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:

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Battle Camp Review

Introduction

So I’ve taken one of the more popular Pokemon clones for mobile devices for a spin. Normally these games are pretty poor, trying to emulate Pokemon in almost every way and failing deliver on what Pokemon achieved early in it’s day. Battle Camp promises us something different than the other clones that are available and I have to admit that this monster collection and battle game does bring something new to the table.

Gameplay

The one thing that this does differently is the combat. You have a team of 5 monsters ranging in abilities and elemental types. Now in order to attack or heal you have to match up different elemental stones, in a very similar way to Candy Crush! Match the rocks in order to power up your rock attacks, the leaves to power up your grass attacks, hearts to heal etc. So a Pokemon and Candy Crush mashup! Sounds interesting right?

Well you know what, it is a pretty good combination. The gameplay is addictive and the interesting combat makes up for the lack of exploration offered within the game. There are different areas to adventure to, offering PVP play and trading.

As you battle monsters you capture/collect them. The rarer monsters you collect puzzle parts of, eventually putting them together and hatching them. You can feed your spare monsters to your team, giving them experience and levelling them up. Once they get to the required level you can also evolve them.

Now here’s where the whole game falls down. In app purchases and social networking. You have 5 energy, every time you battle one energy disappears. Your energy recharges over a period of time. The problem is you cannot get your energy past 5 at any time, leaving you constantly waiting for it to recharge, unless of course, you pay for some. It’s a massive pain, to enjoy this game more regularly than every hour or so for more than 5 minutes you need to pay, and every time, not just a one off.

To top it all off, pretty much every time you do something the game pushes you to post it to Facebook, to invite all of your friends to see the new monster you’ve caught. No matter how many times you tell the game no, it still pushes you to do so.

Conclusion

This is a great mobile game, with quite a lot of potential. If the developers threw in some exploration then this could really shape up to be an addictive mobile game that’s also a lot of fun. However they would really need to do something about the energy issue and the in app purchases. I’d be more than happy to pay an upfront cost, or a one time in app purchase in order to give me longer play time.

As it stands this is a game worth checking out, but if you’re looking for something to play on a regular basis it’s not going to deliver. Unless, of course, you’re willing to continually keep paying for more energy and bug your friends on Facebook.

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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.

 

 

Amazon TV Fire

The new Amazon TV Fire is an intriguing bit of kit. It’s a set top box, but a pretty powerful one, one that represents Amazons first step into gaming.

Alongside the TV Fire, Amazon also announced a controller to go along side their device, and also a new in house games development studio. They’ve had some top talent from within the gaming industry joining their team and this could spell the start of something very interesting.

For me it’s not the media capabilities that interest me, but the fact that a large brand such as Amazon has put their money behind a product that will act as a mini Android gaming console. The media stuff has been done before, and in fairness so has the gaming, but with the resources Amazon have available this could be the beginning of something very interesting.

4K VS AR

So with 4K becoming more readily available and some of the major players announcing their augmented reality projects, which one is going to be the next big thing in gaming? It reminds me of the choice I had to make when I built my gaming rig a couple of years ago, do I go with an ultra high resolution monitor or to I go with a 3D ready monitor? In the end I went with high resolution, brushing 3D aside, feeling it was a bit of a gimmick.

So is augmented reality just another gimmick? I guess it depends how well it is pulled off. From reports and reviews of devices currently being tested things are looking fantastic. What we really need however is for developers to support it in a big way. I don’t want to strap a device to my face only to have it used as an extension of what’s going on in the game, I want to feel as though that’s really what I’m seeing, that I’m really immersed in this world.

The easy option is 4K, boosting graphics and giving us some fantastic looking games. It’s easy just to sit in front of a 4K device and start gaming, no need to strap anything to your face or indulge in new control systems. It makes sense, it’s easy, but it’s boring.

Augmented reality is the first bit of technology in quite some time that has me genuinely excited. I can’t wait to see the results, and with major players entering the market competition is going to hot up in a big way and hopefully with that additional accessories will flood the market, making controls more realistic and immersive.

So what’s everyones thoughts? Which will end up taking off and which will flop? Or maybe both will flop, maybe both will succeed? Who will win in this 4K VS AR war?



Assassins Creed Unity

So Ubisoft just announced their next instalment of the Assassins Creed franchise, Assassins Creed Unity, for the next gen systems launching at the end of this year. The trailer, which you can see below, really looks fantastic, a huge step up in the graphics department. What will really be interesting to see is how the latest game plays and what Ubisoft has done to take the gameplay to the next level.

So what does everyone think? I’ve been absent from the Assassin Creed games for quite some time but I must admit this looks interesting. I’ve heard good and bad things about some of the latest games, but above all I’ve heard how much Ubisoft have pushed the boundaries of their games. This fills me with faith that they may just deliver a fantastic title on the next gen systems.

