Logitech G435 – Review

Recently, the headset market has had a significant shake-up in terms of what is expected and who the target market truly is.  In the past, headsets were for gamers only.  you would simply need to cater to PC or console players and provide the best while having some crazy design so that your headset would get noticed.  Since Covid-19 all of this has changed.  The vast majority of people, that is still with a job, now have to do all their work from home and sit in on crazy amounts of virtual meetings.  This means spending a lot of time in front of your computer and even more time with a headset on.  For those who are not gamers, wearing a headset for extended periods of time might feel very uncomfortable.  Fortunately, Logitech has once again been able to take what they are so good at, and make a headset that perfectly blends the brilliance of their daily office equipment with the quality of their gaming peripherals.  Time to take work and play to the next level.  Introducing the Logitech G435.  Built with inclusion in mind!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9VEH_btbh4

Design and Features

    Logitech has erred on the side of caution when it comes to the design of the G435.  Following the general design of the G series headsets that have enjoyed massive fanfare across gaming platforms, with design cues and features that are alike.  The Logitech G435 features soft memory foam cups, that, in my opinion, are the perfect combination of lightweight and breathable while blocking out enough ambient noise when using it in a personal environment.  One of the truly unique aspects of the G435 is the extremely lightweight design, and with a frame that can easily be forgotten that it is even on your head, makes the G435 a great headset if you need to wear it for extended periods of time.  The medium-sized earcups can not only slide up and down on the frame, allowing for a snug fit for nearly all but there is even a hint of a swivel which is not often seen in headsets that are designed like these.  The headband does offer very little in the sense of padding but when the headset weighs a mere 165g then you don't need much padding to feel like it's floating on top of your head.     The Logitech G435 features two ways to connect to your favorite device, be it a mobile device, PC or console.  First up is the legendary Logitech lightspeed wireless technology that offers a low-latency connection to any device that is compatible with the USB dongle.  The second option is to connect via Bluetooth, which is great for consoles and mobile phones, and tablets. When it comes to the audio, the Logitech G435 is fitted with 40mm drivers, which might seem on the smaller side, but thanks to Logitech and their great tuning, punches way above its actual weight and delivers solid and strong mids and highs while maybe sounding slightly weak on the bass tones, having more dense earcups might help give the bass some more kick.  A new feature of Logitech headsets is the inclusion of beamforming microphones.  fitted to the left earcup the beamforming microphones are not quite in the league of the Blue voice boom mic that the G Pro X headsets are fitted with but they do a respectable job nonetheless.  The microphones that are fitted within the earcups do an admirable job of picking up the wearer's voice even in partially noisy environments.     On the outside, the Logitech G435 features an embossed G435 on the right ear and the expected Logitech logo on the left.  Furthermore, all the controls are on the left ear.  Working from the top of the left rear earcup rim, we have  LED to indicate power status as well as power on or off.  Right below the LED is the actual power button that, when pushed gives you an audio tone to show that it is on or off.  Moving further down is the volume up and down controls which do take control of your device's main volume when adjusted.  Last but not the least, there is a mute button which, when pressed and held, also activates an ear protection mode which ensures that the G435 max volume is limited to a point where no hearing damage can be caused when used for extensive periods of time.  The Logitech G435 charges via a USB-C cable and Logitech claims that battery life should be good for a respectable 18 hours of use.     The Logitech G435 is extremely lightweight and that is wonderful for those who plan to wear it extensively.  But it comes with a flipside.  Being light generally causes the item to feel less durable.  Logitech has proven that their products are very capable of standing the test of time and torture.  The G435 does feel more fragile than some other headsets but if treated correctly I don't see it falling apart without some heavy-handedness.  

Performance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2x2zLgSi6Y   Coming from my personal G Pro X headset, it took some time to get used to the extremely light G435.  After some time I had to feel and check if the headset was still there.  It is extremely light and the clamping force is near perfect making you feel like you are not even wearing a headset.  I spent significant time watching series on Netflix and playing Life is Strange: True Colours as well as some fast-paced shooter action in the form of Warzone.  The Logitech G435 handled most audio situations really well.  When watching quieter scenes from movies and series the voices would carry really well while the low bass would not muddy the crystal clear mids and highs.  Life is Strange is already an extremely engaging game and thanks to great audio it pushes the immersion even further.     When I was playing Warzone by myself I found myself actually hearing the other players better with the default audio settings of the G435.  As it is aimed at mobile and ease of access across platforms the G435 does not utilize the GHUB in any way, so what you get out of the box is what you get.  Fortunately, that is still very good.  What I really appreciated about the G435 is how even though it only boasts a 40mm driver it is able to distinguish between explosions and gunfire without losing some of the quality and becoming very muddy.  The microphone while clear, does bleed a little bit of background noise but nothing to be concerned about.  My teammates did say I sounded significantly further away from my mic when speaking, although comparing it to the Blue voice microphone on my G Pro X is not a fair competition.  The Logitech G435 does not come with any form of surround sound technology which is no problem, many games are designed to give directional audio even when using a stereo headset so it is no deal-breaker!  The Lightspeed wireless is as always top-notch, with great range and easy connection, and even walking to the room next door to take a much-needed restroom break, the G435 never skipped a beat!   Bluetooth is just as reliable and has a really strong connection which I never had a problem with.    

Verdict

The Logitech G435 is a modest entry to a mid-range wireless headset that has its eyes firmly set on being more lifestyle-friendly with a modest design and super lightweight allowing for extended use.  The extreme lightweight does make the G435 very comfortable to wear but I would have liked to see slightly more padding around the earcup as well as the headband.  The Logitech G435 does also come in three color options, the one we have is the black and neon yellow accents.  There is also Off-white and Lilac and Blue and Raspberry.  A modest price tag of around the R 1 499 mark makes it a fair bit cheaper than the likes of the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 Gen 2.  The Logitech G435 does lack a surround sound feature but it is more than capable of jumping from work to play and even a gaming session with friends, without skipping a beat.  Very capable audio makes the G435 a very competitive all-around headset for someone who is looking for a headset that needs to be able to do it all!    

Special thanks to Logitech South Africa for the review content

 
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Logitech G335 – Review

Logitech has long been renowned for making some of the best peripherals around. And is seen by many as the flagship in many categories.  In recent years the Pro-range has quickly made its name as arguably the best peripheral line-up for the serious player and many esports professionals.  This alone should show that Logitech is clearly doing something that gives the esports professionals the edge.  If you are not the competitive gaming type.  And you are looking for an exceptional wireless gaming headset, the Logitech G733 is the only headset that comes to mind. Sporting a sleek and attractive design, mixed with great comfort and exceptional sound and battery life.  It is only understandable that Logitech would want to keep with the magic that the G733 has brought.  And that is why they now bring us the Logitech G335.  We were lucky enough to get our hands on a set and we took a look, here is what we found.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErvB8vEDoo0

Design

    The Logitech G335 takes nearly everything that makes the G733 so wonderful and simply adds a cable and removes some RGB.  This might sound terrible for those who love to have a rainbow radiating from their headset.  Fortunately, Logitech replaces it with some very funky color options.  For those who are not familiar with the wonderful wireless G733, just like the Logitech G335, the headset has a very bold design with very attractive oval-shaped earcups which has great curvature.  The headband is something that truly made the G733 so comfortable and similarly, the G335 has a removable and adjustable headband strap.  The headband makes the already lightweight G335 feel even lighter as it does not rest on only one or two places on your head but a wide, comfortable band across your whole head.  This is a feature that I wish ALL headsets would adopt.     The earcups are still adjustable by means of a slider on the earcup itself which is discretely adorned with the very famous "G-symbol" as well as the G335 name slightly higher up.  The boom microphone sits on the left earcup and is very easy to move down and adjust to a perfect position.  Controls are also at a minimum with only a volume roller that is also situated on the rear side of the left earcup.  The earcups are made from a very light and breathable foam which works great with the extremely lightweight and breathable G335.     Since the Logitech G335 is so extremely lightweight it is easy to think that the build quality might not be great.  The G335 is made from very lightweight hard plastic and with a rather small frame it is easy to think that the G335 might not be able to withstand extensive and regular use.  Fortunately, Logitech has become synonymous with sturdy and reliable products and the G335 is no different.  The lightweight and flexible plastic that is used in the G335 actually allows for it to sit comfortably on nearly all head types.  With just enough clamp force to sit comfortably but not hurt after long sessions.  The earcups do not have the leatherette finish like the G Pro headsets.  The extremely soft memory foam does a great job of creating comfort while not creating heat which can be a problem if you use leatherette earcups.  The earcups are big enough to comfortably cover all types of ears and are deep enough to allow most ears to not touch the drivers.  Since the Logitech G335 is near-identical to the already-lightweight G733, with only the wireless feature missing, the G335 comes in at a mere 240g.  That is a staggering 38g lighter than the G733.  

Audio and Features

    At a price of touch over R1 000 when it launches, and a design and build quality that is top quality, there must be something that had to take the back seat during the creation of the Logitech G335.  Was it the audio quality?  Well, that is a tricky one to answer, and here is why.  The Logitech G335 is fitted with Logitech's 40mm drivers.  Many of the higher-tier headsets are all fitted with the more powerful 50mm drivers.  Due to this, the sound is not quite as punchy as you might expect from a bigger driver headset.  Luckily, Logitech is great at tuning its audio drivers to fight against much bigger and more powerful drivers, and the G335's 40mm drivers are no different.  The audio is very crisp and clear in the mids and highs.  The bass is a little lacking but that is partly due to the lightweight plastic that is being used as much as Logitech needed to find a happy medium where the mix between highs, mids, and lows, often one of the three needs to be sacrificed. On the feature side, the Logitech G335 is a little barer, but understandably so for a budget headset.  The G335 does have a flippable microphone that can be muted by simply flipping it up since there is no mute button on the cable or headset.

Verdict

The Logitech G335 has had me change my opinion of it numerous times while writing this review.  The main reason for this is the fact that it is really tough to put the G335 in a category.  If you see it as a gaming headset category then it might feel bareboned and not quite able to keep up with pricier and beefier headsets.  I think the G335 belongs in the lifestyle section as it is a very easy plug-and-play headset that is perfect for entry-level gamers as well as non-gamers who simply need a decent lightweight headset that is perfect for extended sessions of use.  The super lightweight build will be very attractive to some but personally, I prefer having something more substantial in weight.  The audio that is focused more on the higher spectrum is great for online meetings and casual shooter games but might remove some immersion when playing RPG's etc. For these reasons, I think the Logitech G335 should be very high up on anyone's list when looking for a budget-friendly headset that is still capable of delivering a satisfactory audio experience when you want to just straight out of your Zoom meeting and into a lobby of Warzone with your buddies.    

special thanks to Logitech South Africa for the review content

   
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ASUS TUF AX5400 Gaming Router – Review

The Internet has come a long way, when I was but a wee-fella internet was something that only the rich family member had, and to access it you would need to unplug your phone, yes the corded one, that many of you might not know.  For those who do, the fond dial-up noises will forever be etched into our minds and hearts, and the endless wait as pictures would render line for line.  Oh, those were the days... Since then, a lot has changed, long gone are the days of dial-up speeds.  We are now in the age of gigabit line speeds to the home, and if you are not yet using at least a 20Mb Fibre line you are slightly behind the times.  Along with the leaps and bounds advancement of the internet so too the hardware that allows us to access the internet.  Routers are no longer just a little box with lights on them that allows us to get to the internet, oh no, they are seriously involved pieces of technology that is nearly as involved as a computer themselves.  ASUS sent us one of their "gaming routers" and we just had to see whether or not it makes a difference, let us jump straight in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6giZjw7ofZM

Specifications

Model TUF-AX5400
Wi-Fi Technology Dual-Band AX5400
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs 2×2 AX Up to 574Mbps
5GHz Wi-Fi Specs 4X4 AX Up to 4804Mbps
Backward Compatibility 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
AP Mode Yes
Mesh-ready Yes (AiMesh)
Channel Support 20/40,80/160MHz
Gigabit Ports 4x LAN, 1x WAN
Multi-Gig Ports None
Link Aggregation Yes (WAN and LAN)
Dual-WAN Yes
Parental Control Yes
Built-in Online Protection Ai Protection
USB 1x USB 3.0
Mobile App Asus Router
QoS Yes
Processing Power 1.5 GHz tri-core CPU, 256 MB Flash, 512 MB RAM
Dimensions TBD
Weight 600g
Antennas Six (non-removable)
Gaming Features Open NAT Dedicated Game Ports QoS
 

Design

    Much like the internet, the look of routers has greatly changed, from the little box with a few lights flashing on it, to monsters that have beefier processors and specs than the computers of the past have.  Not only have the internals changed tremendously but so too have their designs.  The ASUS TUF AX5400 showcases the gaming-inspired design with a very aggressive design, that features many sharp lines and edges while having a spaceship-like look and many ventilation holes.  Don't forget the six, yes six, external antennas that adorn the rear side of the router.  The ASUS TUF AX5400 would not be "gaming-certified" without some form of RGB.  That comes in the shape of the TUF logo, placed on the top of the router which can be controlled via the ASUS router app. Apart from the TUF logo on the top, down the left side, there is TUF GAMING written in black, so as not to be too excessive with the branding.  The standard router light indicators can be found right at the bottom front lip nearly tucked in underneath a fold of the router. The days of trying to hide your routers out of sight and mind are long gone, with elaborate designs such as the ASUS TUF AX5400, they are clearly made to be seen.  

Hardware

    The ASUS TUF AX5400 features a 1.5GHz tri-core CPU and 512MB of RAM.  This is more powerful than my first PC come to think of it...  This power allows the ASUS TUF AX5400 to be able to perform well even on congested networks.  The Dual-Band WIFI 6 radio can manage speeds of up to wifi6 with ease.  The ASUS TUF AX5400 features one of its four LAN ports as a dedicated gaming port.  This port will take priority over all the traffic going through the ASUS TUF AX5400 router.  This means, simply plug in your gaming platform of choice and connect it to that LAN port, and no one else in the house will be able to hog your bandwidth.  ASUS has also decided, much like their more expensive motherboards, to use metal-shielded ports, not only does this improve stability it also reduces interference across ports. The USB port that is on the ASUS TUF AX5400 is not only for the usual firmware updates.  No, it can also be used for file sharing via WiFi, printer sharing, and even USB 4G modems can be plugged into it and used via the ASUS TUF AX5400 router.  And for all those MacOS users, TimeMachine backups can be done through the ASUS TUF AX5400.    

Gaming features

    As the design, and plethora of antennas suggest, the ASUS TUF AX5400 is a gaming router, therefore it should have gaming features, right? Right!  If you are a fan of mobile gaming, and you might need to squeeze a little more out of your connection, the ASUS TUF AX5400 features a mobile game booster via the ASUS Router App.  When this is active the router will prioritize and optimize the connection for the connected phone.  This will mean reduced ping and better stability, hopefully, meaning more Wins for you!  If you are a PC gamer then the AdaptiveQoS is the profile you want to be using.  It will, like the other settings mentioned above, help to optimize connection and latency for gaming connections specifically.   Don't fret or fear console users, the ASUS TUF AX5400 features an OpenNAT feature that will definitely make many console users smile.  OpenNAT type is often a thorn in many console gamers' sides but thanks to ASUS, those strict NAT type days are over!  

WiFi Performance

    The ASUS TUF AX5400 is a very capable router on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz.  What does set it apart, even more, is the fact that it features  160Hz channels.  This might not be that impressive just yet due to not many devices being compatible with 160Hz but on paper, it should make about a 16-20% improvement on your WiFi speeds, which when downloading or uploading massive files, will make an enormous difference.  The performance on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz is terrific although 2.4GHz is old technology and should only be used for smart home devices.  Keep your consoles, PCs, and phones on 5GHz wherever and whenever possible. If you have a large house and a single router is not capable of covering your whole house, the ASUS TUF AX5400 has AiMesh, this means it can wirelessly link with other AiMesh routers to form a link and extend your range.  However, the AiMesh feature is limited to only other ASUS products with the AiMesh functionality

ASUS Router App

The ASUS router App makes the use of the ASUS TUF AX5400 so much easier and simplistic.  Setup is a breeze and should take even the most technologically challenged a mere 10 minutes at most.  There is no longer the need to log in to your router via a PC.  You can now simply pull out your smartphone and hop on to the ASUS Router App and see and change whatever you need to.  Want to change the RGB on the router, want to active mobile gaming mode for your specific mobile phone, or do you simply want to see who is hogging your bandwidth.  The ASUS TUF AX5400 and the ASUS Router App give you access to all of that with one application. The ASUS router app can also help protect the young ones from either too much internet time, or from stumbling onto something that they should not.  Thanks to AiProtection you can have full control over what and how much each device can do while on the network.  A handy category section allows you to place each device into an age-appropriate section which will allow it to have adequate blocks and time limits applied to it.  

Verdict

The ASUS TUF AX5400 might be marketed as a gaming router but it is a great router for gamers as well as power users who need a router that can do lots while giving the user the ability to customize nearly every inch of the features that the router provides.  With the addition of 160Hz channels, the ASUS TUF AX5400 is definitely a router that can help you future-proof the near future, at least.  The great features in terms of optimizing and stabilizing connections via WiFi and LAN are something that should have most gamers sitting up, and for console gamers, OpenNAT should have you out the door and ready to buy immediately! And as an added bonus, it looks great while doing all of the above as well... Win-Win!    

special thanks to ASUS South Africa for the review content

 
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Razer Opus X – Review

Noise-canceling headphones are something that you might not realize you need.  With the current climate of everyone working remotely or from home, or even if you are not, and simply have a rather buzzing office environment, it is sometimes nice to zone out and be in your own head with your favorite song. Razer, who is known for the vast range of gaming peripherals, which are extremely eye-catching in design, color, and often, RGB-infused, have never really ventured into the headphone market.  Headsets, yes, they have done many, but never good-old headphones.  The Razer Opus X and its more expensive brother, the Opus, therefore is a new venture for Razer.  Aimed at the mobile gamer, or someone looking for budget-friendly active noise canceling (ANC) wireless headphones.  We were lucky enough to get one to use and play with, here is what we found.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1oKlyKGAzg  

Design and Features

    The Razer Opus X certainly has a more down-to-earth design with its circumaural earcups, minimal design ars that allow the earcups to swivel.  Being made from plastic with a top headband made from protein leather, the Razer Opus X  certainly does come in extremely light, weighing a mere 270g. With 270g on your head, you will hardly notice the lightweight Razer Opus X  on your head which makes them perfect for long sessions of wearing.  The headband is not very broad but is wide enough to provide a solid build and feel while having nine notches of size to accommodate even the biggest of heads.  The very soft and comfortable protein leather earcups sit extremely comfortably and even though the earcups themselves seem rather small, they fit surprisingly comfortably and long sessions are actually effortless.     The Razer Opus X, earcups are deep enough that most users won't have any problems with ears touching the drivers, which is a problem that many headsets face when they try and be as sleek and slimline as possible.  These earcups house the 40mm drivers that might not be tuned for audiophiles like its older and more expensive brother, the Razer Opus is, but what it also lacks, unlike the Opus is a hefty price tag.  The Razer Opus X is for the person who is looking for good noise-canceling headphones without breaking the bank, and still, looks stylish while doing so.  The Razer Opus X features four microphones in total, two are used for active noise canceling, the other two are for voice chat.  The chat microphones on the Razer Opus X are acceptable, but they are by no means a replacement for a headset that features a dedicated boom or retractable microphone. The Razer Opus X has all of its controls limited to the right earcup.  Along the edge, you will be met with four marginally protruding buttons.  These are volume up, the multifunction button in the middle, and volume down next to that.  The power button is separated from the other buttons by a small LED indicator.  The Razer Opus X is charged by USB-C which is located on the same earcup but more forward-facing.  The power button doubles as the ANC toggle, when pressing the power button a voice will tell you ANC on, ANC off, or ambient on.     The Razer Opus X being fully Bluetooth 5.0, has another nifty feature in the form of QAM which, with a press of a button, allows you to filter in outside ambient sounds allowing you to hear what is happening around you.  Always handy if your significant other is calling you to fetch your gaming snacks.  Razer has also included a low latency gaming mode into the Opus X which did not make the cut into the normal Opus.  Gaming mode gives you better gaming latency of a mere 60ms. One of the big issues that many people have with wireless headsets is, often, bad battery life.  The Razer Opus X can give a very solid 30 hours of battery life with ANC on, and get to 40 hours with ANC turned off.

Performance

    We put the Razer Opus X through its paces with a few shows on Netflix and a host of playlists on Spotify.  Straight out of the box, the Razer Opus X equalizer settings were pretty decent with the bass being punchy enough while not having the mids become muddy or losing the highs.  I was also impressed that during mostly dialogue sections of series or movies the Razer Opus X kept the voices to the front and clear and when the action erupted it never felt that the voices got lost or overwhelmed.     If the standard settings don't quite suit your ears, Razer has an Audio app that you can download that allows for the equalizers to be adjusted to your heart's content.  The app also allows you to toggle the ANC on and off without having to finger around to find the correct buttons on the headset itself.  

Verdict

The Razer Opus X is more lifestyle orientated than many of Razers' louder and in-your-face designs and therefore might attract customers who want the features that Razer gives but wants to attract less attention.  The Opus X does still feature bright colors but no RGB and minimal design is a definite plus.  The ANC features and good battery life is another great plus point. The only noticeable issue is that the Razer Opus X is aimed to be a mobile headset and the swivel earcups make it easy to pack or carry around your neck but unfortunately the headband does not fold. At the price point, there are not many good-quality headphones that have the ANC feature as well as decent battery life.  Being extremely lightweight the Razer Opus X is nearly a no-brainer for most users looking for a headphone that can double as mobile gaming headphones while also being great for those pesky Zoom meetings, but also great when you need to escape the mundane office drone.    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive and Razer for the review content

 
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Logitech G923 Wheel & Pedal – Review

The world of Sim Racing has never quite been on our radar, we knew it was a massive group of die-hard "car game" fans that buy overly expensive rigs with pedals and wheels that are more expensive than their houses, and we kind-of left it at that.  When Logitech asked us if we would be interested in reviewing the Logitech G923 Wheel and Pedal, we were naturally intrigued to see how intense these tools really are and if they can make you THAT much better than what a seasoned controller driver such as myself, could be.  So when the box arrived we eagerly opened it and got it all set up.  While we do that, take a look at the video below...   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jig6uShQkgk  

Design & Features

  The Logitech G923 is the successor to the extremely popular and capable G29/G920.  If you are a owner of the G29 or G920 it is understandable that you might be skeptical of making the move from your current setup for something, that at face value, doesnt seem that much different.  On the outside the Logitech G923 features all the same premium quality materials.  The extremely plush leather in which the steering is wrapped, the strong, sturdy and perfectly sized metal paddleshifters, the buttons are pefectly spaced while the inlay of the wheel is mostly brushed metal with some plastic inlay.  The flat bottom steering wheel is a nod to many sportier car brands and gives you a wonderful feel of being fast, accurate and true. Apart from the wheel and paddleshifters, the wheel also features the standard YBAX buttons for Xbox, LSB and RSB buttons are placed on eith side of the centre of the wheel and they feel much like the "NOS buttons" that are so popular in the Fast & Furious franchise.  + and - keys are placed on the left bottom and the return button, with dial around the outside, to the right.  These two round buttons feel like they take quite alot of inspiration from a very popular german car brand, which is never a bad thing.  When turned on the new Logitech G923 also features a LED rev indicator which is a nice touch.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bMzOxkW-yU   The Logitech G923 wheel can be attached to a counter or rig with a suprisingly strong clamp that can be clamped and then tightened and fits nearly all, reasonably shaped, tables or desks.  The cables that go to the foot peddles, as well as the gearshifter, are all loose and enters a neatly routed area where they can be fitted and closed up tight.     The racing peddles are big and solid, which is what you need, as they might take some serious beating during the course of a really intense race.  Consisting of a large, rubberized base with all three of the pedals, not only a stop and go like non-purists use.  These pedals are fully metal with rubber blobs on them to keep your favourite racing slipper ( see what I did there)  from from slipping off the brake or accelerator at the worst possible time.  Aesthetically, the pedals are identical to the G29/920 that came before it except this time around, the brake pedal now has a progressive spring that will get firmer the harder you slam on the brakes.  

Performance

The biggest leap forward with the Logitech G923 is the addition of TrueForce.  What TrueForce is, in Logitech terms, TrueForce connects directly into the in-game engine, processing up to 4000 times per second.  This uses the actual real-time physics and audio and pushes that back as real world experiences through the Logitech G923 steering wheel.  A simple example would be, when you start up your car, and place your hand on the steering wheel.  There is a slight vibration, a little nudge from your car to tell you its there and ready.  TrueForce captures this, and when at full tilt, flying though the Scottish highlands in Dirt 2.0, pushing your Ford Fiesta rally car through its rev range, that orchestral delight of the engine singing can be felt as vibrations through the steering wheel.  With TrueForce you truly feel that the car is no longer just a object moving on a screen but you feel connected and invested.     The only slight drawback is that all of this vibrations do make a slight racket.  And a second fallback, not of the Logitech G923's own making, is the lack of TrueForce support at this time.  GT Sport, Assetto Corsa Competizione, Grid and Dirt 2.0 is some of the very few titles to currently support TrueForce.     I found the pedals to be equisite! The clutch felt great and although I did prefer to not use it I found the fact that the clutch would take differently on different cars to be a wonderful touch, both from the wheel and Dirt 2.0.  The throttle peddle, much like expected provides the least of feedback through the actual but is the cause for nearly all the feedback throughout the rest of the Logitech G923.   The real magic comes in the brake pedal with a progressive spring that stiffens as you put more weight on it, much like the hydraulic force that builds on a real brake pedal.  This was once again evident when I took the Ford Escort or Mini for a few spins from the classic era of racing.     Once again, Logitech, with its GHUB partners wonderfully capable hardware with a very robust software.  The Logitech GHUB is very easy to to understand and setup, and the features of the Logitech G923 can easily be adjusted within it.  Keybinds can be changed and other features like TrueForce can be turned off.

Verdict

For someone who loves car racing, gaming, but weirdly, doesn't LOVE racing games, I had mixed feeling about the Logitech G923 when it arrived at my desk.  Yes it is the next in a line of steering wheels and pedals that are revered as the best you can get, but I was not convinced that forking out a significant wadge of your hard-earned monies quite equates to the value that a steering wheel setup could bring.  I mean, surely, my controller and some skill behind the sticks could do just as well as this?  Boy oh Boy was I wrong.  The Logitech G923 is a stupendous steering wheel that will give those who are truly interested in putting their racing experiences into the next dimension. Not only can you now see where your car is, you can now use more than just your visual senses to establish exactly where you are placing those wheels.  Are you going to hook around this corner thanks to those deep ruts from the racers before you?  The moment you dive into the corner the TrueForce will give you the precise feedback of whether or not you are going to set a new fastest sector or whether the marshalls shoulds bring the winch. The only two downfalls that the Logitech G923 might pose is the price, which, compared to full-blown racing sims, is only a drop in the bucket, but for the casual gamer, it is still much more expensive than a simple controller.  Secondly, the lack of TrueForce supported titles right now, yes Logitech cannot force developers to use the TrueForce but they can hope, and after experiencing the wonders it can bring, I certainly hope more developers do choose to take advantage of it. If you are a car game enthusiast that is considering getting into sim racing but not sure where to dip your toes, the Logitech G923 is the where you need to go!    

Special thanks to Logitech South Africa for the review content

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Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 – Review

When it comes to styling, some might argue that Porsche has the best design team out there.  Taking a classic look and constantly tweaking it to make it look totally different while yet looking so familiar.  Porsche cars are a perfect mix of style and performance and when they partnered with AOC to create the Porsche design monitors it is only logical to expect a gaming monitor that combines the style and performance you would expect from a Porsche car, and blend it perfectly with the superb quality and performance of AOC.  When you are looking for mid to high-end monitors, most brands tend to change up their designs as the price increases.  The way they do this is generally with the aesthetical appeal so in the case of monitors they will use some fancy stand or add in RGB  which might have you sitting with something that comes from an expressive art class. Porsche Design and AOC had a very clear idea in mind when they designed the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 monitor.  Porsche design is driven by a passion for purist design and an understanding of the symbiosis between form and function.  It needs to capture attention and focus people's gaze.  This was evident in the design of the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27.  Let's take a closer look at the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 that not only has an extremely attractive design but has just as impressive a list of features... Shall we go for a ride? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZN5KGa_KsA  

Specifications

Panel Type / Backlight VA / W-LED, edge array
Screen Size, Aspect Ratio & Curve 27 inches / 16:9
Curve radius: 1000mm
Max Resolution & Refresh 2560x1440 @ 240 Hz
AMD FreeSync Premium Pro: 48-240 Hz
Native Color Depth & Gamut 8-bit / DCI-P3
HDR10, DisplayHDR 400
Response Time (MPRT) 0.5 ms
Brightness (mfr) 550 nits
Contrast (mfr) 2,500:1
Speakers 2x 5w, DTS-tuned
Video Inputs 2x DisplayPort 1.4
2x HDMI 2.0
Audio 3.5mm headphone output
USB 3.2 1x up, 4x down
Power Consumption 34.6w, brightness @ 200 nits
 

Design

With any item that is co-created and designed by a brand as renowned as Porsche Design, the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 instantly has your attention drawn to the very unique stand.  Made from metal, and carrying quite a hefty weight, Porsche Design and AOC wanted the stand to remind us of a roll cage that is fitted to racing cars.  While the stand, which is permanently fixed to the monitor, which means no mounting the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 to a VESA mount, is wonderful and a joy to look at, it does take up substantial space on a desk with a deep footprint of over 30cms. The rest of the monitor has a brushed finish and is proudly adorned with the Porsche Design logo on the front.  The bezels of the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 are a mere 8mm.  On the rear at the right, there is a single joystick that is the single control for all the features and settings that can be found on the monitor.   Not only does the chrome-plated stand provide much of the eye-candy factor of the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27, but it also allows gives it a strong base to stand on.  The stand allows for great ergonomics.  The monitor is able to move up and down within a range of 15 cm.  The monitor is also able to tilt 23degrees while swiveling 150 degrees.  What makes these movements more impressive is exact, and the perfect amount of resistance these movements offer.  I have yet to find a monitor that is as perfectly weighted as the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27. To many gamers' delight, the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 even features some RGB.  Around the pivot of the monitor, there is RGB lighting as well as a Porsche Design logo that is projected down between the feet of the stand.  Naturally, the RGB can all be customized via the onboard settings.  

