Friday, 29 November 2013

Hardware Revisited: Alienware M18x Gaming Laptop

An aspect of most hardware reviews that's always missing is the prediction of how durable a piece of equipment is unless the thing falls to pieces while it's in use. With that in mind I thought it was time to revisit a piece of hardware I reviewed back in 2012, but have been using since late 2011. That piece of hardware is the Alienware M18x.

The casing of the unit has held up extremely well, even under heavy use. I travel a lot with this thing even though it weighs a ton and it has suffered it's fair share of knocks and toddlers slamming the screen down, and the only evidence of it's use is a small nick out of the paint. (See picture below.) I've done my best to minimize exposure to dents or scratches during transit, to the extent that I hunted down a (second-hand) official Alienware shoulder bag made specifically to accommodate the oversized nature of the laptop. The laptop picks up the typical amount of finger prints and dust, but the overall look of the machine is almost flawless.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Review: Batman: Arkham Origins (PC)

You know what? Batman: Arkham Origins is pretty darn good.

Sure, there are some traversal slogs through the city and the fact Batman starts with a bunch of weaponry that only trickles out slowly in the previous two titles, my brain inhales Batman the same way gamers sometimes do lines of Dorito® dust: in great quantities and with zero regard for the moral authority that would rather see a society devoid of orange moustaches.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Review: DuckTales: Remastered (360)

The 8-bit 2D side-scroller genre was defined by Nintendo's Mario Brothers titles, each one a masterpiece of design perfection in the Golden Age of Gaming. But one unlikely title was able to place itself on that lofty mantle right alongside Mario's NES-era plumber-rescuing-the-princess exploits: DuckTales.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Review: Atomic Ninjas (PS3)

The growth of the indy games community has certainly brought forward some brilliant minimalist games; Fez, Super Meat Boy, and FTL are the first to my mind.

Unfortunately for every one of those, there are the titles that could have used more fleshing out. Atomic Ninjas goes the route of the multiplayer brawler – a multi-leveled frantic experience not too dissimilar to a good game of Super Smash Brothers. The visuals are simple yet grab the eye – bright popping colors and frantic action meant to suck you right in. The problem is that when you get there, you get the feeling that you arrived a little too early to the party.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Review: Need for Speed - Rivals (PS4)


Need for Speed: Most Wanted was one of my favourite games last year and perhaps the best racing game I have played in recent memory. Criterion Games, the developers behind Most Wanted don't return this year as development of Rivals was handed over to Ghost Games. The only similarities between Most Wanted and Rivals is that both games take place in open world environments and feature the Autolog system.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Editorial: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 We Hardly Knew Ye

So, with a new generation of consoles here, it's time to eulogize the imminent passing of the previous one. We look back on all of the good times we had, the bad times, the high and low points, all the things that made the generation special for us. My problem is that this past generation was the first time I genuinely found myself not caring about console games, and I can see that opinion galvanizing in the future.

There were plenty of games that I liked that came out on those systems, but they also came out on PC where they were often times prettier. Even better, if I waited until something like a Steam Sale, I could get a lot of those games for a sack of nickels, which is quite the savings over their console equivalents where I was hard pressed to find a lot of those games for under twenty bucks.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Review: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst (360)

It's important to get one thing up front and out of the way during this review: if you are a fan of Naruto Shippuden then you are going to want to read further. If not, you are welcome to keep reading but I'm not sure you should get this game.

The game name and packaging might be confusing and that's because Full Burst is a re-pack of the earlier game from March of 2013, with the extra DLC packed in. It's kind of hard to believe that more stuff has been added to the disc since overall this game contains almost all of the plot points from the Fourth Ninja War. If you haven't caught up what's happening in the series outside the gaming world, this game is going to be a major spoiler alert. In some cases, the cut scenes can actually last up to half an hour (longer than an entire episode) so be prepared.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Review: Killzone - Mercenary (PS Vita)

killzone mercenary
The PS Vita was really aching for a good first person shooter, and while Killzone: Mercenary certainly has its faults, it’s easily the closest to filling this role and one of the best Vita games to date.

It’s a graphical behemoth that really showcases how beautiful Vita games can be, and while some silly mechanics like touch screen melee kills may turn off some people, they’re not forced. You can easily avoid melee combat with some tight gameplay that has that familiar weightiness that Killzone is known for.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Review: Urban Trial Freestyle (PC)

There's a simplicity to Urban Trial Freestyle that does a good job, at least initially, of burying the complexity required to truly master the game.

