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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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 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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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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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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Asus ROG Claymore 2 – review

Gaming keyboards certainly have evolved since their inception.  At first, they became a normal office keyboard that had some futuristic design and featured a few lights or a few oddly-placed keys.  This was, at the time the standard, within a short space of time the gaming keyboard saw many massive leaps and bounds in advancement, be that media keys, special keycaps, RGB that can be customized, and finally came the inception of new key switches.  Mechanical keys are still widely used in their rainbow of colours ranging from clicky, linear and tactile variants. Soon after the idea of getting rid of the, mostly unused by gamers, Numpad, saw a new Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboards flood the market...  So Asus decided to take all that has made gaming keyboards good in recent times, and simply make them GREAT! Introducing the Asus ROG Claymore 2! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ3fIVXF_dI

Design

The Asus ROG Claymore 2 is a full-sized wireless keyboard that features macros, media keys as well as an armrest, at first glance...  The Claymore 2 is a beautifully crafted black keyboard that's faceplate is made from brushed dark metal.  The full black-on-black design fits perfectly into any setup and the detachable armrest shows that the Claymore 2 is built with comfort in mind.  While comfort is definitely extremely high up on the requirements for this premium keyboard, the feature that Asus is striving for with the Claymore 2 is versatility!  The Asus ROG Claymore 2 allows you to customize YOUR keyboard the way YOU want to use it.  The detachable Numpad can be switched from the right side, or the left side, or if you feeling all "gamey" you can simply remove it for a true 80% keyboard experience.     The customization does not stop there, the Claymore 2 can be used both wired ( via a USB-C connector) or wireless ( via 2.4GHz).  If cable management is your thing then simply pull the dongle from its hiding spot at the back of the Claymore 2 and pop it into a USB slot and enjoy the smooth 2.4GHz wireless goodness.  If you prefer to be more "connected" simply slot the USB-C connector into the Claymore 2 and keep going! As if all of the above was not enough, put the finishing touches on your masterpiece with Aura Sync which will allow for all Asus products (and other brands that support Aura Sync) to seamlessly integrate RGB sync across all devices.

ROG RX Optical Mechanical Switches

    Mechanical, as well as optical switches, are constantly evolving and therefore many brands decide to use the same switches as other brands just for simplicity.  The bigger brands tend to take those designs and break them down and build their own, this is what Asus did.  Introducing the ROG RX optical-mechanical switches.  When the ROG RX switches were first announced, many people discussed how similar the personal design of one of the other major competitors was.  Asus was very quick to denounce this and assure us that the ROG RX switches are completely reinvented from the base up as well as when it comes to actuation force and design.     When I received the Claymore 2 Asus did advise that I should use the keyboard for some time just to get used to the feel before passing judgment. From the moment I tapped the first key, I was instantly in love!  The ROG RX Red switch is their Linear and swift switch that allows for the utmost precision and super-fast response time due to the optical triggers.  The red linear switches only need to travel 1.5mm for the switch signal to be made and at an initial weight of 40g needed to press the key, it lays perfectly in the space of being a feather-light switch that will prevent accidental triggers by running your fingers over the keys.  To avoid the dreaded double trigger Asus has also set a 10ms break in triggering.     For those who want less technical speak, the ROG RX switches feel like typing on clouds, the keystrokes feel extremely light while still feeling true and creating confidence in your strokes, this is due to the wobble-free design that Asus has employed.  The Red Linear and Swift keys also allow for a mechanical feel, with the accuracy and response of optical while not sounding like teeth chattering away like some of the other brands of keys strive to achieve.  The Red Asus keys were an instant sell to my wife she said that me working or gaming no longer sounded like I was banging on a typewriter.  Thank you Asus, happy wife happy life :)

