Review: AUKEY Gaming Controller Wireless 2.4 GHz Vibration-Feedback Gamepad PC Controller

Review:

For the price, this is a really nice little controller. Granted, it’s not quite as sturdy as an Xbox controller, but it’s certainly not as cheap feeling as others I’ve taken for a spin.

The overall design is almost identical to an Xbox controller. It’s light weight and the buttons have a good feel to them, each having a good, solid click. The triggers also feel good, and aren’t overly spongey like some I’ve used.

Connection wise this is reliable and works well. The provided dongle allows you to connect to most devices that have a USB, and for things like Android phones and tablets, there is also an OTG cable so you can plug the dongle in.

If you’re after a budget controller, that doesn’t feel ridiculously cheap, then this is worth looking at.

Manufacture Description:

  • An ergonomic, fully-featured wireless gaming controller for computers, Android devices, and PlayStation 3
  • Compact, ergonomic shape provides a comfortable and enjoyable gaming experience. Complete and precise control with the full range of responsive gamepad buttons and dual analogue sticks & triggers
  • Stable and reliable 2.4 GHz wireless signal, transmitted by a USB receiver small enough to leave permanently plugged in. Included OTG cable provides compatible connection for Android phones and tablets
  • Extensive and diverse compatibility with plug and play support for Windows computers (Windows Vista and above); Android smartphones, tablets, TVs, and set-top boxes (Android 4.0 or above); and PlayStation 3 games consoles
  • Package Contents: AUKEY GE-W1 2.4GHz Wireless Gaming Controller, Micro-USB Cable, USB Wireless Receiver, Micro-USB to USB-A Female OTG Cable, User Manual, 24-Month Warranty Card

Check it out here: Amazon

Review: SEGURO® Mini M8S

Manufacture Description

  • Google Android 5.1 Lollipop OS, the newest generation of multimedia player. Preconfigured with the latest XBMC/KODI 16.0, hundreds of free streaming add-ons available
  • Cut your monthly TV subscription and enjoy FREE Movies, shows and live entertainment from all over the world including sports. No restrictions! Forget the limitations and necessary payments by using Apple TV or ROKU! Android on your TV. Install your favorite apps from the Google Play Store. Thousands of apps are compatible with the Mini M8S Smart TV BOX, just like your phone or tablet.
  • The CPU is THE NEWEST Quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 up to 2GHz, up to 2.0 GHZ, is way ahead in image processing and computing. Its high machine configuration and 2G RAM,8G eMMC Flash 8GB gives you ultra-fast running speed and professional image processing ability. Awesome home theater and gaming experiences.
  • Hundreds of free streaming add-ons available for KODI 16.0 online, SAVE your money for paying cable, satellite or whatsoever. Preinstalled Kodi(XBMC). Preconfigured with the latest XBMC/KODI, it allows you to download numerous add-ons, like Youtube, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and you also can play thousands of android games in a large screen smoothly. Install your favorite apps and enjoy advanced technology.
  • Built for Entertainment, Home Theater, Business Meeting, Office Work, etc,to share with friends, Your movies, TV Shows, Mofusic all at your fingertips. Online forums, tutorials, and videos are plenty. You want a TV media player to do exactly what you need and something less will just ruin the whole experience

Review
Well this is probably the smallest Android TV box I’ve used to date. It’s slim and compact, and looks good. It has two full sized USB ports, one on the side, and one on the back, along with ethernet, HDMI, optical out.

Included with the package was a standard IR remote, but also a wireless keyboard remote. The keyboard remote is very nice. It fits in my hands nicely, and the qwerty keyboard comes in very handy when entering passwords etc. Combine the fact that it has a mouse trackpad built in, then things become so much easier for navigating. The keyboard also has a dongle included so you can use it with other devices, not just the TV box. My only issue with the keyboard is that it uses Mini USB for charging which is a real shame considering that Micro seems to be the standard.

The TV box itself is very easy to navigate. Like most boxes now it comes with a much more intuitive, TV OS, and no longer resembles a phone OS blown up onto your TV. This makes navigating menus much easier, but it also leads to a much better experience in applications. Things like Kodi and Netflix ran amazingly well, and the power behind this box is really impressive.

Picture quality was fantastic and looked great on my TV. I couldn’t find anything wrong with the image quality, and audio and video always stayed in sync.

I’d highly recommend this TV box. It is a great alternative to more expensive models available on the market.

