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:

 

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.

South Park The Stick Of Truth Review

Introduction

It’s been a long time coming. I’ve followed news of this game for some time, wondering if it would turn out to be a disaster like so many game adaptations of popular franchises before. I saw the previews, they all said great things and my hopes were high, but I was still concerned. Launch day came and I took the plunge, loading up the game, my nerves getting the better of me as I worried about my disappointment that I knew would surely hit.

So the question is, did the game meet my expectations? The answer is no, it blew them away. I quite honestly never expected a game of this quality. It’s just a must play for anyone, regardless if you’re a fan of South Park or not. It’s clever, hilarious and above all it plays well.

Gameplay

I don’t really know how to describe it, a side scroller, RPG with combat the resembles something from old school Final Fantasy titles. You create your character, the new kid, and embark on your journey into South Park. Your aim throughout the game is to make as many friends as possible, unlocking new abilities and levelling up as you do. You’ll find yourself in all sorts of crazy situations, exactly what you’d expect from South Park.

The combat works amazingly well. It’s simple, like I said above, working like an old Final Fantasy title but with a little more interaction. You take turns in deciding what attacks or special moves you want to use, and have to try to deflect your enemies attacks. There are a whole host of special abilities available for you to unlock and you get to select your partner to battle along side of you, all of whom have different abilities that will help to mix your battles up.

Selecting your equipment and choosing your skills is actually pretty good in South Park The Stick of Truth. I was expecting extremely weak levelling, but to be honest your skill set and load out can make all the difference in your battles. My favourite weapon was a broken bottle, you get to throw them at your enemy, grossing them out and causing them to bleed every turn. It’s random, fun and adds to the combat.

Graphics

I can’t really say much about the graphics, the game looks and plays just like an episode of South Park. There are no fancy attempts to make it anything other than a long, interactive episode of the series fans have come to know and love. The fact that it feels and looks exactly like the show only adds to the hilarity.

What I liked

The attention to detail really makes this game stand out. There are so many little things that hold the entire experience together. Sound effects are obviously based on Skyrim and fit into the game so well, creating an absolutely amazing satire of the popular game franchise. Skill sets, weapons, abilities, it’s all a twisted version of games we’ve played before, and that just makes it all so much more amusing.

South Park is absolutely hilarious, but all of these little extra touches add to the entire experience. They are clever and very well thought out, turning this into a pretty good gaming experience that will keep you laughing all the way through.

What I disliked

To be honest there is nothing that I disliked about this game. The total experience was fantastic and I can’t really fault it at all!

Conclusion

For anyone who likes South Park, or is just up for a laugh, this is the game for you. From start to finish I was in stitches. It’s such a clever game, with absolutely absurd stories and quests, exactly what you’d expect from the creators of South Park. Above all the game plays well and is enjoyable. It’s not just a load of gimmicks thrown into a poor excuse for a game, it’s well thought out and designed exceptionally well.

I cannot fault the game. It really is a must have.



Elder Scrolls Online Review Part One

Introduction

So The Elder Scrolls Online is finally live and kicking. I played through the beta and enjoyed what I saw so decided to dive in and see what the finished product looked like. To be honest it’s a mixed bag, and despite thoroughly enjoying myself so far I still can’t decide if it’s good or not.

It is by no means a bad game, in fact I’m loving it, but what makes it difficult to call is the fact that this is an Elder Scrolls game. How well does it really blend in its new genre?

Gameplay

So the game plays just like you’d expect, an Elder Scrolls like experience in an MMO setting. My preferred play style was first person, it’s how I like to play anything from the Elder Scrolls franchise. Combined with the gorgeous visuals and combat that works pretty well considering this is an MMO, the first person play style works extremely nicely.

Where it falls short however is when the MMO of the game creeps in, special moves that appear as if from nowhere and awful knock-back and cool down effects. My character gets stunned by a special move and from my perspective just looks like he’s stood there doing absolutely nothing, leading me to wonder if the game has crashed. It hasn’t it’s just a typical MMO feature that just doesn’t seem to fit with first person. I use one of my abilities, a magical spear jab, and randomly a golden spear appears in my view, stabbing at the enemy. I’m not holding it, or wielding it, it’s just there. Again another MMO style that just doesn’t seem to fit and ruins the experience.