Features

The Asus ROG Claymore 2 has a plethora of features crammed into its metal frame.  Apart from the most obvious features such as the 2.4GHz wireless and the wonderful RX switches, the Claymore 2 embodies the word versatility like none before.  In its full kit, the Claymore 2 comes across as your run-of-the-mill keyboard with the Numpad on the right and wrist rest attached.  Simply taking the wrist rest away leaves you with a perfect 100% keyboard, ready to take on anything.  Switching the Numpad to the left side has you ready and set to have all your macros at the tip of your left hand.  Unclipping the Numpad will leave you with a formidable 80% TKL keyboard ready to jump into any battle with you. When playing MOBO and other such games having your abilities equipped somewhere that they are easily and quickly reached could be the key between winning and losing.  The Numpad on the Claymore 2 is equipped with 4 dedicated macro keys that can be assigned to whatever your need may be.  But if you were to need even more macros, Asus has got you covered.  The whole Numpad can be assigned to be a macro pad which when slotted to the left of the keyboard will make nearly any enemy tremble at the sight of your majestic ability pad!     The more features crammed into a device the more the power consumption, and naturally, as the Claymore 2 is wireless it is only natural to be worried that battery life might be a problem.  Once again Asus has thought of everything and they fitted the Claymore 2 with a 4000mAh battery that is capable of delivering 47 hours of nonstop gaming even with RGB turned on.  During my time using the Claymore 2, I admittedly had the RGB on static, with brightness set to 75%, but I comfortably cruised past the 47-hour mark with around 20% battery life left in the tank.  Asus reckons that with the RGB turned off the Claymore 2 is capable of grinding out 144 hours of battery life on a single charge.  That is phenomenal! If you were to find yourself running out of battery life Asus has built a fast charge function into the Claymore 2.  Simply connect it via the USB-C connector to your USB-C port on your PC, toggle on the fast-charge feature by using FN+F12, and within 30min of charging you will be able to get a solid 18 hours of use from it ( with RGB turned off).     The Claymore 2 has so many nifty tricks up its sleeve that I could easily just keep going on about the USB passthrough that is found on the front of the keyboard.  Or the onboard profiles that you can assign to the keyboard even when you are not connected to the armory crate.  The vast amount of RGB lighting modes can be chopped and changed as easily as flicking between keys, not to mention the personal lighting effects you can create to complement your setup with the help of wireless Aura Sync!  

Verdict

When the Asus Claymore 2 arrived on my desk I did not quite realize what I was in for.  The Claymore 2 starts off by doing the basics well, REALLY well!   Asus has made an exceptional switch in the RX optical-mechanical switch and personally, I am truly in love with the linear swift red switches.  The feeling when typing, as well as gaming, is something I have never experienced before through all of my review keyboards as well as my daily keyboards.  After spending countless hours hammering out many written pieces as well as a fair amount of excel work all mixed together with amounts of gaming I would rather not disclose, I can in full honesty say that these switches take the effort out of striking keys! Seeing as the Asus ROG Claymore 2 does the basics right, it is now time to deep dive and see if there is really anything wrong with this piece of genius.  It is a keyboard that caters to literally everyone except the diehard 60%'ers and that is okay because the Claymore 2 can literally do ANYTHING that could be asked of a keyboard, and more!  As I have mentioned in the review the features are endless and they all work tremendously well, so it is extremely tough to fault a perfect keyboard.  The only change I would make, and this is truly looking for something to fault, is that in future versions the Numpad can be used without being connected to the main keyboard.  This opens it up to be used by streamers as a possible stream deck etc. The Asus ROG Claymore 2 is, without a doubt, the new pinnacle in the gaming keyboard section and I would implore anyone who is in the market for a premium keyboard to look no further than the Asus ROG Claymore 2.  This is, right now, the keyboard you don't know you need!    

a very special thank  you to ASUS SA for supplying the review content

 

*all images courtesy of Asus
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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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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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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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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 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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Peace and World DOMINATION, what could go wrong?