Uncharted Goes Mobile

If you’re a console gamer you’re likely aware that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was just released as the latest addition to the Uncharted series. Published by Sony, it’s exclusively available for the PS4, though it’s still being regarded as one of the biggest game releases we’ve seen yet in 2016. Reviews will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, but in the meantime I wanted to take a look at a smaller release that came out as a sort of companion to A Thief’s End: the UNCHARTED: Fortune Hunter app by Playstation Mobile, which was uploaded to app stores earlier this month.

While some might envision a console-like app game the likes of which we’ve begun to see related to some other titles, what Fortune Hunter provides is actually more akin to some other spinoff games we’ve seen of late. The clearest example might be Lara Croft GO, which accompanied the release of Rise Of The Tomb Raider on consoles. It basically took the setting and image of the larger console game but twisted into a puzzle solver/obstacle course game built for mobile. A similar spinoff was designed in the form of Hitman GO (to accompany the recent console game, Hitman), and both of these titles were developed by Square Enix.

Regarding the Uncharted series, there have actually even been some similar arcade and mobile games that almost seem like indirect adaptations of the main series. Perhaps the most intriguing is Betfair Casino’s Daring Dave & The Eye Of Ra, a slot machine game that closely resembles Uncharted in image and character. “Daring Dave” has a similar Indiana Jones vibe to Nathan Drake (indeed, the game even says it allows you to channel your inner Indiana Jones), and the idea is to spin a slot reel into a treasure hunting adventure.

Others might imagine a mobile spin on the Uncharted series and think of games like Imangi Studios’ Temple Run series. That particular series has been around for some time now and has gone through different themed versions, but the original game does evoke the same general sense of adventurous treasure hunting.

However, while all of these games certainly seem similar to the Uncharted series in their own respective ways, UNCHARTED: Fortune Hunter is the true mobile accompaniment in the spirit of Lara Croft GO or Hitman GO. In this game, your only task is to guide Nathan Drake along different puzzle grids (basically from a bird’s eye view), avoiding obstacles and “switches” as you work your way toward a prize on a pedestal. That’s about it as far as what the game entails, though there are plenty of little features built in to keep it more engaging than the average mobile puzzle experience.

To begin with, there’s at least some action involved in the form of little animations of Drake taking on obstacles, and that sets the game head and shoulders above Hitman GO, at least. You’re also tracking down famous treasures from history (as you do to some extent in the larger console games) and interacting with Sully, another key character, along the way. Naturally the puzzles grow progressively more difficult, and the prizes more significant – but unlike in some similar games there’s actually value to the greater prizes. You can essentially use them to unlock new puzzles, get new character outfits, or even link to your PlayStation Network account to earn rewards in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

UnchartediOS_1Ultimately, it may not be the most intricate or mind-bending puzzle game you’ll be able to find on a mobile device, but it may still be the most satisfying game of its type. Both as a mobile version of an Uncharted game and as a specific side game to A Thief’s End, it’s quite a lot of fun.

News: Pokemon Sun and Moon Gameplay Reveal

So there’s finally a little gameplay for Pokemon Sun and Moon that’s been revealed. We’ve had a glimpse at the three starters as well as the new region, Alola!

So, we have the following:

Rowlet, a grass/flying type owl creature, Litten, a fire-type kitten, and Popplio, a water-type seal-clown hybrid (which terrifies me!).

rowlet_2
Its visual abilities are impressive. The darkness of night is no obstacle to Rowlet! It can twist its neck nearly 180° from front to back so it can see directly behind itself. It has a habit of turning its head in battle to face its Trainer and receive instructions. The move Leafage attacks an opponent by striking it with leaves. Rowlet knows this move from the moment it becomes your partner!
litten_2
Litten can attack with flaming hairballs! Its fur is rich in oils and immensely flammable. Litten grooms itself by licking its fur, and then uses the collected fur as fuel for fireball attacks! When the time comes for Litten to shed its old fur, it all burns up in a glorious blaze. The move Ember attacks an opponent by firing a small flame at it. Litten knows this move from the moment it becomes your partner!
popplio_2
Popplio can snort out balloons made of water! Watch it spin water balloons into a playful battle strategy! Both frivolous and hard-working, Popplio can easily get carried away—unleashing enough power in battle to make quite a spectacle! But Popplio’s determined spirit means it can usually be found practicing hard on its balloon skills. The Water Gun move attacks an opponent by firing a jet of water. Popplio knows this move from the moment it becomes your partner!

