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.      
Read more

What is the Amico console?

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

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.
Read more

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

 
Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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.
Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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.

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

   

_________________________________________________________________________

 

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.

Read more

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
Read more

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.

 
Read more

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

Read more

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

 
Read more

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.

     
Read more

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

  Image result for prima interactive  
Read more

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

Read more

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

  Image result for prima interactive
Read more

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.

   
Read more

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!

       
Read more

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

 

   
Read more

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

 
Read more

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

Read more

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
Read more

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

Image result for prima interactive
Read more

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

  Image result for apex interactive          
Read more

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 

  Image result for apex interactive  
Read more

Razer Thresher – Review

Image result for Razer thresher xbox one

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! 

Read more

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.

  Image result for megarom interactive
Read more

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      

  Image result for apex interactive
Read more

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.

Image result for apex interactive
Read more

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...
Read more

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.

   
Read more

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.
Read more

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
Read more

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.

  Image result
Read more

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  

 

Read more

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.

  Image result for apex interactive
Read more

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
Read more

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!
Read more

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
Read more

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
Read more

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.  
Read more

FINAL FANTASY XV – More free content and updates continue to arrive!

#FFXVSnapshot2 winners! Below are the winning photos of Square Enix's latest contest. It was Gladio's turn in the spotlight this time round! Make sure to check them out in Takka's Pit Stop in Hammerhead! Free Trendy outfit! That's right - gratis May 2017 Game Update: The latest free game update for FFXV is live to download:
  • Implementation of a survey regarding future updates (available until end of June 2017)
  • Addition of a new dish, based on user feedback
  • Announcement of winning snapshots from second photo contest (Viewable at Takka's Pit Stop in Hammerhead)
  • Resolution of an issue that caused the game to crash when accessing Timed Quest leaderboards
  • Various bug fixes
Read more