Performance and Features

  Much like the Porsche cars, the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 has some serious tech under the "hood".  It boasts a 1440p VA Panel that is good for 240Hz, is capable of a 3000:1 contrast ratio, Adaptive-Sync, and HDR.  If that mouthful doesn't impress you then maybe the very aggressive 1000R curve and a 0.5ms response time, will.  The Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 comes with two Display Port 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 ports.  The HDMI's will only give you up to 144Hz as is standard for HDMI 2.0 and if you want to take the full function of the 240Hz goodness you will need to connect via DP1.4.  The HDR10 and blur reduction are also only supported over the DP1.4 ports and will be good for up to 240Hz.  The Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 also features a 3.5mm audio jack as well as five USB 3.2 ports, one for upstream and the other 4 for down.  As if all of that is not enough there are also two, rather powerful, 5W DTS-tuned speakers built into the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 monitor.  Although I am sure these will hardly ever be used. With VA panels you are guaranteed to get great colors and brightness but often at the expense of overly bright blacks, with the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27, this is not the case.  During our time spent, we played quite a bit of fast-paced games such as Rocket League, Warzone, and Biomutant, as well as other, more gritty and dark titles like Escape From Tarkov and Days Gone. Compared to many of the other monitors we have reviewed in the past, the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 is the only one that comes to mind, where when turning on the HDR, that we did not want to, or have to change any settings.  Normally we would need to play around with some of the settings to get it to the way we like, but the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 has its settings perfectly dialed in, to our liking at least.   Colorful games such as Biomutant and the vibrant and fast-paced Rocket League look splendid with the rich contrast really making games look stunning.  The strong curve of the 1000R panel does wonders for immersion.  This is boosted more by the fairly capable 5W speakers and an extremely robust equalizer accessible via the OSD.  Thanks to the DTS tuning the speakers are able to create a fuller sound and thanks to some phase effects, even surround sound approximation sounded decent with plenty of bass while keeping voices crystal clear. AOC implemented a feature called backlight strobing which should help with smearing especially when it comes to fast-paced titles and running them at 240Hz.  We had to research this whole idea a bit before we attempted it and what we found was that at lower refresh rates, basically everything below 200Hz the MBR feature did a great job of keeping things crisp and clear but moving toward the 240Hz there was noticeable smearing happening.

Verdict

The Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 can easily be labeled as a case of  "style over substance" but you would be so wrong.  Yes, it carries a hefty price tag, and you could get a very capable 32-inch monitor for the same sort of money.  But what the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 is is an extremely well-styled monitor, that is more of a feature in a gaming setup than just a monitor.  Yes, we could get a 32 inch for the price, would it look as impressive as the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27? It most certainly would not. The Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 has been winning in our books on looks alone, and to MANY people, 27-inch monitors are a perfect size, so if you take the perfect sized monitor, with jaw-dropping aesthetics, and squeeze a spectacularly curvy VA panel into it.  Give it buttery-smooth 240Hz capabilities all at 1440p with HDR, there is very little I can say to deter you from this monitor! In summary, the Porsche Design AOC Agon PD27 is arguably one of the best premium gaming monitors around with nearly no downside to speak of.  If a stylish monitor, that is capable of looking good while performing wonderfully, then this is the monitor you need to showcase on your desk.    

special thanks to AOC South Africa for the review content

 
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ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark HERO Motherboard – Review

The X570 chipset motherboards have been around for quite some time since the Ryzen 3000 series actually.  Although it has been around for a while, it is capable of handling even the latest Ryzen 5000 processors, all thanks to a simple BIOS update.  The ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero motherboard is the latest iteration of the X570 chipset board.  Although ASUS has released a Crosshair VIII Hero in the past, the latest version of it has taken what everyone loved about its predecessor and improved on the power, cooling as well as colour accents that is mentioned in the name. Obviously, with the ability to work on the new Ryzen 5000 series processors, it was very nice of ASUS to send us the monstrous Ryzen 9 5900X which is a 12 core 24 thread monster.  We are not reviewing the 5900X in this article but here is the start for both the Ryzen 9 5900X as well as the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLRTl2SvsU4  

Specifications

Ryzen 9 5900X Specifications

Processor AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
Market Desktop
Family Zen 3
Part number(s), S-Spec 100-000000061, 100-100000061WOF
Release date 2020 Q4
Lithography 7 nm FinFET
Cores 12
Threads 24
Base frequency 3.7 GHz
Turbo frequency 4.8 GHz
Cache memory 64 MB
Max memory capacity 128 GB
Memory types DDR4-3200
Max # of memory channels 2
Max memory bandwidth 47.68 GB/s
Max PCIe lanes 20
TDP 105 W
GPU integrated graphics None
Socket AM4
Maximum temperature 90°C
 
ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero Specifications
CPU Support: AMD Ryzen™ 5000/3000/2000 Series desktop processors
Power Design: CPU Power: 14-phase Memory Power: 2-phase
Chipset: AMD X570
Integrated Graphics: Dependent on installed CPU
Memory: 4x DIMM supports dual-channel DDR4-4866 (OC) MHz
BIOS: AMI UEFI BIOS
Expansion Slots: 3x PCIe 4.0 x16 slots (x16/x0/x0 or x8/x8/x4) 1x PCIe 4.0 x1 slots
Storage: 8x SATA 6 Gb/s port 2x M.2 port (SATA3/PCIe 4.0 x4)
Networking: 1x Intel I211-AT 1x Realtek RTL8125-CG Intel WiFi 6 AX200
Rear Ports: 1x Clear CMOS button 1x BIOS flashback button 1x Optical SPDIF out port 2x LAN (RJ45) ports 8x USB 3.1 (Gen2) ports 4x USB 3.1 (Gen1) ports 2x Antenna ports 5x 3.5 mm audio jacks
Audio: ROG SupremeFX7.1 surround sound high definition audio CODEC
Fan Headers: 8x 4-pin
Form Factor: ATX Form Factor: 12.0 x 9.6 in.; 30.5 x 24.4 cm
Exclusive Features:
  • 5-Way Optimization tuning: TPU Insight, EPU Guidance, DIGI+ VRM, Fan Expert 4, and Turbo App
  • Aura Lighting Control
  • MemOK! II
  • AI Suite 3
  • Ai Charger
  • ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
  • Armoury Crate
  • Pre-mounted I/O Shield
  • OptiMem II
  • ASUS EZ Flash 3
  • ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
  • BIOS Flashback® Button
  • Clear CMOS Button
  • Reset Button
  • ASUS Q-Code
  • ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
  • ASUS Q-Slot
  • ASUS Q-DIMM
  • ASUS Q-Connector
 

Packaging and Quick Overview

  The packaging is as expected for ASUS ROG, utterly premium.  Inside the box, you will naturally find the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero motherboard with a host of many other goodies.  Apart from the needed documentation and driver CD, there is the newly designed WIFI antennas, 6 SATA cables, a large ROG sticker, Q-connector to make the pesky case IO plugs more bearable to plug in, extension cables for both RGB strips, as well as addressable LEDs, a really good looking coaster because we all need refreshments while gaming, a package with a few screws for your M.2 drives and last but not least, a ROG Thank you, Card. Taking a closer look at the newly refreshed ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero, we do notice a few changes, albeit very subtle and slight, they do give the latest version a very classy and refined update.  Small changes have been brought to the new ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero like the heatsinks now are ribbed and the beautifully brushed black is centered by the ROG logo that lights up with RGB from behind.  The IO heatsink now also has ROG on it which also lights up with RGB.  The IO shield, which is usually loose and often a nightmare to get aligned or even worse when you realize you forgot to install it, is now fixed into place.  Even when running in "stealth mode" as ASUS calls it, with no RGB, the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero fits perfectly into nearly any build that does not favor a white build.  

Taking a closer look at the board, we see much like the Z590 board we previously reviewed, the 8pin power plug is situated to the left top, next to it is the (optional) 4pin.  The ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero has four RAM slots, with a maximum capacity of 128Gb at overclocked speeds of up to 5100, we did not get brave with our Corsair Vengeance Pro RAM and we decided to stick to the sweet spot of 3600MHz.  Right above the RAM slots, there are the first three fan headers, they are marked CPU_OPT, CPU_FAN, and AIO_FAN.  The fan headers on the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero are all clever enough to recognize if they have a DC or PWM fan attached.  Just to the right of these, there is the Q-code LED display that will display codes that can be used to diagnose POST issues or BOOT issues, fortunately, we did not experience any such issues.

Moving further right we find the first set of ARGB and RGB headers, the other set is found at the bottom of the board.  These can be used for LED strips etc.  Next up is the reset button, followed by the 24-pin ATX connector, some voltage measuring points follow below for those who want to do some onboard measurements.  Right underneath these is the front panel USB port which is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C header.

Starting at the bottom left of the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero we find the audio that is powered by premium SupremeFX 7.1 audio codec with a bunch of premium components that I, personally, don't know much about but when doing research about them, I can only find that they are considered very premium.  For the vast majority of users, these premium sound components will be more than adequate.  The ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is also fitted with three PCIe 4.0 slots and supports AMD CrossfireX 2/3/4 and Nvidia 2-way SLI.  The ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero also features two M.2 sockets.  One is situated above the top PCIe slot and the other sitting just to the right of the bottom PCIe slot.  The top slot does however support PCIe 4.0 while the bottom only supports PCIe 3.0.  Both of the M.2 slots are covered by heatsinks which both serve to keep the drives cool as well as make them nearly invisible as the heatsinks seamlessly blend into the very dark design of the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero.

On the right end, there are eight SATA ports, the front panel USB3.2 Gen 1 header, and a case fan header.  Below that is the ROG water-cooling header zone.  Two 2-pin temperature sensor headers, 3-pin flow rate, and a 4-pin dedicated water-pump header.  These headers all send info to the AI suite software so that you can check everything from flow rate to coolant temperatures in your custom water loop.  Along the bottom of the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero, there are a whole bunch of buttons and headers, is the front panel audio plug, more 4-pin fan headers, Safe Boot button, TPM header, the second set of ARGB and RGB headers, Node header, two USB 2.0 headers, and the system panel header.

Finally moving to the rear IO.  Most noticeably is the plethora of USB ports.  With a staggering 12 found on the rear IO.  Eight of these are USB 3.2 Gen 2 ( 1 x Type -C, 7 x Type-A) and four more USB 3.2 Gen 1.  There are also 2.5GbE Realtek and 1GbE intel ports and dual connections for the WIFI antenna.  Audio comes in the form of five analog plugs and the SPDIF.  Lastly, there are two buttons, BIOS flashback, to return to default BIOS settings and clear CMOS button.

Gaming Performance

We paired the already stupidly powerful Ryzen 9 5900X and ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero with the very powerful ASUS ROG Radeon RX6800 GPU which performs wonderfully together thanks to AMD's new technology allowing AMD CPUs and GPUs to share bandwidth for even better performance.  The games that we used to do our benchmarks were:  Metro Exodus, Battlefield 5, and the ever-present Shadow of the Tomb Raider.  We tested everything at 1080p resolution and all settings at preset maximum.  

Metro Exodus

Average FPS ( higher is better) -  125 FPS

Battlefield 5

Average FPS ( Higher is better) - 149 FPS

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Average FPS (higher is better) - 189 FPS

Verdict

The ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is the first X570 board we have tested, actually, it is also the first time we have reviewed an AMD-based motherboard.  So our verdict is less about how it compares but more about how we found the experience of using it as well as how the stats and spec compare to other similar boards out there.  From an aesthetic aspect, the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is an absolute beaut, it is perfect for PC gamers and builders who want a premium motherboard, that provides features galore while keeping its styling and RGB to a minimum and a stealth look.  Features on the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is splendid and with the support for Ryzen 5000 series and the AMD features that come with having an AMD CPU and GPU do make the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero even more of an attractive prospect. The software of the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is another thing that does make it rather exciting.  When we reviewed the z590-E board we had our doubts around ASUS BIOS as that was our very first time using it, but once we got the hang of it, and even more this time around we simply love how it simply works.  Many people have complained about how one might struggle with certain boards to get them to do what you want them to.  With the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero, we had no such issues.  Using the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero in its default settings is also one thing, but even when we started tweaking with speeds and frequencies and power settings, the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero never skipped a beat and simply kept on performing. Saying the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is the best X570 board is impossible as we have not reviewed nearly enough of them nor have we reviewed many AM4 boards at all.  What we can say is that the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is probably the AM4 board we would love to have ourselves, and sending this monster back will certainly be a terribly sad day.  Over the course of the next few months as the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero sees more consumer use and feedback, we will truly be able to see how good it is, but with the new design for the Hero-board, we have no doubt that it will cement its spot as one of the truly memorable motherboards in the ROG stable.      

special thanks to ASUS South Africa for the review content

 
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ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI – Review

ASUS is arguably one of the best gaming brands around and their ROG Strix range is an even more sought-after range than most.  With the launch of Intel's Rocket Lake Chipset (11th Generation), it is expected to see nearly every motherboard maker release a Z590 board.  We were fortunate enough to receive the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI board, and thanks to ASUS they sent us a 11900K along for the ride.  Intel has promised many amazing new features coming with their latest generation of processors and thanks to the board makers, like ASUS, these features will be obtainable by the masses by the Z590 series boards. The ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI board slots into the range at a middle-high end motherboard with a couple of models placing above the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI within the ASUS range, although ASUS says that this board is as capable as all that is placed above it. This being our very first review of a motherboard, bear with us as we try our best to give you our opinion on the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdSeg28kUrg  

Features

  • Ready for 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processors & 10th Gen Intel® Core™, Pentium® Gold and Celeron® Processors
  • Optimal Power Solution: 14+2 power stages with ProCool II power connector, high-quality alloy chokes, and durable capacitors to support multi-core processors
  • Optimized Thermal Design: VRM and aluminum I/O heatsink, L-shaped Heatpipe, four onboard M.2 heatsinks, and an M.2 backplate for the PCIe 4.0 M.2 slot
  • High-performance Networking: On-board Intel® WiFi 6E AX210 (802.11ax) and dual Intel® 2.5 Gb Ethernet with ASUS LANGuard
  • Best Gaming Connectivity: Supports HDMI™ 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 output, four M.2 slots, as well as USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 USB Type-C®
  • Intelligent Control: ASUS-exclusive tools AI Overclocking, AI Cooling, AI Networking, and Two-Way AI Noise Cancelation to simplify setup and improve performance
  • DIY Friendly Design: M.2 Q-Latch, pre-mounted I/O shield, BIOS FlashBack™, Clr CMOS button, Q-Code, and FlexKey
  • Unmatched Personalization: ASUS-exclusive Aura Sync RGB lighting, including RGB header and Gen 2 addressable headers
  • Industry-leading Gaming Audio: ALC4080 with Savitech SV3H712 amplifier, along with DTS® Sound Unbound and Sonic Studio III
  • Renowned Software: Bundled 60 days AIDA64 Extreme subscription and intuitive UEFI BIOS dashboard with integrated MemTest86
 

What's in the Box?

    In true ASUS ROG fashion, even the way the z590 board is packaged is of the highest quality and with a few extra goodies crammed in for good measure.  The user manual is accompanied by a set of stickers which has a vast assortment of sticker options to suit anyone's needs.  A clever SATA cable indicator sticker is perfect if you have many SATA devices and are not sure which one is for which.  Nice touch!  A CD with drivers is also included, although we wonder how many people actually still have disc drives in their PCs these days.  ASUS clearly expects you to have a beefy GPU to go with your new beefy motherboard, and that is why a ROG branded GPU stand is also included!  ASUS even includes four SATA cables, two of which are 90-degree connectors.  These always come in handy if you are trying your very best to build neatly, but four SATA cables for a motherboard that can take six, strange. You will also be greeted by a 40mm fan, no this is not a mistake, it is an extra fan that can be attached to your ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI board to assist with some extra cooling, we preferred to leave it in the box.  The WIFI antennas, which do not need to be connected if you can get decent enough reception from where you are situated, have been cleverly designed.  With the new design, it does not need to sit on top of your case or stand on your desk.  It can now neatly sit at the back of your case and hardly be noticed if you so desire.  

Close-up look!

    Having a Z390 board in my personal gaming rig, the biggest gripe I had with it the fact that the second 6-pin connector is situated just below the CPU slot which means there is no "neat" way of feeding the cable to it.  With the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI board, and I expect with all newer generation boards, both the power plugs, which is now an 8-pin and 4-pin, are situated nicely at the left top of the motherboard.  I would personally suggest plugging them in before installing the board into your case, especially if you have a smaller case as they are tough to get to once installed, but they work wonders if you want to build neatly.  Next to them, you will find a fan header for the 40mm VRAM fan that we mentioned earlier Moving to the right-hand side there are two more fan headers, a CPU OV jumper that can be used if you are a brave builder and want to overvolt your brand new CPU.  Next to that, there is the standard addressable RGB header that is part of the AURA setup.  Moving down the right-hand side of the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI board the standard 24-pin ATX power plug is where it usually is.  It is partnered by two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 for your case front-end needs.  Although the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI board comes with a plethora of USB ports at the back it is very handy to have high-speed USB capabilities at the front of your case.  Further down there are the six SATA ports that we mentioned earlier as well as a couple of fan headers.  As always, in the corner is the brain-meltingly frustrating front IO plugs.  With some other models of ASUS ROG boards, they provide a connector so you can plug the fiddly pins in where you can see them and then plug that connector into the motherboard.  This should be a damn industry standard!  There is also a W_PUMP+ header for all your liquid cooling pump needs.  Two USB2.0 headers have seen a new lease on life in recent times due to so many RGB systems using those headers.  Two more headers for RGB strips can also be found at the bottom.    

What about the back???

The beautifully styled rear IO of the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI board features an HDMI 2.0, Display port 1.4, USB 3.2 Gen 2, USB 3.2 Gen 1, twin Intel I225-V 2.5Gb Ethernet ports, and the antenna connectors for the 802.11AX WiFi 6E.

 

Gaming

When ASUS sent us the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard, they were nice enough to send the Intel 11900K I9 CPU, as well as an RTX3080 so we could properly test the whole setup.  So for review purposes, we used the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard, with the 11900K, with 2x8Gb Corsair Vengeance Pro 3200MHz RAM, RTX3080, Fractal Design 850W platinum rated PSU, and a Muskin 240Gb NVME M.2 drive, all of this was paired with the ASUS TUF 32'' 1440p 144Hz monitor.  We used Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and Far Cry 5 as our games of choice for testing. All games were tested at High settings and 1080p as Ultra settings destroy the performance vs visuals on many occasions.  

Far Cry New Dawn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyFi7hN3teI ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard Minimum FPS - 117 FPS Average FPS - 153 FPS Compared to other high-end Z590 boards the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI compares on par with all of them even beating a few by the odd frame here and there.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYtyeqVQnRI ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard SOTR bench test does not provide an average FPS reading Average FPS - 176 FPS The ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard does perform the worst in this title compared to the list of other motherboards we researched but literally only by 1 FPS.  At such a high FPS count, 1 FPS will literally not be noticed.  

Metro Exodus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1jIoOIdf0M ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard Minimum FPS - 74 FPS Average FPS - 152 FPS Once again the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard might lose out to its higher-end siblings by only by a handful of frames, in a demanding title such as Metro Exodus the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard does truly show its worth and especially its value vs performance.

Conclusion

Let us assume that you have decided that you want to go with Intel and their latest 11th Generation of CPUs.  This means that you are naturally looking for the best the Z590 range of motherboards has to offer without breaking the bank or having to donate an organ.  Although the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard is not the cheapest in the range from ASUS it certainly does make a strong argument as to why you would need anything more?  With the dark design and very styling and less in-your-face RGB options and an extremely appealing blue and purple colour scheme, the aesthetic appeal of the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI cannot be argued!  Whether you want minimal RGB or none, the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI motherboard is so good looking you don't need RGB. With the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI not being the most expensive in the range, it's only normal to think that some features might have been left out to cut costs and this is not really the case.  You will still get 4 x M.2 slots of which two are PCIe 4.0 compatible. 3x PCIe x16 slots of which two are PCIe 4.0.  There is a wide array of USB connectors and more fan headers you could possibly need.  Although we did not have RAM to test the ability of the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI to support RAM up to speeds of 5300MHz is another massive point to the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI for simple future-proofing for DDR4 RAM. The only possible negative that we can find for the ASUS ROG Strix Z590-E Gaming WIFI is the price tag, but like we have said regarding ROG products and their prices.  They are some of the more expensive brands but for good reason, considering the quality and performance, you will receive from them.  Another exclusion that might get some people slightly upset is the lack of Thunderbolt 4 ports.      

Special thanks to ASUS South Africa for the review content

 
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ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 – Review

Life has become one big rat race, and with hardware demands for the newer titles, you either need a rather beefy PC, or you need to resort to either mobile gaming or a gaming laptop.  I can hear many of you groaning already.  We all know that laptop CPUs and GPUs might carry the same name and moniker that their PC brothers do, but not all CPU/GPU is equal when it comes to laptops. Fortunately, ASUS has delivered, arguably the monstrous ASUS ROG Scar 17, that will easily have you dumping your now "average" gaming PC and make this laptop your new pride and joy!   Thanks to ASUS we were fortunate enough to spend some time with the ASUS ROG Scar 17.  Let's take a bit of a closer look at the next gaming laptop we all NEED!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxL3PrcqQWw   When ASUS sent us the ROG Strix Scar 17 gaming laptop we had absolutely zero histories with gaming laptops so we did some research and what we found had us grinning like a kid at Christmas.  The ASUS ROG Strix Scar range of gaming laptops are all-out gaming machines, that take zero shortcuts and have their eyes firmly set on hardcore gamers, content creators, and more specifically the esports scene.  With the idea of aiming to provide the greatest gaming performance in a laptop, naturally, you will need the best mobile components which all cost lots of money, therefore the ASUS ROG Strix Scar range is not cheap, at all! Before we get too far into it, let's have a look at the specifications.  
CPU AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 16GB GDDR6, 1545MHz boost clock, 130W TGP
Memory 32GB DDR4-3200MHz
Storage 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
Display 17.3 inch, 1080p, 360Hz, IPS
Networking 802.11ax Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 3x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x RJ-45, 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x 3.5mm combination microphone/audio jack
Battery 90Wh
Power Adapter 240W
Operating System Windows 10 Pro:
 

Design

  The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 looks on the outside much like it does on the inside, futuristic and immensely capable.  Before we take a look at the actual laptop, even the packaging that I come in just screams that it means business.  Taking it out of the box you are met with a large imposing laptop.  on the lid, a large part of it has been given a dot matrix design which is both aesthetically pleasing while certainly providing much-needed cooling to the display.  The other half of the lid has a fingerprint-resistant matte black finish with a shiny ROG logo adorning it.  Moving down to the hinge section, on the part that does not have dot matrix on it, you will find ROG inscribed in it, just in case you didn't know that it is an ASUS ROG laptop.  Even the dot matrix design, if you look at it at the right angle, says ROG! The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 loves to flaunt all it has and hence all the aggressive designs.  Along the side, you will find a myriad of vents to cool the colossus of a computer lurking inside.  In the box, you will also find end caps that you can place on the hinge that read "ROG" if you want to customize your ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 somewhat more. Opening the lid of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 greets you with a rather contrast inside.  The one side continues with the matte black design while the other does remind me a bit of when semi-transparent gaming consoles or controllers were popular.  The semi-transparent cover does give the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 a very industrial feel with a few rivets that can be seen directly under the plastic.     As we all know, ASUS ROG STRIX is not shy to give their products RGB, and the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 is no different.  There is a light strip at the bottom of the laptop,  unless you get more eye-level with the Scar 17 you will not see it directly but that is the whole point.  The RGB strip is bright enough to create the much-wanted Aura effect ( see what I did there ASUS ;)  ).  When testing it on a polished surface or any reflective surface the effect is wonderful, but even on less shiny counters it still did its job really well.  The RGB does not stop there with some RGB positioned closer towards the hinge as well as that shiny ROG sign that sits on the lid, yes that bad boy is fully RGB infused!     The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 however does leave out the webcam from the wide arsenal that it does have.  This can be forgiven as the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 is aimed at the gamer and to be the muscle behind a content creator's magic, and besides, onboard webcams are generally not that great and if you are a streamer, chances are you have a camera that you prefer anyway.  The ports and ports layout is spread across the left and the back of the laptop.  The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 comes with 3 x USB3.2 ports of which two are on the left and one is on the back.  There is also one USB 3.2 type C port as well as an HDMI 2.0 connection and last but not least, an RJ45 ethernet port.     Towards the right front side of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17, there is a curious little slot that caught my eye from the moment I opened the lid.  After some reading and scratching through packaging, I found an interesting keystone.  This keystone uses its RFID chip to lock or unlock certain drives that you might not want to be used or found when you are not with your laptop.  By simply inserting the keystone these drives will become visible once more.

Display

    The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 that landed on our desk was the FHD 360Hz version, which on a 17-inch display, would be the better choice in our opinion.  Such a small screen surface makes even 1080p look amazing and with 360Hz this is a gamer's dream!  It is necessary to mention that the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 screen brightness does not quite match a normal monitor but when turned up all the way we didn't find it to be too dark.  During darker gameplay or videos the video did seem slightly washed out at times but for the most part, and especially during vibrant games such as Biomutant and Overwatch the display was fantastic and really made the game look vibrant and bright! High framerate displays sell themselves to all those who are looking for an edge over the competition.  Personally, I have been gaming on 144Hz for quite some time and when the 360Hz of the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 came around I had my doubts whether it would truly make that much of a difference.  It is safe to say that if your hardware is capable, like in the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 then 360Hz will give you a sure edge and make games feel more engaging due to the fact that on-screen elements react so quickly and smoothly to your every input.

Keyboard and touchpad

    ASUS is clearly focusing on the esports player, current or aspiring with the Scar series of laptops.  Apart from the eye-melting 360Hz display gamers and content creators alike always needs a top-tier keyboard that is responsive yet comfortable.  ASUS easily addressed these demands by pairing the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 with an optical-mechanical keyboard that has a soft matte touch finish which is the perfect blend between crisp and responsive clicks while making it very pleasant to touch.  The keys that are rated for 100 Million clicks have a response time of a blistering 0.2ms all thanks to the optical switches makes these keys breathtakingly fast considering that they are in a very flat laptop setup.  The full travel distance on these optical-mechanical keys is still only 1.9mm to try and preserve as much of that lovely tactile feel. The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 keyboard also features a few media keys and a few function keys that are pre-assigned to adjust things like RGB styles and a few more nifty features.  Moving over to the touchpad, for gaming, ANY trackpad is absolute rubbish and if you play games with a trackpad please excuse yourself now.  But if you are doing some productivity or you need to do some content creation, the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 does have a very large touchpad that is less smooth than what I would expect.  But after using it I realized that that is exactly what makes it so good, more friction means more control. Well played ASUS.  Naturally, ASUS makes full use of the multi-touch functions for zoom and scrolling which makes using a touchpad a very pleasant experience.

Battery and heat

  The dreaded words to any gaming laptop.  In an ideal world, we would have an all-powerful laptop that runs at cool temperatures for weeks on end...  Unfortunately, we don't live in that world, and in our world high-performance laptops run very hot and run through battery life like it's no one's business.  The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 has a respectable battery life when using it watch videos at full brightness and some general productivity mixed with some Warzone we got roughly 3:30 out of a single charge.  Comparing this to other gaming laptops it ended up being quite middle of the field which is not good nor bad.  For the majority of the time, I am sure serious gaming will happen around a power outlet so hardcore gaming will generally not happen on battery unless Eskom has something to say about that. We put the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 through its thermal paces by repeatedly running the Division 2 bench test at max settings and after the 5th run, we took a touch test around some general spots that could be warm or even hot on the laptop.  Moving from the touchpad, which was hardly noticeable to the center of the keyboard where heat was felt when touching around the center of the keyboard, to the warmest spot we could find, the underside, around the area where the power button is.  The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 runs rather cool even during load that to the multitude of heat dissipation pipes and even the exhaust air coming from the laptop was never too hot either.  Wonderful once again from ASUS!

Audio

    Audio has always been a tricky thing to implement properly into a small form factor like a laptop.  physics proves that to make a big sound you usually need big speakers, and small laptops do not allow for those.  So when I turned on a Spotify playlist to put the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 through its paced with audio, I was very surprised with the wide audio stage as well as how punchy the mids and lows were that was emanating from this laptop.  After the pleasant surprise, some closer investigation was needed.  There are two bottom speakers that play downwards as well as two front-facing speakers that are cleverly hidden deep into the hinge mechanism and unless you listen for them you won't see them.  These hinge-placed speakers are designed to include their own subwoofers giving the deep and punchy bass considering their size. The audio that comes from the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 extremely good considering that it comes from a mere laptop, but it would be good to note that the sound, even when at max volume is not the loudest, but then again, if you are using onboard audio from a laptop you are not expecting it to be the music source of a house party.  But that being said the audio, while not the loudest does allow all the small details to come through especially when I was playing games like Days Gone, the rustling of the wind, and the growls of far-off zombie hoards were distinctly, yet eerily heard.

Gaming

Naturally, we had to take the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 for a spin with some games, we had to put the 360Hz monitor to its full potential by diving into a few games and seeing how it holds up.  We also put the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 through the mandatory TimeSPY bench test and we have the results to share with you.  The games we used to test the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 with are Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and Horizon Zero Dawn.    

When taking the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 into games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and Horizon Zero Dawn which are all very demanding games are easily handled by the extremely capable Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU, its 8 cores and 16 threads that idle at 3.3GHz and boosts to a staggering 4.6GHz is almost unheard of when it comes to laptops and it effortlessly handles everything you throw at it.  To put it into perspective a vast majority of PC CPUs are less powerful than this laptop processor and that, in all honesty, is very scary! Combine the 5900HX and 32Gb of DDR4 RAM clocked at 3200MHz and as if that was not scary enough all of that is topped off with an Nvidia RTX3080 laptop GPU that has a staggering 16Gbs of VRAM.  If there were any doubts of what this monster is capable of the numbers and specs should send shivers through your spine.  Time to put this beast to the test and see how the 360Hz monitor handles it.  Let us take a look.

Metro Exodus

  1080p, RTX on, DLSS on, DX12, Ultimate settings   FPS - 74FPS  

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

  DX12, Highest settings   FPS - 107 FPS  

Horizon Zero Dawn

1080p, Ultimate settings   FPS - 94 FPS   Although this is a small sample to test, these titles are all extremely demanding and for the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 to be able to push out 60+ FPS on titles that are known to bring capable PCs to their knees is a testament in itself.    

Verdict

Nothing we do or say is going to make the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 any cheaper, and that will be what makes or breaks this item for many.  But if you are someone who wants a premium gaming rig, that can easily be put in a bag and be taken with you then this is the ultimate gaming-on-the-go laptop you can find.  It is the price of a full-blown PC indeed but it can also perform just like one!  With the CPU, GPU, RAM, and NVME combo there is hardly anything that the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 cannot do.  Pair it with its industrial, but flashy, design and ASUS has found the perfect combination of enough flash to talk the talk and enough hardware grunt to walk the walk Bottom line, there are not many gaming laptops that can give you what the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 can, and for that, we recommend it to any aspiring, current, and future esports and content creators.  If you are willing to bite the bullet and build a gaming PC, there is no reason you shouldn't buy the ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 and take your gaming monster with you.    

special thanks to ASUS South Africa for the review content

 

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ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC Edition – review

  When Nvidia announced and launched their 30 series graphics cards, they had all the gaming audience firmly focused on their products, and as the whole crypto mining happened, and miners basically emptied the physical and virtual shelves of all 30-series cards, no one took any particular notice of AMD and their newest 6000 series cards.  We were exactly the same.  Until ASUS sent us the very formidable Radeon RX6800 in the very very attractive ROG STRIX-guise with a slight OC straight out the box.  With impressive numbers such as 16Gb of memory and boasting PCIe 4.0 support as well as 4K UHD capable at a price tag that, in the current climate is cheaper than the RTX3070 and boasts double the memory...  Makes the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition a very appealing piece of kit.  We spent some time with this beast and this is what we found.  

Specifications

Here we can see the obligatory specification sheet comparing the Founders Edition (FE) card compared to the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition card.  There is usually not much that third-party companies can do apart from playing with the design and the clock speeds.  As shown in the spec sheet the cards are virtually the same apart from an 85 MHz boost clock speed gain on the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition card.
GPU Radeon RX 6800 ROG Strix Radeon RX 6800 OC Edition
Shading Units 3840 3840
TMUs 240 240
ROPs 96 96
Compute Units 60 60
Boost Clock 2105 MHz 2190 MHz
Memory Type GDDR6 GDDR6
Memory Size 16GB 16GB
Memory Bus 256-Bit 256-Bit
Bandwidth 512 GB/s 512 GB/s
Effective Memory Speed 16 Gbps 16 Gbps
Bus Interface PCIe 4.0 x 16 PCIe 4.0 x 16
Additional Power Connector 2 x 8-pin 2 x 8-pin
TDP 250W 250W
Recommended PSU 650W 650W
  Before we jump into real-world performance and how the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition stacks up against the RTX2080 that we have in our system normally, and the RTX3080 we reviewed previously, we are looking at what is in the box!