 

And here’s the video released!

 

Review: GreeGear Legend G9021 Mobile Gaming Wireless Bluetooth Controller

Getting a controller right tends to be a pretty difficult job, especially when it comes to the low end price point. This device looks great, but the question is does it perform?

Well, I’m happy to say that it works pretty well, especially considering the price. It feels comfortable in the hand, and for anyone who has used an Xbox controller, you’ll feel right at home with this.

Pairing up with my Android was a breeze, and playing games worked great. There was very little set up required, and the controller was working pretty much straight out of the box.

The phone grip is adjustable, and seems to have a pretty flexible range. When it comes to phones I can’t see there being many devices on the market that won’t fit this, including the larger phablets. The grip also feels sturdy, with two rubber pads to hold the phone in place, ensuring it won’t slip out during gaming sessions.

The controller is charged via Micro USB, a cable is kindly supplied with the device. This is pretty handy considering it means you won’t need to carry around multiple cables.

So you might be wondering why the controller lost a star. Well, it feels extremely light weight and the build quality isn’t quite where I’d like it to be. For the most part all the buttons worked well, but the right trigger felt a little loose, pressing in far too easily, especially compared to the left.

Apart from those small niggles regarding the build quality, this is a pretty great controller. You won’t find much better for the price, and for anyone who wants to game on their phone or tablet, this is a great accessory.

Review: DBPOWER Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

I’ve never used a mechanical keyboard before, but I’ve always wanted to try one. I can safely say that this is one of the nicest keyboards I’ve used, with responsive keys which are very easy to navigate.

The device looks a little odd, but at the same time it looks fantastic, especially when the back lights kick in. I can comfortably use the keyboard even in dark situations, which makes late night gaming perfect. The range of different colored lights all flash to light when you first power it on, and it looks amazing.

What this device does lack is a wrist guard and also any extra programmable keys dedicated to gaming. The lack of a wrist guard does make this keyboard a little uncomfortable after prolonged use, but it isn’t unbearable. Another gripe is how loud this thing is, seriously, if you were to use this around other people they will probably snatch it away from you and use it as a weapon. Be warned!

All in all this is a great bit of kit. It’s very easy to type on with great response times. I’ve been using it for writing and also gaming and both situations it works perfectly.

I’d definitely recommend this keyboard, especially if you’re after a mechanical keyboard at a great price!

The HTC Vive VR is Coming!

HTC and Valve got together to create a baby, and that baby is arriving in April. In what is shaping up to be a pretty important year for virtual reality, the two big names are shipping with a rather hefty price tag. We already saw Oculus announce their headset with a pre-order price of $599, which left some early adopters waiting to see what HTC would ship their Vive VR at.

Well the answer is here, and it’s $799. If you’re in the market for a brand new VR headset, then you can pre-order from the device from February 29th, with orders shipping in April. The Vive VR will ship with two wireless controllers, which helps to really complete the package.

HTC also unveiled a brand new feature, Vive Phone Services, which allows users to take and make calls, texts, and check their calendars, without ever popping the headset off. Sounds interesting! Combined with the front facing camera that will allow users to still interact with their immediate surroundings, this is shaping up to be a very interesting device.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you plan on jumping into the realm of VR, or are you going to hold off a little longer? If you’re joining in, then will you be going with the Oculus Rift, or HTC’s Vive VR, or maybe someone else? Share your thoughts in the comments!

News: Resident Evil 2 Remake Announced

Well this is some very welcome news from the world of remakes. Capcom has announced that one of my favourite Resident Evil titles is getting the same treatment as the original game in the franchise. Resident Evil 2 will be getting a full HD remake, although it seems like this is in the very early stages and will be some time off yet.

Yoshiaki Hirabayashi will be heading up the project, the same person who brought us the remake of Resident Evil 1.

If I’m honest I can’t wait for this! Resident Evil 2 was my favourite in the franchise and I’m looking forward to diving back into Raccoon City and fighting some modern zombies. With how good the first remake was I’ve got high hopes for the second.

Check out the reveal trailer below:

Let’s Play: Alien Isolation Oculus Rift

Well, after taking Alien Isolation out for a spin on the Oculus Rift, I know that I’d be absolutely no use to Ripley against the Xenomorphs! This is perhaps the most terrifying game I’ve played on the Oculus Rift and I’d even go as far to say it’s the best virtual reality experience I’ve had.

