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For those unsure Wikipedia gives a decent explanation of just what exactly Grey Goo is. So it’s something sci-fi fans and gamers should be pretty familiar with. But it’s also the name of an upcoming game. And one that a lot of us will agree is more important than something as silly as the end of the world. I got to play hands on during Gamescom for far longer than I should have done until sadly we had to leave. I mean we were there playing for a long time. And I loved every nanosecond of it.

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Grey Goo is an RTS that’s stuck in the past in all the right ways and forward thinking in all the others. There’s no way to describe it other than an old-school RTS. The RTS Genre has changed a lot since the golden age of C&C and a few titles still excite me. But nobody ever tried to make a game like the old days just with a few changes. There are so many things I miss from an old-school RTS that could work if only they were updated or tweaked. Enter Grey Goo.

Grey Goo certainly doesn’t fix things that don’t need fixing. So base building is back in a big way. A good base layout can be the difference between success and failure. To gather resources you will build a harvester on a resource point and let the harvester do the work. There are no builder units, thank god, to get constantly pestered by the AI. Aircraft need an airbase to launch from and return to. It all feels incredibly comfortable, familiar and welcome territory.

But Grey Goo’s excellence lies in its factions. Initially I played as the Beta. There isn’t particularly a focus for this faction but they do have the rather nifty ability to socket their robotic walker-like troops into defensive towers and even some epic units. And then I played the humans who make very good turtles. Yes there is actually a faction just for those of us who love to sit there and build bases before crushing our enemies. At last a faction designed for turtling. But the downside is that each building must be attached to a power node which acts like a huge wire that you lay down as you would a wall. Careful base planning is a must for this faction.

Each of these two factions also uses a clever building system where factories and the like are specialized using different nodes that attach to them. For instance you build a factory which is capable of building only basic units. For example attaching a certain node allows it to specialize and build artillery units. For more powerful units you will need multiple nodes and, again, careful planning.

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And then there’s the Goo. They don’t have buildings at all. They have a ‘MotherGoo’ at the start which is a giant grey blob (that looks awesome!). To create units or units capable of becoming other units you will have to split off sections of the MotherGoo. To gather resources your goo will sit on a resource pile and just absorb it. It’s hands down the most unique faction I’ve ever seen in an RTS. Ever.

There’s so much depth and so many awesome features that it’s impossible to fit everything into this article. I haven’t seen factions like this since Yuri’s Revenge or C&C Generals: Zero Hour. And even then nothing remotely similar to the Grey Goo ‘faction’. Most of my time at the presentation was spent discussing things that to most would seem trivial. Like “do air units return to base after they’ve used their ammo or reload and return to their previous location?” which the guys had clearly been discussing already. And when I noticed at one point when I built a gate in a wall a unit actually turned around to go on the shorter route. This attention to detail will undoubtedly make Grey Goo a joy to play.

A majority of the crew are ex Westwood guys which makes them responsible for a big portion of my childhood and the main reason I love RTS’s today. Those games were some of the first I ever played and Grey Goo is a chance for that golden age to return. The detailing is just incredible in every respect and the visuals are nothing short of beautiful. And another thing the team is, rightly, proud of is that the AI is highly intelligent and doesn’t cheat to create the challenge. And it’s tough to beat even on the lower difficulties. If you even have a vague interest in RTS’s keep at least one eye firmly on this game.

 

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During my time at Gamescom I had the chance to meet with Ash Monif from Grimm Bros to take a look at their awesome new RPG. Dragon Fin Soup is an upcoming RPG with roguelike elements. You take control of a female character called Red Robin who sort of looks like Little Red Riding Hood if she got sick of it all went home to get her gun and a couple of bombs and then went to ‘visit’ the wolf.

I don’t like to begin talking about the visuals of a game but in Dragon Fin Soup they’re so striking it’s difficult not to instantly let them carry you away. There’s an intentionally obvious similarity to SNES titles that so many of us have fond memories of. It’s impossible not to be taking in by Dragon Fin’s charms. Fortunately Dragon Fin’s charms don’t stop at the visuals.