Unboxing and Design

  For those who are not aware, ASUS, whether it be ROG or TUF, has impeccable packaging, arguably the best I have ever experienced, and the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is no different.  Unlike the motherboards, graphics cards usually don't have many extra things inside the box apart from the card itself.  Inside the box, you will find the card itself, some loose pamphlets, a trading card, which is a nifty trinket to have and flex with, and some ASUS branded cable straps that do come in handy. The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition features the same beefy heatsink and three-fan design that most newer ASUS cards, be it Nvidia or AMD.  Before we go any further it is important to note that ASUS calls this card a 2.9 slot card, but for all purposes, it is a three-slot monster that measures a whopping 320mm long.  What this means that if you are a fan of compact builds or you are running a small mid-tower case you might struggle to squeeze this monster into your case if you have a front-mounted radiator, as we have. With a card of this size and considerable weight, sagging is something to be expected.  Fortunately, ASUS has come up with a solution.  They have a metal frame that is located between the cooler shroud and the PCB to try combat gravity, and it does a rather good job of it.  We prefer to use a small screw on the case to screw the card into the rear and providing some more support as to not hurt the stupidly gorgeous ASUS ROG Strix Crosshair VIII Dark Hero motherboard that we are also reviewing.     The triple fan configuration, just like we saw on the ASUS TUF RTX3080 we reviewed, has the center fan spinning in opposite direction to the outer fans to reduce turbulent airflow which provides better cooling while keeping noise levels at a minimum.  Upon further inspection we found the ROG Strix fans to feature more fins on the fans compared to the TUF version.  This makes for more air to be able to be pushed through the massive heatsink resulting in even better cooling performance.  ASUS did have some fun with these cards.  On the bottom of the card, there are coordinates printed, when searched these coordinates take you to the ASUS headquarters in Taiwan.  A nifty nod to the factory for their hard work.     The side of the card has an RGB light strip that runs along the side of the card, facing outwards.  There is a single ROG logo on a silver plaque in the center.  The RGB strip is not too brash and bright but is bright enough to be noticed.  Personally, I am not much of an RGB fan so the fact that the RGB can be turned off either in the armory crate software on in the BIOS is wonderful.  Moving to the back-side of the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition we are met with the power connectors.  The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition will need, at least, a 650W power supply and it will require two 8-pin PCIe power connectors.  The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is rather power-hungry with a rated TDP of a whopping 250W.  Back to the front of the card, neatly tucked away is the dual bios switch allowing you to run the card in either Q mode ( quiet mode) or P mode (Performance mode).  Naturally, this switch should stay in the P mode...     The overall look of this card when installed is wonderful, thanks to arguably the best-looking top plate, featuring the signature ROG emblem and the new open-back heatsink design allowing for massive cooling improvements while still keeping the ASUS ROG Strix sleek and attractive look that ASUS has become so renowned for.  When it comes to the way to connect to the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition card the immediate omission would be the USB Type-C.  This might be a bummer for some but fortunately, you will still get one HDMI 2.1 port and three Display Port 1.4 ports that should cover all your connection needs.  

Smart Access Memory (SAM) & FidelityFX

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kmp_rW4cl38   For those of you who are true AMD fans, you would be aware of the latest technology that AMD is so very excited to push.  It is called SAM, Smart Access Memory.  What SAM does is, if you have an AMD Ryzen 5000 series CPU, paired with an AMD Radeon RX6000 GPU, gives the CPU full access to your GPU bandwidth.  What this means, in the most basic terms is that latency is greatly reduced which will see a great boost in performance when it comes to gaming.  AMD claims that if you are fortunate enough to have both of the above requirements you should be able to see between 3-15% performance improvement over the Nvidia RTX 3080...  granted, you will probably not have both cards to be able to compare them but to me, this seems like AMD's answer to Nvidia's DLSS solution. AMD is full of new technology at the moment and they are very happy to announce their way to fight the giant that is Nvidia when it comes to GPUs is FidelityFX.  Take a look at what this means for gaming in the video below.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoqvJWNaUqI   AMD's newest addition is FidelityFX which features a plethora of new features that comes with the RX 6000 range of cards.  Amongst the many options and additions that FidelityFX brings, Super Resolution uses new upscaling features to boost framerates in certain titles.  Contrast Adaptive Sharpening, Ambient Occlusion, Variable shading, screen-space reflections, and Denoiser.  I am not going to dive too deep into all of these features as there are only a limited amount of titles that support it.  But it is worthwhile to keep an eye on because this will be what takes the fight to Nvidia in the near future.

Temperatures

Much like the RTX3080 that we reviewed previously, we found that the new cutout design that the newest generation of cards, from both manufacturers, makes a massive impact on the cooling and operating temperatures of the cards.  Idle temperatures, on the, P Mode setting, were always around the 30'C mark which is a couple of degrees lower than what our own RTX2080 would idle at.  When it came to running the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition under load is where the real surprise came.  During testing games that saw our Ryzen 9 5900X reach temperatures in the 80'C region, the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition still performed at a chilly 50'C.  Granted, the 5900X is a real monster and runs hot by nature, comparing the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition to the RTX2080 saw an average temperature difference when going between gaming titles of easily 10 - 15'C.  The only massive difference would be that the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition fan curve would hardly be spinning the fans at those temperatures where our RTX2080 would be spinning rather rapidly by those temperatures ( call us temperature conscious when it comes to our personal kit ) So for anyone who is trying to build a rig with minimal airflow and/or an extremely quiet build then I would highly recommend the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition as the cooling that ASUS has built into this card is simply fantastic!  

Performance

We put the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition through its paces in a couple of demanding titles.  The titles ranged from Direct X 12 games like Division 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, and Control.  Games were tested in 1080p and 1440p, due to no 4K monitor being available to us we had to research results for those tests but we will only briefly mention them. Thanks to ASUS we could test the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition with, and without Smart Access memory, thanks to the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Dark Hero with a Ryzen 9 5900X CPU, so tests will also feature stats for SAM on and SAM off.

Division 2

  1080p - 154fps 1440p - 110fps 1440p (SAM) - 110fps  

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

1080p - 170fps 1440p - 125fps 1440p (SAM) - 124fps 1440p (ray tracing on) - 64fps  

Metro Exodus

  1080p - 100fps 1440p - 85fps 1440p (SAM) - 90fps 1440p (ray tracing on) - 50fps  

Control

  1080p - 142fps 1440p - 91fps 1440p (SAM) - 99fps 1440p (ray tracing on) - 45fps   As can be seen above that in its current state, SAM does not make enough of an impact in gaming performance to warrant buying the new AMD cards purely for that, DLSS is still more superior and with varied results and no results in other titles, SAM is a step in the right direction and will, probably, very good in the near future.  The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition as shown above is VERY capable at 1080p and 1440p delivering a touch under 100fps in extremely demanding titles like Metro Exodus and flying past the 100fps mark in other titles.

Verdict

The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is an absolute monster when it comes to the spec sheet, it has a massive 16Gbs of memory with an impressive boost clock speed.  Although it lacks real Ray Tracing performance due to the lack of Tensor cores and the current lack of full-blown DLSS competition it still has enough raw power to power through what it lacks by making it up with brute power.  Although we did not have a 4K display to really test it, with some research we found that the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is very capable to give you 60+ fps at 4K with slightly lowered settings and no ray tracing. At 1440p the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is an absolute monster and it blows the RTX3070 out the water, even with ray tracing enabled.  If you are willing to give AMD a chance to develop their FidelityFX super-resolution then the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is a very capable card that fights in a bracket below the RTX3080 and cleans the floor in that department.  It might be on the slightly pricier side right now but what GPU is not in the current climate?  The fact that ASUS has given it the full ROG treatment with the massive RGB strip on the side and the very appealing bottom design makes you truly want to vertical mount this monster to take in all the ROG goodness.

Pros

BEAUTIFUL PCIe 4.0 support amazing cooling performance 16Gb memory AMD ray tracing  

Cons

no DLSS (yet) no USB-C not for small build enthusiasts   The ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition is a no-brainer for someone who does not quite have the budget to get the titan that is the RX6900XT but still wants a top tier ROG card from team RED.  Give AMD some time to develop a proper DLSS competitor and the ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX6800 OC edition will be an absolute beast that will give nearly all the 30 series cards a go thanks to its pure raw performance power.    

Special thanks to ASUS South Africa for supplying the review content

 
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Razer Huntsman Analog V2 – Review

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQPdhwr9OSY Mouse and keyboard is arguably the best gaming input device for the majority of gaming genres.  They can range from dirt cheap to organ-selling prices and what they will always lack, is the one key feature that controller players love to brag about, until now... For as long as we can remember controller joysticks have been able to provide fun assertive and, mainly, analog input.  Razer has decided to take the best the controller has to offer and add it to a keyboard.  Thanks to this we now have the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog.  For those who do not quite understand how an Analog input differs from usual digital input,  Analog makes it capable for you as a player to use one key, for example, the W, to both slow walk, run, and sprint, all depending on how far the key is pressed, much like a joystick will do the same by how far the stick is pushed forward. So we spent some time with the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog and really enjoyed our time with it until we saw the price tag...  

Design

The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog replaces the outgoing Razer Huntsman Elite, which sits firmly in the high-end section of the keyboard world.  It features all the premium features, with premium design, spectacular media keys, and dials, and premium price, mostly due to its optical switches.  Where the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog really shines and differs from the outgoing Huntsman Elite, is the obvious move to analog switches, as well as a rather unexpected wrist rest. For most, a wrist rest is something insignificant and extra creature comfort that, if you have the extra cash, it's something you might get.  Personally, I tend to usually not use the wrist rests on the keyboards that I review.  But unlike the previous wrist rests from Razer, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog version is by far the plushiest one they have made.  Razer has also decided to go with a bezel-less design which makes the rest seem much more sleek and minimal, which for me is always a win.  The wrist rest is stuffed a decent amount and is firm enough while still providing a soft and comfortable feel.  Spending significant time typing on the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog, I really appreciated the wrist rest as the wrist fatigue is definitely limited thanks to it.  The wrist rest attaches to the main keyboard via magnets which also serve as the power connection for the RGB strip that runs around the sides and bottom of the wrist rest.     The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog features a USB3.0 passthrough that is situated on the left shoulder of the keyboard.  This is nothing new, but it is a very handy feature.  This does however cause the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog to have two non-detachable braided cables coming from the keyboard itself.  One of these cables is a USB cable and the other is a USB-C, but if you do not have USB-C on your motherboard, do not fret, Razer supplies a USB-C to USB-A converter in the box.  The double cable does mean cable management is a bit more of a chore and possibly binding both cables in one loom might have been the better play here by Razer but still no real train smash.     Just like the previous versions of the Huntsman, and the Blackwidow Elite, the media keys are still a wonderful addition to this keyboard.  Personally, I feel the media keys are a deal-breaker for me.  If the keyboard doesn't have it, it needs to do a rather good job of impressing me because I simply LOVE the option to change your volume with a dial on the keyboard, and/or skip to the next song on your playlist right there and then without having to find the correct tab.  The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog media keys do feel extremely premium.  The volume wheel is made from some metal and is textured enough to easily grip while having enough resistance to not be accidentally bumped and turned.  The rewind, play/pause, fast-forward and volume/mute keys are exceptional, near perfection,, Razer has even given them RGB, the only problem is that the signs on the buttons are not illuminated by the RGB causing you to have to memorize them.  A small oversight, to an otherwise perfect media key setup. Speaking of RGB, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog much like the whole Razer catalog is extremely pro-RGB and the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog with the RGB on the wrist rest does wonders to give the sometimes harsh Razer RGB a softer yet still very bright look.  The PBT keycaps are double-shot and with their slightly textured finish do not allow for grease and fingerprints to appear as other keyboards do.  The bright RGB and PBT keycaps all provide for a wonderful environment and with the aluminum top plate is brushed slightly to resemble the same finish as the keycaps and the finish does cause some RGB reflection which I, personally, like.  

Analog Optical switches, and how they Perform

 
Switches Razer Analog Optical
Lighting Per-key RGB
Onboard Storage 4 profiles (no RGB)
Media Keys Yes
Interface USB
Cable USB Type-C, plus USB Type-A for USB passthrough
Additional Ports 1x USB 3.0 passthrough port
Key Caps Doubleshot PBT
Software Razer Synapse
Dimensions (LxWxH without wrist rest) 17.53 x 5.52 x 1.71 inches
Extra USB-C to USB-A Adapter
    The biggest thing that needs to be understood is the difference between digital and analog.  Basically, digital signals separate small signals that can be put together to make a full signal, where analog on the other hand is one continuous signal.  So in our case, most keyboards use a digital input which is as simple as is the button pressed, yes or no.  With analog switches it is no longer, is the button pressed, it is, is it pressed, if yes, how far is it pressed.  This is what makes joysticks and triggers on controllers so much better when you are driving a car for example where you can feather the throttle or brake and steer and correct with smaller increments compared to a digital keyboard where you can accelerate 100% or take the foot off the gas pedal, those are your two options on digital, 0% or 100%. In the Razer Synapse software, you are able to set the keyboard to work like the functions of an Xbox controller.  When starting up games, the game will even pickup as if a controller is connected.  Like with Ubisoft connect, the play option will have a green A icon next to it like when a controller is connected.  Although analog switches have been done before Razer has improved on this significantly by coupling it with their optical switches.  This means that when a key is pressed the light travels down a triangular opening in the switch's stem.  The further the key is pressed the more light is picked up by a photosensor and this way the analog signal is created and interpreted by the software.     The analog goodness doesn't stop there, Razer allows for the actuation points for the keys on the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog to be individually adjusted.  This means you can set each key to be activated anywhere from 1.5mm all the way to 3.6mm at 0.1mm increments.  The amount of force needed for a 1.5mm actuation is a mere 54g where the full 3.6mm travel comes in at 74g of pressure.  Once again the Razer Synapse software is fantastic at showing you just how far you have pressed the key by way of a live graph, that does unfortunately not show actual mm representation but it is still a great idea from Razer. The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is also capable of having two different keys assigned to one key on the keyboard.  The only downfall to this whole feature is that the game that you are playing needs to support mouse/keyboard and controller input otherwise the assigned key that you have now assigned to the joystick feature, will simply not work at all.  This means that the analog advantage is only available in games that support this feature and this is a possible hurdle for the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog at launch especially.    

General Gaming and Software Features

  The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog's key feature, being the analog switches, was tricky to use as not many games actually support the feature.  But even for general gaming, the fact that you can set your actuation and reset distances on each key does already offer a big advantage.  Especially since the keys can be set to activate at a mere 1.5mm of travel, which gives you 0.5mm less travel to most Cherry switches, this means that you will be able to get your press in faster than you would on a different keyboard.  To us mere mortal gamers this might not be much but for the top tier Pro players that 0.5mm difference might be the difference between winning and losing. Razer Synapse is one of the best software out there, with a few coming close in certain departments but as a whole, Synapse blends, ease of use with great looks, and very powerful features.  As expected, Synapse allows you to assign custom functions to any key, including the media controls.  The list of functions is nearly endless as you are even able to assign programs to launch to certain key presses.  Hypershift allows for another set of assignments to each key.  The amount of custom assignments you can make to the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is quite literally limited by your memory as there is no way you will be able to remember all the keys you have re-assigned.  The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog has five onboard profiles of which four can be accessed on a different PC without having to install Synapse.  

Verdict

    The biggest thing that needs to be mentioned is the hefty price tag of the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog.  Hovering around the R5000 mark at the time of writing, this is a massive price to pay for "just a keyboard".  But this is where the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog really pulls out all the stops to justify the price.  Giving you the premium build quality that has become synonymous with high-end Razer products.  A splendid wrist rest that will be a staple feature for anyone who plans on using the keyboard for some work and typing between gaming.  Wonderfully textured and double-shot keycaps and an impressive list of software features.  Did I mention my favorite media controls... An extremely large chunk of the price will naturally go towards the Analog switches which is great, but you need to be aware that, if your game of choice does not support the needed controller feature then many of the features that make the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog truly wonderful, might be lost until it is supported.  So if you are sure that you will make full use of the wonderful optical analog switches then maybe steer clear. But for the advanced gamers among us, who know that they will make full use of the numerous and wonderful features that the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog and the Razer Synapse software brings to the party The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog destroys what is expected from keyboard technology and moves the goalposts a good few meters further for all future keyboards.  But it would be amazing if it did not destroy the wallet quite as much in the process.      

special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

 
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X-Gamer Hyper Berries – Review

Life is draining and tiring and we all need a little kick and boost and the go-to substance for that would be a good strong cup of coffee, and if that does not do it, there is a whole string of energy drinks.  These energy drinks come with a host of names, colors, and even more controversial ingredients.  As gamers, we are all looking for something to give us that boost when we are pushing through that "one last game" phase of the evening.  When reflexes are failing and concentration has become that of a goldfish.  And with us being in the wonderful South Africa, where we do not have the certainty of water, electricity, or GFuel, we are left with a predicament.  Fortunately, there is a worthy replacement, and it is called X-Gamer! X-Gamer is a powdered energy drink that, as the label says, is a focus and energy formula.  What truly sets X-Gamer apart from your general run-of-the-mill energy drinks is the fact that it does not rely on sugar to do the work.  This is one of the main advantages of X-Gamer as it removes the crash that is caused by the working out of the sugar, like the more traditional energy drinks.  X-Gamer caters to all with its host of varied flavors as well, from the traditional flavors such as mango, melon grape, and berry, there is even fruit cocktail and cola, which are known as Hyperbeast and Hydrastorm respectively.

Main Ingredients

After doing some reading and lots of research about how Caffeine and Taurine work we have come to the following conclusion, and we are simply gamers, so don't take our crude explanation as to the final word on it.  X-Gamer has two primary ingredients being Caffeine and Taurine.  Caffeine is a great ingredient to fight fatigue and enhance focus while giving energy and stamina.  Caffeine acts as an adenosine receptor blocker, telling your brain that you are not tired or fatigued. Caffeine is able to stimulate these receptors without affecting your neural activity which means that it will take longer for you to feel mentally fatigued, this means concentration for longer! Taurine is the other compound that is found largely in X-Gamer, and unlike many of the rumors of where and how Taurine is made, it is actually is an amino acid that is known to help sustain energy levels.  Taurine is responsible for creating what is known as bile salts that help to maintain hydration and electrolyte balance.  This is naturally great for people who play sports as well.     X-Gamer has a host of other vitamins and minerals that I am not going to mention in detail but they all play a part in energy levels and maintain hydration.  One of the most notable ingredients however is Niacin which is a vasodilator which means it helps to increase blood flow throughout the body which in turn help the spreading of nutrients around the body helping to keep you feeling better for longer  

Performance

  I am someone who has dipped into nearly every energy drink on the market.  Be it the big names, the little names, the obscure, even the "scientifically proven" ones.  And yes, some of them do work, to a point.  Most of the time, the ones that do work also have a side effect.  The side effect mostly being a big down after it has worked its way through your system.  Either a significant dry mouth or in some extreme cases, headaches.  I put this down to the lack of fluids being taken, when I mean fluids I mean something closer to the good old H2O.  Nearly all energy drinks are carbonated and that is not a good replacement for water.     X-Gamer recommends that you mix two scoops (supplied) to 400ml water, varying the amount of water to adjust the taste.  I started off with one scoop to 400ml of water and later adjusted it to two scoops.  From the very first time drinking it I immediately felt the difference.  Unlike other energy drinks where you might feel a physical "buzz" or sensations, I did not experience anything of that sort, but instead, I did feel more alert.  I found myself to be able to focus and stay focused for longer periods at a time.  This is a great health(ier) option for those who need to put in long hours of work or play. Taking the X-Gamer into a competitive environment the results were satisfactory.  Playing a fair amount of Rainbow 6 Siege, it was only natural to take X-Gamer and see if it would affect the way I play.  And it certainly did, It will not take an average gamer and make them become pro by any means but it will help for a more focused approach and it certainly did sharpen up my decision-making in demanding scenarios.  In a more relaxed environment such as Sea of Thieves, I found that my general attention was better overall and even after the effects had worn off I still did not experience a sudden crash and an overwhelming feeling of tiredness or fatigue.

Verdict

X-Gamer Hyper Berries is a really delicious flavored energy drink that provides the mental boost that can be achieved by other energy drinks while having none of the negative after-effects of those energy drinks.  Consisting of less sugar, and therefore not being the overly sweet monstrosities that other energy drinks often are, It is only logical that X-Gamer has a very strong place in the energy drink market.   X-Gamer won't turn you into an instant pro player but it will increase your level of concentration and leave you feeling fresher for longer which is a win for any gamer who needs to put in that "one last game". With a price tag around the R600-R700 for a tub which will give you 60 servings, if you follow the recommended serving size, that works out to be around R11 per serving.  Comparing that to the prices of canned energy drinks, this is a no-brainer!  

Thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

   
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Roccat Burst Core – Review

Lightweight, gaming mouse, optical switches, and budget-friendly are not normally words that can be found when speaking about one item.  The Roccat Burst Core is here to prove that those words do all belong together! Roccat has introduced its Burst range that features the Core, which we are reviewing today, as well as the Pro version, which features some more pretty-looking RGB as well as some honey-comb weight reduction for an even lighter and competitive product.  Roccat shows why the argument of paying more to get more is not always correct!

Design

The Roccat Burst Core does carry the general design that its more flashy Pro brother has but just turns down the RGB and flashy appeal to provide an even more appealing price tag.  Firstly, as mentioned the Burst has toned down the RGB and has opted to only have RGB on the scroll wheel.  Personally, I like this as I don't like the minimal RGB look.  Unlike the Pro version that has the honeycomb design that allows for more weight to be cut as well as letting the RGB shine through the palm rest area.  The other thing that Roccat has done to cut the price further, is to replace the new PixArt PMW3389 sensor with an older, but extremely reliable PMW3331 sensor.  Lastly, the braided cable on the Pro has been dropped and a plain rubber cable has been installed. The Roccat Burst Core does however keep the shape and construction as well as the Titan optical switches on the main buttons.  Roccat claims that they will be good for 100 million clicks, yes you read that right!  The design and shape of the Burst Core is extremely reserved and will suit every style of grip that you can think of.  Although it can look like an ambidextrous mouse, the side buttons are only on one side meaning, by definition it would be classed as a right-handed mouse.  The outside of the Roccat Burst Core is covered in tiny glossy hexagons to help grip and hopefully reduce slip.  Due to the shape, the added grip is a good addition.     The main buttons are both slightly wider and concave which allows your fingers to move around on them without causing a miss-click and the concave shape lets your fingers naturally return to the center of the button.  The main buttons, featuring those durable Titan switches do feel slightly different from other brands and it might take a few clicks to get used to.  It does feel like the travel on them are slightly longer than the few other optical mice we have tried but the click is a lot more assertive and confident which is very nice.  The inside buttons do a great job of being big enough that you cannot miss them while protruding just enough to be found easily while not sticking out too much to be accidentally pressed, well done Roccat!  I did have a few occasions where I did not press them down hard enough to make them actuate but that is me being used to switching between so many mice in short periods of time.  They do have a fair amount of travel which allows for multiple clicks in a short time. The scroll wheel is the owner of the only RGB on this Roccat Burst Core and it protrudes enough while having a slight but satisfying tactile feedback on its scroll steps.  But the scroll click feels wonderful, I would never have thought that a scroll click could be as satisfying as this one.  There is a large DPI button on the top of the mouse that does exactly what you would expect, change between the preset DPI settings that you can set using the Roccat Swarm software.     The bottom of the Roccat Burst Core features two large skates situated at the front and rear of the mouse.  They are dyed black PTFE with rounded edges.  These skates do a great job of allowing the Roccat Burst Core to move and slide smoothly on a variety of surfaces.  We tested it on two gaming mousepads as well as on a plain smooth wooden surface and it handled all of these surfaces wonderfully.     Although the Roccat Burst Core is an extremely light gaming mouse, it does not claim to be the lightest around.  The Roccat Burst Core comes in at a very respectable 69g, which is already very very light and nimble.  What does make the 69g of the Roccat Burst Core feel even lighter is the fact that the weight is very well balanced making the movement extremely balanced and predictable, which in any competitive environment, makes the Roccat Burst Core a very quick-study mouse and can be picked up and played competitively soon after using for the first time.  

Software and Performance

  Our previous time spent with Roccat products was overshadowed by the Swarm software.  And not in a good way.  Compared to software by some of the other brands, the Swarm software is just not quite there.  It gives you all of the features and that is great.  But it just feels cumbersome and we experienced many bugs where changes would not activate.  What it does have going for it is the fact that is more self-explanatory than many of the other software.  There are five DPI setting options, DPI can be set from 200 all the way to 8500.  These five settings can be stored on the mouse's onboard memory, this way you don't need the Swarm software installed to take advantage of the varied DPI settings.  An interesting feature that the Swarm software has is the sound feedback when changing DPI, it is a little distracting when changing DPI mid gunfight and you have a male voice telling you you are now on "1000 DPI". Taking the Roccat Burst Core into some competitive play during COD Cold War free weekend, had a bit of an adjusting period with the left and right buttons needing some getting used to but once that was dialed in the Roccat Burst Core handled itself extremely well and it managed to perform as expected.  With the Titan switches, there is some travel time that once you are used to it, allows for button spamming which is wonderful if you are that way inclined.  

Verdict

The Roccat Burst Core is a very capable and budget-friendly wired mouse.  And for its price tag, you cannot go wrong.  It does come with a few adjustments that need to be considered.  The first one will be the most obvious one, if you are looking, and have your heart set on a wireless mouse the Roccat Burst Core is not one to look at.  Secondly, the Swarm software personally is a bit of a stumbling block for a very very cable mouse. But you are not forced to use it if you are simply going to use the Roccat Burst Core for the slaying.  Lastly, and the point that all competitive or aspiring competitive players should look into is the adjustment to the Titan Optical switches, if you are used to using short click buttons then the buttons on the Roccat Burst Core might take some time to get used to. At the price point, there are not many mice that can compete with the Roccat Burst Core and it is extremely competitive in the lightweight wired gaming mouse section!      

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review content

 
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ASUS TUF RTX3080 – review

With the current state of affairs surrounding GPUs, finding any GPU has become nearly impossible.  Those that can be found are either older or mid to low-end cards and if you do happen to stumble upon anything in the RTX range, they will be priced way out of any sane person's budget.  With this being said, ASUS still managed to send us one of their latest and greatest, RTX3080 in the TUF guise.  Upon receiving this absolute monster we quickly packed our very sad-looking RTX2080 away for some good R&R while we installed its younger and more capable brother. The ASUS TUF RTX3080 is the very first GPU we have ever received for review and for this reason we will be looking at it at a more basic level.  Fewer numbers and charts and more real-world experience, more unboxing and general gaming use than benchmarks and overclocking.  So without further ado, let's jump straight into it...   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVrM7-RRjbo

Specifications

GPUs are generally compared to the founders' edition cards.  Founders Edition or FE cards are the cards that are made directly by Nvidia or AMD.  In our case, it will be Nvidia.  Nvidia will then share this technology with other brands such as ASUS which will then add their own designs and even up-the-clock speeds etc to make their card unique.  So for comparison, we will compare the ASUS TUF RTX3080 OC edition with its FE brother.

Nvidia GPU Specifications

Graphics Card

ASUS RTX 3080 TUF Gaming OC

RTX 3080 FE

Architecture

GA102

GA102

Process (nm)

Samsung 8N

Samsung 8N

Transistors (Billion)

28.3

28.3

Die size (mm^2)

628.4

628.4

GPCs

6

6

SMs

68

68

FP32 CUDA Cores

8704

8704

Tensor Cores

272

272

RT Cores

68

68

Boost Clock (MHz)

1785

1710

VRAM Speed (Gbps)

19

19

VRAM (GB)

10

10

VRAM Bus Width

320

320

ROPs

96

96

TPCs

34

34

TMUs

272

272

GFLOPS FP32

31073

29768

Tensor TFLOPS FP16 (Sparsity)

124 (249)

119 (238)

RT TFLOPS

61

58

Bandwidth (GBps)

760

760

TDP (watts)

320

320

Dimensions (mm)

300x127x51.7

285x112x38

Weight (g)

1398

1350

  What all of this means, is that for cases the ASUS TUF RTX3080 OC is nearly identical to the FE card apart from a slightly faster boost clock.  For the everyday gamer looking to buy an RTX 3080, this means that the ASUS TUF RTX3080 OC is a good alternative if you want something close to the specifications of the FE cards.  But we will get back to this in a while.  Let us look at the design first.  

Design

    The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC takes a traditional design that has been used across most of the brands and has shown success.  So why change something that seems to be working.  There are a few modifications though, the top metal plate sees a few cutouts that allow for more airflow through the card.  This is new to me as both my RTX2080 and RX580 both had solid top plates with air being exhausted mainly out the side.  The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC sucks air through its massive 3 fans which flows through the radiators and gets pushed out the sides as well as the top.  This design works really well to keep the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC chilly even under rather trying moments such as during Warzone.  What we did find is that in smaller builds and if your CPU cooler is front mounted that the hoses could get quite a lot of heat coming off the top vents of the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC can cause toastier temperatures on your CPU.  This can easily be fixed if you have the ability to top mount your AIO though. The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC, as expected, is a rather beefy card taking up a nice 2.7 slots.  So as we mentioned before it's not the recommended card if you are planning on having a compact build. After doing some research on the 3 fans that the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC has we found a couple of interesting points.  Unlike some of the previous TUF models, these fans are all the same size.  The middle fan however spins in the opposite direction to the outside two.  According to ASUS, this helps with turbulent air as well as fan noise.  The improvements don't only stop there.  The fans have an integrated rim that helps with static air pressure which in turn, helps to improve cooling and efficiency even more.  The rest of the card has quite a few radiators and the covers of the card do also help to guide airflow through these radiators all while not exposing too much of the internals.  on the top end of the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC there is also a small switch that can be moved to either performance mode, or quiet mode.  For obvious reasons, we left this to performance, because, POWER!     If you are in the market for a flashy card with lots of frills and lights everywhere to distract yourself and other people from the hefty price you paid to get this card, then the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC is not the way to go.  The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC is aimed at the minimalist with only a side-facing TUF logo and a small strip below it that would, in most builds, go unseen as it faces to the bottom.  Personally, I absolutely adore this minimal RGB look it totally rocks in a near-RGB-less build!  For those who do enjoy some rainbow effects lighting up the inside of your case, the two RGB areas are, naturally, linkable by Aura Sync. Something that the 30-series cards, upon announcement, manage to do really well was to set the cat amongst the pigeons with its new 12pin power connector.  The masses were in an uproar with everyone being totally certain that they will all need to dump their current power supply and upgrade to one that supports 12pins.  Fortunately, the 12pin trend did not take off apart from being used in the FE and a few odd cards here and there.  The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC fortunately only uses 2x 8pin connectors which is pretty standard with higher-end 20-series cards already requiring them.     Lastly, the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC card comes with three Display Port 1.4a ports and two HDMI 2.1 ports.  Seeing as the new HDMI 2.1 ports are now the interface with the higher bandwidth, it is nice to see that ASUS is giving two of these ports.  How else would you hook up dual 70" 4K 120hz TVs, don't even mention dual 8K TVs...  ( sponsors anyone?  I need these, for review purposes naturally...)  