The game looks absolutely fantastic with a huge amount of attention to detail. Exploring the ship and taking a look at what’s on display can take forever because there is just so much to see. The effects look fantastic, with steam rising from vents and really adding to the atmosphere.

The dark corridors make it so much harder to see that pesky alien and with it’s random exploration things get really interesting. This isn’t a game thats just filled with jump scares and set pieces, this is a game where the alien is hunting you, listening out for any sounds you make. Now, combine that with the Oculus Rift and that makes Alien Isolation one hell of a game!

If you’re interested in seeing how terrified a grown man can get then check out my gameplay videos below:

 

News: Google Cardboard gets an update

The Google I/O has been taking place today and one thing that got announced was an update to Google Cardboard. Now, as a fan of VR, this is something that I find quite fun and intriguing, and after taking the first Google Cardboard out for a spin I was surprised by how well it works.

So what’s new with the latest build? Well, for starters it supports devices with screen sizes up to 6″ which will come in handy considering how mobile phones seem to be continually getting larger. Google have now shrunk the steps to build the device from twelve to only three, meaning once you unpack your new D.I.Y VR kit it will only take a couple of minutes to get up and running.

Perhaps the biggest update is that Google Cardboard will now support iOS, meaning that all of you iPhone users out there will get to have fun with some makeshift VR.

For anyone out there who wants to experience virtual reality without handing over a huge sum of money then this is probably worth taking a look at. Google can now boast to having over 1 million Cardboard users and over 500 apps available for the VR market. Not bad eh?

Review: 1byone® Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard

I was sent this product to offer an unbiased review and I was pretty excited to see how this keyboard and trackpad combination performed. I’ve been keeping my eye out for this sort of product for a little while now to combine with my Nvidia Shield Tablet so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to review this product. So, did it live up to what I was hoping for?

The Good

  • Stylish and slim
  • Keys feel good with no skipped presses
  • Micro USB charging
  • Good battery
  • Function keys for Android and Windows
The Bad
  • No grip for the bottom
  • A little too slim, flexes when typing
  • Trackpad sometimes stops working for a few seconds

The keyboard is very easy to pair with your device, literally hold the function key and the C key and then search for the keyboard in the bluetooth settings on the device you wish to pair with. Within only a couple of minutes of unwrapping the keyboard I was paired and ready to play.

It’s comfortable to use, with keys that feel great to type on. They offer a good click and are adequately spaced unlike some portable keyboards that have a plushy and cramped feel to them. My only criticism of typing on this product is that due to the keyboard being so slim it does seem to flex a little when in use.

Moving onto the trackpad is a slightly mixed bag. On the one hand it works straight off the bat with Android and offers something closer to a laptop experience on your tablet. The trackpad is large enough to use for browsing, but it does feel a little cramped, but I suppose that’s to be expected. The one thing that really let the mouse side of things down was its tendency to either lag or just disappear entirely for a few seconds. However, it performed well enough that I didn’t need to carry a portable mouse around with me.

The design of the device is great. It’s slim, lightweight, and the keys fill up pretty much all the space on the device, giving the user a great typing experience. However, the biggest flaw with this product is in the design. It has four rubber nubs on the top, obviously to help protect your tablet screen if its faced down while in your bag, however it doesn’t have the same nubs on the bottom. It does have four, very tiny and recessed slivers of rubber in each corner on the bottom.

The issue with this design flaw… Well if you type on a smooth surface it causes the keyboard to go sliding all over the place. In the end I had to seek out some form of rubber to stick on the bottom of it because out of the because the keyboard was just too slippery to use on a smooth surface. It’ not the end of the world, but it does require some additions in order to be usable.

So in conclusion this is a pretty good keyboard, especially at the price range. Are there better keyboards out there? Of course there are, but you’ll be paying extra for that. If you’re after something to combine with your tablet for some on the go use without paying a premium then this is going to cover everything you need.

Yes it has its flaws, but for the price being asked you can’t go wrong.

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Oculus fires out special press invites for June 11

Well it looks like Oculus are preparing to share some more information on their consumer device after invites were sent out to the press for a special June 11 event, tagline “Step into the Rift”.

Oculus VR recently announced that their consumer product would be launching in the first half of 2016 with pre-orders going live later this year. Hopefully at this event we will get to see finalised specs and pricing for the consumer device along with some more concrete dates for pre-orders and launch windows.

The press event ties in nicely with getting demonstrations ready for this years E3 event. Fingers crossed there will be hands on time and some first impression reports shooting out all over the web.

