Thursday, September 4, 2014

Metro Redux | Review

If you're like me, you may have a backlogged list of games you always intend to go back and play.  If you're also like me, you may eventually forget, or get too busy and just focus on looking forward.  Luckily, 4A, the developers behind the highly underrated Metro 2033/Metro: Last Light Series, have found it in the goodness of their hearts to take the time to re-package these two titles in an entirely new package.

Metro Redux aims to take a shot at the recent trend of "last-gen" games being re-mastered, and re-launched for the new/current systems.  Like Tomb Raider, and The Last of US before it, Metro: Redux is more of a revisioning, and less a money-grab.  This isn't just a slight polish on the last gen, re-packaged as a two-for-one special, no.  Although, even if that's all they did, it would still be a great deal (at $50 retail, two solid games, you cannot go wrong).

However, 4A has gone back to the source, and re-built the title using the latest game engine enhancements, increasing the visual fidelity, improving the gameplay, (giving options to choose your play-style), and even including all DLC released, this is truly the only version of the Metro series you need to own, and is a great time killer before the onslaught of this holiday's upcoming gaming season.

So, say you're one who hasn't played these games when they were on Xbox/PS3.  Say you don't know much about them...well, I'm glad you're here.  In Metro 2033, the year is (obviously) 2033, the bulk of the game takes place in the Metro system of Moscow.  There was a cataclysmic event that has driven the surviving humans into the city's metro system (following so far?).  You play our hero Artyom as you fight along side a small resistance against both humans, and mutated creatures.  The original version of Metro 2033 focused on the "survival horror" aspect, in that healing and ammunition was scarce, so you had to strategically conserve to survive...and even the easiest setting was highly unforgiving.  The Redux version gives you the ability to play the more "action-like" Spartan mode featured as a differentiator of the Metro Last Light title.  Bullets, skills, healing items are more readily available so you can focus more on the action, instead of worrying about merely surviving.

Play it the original way, play it the new way - the choice is yours just play it!

Metro 2033 starts off as a pretty traditional shooter, but soon you'll be encountering more frightening elements that will make you want to play with the lights on.  It's not a true horror game per se, but it does have some "scare" moments.

When it comes to the second half of this Metro sandwich, we actually had a chance to review Last Light back in May of 2013 (see here) and even though we praised the title for it's visuals back then, the new version looks even better!  Controls are about the same (in the sense that they aren't quite as fluid as your AAA titles, but it just takes a little getting used to.  We didn't experience the same glitches we remember from the last-gen version here, so it looks like they've been able to squash a lot of the bugs that were a minor grievance last time.

All in all, you have two very solid games that should tide you over till the onslaught of the holiday gaming season begins, and for a great price, you cannot go wrong to finally go underneath the surface to the Metro.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Jabra Stealth never leaves your ear while keeping your phone in your pocket

Jabra has provided me with my next review and this time around it is not an active lifestyle headphone, we are going back to Jabra’s roots, Bluetooth headsets. I have received the Jabra Stealth, a tiny Bluetooth headset that has some impressive features for it’s small stature. Such features include but are not limited to a noise blackout dual microphone to minimize background noise, microPOWER battery that I will get into later, streaming capabilities, button for Siri/Google Now, and more. Quickly synced and ready to go, let’s see how it holds up.
With the numerous Bluetooth headsets, speakers, headphone, and integrated car features, it is hard to get excited about a headset. That is unless your headset is an audible link to your phone allowing a number of features from your phone without it even leaving your pocket. The Stealth is so small and light that it is comfortable for long periods of time and like the previous Jabra earphones I have used, there various size/style tips to provide a good fit for most anybody. The microPOWER battery is the essentially piece in allowing for such a small build, but the incredible part is the amount of juice the tiny cell provides, up to 6 hours of talk time or 240 hours standby time, topped off by weighing a smidge over a quarter ounce.
Jabra has succeeded in making a smart headset with the Jabra Stealth. I thought the wireless phone headset had one foot in the grave with incorporation of the feature into more multifunctional devices. But low and behold, the stealth offers the same features and more to Bluetooth earphone, by offering music streaming, and GPS directions, and access to Siri. Jabra always seems to throw in a random feature and the Stealth is no exception with the ability to see the last place in which you had the headset turned on. This crystal clear sounding, golf tee sized, music playback capable smart headset is available now for $99.99.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mashbuttons grinds away in Sacred 3 review