Cooling, temperatures, and space

    The new 30-series cards are obviously very power-hungry, and with performance like they produce, temperatures are only an expected side effect.  If these are some concerns that you have, we are here to put all of those to bed!  So let us get straight into it.  The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC comes with a massive 320W TGP.  That is a staggering 105W more than its 20-series brother.  Our Zotac RTX2080 Amp is also a three fan variant and it runs rather cool at around  65'C under load so how will the extra 105W do on the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC.  Straight off the bat, even when idling and very little fan speed the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC is extremely quiet and unless I checked I often thought that the card was set to quiet or silent mode.  When putting the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC under some stress with the severely unoptimized Warzone it did not flinch and, yet again, the fan noise was significantly less than the RTX 2080 while chilling at a really cool 60'C even at 1440p and 144Hz with most settings cranked to max.     Like we mentioned before, the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC is a beefy 2.7 slot monster so if you are looking for a compact build or you do like to use one of your secondary PCIe slots then the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC might not quite fit your build.  With SLI being firmly placed in the hands of developers to use or need, I don't see it becoming a necessity in the very near future or at least during the 30-series reign.  With most of the motherboards, today providing very good onboard audio solutions the need for a soundcard is very slim.

Performance

Unlike other reviews where the cards get put through multiple tests and a lot of data is thrown at the reader, we have decided to do it differently.  Seeing as this is our very first try at doing GPU reviews we only really have our trusty RTX 2080 and the stats on the RTX3080 FE card to go by.  So we took the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC and jumped into a host of titles such as Warzone, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, Final Fantasy XV, and Division 2, and simply compared how the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC handles the variety of titles and their demand. The most important thing to realize with the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC  is that it is not intended for 1080p gaming.  Naturally, it is more than capable of doing 1080p but if you are buying the RTX3080 with 1080p in mind, you will be wasting so much potential as the RTX3080 is suppose to be used for 1440p and 4K gaming.  This is why we did not test any of these games with 1080p settings.  In fact, we only tested in 1440p as Asus was so generous to provide a 32inch 1440p panel to enjoy. The setup we used for these, more real-world, tests were as follows, We have an 8700K clocked to 4.8GHz, cooled by a 240mm cooler,16Gb ram running at 3200MHz, all connected to a Z390 motherboard.  We did not fiddle with OC on the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC due to most users probably using it on stock settings, and honestly, even on stock, the results are wonderful.

Division 2 - fps - 2560x1440 - ultra settings

    Division 2 has been around for a while now and we first played it on our older system which only had a 9th gen i5 and an RX580 GPU.  At the time we could only get below 90fps even when in 1080p and only on medium/high settings.  So Division 2 is quite the taxing title.  After the upgrade and with the RTX2080 installed we could bump settings to ultra and 1440p and get a pretty solid 75-78fps which is respectable and very playable.  But when we changed over to the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC  results improved significantly and we were comfortably getting around 130-140fps.  These results are only marginally better than the FE card, from what we researched and found.  In comparisons like these anything around 1-2% margin of error is considered negligible and can be ignored.

Final Fantasy XV - fps - 2560x1440 - ultra settings

    Final Fantasy XV is a visually stunning title and even when set to lower settings when using lower-end cards it still shines really well.  We never tested this title with the RX580 but before we tried the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC we did put the RTX2080 to the test to get a good comparison.  The RTX2080 does a fair job at 1440p cracking a solid 85fps on this testing title.  Dropping in the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC we see a monstrous improvement to the 140fps mark. Honestly even getting close to 140fps in a title like this at 1440p is mindblowing!

Metro Exodus - fps - 2560x1440 - ultra settings

    Metro Exodus was truly a game-changer when it came on to the scene with it being the first title to really use ray tracing to make its visuals spectacular.  When we played it originally we played it on the RX580 and had to resort to medium/high settings to ensure a constant fps of above 60 at 1080p, and even then the little RX580 was struggling to stay cool and constantly sat above the 70'C mark.  With the RTX2080 we were able to crank the settings to ultra and step the resolution to 1440p.  We were treated to a respectable 60-65fps in a challenging title like Metro Exodus.  The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC however boosted these numbers to above the 100fps mark.  Staggering considering what can be achieved with DLSS in the future.    

Shadow of the tomb raider - fps 2560x1440 - ultra settings

    Shadow of the Tomb Raider has become a standard in the testing community for its really strenuous effect on all GPUs.  Even the mightiest cards have been brought to their knees by this title, but what truly makes Shadow of the Tomb Raider such a gem is the ability to tweak so many different settings and instantly see the effects during its benchmarking section which puts Lara on the edge of a desert mountain.  With sunlight, sand, and dust blowing everywhere this is the perfect test environment for all GPUs.  As before our tried and tested RX580 was the first to venture into the Shadow of the Tomb Raider and again it delivered a valiant effort at medium settings to give us between 50-55fps at 1080p.  The RTX2080 performed much better and at 1440p was capable of getting close to 100fps!  When the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC was put in we were very excited to see if we could comfortably get past the 144fps that we all crave on our 144Hz monitors.  We are very happy to announce that the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC was comfortably making around the 150fps mark. This proves that by jumping from the RTX2080 to the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC at the 1440p mark, you can generally expect to see double the fps, this is excluding the effect that DLSS can do as well.  

Verdict

The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC is an absolute gem, from the moment you hold it and feel the quality of how it has been made and designed. The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC is a big card but its minimal RGB and clean look make it perfect for nearly any build as long as you are not expecting to build small...  The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC is a card that, even though having 3 cooling fans, runs extremely quiet and you can expect to hear your AIO or liquid cooler way before hearing the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC.  Even when the fans do start to spin you can expect significantly lower temperatures than even on its FE counterpart, up to 10'C to be exact!  This is wonderful for all those who have been worried that with the leap in power requirements so too would the temperatures. But like most of you would want to know, is the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC a worthy upgrade, and I can confidently say YES, as long as you are planning to use it at the 1440p mark.  If you are still sitting at 1080p I would personally suggest looking elsewhere.  The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC is not a cheap card and the new 30-series beasts are meant to be 2K and 4K cards.  You will be wasting money and the potential of the card by letting it idle at 1080p. As a final statement.  The ASUS TUF RX3080 OC was my first interaction with a 30-series card and I am totally blown away by the performance that it delivers while not being flashy and out there like its ROG brother.  If the prices were not as ridiculous as it currently is, and the availability was at the point where you could buy one and receive it anytime in this month let alone this year like it is at the moment, I would not think twice of making the jump to the wonderfully dressed-down monster that is the ASUS TUF RX3080 OC!    

special thanks to ASUS SA for supplying the review content

 
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Asus TUF VG32V – Review

ASUS has been known to be a producer of some of the prettiest gaming hardware and peripherals on the market for a very long time. This however also comes with a bigger price tag, but with the great quality, the nudge on the price tags is justified.  Since the inception of the TUF brand within ASUS, they have grabbed a large chunk of the market that doesn't quite have the budget to buy the more expensive ROG range.  Although more budget-conscious, there has never been a lack of quality, and in the gaming monitor market, there is no room for error on any front.  The ASUS TUF VG32V steps into a highly populated market of being a 1440p, 144hz gaming monitor.  What it has in its favour is the fact that it boasts HDR, Freesync and a massive 32inch VA Panel. What is it like?  We are about to find out...    

specifications

  • Screen Size: 32-inches
  • Display: 2560×1440 QHD /Anti-Glare coating / 1800R curvature
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • HDR: Yes
  • Refresh Rate: 144Hz
  • response time: 1ms
  • Contrast Ratio: 3000:1
  • Brightness: 400 cd/m
  • Speakers: Yes / 2×2 Watts stereo speakers
  • Stand: Tilt + swivel + pivot + height adjustment
  • Mountable: Yes
  • IO: 1x DisplayPort 1.2 / 2x HDMI 2.0 / 3.2mm Mini-Jack
 

Design

  The TUF range is a more budget-orientated division of ASUS and therefore it focuses less on swag and glamour like the ROG Strix versions of ASUS have, and has more toned down styling but still features the great quality that ASUS is known for.  When unboxing the monitor you can immediately see that it is made well.  Although TUF is more budget-friendly, they have not jeopardized the quality to cut the price.  The monitor is well-weighted and features a patterned backside.  The back of the monitor is made from matte black plastic and it does give the VG32V a very clean and low-key elegance.  The massive 32-inch monitor stands on a square foot piece, unlike many other monitors that stand on a claw-like foot piece.  Not only does this square foot piece allow for the VG32V to have a smaller footprint allowing it to take up less space on your desk, while still keeping the behemoth of a monitor standing strong and sturdy. Attaching the monitor to the foot stand and arm is very simple and the movements, tilting, sliding and angling feel really easy and smooth, yet firm enough to provide confidence in the said movement.  The ports of the VG32V, which consists of 1 Display Port, 2 HDMI 2.0, and a headphone jack is located at the bottom of the panel.  This is a little tricky to get the cables plugged in as the monitor does not tilt quite far enough, and the lack of feedthrough space in the mounting arm does mean you will need to do some neatening of the cables once you are done.  The OSD buttons are situated on the right rear and consist of 4 big buttons and a small joystick.  The OSD interface is very simple and easy to get the hang of.  most of the adjustments can be done through the use of the joystick which makes for really easy navigation. The sleek design of the VG32V is accentuated even more by the fact that the screen is bezel-less on three of the four sides which makes it perfect if you plan to use more than one monitor.  Although the TUF VG32V design might not fit everyone's style, it is something for the person who prefers minimal styling.  The VG32V can easily be taken to an office environment and no one would notice it apart from its sheer size.  This is a win in my book especially since I want my gaming/workspace to be one and the same, the TUF VG32V slots into that space perfectly.  

Performance

    The ASUS TUF VG32V's specifications are nothing to be scoffed at, it is a very capable monitor with 1440p resolution, 144Hz refresh rate, and 3000:1 contrast ratio.  The VA panel is rated to be good for 400nits of brightness.  HDR400 is also a welcome feature as well as FreeSync.  The ASUS TUF VG32V is fitted with a curved VA panel. Curvature is at 1800R, which on a display this size, feels right.  This monitor, like other VA panels, has a wonderful contrast ratio, which provides wonderfully deep blacks.  Straight out of the box, I did find the general colour to be slightly dull.  This was easily fixed with the very adjustable settings and presets of the VG32V.  The standard presets range from a scenery mode, racing, Cinema, RPG, FPS, Moba and an sRGB mode, each of which adjust the image quite drastically, but fortunately, they are not locked and can be adjusted. I had the ASUS TUF VG32V connected to my PC via Display Port to the ASUS TUF RTX3080.  This allowed me to truly give the monitor a good test by throwing everything I had at it.  I tested the VG32V through a plethora of games such as R6 Siege, Apex Legends, Escape from Tarkov, Warzone, and even Sea of Thieves.  All of these games were tested at 1440p and no framerate limiters so that we could enjoy the 144Hz goodness.  After adjusting the colour, contrast and brightness of the monitor I jumped straight into R6 Siege.  For a game that tends to not "pop" too much in terms of colour, the VG32V gives the game a significant improvement and colour differentiation in-game was easily seen.  The 144Hz is wonderful and for someone who has not experienced a 144Hz monitor.  Do yourself a favour and find one, it is single-handedly one of the biggest advantages for fast-paced shooters that you can find.  Other titles like Escape from Tarkov enjoyed the same vividness improvement from the VG32V which is a worthy advantage in a title where spotting and shooting first is the difference between winning and losing.     Jumping from the doom and gloom of Siege and Tarkov I headed over to Apex Legends and Sea of Thieves.  All I can say is WOW!!!  The vibrant colour palettes of both these titles simply blew me away when viewed on the VG32V!  The richness of the foilage in Sea of Thieves as well as the way the water breaks and the glow of the fires around the tavern really look incredible. The ASUS TUF VG32V is however not perfect.  When it comes to black uniformity it did struggle somewhat.  This is made more apparent if you are using it in a dark room.  Naturally, this would affect those who are planning to use the monitor for video or photo editing more than just gaming.  In gaming scenarios such as dark moments in Tarkov, I did see the odd light bleed at the top and bottom of the display but nothing that was bad enough to cause me any worry.  Another slight disappointment was the HDR, although it is marketed as an HDR400 capable monitor I was not that impressed.  With HDR activated the videos and images simply lacked the "oomph" in the brightness and contrast department to really make it blow me away.  This might be caused by the pixel density of a 1440p display stretched to 32 inches, but once again nothing to seriously spoil my opinion on this monitor.  If HDR is a must-have then you would probably not be looking at a curved VA panel anyway.    

Verdict

The ASUS TUF VG32V is not cheap, that needs to be said first.  But, there is always a but, for the quality of the product that you are receiving it is not that outlandish.  Coming in at around the R12 000 mark, give or take, it is a significant chunk of your hard-earned cash that you need to dish out for this monster.  There are other brands that you might find to be cheaper, but when you are buying ASUS you are buying a premium product, no matter whether it is in its TUF moniker or ROG, quality is quality.  That being said the ASUS TUF VG32V is a very good and capable gaming monitor that packs all the features that you would expect from a gaming monitor.  With the massive 32inch display it is as big as I would recommend for any competitive gaming.  The 144Hz and 1ms response time has become the standard for gaming and with new GPU's allowing 1440p gaming to be more accessible the 2560x1440 VA panel provides stunning visuals, even though a little tinkering will be needed. If you are looking for a low-key, professional-looking 32inch display that will slot into gaming and office setup, then the ASUS TUF VG32V is a no-brainer.  For those looking for an editing monitor then an IPS panel would be the recommended monitor.  As a gaming monitor, it is a wonderful piece of kit.  You could find a smaller sized monitor with the same feature for nearly half the price though...    

special thanks to ASUS South Africa for the review content

 
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Logitech G Pro Keyboard

In recent years, the full-sized keyboard has become something that only the diehard types or those who do data entry for a living, would use.  As the gaming community has grown and the esports community with it, the demand for peripherals that give only what you need and nothing unnecessary, so came the birth of the TKL keyboards.  Tenkeyless keyboards (TKL) are full-sized keyboards that simply remove the Numpad section.   Not only does this open the keyboard up to be a fully used item instead of having the right side of the board stare at you for 95% of its life not being used or touched, but it also saves valuable space on your desk.  For the likes of us who are in an esports environment where space is more of a luxury than a need, the extra space is godsent. Naturally, the gaming brands immediately all decided to create their own version of the TKL keyboards.  Most of them are great and can do all you need and more while looking great for a great price.  But there are not many that can match the legendary Logitech G Pro Keyboard.  As I said, you might find imitators around every corner but there is a reason that so many of the greatest esports organizations around the world use Logitech and the G Pro range as their go-to tools.  Premium hardware does come at a premium price, we are going to take a look at why... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=762Xv81a-2Y

Design

    Logitech has had some, er, "interesting" designs for some of their peripherals in the past.  The G Pro sticks to the sleek and professional, "ready for business" look with no frills.  Just a sleek plain keyboard without the Numpad.  Featuring the synonymous illuminated G logo on the top left and only two soft-touch keys to the right, the G Pro epitomizes the less-is-more mantra.  The two soft-touch buttons that can be found on the right of the keyboard are to turn off the RGB and the other is a game mode.  For those who are not familiar with the game-mode button, it is to ensure that you do not accidentally Alt-Tab out of your game as well as disabling the pesky Windows key. Measuring in at only 36cm x 15cm x 3.5cm it is definitely a small, compact, and attractive keyboard. The G Pro comes with a USB-C cable that features the same hooks that you can find on many of the Logitech G devices.  The cable is also braided which does help if you are planning on traveling with the G Pro.  Unfortunately, unlike some of its competitors, it does not come with a travel case so keeping the box would be a clever idea if you are planning to take it traveling.    

Keys

  Logitech has prided themselves in their very own switches.  The Romer-G mechanical switches from Logitech can easily be compared to the industry standard, the Cherry switches.  And the cherries do reign supreme if you look across the industry, the Romer-G range of switches do a great job to take the fight to the Cherries.  Logitech has evolved their Romer-G switches and now consists of a whole host of variants.  The Romer-G range has a Tactile option, which gives very quiet yet discernable feedback and is perfect for FPS- and competitive gaming environments.  The Romer-G Linear switches are great for when you need to tap away and even half presses will be actuated and this means they are great for MMO-type games. Moving to the GX range, the GX Blue has the unmistakable mechanical keyboard click, and is for those who love the familiar click!  The GX Brown is very quiet and can be compared to the Tactile Romer-G switches, the quietest of the range they do well in the competitive environment.  And lastly, the GX Red provides a very fluid and smooth actuation point and is wonderful if you need to do extensive typing and keyboard work.     The G Pro that we had for review was indeed a GX Blue and compared to the G915 TKL we had before, which was the GX Red version, the Blue switches really are rather loud.  This departure from the usual Romer-G switches and more towards the Cherry-like GX switches is definitely something the pros have obviously asked for, and who are we to argue with the pro's they certainly know better!  There is not much to say about the mechanical switches and that is not a good nor a bad thing.  If you are familiar with the Romer-G switches or the Cherry variants you will know exactly what you are in for when you grab your G Pro keyboard.

Features

    The Logitech G Pro keyboard does not come with many features that many other keyboards have.  I mean, you don't even get a Numpad, so what were you expecting?  But instead, the magic comes in the ever-reliable GHub software.  Considering that the GPro is aimed at the tournament players programmable keys and macros are still available, but are not really a focus.  The RGB and macro settings are all much like they have always been.  The thing that really sets the GPro apart is the fact that you are able to set one profile to the keyboard's internal memory.  This means that even when plugging this keyboard into a PC without any 3rd party software, the keyboard will remember your settings and have them active.  This is wonderful for the tournament and esports players.     The only negative that I could find with the GPro keyboard is the lack of media keys.  For someone who is using this keyboard for only gaming, it is perfect but if you are planning on hopping between gaming, work, and the odd media, the media keys, with the volume wheel like the G815/G915 has is a welcome addition.  

Verdict

    Since the GPro arrived on the scene it has arguably been the keyboard to which all other epsorts-focused keyboards have been measured.  Most have performed well but very few have been able to trump the all-powerful GPro, which has gone from strength to strength with the latest addition, the GPro X.  Paired with the best switch to suite your style and the GPro becomes a giant amongst mere mortal keyboards, the wired setup allows for the quickest response time and the switches provide solid and uniform feedback that allows for the greatest confidence when hitting them  The GPro is not going to make you a pro, but when you are looking to gain those little inches, the GPro is definitely one to give you a few. If you are in the market for a premium, esports-orientated TKL keyboard the Logitech GPro is definitely the way to go.  Sleek and minimal in design it fits straight into any setup be it for work or play.  Pairing it with the correct switch is however extremely crucial as if you end up with the Blue switches and you are planning to use it in an office environment, you will have some unhappy co-workers.    

special thanks to Logitech G for supplying the review content

     
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Mediabox Maverick (MBX4K) – Review

When the Mediabox Maverick (MBX4K) arrived on my desk I met it with slight trepidation.  I felt like I  had been burnt before with the Mediabox Ranger that ended up being a slight letdown due to not being android licensed.  I flipped the Maverick box over and searched for the certification right away.  I was met with the wonderful news that it was in-fact, certified, WIN!!!  For a really long time, I was content that I did not need a media box, my Xbox was capable of doing the job and when the Xbox was in use a simple NUC mini PC would suffice.  This is normal for most of us, why change, don't fix it if it's not broken.  Until you embrace the change and experience the true, easy, plug and binge, value of the Mediabox Maverick!  

Build and Design

Opening the box of the Mediabox Maverick you are met with a surprisingly sleek and light.  Unlike many of the consoles, *cough cough* this little powerhouse is no eyesore and can easily be placed on your tv cabinet, and no need to try and hide it.  It is generally square with rounded edges and is generally the size of ones' palm.  The little Maverick might be small in size but what lays underneath the hood is impressive.  On the side, it features two USB ports, one being USB 3.0 and the other USB 2.0.  As expected an HDMI out and an Ethernet input, some AV stereo jacks, and most surprisingly an Optical SPDIF output for those who want the best possible audio quality.  What all these ports mean is that you can link up quite a number of devices to this little powerhouse!   The Maverick comes with a new and improved remote from its predecessor.  Very similar in design but functionality, in general, just feels better.  the sleek and glossy remote fits comfortably in your hand and having dedicated buttons for Netflix, Youtube, Prime Video, and Google play has you hopping onto the couch and watching before you are even fully settled into your seat.  As if these shortcut keys are not enough you can also control the Maverick by voice using the Google assistant that, coming from a Siri user, is REALLY good and accurate in understanding what I want to watch.  Simply tell it "Open New Amsterdam in Netflix" (yes I watch New Amsterdam, don't judge me) and the Maverick will have you covered!  

Hardware

I am sure that most of you are more interested in how it works and how it performs rather than what numbers it has under the hood.  But for those who are interested, here we go!  The Mediabox Maverick features a 2.0GHz quad-core CPU and a Mali-G31 850MHz GPU, what that equates to is a device that runs Android 9 Pie OS while being able to effortlessly manage 4kp60 H.265 and 1080p60 encoders which will ensure that you can watch on-demand and live TV at astonishingly good quality.  I used the Maverick on my ancient 55inch Samsung Plasma and I have been contemplating replacing it for quite some time.  Thanks to the Mediabox Maverick I have a new love for my old TV and that is thanks to the crisp and colorful images the Maverick displays!   The Maverick is also capable of HDR and 4K videos so if you have the hardware that can display it, the Maverick can show it! On the Mediabox Maverick box, they make a very bold statement, they say it's hassle-free to set up.  This is no easy feat as some people are rather technologically challenged so to test Mediaboxs' theory I decided to ask my wife to get our Netflix and DSTV Now up and running. I gave her the remote and left the room, couple of minutes later she triumphantly called to say its good to go, hassle-free setup, check!  

User Interface

  Those who have used devices that run Android TV before will find themselves right at home on the Mediabox Maverick.  Unlike many cheaper products, the Maverick UI feels premium and works that way as well.  It is minimal and smooth and very responsive.  From the home screen, where many apps are included straight out the box, such as DSTV Now, Spotify, Showmax, YouTube, RedBull TV, Netflix, and more, but if you still want more, adding any of the other apps are as simple as a few clicks.  Mediabox promises that the device is fully supported locally, which means if you had issues with installing or non-functioning apps ( I am looking at you Mediabox Ranger) you can contact the support and they can remotely install or fix problems you might have, or for those who put the "hassle" back in the "hassle-free" setup.  Chrome-cast is also built into the Maverick so if you are watching a YouTube video on your phone, or watching something on your PC, you can easily cast it over to the Maverick and enjoy it on a bigger screen. During my time spent with the Mediabox Maverick, I spent a lot of time between Twitch, Netflix, Showmax, and DSTV Now and I could hardly find any issue apart from a single issue when using Netflix.  When in Netflix and watching an episode of any program, the volume keys on the remote don't work, minimizing Netflix and volume up on the home screen works fine but then you need to navigate back, fortunately, Netflix picks up where you left off but this does get annoying but definitely not a dealbreaker!  

Conclusion

Mediabox has learned from their "failures" that they had in the previous Ranger model and fixed all the underlying issues that it had.  What they have created is a Smartbox that I dare to say, is better than most!  I have always been a non-believer in smart boxes and after the Mediabox Ranger, I really thought my mind could not be changed.  But having the Mediabox Maverick and experiencing the ease of use I am genuinely able to say that this is an item that you most definitely need, you just don't know it yet!  For the meager price of R1 499.00*  you can have a Smartbox capable of handling 4K with ease compared to a Fruit-related competitor's device coming in at nearly three times the price! If you are in the market for a Smartbox, and you are NOT considering the MEDIABOX MAVERICK then you are doing yourself, as well as your wallet, a real injustice!    

special thanks to Apex Interactive for providing the review hardware

          *price accurate at the time of the article
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TurtleBeach Stealth 700 Gen 2 – Review

When TurtleBeach unleashed the first generation of Stealth 600 and 700 headsets, simply put, it blew the competition away!  Delivering a wireless headset (that uses the Xbox One wireless connection natively) that is extremely capable, well-built and within a price range that had not been seen before, was simply astounding.  The Stealth range took the fight to all other major brands who, at the time, did not think that wireless headsets should ever be marketed and the more entry-level user and wireless were strictly reserved for the upper-tier users.  The Stealth range was obviously not without its flaws. A couple of years down the line and we now have the Stealth 700 Generation 2 on our desk and ready to be put through its paced and compared directly to its predecessor, let's get straight to it!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZoDlfDZocc

Design

The Stealth 700 looks like a cross between the more bare-boned Stealth 600, and the Elite Atlas.  The headset is predominantly black with a few silver accents.  The headband is made from steel and can retract and expand to suit your fit.  The headrest has respectable foam across the whole headband covered in leatherette that feels of good quality.  The earcups can rotate as well as swivel, although the swivel is more limited.  Non the less the swivel and rotate feature allows for a good fit for most heads.  The earcups although rather on the small side for my personal taste do have really thick foam which is covered by leatherette on the outside, and mesh for the areas against your head.  The leatherette outer allows for great sound insulation while the mesh allows for less heat build-up.  This is a well-thought-out design and personally, the thick foam earcups are something many other headsets could learn from.     The TurtleBeach Stealth 700 Gen 2, like most TurtleBeach headsets, do cater for those who wear glasses and the slight indentation right where your spectacle arms go should work wonderfully, allowing minimal sound to escape through those openings.    Although the earcup foam is really thick they are also wide, which means the space for your ear is not that big, TurtleBeach has tried to make them fit better by making the opening angled so that your ears should sit inside better. The boom mic sits on the left ear.  It flips up and down, but personally, I feel it could flip down a bit further as I tend to pick it up in my peripheral vision.  The mic can also be angled in to sit closer to the face.  The rest of the controls, which include the volume roller, a chat mixer, a mode and Bluetooth button, a flush power button, and the USB-C connector for charging.

Comfort

  I have had my trepidations about the comfort of TurtleBeach headsets and the Stealth 600 Gen 1, for one, felt terrible when wearing them.  Not so much the fit but the mesh earcups were extremely rough and caused significant irritation around my ears.  When the Gen 2 versions came along I was very happy to see that the mesh on the earcups had been changed which dramatically changed the comfort.  The Stealth 600 Gen 2 was comfortable, nothing to write home about but not terrible.  During long sessions the Stealth 600 would get very warm around the ears, that would be my only immediate complaint.  So on to the Stealth 700 Gen 2, we go...     The first thing I notice regarding the Stealth 700 is the clamping force.  The headset clamps really tight and that explains the need for the really thick earcups.  You need them to counter the clamping force.  Some might not like the clamp but personally, I like it as it lessens the force on the top of your head.  Fortunately, the Stealth 700 does not weigh too much so there is nearly no hanging pressure on the top of your head and generally it doesn't feel like you are wearing a big headset.  The thick earcups do a good job of passive noise suppression but not to the level where you might not hear someone speaking to you.  The earcups are also noticeably cooler than any of the previous headsets and wearing them for extended periods of time should not be a problem.

Performance & Features

Performance-wise the Stealth 700 is neither here nor there.  It is by no means a terrible-sounding headset with a very clear mid-range, slightly blunted highs, and decent kicking lows when listening to music.  Taking it to the terror that is Escape from Tarkov where it really brought out the tiny creaks and snaps of a possible enemy creeping up on you through the brush.  Explosions however felt a little lackluster and short of a little oomph.  Jumping over to Cyberpunk 2077 and diving into the streets of night city where the chaos that comes from the hustle and bustle of the streets can be perfectly encapsulated with the Stealth 700 Gen 2.     Something to take note of is the fact that the Stealth 700 Gen 2 might come across as a little bareboned.  The Stealth 700 Gen 2 makes use of the TurtleBeach Audio HUB which is an app that you can load on your smartphone and use to control many of the settings of the headset.  The app itself is rather empty and the moment, but for good reason.  The Generation 2 headsets from Turtle Beach are aimed to be cross-generational Headsets, meaning they will work on Xbox One and PS4, as well as Series S/X and PS5.  Due to this TurtleBeach has decided to leave features such as surround sound out as the new consoles all feature it natively. A nice feature of using the headset with the app connected is that you will be able to take calls and listen to voice notes etc straight from the headset which is specifically handy when you need to chat to that pesky telemarketer mid-game!   The battery life is also not something to scoff at.  turtle beach reckons that the Stealth 700 is good for 20 hours of playback on a single charge, this seems to be an underestimate because during our review we comfortably went past the 20-hour mark with battery life to spare.     The Stealth range also incorporates two forms of connectivity.  For Console, the Xbox version uses the Xbox Wireless technology where on PS it uses Bluetooth.  Both very acceptable connection methods.  On PC the dongle can be used for the 2.4ghz wireless signal or if your PC features Bluetooth, you can decide to go that route as well.  Either way, there is no reason the Stealth 700 won't work for you! Lastly, the microphone quality is surprisingly good.  When chatting in discord without noise cancellation active in discord the mic is still crisp and clear and picks up very little background noise.  Switching over to the console where there is less software to make devices sound good, the result was very similar.  Voices did seem slightly "further away" on console compared to PC but once again it is better than many other headsets

Verdict

  The Stealth 700 Gen 2 is a wonderfully comfortable and easy-to-use wireless headset.  The simple plug&play setup and good out-the-box audio is something that users who don't want the fuss of setting up and connecting extremely cumbersome equipment would absolutely love.  The Stealth 700 Gen 2 might not be everyone's cup of tea in terms of size and fit but it does sit really snug and the build feels absolutely on point.  Considering the features that are crammed into this headset, wireless connectivity, Bluetooth, great audio, and the ability to work seamlessly with the new range of consoles, suddenly the slightly steeper price doesn't seem so bad... When the Stealth range initially launched there were phenomenally groundbreaking in the features they brought to the table as well as their price.  The package looked so good that one could forgive a few simple flaws.  A couple of years down the line and with a second-generation being launched one would expect similar leaps and bounds in terms of bang for your buck, and this is where the Stealth 700 Gen 2 currently falls short.  Featuring all the features that made the Generation 1 so wonderful and only adding cross-generation support in a price range that will make you think twice before you buy could really hurt the Stealth 700 Gen 2.    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review content

 
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Logitech Pro X Superlight – Review

As gamers, we all strive to be the best or, at least, be better than we were before.  Be that improving on your lap time, beating that team that you have always struggled to best, or achieving that higher rank.  All of these things are what makes us gamers.  Like any sport or competition, your tools do make or break your performance.  Having the better equipment might not make you directly better but it definitely does help the cause.  Logitech wants to be your ally by providing a mouse that can take on the best that anyone has to offer! In terms of mice, there are only a few key features that determine whether or not the mouse has what it takes. Firstly it is the sensor, the more sensitive and accurate the better.  Buttons, be it mechanical or optical, your preference, but speed and response are key.  And finally, weight, as we all know, the lighter the mouse the less effort is needed to move the mouse around accurately, and paired with the above-mentioned sensor a light mouse can be the reason you land that flick shot compared to missing it in the past. This is where Logitech brings you the Pro X Superlight!  Covering all the above-mentioned factors, wrapped in a classic and classy design, albeit at a fair price tag.  Is the Pro X Superlight the ultimate esports mouse, we are about to find out!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0TyUI4gh0c&t=4s

Design

At first glance, the superlight might not look that much different from the regular GPro wireless, and that is because, at first glance, it is the same mouse.  The design is a very simple, symmetrical black chassis with a silver (non-RGB) logo on the palm rest and nothing much else.  No dedicated finger rests or lines or contours to give it a more aggressive look.  The main difference here between thePro X Superlight and the regular GPro Wireless is the omission of RGB, which when used correctly can make for an aesthetically pleasing look, but if you are looking to buy the Pro X Superlight you are clearly interested in function rather than looks. Most of the other brands of mice that claim to be extremely light, create that weight advantage by either leaving only the bare essentials inside the mouse as well as adopting the honeycomb chassis, which works well but allows for every spec of dust to enter your mouse.  Logitech decided that they will not take the easy way to success and instead decided to redesign their mouse to leave essentials parts and components intact but instead redesign with weight-saving in mind.     In terms of buttons, the Pro X Superlight features the normal left- and right-click buttons that, according to Logitech, won't suffer the same fate that so many other GPro's have suffered.  The dreaded double-click of death.  Logitech has said that the switches have been redesigned and they are sure the dreaded double click issue has been solved.  During my time spent with the Pro X Superlight, I can confirm that I did not have a single clicking issue, that originated from the mouse itself that is, my bad reaction time is another story!  The clickable wheel that features a really good looking white accent is wonderfully weighted and just grippy enough to not go on a roll if your finger happens to slide by it.  There are two inside thumb buttons that protrude enough for your hand to quickly learn where they are.  Even with smaller hands, like mine, I never felt like I had to adjust my grip to ensure I reach the thumb buttons. Flipping the Pro X Superlight over you will be greeted with the power slider, as well as really large skates, the white plastic skates that adorn the bottom of the Pro X Superlight are there to help this piece of tech slide and glide as smoothly and effortlessly as anyone can possibly hope for.  There is also a compartment that can be opened that has space for you to store your USB dongle when traveling.  And if the large skates were not enough already, Logitech sends a spare compartment cover that serves as another large skate, no need to worry, the extra skate doesn't add any weight to this feather-light mouse.    