VR is coming! I’m definitely going to need a replacement heart at this rate as mine still hasn’t recovered from the horror gaming I’ve been trying in VR so far.

While we wait for the event, feel free to check out my early impressions of horror gaming on the Oculus Rift DK2.

Umbra: Kickstarter Campaign

Well this sure looks interesting, a brand new action RPG built in Cryengine with some very ambitious goals. Umbra is currently just a Kickstarter campaign, but what has already been built looks pretty fantastic.

It looks a lot like Diablo but with some very high end graphics. The developers promise some very ambitious features, but if they can pull off what they have planned then this promises to be a great game. Check out the features below:

  • Open World : Discover the world and enjoy it at your own convenience
  • Exploration and experimentation is rewarded with new powers, attributed according to your play style!
  • Free character development – No class limitation. You have three resources: Rage, Stamina and Mana, and they all interact with each other in order to balance gameplay.
  • Apocalyptic Form: According to your play style, you will develop special powers for your character, changing their abilities and look. Fierce melee warriors may gain a third arm to equip with a new weapon; a fire caster will have their skin turn into lava and heal from fire. Even wings and horns might appear on your character depending on your actions!
  • Tons of Loot: Weapons, Armor, Potions and randomly generated magic effects for more gameplay diversity!
  • Semi procedural Weaponry: Blades, pommel and guard details can be randomized for more unique gear in the game!
  • Advanced Crafting mini-game: Build your own weapons and armors thanks to a complex and challenging module in Umbra
  • Tons of Destructible environments: From small walls to complete parts of an area. We hope you enjoy it!
  • Housing: Create your own house and proudly showcase your special gear!
  • Mature story full of secrets to discover exploring the world
  • Kythera AI system: The automatic real time navigation adaptation of Kythera adapts to any change in the physics of the world, allowing us to create exciting scenes including large portion of levels collapsing or moving and fighting on the back of giant creature, creating never seen before gameplay situations!
  • Dungeon challenge (Stretch goal): Transform a special part of your house into a dungeon and challenge other players to survive the onslaught!
  • Multiplayer mode (stretch goal): Multiplayer is an ambitious goal we would love to achieve, but it must be done correctly.
  • We plan to have different interesting stretch goals for you that will allow us to build the foundation of the multiplayer. In the best case scenario, we would like to have the following mods: Dungeon Challenge (see above), Co-Op mode, and Competitive Plaver vs Player vs AI.

Check out their Kickstarter campaign page here and their promotional video below.

A Dinosaur Survival Game

So, how many survival games does the games industry need? Well apparently more is the answer!

ARK: Survival Evolved is a survival game which leaves the player stranded on an island occupied by dinosaurs and other creatures. Now that sounds a little more tempting than the usual stuff we’ve been seeing from survival games recently.

Players have to craft tools, research technology, grow crops, and hunt for food. They have to do all of this while hunting or taming the beasts. Taming, you read that right! Apparently players can tame the dinosaurs and ride them. Ok, they have my interest.

So check out the video below for a better look!

Cheaper VR Gaming

If like me, you’re looking to experience the intrigue of VR gaming, but you don’t want to invest in the short term solution of an Oculus Rift developer kit then I may have the solution for you! For a while now I’ve been following VR, especially when it comes to gaming. I love the idea of immersing myself in a game, but the VR headsets out there aren’t built for the consumer yet and they come at a price.

We either need to fork out our hard earned cash and pick up a developer kit, which will get a consumer release at some point in the near future, making our purchase almost redundant, or we can try a different route. Now I need to point out that this isn’t going to supply you with the perfect VR solution, but what I have to tell you does give you a pretty good idea of the future of gaming!

For this to work you’re going to need a few things:

  • Android Handset
  • Google Cardboard type headset
  • Trinus VR
  • Limelight Streaming
  • Nvidia GPU

So how does it all work? Well I picked up a relatively cheap Google Cardboard equivalent from Amazon and combined this with my Google Nexus 6. With these two devices alone you can have some good fun with apps downloaded from the Play Store, but the real fun comes when you download Trinus VR.

Trinus VR is an app that you download for both your gaming PC and your Android handset. The app allows you to customise how your PC and Android handset communicate, giving you different levels of connection options, e.g. wifi direct, USB etc. It will also give you a number of different options so you can chose how your games are streamed to your device, either in VR or non VR.