Dragon Fin also has an incredibly compelling soundtrack. I love a good soundtrack in any game but in an RPG like this it plays a hugely important role – or at least it should. Check out a few samples on the Dragon Fin website here. As well as meeting Ash I also had the pleasure of meeting Jade Leamcharaskul, Dragon Fin’s composer. Playing or watching Dragon Fin takes me back to the Nobuo Uematsu days of Final Fantasy when a soundtrack was not only important but integral to a game. Check out this trailer to see (and hear) what I mean. There’s a definite Murray Gold feel to this particular track and I love it. Can’t help but turn this one up!

I remember watching the trailer for Dragon Fin and being completely baffled by how the combat system worked. It appeared to be a strange cross between turn based and real time gameplay. I eventually decided that I would need to play in order to really figure out how it worked. Fortunately getting your hands on the game makes everything clear.

In the top left of the screen there is a turn counter. Every step you take or action you perform increases the turn count. So rather than conventional turn based systems that see you setting up actions for you team and then the enemy doing the same a turn ends on every step or action. Effectively this plays as a turn based RPG with an unusually high pace. And the depth of strategy looks promising too. I only fought some very early enemies and still managed to get myself beaten badly. It’s a strange way to play but only because I can’t think of anything else like it.

Although I didn’t get much of a chance to look through all the content available in Dragon Fin it’s clear there’s going to be plenty to do. There’s a complex crafting system, gorgeous sound and visuals and solid battle mechanics to underpin it all. Dragon fin is planned to arrive 2014 for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, PS3 and PS Vita.

Last month Marvel and Disney announced The Guardians of the Galaxy Disney Infinity 2.0 playset, and we had a demo of it in action at Gamescom.

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The five space criminals on the cusp of heroism are playable in their own story,  joined by a handful of crossover characters from other sets.

In a behind closed doors session we were shown some of the gameplay:

Disney is also releasing themed Power Discs that draw more Guardian elements into the game, including an environment based on Star-Lord’s quarters in the drifting station of Knowhere.

What do you think of Disney Infinity 2.0? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Today, Ubisoft released the first Developer Diary for The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot. Developed by Ubisoft Montréal, the humorous free-to-play PC title thrusts players into an outrageous medieval fantasy world named Opulencia where wealth, status and showboating are the name of the game.

In the video, viewers will meet the team behind The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, learn about the challenges of continuous content creation for a free-to-play game, how the art-style plays up the humour in-game, the careful thought that goes into the game’s monetization and the inspirations behind the game’s comical dialogue.

For on-going updates about the game, and to register for the Closed Beta, please visit the official website: www.themightyquest.com

Here is the Dev Diary 1:

For on-going updates about the game and to register for the beta, please visit the official website: www.themightyquest.com

And don’t forget to check out our preview of The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot and our exclusive interview with Matt Zagurak below:

Learn more from the The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot website.

I got the chance to play with the real Saints Row IV Dubstep Gun – wub wub.

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Deep Silver has been working until their ear drums bleed to create a full size replica of one of the most popular weapons within the game. The Dubstep Gun has been lovingly recreated by a dedicated team making what has to be one of the best replica videogame weapons ever made.

The replica is fully functional, measures more than a meter in length and weighs 3½KG.  With four inputs, trigger activated play and pause and touch button control panel, the Dubstep Gun is designed to allow everything from the hardest hitting dubstep tracks to 80’s classics to be played loud and proud with a maximum of ease. The term ‘Ghetto Blaster’ has never been so apt!

Here is a short video showing it off:

Only three of these custom made, hand built beauties have been made so I tried to sneak off with it, but I got caught and had to give it back!

And here are some more pictures of the amazing Dubstep Gun:

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And why not watch some new Saints Row IV gameplay footage whilst you are here:

So what do you think of Saints Row IV? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. I can’t wait to play more!

On Friday the NOW TV box powered by Sky was launched. This box turns your normal TV into a Smart TV – the selling point, it’s only £9.99! Here is our review and unboxing and configuring video.