Features

With most peripherals at the moment, the first feature you will notice is the RGB.  With a barrage of options in terms of light syncing and many more, RGB has become a rather large focus for many items.  The Logitech Pro X Superlight, however, features zero RGB, yes you read right!  When you launch the very easy to use and get a grip of, Logitech Ghub, you will be met with the option to select any of the Logitech equipment you currently have in your setup.  Selecting the Pro X Superlight you will see three tabs, a DPI tab that will allow you to utilize the 25k Hero sensor giving you a DPI (dots per inch) range from 400 to 25 00.  You can select 5 steps which are all represented by a certain color that correlates to a LED on the palm to show what DPI step is currently active.     The second tab is the option for you to reallocate your buttons to do certain things.  If you would prefer your right button to not be aim-down-sight you can easily change it out with another button.  This feature runs hand in hand with the next feature, which is the ability to create profiles for each and every specific game you play.  If you have an extremely intricate button setup for your favorite game, but that setup does not work well with your other games, Logitech has you covered.  Ghub is capable of picking up which game you are currently playing and it will automatically switch to the relevant settings that you have saved.

Connectivity & Performance

Powerplay is something that Logitech is very proud of, and for those who don't know, it's the ability for the mouse to be used on the Logitech Powerplay mousepad which charges it while simply being used on the mousepad.  This feature has become a near-standard in their high-end wireless mice.  The Pro X Superlight naturally has the powerplay feature as well but during the review, we only used the 2.4 GHz wireless dongle.  In the box, you will also be presented with a micro-USB cable that can be plugged directly into the Superlight even when in use.  Another dongle holder that can be placed on your desk is also supplied.  During our time spent with the Pro X Superlight, we did not have to charge it once!  Yes, upon receiving we fully charged it, and nearly 2 weeks later we had not even touched 50% battery left.  Logitech claims that it is capable of doing 70 hours on a single charge, and at the time of writing, we agree!     It is very clear that the Pro X Superlight is aimed at the more serious gamer and the esports player and probably the FPS crowd more specifically.  For that exact reason, I thought it would be best suited to test the Superlight in games such as R6 Siege, Escape from Tarkov, and Battlefront 2.  The first and most obvious thing that you as the player need to get used to is the weight.  It is extremely light but once you have gotten to grips with how easily it moves and slides but it is scarily accurate.  The sensor is so accurate and dependable that within a few hours I found myself turning my DPI setting down from 1000 to 600 and instead of small movements I opted for more sweeping arm movements, the results were tremendous! The accuracy during gunfights in R6 Siege improved my confidence tremendously and I found myself taking on long-range engagements more comfortably.  Any person who has spent some time in escape from Tarkov knows that it is not simply just a shooter, although shooting is what will save your life.  And the Pro X Superlight did save my bacon more than once in a space of 4 to 5 raids.  The ability to scan the surroundings and simply flick to where you spot your enemy and being exactly where you should be has allowed me to pull the trigger first on numerous occasions!  

Verdict

  Logitech has taken the benchmark for lightweight wireless mice and moved it once again! Not only has it made a 63g monster that is capable of retaining all of the premium builds and feels it was capable of cramming all the needed features and superb performance into that same package.  The Pro X Superlight might look identical to the GPro Wireless but the Pro X Superlight is much more than just a GPro Wireless on a diet.  It is testimony to what Logitech stands for.  Taking a great product and constantly improving on it and perfecting the near-perfect.  The pricetag is what might cause most people to rather consider a different Logitech mouse and with fair reason.  The Superlight is not cheap, and with competitors like, the Razer Viper Ultimate sitting in similar price ranges with more goodies in the box is a true competitor's choice.  If you prefer bigger mice that weigh nearly nothing is definitely the mouse you need, and yes, it WILL improve your aim, Promise! Would I buy one, in a heartbeat!  

special thanks to Logitech for the review hardware

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Edifier G2 II Gaming Headset – Review

The G2 II is the second-in-charge of the gaming headsets over at Edifier but that does not mean that it backs down against its siblings.  

Specs

  • Driver: 50mm
  • Frequency response: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Impedance: 32Ohm
  • Sensitivity: 98dB
  • Cable length: 2.5m
  • Input Plug: USB
 

Design and Features

The G2 II takes inspiration in design from the more classic, robust gaming headsets with its sturdier-looking build. Edifier chose to go more incognito with the G2 II coming in all black or all white (with black cuffs) design.  Staying true to the Edifier look and feel, however, the G2 II also has a steel mesh finish on the cuff with some nice subtle RGB lighting underneath the mesh just adding that little extra pizzaz that we’re all looking for, even if we don’t always admit to it.  The RGB lighting itself has an automatic breath transition effect as it changes colors, which adds nicely to the overall feel of the headset.     The mic on the G2 II is detachable, which I have my own personal reservations about (ie. misplace) with a small little windscreen over the mic sensor to help eliminate the noise from the heavier breathers out there.  The mic itself is easily moved around to get the best placement for comfort and clarity – both very important when barking out orders to teammates as you dominate the playing field. The G2 II boasts 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound which fully immerses and gives the player game critical sounds to boost skill that extra virtual skill tier.  This headset does not have vibration feedback but it really doesn’t like the bass and all other sounds come through crisp and clear. The headset volume and mute function is easily controlled on the on-cable controls with the cable stretching far enough for you to rage back from the keyboard with little risk of ripping something off your desk – but with this sound, rage should happen less. The 50mm drivers mean that the ear cuffs are large and comfortable with their soft leatherette padding which blocks out almost all the annoying background noise that can feed the wrong information to us.  

Personal Thoughts

The G2 II gaming headset from Edifier stands head and shoulders above its siblings for several reasons. From the get-go, the look of the headset seems sturdier and less likely to break or scuff easily.  Beyond that, the bigger ear cuff size means that for dumbo-eared me, I can game for longer periods of time without my ears getting sore from being squashed between pad and head. In fact, during extended periods of use, I barely felt the headset on my head like a headband and ear cuff sat comfortably, with enough padding, to not press and put pressure on any part that it comes in contact with. The quality of sound from the headset seems clearer and crisper than its brothers and the quality of the sound coming from the mic, according to my teammates, is the best of the lot – and no dreaded echo either.     The mute function is easy with just the click of a button with a small LED indicating muted or unmuted. One shortfall of the headset is once again the software.  Now being easier to find as it is not my first time with this rodeo.  I had hoped for the software for the G2 II with it being called “Edifier Gaming Center.”  These hopes were dashed as soon as I double-clicked though as the same outdated-looking control center opened up before me with very limited controls and things to do within the program.  Adding to my frustration was the fact that I need a whole new program installed on my PC, which is exactly the same, for the same brand of headset.  This is not a problem if you only own one – but when reviewing, you tend to have more than just one headset and so multiple programs with the same function is a little tiresome.  

Overall Thoughts

At R1 300, I think that the G2 II Gaming Headset from Edifier is the best and price per pound of the entire range.  In my opinion, both the sound and mic quality were higher than the other headsets and the comfort - due mostly to the bigger ear cuff, was much better. The sturdy look and changing RGB lights are also an added effect as we all know that RBG is +10 to all skills.  The detachable mic is one minor downer for me but nothing that would deter me from buying this headset.     The software again is a big let down as I was once again left with a bitter taste for not being able to do more and personalize my experience even more. So, all things considered, I give the G2 II 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound Gaming Headset from Edifier a solid 8 out of 10 stars.

A big thanks to the guys over at Edifier South Africa for swinging a pair our way to test out.

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Razer Naga Pro – Review

When the Razer Naga Pro landed on my desk I found myself at a bit of a crossroad.  The Naga has been a name that has been revered amongst MMO and RPG players around the world.  It is known as "that mouse with all the buttons on the side".  So, the problem that I faced, was the fact that I am not much of an MMO or RPG player.  For this very reason, I put the Razer Naga Pro in its box and continued to unpack the Deathadder V2 which came for review.   By the evening I could not contain myself and decided to give the Naga Pro a chance...  Boy oh boy what a treat!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCHn6wgDH8M

Design

    From the moment I placed the Razer Naga Pro in my hand, the first thing that came to mind was the fact that this mouse will get a large number of mixed opinions.  The Naga Pro will by no means be a generally-loved or generally-hated mouse.  No, it will have a cult following as well as many haters.  The design and grip will not be to everyone's liking.  The Naga Pro is not much different from the previous generation of Nagas.  It is a big mouse that sits rather wide in your palm, filling most of my hand.  This might not be ideal for those who prefer the small mice that can be easily thrown and flicked around a mousepad.  Each side of the Naga Pro is dressed with ample sized textured grip areas on both the inside and outside.   But one of the most prominent things I found was where my pinky finger ended up.  The Naga Pro has a finger rest on the outside of the mouse, allowing for your pinky, or ring if you have larger hands, to rest off the mousepad.  At first glance, I thought that this could be really annoying and would hamper my way of handling the mouse, but with time spent on the Naga Pro I found the finger rest to be a feature I now search for in every mouse I review. Taking a closer look at the mouse.  Topside you will find the standard left and right buttons.  A scroll wheel in the middle that has a faintly ribbed feel which does feel good under your finger.  The edges of the scroll wheel do light up faintly with the RGB but nothing too drastic.  Just below the scroll wheel, there is a DPI up and down.  If I have to be extremely critical this could have been a single dpi button and maybe a profile button, but this is me knit-picking!  Flipping the Naga Pro over will show the power toggle, which when in the middle is off, sliding it to one side will give you a 2.4GHz wireless connection, flicking to the other side is a Bluetooth connection.  The profile switch is also situated close by and last but not least there are the skates.  At first glance, the skates seem like normal plastic pieces.  But once you start sliding the behemoth of a mouse around you can instantly feel how those skates do work!  The Razer Naga Pro does not slide the way you expect.  This monster is light and nimble.  

The Side Panels

The side panels are where the magic happens for the Razer Naga Pro.  The Naga comes with three different side panels to suit every occasion.  The first and most eye-catching panel is the 12 button panel that is probably ever MMO player's dream.  Next, there is the six-button panel, with a three-button horizontally in two vertical rows.  This I used more when playing RPG games where you need to use your quick select slots and you can't take your hands off the keys for fear of losing your hard-earned loot, or your life.  And Last but not least is the traditional two-button set up with a large textured grip area to fill the void. I was using the 12 button setup for when I dove back into World of Warcraft, for review and nostalgia purposes.  My biggest concern was that I might get confused and bash the wrong button mid-fight.  The buttons do protrude just enough for your mind to quite accurately distinguish between them.  Moving over to the 6 button panel.  The buttons on the 6 button panel do not seem like it was designed by the same people that made the 12 and 2 button panels.  the buttons feel like they protrude more than they should and it does feel like, at times, I thumbed the wrong button.  After spending some time with it I did however find that it is better to press it with the inside joint of your thumb rather than the usual inside of the finger.  Last but not the least, the two-button panel.  This is probably the most traditional setup and the buttons are big and easy to find but provide enough resistance to not have you bump them and let off an accidental grenade.     What truly makes the interchangeable side panels so great is that they are swappable on the fly.  Simply pull the one you are using off, and slide the other one in place, the strong magnets will do the rest.  And there you go, the RGB will take over and Razer Synapse will automatically detect the side panel and apply your settings for that panel. Did I mention the neatly tucked away space to store the USB dongle that you can reach when popping off the side panel, clever Razer!

Features

    Apart from the Razer Nagas obvious features, the side panels, it still has a couple of other tricks up its sleeve.  Starting with the 2.4 GHz wireless connection.  Razer claims this to be the best wireless connection ever, saying that there is less than 1ms delay in their connection.  Whether this is true or not we can't prove it but what I can say is that it is really good, I mean REALLY good!  Many other reviewers have noted that they do have issues with the 2.4GHz where it would drop away or fail to connect at times.  For the whole time that I spent with the Razer Naga Pro, I did not have a single hiccup.  It was simply splendid.  One of the other advantages of 2.4GHz wireless is that it uses significantly less power than other connections.  Razer claims that with your RGB turned off, you can squeeze an amazing 100 hours of battery life.  I did not ever measure exact hours but even with RGB set to ambient awareness I easily kept on fighting and gliding for a couple of days.  Maybe I have been spoilt with the Razer Viper Ultimate, but charging your mouse with a conventional cable doesn't quite cut it anymore.  Fortunately, the universal charging dock (sold separately) can charge your Naga Pro as well.     The next feature that is easily overlooked due to the fact that nearly all of this generation of Razer mice feature it, is the optical switches.  Gone are the days of using green, yellow, blue, brown, and every other color of the rainbow -switches.  No, we have reached the time of the optical (queue the epic music).  Not only are they even faster and more accurate than any of the mechanical switches, but they also sound and feel perfect.  Even going back to my Viper Ultimate Pro felt different and strange.  Optical switches are, simply put, the next big thing that could happen to mice and keyboards.

Verdict

    The Razer Naga Pro might seem like it is designed and intended for a very specific audience.  And you won't be wrong to think of it that way.  Hell, I felt exactly the same way.  But once you start using the rather large Naga Pro you will find that it is not intended for one audience only, in fact, it has every single genre of gamers in mind.  From the MMO and RTS fans to the FPS players, the Razer Naga Pro is more than capable to tackle literally any game you throw at it.  Simply flick the side panel off, using the Green force have the mouse attach its own new side panel and keep playing as nothing has happened.  Although the Razer Naga Pro might be a big mouse, that some more hardcore FPS players might frown at, thanks to the wonderful skates it glides and slides like a mouse half its size. If you are in the market for a mouse and you are looking for an all-in-one mouse, the Razer Naga Pro is literally the mouse you have been waiting for.  Great wireless, spectacular buttons, mindblowing side panels that cater for anything and everything and comfort, that once you are used to, will redefine what comfort is to you.  Simply put, I can't really think of a mouse I would rather have as my go-to mouse.  As long as you can stomach the hefty price tag...    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

 
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Razer Deathadder Pro V2 – Review

When I originally wandered onto the PC scene as an adult, a good couple of years ago, one of the first things I noticed was the tendency for gaming equipment to be rather excessive.  keyboards and mice would have a vast array of buttons and lights and the strangest lines and angles in their design.  It felt like manufacturers wanted to ensure that their item would be a standout in a gaming setup, not caring whether the standout was good or bad.  Razer seemed to be at the forefront of this trend at the time with their extreme use of RGB.  Since then, it seems like manufacturers have figured that less is more and a more subdued design might sell better due to it being used for productivity rather than only gaming.  Not only that but at the end of the day, all we as gamers want, is the best performance possible Earlier this year Razer released the DeathAdder V2, which was met with good reviews and good sales.  Razer decided that they can improve on this and crammed their new Focus+ optical sensor into the DeathAdder body.  Combining their best-selling shape with a wonderful sensor is just a recipe for success, and a success it is if you can look past a hefty price tag.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxv-MnajF7I  

Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro Specs

Sensor Type Optical
Sensor Model Razer Focus+
Sensitivity 20,000 CPI
Polling Rate 1,000 Hz
Programmable Buttons 8
LED Zones 1 RGB zone
Connectivity 2.4 GHz USB Type-A dongle (Razer HyperSpeed), Bluetooth, USB Type-A
Cable 6 feet (1.8m) USB Type-A
Measurements (LxWxH) 5.00 x 2.42 x 1.68 inches (127 x 61.7 x 42.7mm)
Weight 3.10 ounces (88g)
Software Razer Synapse 3
 

Design and Comfort

The shape that the DeathAdder uses is by no means a new one.  Razer has been using it since 2006.  Their mentality is clearly, why change it if it works, and for good reason.  The design is extremely comfortable.  Simply place your hand on it and your fingers naturally land on the buttons.  Even the inner buttons are perfectly positioned for both large and smaller hands.  The DeathAdder V2 Pro also has textured sides on both sides.  The V2 version only has localized texturing, which is great, but once you experience the Pro texture you simply cannot go back.     The DeathAdder V2 Pro drops the, often excessive, RGB to show that it means more esports-business than many of the other Razer hardware.  The only source of RGB comes in the form of the standard Razer emblem found on the palm area of the mouse.  The scroll wheel, which also features ribbed textures, features no RGB and is less protruding than some of the other Razer mice on the market.  This creates a much sleeker look which suites the fluent lines of the DeathAdder V2 Pro. Flipping the DeathAdder V2 Pro over will show one button that allows you to flick between profiles that can be set.  A second slider allows you to choose the way you want to connect your Deathadder to your PC.  The DeathAdder V2 Pro can connect to devices via Bluetooth which is great if you want to use it on devices that don't support USB dongles to be connected.  Another option is the wired method.  Using the supplied braided USB cable, called a Speedflex cable in the Razer house, a cable that just oozes premium.  Lastly, but my preferred method of connection is using the Razer Hyperspeed which uses 2.4Ghz technology to eliminate the most input lag possible.  You will also see two golden pegs, these can be used to charge the DeathAdder V2 Pro via the Razer charging dock, which is sold separately.    

Battery Life

Razer claims that the DeathAdder V2 Pro is capable of lasting 120 hours on a single charge when using the Bluetooth connection as well as no RGB.  As we all know, turning off the RGB is not an option, I mean RGB gives you at least 10% performance gains doesn't it?  Using it in Hyperspeed mode (2.4Ghz) with RGB the estimated time drops to around 70hours.  Which is still more than enough and if you do find yourself running out of charge, you can simply plug the cable in and keep on gaming.  While playing I found the charge to drop at around 1-2% per hour of intense play.

Performance

    The DeathAdder V2 Pro comes with the new optical switches that swap out mechanical clicks for the speed-of-light opticals, in layman's terms, optical is faster and better!  The optical switches are also rated for a mindblowing 70 million clicks!  Most of the newer Razer mice have started using the Focus + sensor.  This new sensor is able to handle DPI settings from as low as 200 all the way to 20 000.  As a user, you are able to set 5 DPI steps via the Razer Synapse app.  The Focus+ sensor boasts a resolution accuracy of 99.6% which is mindblowing for a sensor that is capable of being that accurate at 650 IPS (inches per second).  Did I mention it will be accurate up to speeds of 50G's, your mouth is hanging open, not mine!  As if that wasn't enough, Razer boasts even more features such as Smart Tracking and MotionSync to improve accuracy even more. When reviewing new headsets or mice, there is usually an adjustment period, which, especially in FPS games, can have a devastating effect when playing seriously punishing shooters such as Escape from Tarkov.  When I jumped into R6 Siege and EFT I did so with the expectation of seeing my performance drop significantly.  When this did not happen I was very surprised.  The DeathAdder V2 Pro has such a comfortable feel to it that it feels more natural than even your daily mouse will feel.  While playing Siege I found my aim to be great and the way the DeathAdder moves across the mousepad will have you looking down to see if you actually have anything in your hand!  

Verdict

I have been fortunate enough to test many mice, as well as having another premium brand mouse and a Razer Viper Ultimate as my personal daily-use mice.  For a very long time, I thought that it would be tough to beat these two mice for they both have, personally, the best in every category!  But the unassuming Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro slid onto my mousepad and has impressed me so immensely!  I am not sure if I will be able to pack this mouse away and send it back, sorry Apex Interactive.  The Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro can easily become your daily productive mouse by day an immensely capable gaming mouse by night.  With a battery life that will have you charging a lot less than you expect the only possible downfall of this mouse could be its price tag.  But if you are willing to spend some money you can buy your forever mouse right here!    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review content

 
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Logitech G733 Lightspeed – Review

  The new Logitech range which includes the G733 Lightspeed headset does a lot to find the middle ground for Logitech.  Logitech has always made spectacular hardware but they have often struggled to find a balance between their more practical products and their G gaming range.  The G733 takes the great performance that is required from the gaming range, needed for gamers to perform at their optimal levels and blends it into the more practical and playful looks that Logitech has often lacked.  Still, very much business orientated, but the G733 shows that work can be done even if you loosen the tie and ruffle the hair ever so slightly...   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkxeThlKLXc

Design

On most occasions, headsets that are rather lightweight tend to feel and are generally cheaper and not built too well.  As a general rule of thumb, with a bit of weight comes better build quality and a stronger structure in general.  The Logitech G733 ditches these ideas and gives you a headset that is extremely light.  Only weighing a measly 278g, which is a significant weight cut compared to other high-end Logitech headsets.  Although 278g might not sound like much, when you are wearing a headset for many hours continuously, you will thank Logitech for making such a lightweight headset.     The comfort does not stop there.  The earcups are lined with soft flexible memory foam cushioning that offers a comfortable fit and helps with sealing off the outside world as well as not causing too much heat after wearing them for extended periods of time.  The new headband system that Logitech has adapted to for the G733 is simply fantastic.  Many other brands have been using it for quite some time, allowing for the weight of the headset to be spread across a band over your head rather than using a single contact point as "traditional" headsets do.  The headband makes the G733 feel like it's floating above your head and only attached to your head at the earcups.  If for some reason, the headset doesn't fit quite right, the headband can even be adjusted to sit more snug, well done Logitech!  Did I mention the headband elastic is reversible if the already funky colour doesn't quite suit your mood for the day?   Although the straight and square design is rather new to the Logitech roster (copying more of the Astro look than Logitech) it is made from all plastic rather than the more carbon and metallic bits are seen on other high-end Logitechs'.  The plastic is strong and durable but it always will bring in a sense of cheapness even though, in this case, it is not the case.  Being plastic also allows the G733 to be made in bright and beautiful colours such as black, white, grey, and a beautiful blue.  The front rim of the earcups is embellished by an RGB strip that acts as two programmable areas for RGB.  

Features

Let us start with the controls.  Firstly, the G733 connects wirelessly via a USB dongle.  This works fine and dandy on the console but the G733 is more at home on the PC.  More on that a little later.  On the left earcup, you will find the microphone, which now features Blue Voice, thanks to Logitech's purchase of Blue Microphones.  On the rear of the earcup, there is a discrete flat button that allows for microphone mute.  When pressed you will hear an audio queue acknowledging that you are now muted or unmuted.  Extremely handy when you are not sure if you hit the mute button before you start conveying your disgust at a stupid play a fellow teammate made. Below the mute button, there is a volume dial,  this dial can turn endlessly both ways and adjust your PC's main volume.  So when turning you should get the volume level displayed by Windows. The last button on the rather barren G733 is the power button, hold to switch on, hold to switch off, a short press will have a lady tell you the battery level in your ear, nice! The aspect that has really made me fall in love with Logitech is how amazing their Ghub software is, and the resulting performance you get from the headset.  The G733, thanks to the Ghub software, can compete with headsets that are much more expensive, due to the customization levels introduced in the Ghub software.  

Ghub Customizations

The most obvious customization feature is RGB.  Like all the other Logitech products, the G733 features the same options when it comes to RGB settings.  Rainbow sliders and the normal options, I prefer to use a screen sampler, which allows the RGB on the headset to mimic what is happening on the screen.  Newer game titles are also supported for custom RGB features.  While playing Mafia Remastered, I found that when I was being chased by the police, all three ( keyboard, mouse, and headset) would flash red and blue as the police sirens and light would do.  That really makes immersion fantastic and with constant games being added to the supported list, this is spectacular.     The G733 features virtual surround sound thanks to DTS.  The virtual surround sound that is featured with most Logitech headsets is some of the most accurate I have experienced in any stereo headset.  Some other well-known brands seem to sound more like an echo than actually true spatial sound.  After tinkering with the surround sound there is more equalizers and settings to fiddle with until you have tweaked the audio to just what you want.  If you can't quite tweak it your way, why not simply download a preset that someone else has made and uploaded to the Ghub.  Quick and simple, find a setup you think might work and download it and test it out.  This is an approach more companies should take.  I have become a snob because of this feature and setting my own equalizers have now become somewhat of a pain.     The recent addition of Blue Voice in top-end Logitech headsets is tremendous.  Suddenly your Logitech headset can replace the likes of a separate stand microphone thanks to the amazing tech crammed into a small headset mic.  Not only can you set your microphone equalizer to allow you to sound perfectly crisp and clear, but there are also presets such as AM Radio, broadcaster, FM radio and presets for soft, loud, high and low voice types!  If anyone has ever told you that your voice would not suit radio, the Blue Voice tech can make you sound like you have the sweetest voice on earth!

Performance

    The Logitech G733 is a wireless headset, and with that comes certain "problems" when it comes to the audio performance.  When there is no audio playing, even at low volume, there is the normal hum.  Not a big deal, but to someone who believes in wired is better, this can be very annoying.  Fortunately, the G733 makes up for this slight flaw with exceptional audio quality.  With the extremely powerful equalizer that can be tuned to make nearly any form of music or in-game audio sound perfect, we were hard-pressed to really find something wrong.  So to be completely unbiased I decided to give the G733 to a few people to give their opinions in terms of audio.  The G733 is fitted with the same 40mm drivers as the G Pro X which is still our favourite all-time headset.  For this reason, the G733 sounds nearly exactly the same.  Mids are spot on with highs being at the verge of being too high.  Lows are firm and strong but can become slightly muddy when the mids are truly working hard.  This was only slightly noticeable during some intense BFV firefights.     The Logitech G733 soundstage is clearly taken from the G Pro X which is intended with esports in mind, hence the stage is smaller and closer than other headsets.  This is by no means a deal-breaker because when I took them for a spin in Horizon Zero Dawn the vast openness and gusts of wind perfectly gave the sense of a massive open area.  

Verdict

The Logitech G Pro X was easily our favourite headset and our standard to which all headsets are measured.  This leaves any other headset that lands in our hands at an immediate disadvantage.  The G733 put a smile on our face when we put it on, it is comfortable and light.  When we turned it on and started using it our smile increased even more! Chatting to friends online and hearing them say "wow, you sound so perfectly-clear" simply made us fall in love!  The G733 takes what made the G Pro headsets so wonderful and adds in some refreshing styling showing that you can be both business while still looking great and fun! If you are looking for a wireless option and the GPro X or G935 just does not do it for you, why not take a look at something just as good but a little more pleasing to the eye.      

Special thanks to Logitech for supplying the review hardware

     
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The Dark Pictures : Little Hope – Review

Hello, gamers and welcome back to another exciting “review, one of my “friends “and “colleagues” took great pleasure in “gifting “me the chance to review The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope…  Not sure if this is a blessing or a curse, let's find out! Ok, so instead of giving facts and interesting points I’m going to use phrases, *Ahem*…  NO NO NO NO…   AWWW HELL NO...  WHAT IS THAT?!?!?!..  RUUUUUUUN...  NO, I DIDN'T WANT TO DO THAT…  OH, I DON’T LIKE THIS...  WHY DID I DO THAT????!!! There we go game fully summed up and reviewed, good game, now for 4 hours of cartoons and cute kitty videos... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WEDMulICUA&t=2s

What is going on here?

    OK OK AMANDA...  I'll do this properly.  So little hope is a game based on the choices you make, and all these choices affect the 5 characters you play as, while on their way to a field trip their bus has an accident, as in crashes not soils its chassis.  This game picks up right off the bat and throws players into a world of misery, fear, and confusion.  How do I know this I enlisted someone very near and dear to me a one Dalal light, she helped me interpret all the symbols and even some details other will miss, and hearing her chuckle and then say “well let me tell you one thing right away, someone is not going to have a very good day”, this didn’t set me up well to play this game.  I pressed on, only to hear “oh I wouldn’t go that way not with that there”. And after politely thanking and sending miss light on her way I carried on, with a greater fear of the unknown than before. The game pushes players in 1 direction, both literally and figuratively, a dense fog shrouds the town and any attempt to go backward is futile, the fog simply swallows you up and sends you facing the other way. The players are constantly haunted by noises and quick glimpses of distorted figures in the background, creating a constant tension of what’s going to happen next.     Little hope was a bustling town back in its day, major factories being the town's lifeblood, but when the factories were closed down, the town was deserted and became a ghost town.  In more ways than one.  The town, even before its heyday, has a dark history.  During the witch burnings of Salem, Little Hope did its fair share of witch-hunting and much to miss lights displeasure…  Wait, when did you sneak back in?  Uhm the brutal murders of supposed witches.

What was that noise?

Now that we have established the backstory of Little Hope, let's jump into the game.  Players will take alternating control of all 5 characters their names being Andrew, John, Angela, Daniel, and Taylor sometimes for investigation, sometimes for a slight visit back to the time of yore, sometimes for quick button events that don’t always guarantee an agreeable result. The characters will constantly talk to each other and it's up to you to decide their response, will you be reassuring? Comforting? Undermining? Or a complete bi…….WAAAAAAAH!! AMANDA I TOLD YOU NOT TO SNEAK UP ON ME WHILE IM PLAYING THIS!!!   The Dark Pictures Anthology has a rather large focus on the character relations that you can build or break by way of the decisions you make.  These actions do not only have a single effect on the storyline.  Upset someone now, and have that consequence resonate back to bite you later.  This makes every single decision, be it made with the head or the heart, have a massive cause and effect on the story.  You will also be persuaded by the demons of your past or the past of a past life…  Or the past of a past life’s past life? Ghastly distorted disfigured and mangled visages of what was once human and it's up to you to make the right choices or face the consequences. And if the game itself isn’t creepy enough, you will periodically meet “the curator” a mildly pleasantly unpleasant person, who will talk you through your choice as the game goes on, being a little more than cynical of your choices if not very judgemental in his opinion….he offers “tips” if you can call them that from time to time but don’t expect a clear-cut answer it’s a riddle within a mystery.     It's up to you to get the 5 lost souls through this horror town to hopefully a good ending, hidden throughout the game are postcards with pictures which provide the player a small vision of what may or may not come to pass, based on your decisions made up to that point, I cannot say if they help or not.  But that’s all on you...     The visuals of the game are stunning if not eerie, the music will always keep you in a state of unease, when those violins start up the hairs on the back of my neck start doing backflips…  Even if nothing happens…  At that point anyway.  The fog always there, always foreboding, spurring you on and keeping all the horrors and nasties hidden until the time is right. I kind-of just scared myself there.  Little hope has a wonderful if you can call it that, way of building tremendous amounts of suspense.  Be that with the eerie soundtrack or perfectly placed silences.  If you don't turn in your chair a few times during this game there is something wrong with you.