HUGE MEGA shout out to PRIMA INTERACTIVE for this one, they took ME WAAAAAAAY back to when I was younger, did I really just say that out loud?  Anyway, I was very excited to play this game as the last Civilization game I played….was 1…YES, people the original 8-bit graphics and weird noises.  In case it hasn’t become clear, I've been playing the latest and greatest to the civilization family…Civilization 6.   Remembering what the game was like back when you started off with a wagon and a dream, you find a place to settle and begin your adventure, you would need to ensure you have enough food for your people, then construct various building to satisfy the needs of your people, be it a granary to store their food, a barracks to protect them from pirates and then an aqueduct to help them fight fires, and so much more but those buildings were necessary to keep just 1 city happy….the name of the game is to expand your empire and have many cities across the globe.  Each city will need some attention to ensure its continued growth and happiness, but more cities mean more revenue and more revenue means easier gameplay so be ye benign or malign? Good or bad? Tax your people heavily or let them prosper under minimal taxation, the choice is never permanent you can always adjust the rate later.     All the while your expanding your empire and finding new resources and areas of interest, other nations are doing the same, the moment you meet another nation's unit you will be introduced to their leader, now civilization is quite humorous with whom they have running each nation, for example Cleopatra is the leader of Egypt, Queen Elizabeth for England and Teddy Roosevelt for America and there are a whole host of other nations that will either play nice….or wage war.  But for the most part everyone is quite friendly, and the scale of friend or foe is often decided by the Strongest nation, which brings us to one of my favorite parts of the game, NOT IMMORTAL COMBAT (TM patent pending), but yes the combat system, I'm still talking old school CIV here people I haven’t gotten to the juicy sweet nectar that is CIV 6 yet, besides constructing buildings to keep your cities happy, you will need to train Military units to defend your cities, AHAAAAA there's a twist ladies and Gents, another main focus of the game is to progress through histories various eras, from stone age to bronze to modern and beyond, you will be given a list of options to research each with its own benefits and unlocks a certain building or unit to create furthering your advancement.  And with advancements comes the wonders of the words, which can be built in a city and have a certain aspect greatly boosted, didn't I mention city aspects? No? well ok then ill take your word for it, cities have different aspects which help it flourish, production, culture, faith, and gold are what makes or breaks a city, as your citizens will demand that each aspect be fully attended and if not, then the city will start to lose momentum in development, "LET THEM HAVE CAKE", I'm sure someone famous said that, and I'm sure everyone was happy, who doesn't love cake?   The map is navigated by a “tiled” map, which means, adjacent hexagonal tiles make up the map and movement was determined by how may “tiles” would/ could be crossed, more advanced or mobile units could move farther than normal ones allowing them to traverse the map quickly, In its 8 bit style combat was pure and simple my block with a picture of a man on a horse versus your block with a picture of a man with a bow, the attacker would connect the blocks and the system would calculate who would win, this is based on the units attack power and damage, whichever unit was stronger would generally win, not to say that you will ALWAYS win, I remember being a highly advanced nation with tanks and planes and feeling pretty good about myself, I come across this poor little village on my now almost dominated continent and I thought to myself “puny insect I will now crush your insolence with my mighty tank” and my tank then perished to a bow and arrow unit….. I knew exactly how all the crew on the Deathstar felt, I continued to nuke the town twice for good measure. And if world domination isn’t your thing then you could try the peaceful way and sign peace treaties with all your fellow nations, indulging in trade and exchanging technologies, and betting the lives of all nations, but this too could crumble if your “Allies” gain the upper hand and decide to destroy you instead, always make sure YOU are the strongest nation, other nations will follow you and dare not challenge you.  The peaceful way is also less troubling in the sense that no one really wants to be friends with the bully, they will scold you and resent you for being a warmonger….I Just remind them why I’m top dog and they all play nice again.   There are in my opinion 2 objectives in the game, either destroy all other nations OR be the first civilization to advance to the space age, where you colonize the stars with your nation’s people.  Both are acceptable ends so go with whatever you feel is right, even if it means smiting an entire nation right off the face of the earth, obliterate their history and wipe their existence from memory!!!! Or be the good guy and help everyone to the final stage of space exploration.   Now that we have the basic game idea lets skip leaps and bounds ahead to CIV 6 and all its glory, the game stays true to its roots with there being multiple nations and eras to advance through, expanding quickly and developing new technologies, BUT and this is a huge but, haha I said butt, they did something amazing THEY UPPED THE GRAPHICS, *gasp*, who would’ve thought, well yes we all knew we would be seeing, in my opinion, a very visually stunning game.   The map is littered with various resource tiles, some are basic and some are luxurious which means they are a valuable trading commodity, but you will need the basics in order to survive Farms and mines to produce food and production points, the higher your production points the quicker it is to construct buildings or train units, this is vital to advance quickly as slow-moving cities fall behind in the ever going march of time.  The in-game system alerts you to a certain problem within a certain city, for example, you will be told if there is insufficient housing for your people or not enough food, or if the people get……bored…well not bored per say, but they will demand more amenities or stuff for them to do, now I know how my mother felt, “MOM I'm hungry”, “MOM I'm bored”, excuse me I think I need to call my mom.   The combat system has also been vastly vamped up and now is very entertaining to watch, your units are no longer blocks smashing into each other, they are now, actual representations of their “real world” counterparts, be it units with clubs that run towards enemy and swing like pro stars, or musket men who fire their flintlocks, it is very fun to watch the units fight each other.  There are 3 kinds of units which are pretty obvious given what they are, Ground, Aerial and naval, let it be noted that your ground units can traverse the sea but will be at a combat disadvantage. But apart from the basics of the combat, there are other actions your units can take such as, Fortify, which anchors the unit in place boosting its defensive rating, or if your unit has just emerged from a skirmish then you can Fortify heal, where the units will starting regenerating lost health, or they can “sleep” which just makes the unit inactive in place but whenever you require them to follow another instruction you can simply “wake up” the unit and they will be available to move again.   Military units will also have a range which they can attack from, your melee units will need to be adjacent or next to the tile which the enemy is on, ranged units (pending unit) will have a range of 1 or 2 tiles, however, the tiles must follow a straight line, this means you can’t attack in a J or L Pattern, this makes the player think strategically about unit placement to make use of all units available.   Not all units are available immediately even after unlocking the technology for it, some units require a certain resource and in the upper techs, a specific building, once the technology is unlocked that resource will appear on a tile on the map which you will need to build on to utilize it, you will need horses to be able to create cavalry, iron to create knights, and so the list continues.   The game also allows you to run a certain style of government, which then allows you to put in place “policies” which are a whole lot of cards detailing certain benefits to your empire, it can be military, diplomatic or economic. And each type of government allows you to put into place one or more of a certain kind of policy, this allows you to promote your play style and boosts areas which you need to further your agendas.   A very critical in-game mechanic, in my opinion, is trade, you can trade with other nations for resources, works of art or even straight-up cash.  You can also make demands of your “neighbors”, demands of whatever they have that you want, Why you bully me?  This can lead to growing a relationship or starting to turn one into a reason to declare war.  Besides trade there is another thing you want that your enemy has….information, you will need to train a spy (later game unit) who you can send to infiltrate an opposing nations city, while stationed they provide you with a view of the map which your “host” city occupies, and can be given certain missions to accomplish, be it, steal funds or technology, steal works of art, or create a rebellion within the city, All of which provide you with an upper hand. And all this can be made that much more fun in multiplayer, challenge your friends to a world domination race or face off in world war the likes of which will shatter the stars and forever scar the friendship you once had, "AMANDA!! PLEASE TRADE SOME URANIUM WITH ME, I NEED IT FOR A UHHHH...CERTAIN PROJECT IM RUNNING".   With all the strategies, unhappy citizens, impending doom of a nuclear strike and the crippling NEED to keep ahead of all other nations, you can’t help but lose yourself in this timeless game, “just 30 minutes and I’m done” will be the most spoken words on your lips followed by “I started at 5, HOW THE HELL IS IT MIDNIGHT” which is accompanied by “ITS MIDNIGHT!! GET TO BED!!”.   Right, let's ask the hard-hitting questions.  Is the game entertaining? a sound yes.  Is the game replayable? Most definitely and circumstances are always different.  Is the game for everyone? I would really have to say yes. The enjoyment of the game and the visuals and the sheer replayability of this game earns it a well deserved 9/10 stars   Another huge thanks to PRIMA INTERACTIVE  for the sponsor of this game and a chance to relive a childhood long forgotten  
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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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Farm Simulator 2019 – Review