The time has come in which the sequel to Sacred 2 has come and for those unaware, Sacred 2 was a massive top down, open world, dungeon crawling, action adventure title in which I spent just as many hour exploring as I put in to the similar Diablo 3, yeah it was that good. Enough about its predecessor, let’s get to the title at hand, Sacred 3 allows you to play as one of five character classes that play significantly differently in the fight for Arcania. Play with a friend in two-player offline coop, four-player online coop, and if you choose to take on the burden yourself, but I suggest against it, as your journey will consist of lots of level grinding depending on the class you choose.

Shortly after I chose my character, I decided to go with the new Malakhim class, there was a big lack in character customization and the world was no longer open but now a level tree to play through. The character classes still play significantly different which makes for a lot of fun in online matches when you can get into one, but in my time spent with this title, I had no one join my match and the fee that I tried to join, I was immediately booted from. The gameplay is where it is at as the action is fast, I did not experience slowdown when things got hectic, and after each level, I was able to upgrade and change my character's skills and weapon load outs based on the amount of ass kicked in the previously missions.

In the end, no, this is not a true sequel to Sacred 2, as the only thing that is consistent is the character classes and the top down action. Did that ruin my experience, absolutely not, I had a lot of fun with Sacred 3 as it was easy to pick up and play a mission or two to kill time, and while I was not able to play online, the online leaderboards added a replay element to grinding and replaying missions. That being said, if you are a fan of titles like Gauntlet Legends, this game will make you feel nostalgic and the couch coop made the experience very enjoyable. Sacred 3 ultimately felt like what Sacred Citadel should have been as it feels like a fleshed out version of that, and had they chosen to add a moniker to the title or did not use the ‘3’, it would have a larger community online. Sacred 3 is available now on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC for $49.99.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Roccat releases Military versions of the Kone Pure and Sense

The fine folks known for their German ­engineered PC gaming accessories is back with two new military edition products, the Kone Pure mouse and Sense Camo Charge mouse pad. The Sense mouse pad is a large mouse pad that boasts increased speed and precision using an ultra soft cloth technology. The accompanying mouse, Kona Pure, is a 5000dpi optical mouse that is ergonomically designed to provide both comfort and full command of your favorite games with a unique Camo Charge style. Now that both are placed comfortably on my desktop and Diablo 3 has been updated after a long hiatus, it's time to get to the nitty gritty.
I will start with the Sense mouse pad, as I am one of many that will upgrade my mouse and continue using a mouse pad until it frays. The military edition Sense not only better tracked movement but also provided a massive surface, measuring in at 400x280 mm, so that I never once worried about running out of pad. The smooth surface is made up of an ultra-soft cloth and the design is bright to both showcase the Roccat Kone Pure and use the vibrant colors to optimize optical tracking. Now for my biggest gripe with most mouse pads, the rarely stay in place, but the Sense held it's ground by way of the non slip, diagonal chevron weave in the rubberized base.
Now for the Mack Daddy of the package, the Kone Pure, and for starters, I have to say that I really dig the Camo Charge look as it is an OD Green with a soft texture and the ergonomic fit molds well to my right hand. The mouse teams great with the massive mouse pad and the color customization made available through Roccat's driver allowed me to close match the color scheme of the Sense pad. In terms of the button customization, there are 7 programmable buttons, multiple programmable profiles thanks to the on board Turbo Core processor, and adjustable sensitivity up to 5000 dpi and lift control. Some of the Roccat gaming mice have driver support for Mac gaming, but this Military Edition gaming mouse does not.

The Military Edition Sense and Kone Pure are a great addition to most any PC gaming setup...and work addition thanks to the programmable buttons. The solid build teamed with the Camo Charge color scheme make these a perfect pair for that tactical and military fan, and can potentially even help your chances for first person shooter survival. Sure, maybe that last one was a stretch, but based on the programming of buttons and macros, it definitely couldn't hurt. The Roccat Military Edition Sense mouse pad is available now for $19.99 and the Kone Pure gaming mouse is available now for $69.99.