The great thing that Trinus VR offers is the ability to work alongside Limelight. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Limelight it’s basically a reverse engineered version of Nvidia’s Gamestream software. Limelight turns any Android device into an Nvidia Shield and allows you to stream your games from PC to your phone or tablet. Trinus VR takes this and turns it into VR.

The ultimate result is your Android device becomes the screen, that when inserted into your VR goggles gives you a pretty good virtual reality experience. As I mentioned, it’s not perfect, but it’s an awful lot of fun. While you’re stuck waiting for the final consumer versions of VR to hit the market this is a pretty good solution.

So why not check it out? You’re in for a lot of fun, and maybe some motion sickness, but hey, it’s worth it!

My Virtual Experience

Its been a week now since I started playing with my Oculus Rift and I’ve got to say I’m more than a little impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Of course my feelings are mixed, but I can safely say that I cannot wait to see some finalised consumer products hitting the market.

 
The Oculus Rift Developer Kit 2 isn’t meant for consumers, but I wanted to give it a go anyway. So far my experience has been amazing, but VR sickness is a very real thing (as you can tell if you watch my gameplay videos)

 
Its been a while since any form of technology blew me away, but when you find yourself in a piece of software optimised and made to work in VR, you’re in for a real treat. Playing games that aren’t made for VR is intriguing, but it’s not a great experience. I tried to force games like Skyrim and GTA V to work in VR and even got them running, but things just didn’t look right and I couldn’t get that sense of presence everyone who uses VR talks about.

 
I moved on to try games and software made with VR in mind like Elite Dangerous and that’s when the fun began. Suddenly I was in a world I felt a part of. While sat in my spaceship I felt as though I could really reach out and touch the controls or interact with my ship. The feeling is just breathtaking.

 
It was this kind if gaming experience that made me believe that VR can be the next big step in gaming. On the flip side, using other demos available, I also came to the realisation that VR is going to be huge in other areas such as education and communication.

 
Walking around virtual museums, or taking a tour around locations around the world in the Rift is pretty impressive. Watching a huge virtual cinema screen is another big win. Unfortunately due to the low resolution of the developer kit these things aren’t perfect, but once the consumer version lands I can imagine myself using VR to replace things like TV’s and monitors.

 
The possibilities of VR are endless, and although the technology isn’t quite there yet, using the Rift has made me realise how close we are and what a massive potential the technology has.

 
I have to wonder, especially since my background stems from retail, what the impact of VR will be on online shopping. As these devices become mainstream I’ll be interested to see what companies get onboard and transform their online shopping experience.

 
Imagine being able to slip on your VR headset and walk around a virtual store and interact with the products. The sales staff, instead of being webchat advisors, would be real people using a VR headset themselves, interacting with you in your online session.

 
If this is done right it really could revolutionise how we shop online, but also help to bridge the gap between online shopping and high street retail. Most people might think this is a long way off, but I think it’s a lot closer than we believe.

 
So in conclusion VR is amazing! The time with my Rift has blown me away and left me a true believer in the technology. As I said, its been a long time since any form of technology really impressed me and now I can’t wait to see the final product.

Feel free to check out my two VR gaming videos!

 

First Impressions: Half Life 2 Android Nvidia Shield

Recently I picked up a new Nvidia Shield Tablet and so far I love it. Obviously one of the first things I did was redeem my free copy of Half Life 2 and take it for a spin. So how does this amazing game hold up on an Android device? Are we anywhere near the stage of being able to use tablets for serious gaming?

Well the answer to the above is that it plays surprisingly well. Feel free to check out my gameplay videos that have all been recorded directly from my Nvidia Shield Tablet. The game handles well and I’ve only encountered a few slow downs in my 5 hours of gameplay so far. It tends to struggle a little when I blow everything on screen up or go a little mad with the gravity gun, but apart from that the device plays Half Life 2 amazingly smoothly.

If you really want to have a good time you’ll need a gamepad, in fact Half Life won’t run without one. Even if you hook a mouse and keyboard up to your device Half Life still won’t run. A minor issue but it works well enough with a decent games controller.

But what about that small screen? Well for starters it’s pretty much next to my face so it doesn’t really limit the experience. On top of that the display looks fantastic and really helps to bring the game to life. No issues with the screen size here! Although if I were to play on the Nvidia Shield Portable I’m not so sure I’d find it as enjoyable.

The 8 inch display on the Shield Tablet is just about perfect for gaming at the coach. My perfect set up is my Shield Tablet on the arm of the chair as I kick back and relax.