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

Review content supplied by Apex Interactive

 
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NBA 2K20 – Review

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

At First Glance

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

Playing the Game

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

Controls and Learning the Game

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

MyCAREER

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Blizzard has created a new weapon to try stop cheaters in overwatch and it will surely bring light to some and major rage to others.  If the game detects a cheater, rather than eject the player and leave the whole team in a terrible position.....the ENTIRE match shuts down, Kinda like pulling a fire alarm, EVERYONE OUT!   Overwatch's director Jeff Kaplan announced the new system in the game's July Update video, saying "We will automatically shut down a match where we detect cheating is happening".  This might seem annoying as some people would see this as a loss on their record, however, Kaplan has pointed out that Blizzard will make sure neither team is penalized, even if you're on the cheaters' team you will not be barred from finding another game immediately.   The main gain of this new system is to ensure players skills rating aren't being boosted or taking hits and the game will simply be counted as a blip and won't appear on your record.  Its a vast improvement on systems where the game would be ruined by a cheater, leaving you with the choice of either leaving the game and facing the penalties of abandoning your team, or stay and face a dull game.  The cheater, however, will not get off so easily and will face very harsh actions taken against them.     This system may be what most games need, only time will tell, cheaters beware Blizzard is onto you
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No, Problemgon, New World is not “problematic”. You are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just Cause 4 – Familiar, in a bad way!

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

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

  Image result for megarom
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Interview with Toy Photographer Eric Ruiz

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

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

 

This is Eric Ruiz.

