Friday, September 30, 2016

SteelSeries ups your PC gaming experience for just over 100 dollars

SteelSeries has provided us with a couple products from their lineup, which includes the Siberia 200, a headset for the PC and PS4, and the Rival 100, a mouse loaded with options that supports both PC and Mac. While I have not had any hands on experience with SteelSeries’ products, I was looking forward to seeing how they compare to the likes of Roccat or Razer, especially being a more affordable option. With headphones and mouse unboxed, drivers downloaded, and configured for specific games, it’s time to see how the hold up.
I will begin with the Rival 100, a wired optical gaming mouse with six programmable buttons and a user friendly. The setup was easy, I just downloaded SteelSeries Engine 3 and I was ready to setup individual profiles for my preferred game or application. There is a unique feature called GameSense which provides different illumination for in game actions, the downside was that only three games support this feature, none of which I play. This mouse has smooth movement and easy to locate buttons, my only complaint is with the weight, being lighter than I prefer, and the side grips really didn’t provide much if any grip, but the performance customization is where it really shined.
Next up is the Siberia 200 headset, which is based on their best selling Siberia V2 with updates. This headset on top of providing great sound quality and voice chat was very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. This comfort comes not only from the over the ear design, but the suspension headband that eliminates the pressure found wearing other headsets.  Another unique feature is the mic as it retracts and extends from the earcup for those times using just to listen to music. I mentioned the sound quality and it provided a great range of sound in explosions and motor noises in games and much easier to hear teammates at high volume during online play, which is my biggest issue with most of the headsets I have used on the PS4. Once again, like my complaint with the mouse is with the build quality and while they performed well, better than expected, they just didn’t provide a sturdy feel when handling.
I was pleasantly surprised with the time spent with my first SteelSeries products. The features and performance compare to those that are found in similar products at higher price points and come in a seven different color options. SteelSeries makes it easier to get more from the gaming experience after the large amounts of money spent building a gaming PC or PS4. Siberia 200 is the entry level to the Siberia lineup and is available for $69.99, while the Rival 100 is available for $39.99. Check them out and while you are at it, there are various options in each of the Siberia and Rival lineups. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Mighty No. 9: A trying tale from crowd funding to download

Just about everyone that has been playing games since the golden years of Nintendo has encountered Mega Man and struggled to take down the dastardly Dr…this isn’t about that game, but this is about it’s creator’s quest to bring a predecessor to the current generation through a bumpy crowd funding campaign. The drama is behind us at this point and the game is here, so let’s focus on the what has been provided to the fans and backers along with the experience. Mighty No. 9 is a side scrolling action game in which you take on the role of Beck in the year 20XX as the ninth robot among a number others designed to compete in the Battle Coliseum; the twist is that Beck is the only one that isn’t infected by an unknown virus. Each of the robots have a unique power in which, surprise, you take over their power upon defeating. Instead of the familiar jump and shoot, a dash attack has been introduced in which bonus’ are rewarded based on timing and combos. Let’s see how Mighty No. 9 lives up to its predecessor and if that classic 2D action holds up.

Right out of the gate, my experience felt slightly nostalgic and then after being introduced to the cast of characters, I got those old warm and fuzzy feelings. With each of the bosses providing a new special ability upon defeat, making selection of the next stage being strategically chosen based off newly acquired skills to help with completion of the next stage. I personally felt that Mighty No. 9 was not quite as difficult as I was expecting, however there was some stages that provided the frustrating level of difficulty that would make me set down the controller and step away after many failed attempts. There was something that stood out to me, particularly like a sore thumb were the boss character designs, they did not seem to fit in or look finished in contrast to the bright and flashy level designs and enemies. Another throwback that took me back to the patch less good old days is the music and there is good reason for that as it is the same composers, including Manami Matsumae, who have worked with Keiji Inafune numerous times in the past. 