I’ve taken the game for a test run in console mode and I’m pleased to say it runs just as smoothly. Outputting onto my TV allowed for a true console like experience playing the game which again left me exceptionally surprised. The game looks awesome on a larger display and you can easily forget that you’re running it from a tablet.

I think it’s quite incredible to think how far Tablets and other mobile devices have come in such a short amount of time. It wasn’t that long ago that Half Life 2 was running on a current gen console! Within the year I honestly believe that Tablets will begin to really find a place in the gaming market, especially if they continue to get the support from developers such as Valve.

So is it worth playing? Definitely! If you’re a fan of Half Life and you happen to own an Nvidia Shield Tablet then why on earth are you not playing this game?

 

 

 

 

 

My Top 5 Productivity Apps for the iPad

Introduction

So I decided to throw together a quick list of my top 5 productivity tools and apps for the iPad. These are apps that I use myself and find extremely handy, in fact I couldn't do without them! My iPad has come pretty close to replacing my Macbook and without some of these trusty little apps it wouldn't even come close to achieving that.

So take a peak and see if any of them might help you out.

Pages

Pages is Apples take on Microsoft Word and I'm a big fan. Out of every application I have for my iPad, this is top of my list. The entire user interface is very touch friendly and there are plenty of tools to make your documents look absolutely fantastic. This isn't just some cheap word processor like some you would normally find on a tablet, it's a full blown piece of kit that allows real work to be completed.

Another great feature is that all of your documents will automatically sync with your iCloud information, allowing you to access them anywhere that has an internet connection. If you have an iPhone or Mac then it gets even better, with documents automatically syncing across all of your devices, allowing you to start something on one device then resume it on another.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a mobile and tablet friendly spreadsheet application. It works in the cloud, allowing you to edit on the go through any browser, simply by logging in with your Google information.

The application works great and is pretty touch friendly. Although you probably won't find yourself throwing together huge spreadsheets using this, the app is more than capable and easy to use. As mentioned above, due to it being cloud based you can do some more serious work on a browser and then complete or use the spreadsheets on your iPad. This comes in great if you're using any form of trackers on the go!

Keynote

Keynote is a powerful presentation creation tool. It allows the user to throw together great looking presentations using nothing but their iPad and it's designed from the ground up to work with touch screens. Although sometimes the lack of mouse input and the smaller screen can make things fiddly, the overall experience is pretty good using the app. The app really helps the user by helping to align images and text boxes, helping you to avoid those little mistakes.

When combined with an iPhone the app becomes even more powerful. Not only do you have the same iCloud sync options like you have in Pages, but you also have a host of presentation tools. You can add notes for each of your slides and use your iPhone to view these while also using your iPhone as a remote for your presentation. This comes in really handy when you give the iPad to someone to view and you can guide them through your presentation with nothing in your hands but your iPhone.

Garage Band

Now this might not really be a super productive app, but if you like to create music then this is a very nifty little app. For anyone who has used the app on a Mac then you will immediately feel at home, with a whole host of tools to help you record real instruments or software instruments. It's powerful and I've never had any issues with input lag etc, recording a range of guitars, vocals and bass using this tool to create tracks.

There is a huge range of virtual/software instruments and rum kits to help really flesh your track out and experiment. Editing your tracks couldn't be easier as the app has been designed to work with just touch input. Throw in the fact that like other Apple apps it syncs across iCloud, this makes the app a really valuable tool for those who want to record music on the go!

Dropbox

For all your online storage needs Dropbox is the perfect companion. It is easy to use with a range of mobile apps and desktop apps, synchronizing with a large range of productivity tools. A large range of my desktop applications allow me to save directly to Dropbox and that's the same within my iPad. Although you'll probably already be using iCloud, Dropbox offers better compatibility with other operating systems.

Dropbox also offers a good range of picture and folder back up for your iPad and mobile devices. You can enable auto backup of your photos and built into the tool you can share any files saved, helping you to work collaboratively with others.

iPad Pro/Plus

With rumors of Apples next iPad’s coming up there is one that has really caught my attention, the larger screened iPad. I had it in my head that Apple would align their naming with their Mac and Macbook range, running with a mini, air and pro, but after the announcement of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus it looks like maybe Pro won’t be appearing anytime soon. Regardless of the name it comes with, if it does come I’m very excited for it!