Is it over yet?

  During this night you spend trying to save these 5 characters you will learn so much about the witch-trails in general.  And especially the horrors that would be the reason for so many innocent people to be put to death.  Just like the curator will mention on several occasions, nothing is quite what it seems.  And that statement rings true throughout the terror-filled night.  Whether you care to listen to the voice of reason, or rather dig a bit further, maybe lend an ear to a creepy little girl, you might just make sense of this nightmare. The Dark Pictures Anthology is so good at telling an intricate story that they are able to take a story, that at first, seems like nothing makes any sense, and have you piece the blocks together to help you experience one of the most "aha" moments ever just before the credits roll...

Verdict

Little Hope is the second outing in the Dark Pictures Anthology - series.  Its predecessor, The Man from Medan, built a solid foundation, but at times had some graphical issues and lost its scare-factor after a certain point.  Little Hope doubles up on the foundation and gives the graphics a massive step-up.  The game is beautiful even on the aging Xbox One.  The atmosphere is spectacular and you will be hard-pressed to find something that builds a better feeling of impending doom while delivering a great story! Little Hope offers many replays, and I for one would advise it!  Is it for everyone? Hmm, this is not easily answered but if you are looking for something to put a chill in your bones and deliver a fantastic story, then Little Hope is the perfect title for you.  If you have ongoing heart conditions or serious bedwetting issues…  Hard pass for your own sake. I greatly enjoyed my first run at this game and will definitely play it again to see if I can do better… 1 out of 5 is good right? Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to switch every light on I own, watch some cartoons in the fetal position. AMANDA MY BLANKEY IF YOU WILL.      

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for the review content

       
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Logitech G432 – Review

Logitech has been around for a while, and they are known for making some of the best hardware.  The G432 is an updated version of one of Logitech's most longstanding performers, the G430.  The G432 is all that an upgrade should be, keeping what made the previous version good, and tweaking the flaws.  Let us jump straight in and see what made the G430 great and what makes the G432 even better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFte92Mj8Pk

Design

The G430 was light and sleek headset sporting bright blue accents.  The G432 takes that and updates it, slightly.  The steel headband is still present and swiveling earcups are kept.  Pleather covered earcups are a great improvement with bright blue accents around the earcups.  The G432 is still extremely light, almost to the point of being too light.  This, however, is definitely a user preference and some find light headsets to be their favorite.  Compared to many other headsets the earcups do feel like they sit slightly loose on my head.  This is also something that will change from user to user.  I am comparing it to the Astro A40's and other headsets I have recently reviewed.  The G430 was lacking in the audio performance department but fortunately, that is one of the aspects Logitech certainly did improve on. The flexible boom mic that is fitted to the left earcup, can be folded away completely allowing the G432 to look like simple earphones when no microphone is needed.  One of the really nice features of the boom mic on the G432 is that when all the way down the mic works as usual.  If you want to quickly mute yourself, all you do is flip it up slightly and it will go into mute mode.  Drag it down again and you are back online free to speak.  The volume dial is also situated on the back of the left earcup, simple and easy to find.     Logitech has also spoilt the user by supplying every connection type known to man.  As standard, the G432 has a 3.5mm connection but supplied, is a splitter that splits audio and mic separately.  Along with this splitter is the DAC, a USB device that your 3.5mm jack plugs into.  This is a nice touch by Logitech ensuring the headset can be used in any possible way.  Not many manufacturers include these adapters in more budget orientated headsets.  Good job Logitech! Although the G432 does suffer from a few minor design flaws that affect comfort, like the loose-fitting earcups, these are all up to user preference.  Personally, I think they are reasonably comfortable and don't get too hot when wearing for long periods of time.  A colleague however had no issue with the loose earcups but was more concerned about the heat buildup after wearing for a couple of hours.  So overall it is an even split.  

Sound Performance

I made the conscious decision to start the sound test using the G432 with the 3.5mm connector.  When using the 3.5mm connector the first noticeable feature that is lacking is the use of Logitech Ghub.  Ghub is the software that you can use to adjust everything including the kitchen sink on all compatible Logitech devices.  Switching over to the DAC made a significant change in the audio quality.  The soundscape is tremendously good and closer compared to many other headsets in the same price range.     When you connect via the DAC is when the G432 comes alive and the wonderful GHUB shows its true capabilities.  The G432 features a virtual 7.1 surround sound thanks to DTS.  Setting this up is simple and has you listening to an audio track and adjusting all the speakers accordingly.  Using it in games such as Rainbow 6 Siege and Escape from Tarkov game me such a distinct advantage due to the games focusing a lot on audio.  In games such as Mafia Definitive edition, the hustle and bustle of the 1930's city really come to life when you walk down the street and people are speaking and cars are buzzing past. This is not the only feature.  Equalizers are completely customizable and if you are not happy with your personal settings you can simply download someone else profiles from the GHUB community.  Noise reduction on both the microphone and the audio is great.  Especially if you have a noisy household and you don't want to torture your party members with barking dogs or moaning children.  The mic quality is really good for its price range but it is definitely more aimed and multiplayer communication rather than any form of streaming or production worthy efforts.    

Verdict

The Logitech G432 is a great entry-level headset for someone who needs a complete package for a budget price.  The audio drivers are really good and the mic is more than respectable for first-time buyers.  The G432 will not be your final headset by any means.  It still suffers from a few tiny flaws such as the lack of clamping over the ears but it certainly has more going for it than against.  Straight out of the box, the G432 will work with any device, but if you are going to be using it on PC, be sure to use the DAC and the Logitech Ghub.  This will really make the G432 sing. Many might consider the G432 somewhat bulky and not friendly as an everyday headset.  But compared to many other brands and higher-end headsets, the Logitech G432 can definitely stand its ground when it comes to audio performance.    

Special thanks to our friends at Logitech for the review content

   
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Dirt 5 – Review

The Dirt franchise has become synonymous with being the all-in-one off-road experience!  It has brought us hardcore rally simulators as well as pick-up and play- arcade racers.  If you are looking to thread a needle through the Welsh forest while struggling to see through a rainstorm, not sure if that is a corner or a wall, then Dirt 2.0 is what you are after.  If you are after a fun-filled, colorful experience which will see you flying around Cape Town, listening to South African accents cheering you on, or flying through marble mines in Italy struggling to see your opponents flying by you.  All while having the guys from Donut Media, explaining how and what you need to be doing, then Dirt 5 is unashamedly the fun-filled off-roader you want! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K96Pe0jvpfk Dirt 5 is obviously a racing game, and with the next-gen consoles being really close to available.  It makes sense that Dirt 5 is arguably the racing showcase that will be used to show us what next-gen can do.  We, however, did not review it on next-gen but graphically you would expect Dirt 5 to take the current-gen consoles to their max.  With games like Forza Horizon 4 already being able to produce eye-searing graphics, Dirt 5 could only hope to match that and we would be ecstatic.  Starting up the game, it looks promising.  You are met with an option to either have the game focus on keeping good graphics or to focus on higher FPS.  Naturally, we tried both. Well, prepare to be underwhelmed.  Graphically Dirt 5 is lackluster at best, with switching between graphics and fps modes not making an impacting change at all.  Fortunately for Dirt 5 games are not all about graphics, right?  Well, Dirt 5 definitely makes up for the above in its variety. The career mode in Dirt 5 will have you putting your proverbial pedal to the metal for a significant time.  In theory, there are 75 tracks in total.  yes some of them are reversed versions of each other but 75 is still a big number.  The thing that I found made the campaign so much fun is the fact that the sheer size of the career is broken into many small pieces.  None of the races or modes feel too long that you find yourself getting bored.  In the same breath, I have to say I immediately turned the difficulty up a notch as to give me a fight all the way to the chequered flag. In Dirt 2.0 the job is simple.  Get from the start to the finish as quickly as you can without destroying the car.  Dirt 5, being the quirkier brother, throws in a few fun "challenges" to spice things up.  Drift for X amount of time, or trade paint in the air, each race will have these challenges.  Complete them and it will add towards your reputation and a few other categories which are needed to unlock more car customizations.

Cars and Customization

Dirt 5 has a respectable lineup of cars.  Compared to the likes of NFS or Forza it might fall slightly short but respectable none the less.  NFS has its over-the-top car modifications and Forza allows you to tune every last centimeter of the vehicle, Dirt 5 does not do the same, actually, it doesn't allow you to customize your car, performance-wise, at all!  Dirt 5 is more about aesthetics.  As you progress through the career mode and complete more of the side missions as mentioned before.  You will unlock decals for your vehicle.  Some of them in form of stickers to slap literally anywhere on your car.  Others will be wraps for your vehicle allowing you to customize your ride to your heart's content. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4iQzwrVdT8 What this means is that each vehicle and I use vehicles because not all contraptions are cars, there are buggies and other off-roading abominations have a specific rating.  It is rather simply put.  Performance and handling.  Closer to A-rating the better.  The thing that I was slightly upset about is the lack of variation when it came to how the cars felt when changing between classes of cars.  This might upset the more die-hard racing fans because it removes the learning curve for each vehicle, but on the flip side, it allows for a much easier pick-up-and-play experience!

Fun in the sun and mud

Although Dirt 5 is not as visually stunning as Forza Horizon 4, it is still extremely fun and entertaining.  Whether you are flying through forests in China, cruising around the streets of Cape Town listening to the South African accent coming over the PA system, or slipping and sliding across the frozen water of New York.  Dirt 5 has excitement on every track and every corner.  What makes the tracks even more amazing is how your surroundings react to your vehicle speeding past.  When fighting your way through the Italian marble mines, the dirt and fine marble dust can be seen sitting at the back of your car.  Drive through some water and see it wash off.  These are the little things that take me back to the fun I had playing Colin McCrae Rally on the PS1.  And that is partly why I will always have a soft spot for the Dirt-franchise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vVE-Ovf9Qw As mentioned before a total of 75 variants of tracks are available, giving a meaty amount of variety to work through.  Now change the weather and time of day and see how these tracks become something completely new.  Have it rain and be dark and you're favorite drive through the forest will have you careening into the first- and every tree thereafter. Last but not the least, there is a playground mode.  Which, when released to the public on the launch, will allow you to build custom tracks and have up to 12 friends join you to experience your masterpiece or Frankenstein track

Verdict

Dirt 5 does not quite match its rivals in terms of visual showcasing. and it's not quite there as a simulator-esque game like Dirt 2.0.  But what it lacks in those fields it makes up for in spunk and just general pickup and have fun attitude.  It is a genuinely fun game and throws in some voice acting from some of my favorite car guys, Donut Media, as well as the voice actor gods, Nolan North and Troy Baker, Dirt 5 is sure to put a smile on your proverbial dial.  

Special thanks to APEX Interactive for supplying us with the Review content

   
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TurtleBeach Stealth 600 Gen 2 – review

When the TurtleBeach Stealth 600 launched in 2017 we at EAX were fortunate enough to give it a good review.  It showed great promise for a first-generation headset.  We were thoroughly impressed and apart from a few small niggles the Stealth 600 had massive potential as a wireless headset.  Jump forward 3 years and we find ourselves with the Stealth 600 Generation 2 in our hands, ready to review...  Lets' see if TurtleBeach has listened to their customers and made the Gen 2 a true upgrade.  TurtleBeach took a bold stand when they decided to release the Stealth 600 Gen 2 so close to next-generation consoles being launched.  Fortunately, TurtleBeach has already confirmed that the Stealth 600 Gen 2 will be compatible with next-gen consoles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZAs8GEQwsE

Design

The Gen 2 Stealth 600 looks nearly identical to the Gen 1.  The only change that can be seen is the mic can now fold up against the left earcup, which gives it a much cleaner look overall.  The general build is still more budget, although that seems to be the bracket that TurtleBeach is planning for the Gen 2.  The mostly plastic build of the Gen 2, does have its own advantage.  Being mostly plastic the Gen 2 is extremely light even in wired headset terms.  This is something that people need to be aware of as some people prefer a little more weight, but each to his or her own.   One of the big problems we had with the Gen 1 Stealth 600 was the fact that the earcup cushioning, although soft, was scratchy and after wearing for an extended time would become itchy and extremely hot.  We are pleased to say the earcup cushioning has been substantially improved.  It now features a leatherette cover which is lovely on the ears.  Like the Gen 1, the earcups are designed to accompany users who where spectacles, this has always been a very nice touch from TurtleBeach.  Although all of these mentioned improvements have improved the comfort dramatically, the only problem we found in the comfort department is the size of the earcups.  The Gen 1 Stealth 600 headsets were exceptionally small earcups.  If you have regular-sized ears, you might have had problems using the Gen 1 Stealth 600's as over-ear headsets and rather use them as on-ear.  With the Gen 2 however the earcup size has been increased, not quite as much as might be needed, but improvement is good.  The earcups are on a swivel which is nice to have the headset "mold" to the wearer. The headband, like in the the Gen 1, slides easily to adjust to nearly any sized head.  The foam on the headband feels good and after some serious game time, we didn't experience any sore heads from a headband.  The mic might feel abit too cheap but fortunately, the mic and the headset can handle some punishment.

Features & Audio

In terms of audio, the Stealth 600 boasts 50mm drivers and, if you using it on Xbox, uses Windows Sonic Audio.  Obviously using something like WIndows Sonic Audio will make an audio improvement, we tested the Stealth 600 on PC, without Dolby or Sonic Audio enabled.  The Stealth 600 sound is very good and could be compared to its bigger brother the Atlas in terms of audio quality.  In previous TurtleBeach we often found the audio to be too tinny and focusing too much on the highs and mids and not enough rumble down low.  Once again TurtleBeach has listened to their customers and tuned the audio, even with standard settings, to be really strong in all spectrums.  There is the standard audio presets, Superhuman Hearing, as a standard with all turtlebeach headsets, lets you hear the smaller sounds like footsteps much better.  Other settings are treble boost, which only boosts the highs, and bass+trebble boost, which was my preferred setting.     When it comes to features, that is where the Stealth series, in general, falls flat.  It is a bare-bones headset featuring little to no creature-comforts.  This is all ways to keep the price tag to the lower end of course so it is a catch 22.  The Gen 2, however, does have a flip to mute mic now which when extended will activate the mic and when flipped up, you will be automatically muted.  The Gen 2 mic also features larger and higher sensitivity which makes an already clear mic sound even crisper.  It also features mic monitoring feedback, which is a nice feature for a budget wireless headset.  No more accidental shouting over the mic in the middle of the night! The standard features are all here, the volume wheel is situated under the earcup. right next to the volume wheel is the chat-audio mixer wheel.  Which should be a standard amongst all headsets but for some reason, it is not yet!  Last but not least there is a power button, charging port, and audio preset selector.  The TurtleBeach Stealth 600 Gen 2 connects via Bluetooth using a dongle that comes with the headset.  you simply plug it into your console or pc and turn on your headset.  Once connected the dongle, as well as the headset, will give you a light and audio queue respectively.  What needs to be mentioned is that only the PS and PC version of the Stealth 600 require the Bluetooth dongle, if you are using the Xbox version, thanks to the Xbox Bluetooth the headset connects directly to the console.     During our time spent with the Stealth 600 we jumped between titles like R6 Siege, Warzone, and some Apex Legends.  What we all agree on is that the audio quality is brilliant.  The Stealth 600's punch way above their price class and makes things sound the way we think they are intended to.  At first I did find myself fumbling with the buttons setting the wrong setting, but once I memorized the positions the controls are rather easy to manage.  Battery life on the Stealth 600 is rated at a decent 15 hours on a single charge.  I charged it when I received it and my rough calculation says that 15 hours sound like an easily achievable mark.  This however is the same battery life as the Gen 1, which is a little disappointing seeing as there was no improvement made in that department.  

Verdict

The TurtleBeach Stealth 600 Gen 2 had a rather tricky mountain to climb left by its predecessor.  Being a generally good headset but lacking a few key elements left us very interested in what TurtleBeach might do with their second outing.  We are pleased to see that they have done more right than wrong!  Improving the comfort and audio quality, making the mic more versatile has all but made the Gen 2 the perfect budget-friendly wireless headset.  The earcups could be slightly bigger but apart from that the Gen 2 can't be faulted and anyone picking them up are sure to be happy with them!        

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

     
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Logitech G102 Lightsync – Review

Logitech started making mice before many of us were even on this earth.  Logitech was already redefining what a mouse should be when most people were still wondering why your home computer would need a rodent attached to it.  What this means is that Logitech is a tried and tested brand and for that specific reason, many big organizations want to, and do, work with them and are sponsored by the giant that is Logitech. When they bring out a mouse, be it a new generation of an old classic, or a completely new design entirely, we should sit up and take note, as well as notes... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbpkm_S1gQc

Design

The G102 has been around for some time now, first making its debut to the world in 2016.  Not much has changed since then but then again, don't fix what 'ain't broke.  Logitech claims the G102 to be a wired gaming mouse.  in comparison to what most of us see gaming mice to be, the G102 is rather subdued and understated. The G102 retains the form of many of the legendary Logitech mice, most recently, the G Pro, that most esports athletes swear by.  Many iterations of this shape and size have been copied and tried by various brands but Logitech, in the G102, G305, and G Pro variants, has perfected it.  The smooth and symmetrical design that features 6 buttons can be found in a white or black finish. The G102 is on the smaller side of the scale in size and weight.  It is only 116mm long, 62mm wide, and stands 38mm high.  It has a non-braided USB cable that is 2m long.  If you want to be extremely critical of the G102 in terms of design, the few downfalls of it can only be the fact that the cable is not braided and that the weight can not be adjusted.  But looking at its roughly R600 price tag, you would be hardpressed to find these features on similarly priced mice.

Performance

The G102 weighs in at 85g which is a good weight for the size.  Not too light but not too much resistance when flicking or dragging.  Logitech has embedded the Mercury sensor inside this little mouse.  According to Logitech, the Mercury sensor is a gaming sensor, which gives you control of the sensitivity from 200 to 8000DPI.  Many of the more premium mice might have the ability to go to 16 000 DPI but realistically one would never need a DPI setting much higher than even 2000.  Where the G102 does make up for the lack of DPI is in the polling rate.  This means the G102 reports back to the PC up to 1000 times per second.  This is the main reason why the G102 movements and clicks feel much more instantaneous. When using it for gaming the G102 performs really well with the scroll wheel having enough resistance to give you a good bump when it jumps over to next slot which is great when switching between weapons in most games.  There is a distinct feel when rolling the scroll wheel which will eliminate possible bumps causing scrolling to happen.

Lightsync

According to Logitech, Lightsync is described as follows:  LIGHTSYNC technology immerses you into the action with automatic, game-driven lighting effects that react to many popular games. LIGHTSYNC will blast light to match in-game explosions, approaching enemies, damage taken, healing is done, new worlds visited, and much more. What this means is that many of the newer titles, much like Razer Synapse, links with the Logitech GHub and syncing up with Lightsync can make the RGB features of all Lightsync compatible items, link up to create a colorful vista of lights that don't only make things look pretty but actually serve a purpose.  Like acting as health bars, or directions to your next objective. On the G102 there is an RGB Halo that wraps around the palm area of the mouse as well as the usual G emblem that is both capable of supporting up to 16.8 million colors as well as a host of presets that can be defined in the Ghub.  My firm favorite on the white G102 is the rainbow effect.  The white G102 simply allows the colors to really pop and I found myself wanting more "halo-like" RGB bands around more of my peripherals...  I think I might have become one of... them...  RGB fanboys...

GHUB

Logitech G102 Review Logitech's GHUB software does what most other software packages do, but its packaged in a sleek, easy to use program.  Adjust your DPI settings by predefining 5 steps that can be jumped through by simply hitting your DPI button found in front of your scroll wheel.  Assign macro keys to the two inner thumb buttons by simply jumping to the assignment screen and selecting what you want those keys to do.  You can even take it one step further and let Ghub recognize the game you are playing and let it switch between macros you have assigned for each game.  This means taking some time, in the beginning, to set it all up but from there on, simply jump into your favorite game and have all your abilities at your fingertips.

Verdict

The Logitech G102 Lightsync might not bring a plethora of features and functions, it might not even spark an outcry over its futuristic design.  But it pairs a proven design with a more-than-capable sensor and slapped some good looking RGB on it.  Coming in at a nearly non-existent price of roughly R600 you will be hardpressed to find a piece of kit that can match the G102 for value for money.  The G102 might not be for those who don't like smaller mice but other than that and a lack of a braided cable, there is no reason why the G102 should not be the go-to mouse for those who want to have something they can use for office work and seamlessly use for gaming when they have a few minutes to spare.      

Special thanks to Logitech for the review products

   
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Roccat Horde AIMO – Review

When Roccat announced the Horde AIMO and marketed it as a "best of both worlds" hybrid mechanical keyboard I was intrigued.  Taking the having the precise linear distinction of mechanical keys, paired with the soft and quiet sound and feel of a membrane keyboard seemed to be a fantastic combination.  Making the keys low profile even upped the excitement by another notch.  But this was not the only aspect of the Roccat Horde AIMO that had people excited.  While bringing the best of both, the Horde AIMO would bring a host of popular gaming keyboard features such as programmable keys, RGB control, multimedia keys to name but a few.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZZChgahBzs

Design

Opening the Roccat Horde AIMO and taking it out of its box, you instantly feel that it feels old school.  Generally, that would insight a feel of quality, in this case, it feels more like old design and build quality.  What needs to be said is that the Horde AIMO is big, no I mean VERY big!  A large part of this size is taken up by the removable wrist rest, which is rather flimsy but not having it attached does make the edges of the Horde a bit rough.  If you are someone who likes symmetry and things to be either straight-edged or rounded, the Horde AIMO is not always sure who it is catering for.  With rounded finishes here and sharp, straight edges there, it is not quite sure what design it wants to follow.  The left side looks sleek and has perfectly placed macro keys.  On the right, it has a host of keys and features that can be found on most gaming keyboards in recent years.  The large dial on the top right can be used as a Windows 10 scroller wheel straight out of the box, and when paired with the feature keys, can be used to scroll through RGB settings and many more, nice feature and always handy when wanting to turn the volume up or down.  The top left seems to feature a cellphone holder like many of the older Roccat keyboards used to have but upon closer inspection, it seems to not be so. Roccat claims that the "memhanical" keys are a mixture of the precise and linear movements of mechanical keys and the soft and quiet of membrane keys.  Roccat also claims that the keys don't need to be pressed all the way to actuate, upon using and testing I find the statement to be not true.  The buttons would only actuate when bottomed out, not a deal-breaker by any means, but if you have ever experienced a true mechanical keyboard with either the Cherry MX Brown or Logitech's Romer G-switch, you will know how pleasant it is.  The low profile of the Horde AIMO keys also lends itself more to a membrane feel rather than mechanical.  For general use, the keys feel springy and don't provide quite as much resistance as what I would expect.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2x_FmAK7a8   The 5 programmable macro keys that are found down the left side of the keyboard has become a standard amongst most full-size gaming keyboards.  The Roccat Horde AIMO however, does have a long row of keys and a large dial on the top right side.  The dial is not only a volume knob when used in conjunction with the multimedia buttons, not only can the RGB effects be changed, but screens can be changed and RGB brightness adjusted. This all sounds fantastic and works well in principle but in reality, it makes for a lot of tedious pressing and unpressing of the desired function that it becomes more of a hassle than it needs to be.  The idea is great, and if music is your main use for the Horde AIMO it will serve you well but for everything else, the software does a more than adequate job.

Software

The Roccat Swarm software has been known as one of the more reliable software packages over the years, and with this being my first dabble with Roccat, I had to scratch around a bit to find out how the latest version of Swarm compares. What I did notice is that it seems that Swarm does suffer from a few bugs at present.  Not only are you never sure if you have the latest version installed, the updater pop-up jumps out warning you that you are outdated, straight after updating.  But when making changes you should not click apply and then OK.  By doing this it seemingly reverts to defaults and you start the process over again.  Simply pressing OK and continuing stores the changes.     Another bummer for MMO fans is the lack of on-the-fly Macro recording which makes casting a vast array of spells or attacks in quick succession rather cumbersome.  Roccat's AIMO RGB is described as a clever system that adjusts the RGB lighting to what you are playing.  I agree that the colouring is interesting although I can't quite put a finger on what it is using to decide its colouring.  On the Roccat Kone AIMO mouse the lighting is bright and really beautiful, the Horde, however, is hardly noticeable in a well-lit room.  

Performance

The Roccat Horde AIMO happily taps away at nearly everything you throw at it.  Be it playing CS:GO, some Rainbow Six Siege or Flight Simulator.  Typing is as pleasurable as typing can generally be.  But nothing quite sets the experience apart from a good quality office keyboard, let alone a mechanical keyboard.  Yes the Horde AIMO is cheaper than mechanical and more expensive than an office keyboard.  That is why it finds itself in an awkward grey area. But, then again, it also did not perform tremendously better than a mechanical keyboard...  

Verdict

The Roccat Horde AIMO can be given credit for trying.  The membrane-mechanical keys, the AIMO lighting effects, and the many uses of the dial.  Did they all work out to the way Roccat planned? Probably not, but they are by no means terrible. The Horde AIMO will definitely not suit those aiming for top spots in competitive gaming but for those who are willing to look past the questionable looks and slightly elevated price tag compared to other membrane keyboards.  Then the Roccat Horde AIMO is your keyboard.  I would personally hold off until they launch the next iteration where they possibly fix the shortcomings of this version.    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

     
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Roccat Kain 122 & 200 AIMO – Review

If the 2 X back-to-back Blockbuster Video Game Champ chooses Roccat as his weapons of choice they have to make a good product right?  Roccat is a German peripheral-making company that has recently been acquired by Turtle Beach.  Roccat has decided to enter the highly contested gaming mouse terrain, taking on big names such as Logitech, Razer, and Corsair to name but a few heavyweights.  The Germans are renowned for making perfectly engineered equipment.  We had the privilege of getting our hands on the Roccat Kain 122 (wired) AIMO as well as the Kain 200 (wireless).  Can these German-engineered mice show the other heavyweights in the industry that simple and clean designs and Roccat's new TITAN click technology can set these mice apart?  Let's find out!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO7dghZD8_o

Design

The Roccat Kain pairing is the first Roccat-made mice that I have had the pleasure to test and put through their paces.  I naturally went and did some research and checked the previous mice that came from the Roccat stable.  It is safe to say the Kain 122 and its wireless brother, the 200, carry the family resemblance, albeit a striking one.  The Kain AIMO has a narrow design and with a rather raised arch, it allows for a very comfortable grip and resting for hands of all sizes.  It slants off to the right allowing for a more natural grip when holding it but also means that the Kain AIMO is a right-hand-only mouse.  The two buttons located on the inner-right is perfectly placed.  Some brands place their inner-programmable keys too high or too low, causing the user to either accidentally press the keys when moving the mouse, or having to regrip to reach them.  The Kain has got the positioning spot-on, easily accessible yet not accidentally pressed.     The left and right mouse buttons are not placed next to each other like most mice are.  there is a strip of brushed metal dividing the two keys which adds to the straight and square lines that dominate the Kain design.  At the top of this brushed metal piece, there is a DPI button, neat and square, elegant yet functional use of a button that has hampered many brands in their sleekness of design.  Not to mention the scroll wheel that protrudes the brushed metal strip.  The left and right mouse buttons     The sleek and smooth design of the Kain AIMO range and lack of any rubbery grips makes for a very appealing look but the smooth finish can, for some, make the Kain feel slippery.  With the Kain 122 weighing in at a middle-of-road 89g ( Kain 200 weighs 105g) meaning it is light enough to be able to whizz it across your mousepad without feeling like you have nothing in your hand, and not sacrificing the feeling of quality.  Unlike many of the bigger brands, the Kain-range has no weight adjustment, although I think Roccat got the weighting just right.  

Performance

Both the Kain 122 and 200 are fitted with the Roccat signature Owl-Eye Optical sensor which is good for up to 16 000DPI.  This is substantially higher than many other mice in the same price bracket.  Although 16 000 DPI is generally way too high for any sane person.  a realistic maximum DPI would be more in the range of 3 200, but much like kilowatt rating in cars, it's more for show than anything else.  Roccat has its own software called Swarm.  This allows you to save up to five profiles to the mouse, as well as assign keys to the programmable buttons, change the RGB lighting and program your DPI steps that can be flicked through using the DPI button located in the middle of the two mouse buttons.     Roccat has taken the mouse-click and thought about how to improve something we have taken for granted since the birth of the gaming mouse.  By simply repositioning the switch to a more natural location, the new Roccat Titan switch feels more distinguished and more precise.  The buttons are also hinged giving it a cushioned feel when clicking.  Although the Swarm software is not nearly as refined as Ghub from Logitech or Synapse from Razer, it is extremely straightforward, and apart from a small struggle we had to save DPI settings to the mouse, Roccat Swarm was extremely straight forward and provided great explanations of what each setting would do. Both the Kain -122 and the 200 feature phenomenal thresholds for acceleration with the minimum being 40g and the maximum of 400IPS (inches per second).  Basically said, even if you have superhuman flick ability in your favorite shooter, you will not be able to blame the Roccat Kain 122 or 200 for not being able to keep up with your speed. Kain 200   Some of the features that set the Kain 200 apart from its wired brother, is obviously the wireless part.  The Kain 200, in wired mode looks identical to the Kain 122.  When using it as a wireless mouse the cable simply unplugs and can either be plugged into a dongle, that can be placed near to where you are using the mouse, or the wireless receiver can be plugged straight into a USB port.  The Kain 200 uses a 2.4Ghz range for best-uninterrupted performance while stretching the battery life on its 1000 mAh battery as far as possible.  

Verdict

  For myself, who moves between peripherals on regular intervals for review purposes, but also try and keep a high level of skill in games like Rainbow Six Siege and Escape from Tarkov, changing a mouse can have a devastating impact on your performance.  Your mouse is your weapon and like soldiers, we spend many hours honing our skill with our weapon of choice, suddenly switching it out with another generally makes you play and aim worse.  My regular daily mouse is the legendary Logitech G903 lightspeed closely followed by the amazing Razer Viper Ultimate.  Both premium wireless mice.  The Roccat Kain 122 or wireless 200, can easily hold its own against the likes of these two heavyweights.  Jumping into my favorite games with the Kain 200 was an absolute blast.  I hardly noticed any adjustment time and the Owl-eye Sensor is fantastic feeling extremely accurate and true.  With its lesser focus on RGB and gadgets and more emphasis on creating a great experience while not being overly flashy, Roccat has created a spectacular mouse! If you are looking for a mouse, wired or wireless, that sits more in a mid-range price category while competing and beating many of the high-end gaming mice out there, then the Roccat Kain-range is definitely worth taking a look at.  If it is good enough for the Doc, to cause Violence, speed and momentum, then it is surely more than adequate for all of us!    

special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content

 
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Razer Huntsman Mini – Review

Technology has seen many trends relating to size.  There was a time that everything went smaller and smaller.  Phones became the size of pebbles.  Then as tech evolved more size increased again, to the point where its tough to distinguish whether your phone is a tablet or your tablet is a phone...     PC hardware is no different, but as a general rule of thumb, bigger is better.  Gaming keyboards were the keyboards that featured the most buttons and gadgets and even displays.  Endless amounts of programmable keys and USB ports galore.  With the increase in eSports and general competitive gaming to the masses so has the demand for more dedicated competitive keyboards.  Queue the 60% keyboards!