These aren’t game breaking, in fact they are easily over looked considering how enjoyable the combat can be. The issue is they are stark reminders that we are playing an MMO and that these two game styles have somehow been forced together.

Now back to what’s good about combat. It feels pretty satisfying, your attacks actually making an impact on your enemy. You can dodge attacks, block and counter. Anyone who has played Skyrim will feel immediately at home with the combat.

Crafting

One thing that I’ve really enjoyed in the game is it’s crafting system. There is no need to decide on a profession or craft, you can literally collect and harvest any resources from the world and craft what you like, levelling your crafting abilities as you go. In your character progression tree you can select crafting abilities to assign your skills to, so it does make sense to go with a single craft that you will be using more than the others. However you can continue working in other areas.

I’ve gone with blacksmithing as my main crafting skill. As I wonder the world I discover resource nodes, and can mine these without having to carry any mining equipment with me. When I return to town I can visit the different crafting areas or shops, and put my resources to good use. The majority of my equipment I have equipped has been crafted by myself, and I also carry an assortment of potions I’ve created. It’s pretty good fun putting together a self sufficient character.

The crafting also gives another reason to go exploring. Crafting potions requires the player to collect different ingredients from plants and animals from around the world. You can consume the raw ingredients to find out some of their effects or you can just try random chance when throwing together a potion. It’s pretty interesting discovering what the different ingredients are capable of creating, giving the player an incentive to go off seeking out these ingredients.

Exploration

One thing that I’ve really enjoyed about the Elder Scrolls Online is the exploration. The world is extremely detailed, with loads to see and do. Just taking a long walk, looking for new things to do is great fun. I’ve discovered all sorts of random quests while I’ve been out looking for new ingredients and exploring the world.

The landscapes are varied which really helps to keep things interesting. I’ve seen sprawling deserts, fiery mountains, ancient ruins, forests, all sorts! Just going off to see what new stuff I can find is great, and I have the freedom to do that right from the start. I’m not limited to following a defined path, I can choose my destination and set out to it.

Quests

Now it would be foolish of me not to talk about the quests. The developers have done a fantastic job of keeping things interesting in the Elder Scrolls Online, offering players intriguing and fun adventures to embark upon. Now I’m not going to lie, you will encounter fetch quests, or kill so many of these quests, but the majority of the quests I’ve completed so far have been long and interesting, following the usual Elder Scrolls style rather than an MMO style.

My only major issue with the quests are the other players. It becomes extremely jarring when you are tasked with a quest to save the city from invaders, the only hope the city has, and you see so many others completing the exact same quest as you. Delving into an ancient tomb, long abandoned… filled with other players, once again ruining the immersion. Sometimes it works great, seeing others involved in a battle that you’re fighting, but so many times it just breaks the experience.

For the most part questing in the Elder Scrolls Online is just fantastic, unlike any MMO I’ve played in a long time. The ability just to run off in any chosen direction and discover new quests to complete is a welcome one. You’re not pushed in a single direction, you have your own freedom to do things how you like.

Graphics

The art style and the graphics of this game are simply gorgeous. The detail that the developers have put into this game is just brilliant, combined with the huge number of environments it just makes this game a joy to explore and be a part of.

My only disappointment with the graphics is that the weapons seem to be relatively low resolution in comparison with the rest of the game. Now considering that I have to spend a lot of time with my weapon drawn, right in front of my eyes, I’d have liked to have seen some more focus on making the weapons look great.

Stand Out Feature

It’s too soon to call this. From what I’ve played of the game there are a lot of stand out features, stuff that I’ve really loved. In my next review I’ll focus on the later stages of the game play, PVP and PVE, shedding more light on how battles work. I’ve heard and seen some great things about this but had little input so far. So look out for my second part to the Elder Scrolls Online review. All I can say about this game so far is that for an MMO it is just simply amazing. I’ve not had this much fun in a very long time on an MMO. Fingers crossed it can keep up that momentum into the later stages.

 

 

South Park The Stick Of Truth Impressions

So I’m four hours into South Park The Stick Of Truth and so far I’m impressed. I’ve been following the news leading up to the game’s launch and was feeling pretty apprehensive about the title landing on my machine, so much promise, could it really deliver?

The short answer is yes. I know I’m only a short way into the game but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much. Transferring the style and content from the TV show, and putting it into a much longer and open-ended game experience, was always going to prove difficult. What worried me was the potential for this game to grow dull in some areas, slowing down as the player is forced to trawl through filler, repeating the same content over and over again. So far there has been nothing like this.