Some people think I’m a little mad wanting a larger iPad than my Air that I have already, but the only thing that really lets my iPad Air down right now is the screen size. The device itself is very close to being able to replace my Macbook, but the screen is just a little too small. Rumors suggest that the iPad Pro/Plus will come with a 13 inch display which is perfect. Combined with a keyboard dock then it will offer a near perfect solution for portable productivity.

I do a lot of writing on the go and my iPad Air, keyboard dock and Pages app really make work easy to accomplish. I’ve even gone a little crazy at times and completed Keynote presentations and spreadsheets on my iPad, but due to the screen size things get fiddly.

The 13 inch screen size would help to make things a lot easier to complete, removing the fiddly process of constantly zooming in and out of certain areas on the screen. Even with the added weight and potentially added discomfort of holding something so big, that can be easily cancelled out by using a keyboard dock which normally act as a stand as well.

The only issue I have with the idea of a 13 inch iPad is that iOS doesn’t support mouse input unless you jailbreak. Now if I’m going to go keyboard dock, larger display, and potentially replace my Macbook, then I’d love to see Apple implement this into the software. Considering their refusal to do this in the past, insisting that the touchscreen is the only input needed, this could be unlikely. However there are a lot of things happening over at Apple that they always insisted would never happen, so maybe mouse input will show up?

Only time will tell what new devices are coming. We don’t have long to wait, with Apple usually announcing new iPad’s within October. I’ll be keeping a close eye out and really hope Apple come out with something bigger and if they do, maybe I’ll finally give up my Macbook.

Borderlands 2 Review

Introduction

Borderlands 2 is a frantic FPS/RPG, sending players on a series of missions where they are able to collect loot and face insane enemies. It’s fast and furious, and hilarious at the same time, with a fantastic art style and interesting weapons and abilities to choose from.


Gameplay

Borderland gives players a choice of characters to select from, allowing them to customise their character as the game progresses. You’ll be offered a range of abilities from your characters skill tree and also a number of customisation options for how they look.

As you progress through the story, exploring the insane and interesting world of Pandora, you’ll be given a number of side quests. These are often absolutely absurd, but they really help to keep things interesting, adding humour with every turn in the game.

The games combat mechanics work amazingly well, blending FPS and RPG. As you open fire on your enemies you’ll see the amount of damage you inflict appear above their heads, something that will greatly increase as you gain better loot. The shooting works well, drawing players into some frantic fun firefights.

Looting is addictive in Borderlands 2. Seeking out new and exciting weapons has never been so much fun. All of the weapons have different abilities and work in their own unique ways. Finding a new weapon and discovering how it works and how it fits into your load-out really helps to mix things up. You’ll end up with a number of different guns, all of them complementing each other.

I played this game co-op, and I can’t imagine playing it any other way. Not only do you end up collecting and equipping weapons that match your own load-out, but you end up working as a team, mixing and matching different fighting and play styles. Also, playing co-op ensures that the mayhem is truly maximised, unleashing some epic fights on the team.

Graphics

I remember playing the first Borderlands, and immediately the graphics struck me as being odd. It took me about half an hour before I had adjusted to the style and the same thing happened to me once again upon loading the second game.

The art style is very cartoony, but it works incredibly well. The setting and the absurd characters really blend nicely with the graphics, creating something even more unique. Instead of getting a Fallout style game, the graphics really help to emphasise the satirical nature of this game.

What I liked

For me one of my favourite parts of this game is the dialogue, your enemies exchanging banter of the radio throughout the game. As we explored Pandora, we were often mocked, taunted and downright insulted by the things coming from our enemies mouths, but that just made it even more entertaining when we finally tracked them down.


It’s witty, and really keeps things interesting, rather than just sending a player back to turn to talk with all the NPC’s and then leaving them in cold silence as they explore the wasteland.

What I disliked

For me my dislike is pretty petty, but I’d have liked to have built my own character from the ground up. It’s not major as the pre-built characters are all pretty interesting, but with some of the character models I’ve seen I’d have loved to have been able to completely construct my own.

Conclusion

If you played the first Borderlands then you already know what to expect. If you haven’t, then don’t worry, you can still jump into this game and you’re not really going to find yourself lost.


For fans of RPG’s or FPS’ I’d recommend giving this game a go. It’s thoughtfully put together, offering some amazing moments in combat, with fantastic dialogue to match.


Overall, I can’t really fault this game, it’s been an absolute joy to play and I can see myself sinking many more hours into it. Definitely worth picking a copy up.