While Mighty No. 9, seems extremely linear, being a side scrolling game with 12 unique stages and boss battles, there are a number of various game modes included, which are unlocked throughout gameplay. Such modes include Challenge Mode that consists of various mini missions, Boss Rush Mode to race against your best times, harder difficulties, along with 2 Player Online Race Battles and Co-Op Challenge Modes. I enjoyed most of my experience with Mighty No. 9, even though there were some gripes here and there, particularly by the main character designs and the story that I found myself skipping through cut scenes stages in. While it’s roots are definitely visible in this title, I feel that it has enough going for it to stand on it’s own and bring in a new audience that is not familiar with the previous classics of Keiji Inajune. Mighty No. 9 is available now across just about every console for $29.99.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Deadlight: Director’s Cut: The console zombie 2D platformer now on consoles

I have been provided with a code for Deadlight Director’s Cut, a title that I really had no idea about, which tend to be my favorite titles to review, especially when they are games in this particular genre. Deadlight is a 2D platforming game where you play as Randall in 1986 Seattle searching for family he was separated from. It is you against zombies and puzzles with weapons if sneaking is too passive for you, so let's see how Deadlight goes.  
Immediately out of the gate, I am reminiscent of the time spent with Limbo and Castlevania. It also has a nice level of difficulty by making ammo scarce and puzzles thought invoking when zombies aren't the only thing that can kill you. Visually it looks great, while the foreground is dark and the background is a detailed apocalyptic Seattle. While the gameplay was fun and visually it looked great, I am not sure if it was the story or the animation style had me skipping cut scenes shortly after starting. 
On top of the ability to now play Deadlight on the current consoles, Survival Arena changes things up by fighting off waves of zombies and while it was entertaining, progressing up the leaderboards kept me returning. The Director's Cut includes a digital art book and the original Developer Diaries to provide fans with more insight to the Deadlight series. Deadlight: Director's Cut is available now for $19.99 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Dead Island Trifecta: Dead Island and Riptide Definitive Collection, topped with Retro Revenge

Coming from someone that it not a fan of HD remastering of previous generation titles, it is time for a game in which I think is a perfect fit to be polished and reshelved, and that game being Dead Island. One of my favorite zombie open world survivor games, up there with Left 4 Dead, has been rebuilt and both Dead Island and Riptide Definitive Collection are available as a big scary package or individually. However, should you choose to get the retail collection, you also receive you will also receive Dead Island Retro Revenge, a 16-bit side scrolling beat em up. Time to see how they hold up as we head back to Banoi, so who do you Voodoo bitch?
As this is a remake there is no need to go over the originality that came with Dead Island, so I might as well jump right into how it looks and plays. What a lot of zombie survival games, there is that lack of urgency or atmosphere that seems haunting. My favorite part of Dead Island was how hectic it is. If you do not perform zombie population control, the difficulty curve gets steep very quickly and if that isn’t bad enough, you need to constantly keep a pulse on your weapons’ remaining durability. This doesn’t change in the transition to next gen consoles, the noticeable differences are in the looks and smoothly it now plays. 
In the Definitive Collection, I did not experience slow down in frame rate regardless to the situation I find myself in. I did find myself stopping and enjoying the tropical scenery of Banoi littered with the undead as it just looks so much better. These improvements are made possible by way of a new photorealistic lighting system, anti aliasing, and improved game models. The interface has also seen a bit of a change and the Power Fists have been introduced, a power up that was introduced as an unofficial PC mod.

Last but not least, we have Dead Island Retro Rampage, a side scrolling, 16-bit, endless running, beat em up. In comparison to the aforementioned games, Retro Revenge has a more light hearted and simpler approach, tasking Max with going on a rampage to find his stolen cat. I had a lot of fun with it as it still had that melee heavy combat and mature content with a look that takes me back to gaming in the early nineties, without the slow processing power. To provide that current feel, leaderboards and trophies kept me coming back for more, while the power ups, super attacks, and combos kept it fresh. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

