directly to your preferred location.  This card packs alot of punch and can capture in 1080p at 60 fps and because of the upgrade to USB 3.0 all of this is achieved with nearly 0 latency.  If you want to add commentary to your streams its as simple as plugging a mic into the appropriate slot and off you go.  One of the downsides is that you won't have the master copy feature which means while streaming in one quality you wont be able to record the same project in a different quality.  Overall the Elgato HD 60 S is a good card for anyone and you will struggle to find something to compete with it. The Elgato HD 60 S retails around the R4 200 mark which is a competitive price.  
  • RAZER RIPSAW
Razer is the new kid on the block when it comes to capture cards, but Razer is a well known company who has produced some seriously good 3rd party equipment for PC and console.  Once again the Razer Ripsaw doesn't disappoint with really easy setup in terms of hardware, a user friendly software.  Packaging is spectacular in true Razer fashion.  The design is sleek and professional with a smooth black finish and the signature razer green light on the front.  The Ripsaw also features close to 0 latency via its USB 3.0 port.  One of the best features of the Ripsaw is the compatibility with both Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) as well as Xsplit which gives you the freedom to use the software that you are familiar with. The Razer Ripsaw retails for around R3 000 depending on where you shop.  
  • ROXIO GAMECAPTURE HD PRO
Roxio being the lesser known name among these 3 capture cards doesn't make it any less of a good option,  the Roxio does all the things that the previous 2 cards do, it captures in 1080p in either 30fps or 60fps, it can live stream to Youtube, Twitch or Mixer, it offers the ability to customize and edit your captured content using its own software, but where it differs is in the connection options.  If you are considering using older consoles not fitted with HDMI but only component connections then the Roxio has you covered.  Other than that it is very similar to previously mentioned cards. Coming in as the cheapest option between the 3 cards at R 1800, this would be my recommendation for new streamers who are still getting into the business and don't have a massive budget.   Before making a decision on buying a capture card please consider a few things.  Streaming is very popular but it is also done by many, so for you to be successful it doesn't mean that you will need the best equipment, what it does mean is that you will need to decide what you want to achieve and what you want to stream.  Once you have decided on this then you will need to decide on the type of personality you want to portray while streaming as well as discover what group of viewers you want to appeal to.  After all of this you will need to be dedicated.  You might get 0 views for the first month.  Don't Quit!  Keep trying and trying new things, be creative and innovative, that is what its all about! Good luck!  Hope to see many of your streams out there in the future!
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Headset Review – Astro A40 TR