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Available now from nowtv.com, the compact and easy-to-use box connects your TV wirelessly to the internet.  Once connected, homes with the NOW TV box will enjoy convenient and contract-free access to BBC iPlayer,  Demand 5, BBC News App and Sky News, plus NOW TV – offering instant access to Sky Sports and Sky Movies. They can also access other popular online services such as Facebook and Spotify – all delivered over broadband to the big screen TV.

From launch, the NOW TV Box will let people access:

  • Sky Sports: Experience the best sporting action from Sky Sports with the Sky Sports Day Pass. In the next month alone, sports fans can enjoy the climax of The Ashes series, the return of the Premier League and Football League, Formula 1® Belgium Grand Prix™, the start of Andy Murray’s defence of the US Open title and much more, across 6 channels all for just £9.99 a day.
  • Sky Movies: Sign up for a Sky Movies Pass to access hundreds of films from Sky Movies – the UK’s most popular subscription service – including more of the latest and biggest movies 12 months before Netflix or LOVEFiLM Instant. New customers can also take advantage of a 30 day free trial of the Sky Movies Pass and enjoy the likes of Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises and Argo in the next month.
  • Sky News: Stay up-to-date with all the latest breaking news from Sky News. Access a 24/7 live feed of Sky News’ award-winning coverage including all breaking news from home and abroad, as well as dedicated business, political and entertainment coverage.  In addition, catch up on specific stories at any time of the day via an exclusive on demand news library.
  • BBC iPlayer: The BBC’s popular video on-demand service which received 2.32bn programme requests in 2012 gives you the option to catch up on your favourite BBC programmes when you want to – and now on your TV set through the NOW TV Box.
  • BBC News app: Giving viewers access to BBC news reports, interviews and videos at the touch of a button on their TV.
  • Demand 5: Catch-up on a wide selection of Channel 5 shows for at least 7 days after they first broadcast.
  • Spotify, Facebook and flickr: Listen to music, catch up with friends and even share your photos all through your TV set.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the NOW TV box itself, some manuals, an HDMI cable, a power connector and a remote control, with batteries.

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A Closer Look

As you can see, the remote fits into your hand – it feels a little plasticy but let’s not forget the whole thing costs under a tenner!

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The rear of the box has an HDMI port, an A/V Out port, a reset switch and the power in. There is no on/off switch as the unit itself draws very little power and is expected to be left on all the time.

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Unboxing and Configuring the NOW TV box (Video)

To show just how quick and easy it is to unbox, setup and configure, I made a short video:

Final Thoughts

If you looked at the NOW TV box and thought it looks a lot like a ROKU box you wouldn’t be wrong – it is a ROKU box. It does look a little plasticy (just like the remote control) but again, the overall cost is £9.99 (which includes postage and packing) so it doesn’t really have to look spectacular. It is very small though, measuring 84mm x 84mm x 24mm and weighing hardly anything at all!

Setting up the NOW TV box was simple and fast (just look at the video above) and I was streaming away in no time at all. One thing I was impressed with before I even plugged it in was that there was an HDMI cable in the box. This may not seem like a big deal but a lot of considerably more expensive devices don’t include one in the box, and so that just adds to the costs, thankfully not it this case.

The box is wireless only – which is great if you have a really strong wireless signal in the room you want to use it, but not great if you don’t! Because everything is streamed to the box over the Internet if you have a poor wireless signal you will get a lot of buffering, which will ruin your viewing pleasure.

If you don’t want to buy a subscription to Sky Sports or Sky Movies you don’t have to. You can use all the free services such as BBC iPlayer and Sky News. You can also easily add other services from the vast catalogue, all at the touch of a button on the controller.

If you do want to watch Sky Sports you can easily by a day pass for £9.99 a day, and Sky Movies is currently £8.99 a month, which will rise to £15 month, although there is a free 30 day trial as well.

I really liked the NOW TV box, it is extremely good value for money, easy to setup and use and breathes new life into your older TV. The only disappointment for me was that the maximum resolution is 720P, but for older TV’s this probably won’t be an issue as the older TV may not be able to go any higher.

So for £9.99 its a bargain and I highly recommend buying one today.

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Buy one today from the NOW TV online store.