Design

For those who don't know, a 60% keyboard takes the footprint of a standard 115key keyboard and cuts 40% of it reducing it to roughly ~65keys depending on the keyboard.  This means that the Numpad and, usually, the arrow, scroll, delete etc keys will be removed or relocated and used in conjunction with a function key.  Taking this approach really is a big gamble if you are Razer or any brand in this case.  The 60% keyboard is very polarizing to the audience.  If you are a gamer only, the Huntsman mini will be a pleasure to use as it will provide you will much more mousepad real-estate to fling your mouse around on as well as being easier to pick up and take to your next LAN event.  On the flip side, for users who do not solely use they keyboard for gaming, productivity will take a knock, and even more so if you are someone who needs to enter numbers into fields often.     The Huntsman Elite, Razer's flagship keyboard has a list of features that is difficult to envision fitting on to a keyboard.  USB ports, media controls, volume dials, wrist rests, and the list continues.  The Huntsman Mini, however, is a stripped-down, bare-bones version.  Only sharing the name and optical switches from its feature-laden brother. The Huntsman Mini is clearly targeted to take the fight to the Ducky One keyboards and boasting impressive dimensions of 30 x 10 x 3cm it is definitely placing itself firmly in the fight.  The slightly raised keycaps allow for the Huntsman Mini's RGB to really show its true ability.  The keycaps themselves feel really solid and premium to touch and the cheeky font, when illuminated, looks really nice.  For the more keen-eyed, there is a subtle Razer inscription on the lip of the keyboard, and no more bombastic illuminating Razer logo. Looking to the bottom and the back of the Huntsman Mini, you will find the usual "For the Gamers by Gamers" pattern across the back.  The braided USB C-type cable, which is also interchangeable with other type-C, slots perfectly and clips in and out with ease, without feeling flimsy or like it might disconnect and the slightest tug.  There are also two sets of feet to raise the keyboard, 6- or 9 degrees respectively.     So you have the Razer Huntsman Mini but now you need to use your arrow keys or the delete key, what do you do?  Luckily Razer was merciful and provided for a Function key ( Fn) and adequate amount of side-printed functions.  These keys can easily be seen from a seated position and when the Fn key is pressed all illumination will be killed off and the function-binded keys will light up in white.  Apart from these keys you can do other things like changing preset RGB effects, do macro-binding or even use media keys using the Fn key.

Gaming and features

The biggest appeal of the Huntsman mini, apart from the size, would be the Purple optical switches.  For those who don't know the difference between Optical and mechanical, mechanical uses a mechanism to move the keycap down and activate a microswitch that is placed under the keycap.  Optical switches have a stem attached to the bottom of the keycap that, when pressed, will interrupt a light source.  This break in the light will then indicate a keypress, essentially making the response time, the speed of light.     When typing the optical switches, even though not mechanical, still give you a pleasant sound and resistance.  Just enough to give a sense of confidence when pressing but not too much to make it a pain.  The biggest pain with 60%'ers is to use some of the keys that are readily available on normal keyboards, you need to use the Fn key, so as mentioned before using the Huntsman mini for writing and office work could be a little more cumbersome. Moving to gaming, like what the Huntsman mini was intended for, it is fantastic.  For the first time, I have enough space on my desk to try turning my keyboard more towards the vertical orientation as many pro's do.  The new orientation does a lot for comfort and I would recommend it to most.  Something that I had to get used to is the short travel of the keys, (3.5mm) this had me moving sooner than anticipated and often losing gunfights while playing Rainbow Six Siege.  This has become a normal situation by reviewing peripherals and getting used to new mice and keys regularly.     The happy-medium of firm, yet soft, when it came to keypresses was greatly appreciated while playing Escape from Tarkov where the slightest accidental keypress can be the end of your raid.  Resting fingers on keys have often had me blowing my team, or myself, up with accidentally thrown grenades.  The Huntsman Mini keys are firm enough to provide rest for weary fingers without causing unpleasantries ingame. The Razer Huntsman Mini uses the same software as all the other mice and keyboards, Razer Synapse, is a rather simple to use software allowing you to tweak everything possible on the hardware.  But, seeing as the Huntsman mini is aimed at esports, Synapse is not needed for everything.  Although small, the Huntsman mini has space for 5 onboard profiles which include keybinds and RGB settings.

Verdict

The Razer Huntsman Mini is the first 60% keyboard the brand has released, and it is a successful one.  The Huntsman Mini feels very premium with its optical clicky switches and double-shot keycaps.  Although pricey, the feel of ease and confidence when pressing down on the keys make the price tag seem as little of a concern as that last enemy you shot. If optical switches are what you are after, and a 60%'er is something you are considering, the Razer Huntsman Mini is a no-brainer!  

 

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the hardware 

 
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AOC CU34G2x – Review

Ultrawide monitors are generally seen to be for the users who either need the extra size for work, or for those who just want to stick with the latest trends, and can afford them.  So when AOC dropped the monstrous CU34G2x at my desk, I was rather excited to see what all the fuss is about. The AOC CU34G2X comes in a box that could easily hold the total contents of my wife's shoe cupboard and even just taking it out the box is a mission if you are like me, vertically challenged. The Ultrawide gaming monitor section has become flooded the last while which makes it really tough for new entries to really get a foothold in the market.  Unless companies take drastic measures with design, their product is bound to look similar, in some way, to the competition.  In recent times, the gaming monitor design has seen a red accent and RGB becomes the order of the day.  AOC however, decided that they might take a different approach.  Instead of trying to look different, they have decided to rather SHOW why they are different. With its minimal design and reserved looks, the AOC CU34G2X goes out of its way to show that it can fight with the more expensive monitors in the market today!  

Design

In a world where it seems like the only way to get approval from the community is to cram in the most ridiculous amounts of RGB, AOC has chosen a more "grown-up" look.  the straight and square lines, paired with the thin bezel, gives the CU34G2X a very office-friendly look.  Many of the newer monitors prefer to go with lighter bases and frames but AOC chooses to use metal which makes sure this monster display is not toppling over or going anywhere.  The footprint of the stand is also surprisingly shallow considering the size of the monitor.  This subtle design might not be for everyone.  If you are forking out a large sum of money, you want your purchase to stand out in a crowd.  The AOC doesn't do that, but rather keeps its head down and get the job done! What it lacks in lavish designs it definitely makes up for in features.  It packs a 34inch, QHD, 21:9 aspect ratio (3440x1440), 144Hz, and 1ms response time.  With a list of features like that its tough to not get excited.  Did I mention it's curved?  And it features Adaptive sync, which means Gsync and FreeSync are both catered for. But it does not end there, seeing as it is ultrawide, it allows for multiple inputs, these can come in the form of either HDMI (x2) or Display Port (x2).  With more than enough USB ports to cater to nearly every possible device, you may need to connect.

Performance

For someone like myself, who did not believe in ultrawide, and whether or not it is actually useful or just a nice to have, the AOC CU34G2X really has changed my mind for many reasons.  Not only is the curve (1500) enough to improve immersion, it is also not too much and when using it for mundane office work the 21:9 display makes having multiple tabs and/or spreadsheets open side-by-side an absolute dream!  Coming from a 27" QHD 144hz, 1ms monitor myself, I quickly realized how much I was truly missing out on, especially when it comes to the color gamut.  Straight out of the box, the colors seemed true and natural which means that AOC hit the color adjustments just right.  Playing some escape from Tarkov made me realize how dark certain parts of Interchange really should be.  After an adjustment period, the games felt significantly more vibrant thanks to the dark blacks and vibrant colors. Another feature of the AOC GU34G2X is the addition of HDR.  I have not experienced a true HDR monitor before so this was my first try.  When turning on HDR in Tomb Raider the visuals simply blew me away.  Colors and depth become amazingly clear.  I did however find that turning on the HDR setting on the monitor itself does make for a strange smudged effect on games that are not HDR supported.  

Features

The CU34G2X is crammed full of nifty dials and settings that you can set and play with.  Shadow control will improve visibility in darker games.  Color saturation will help get the perfect color pallets if the stock one doesn't suit your taste.  Crosshair overlays ( naughty), an fps counter, a few predefined picture modes such as FPS, RTS, racing, etc.  PIP, or Picture in Picture, is something that might seem silly when not using a bigger monitor.  I tested this feature while playing a game of golf on my Xbox One, which was connected via HDMI, and watched the F1 from my pc, connected via DP, on the same monitor with a PIP.PBP, Picture by Picture, is another nifty feature for those who already like to use a second monitor for work or play.  Now you can get rid of the second and use the ultrawide to provide you with enough screen to have moth displays on one.  Never Alt+tab to another window ever again.  Simply have both open next to each other! Adaptive Sync is also a big selling point for this monitor.  Apart from the long list of everything that makes the AOC CU34G2X remarkable already, the real deal for competitive gamers would be the AdaptiveSync.  Allowing the monitor to refresh at the rate at which the GPU provides the frames.  And AdaptiveSync caters for both Nvidia and AMD users alike.  No more upgrading GPU's and sticking to a brand due to the monitor you have.  

Final Verdict

The AOC CU34G2X ticks the boxes without stumbling.  The 34'' ultrawide display is wonderful, something I will be sad to see leave (maybe AOC will gift it to me?).  Make that display 144hz, give it 1ms response time, and 1440p...  There has to be a catch right?  R15 000, give or take some, in comparison to its competition, makes the AOC CU34G2X even more appealing.  The general look and feel will slot seamlessly into any work/office environment.  AdaptiveSync is simply a no-brainer these days and AOC has taken it upon themselves to provide it. Other than a slight improvement in the HDR technologies, which would bump the price significantly, and bumping the max brightness ever so slightly, the CU34G2X is a masterpiece and has been able to convince me, someone, who didn't believe in the "gimmick" of ultrawide, to rethinking life if I were to go back to a normal monitor...    

Special thanks to AOC for the review hardware

     
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Logitech G502 Lightspeed – Review

Logitech has a pretty firm motto when it comes to their hardware.  If it ain't broken, don't fix it.  And the G502 is a prime example of this.  The first generation G502 came out in early 2016 and has endured, with some tweaks and upgrades, to still be a spectacular mouse in 2020. The most recent upgrade being the addition of Lightspeed.  Lightspeed is Logitech's wireless technology, and from past experiences, it is great.  So over its long and illustrious time on the shelf and in the hands of a plethora of gamers across the world, the basic design has not changed.  Apart from updating the Logitech logo, it is the same mouse on the outside as when it launched.  

Design

In the design department not much has really changed, as mentioned before, looks-wise, the only change you will see is the new Logitech emblem.  For those who don't know the G502, it is a right-handed, oddly shaped monster.  With many bulges and sharp edges protruding, it is not a mouse that would fit into an office environment but it sure will fit splendidly into any gaming setup.  The mixture of matte black and gloss inserts, as well as a significant thumb rest definitely, sets the G502 apart from all the other more "traditional" looking mice on the market.  The textured rubber on either side of the mouse provides adequate grip while note making it get sweaty in your hands after extended use. The G502 has extremely hard angles, which some might love, others will hate.  The top 2 programmable buttons that can be found next to the primary click buttons, seem like they are overhanging the edge of the mouse.  But thanks to the excellent build quality from Logitech these buttons do not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon!  These buttons, if not programmed, will function as the DPI up and down buttons giving it a nice easy feel instead of having to scroll through all your preset DPI's to eventually reach the first one you actually want.  These buttons are also designed to be used with your index finger rather than your thumb.     Your thumb has got more than enough work to do though.  Another two programmable keys are neatly tucked in the side of the mouse where your thumb can easily glide up to use them.  These buttons are perfectly placed and feel natural to press.  The third thumb button is an accuracy button which drops the DPI dramatically while holding the button pressed.  This is great when doing fine positioning in design work or when you need to get that perfect aiming accuracy in your favourite shooter.  The only problem with this button if you have smaller hands is that you might not be able to reach it without adjusting your grip.  This is not a mistake on Logitech but merely an example of how certain mice suite certain hand sizes as well as grips. For myself, with smaller hands, I found the size of the G502 to be perfect.  In the past, I have reviewed many smaller mice which do come in much lighter than the G502 but after extensive time spent using them, I found my hand would often ache.  The G502 has the perfect height in your palm and resting your hand on the mouse will have your fingers naturally land on the buttons, in my book, that's a win!     Turning the G502 and clipping off the magnetic bottom end shows you where the vast options of weights can be placed.  The G502, even when not weighted, still comes in at a hefty 121g, for some this might be the deal-breaker already!  Add in all the supplied weights and you looking at 139g.  The difference is that you can place the weights all around the mouse.  Making for many options such as weighting it front-back or side to side.

Features and changes

Like previously mentioned, on the outside the G502 doesn't look like it has changed much.  Internally, the G502 has seen the Hero sensor being added, which gave the G502 Hero status...  The G502 used to have a maximum DPI of 12 000, with the Hero sensor, that number bumps up to 16 000.  In reality, most people would never explore the higher ends of the DPI spectrum so if that is the only motivation for upgrading I would think you might be wasting your money. But the Lightspeed upgrade is what truly takes the G502 from good to great.  Logitech has been including their Lightspeed technology in many of their products of late, and from someone who always believed wired is best, I am now a Lightspeed-believer.  There truly is no input delay!  The G502 can work wired, but simply plugging the braided cable into the front of the mouse, or wireless in two separate ways.  Either plug the cable into the wireless receiver which houses the USB dongle, making so that the cable can be at hand when the battery does need a charge.  Or get rid of the cable and simply plug the dongle straight into a USB port.     Another massive upgrade in terms of longevity for nearly all of the Logitech items is the change to Omron switches.  Omron, being Logitech's own design bolsters the click life from 20 million to 50 million, that is a lot of clicks before they might give in.

Verdict

The G502 Lightspeed delivers in nearly every aspect you could ask for.  Cool design, check.  Comfort, check.  Great sensor, check. Wireless, check!  The only possible downfall for the G502 Lightspeed might be its slightly heavier build and the fact that it is not ambidextrous like many other mice are. But if you are in the market for a new gaming mouse that has more than enough features to keep to satisfied and happily clicking along for many moons to come, the G502 Lightspeed is the one you want to go for.  Not only does it look like its ready to go, it is! Logitech has taken a favourite and made it even more appealing to new users looking for their first gaming mouse, as well as the veterans who need a new mouse.    

Special thanks to Logitech for the review content

 
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Logitech G Pro Wired – Review

The world of esports has seen a massive boost in recent years with every Tom, Dick, and metaphorical Harry, thinking they can be the very best like no one ever was...  Wow, I am old...  Anyway, enough Pokemon references.  Just like the players, so to have the peripheral companies jumped on the esports hype.  There are a few brands that do stand out a little more than others.  Logitech is one of those companies.  Producing hardware, especially mice and keyboards that some of the top teams swear by.  Their G Pro-Range, obviously aimed at the more competitive market, is testimony to why less is more and expensive is not always better! The G Pro has been around for some time now, and from the look of this year's one, not much has changed.  It still sports the same design and 6 button layout.  But what you don't see from just looking, is what is happening on the insides.  The latest version of the G Pro wired & wireless both feature Logitechs latest sensor, the Hero sensor (High-Efficiency Rated Optical).  This alone should be reason enough to take another look at the G Pro, as the Hero sensors are simply astounding.  Pair this with the new Omron keys and you have a winner!  Did I mention it nearly weighs nothing? Although most of us won't ever experience what it is like to be in a professional gaming organization due to various factors such as general lack of skill or being on the wrong side of 17 years old, professional-grade gaming hardware is none the less very exciting and interesting and for those of us who want that slight edge on the competition.  

Design

The Logitech G Pro Wired design does not reinvent the wheel by any means, it is a round-shaped, medium-sized right-handed mouse.  with two addressable keys on the inside of the mouse.  Obviously a lot of focus has gone into the Hero sensor that allows for a DPI setting of between 100 and 16 000.  Maybe I am just not worthy, but there is no world in which I can fathom ever needing DPI setting anywhere near 100 or 16k, but alas, the G Pro can go for the whole range.  Personally, I keep the DPI settings ranged between 800 and 1600 with 200 intervals, all of which I save on the quick-change slots that the G Pro has.     The G Pro is also fitted with the durable Omron keys that are rated for 50 million clicks.  This gives the G Pro even more of an advantage over the competition.  The Omron switches allow for an extremely fast actuation as well as moving back to a position just as quickly.  Meaning clicks are more precise and more on time.   The choice in heavy or light mouse choice is very much up to the user, but the Logitech G Pro wired comes in at a measly 83g.  Some might consider this too light, and at first, I would have to have agreed.  But giving it some time, and getting used to how easily it glides across the mousepad I can now understand why many would prefer the lighter mice.

Software

  When I first started using Logitech G Hub I found it to be cumbersome.  But after comparing it to some of the other brand offerings I came to realize that it was actually one of the easier packages to use.  Using it on the G Pro was not going to add fireworks and unicorns to the functionality of the mouse.  Instead, the G Pro is rather bare when it comes to the software.  The Hub allows you to tweak your DPI settings, calibrate the G Pro to the mousepad that you are currently using, and lastly customize the RGB effect of the swooping strip that hugs the bottom half of the mouse, as well as the Logitech emblem that will sit firmly in the centre of your palm when using it.  The RGB options are rather limited but generally, the colours are extremely vibrant and bright.

Gaming

    I took the G Pro wired for a spin while playing some games such as Rainbow 6 Siege, Escape from Tarkov, and Assassins Creed: Origins.  In games like Origins and other slower-paced RPG titles the G Pro did come up lacking compared to the G903 which I use as my daily mouse, the G Pro lacks the extra buttons which come in handy when casting spells and using potions in games such as World of Warcraft.  Switching over to first-person shooters is where the G Pro really shines.  The extremely accurate sensor and masterfully crafted Omron keys make aiming and clicking heads an absolute dream!  Once I found my sweet spot in terms of DPI, my accuracy started climbing dramatically and I was feeling like a casual king.

Verdict

Logitech has certainly come close to perfecting the light-weight gaming mouse and the G Pro atones to that.  If you are in the market for an esports-ready gaming mouse and you don't want to break the bank in doing so, there are a good few to choose from.  Razer has the Deathadder, Corsair has the M65, but none of them quite have the pedigree of the G Pro.  The G Pro has been kicking butt and taking names by the likes of Navi, G2 eSports, and TSM, to name but a few.  If big names like that believe in the power of the G Pro, why shouldn't we? At the end of the day, the G Pro comes in at a good price, provides excellent comfort, and a tremendous performance from the HERO sensor as well as the Omron switches.    

Special thanks to Logitech for the review content

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Mediabox MBX4K Ranger – Review

I am not the biggest of fans of media boxes.  I am even less proficient at anything Android.  Yes, yes I am one of those people who prefer their devices to be of the fruit variant.  Call me a snob so we might move on.  When Apex Interactive sent me the Mediabox MBX4K Ranger to try, I was in two minds.  This being my first review of a device like this, and also my first real-time spent on an Android platform. Before we dive into the details of the MBX4K Ranger here are some of the technical specs:
  • Model: Mediabox Ranger MBX4K Ranger
  • CPU: Arm Quad 64-bit Cortex-A53 up to 1.5GHz
  • OS: Android 8.0 TV
  • Video: HDMI 2.0b
  • Audio: Audio over HDMI or Optical with Dobly support
  • Video: Up to 4K @ 60fps
  • Wifi: 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11 a/b/c/g/n/ac
  • Ethernet: Yes -10M/100M
  • Power: 5v/2A 8w usage
  • Ram: 2GB DDR
  • Storage: 8GB flash expandable
The MBX4K Ranger is a neatly packaged box that comes with the actual device, the power cord, HDMI cable, a quick start guide, and a sleek, voice controllable remote.  The MBX4K is a sleek black box with a red accent at the bottom.  On the front, there is the power light, red for standby, blue for on.   The design is discrete and the box itself is the size of one's palm which allows it to be easily placed in any home setup without being ugly or cumbersome.  On the side, the media box comes with 2x USB ports and an SD slot for storage expansion.  The remote is a sleek and stylish black remote featuring the usual power, scroll, and select buttons, but this model also features Google Assistant, which really is a wonderful feature.  Simply press the Google Assistant button on the controller and speak into the controller.  Want to watch Youtube, simply tell the remote so, and it will be!

Setting up and getting watching

For Android users, the setup should be simple to navigate.  The interface is smooth and fast, the only possible downfall is the onscreen keyboard that is not qwerty but rather alphabetical (who types that way?).   This can easily be solved by using another android device to do the setup.  A quick link of your android account and sign in to the usual apps is a breeze.  The general navigation and use of the MBX4K Ranger feel fast, responsive, and snappy.  The MBX4K Ranger comes pre-installed with a few of the standard apps such as DSTV Now, Youtube, and Showmax, other standards in my household is Twitch and VLC, all of which were easily found and installed and were working within a few minutes. 4K HDR is something that not many of the more "budget-friendly" media boxes can brag about.  I don't have a 4K HDR TV myself so I had to take the MBX4K Ranger for a little road trip to someone who does.  I was optimistic but pleasantly surprised when I turned on the HDR feature in the settings and selected a 2160p@60fps and it worked...  It does however cause the whole UI to be in HDR which can make some things look slightly strange.  But the fact that the HDR actually works already is a big bonus for the MBX4K Ranger.

Android 8 TV ( no Netflix on MBX4K Ranger store, unfortunately)

  So to this point, the MBX4K Ranger has been ticking the boxes and becoming a very comfortable unit in my living room.  Until my missus wanted to watch some Netflix.  No problem, surely this box of tricks will run Netflix.... right? Wrong!  The Netflix app is not natively supported but Android 8.0 TV which is actually rather infuriating as it had been performing so well to this point.  I took to the web to find out about possible ways to get it working, thinking that my non-Android brain was obviously doing something wrong.  Going straight to the FAQs on the MBX4K Ranger site I found some manuals on how to use third-party stores to install a "cracked" version on the MBX4K Ranger.  Another option being, downloading a Netflix APK and manually installing it.   After many hours and many cuss words, I finally gave up and accepted my fate, no Netflix.

But can it Kodi?

I am sure most people buying the MBX4K Ranger would be considering it for Kodi.  I am very pleased to tell you Kodi 18 installs straight from the Play Store without the slightest of problems and runs without any sort of hiccup!  You will still need to perform some sort of wizardry to get all the Repositories working and they will be laggy but as for the app itself, it works seamlessly!  

Verdict

The MBX4K Ranger is by no means the perfect all-in-one media box.  Small issues such as the lack of a web browser, which could have ticked the Netflix box in an alternative way, Wifi disconnects and just general lack of freedom that you would normally expect from devices running any form of Android OS.  The lack of Netflix compatibility is what really got me!  The MBX4K Ranger navigates and runs tremendously well and the clean look and feel to the UI does make it look professional and seem much more high-end than what the price tag suggests.  The remote is really wonderful and I even like it more than the Apple TV remote.  Throw in the Google Assistant and the controller is amazing! It does however run HDR which is better than most!  Kodi works like a charm, DSTV Now, Youtube, Showmax all run without any issues!   If Mediabox can provide an update that will allow us to natively run Netflix without performing any rocket-science, the MBX4K Ranger will be the flagship media box for those who are willing to part with their other, more premium, branded boxes.  

The MBX4K Ranger retails for R1 499 at various retailers

       

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review hardware

 
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AOC CQ27G2 Gaming Monitor – Review

My very first experience with an AOC monitor happened way back in 2009 when I unknowingly bought arguably the best and most durable monitor I would come to have.  At the time I simply wanted a 1080p display roughly 24inches big.  My trusty AOC has been by my side through many consoles, a few PC's, office, home, friends, LAN's and even being borrowed to friends.  Through all of that without a single hiccup.  Fast-forward 11years and being able to unbox the latest in the AOC monitor range feels like I have come full circle.  Let's hope the G2 range can stand up to the legendary status of its grandfather before it left in my mind.  Let us dive straight in...  

Design and build

The AOC CQ27G2 design and build is simple yet stylish.  Featuring a matte black finish all around and a few red streaks to accent the sleek design.  The "almost bezel-less" design makes the 27inch display appear even bigger although, when the monitor is in use the bezel is clearly visible.  A thin black bottom, accented with a red stripe finishes the bottom of the screen off really nicely and a small and unobtrusive light to indicate power mode can be found on the right.  Unlike many of its competitors, the CQ27G2 does not boast an OSD joystick.  This can make navigating extensive OSD menus rather cumbersome but once set, these settings are generally not changed so it can be overlooked.   The stand of the AOC CQ27G2 has a wide-V footprint which fortunately won't take up much of your desk space.  The stylish silver finish compliments the rest of the screen tremendously well and the cable management hole has more than adequate space for keyboard, mouse, and any other cables you might need to have neatly managed.  The stand also allows for a wide range of movements of the monitor.  Before we get to that, it is worth mentioning that the AOC CQ27G2 is fully VESA capable, with the 100x100 mount.  The stand allows for the monitor to be raised by 130mm and provides -4° to 21.5° of tilt and 34° of swivel adjustments.  Being a curved display, these angles and adjustments should be able to satisfy the fussiest of monitor-adjusters... (do you get those people?) The connections for the monitor, which are as follows:
  • DisplayPort 1.2 x 1,
  • HDMI 2.0 x 2,
  • 3.5mm Jack x 1
  • AC plug
  All are situated at the bottom of the monitor and face down, for wall mounting purposes.  From the moment I pulled the monitor from its box to start assembling, the general feel of the packaging and the product in hand is that of quality.  The AOC CQ27G2 feels solid and well built.  Other monitors, such as my personal 27inch 144hz QHD monitor from another well-known brand, in the same price range as well, feels quite flimsy and like it might fall over if its bumped.  The AOC CQ27G2, however, does not come with built-in speakers.  Most would not find this to be a problem as, generally, the built-in speakers as very underpowered.  The CQ27G2 also comes standard as both G-sync and Free-sync capable.  

Display and Performance

With the arrival of the AOC CQ27G2 came a feeling of sheer excitement as well as significant amounts of dread.  This being the first monitor I have ever reviewed.  This on its own posed some challenges and significant research regarding terms and general aspects of gaming monitors.  So bear with me as I try my hand at this monitor review. The CQ27G2 has a 27" VA panel that is capable of 2560x1440 resolution while giving a superb 144hz and a response time of 1ms.  The backlight can do 250cd/m2 and the general contrast ratio is 3000:1.  So what does all of this gibberish mean? The resolution of 2560x1440 means that this monitor can display at a higher resolution than the normal 1080p or "full HD".  1080p only has 2,073,600 pixels on the screen with 1440p delivering over 3,600,00.  in simple terms, the more pixels the sharper the image, and as screen sizes increase so is the need for the increase in resolution.     The CQ27G2 boasts a 1ms response time that, in today's terms, has become the standard if you want to call your monitor a gaming monitor.  For those who don't know, response time is the time it takes for a single pixel to go from grey to grey.  Along with this, the AOC delivers this in 144Hz.  Refresh rate refers to how many frames it can produce within a single second.  Regular monitors generally output between the 60-75hz range.  If you have not experienced 144+Hz I would strongly suggest you try it.  Once you see the silky smoothness of 144Hz you will never want to go back.     G-sync/Free-sync are ways that AMD and Nvidia stop screen tearing to occur.  Both of these technologies will allow your GPU to sync its refresh rate with that of the monitor creating perfect sync between the frames that your GPU delivers and the frames your monitor displays.  In the past, as well as with more budget monitors, they generally only support one or the other.  Which can cause a headache when changing GPU's or if you don't research before you buy. Monitor panels are a thing of great mystery, as I have come to learn during my research.  You have 2 general types of panels.  TN panels generally struggle with angles, colors, and contrast, but they tend to be fast, and as many may say, in this case, speed is worth a few sacrifices.  VA panels, on the other hand, drop the speed and focus on picture quality and reproduction.  Then you get IPS, the best of both worlds apart from their singular drawback...  Price!     Even though the CQ26G2 has a VA panel,  I was immediately blown away when I fired up Assassin's Creed Odyssey!  I have never experienced colors and lighting to pop so spectacularly. Never have I experienced a sunrise or sunset, apart from the real thing, on any monitor!  This might just be because it is my first experience with a VA panel but, man oh man am I hooked!  Games with vibrant colors are close to unrecognizable when displaying on the AOC CQ27G2.  With the research I have done, I have discovered that curved panels, like the CQ27G2, are prone to having uniformity issues across the panel, I conducted a simple test of moving a black box across the screen and apart from the slight variant in color here and there it is hardly noticeable.  

Verdict

With so many monitors around, all featuring many different panels, refresh rates, and just general features of which many can be considered gimmicks, it is really tough to make a decision on which one will suit your needs.  This is where I would generally recommend finding a price range first, then deciding on screen size, resolution, and then refresh rate.  All the other should be secondary.  The AOC CQ27G2 sits firmly in its price range, with some monitors spec'ing similar to it but not quite up to its level.  So I would say the AOC ticks the price box.  Size, resolution, refresh rates are all comfortably ticked, with few being able to give 27 inches, 144Hz, AND 1440p for around the R7000 mark (give or take). My recommendation would be if you are in the market for a 27inch gaming VA monitor then you should not hesitate to consider the AOC CQ27G2!  Not only is it crammed full of features such as boost, HDR and even an onscreen crosshair (naughty) but it gives a wonderful image and literally had me dumbstruck by what I had been missing out on! And did I mention it is curved... AOC has hit the nail on the head with this monitor and other "big name" brands should take note, AOC is not here to compete, they are here to take over!    

Special thanks to AOC and Rectron South Africa for providing the Review hardware

     
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Logitech G815 mechanical keyboard – Review

Keyboards are keyboards, right?  They all do the same thing, you type on them.  Some of them might have a few cool gadgets and most these days have lots of RGB.  Many even have an arsenal of options when it comes to the keys.  Be that mechanical or not, and if so, a rainbow of colored switches all with their very own characteristics.   Some are loud and clicky, others are more quiet and tactile.  Basically, there is a switch for everyone...  Furthermore, there are keyboards that provide high keycaps, giving you more travel when pressing the key.  Other manufacturers even do optical switches.  Logitech has leap-frogged all of these and decided to be ahead of the curve...  Introducing the G815 low-profile GL-switched keyboard!    

Design

Keyboards come in many shapes and sizes, and some with rather crazy designs and features.  In more recent years we have seen the return of the minimal design and a bigger focus on providing a premium feel.  Much like the Xbox Elite controller stands head and shoulders above the competition due to its sleek design and presence by design, similarly, the G815 radiates thanks to its minimal and sleek design.  The Logitech G815. The G815 is best described as a rectangular keyboard with perfect square lines, only broken by the wide roller on the top right corner of the keyboard.  The brushed metal finish gives the G915 a timeless and classy finish.  It also does not show finger smudges like the polished black plastic of other models do.  While many might think that the design might be lacking.  After using the G815 a bit it quickly becomes apparent that a tremendous amount of time was put into refining the look while keeping it minimal yet providing all the needed features, macros and media keys.  All of this while keeping the design edgy.     The G815 is extremely thin, at a measly height of only 22mm, Logitech had to do something drastic with their keycaps to get it this low.  And that is what they did.  Logitech partnered with Kailh to produce a new switch, departing from the previous Romer-G's, and what they created is the GL switch, which comes in 3 variants, clicky, tactile and linear.  This new partnership has allowed Logitech to create a low profile key that allows for lots of travel while not compromising the low profile design, the best of both worlds.  To give you an idea of the travel of these switches compared to normal Cherry switches.  The cherry switches have a travel of 4mm compared to the 2.5mm of the GL.  