MashButtons takes back Philly in Homefront: The Revolution

It has been a few weeks since the release of Homefront: The Revolution and wanted to wait until some of the title’s lingering bugs had been patch to provide my impressions. The Revolution is the sequel to the 2011, Homefront. In this open world title, you are tasked with leading the Philadelphia resistance to take back your homeland from Korean takeover. The city of Philadelphia changes as you re-take your home, and be sure to takes some recruits as it is dangerous to go it alone. Now that I have gotten a deeper look at the game, it is time to share the experience. 
Sure it may not have been very polished looking or a story with characters that stayed captivating, but the gameplay was fun, fast, and with just enough difficulty. The mission difficulty tended to vary on the number of recruits with me and the health packs I had at my disposal, when I went at strike points alone it often led to frustration. The customization of weapons on the fly was another item I particularly appreciated as certain weapons have dual purposes making tactics on the fly easier to navigate. This was really nice because it meant I did not have to go to my cellphone interface that felt like a step back in time to an era before smart phones. 

The reason in which I was hesitant to post my impressions was due to a number of bugs encountered early in the game making it very difficult to progress through the story. Good news about the recent patch, it feels as though the game now plays as it was intended. With that being said, the way it was intended is a fun open world shooter with weapon customization and four player online coop missions. Homefront: The Revolution also came out at a great time with the next couple months being light in big game releases. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

DiRT Rally infuriates and invigorates, providing the go-to racing game for the PS4

It is finally time, for DiRT to come to the next gen consoles in the form of DiRT Rally. DiRT 2 was one of my favorite racing games, and while DiRT 3 and Showdown strayed a bit too far from it’s roots, I was still looking forward to seeing how it would look and play on the PlayStation 4.  In DiRT Rally, Codemasters has provided 39 cars across the sport’s history around the world through 70 stages. Events range from traditional rally stages, Rallycross that also includes official FIA World Rallycross content, and the Pike’s Peak hill climb. While you are unable to customize the look of the car outside of liveries, but you do upgrade the performance of your car over time and even faster by way of hired crewmembers with assignable perks. Now it is time to see how it plays. 
To start, DiRT Rally sticks to it’s roots by making the gameplay and physics incredibly tough to master, which makes placing during events very, very satisfying. The way in which each car handles is very different and unique to each other, just when you think you have gone and mastered your car and feel like switching classes, it is like learning all over again. The locations and cars are beautiful and even at high speeds it looks stunning, even after driving through tress, signs, and stones the dilapidated vehicle hobbles as rough as it looks towards the finish line. While the single player career mode is near perfect, Rallycross is available via online multiplayer and there also community events to see where rank in the form of daily, weekly, and monthly challenges with entry by way of the cars in your garage. 
In my time spent playing through the multiple modes, there were a couple nuances that took away from the game and features that didn’t quite seem fully functional yet. Playing PvP while fun as hell to play against people from across the world, lobbies are rarely full and there are a lot of people that race dirty with no penalties for their actions. The leagues, while available by way of the DiRT Game site are not displayed in the game menu after linking the console to your Racenet account. I do miss the ability to rewind a certain amount times each race in order to right your wrongs, which make mistakes that much more impactful and frustrating, resulting in numerous restarts in search of the perfect run. 
At the end of the day, DiRT Rally did a great job of avoiding all the flashing lights of 3 and Showdown while providing a good amount of what made DiRT 2 so much fun, the right amount of Rally and Rallycross. While there are some blemishes to it, none of them take away from the experience of white knuckling the controller and swearing at the TV the way the developers had intending. The gameplay stability really shines, thanks to the 60 million miles driven by the DiRT community during the release on Steam’s Early Access. If you are a glutton for punishment, just wait until doing a night run on an icy track with no headlights due to not listening to your co-pilot when he says don’t cut. Seriously…don’t cut. Codemasters, if you are listening please bring us some of the locations events and vehicles we last saw in DiRT 2.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

X-Doria’a new line of defense for the iOS lineup

X-Doria has released the latest in their lineup of stylish ways to protect the iPhone and apple watch with the Defense Shield and Defense Edge. Not like a lot of the other cases offering protection for a price, these use polycarbonate, soft rubber and aluminum to provide Military grade protection. The Defense Shield for the iPhone 6S is available now for $49.99 and the Defense Edge is available now for $29.99 at