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Today, Ubisoft showcased a new Story Trailer for The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, delving deeper into the special relationship between the game’s three available characters. Developed by Ubisoft Montréal, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is a hilarious AAA free-to-play PC game that allows players to discover the outrageous medieval fantasy world of Opulencia, where wealth, status and showboating are the name of the game!

In this video, players have a snapshot of each character’s personality, and are guided into the magical world of Opulencia, filled with strange creatures and crazy traps. The braggart, Sir Painhammer, challenges his old rival the Archer, a.k.a Blackeye Bowgart, while the Mage, a.k.a The Earl of Evilosity, is more than pleased to show them what true magic is.

Here is the new trailer:

For on-going updates about the game and to register for the beta, please visit the official website: www.themightyquest.com

And don’t forget to check out our preview of The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot and our exclusive interview with Matt Zagurak below:

Learn more from the The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot website.

I have the 2012 Samsung ES8000 LCD TV and as I wanted the 2013 experience I purchased the Samsung Evolution Kit to upgrade it, and here is how I got on.

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By simply attaching the Evolution Kit device into the back of a Samsung Smart TV, consumers can enjoy the latest features that the 2013 Smart TVs have to offer without the expense of buying a 2013 TV.

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With hardware enhancements, such as CPU, memory and GPU up to the level of the latest Smart TV, users can enjoy faster speeds for browsing the Internet and multitask by using apps while watching TV.

In addition, Samsung’s Smart Interaction features such as voice control and motion control will be enhanced. Once the Evolution Kit is attached to the slot, 2012 Smart Hub is transformed to 2013 version.

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The Evolution Kit fits neatly onto the back of the TV and connects via a single cable.

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There is a new remote control too:

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The whole process took around 2 hours, which included updating the 2012 firmware before starting the installation and configuration process (watch the video to see what I mean).

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Here is the unboxing, connection and configuration video (to keep it short I have edited out all the times where you have to wait for things to download or update):

The Samsung Evolution Kit is available now for £249, but look around as there are deals to be had! I got mine for £219.

Have you got the Samsung Evolution Kit? If so let us know what you think of it by leaving a comment below.

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At E3 I got to see some of the new Skylanders SWAP Force characters in action.

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Skylanders SWAP Force builds upon the success of the franchise’s signature gameplay and collectible toy experience, adding an all-new dimension to the “toys to life” innovation.  The game introduces a compelling play pattern — dynamic swapability — that lets gamers transform 16 SWAP Force inter-action figures into more than 250 unique characters by swapping the top and bottom halves of the toys.  Now, Portal Masters can mix and match characters’ powers and moves and experience an unprecedented level of choice than ever before seen in a Skylanders game.

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Fans also can play Skylanders SWAP Force with their entire collection of 100+ characters from Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure and Skylanders Giants.

Here are some of the other characters:

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Are you excited for Skylanders SWAP Force? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Samsung recently announced Samsung GALAXY S4 mini, a powerful yet compact version of Samsung’s bestselling smartphone, GALAXY S4. The GALAXY S4 mini delivers the superior performance, intuitive ease-of-use and sleek design of the GALAXY S4 in a highly portable, chic and compact design, making it an ideal companion for everyday life.

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With a 4.3” qHD Super AMOLED display, 107g light weight and compact design, the GALAXY S4 mini is easy to carry and operate with one hand. Though compact, the GALAXY S4 mini also boasts powerful performance, equipped with a 1.7GHz dual core processor that allows users to quickly and easily perform data intensive tasks.

The GALAXY S4 mini supports many intuitive features and services provided by the GALAXY S4, designed enhance every facet of life.

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  • Capture Important Moments

The GALAXY S4 mini allows users to capture important moments with an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and 1.9-megapixel HD front-facing camera. Special features such as Sound&Shot, which uniquely stores sound and voice together as pictures are taken, and Panorama Shot, which allows users to photograph the full view of their surroundings, ensure no memory is lost. Receive travel assistance and information service through the preloaded S Travel application, which can also recommend future trips and provide a guide along the way. Users can also automatically arrange photos in a smart format with the Story Album function. Photos taken by GALAXY S4 mini are automatically gathered and saved according to the user’s timeline, geo-tagging information, or a specific event to create a photo album.