Features

While we are on the subject of switches, the responsiveness of the GL switches alone is a feature.  While playing any form of a competitive game, we all know that responsiveness is something we all wish we had more of.  Faster response from our own side might mean the difference between winning and losing.  With the shorter travel distance, the G815 really gives you an advantage against the players on non- low profile keyboards.  The G815 also has 5 programmable macro keys situated on the left vertically.  They are perfectly positioned for your pinky to quickly slip off to the side and press that macro when needed.  The spacing and positioning of the keys are perfect.  I had absolutely zero adjustment period.  miss-types were at a minimum and the ones I did have was my fault not due to the keyboard feeling strange.     Next to the ever-present Logitech emblem sits four M-buttons, these are profile keys.  The G815 can store up to 3 setups on the keyboard itself, meaning you can quickly jump between games and, with a press of a button, your macros will be switched for that game.  To make it even better is because the presets are saved on the keyboard itself, you can unplug it, take it to a friend, and have your presets with you instantly. The G815 features 4 media buttons situated under the roller wheel which controls volume.  The wheel might look strange at first but it has a premium feel and allows for the slightest volume adjustments.  Neatly hidden at the top of the keyboard is also a USB-port.  This is very nice when you want to plug an external or a wireless dongle for your G Pro wireless mouse.  It is however only USB2.0 so don't expect fast transfer speeds.    

Software

As with pretty much all the Logitech keyboards, the GHub is where all everything can be controlled.  The G815 comes with the usual array of preset RGB options such as the rainbow effect and screen sampler that gives a really neat look, as well as the audio visualizer.  Pair this with other LightSync hardware to deliver a really great look.  The really nice addition is the ability to create your own lighting effects.  It might seem daunting at first but Logitech provides you with a few to start off with.  If designing your own one is not your style, simply download and apply one of the community created ones.  You are bound to find one that you like.     The GHub is also where you will find the key-bind options for your macros.  This is a pretty straight forward process with the Ghub detecting games that you play and giving you options of what you would possibly want on these macros.  Thanks, Logitech, didn't even know I needed my meds on macro when playing Escape from Tarkov.  

Verdict

Low profile keyboards are often not great for the day to day work and gaming.  If they are they generally take some time to get used to.  The Razer Huntsman, for example, has such a soft touch that I found myself pressing keys without noticing.  Once I was used to it it was a great keyboard, but that was after many backspacing.  The G815 slotted right in and was on point from the first keystroke.  It is a wonderful keyboard to use for typing and the "clicky" variant that I reviewed had just enough click to satisfy without annoying people in the room next door.  On a visual note, the G815 is spectacular and looks great paired with any setup.  Whether you want full RGB, or extremely minimal, the G815 is up to the task. When it comes to gaming, the keystrokes felt very true and I felt confident in my strokes which most definitely made a difference in my playing.  As a whole, the G815 is a amazing keyboard that not only looks premium, but feels, and plays as premium should.  It is built sturdy and will provide many hours of faultless enjoyment.  The only possible problem with the G815 is its price.  Coming in north of the R2000 mark does put it in the "expensive" bracket.  But if you are doubting whether the price is justified, I can comfortably tell you, it is. If I could have my pick of any keyboard to have as my daily, this would be it.        

special thanks to Logitech for providing the review content

   

 
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Razer Viper Ultimate – Review

Ambidextrous mice have not ever been much of a thing, so if you are a left-handed mouse user you have never had too much of a choice when it comes to picking up a gaming mouse.  Logitech did a great job when they brought us the near-perfect G903.  For a very long time, I myself thought that the magnificent G903 could not be beaten.  Then Razer sent me the Razer Viper Ultimate.  Can the Viper Ultimate dethrone the legendary G903 or does it just fall short?  Let's find out!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96G5y_znKr0

Design

As I have mentioned in previous reviews, Razer has certainly evolved.  They are no longer the RGB focused company that sell their product with RGB crammed into every nook and cranny.  No, they have matured and the latest range of hardware that has been launched in recent years truly is remarkable.  Not only has Razer forced the established names to take notice they have also driven development within the market.  Making it better for us as consumers.  Whether you are an entry-level gamer or consider yourself a hardcore gamer, Razer has a product to suit your budget, without the product feeling budget! When it comes to the Viper Ultimate it's well priced in its competitive range.  The first thing you will notice when unboxing the Viper Ultimate is just how light it is.  For those who prefer more weight to their mice, unfortunately, the Viper Ultimate does not come with addable or removable weights.  Usually, mice that are really lightweight can sometimes feel flimsy in-hand.  Somehow Razer has managed to make the Viper Ultimate feel sturdy and strong while being extremely light.  The design is much more minimalist and only an RGB Razer emblem adorns the Viper Ultimate right on the spot your palm will normally rest.  While the smooth plastic on the top feels nice to the touch.  The grippier sides make sure the Viper won't slip out of your hand anytime soon.     The Viper Ultimate, as the name suggests, is the top tier Viper.  It is wireless thanks to Razer's own Hyperspeed technology.  I was skeptical at best, of the wireless technology having, as they say, the same performance as wired.  I first went wireless on my own G903, so logically i will compare the Viper Ultimate to that.  And I am pleased to tell you the statements are correct.  I cannot distinguish between wired and wireless with the new tech.  It is simply astounding.

Performance

Let's get to the important bits, how does the Razer Viper Ulitmate truly perform?  Firstly, Razer claims it to have a battery life of around 70 hours with heavy use.  The lockdown has given me the chance to truly push the Viper with a lot of extra gaming hours.  And I am confident in saying that it can go the distance!  I went roughly a week without charging and I still had juice left in the tank.  Charging is also really simple, just place it on the extremely good looking docking station, which also serves as your wireless hub and stores the USB dongle for when you do want to skip the dock. Razer has really taken it to the next level, the new sensor, called the Razer Focus + Optical sensor, that is being used in the Viper is rated for 20 000DPI.  Personally I think its no need to have a sensor that can go higher than even 10k DPI.  I have never played on DPI settings higher than 1600, but that might just be personal preference.  Another spec that Razer brags with is the 650inches per second tracking speed.  It is really tough to describe what it feels like but when taking the Razer Viper out of its cradle and you start to use it.  The accuracy level is un-rivaled.  At times it felt like my cursor was attached to my eyes rather than my hand...

Features

This is where the Viper might run a little short for some.  Although the battery life of the Viper is really good, the problem comes with the dock.  As beautiful as it looks it only charges the Viper when the PC is on.  And when it is charging it takes around 4 hours for a full charge.  This would be easily fixed with an option to plug it straight into a wall socket so that it would constantly be able to charge.     The Viper also makes use of the Razer Synapse software which can take some time to get used to and for newer users, the software can be rather daunting!  With a little bit of tinkering though, it works really well and allows for tremendous customization especially if you use more Razer products.  Another of the features that should be mentioned is the fact that you can calibrate your Viper for the specific mousepad you are using.  This lets the sensor know what type of surface it is being used on and therefor adapts and tracks better.  

Verdict

The Razer Viper Ultimate can easily be compared to the near-flawless Logitech G903, and for good reason.  It can match the Logitech in nearly every step. The Viper Ultimate is nearly a no-brainer in its price range.  The G903 ultimate trumps it not due to it being a better mouse, but simply because it has the powerplay feature.  Which lets you charge on the mousepad while playing, wirelessly.  But taking into account the amount of money you need to spend to use this feature, I would whole-heartedly recommend getting the Viper Ultimate!  Value for money and the tech that you will receive will simply blow you away! The Razer Viper Ultimate is arguably the pinnacle of the Razer mouse stable! Go on, get one, you won't be disappointed!    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review content

 
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Logitech G305 Lightspeed – Review

Logitech has long been known to make hardware that can slot into any environment as well as any budget.  All of this, while being seen as one of the leading brands in all things gaming.  This is no small feat.  It is tough to find a Logitech product that isn't, at worst, good.  It is easy to find the truly exceptional.  To find either at the sub R1000 mark, from a major manufacturer, is where it gets tricky! The Logitech G305 sits firmly in the middle.  It's not quite adventurous enough in design or function to revolutionize the industry.  Yet it is more than capable of handling everyday challenges that might arise during PC gaming or productivity.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn5gvzXY5g0&feature=emb_logo

Design

If you are not careful, you would assume the G305 to be a G Pro without RGB and the cord being chopped.  The design is identical down to the ridged scroll wheel.  Some might say this is a bad thing, but for those who have used the G Pro will know, it is simply sublime.  The G305, just like the G Pro, is a sleek and comfortable mouse that has absolutely no wasted space. The G305 comes as a six-button mouse.  Left, right, clickable scroll wheel, DPI adjuster and two thumb buttons.  Which, depending on whether you use it left- or right-handed, will be inside or outside.  A big selling point for the G305 is the fact that it is also wireless.  Not only that, but it weighs in at a measly 96g!  A big chunk of this being the AA battery that sits inside it.

Features

From the moment you take the G305 out of its box, it will work on any PC.  Thanks to the dongle that fits perfectly inside the mouse when you pop off the top cover.  This is also the way that you would insert and replace the AA battery it requires to run the mouse.  By using a AA battery this obviously means that the G305 is not rechargeable like many of its family members.  On the flipside, Logitech rates the battery life to be around 250 hours if you are using it for an 8 hour day.  By making the G305 non-rechargeable is also an easy way to cut costs.  The DPI switch, which simply scrolls through the four-set DPI settings, sits perfectly under the wheel, barely protruding out.  If you want to customize your DPI levels, a quick visit to the Logitech Ghub will have you adjusting them quickly. Many folks might see wireless, and instantly think that that equals to slower response times.  Logitech has proved everyone that wireless doesn't need to mean slow input.  The lightspeed range, which covers nearly the entire modern Logitech range, boasts a 1ms response time, even on wireless use. Some people might argue the fact that the G305 only offers wireless through the dongle, and not through Bluetooth like many of its counterparts and even lesser productivity mice within the Logitech stable.  This means you won't be able to use the G305 with tablets, mobile phones or some gaming consoles.  But at the same time, this just proves the point even more.  The Logitech G305 is content to be what it is. Even though it might come across as rather mundane and boring, the G305 still boasts the Hero sensor, which is one of the best optical sensors around.  Although in this version it is only capable of 12 000 DPI.

Performance

No review would be complete without putting the G305 through its paces.  Upon arrival, I was using it in the office for productivity.  Going from a trusty Microsoft mouse to the G305 felt really great.  The wireless felt great and its small form factor just felt right when using it in a cluttered environment. When I got home, I simply popped in the dongle, and off I went.  Playing some Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, moving over to For Honor and then to some Rainbow 6 Siege.  As expected the G305 handled them all superbly.  It did not favor any of the genres more than any other.  I did find my aim to be not as true as it usually is but that is due to changing up my mouse that I use most of them time.  The clicks feel true and the movement smooth and predictable.

Verdict

At the end of the day, the Logitech G305 does not put a foot out of line.  Whatever you throw at it, it takes the challenge in its stride.  It is elegant, it is small, and it is uncluttered.  For the individual who wants some RGB, it, unfortunately, does not cater to you.  You could drop considerably more money and get into the top of the line G900 range which will give you all the features and then some.  But the G305 will serve the same core function at a fraction of the cost.    

Special thanks to Logitech for providing the review content

 
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Razer Deathadder V2 – Review

In a world where multi-purposing, as well as minimalism, is a popular trend.  It's only expected that it will filter down to gaming.  With many gamers taking their mouse with them to the office, you need a mouse that can handle the rigours of spreadsheets and presentations.  While being able to step-up when the gaming gets tough!  All of the above, and at a respectable price.  Not easy to tick all the boxes... Say hello to the Razer Deathadder V2! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mana0sGU3DU&feature=emb_logo

Classic look

Straight off the bat, the Deathadder has a sleek and simple design which makes it perfect for the office- and home use.  The size and way your hand lays on it feels more comfortable.  The slight slant away from your open hand feels more natural placing less stress on your wrist.  This might sound silly but after using it and trying another mouse, the difference is very noticeable. The Deathadder features the standard 2 click buttons on top, the scroll wheel that is also clickable, along with two programmable buttons on the inside of the mouse.  It is also good to note that the Deathadder is a right-handed mouse, so lefties, you are out of luck.  Just behind the scroll wheel, the two DPI buttons can be found.  The wheel and buttons are at a lower level to the area your palm will rest.  This helps to stop accidental DPI changes when your hand moves around on the mouse.     RGB has become all the craze lately, with everything, including the kitchen sink (or toaster) featuring RGB.  The Deathadder, although, more reserved, also feature a two-zone RGB setup, one being the scroll wheel the other being the large Razer logo which will mostly be covered by your palm during use.  Setting up the RGB can be easy, or slightly more complicated depending on how in-depth you want to customize.  If you are not too phased, using the Razer Synapse program will give you 5 quick effects such as Breathe, Static, Reactive, Spectrum and Audio Cycle.  If customization is your thing you will need to download Chroma effects from the Razer website.  Using Chroma effects you can customize to your heart's content.  Having more Razer products obviously will make Chroma effects even more powerful.  

Modern tech

Although the Deathadder can easily be mistaken for the run of the mill mouse, it does possess some serious tech under the hood.  Turning it over you will see what looks like the normal slide guards.  But on the Deathadder they are a special material specifically designed to allow for great smooth movements across most types of mousepads.  Don't forget to set up your specific material or surface that the Deathadder slides on.  The Deathadder can also have 5 DPI steps saved using Razer Synapse of course.  The sensor found in the Deathadder is good for up to 20 000DPI.   Although, I highly doubt you will find yourself setting them that high.     The left- and right-click buttons are where another big part of the magic happens.  These are no mere mechanical switches.  No, they are optic switches.  That means instead of a button being pressed to make a mechanical switch, these click buttons use light to activate.  There is a constant source of light that, when clicked, breaks the beam of light causing the mouse to register the click.  What this means is your clicks are literally registering at the speed of light...  Let that sink in...     The two inside programmable buttons can be programmed to act like any button on both your keyboard or mouse.  This is especially handy when things get hairy in-game or you simply need to page back through your browser.  If you are someone who prefers to play MMO's then obviously having only 2 programmable buttons on the mouse is a bit of a letdown.

Verdict

The Razer Deathadder V2 is the perfect mouse for those who like to work and play equally hard.  It is good to note that if you are not a fan of bigger mice, then the Deathadder might not be exactly your choice.  Neither would it be for those who play ability heavy games.  But for the price and the features that you get within that price, the Deathadder is a sure-fire contender for the best in class! If you need a mouse that can game and work and you don't want to break the bank, the Deathadder V2 is what you have been looking for.    

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review content

 
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Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition -Review

With the drastic incline of interest in the esports scene in recent years, creating esports-orientated hardware has been every company's goal.  Every teenager who has ever gotten a win in their favorite battle royale game, or dominated (even once) in a shooter, now thinks they have what it takes to become the next, I had to go Google names, Bugha, skadoodle, nicewigg or Pengu.  But becoming an esports athlete does not only require tremendous amounts of skill and dedication but having the correct hardware does also lend to becoming a more competitive gamer.  Having a better headset will give you better audio queues in games where that matters such as R6 Siege.  A better mouse will give you that quick-flicks when you are caught off-guard in Apex Legends.  But not much is ever said about the keyboards... Razer, after releasing the Huntsman in 2018, to great response, has now made the Huntsman more esports inclined with the Huntsman Tournament Edition.  Let's dive into the Huntsman TE and see why this is the option you need to look at when looking for an esports keyboard.

So small, yet so powerful.

One of the first things that you need to realize when you look at buying a TE version is that you will be looking at a ten-keyless keyboard.  This means that it is a keyboard that has no Numpad, and in comparison to gaming keyboards, it also has all media keys removed.  Leaving you with only the essentials.  The reason for the smaller form is not because someone wanted a smaller keyboard.  No, it is, as the name might suggest, to easily bring along to LANs or tournament environments.  To ease the packing up process, the cable is easily detachable.  The USB-C connector easily detaches from the top left corner of the keyboard. The biggest thing to remember about having a ten-keyless keyboard is the fact that there is no Numpad, for those of you who are constantly punching numbers into a spreadsheet, this is not the keyboard you need or want.  Like all Razer products, it features loads of RGB and linked with the ever-evolving Synapse which, in my opinion, is probably the best peripheral software around.  After spending a lot of time playing around in the Synapse software, fiddling with macros and lighting effects, as well as setting up profiles for the Huntsman, of which you can store 5 of them on the keyboard memory so you have your profiles with you even when you don't have your pc, I decided to leave it on ambient awareness.  This mode lets the keyboard mimick the colours that are displayed on the screen.

Performance

As the name states, the Huntsman is aimed at the esports gamer.  In the esports realm performance, precision and reliability are the key aspects of selecting your weapon of choice.  What is very important to know is that there are a vast amount of mechanical switches.  From brown, red, blue, green, nearly every colour of the rainbow.  Each with their own characteristics, some are clicky, some are not.  Having a Logitech as well as a Razer Blackwidow as my daily keyboards, one being membrane, the other being Razer green mechanical clicky switches, both with actuation distances of 2mm.  The Huntsman trims down on this 2mm and actuates at 1.5mm.  0.5mm doesn't sound like much, but when you do use it, you will find that even resting your fingers on keys too heavily will have you typing strings of A's in chat. An easy way to compare is that the Huntsman will type even when you are merely thinking of typing.  For twitch gaming, which means games where reactions play a big role, the 1.5mm actuation makes the world of a difference and I could see the improvement in my gameplay once I got used to the light actuation point.  For those who will be using the Huntsman for typing, expect many moans and even more backspaces for all the unwanted double letters.  I started the review with the Huntsman and quickly reverted to the Blackwidow due to all the typing errors. The Huntsman makes use of optomechanical switches.  For those who are not clued up, this means when you press down on the key it interrupts a lazer underneath the switch.  This has two main advantages, firstly it means there is nearly no latency, providing the quickest input possible.  Secondly, it means there are less moving parts which mean that the keyboard should last substantially longer.  Esports players are particularly hard on their hardware, similarly to players who tend to rage often, the Huntsman comes prepared for such user and should be able to withstand some serious punishment.

Verdict

    At first, the Huntsman might seem very pricey for a keyboard that gives you less than other cheaper keyboards.  No numpad, no media keys but more price.  Don't be fooled by this.  The optomechanical keys and precision of them makes this keyboard a near-must for any gamer who is looking for a dedicated gaming keyboard.  The small form factor, as well as the removable cable, is a massive plus for the LAN enthusiast.  The casual gamer who does do some typing and general work on their computer might have to think twice, as the sensitive keystrokes and minimal actuation distance can become extremely infuriating to those trying to do simple typing. The Huntsman is not a keyboard that is going to make the average gamer a pro.  But if you are a player that has some inclination to a certain game and you are that in-tune with the game that it feels like near-telepathic flow when you are playing, the Huntsman will have you playing and reacting as fast as you can think.  The Huntsman is ready to be the conduit between your brain and the game!      

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review hardware

    credits: Windows Central - images  
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LOGITECH CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!!!!

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


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

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PDP ultraslim charging station Xbox One – Review

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

What's in the box?

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review hardware

 
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Logitech G Pro X – Review

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

Design and build

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

Features

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

Sound

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

Verdict

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

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

   

Special thanks to Logitech for supplying the review content

     
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Trine 4 – Review

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

The Knight, Wizard, and Thief

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

A happy and lovable place

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

Better with a friend

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review copy

 
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FIFA 20 – Review

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

Football made for the street!

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

Changes on and off the field

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

Career and FUT

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for the review content

 
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The Surge 2 – Review

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

Tweaks and changes

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

Slashin' and Lootin'

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

The story thus far...

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for providing the review content

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Borderlands 3 – Review

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

And so it begins...

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

Welcome to Pandora

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

Amara - the Siren

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

Moze- the Gunner

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

Zane - the Operative

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

FL4K - Beastmaster

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

Glorious Weaponry & Missions Galore

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

Friend or Foe

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review content

           
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Razer Blackwidow Review

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

The Good

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

The Bad

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review item

 
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Razer Kraken (2019) review

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

Design

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

Comfort

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

Sound & Microphone

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

Verdict

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

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

 

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for providing the review item

 
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Greedfall Review -Xbox One

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

What is Greedfall?

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

Visuals

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

Mechanics

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

Verdict

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

 

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review copy

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Sea of Solitude

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

From Darkness to Light

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

Fleeting, yet lasting

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review copy

 
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MSI Clutch GM60 -Review

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

Look and Feel

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

Performance & Software

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to MSI gaming for providing the review hardware

 
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MSI Force GC30 Wireless Controller

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

First feel

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

Build quality

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

Functionality

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

Verdict

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

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

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F1 2019 Review

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

Career mode

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

 Senna vs Prost

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

Customization

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

New to F1

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

Verdict

 

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

 

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review copy

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PDP lvl 50 Wireless – Review

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

Design and build

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

Sound quality and Feel and other Features

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review hardware

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Razer Ripsaw HD – Review

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

Verdict

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

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review content

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Razer Seiren X – Review

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

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying review Hardware

 
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World War Z – Review

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

Where in the World are we?

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

Verdict

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

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review game

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Borderlands GOTY – review

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

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

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

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

Verdict

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

Thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review code

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Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2 – Review

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

Design and Features

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

Elite SuperAmp

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

Sound Quality

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

Verdict

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

Thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review hardware

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TurtleBeach Elite Atlas – Review

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

Build and Feel

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

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review hardware

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Turtle Beach Recon 70 – Review

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

Aesthetics and feel

Image result for turtle beach recon 70 hd

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

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

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

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Dirt 2.0 – Review

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

When in doubt, flat out!

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

The devil in the detail

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

Team Dirt

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

Verdict

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

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

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Anthem Review

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

The Story begins...  in the middle?

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

Time to suit-up!

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

Working against its own Strengths

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review game

   

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JP Du Preez

Writer/Reviewer

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

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

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Metro Exodus – Review

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

Crafting & Currency

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

Design

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

Fine Details

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

Verdict

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

EARLY AXES RATES: METRO EXODUS

 

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

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

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

Keys

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

Features

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

Performance

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review item.

 
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Darksiders 3 – Review

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

Verdict

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

special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review copy

 
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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  
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Farming Simulator 19 – Review – Gorgeous Monotony

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review game

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Call of Cthulhu – Review

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

H.P. Lovecraft

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

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

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review content

Special thanks to Theed3 for the video review

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PDP Afterglow LVL 3 headset – Review

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the Review hardware

   
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Red Dead Redemption 2 – Red Dead Perfection!

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

Wild West at its Best

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

Verdict

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

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

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Turtle Beach Recon 200 – Review

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

Budget Price, Premium Features?

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

Aesthetics

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

Verdict

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review headset

 

   
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Dakar 18 Review – sand, sand and asking for directions

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

Where the hell am I???

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

Sand, sand and little bit of not-sand

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

Game modes? what game modes?

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

Verdict

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

Thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the review game

 
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WWE 2K19 Review

Whoo!

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

Yes, they can see you

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

Never back down

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

Every Star has a Story

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  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

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Special thanks to Brendon Jacobs for the review

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The Golf Club 2019

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

thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review title

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

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

Becoming a star

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

Franchise and other modes

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

Final Verdict

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

This review title was provided by Prima Interactive

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F1 2018 Review

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

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

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No Man’s Sky Review

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the Review game 

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Razer Thresher – Review

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

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

Final Verdict  

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

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

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Astro A10 – a lightweight punching out heavyweights!

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

Unboxing

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

Comfort and use

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

Sound 

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

Final Verdict  

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

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

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Vampyr – Hauntingly Ambitious

What is Life but Death, pending...

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

Thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying this game for review      

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OnRush – Fun-loving, fast paced Chaos

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

Summary

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

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

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E3 2018 Roundup!

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

ELECTRONIC ARTS (EA)

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

MICROSOFT 

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

BETHESDA

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

Square Enix 

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

UBISOFT

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

Sony

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

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

Build Quality and Feel

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

Microphone and Cable

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

Audio Quality

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

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

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PDP afterglow controller – Review

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

Unboxing

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

Features

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

 Impressions

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

Final Verdict

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

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

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Late Shift – Review

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

WHAT IS LATE SHIFT?

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

THE STORY 

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

VERDICT

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

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

*They were all on sick leave.*

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

GAMEPLAY

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

SOUND

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

VISUALS

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

VERDICT

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

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

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

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Razer Electra V2 analog – Review

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

LOOK AND FEEL

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

AUDIO QUALITY

 

 

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

Special thanks to Apex Interactive for providing this review item.

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

 

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

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

UNBOXING, AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS

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

COMFORT

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

SETUP AND EASE OF USE

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

AUDIO & T.A.C. AMP

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

SHOULD YOU BUY?

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

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

  Image result for apex interactive
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Corsair M65 Pro

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

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

EARLY IMPRESSIONS

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

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

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

Image result for UFC 3 player customization

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

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

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

GAMEPLAY

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

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

Image result for UFC 3

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

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

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

Image result for UFC 3 grappling

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

GRAPHICS

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

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

Image result for UFC 3 player damage

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

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

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

REPLAYABILITY

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

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

Image result for ufc 3 career mode

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

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

Image result for ufc 3 career mode

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

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

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

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

FINAL VERDICT

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

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

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

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

   

Image result for 8 stars out of 10

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

Image result for prima interactive

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

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

Looks and aesthetic appeal

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

Comfort

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

Audio Quality

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

Final Verdict

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

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

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STEELSERIES APEX M800 Review

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

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 DESIGN

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

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

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

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

FEATURES

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

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

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

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

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

LIFE WITH THE M800

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

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

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

ROUND UP

The SteelSeries Apex M800 is a fun and serious keyboard.

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

Image result for 8/10 stars   Once again I would like to thank Megarom for providing me with the hardware that I have done this review on. Image result for megarom Written by Ghost86 Edited by BigJapester11
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L.A. Noire – 1940’s bloody Glamour!

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

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

What's in the Box

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

Design and Feel

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

Extras and Features

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

Final Verdict 

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

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

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Turtle Beach Stealth 600

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

Whats in the box?

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

Controls and Features

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

Let the Sound do the Talking!

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

Look and feel, less spectacular...

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

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

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PUBG has a launch day!

READY YOUR FRYING PANS!!!

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

When I started The Turing Test I had absolutely no clue what it was about, I had kept myself from reading reviews, watching some Youtube videos, even just reading a description.  Too many times before has a single bad review or remark spoiled a game for me and I was not taking this risk again.  Then again after playing Oxenfree, (read my review here) which is another great title that was on offer with this month's Games with Gold subscription, I didn't have high hopes to be met with two great titles in one month.  But was I mistaken...   It is good to know what the Turing test is, except for it being a first person puzzler in which you navigate a range of rooms with puzzles that gradually increase as you continue.  In the real world the Turning test was developed by Alan Turing in 1950 as a way to test a machine's ability to exhibit  intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.  So keeping that in mind I jumped into The Turing Test.   You awake on a spaceship guided by a friendly (questionable) AI called Tom guiding you through the beginning stages all while explaining the situation that has befallen your fellow crew and the ship you are on.  Many people might be saying this is a Portal-copy but The Turing Test is void of all the humor found in Portal, instead Tom, your new best AI-friend brings up the interesting topic of free will, what it means to be human and of course the AI test the game draws its name from.   The Turing test has a very effective way of storytelling, not only does Tom tell you what has been going on while you were in cryosleep, but you are able to scratch through your fellow space explorers personal belongings while on the hunt to find them, where they are trapped (or are they?) within the space ship.   I could go into details about how each puzzle room felt a little familiar and hospital-like in their squeaky clean look and how the Europa, your space ship, never developed its own sense of character but it doesn't really matter.  Same with the puzzles, yes after a few puzzles all the ones that follow felt familiar, yet I did not care.  Around the mid-way point in this 7 to 8 hour game the story and plot start driving you to the next puzzle.  I have yet to find a title that had me this driven to jump through metaphorical hoops, and physical platforms, to get to the next stage JUST for the next bit of information and to figure out what is really going on the Europa!  Don't worry, unlike Portal or The Witness, the Turing test never turns its puzzles up to 11, it seems contempt with simply scratching the surface in terms of puzzles and rather having you enjoy it than getting frustrated and losing the plot of the story. The Turing Test is so much more than just a puzzler.  Once you reach level 3 or 4 of the puzzles, you, well I, started to find myself thinking more about what my AI friend Tom was saying and I became weary of him, thinking more of what he was saying rather than just accepting it, and when the plot twist hits, which it will, it comes without warning, the whole story is turned upside down, and you will feel and contemplate existence and what really makes us different from computers.  This is when the Turing test really hits its straps as a story driven game more than a puzzler.   Not only is this gaming visually wonderful to look at, even with its monotonous rooms, when you do see a change of scenery it is tremendous, all while giving you a visceral experience all while probing your feelings towards a scenario that is ever increasing in the extremely technologically driven world we live in today.  After Life is Strange I did not think a game will be able to pull me into its narrative quite like that again.  The Turing test did, and it had me laying awake in bed contemplating life.   If you haven't downloaded it yet, I would highly recommend this title if you ever need to just get away from your daily routine of Battlefield, Call of duty or Forza.  Get it before it goes off Games with Gold for the month of October.  
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Astro A10 – premium on a budget

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

Good Looks on a Budget

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

Snug fitting, maybe too snug...

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

Good sound at a Good Price

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

Verdict

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

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

Difficulty

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

Captains and Warlords

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

Captain’s quests

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

Dominated Captains

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

How to train your Dragon, I mean Orc

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Image result for 8.5/10  

written by Willie Botes, Edited by JP du Preez

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Path of Exile – Review

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

Classes and skills

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

Gameplay and Combat

[ngg_images source="galleries" container_ids="1" display_type="photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails" override_thumbnail_settings="0" thumbnail_width="240" thumbnail_height="160" thumbnail_crop="1" images_per_page="20" number_of_columns="0" ajax_pagination="0" show_all_in_lightbox="0" use_imagebrowser_effect="0" show_slideshow_link="1" slideshow_link_text="[Show slideshow]" order_by="sortorder" order_direction="ASC" returns="included" maximum_entity_count="500"] Like most RPG titles Path of Exile places a large emphasis on exploration and collecting loot.  It has small MMO elements namely public towns where players can meet and group up or trade some unwanted items.  With titles like this you normally place skills on a hotbar.  Path of Exile amps this up by allowing you to use RT to access another host of hotkeys allowing you to apply a magnitude of skill which to devastate your enemies with. Fighting feels tight with lots of variations between the characters, during combat you will auto target your enemies and might not always target the closest target which can become a slight irritation if you are a more hand to hand combat character which will see you walking through a group of enemies to attack the one right at the back, taking some serious damage in the process. Health potions and other benefit providing potions are assigned to the D-pad as well as the bumper buttons.  These carry limited charges that refill when you visit a town. Tapping down on the D-pad brings up the map, which on a massively random-generated map like these, are extremely useful when trying to find your way around. Inventory management also gets a Path-of-Exile-spin to it.  Each item takes up a varying amount of space in your bag.  What this creates is that you will think more about what you're picking up as to the amount of loot you pick up.  Other titles will see you picking up just to pick up and sell when you reach a store later, not Path of Exile. Scrolls are much the same as other Diablo-like games, one is used to identify rare items, the other to teleport back to town.  Town portals are significantly more scarce than in Diablo so travels to town will be alot less frequent.

Overall impression

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

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

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

Make your house a Home

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

Effortless Guide Navigation

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

Make moving easy

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

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

the Trenches of Normandy are back!

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

Less Frantic, but not Slow!

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

Perks & Classes

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

Game Modes

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

Teaching WW2 to a new audience

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

Final Verdict

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

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

Turtle Beach XO Seven Pro

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

Unboxing

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