   

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

   

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

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

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

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

   

Q: What is your favourite figure in your collection?

A: I would have to say Kratos from Neca

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

All images provided and owned by Eric Ruiz.

     
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Spyro Reignited Trilogy Review

Image result for spyro   I have many fond memories of a certain little purple dragon named Spyro and playing the Reignited Trilogy was a welcome walk down memory lane with a beautiful new flare. The graphics, colours and cartoony art style are all just amazing to look at. From Spyro’s cute animations to the scenery of the levels, the modern technological advancements have really breathed a new flame into these games. The game is gorgeous, there are no two ways about it.   Image result for spyro   Also, the audio has been done over. The voice work is so much better. I remember the odd breathing between words in the older Spyro I played way back when, as if the mic was too close to the speaker but this time around the voice acting is done so much better even though a lot of it can be awkward when characters say things like “press the action button to do this!” But overall, the voices are so much clearer now. The music has also been remastered too which makes the catchy tunes more dynamic although there is an option to switch to the unedited music which is a nice feature.   Image result for spyro   Other than the graphics, voice acting and some altered controls from the original, not much else has changed. The game still plays like the old one. The controls have been altered to the better though. In the original, the bumper buttons panned the camera which was just awkward, this time the analogue sticks control the camera which does make it game feel easier than what memory serves but it is a much welcome change. Other than that, it’s still that action-packed quick thinking platformer that was adored all those years ago. With a drive to get 100% completion on all levels, players will find secret areas where they can experience mini-games or collectibles. In the first game, I managed to get 100% completion on one play through and get the secret level completed to leading me to 120% completion. But Spyro 2 is where the harder work began. That’s where the replayability starts as you only acquire certain skills to get to secret areas later on in the game.   Image result for spyro This remaster comes with the original three games, for those who didn’t know. All made dolled up for this generation of consoles. One can clearly see the amount of love and passion that the dev team, Toys for Bob, has for Spyro just by looking at the game. It’s nice to see these fantastic games made for a newer generation and for us old-timers who hold onto better days.   Image result for spyro   Although the gameplay may be considered dated compared modern games, Spyro in its remastered form still holds its own, although not an open world sandbox, the early stepping stones to that genre can be seen here with hub worlds that have portals to levels which can be done in any order the player chooses. It feels unfair to rate Spyro according to the modern-day mechanics which do promote more openness and customization. So I’ll be rating Spyro: Reignited Trilogy as a remaster and as far as remasters go, it gets a 10/10 from me.   Written by Mr Groovy B   Image result for 10 out of 10 stars
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FIFA 19 Review – closer to the Beautiful Game

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

The Journey Continues

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

Game modes  and Features Galore

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

Final Verdict

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

Special thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying this review game

Image result for prima interactive  
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State of gaming in SA

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

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

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

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

[Updated on 29 September 2017]

Current Xbox Game Pass Titles

Xbox One

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

Xbox 360 (Playable on Xbox One)

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

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

Classes and skills

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

Gameplay and Combat

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

Overall impression

You could be forgiven for not expecting much from a 4 year old, free to play title like Path of Exile.  Hell I did!  Most companies who have tried to make a title to rival the likes of Diablo have failed miserably over and over again.  Path of Exile is definitely not a mega-budget title like Diablo but you would never say that when you play it.  Yes it is not graphically as good as Diablo but wow does it do all the other parts so stupendously well! Whether you are playing this solo or with a friend or 2, this game is very enjoyable for anyone who is a fan of the genre.  Best part is you get a free to play game without all the usual Free-to-play limitations.  Looking at the history of Path of Exiles on PC you can expect a multitude of updates to fix, improve and expand this game.  The developers have even promised extensive graphical improvements for the Xbox One X.  There is also rumors of couch co-op coming in the near future which will make this title even more enjoyable!  
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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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Headset Review – Astro A40 TR