  • Share and Connect

Samsung GALAXY S4 mini allows users to share and build true connections. Users can simultaneously listen to the same music and play the games together with friends using Group Play feature, and chat with multiple friends and add animations, voice and video recordings to messages using ChatON.

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  • Make Life Simple and Easy

The GALAXYS4 mini makes international travel easy with S Translator, which provides instant text or voice translation at email, text message or ChatON. Samsung Hub provides a single entry for Samsung contents and services, making it incredibly easy and convenient to use. Users can browse through a variety of content across services including music, video, books, games and learning content as well as purchase and manage contents easily, from a single Samsung Account. Samsung Hub features an intergraded search when users browse a keyword, the results will show related content from all of the services at once.Users can also control their TVs through WatchON’s IR remote which transforms the GALAXY S4 mini into a remote to control the user’s TVs, set-top box, and DVD player.

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Through WatchON, The GALAXY S4 mini also offers a broad selection of entertainment content including live TV, cable TV and video on demand based on the rich information provided EPG (Electronic Program Guide). Samsung Link also enables users to share content across multiple Samsung digital devices.

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  • Take Care of Health and Well-being

The GALAXY S4 mini empowers users by keeping them up-to-date with personal health and well-being details.

Downloadable from Samsung Apps, S Health enables users to monitor caloric balance and health condition.

S Health accessories can also help users calculate daily steps, monitor sleeping patterns, calculate weight and get real-time heart monitoring. To further protect users’ wellbeing, Adapt Display provides an optimal viewing experience customized for each type of application, and Adapt Sound offers an optimal level and type of sound, personalized for each user.

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Specifications

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The GALAXY S4 mini will be available in two colors, White Frost and Black Mist. Commercial availability of the GALAXY S4 mini supporting either 4G LTE, or 3G HSPA+ or 3G Dual SIM, will be determined by market.

Samsung Electronics today unveiled two new tablets, the ATIV Q and ATIV Tab 3. Both powered by Windows 8, the ATIV Tab 3 is the world’s thinnest tablet while the convertible ATIV Q is able to run Android apps.

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The ATIV Q is a convertible device with the ability to change modes and has both Windows and Android capabilities. Built with today’s busy lifestyles in mind, it works as a notebook or tablet and gives you more flexibility and convenience than ever before.

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Addressing a common desire among PC users to be able to access Android apps on a Windows-based PC, the ATIV Q allows you to now experience both Windows 8 and Android (Jellybean 4.2.2) on the same device. Not only will you get access to Android apps via Google Play, but you will also be able to transfer files or share folders and files from Windows 8 to Android.

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The ATIV Q sports a hinge design that allows you to transform it into four functional modes. You can lay the display flat over the keyboard for tablet mode; raise the display upright to type just as you would a laptop; float and adjust the display to a comfortable viewing angle; or flip the display to place in the stand mode to watch movies. The four-in-one design of the ATIV Q easily adjusts to give you every possible option in the one device. The ATIV Q is also extremely thin and lightweight, at 1.29kg and only 13.9mm, making it very portable.

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Finally, the ATIV Q introduces the world’s highest resolution, QHD+ (3200×1800) display. Its 13.3-inch touch screen offers 2.8 times higher pixel density (275ppi) than full HD displays, and the device is also designed to give you an optimised viewing experience regardless of where you are or the brightness of the environment you are in.

Availability and specification

The ATIV Q and ATIV Tab 3 will all be available to buy in the UK from selected retailers later this year.

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Be among the first to know when the ATIV tablet range is available, by visiting www.samsung.com/uk/ATIVBookQ/ and www.samsung.com/uk/ATIVTab3/.

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Today, Ubisoft showcased a brand new video for The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot. Ubisoft Montreal’s free to play title puts players in an outrageous medieval fantasy world where wealth, status and showboating are the name of the game.

To celebrate the closed beta and the end of E3, Sir Painhammer takes players behind the scene of the video that made him famous in what he calls “making a masterpiece”. Besides the new exclusive footage, a magical surprise awaits players at the end.

Here is the blooper reel:

To register for the closed beta and to have on-going updates about the game, please visit the official website: www.themightyquest.com.

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