South Park The Stick Of Truth has nailed both the gameplay and the content. Considering this is a South Park game I was expecting relatively basic and dull gameplay, the content keeping it afloat. However the gameplay holds its own, offering a turn by turn based combat system that wouldn’t look too unfamiliar in a Final Fantasy title. I’d even go as far to say that the combat in The Stick Of Truth holds up better than a lot of other turn based combat titles I’ve played in recent years.

Exploring the town of South Park offers players a familiar setting to search, offering laughs along the way. I’ve found myself looking for all of the side quests and hidden content, checking out all of the item names I find along the way, purely because it’s all so hilarious and clever.

I’ll post my review once I’m through with the game but I can already tell you that this game is fantastic. If you’re a fan of South Park then you need this game. It really has lived up to all of its promise and potential.

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Elder Scrolls Online Beta 14/03

So I’ve been invited to have another play with The Elder Scrolls Online from this Friday, and this time I get to play as an Imperial. To be honest the thing I’m looking forward to is getting to play at a higher level and enjoy the promised freedom that so many others have talked about.

I’ve enjoyed my time with the game so far and I plan on sinking some serious hours into it this weekend, especially with it being so close to launch! I’m still undecided whether or not I’ll take the plunge and sign up so hopefully this weekend will make up my mind.

I’ll let you know what my final thoughts are on the game next week.

Steam In Home Streaming Beta

Finally I’ve been accepted into the Steam in home streaming beta. Couldn’t be any more excited! I guess the question you maybe asking right now is why am I so excited?

For a while now I’ve been looking for a good streaming solution to stream my games from my gaming rig to other devices in the house. I’ve used Splashtop,which is absolutely abysmal, and I’ve tried other non main stream options. When I read about Steams streaming option I got pretty excited and signed up for the beta immediately.

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t expect it to work, but to my surprise it does! I sat upstairs with my MacBook Pro Retina perched on my lap and clicked on the option to stream Skyrim, a fully modded version of it, and bam, it loaded and played as smoothly as if I were playing on my gaming rig.

I haven’t spent much time with the streaming service but I intend to have a real good play. Once I’ve had some more hands on time I’ll get an update out. Right now however I’m having a geek overload and cannot wait to give the steam in home streaming beta a thorough workout.

Elder Scrolls Online Preview

When I saw the announcement for The Elder Scrolls Online my heart fluttered and sunk. My feelings were mixed, on one hand we were finally being given the opportunity to play with our friends in Tamriel, on the other hand there was a risk of this being a quick and easy cash in for the studio.

I watched trailers and hands on videos, showing off what this game was all about, but still I was unsure. We’ve all been let down by MMO’s before, ones that had extremely fancy game trailers, how could we possibly know whether or not this would be any different?

Finally the beta weekend came up and I got my first hands on experience with this game and straight away a number of my fears melted away. The first thing you notice when you jump into The Elder Scrolls Online is just how detailed it is. The character creation has an awful lot of depth, giving the player a huge amount of customisation options and the character graphics are absolutely superb.

Pretty impressive and very similar style to Skyrim.

Once I created my character I was thrown into my first dungeon, a prison, from which I had to escape. My first quest was fully voiced and felt like something from Skyrim, not World of Warcraft. The same can be said for the majority of quests I have played through, they are all pretty detailed, not your standard fetch or kill style quests.

The gameplay felt very similar to Skyrim, a first person or third person adventure depending on your preference. I played first person, a warrior wielding two handed weapons. A soon as I entered combat I found myself in familiar territory, the game handles just like Skyrim, left mouse click attacks and right blocks but there are also a couple of extras thrown into the mix, such as the ability to double tap your direction keys to dodge and evade attacks.

A lovely reminder of my days spent in Skyrim

Once you fight through your first quest you’ll be taken to a new location. I played as a Nord and was transported to a snowy village with lush forest surrounding it. The environment was absolutely stunning and an absolute pleasure to explore. Unlike other MMO’s, the graphics are rich and detailed, the environments exceptionally well developed. There were large forests to wander through, high mountains, flowing rivers and cascading waterfalls, really something I didn’t expect to see in an MMO.