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

Ever wondered if you are really getting the most out of your awesome investment that you have purchased? Well this article will give you a couple of Tips and Tricks on how to get the most out of your Xbox One console and make you a Pro among a sea of Noobs.   Expand your storage with a External Harddrive We all remember the days where 500gb use to be plenty of space (am I giving away my age...)  but the fact is now a days 500Gbs just isn't enough.  Luckily if you have a external harddrive that is USB 3.0 and has a larger capacity than 256Gb then you can use that to expand your storage on your Xbox one.  Just pop it in to one of the USB drives in your console, head over to the storage section of the settings and format that drive to the Xbox format ( follow the prompts)  and as easy as that you have expanded your storage!   Check how much data your Xbox is using We all know how expensive internet and data costs are and we all try to keep track of our data usage as best we can.  Luckily Microsoft has once again come to the rescue providing us with a built in bandwidth monitor right at our fingertips.  Just simply head over to Settings - Network - Bandwidth Usage. No more needing to to try and figure out where your months data has gone and who your should blame for it!   Backward Compatibility Most of us come from the xbox 360 days and we usually all have a fairly large game library but now we have moved on to the Xbox one generation and now your 360 library is just gathering dust.  Fear not you do not have to revert to your old console to experience the magic of the past.  With the new Backward compatibility feature you can now play most of your library, be it digital or disc based, on your xbox one.  With disc based games simply pop the disc into the drive and let it install and start gaming!  Digital games will show up in your ready to install list as normal! Now go and dust off that Red Dead Redemption and start playing it and all these titles   Play Anywhere Games on Xbox one and Windows 10 Are you going away and can't take your trusty Xbox along?  Do not fret nor fear, Microsoft has you covered as always, introducing Play Anywhere!  With Play Anywhere you can now start a game on your Xbox one and when you leave your home and fire up your PC and play that same game, you can continue right where you left it.  This initiative from Microsoft will currently only be available on specific titles such as Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, ReCore, Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2.  Important to note that these titles you will purchase it once and be able to play on both platforms Always on Feature No one likes to come home and be excited to play that game that you have been burning to get your hands on but you turn your console on only to find there is a update to do first.  With the new Always-On feature this will be a thing of the past.  this feature, found in the power option, will leave your console in a semi- on state which will allow it to check for and do updates even when the console is "off" this way you will always arrive home to a updated and ready to go console!   I hope this article will help some of you become more adept at using the magical console that is the Xbox one!  I have only scraped the surface of what this console is capable of so in future articles i will address more of the features.   thanks for reading.
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3 Open World Games To Keep an Eye On!

Some Developers don't climb on the hype train and over hype or over sell a game and sometimes it pays off well. I have taken three games that has serious potential of becoming "Silent Master pieces" and which grabbed my attention from the get go. 1. Sea of Thieves

Like to sail the seas, go treasure hunting and shout random words that end off with arrrrrrrrrr…. Well this might just be the game for you.

I had my first experience this weekend within the insider program and had a chance to play for about 2 hours and I must say this is a CRAZY lot of fun.

Sea of thieves has a strong emphasis on multiplayer and playing alone does not reap any rewards. From sailing and navigating to letting down the anchors and reloading cannons, every single aspect is team based and must be done by the player. The creators definitely went for realism but still keeping it extremely fun within a stunning game world.

I definitely recommend that you sign up with the insider program.

Click here to become an Insider:  Sea of thieves Insider

2. ELEX

This is a game to keep an eye out for, a completely new IP from Piranha Bytes who also brought us the Gothic and Risen series. ELEX is an upcoming sci-fi fantasy RPG that blends sci-fi fantasy with normal Fantasy and takes place on the stunning world of Magalan. I’m a sucker for open world games and RPG’s and from looking at some gameplay footage, ELEX grabbed my attention immediately. Magalan is a planet struck by a meteor that caused massive destruction and threatens to undo everything the people of the world accomplished. Those who survived the impact now struggle to survive against nature and each other as faction’s battle for control. At the center of this war is the new element ELEX which is a precious and limited resource brought by the meteor impact and can power machines, grant magical properties and even sculpt new life. ELEX releases on Xbox One October 17th, 2017. Make sure you check out this awesome trailer of ELEX 3. Dragon’s Dogma Dragon’s Dogma came to Xbox 360 and was a game that slipped in silently but made a huge impact with its awesome play style, game mechanics and party system. Now Dragon’s Dogma returns to Xbox one and if you haven’t played it or heard of it make sure to keep an eye on it. In, Dragon’s Dogma, your character must track down the dragon that curb-stomped you in the intro and literally stole your heart. The game allows you to create an AI companion called a Pawn, and even hire Pawns created by other players. The combat is fast and brutal, like Devil May Cry, with the ability to scale larger enemies like Shadow of the Colossus. Dragon’s Dogma has no official release date but the studio has confirmed a 2017 release.

If there are other Open World games or RPG's you cant wait for let me know in the comment section. Hope all of you have an Amazing Sunday because tomorrow its all back to grinding away at normal office hours.

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