 

Project Morpheus

Sony have just unveiled their take on virtual reality with their new Project Morpheus. It should be interesting to see how his turns out and will also offer virtual reality for consoles, something that the Oculus Rift wasn’t going to deliver.

The device will run at full 1080p resolution and offer and work with existing Playstation accessories. When paired up with the Playstation Camera things get a little more in depth, offering another level of head tracking.

So the future of virtual reality is looking healthier, with a first party hardware and software manufacture joining in on the action. It will be interesting to see how the Oculus Rift team respond to this, but I’m sure they’re not worried, battling in the PC arena rather than console.

 

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.

My Top Five Games 2013

Below is a list of my top five favourite games that I played in 2013. Some of them really aren’t very conventional but I enjoyed all of them. There are links in each of the headings for more information on the games. Enjoy. 

1: Tomb Raider 

Before playing the latest Tomb Raider my commitment to single player gaming was pretty pitiful. I just couldn’t stick with any game for longer than a handful of hours and struggled to get all the way through. That changed with Tomb Raider. 

The game was wonderful to play with an intruiging storyline and fantastic gameplay. At times the game grew repetitive but overall the story flowed well, leading me into some fantastic moments. 

Throughout the game you get to guide Lara, watching her transform from a victim into a survivor. Its pretty intense stuff and definitely my top game. 

Recently I rediscovered my love for Pokémon. I’d grown bored of the franchise, finding that the games had grown stale and repitive but with X and Y we are introduced to new mechanics and graphics. 

The game is great fun and the new graphics make it interesting to explore. With a whole new host of monsters to collect and battle the game held my interest for a lot longer than I expected. 

Pokemon Y far exceeded my expectations, shocking me with how well the updated graphics had been implemented. For anyone who was once a fan or just looking to pick up a new title for their Nintendo DS I would recommend giving this a go! 

First person shooters tend to grow old fast when I’m behind the gun, especially if its a single player game. BioShock Infinite managed to stear clear of this trend, leading me from start to finish within a few days. 

I loved the art style and setting. The world is so beautifully built and crafted by the developers and the story line is both touching and clever. Throughout the game I grew to care about the characters and I was genuinely interested in learning more about them. 

The gameplay was often fast and furious, mixing gunplay and supernatural powers amazingly well which helped create some very unique and exciting battles. Swapping and changing your powers and loadouts really helped to add an extra layer to Bioshock.  

Despite my ability to grow bored of the genre pretty quickly I absolutely loved Bioshock Infinite. Its worth diving in for so many reasons, story line, gameplay, there’s just so much to try. 

I recently backed a game on Kickstarter that caught my eye. 7 Days to Die is a survival game where the world is fully customiseable. Basically its Minecraft and DayZ’s baby. 

I’ve been giving the beta a whirl and have thoroughly enjoyed the game so far. Crafting my base from scavenged materials to fend off the hordes of the undead is just great fun. Mining deep into the earth to avoid detection from bandits, unbeatable. 

This game has so much potential and I cannot wait to see how it turns out. 

I’ll probably be hunted down for this one but I really enjoyed Resident Evil 6. No, its nowhere near as good as the original games but I loaded this up not expecting much and what I got was a whole load of chaotic fun. 

The characters we know and love are back, stumbling through an interwoven and absurd storyline. They can move whiles shooting and survive the most outrageous moments. Through all of this however the game is fun. 

Its not the survival horror that we are used to but its a good laugh. I recomend go into this with an open mind and you will more than likely have a pretty good time.

Dungeon Hunter 4

Slashy slashy time!
Slashy slashy time!

So I decided to delve into another one of Gameloft’s clones. They make some pretty good mobile games and Dungeon Hunter 4 is no different. It’s a great little game, packed filled with some brilliant RPG elements, fantastic graphics and great controls. The gameplay is fun, button mashing mayhem. I’ve sunk hours into hacking and slashing my way through hordes of enemies and upgrading my loot. For a mobile game this is pretty great fun.

This is something you will see a lot during the game
This is something you will see a lot during the game

Where the fun stops however is Gamelofts insistence on in app purchases. Simple things like using potions more often than every couple of hours will end up costing you gems, and gems will cost you real world cash. In order to progress in the game you need better equipment and the quickest way to get your hands on this is to spend some gems on it. In fact pop up sales will appear in-between loading screens, enticing you to spend spend spend. Now, you can earn all the loot for free and upgrade gathered loot with in gold that you find in game. However this is a long process. I’ve already repeated one level about 20 times in order to grind my way to the higher level equipment.

At the end of the day this game is free to play and you’re not being forced to spend any money. However in app purchases pop up around every corner, leaving me wishing I could just pay for the app up front and have a better in game experience without being pestered every other minute.

I’d recommend giving this app a go if you fancy playing a premium RPG on your mobile device. It others some good old fashioned button mashing fun and is worth giving a chance. Just make sure you avoid the temptation to blow your real world cash on this game, it could turn into a real money pit.

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