Time for a drink
Time for a drink

I teamed up with my brother and we went exploring, seeking out new and random quests which were all voice acted and interesting. Some of the quests were bizarre and humorous, sending us on random missions, while others were more serious, pitting us against invading soldiers. My only gripe when exploring with a friend is that even when you are both grouped together and completing the same quest there is no combining or sharing the quest. If one of you completes the quest they are the only one to do so. I loved the way SWTOR handled a group when completing quests and

I created a second character in order to check out some of the other starting locations and found myself in a desert village, a huge port beside a beautiful ocean. Once again exploring felt great, wandering along side cliff edges and looking down at beautiful lagoons. All of the fauna was different, completely styled to match the hot and arid landscape I was exploring. Interesting animals roamed the sands and ruins were scattered about all over. The whole place was a stark contrast to the earlier snowy landscapes I’d explored as a Nord.

A stark contrast to my earlier play through

I teamed up with my brother and we went exploring, seeking out new and random quests which were all voice acted and interesting. Some of the quests were bizarre and humorous, sending us on random missions, while others were more serious, pitting us against invading soldiers. My only gripe when exploring with a friend is that even when you are both grouped together and completing the same quest there is no combining or sharing the quest. If one of you completes the quest they are the only one to do so. I loved the way SWTOR handled a group when completing quests and would love to see something similar in ESO.

I’ll admit, I’m still undecided about this game. I want to love it and I came pretty close. I can see myself sinking hundreds of hours into ESO, exploring alongside friends and drinking in the new environments. On the flip side it’s an MMO and they are normally plagued with issues, ready to ruin the game experience. The subscription worries me as I’m not a fan of having to pay for a game upfront then continue paying monthly. If the developers can continue to deliver updates and new content after the games release then maybe, just maybe, I’ll take the plunge and finally commit to an MMO.

All in all, an absolutely fantastic Elder Scrolls experience, even if it is online.

Counter Strike Go Review

Introduction

A remake of a classic, or rather an upgrade of one. When I first saw Counter Strike Go in action I wasn’t sure if I was excited or terrified, it is a game that I sunk countless hours of my childhood into after all. With the current trend of so many shooters turning into over the top, fast paced chaos I was a little apprehensive. I’m glad to say there really was no reason to be nervous.

Gameplay

For anyone who has played Counter Strike in the past you will be familiar with the gameplay of Counter Strike Go. Chose a side, terrorist or counter terrorist, then fight along side your team mates to carry out map objectives that range from bomb defusal to hostage rescue.

The great thing about Counter Strike is the pace, it’s not too fast, it’s not over the top with Michael Bay style explosions, it’s just right. You’ll work along side your team and use tactics to your advantage, with every shot and kill making a difference. Fire fights in corridors are intense, evenly matching all players and skill counts for something.

For the hardcore amongst you there is a competitive mode where you will need to purchase body armour during matches and your death cam will be limited to your own team. For the casual amongst you theres a casual mode, giving you an open death cam to watch all the players regardless of the team and no need to buy armour, just decide on your weapons and go complete your objective. This separation of players is fantastic as you rarely encounter people who are playing for different reasons to you.

Graphics

The graphics wont leave your jaw hanging open, it’s nothing to really write home about. However Counter Strike Go isn’t about graphics, it’s about simple and balanced gameplay and the graphics fit nicely with this. Character models have an improved level of detail over previous versions and the level design looks pretty good. One major improvement is the number of different character models which vary depending on the level you participate in. The generic four character models are gone.

What I liked

The pacing and combat has me sold. Valve has got this spot on, offering up a solid shooter with amazing gameplay. This isn’t another generic shooter, it’s a team based game with some brilliant competitive play. You’ll find yourself locked in one on one firefights or battling against a squad from the enemy team. This game offers one of the best FPS experiences.

What I disliked

There are so many attempts to get you to spend your cash on in game add-ons. Now I should point out that all the purchases you can make are purely aesthetic, they aren’t pay to win, but they are pretty consistent. At the end of each match people will randomly receive new weapon skins and occasionally stickers or weapon cases. The skins are great but the stickers and weapon cases need keys to unlock, keys you need to purchase.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of Counter Strike then this game is a must. Valve haven’t destroyed it or altered it beyond recognition, they’ve updated it. Even if you haven’t played Counter Strike and you’re a fan of good solid shooters then I recommend this game. The Counter Strike games are some of the best shooters I’ve played and CSGO doesn’t fail to deliver.