It is nearly Payday weekend!  If you are in the market for a new Headset, this article is for YOU!   This Review might be slightly biased as the Astro A40's are my everyday headsets, but this also makes me the perfect person to tell you all the advantages, and the extremely few disadvantages, of this magnificent headset.  I will be discussing numerous aspects of the A40's and I will list them accordingly.  It is important to note that the Astro A40 range comes in 2 distinct colours, namely white and black, this is not just by chance.  each colour is for a specific console, black being for the PS and the white variant for the Xbox.  I will be reviewing on the Xbox One, so lets Jump in... little Xbox joke there... funny?  nope?  okay then...  
  • DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
  Lets us start from the moment that you unbox your newly acquired Astro A40 TR headset.  From the moment i opened the big square box and set my eyes on this headset I was inlove.  Everything is beautifully packaged.  Headset, cables, 3.5mm headphone cord, Toslink cable, micro USB to USB, and a USB power cord, all supplied.  Some setup guides, which is almost not needed as the setup is so easy, and ofcourse the TR Amp.  Once unpacked and installed and set up, few settings to be changed in your sound options, and I was ready to go. The build on the headset is very solid and well weighted, it uses a mix of hard plastics and metals to give it a strong and robust feel while not feeling heavy when wearing.  The material earcups are extremely comfortable and the slider allows for precise preferences to be set that result in extreme comfort and no sweating around the ears during marathon sessions.  Astro allows for endless modification kits, sold separately,  which gives you the option for leather earcups and different back-end plates as well as more cushioning on top of your head if the standard one is not enough.  The snap in and snap out mic can be placed on either side depending on your preference by simply removing the back-end cup coversThe A40 headset design is a rather aggressive gaming style, while I personally like it I can understand how this might not appeal to many.  The cables provided might be a problem for some who sit further than around 3m from the TV or console.  For players and user who are desk bound this should be no problem.  But before you make up your mind and decide to go with something else, do continue reading this review for there is large amounts of good things coming your way.    
  • AUDIO QUALITY
  Image result for astro a40 tr amp   I have experienced many headsets over my gaming career ranging from dedicated audio headsets, to expensive gaming headsets, to in-ear earpieces and I can say, without a doubt, that the A40's deliver exceptional sound across all boards and they rank up there with headsets that out price them 4:1.  They are simply breathtaking.  Whether you are using them for gaming, music or movies they deliver on each.  The TR amplifier improves clarity and delivers amazing quality sound that warrants the price bump from the cheaper Astro A40 mixamp pro option.  I have tested this headset amidst many varieties of sound be it the clarity of classical music, the fast paced drums and riffs of metal, the deep bass of house and dubstep and the mixture and chaos of Battlefield 1, to the pinpoint audio required for those tense standoffs in Rainbow 6 Siege.  It might sound like I am harping on about this but I cannot express the sound quality, in Siege this headset alone has made me win in clutch situations due to the fact that I can hear magazines dropping on the floor during reloads which give away their positions.  This might sound silly but I see all you Siege players going "wow" at the other end of your screens.  The TR amp (TR which stands for Tournament Ready, yes they use these as standard for Gaming Tournaments) has 4 equalizer options which can easily be changed and customized with the Astro software which is free to download from their website.  The Microphone is decent too it provides a feedback so you know when you are shouting or annoying your party members with breathing into the mic.  It is important to note that even tho almost every major headset brand says it can do Dolby Surround via a headset, this is only simulated, same with the A40, the Dolby surround option on the TR amp gives you a simulated Surround sound which is actually one of the better ones I have tested.  It is also good to note that the TR amp has a daisy chain connection option which is perfect if you want to hook up a few A40 TR amps and create a party chat via a LAN for zero lag.    
  • SHOULD I CHOOSE THE A40 TR's?
  Let me first point out a few things that you should take note of,  firstly if you are multi console user then it is good to know that these TR amps won't work on different consoles, they are console specific so if you are looking for something to use you might need to buy a second Amp (they are sold separately) for the second console.  Secondly, the Surround Sound, I cannot stress this enough if you are looking for a console headset that delivers true surround sound you are going to struggle.  It is simply near-impossible to fit enough drivers, at proper sizes and correct spacing inside a earcup, hence many manufacturers go for single drivers in each ear but do some magic on software processing side to give it the illusion of 5.1 surround sound.  Lastly, which I think is extremely important is the customer service and this is where the guys and gals at Astro really go above and beyond, before I purchased my own A40 TR I did a large amount of research and i read a few people mention that they were not supplied with a inline mute cable.  I promptly emailed their support staff and asked.  And so the wait began, I was shocked when 1.5 hours later i received a reply, not a automated reply, a actual reply from my new friend at Astro,  I chatted to him and within 20min my problem was solved, not by assuring me that the cable is in the box, which it is, but by asking me for my shipping details and promptly sent me one, free of charge, he then apologized for it taking 4-5 working days to ship from USA to RSA!  I had my inline cable before I even bought my headset!  The Service and Support offered by Astro is astounding, much like there product, simply amazing. What I am trying to explain is that even though they are pricey ( coming in at R 3500 roughly) but you are not just purchasing a headset this is an investment that comes with really good support and I would recommend it to anyone!  
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Demo Land Ramblings: Styx – Shards of Darkness

To infinity and beyond... This is my first pick from the available titles on the XBOX store. No “rAgrets”! …Go on then, go google it. Let’s be honest, the cinematic that welcomed me wasn’t all that impressive from a visual point of view. Some parts made me think they built the images on Minecraft. Copy, paste and bam. There is your block cup sir. The humour made up for every block showed though! Let’s take a peep through the keyhole, shall we. I have never played this game before and whilst playing I thought the plot to be a little goblin stealing from humans trying to escape prison. If you have played this game, you would know that this is not even remotely close to the actual plot. As per our friend Wikipedia; Styx must infiltrate the Dark Elven city of Korangar to uncover why the dark elves have formed an alliance with the dwarves. Maybe I was a little close? No? Okay… moving on. Camera angle view is incredible! I feel like they definitely found the sweet spot of placing the protagonist. Default control sensitivity just right. The developers did a lot of right here and they need a pat on the back for that. The absolute best? Left D-pad saves your game for you. How is this not a standard for all games!? One flaw I have to mention is the “combat”. Terrible, best you make sure you do not get detected or you will suffer a quick frustrating death. Listen up Cyanide, we understand that this is supposed to be a stealth game, but seriously? At least give the little goblin a chance! I would compare this game to Assassins Creed Chronicles series. Update 2.0. You know, when that 2D game finally releases in 3D… You have your odd little wooden buildings, your guards, jumping, sliding, rope climbing, throwing stuff. The list goes on. Not too long, but it does. A humorous, underrated gem this is. Sadly, the demo only gives us the first level for free. Would I buy the full game? Already have!
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Tips and Tricks – Part 2

Once again we are back with some more Tips and Tricks to get the most out of your favorite black ( or white) box in your house, yes you know how to play your favorite game but are you using it to its full potential?  Fear not for I am here to help show you the road to being a Xbox-Pro.  Continue Reading and become a master!  
  • STREAM FROM XBOX TO WINDOWS 10 PC
  You can now stream all your awesome footage straight to a Windows 10 device which makes it alot easier to capture all those clips that you want to brag to your friends about.  All you need to do is ensure that both devices are connected to the same network and that you have the xbox app installed on this device.  First step is to set up your console for streaming, head over to settings - preferences and ensure that "allow stre