Manoeuvring the rider through a nightmare motocross obstacle course, the controls amount to accelerate, brake, lean forward, and lean backward. The simple combination of those four control directions with the occasionally bizarre interactive and changing "course" creates an environment whereby the player must exhibit some skill and sometimes just get a lucky break to make it through the course or match challenge markers (like longest distance). It doesn't hurt to upgrade the bike either.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Battlefield 4 (PC): Pre-Review Thoughts

At this moment, if I were to write an official review of Battlefield 4 it would be decidedly unfavourable. 1 star on Amazon, maybe a 2 for a Metacritic User Review because right now Battlefield 4 is like driving the ultra high-end sports car of your choice, with a twist. It looks gorgeous, the lines are great, the sense of power is incredible. But imagine that the hidden "feature" of this vehicle is that the front wheels will fly off without any indication that something is about to go horribly and dramatically wrong.

Review: Call of Duty - Ghosts (PS3)

Since the series went yearly in 2005, the gaming community has come to expect a new iteration of Call of Duty each holiday season.

Each year it seems like the latest instalment in the series breaks the previous years sales records.  Regardless of sales figures, many gamers feel the series has grown tiresome and stale. In addition to that, Electronic Arts Battlefield series holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers. So, Call of Duty: Ghosts has it's work cut out for itself.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Review: Star Wars - Balance of the Force Pinball (360)

For those among us who can actually remember visiting an arcade instead of the few machines attached to your movie theatre, the Pinball Machine should bring back fond memories. Simple to learn, complex to truly master and deceptive enough to drag you into the "zone" and away from the outside world. While I was good enough to earn an extra ball on a single quarter, I never would be called a pinball wizard and apparently over time and as evidenced by my time with Star Wars Pinball, my talents have atrophied significantly.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Review: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures (360)

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures has a bit of an identity crisis. Targeted at kids who are likely to watch the television series, the game offers challenging levels that I believe most of the younger crowd will have a hard time figuring out. For adults, the design is going to remind you of the plethora of PlayStation 2 platformers that you might have enjoyed during the previous last generation of gaming.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Review: WWE 2K14 (360)

The WWE has always had some memorable video games and with WWE 2K14 the gap between Wrestling Entertainment and center piece games like the Madden Franchise and the NBA2K franchise are disappearing. That's not to say that the differences are gone, but the quality level that we are seeing for a wrestling game definitely deserves some acclaim. The opening roster alone is quite extensive – as you compete, you will unlock even more wrestlers and fill out this crazy initial roster of 72 wrestlers (not including downloadable ones).

Friday, 8 November 2013

Review: Rocksmith 2014 Edition (PS3)

I reviewed the original Rocksmith for the PS3 when it first released in the fall of 2011. At the time it came out, I had never picked up a real guitar so it was a great entry into the music world for me. However, even with all it offered, the game was held back by a clunky user interface, long load times and the fact that you had to retune your guitar between every song (even if they are tuned the same). Rocksmith 2014 (RS2014) fixes all of the problems of the original game while adding some great new features.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Blackguards Early Access Impressions (PC)

Jeff's been fiddling around in turn-based strategy game Blackguards since it hit Steam's Early Access recently, and gives some early impressions of what's planned for the game.

Review: FIFA 14 (360)

Last year I reviewed both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of FIFA 13. It took me a long, long time to achieve a familiarity with the game mechanics, you know, just figuring out how things worked. The learning curve was a lot less steep this year, but I'd be hard-pressed to point out the specific differences between FIFA 13 and FIFA 14. I mean, besides the cover athletes.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Review: Grand Theft Auto V (360)

There are AAA games and there is Grand Theft Auto (GTA).

The newest tale of criminals and corruption Rockstar establishes GTA as the pre-eminent gaming franchise today, with 29 million units shipped to date and a ridiculously impossible-to-believe $1 billion in sales in the first 72 hours of its release. And it deserves every cent, with a magnificently huge open-world of Los Angeles stand-in Los Santos -- filled with celebrities, wannabe celebrities and those who exploit them -- being the backdrop to a superior heist-filled storyline with great dialogue, great satire. Rockstar has once again crafted another exceptional, long-lasting game that's good enough to be a Hollywood blockbuster.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Catching Up with Assault Android Cactus

Over the summer a fun little twin stick shooter called Assault Android Cactus appeared on Steam's Early Access service. It features a team of female androids out to stop hordes of robots from running a muck in various locales, each girl with her own pair of unique primary and secondary weapons. The game isn't really setting out to reinvent the genre in any grand way, but it has some little tweaks to the gameplay and a very nice aesthetic, making it a game to watch out for. I did a video on our YouTube channel discussing the game shortly after it became available, but since that time there have been a few updates to it and I feel it's high time I took a moment to revisit the game.