Microsoft

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Microsoft recently unveiled the latest in its line of Wireless Mouse hardware, the Wireless Mouse 1850 – and here is our review.

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Having undergone extensive testing to ensure optimal usability, quality and comfort, the Wireless Mouse 1850 uniquely matches function with fashion, and is available in four standout colours including Flame Red, Orchid Pink, Pantone Purple and Coal Black.

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Featuring a built-in USB receiver, the Wireless Mouse 1850 uses 2.4Ghz wireless technology to deliver a reliable wireless connection with a range of up to 5 metres. With all of this weighing in at just 90 grams, the Wireless Mouse 1850 is the perfect accompaniment for a modern, mobile lifestyle.

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Everything you need to get going is included in the small box – the mouse, a AA battery and the wireless dongle (which can also be stored inside the mouse).

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Final Thoughts

The Mobile 1850 Mouse is quite small, meaning that it should be comfortable for most people to use. It is also very light so you can easily carry it around in a bag or even in your pocket without really noticing that it’s there.

Setting up the mouse was as simple as just plugging in the wireless dongle into my machine, flick the on/off switch on the underside of the mouse and Windows 8 did all the rest and I was up and running in under a minute.

The wireless dongle is nice and small, and can be stored inside the mouse when not in use – just make sure you don’t lose it!

Unlike some of the more expensive Microsoft mice, the 1850 just has a left button, a right button and a scroll wheel.

The 1850 is the perfect combination of size, weight, comfort and price for a mouse that you want to be portable with. You can use it wherever you like – although if you want to play games with it I would recommend looking at a different mouse as it’s not really designed for that, although it does work. Overall I found the 1850 to be very responsive and worked well on a variety of surfaces.

So if you need an inexpensive wireless mouse, look no further than the 1850!

The Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 1850 is available now for £16.99.

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You can learn more from the Microsoft website.

Are you ready for Kinect Sports Rivals? Here’s our review.

Roadshow Shooting

Kinect Sports Rivals is the new game from Rare Studios, who brought us such games as Kinect Sports on the Xbox 360. This time the sports take place on an island, and the scenery is amazing.

The first thing you need to do before you can play is set up your Champion. This involves you standing in front of Kinect whilst being scanned. The whole process only takes a few minutes, and to give you an idea of how it works, here is a video I made during a recent visit to Rare Studios:

Unlike previous Kinect games, this process seemed to work very well in a small room (the room I did the review in, not the canteen at Rare). I was particularly impressed how it detected I was wearing glasses and asked me to remove them, and later in the process told me I could now put them back on. I know it’s only a small touch but I liked it. All through the creation process the voice of David Tennant guides you through what you need to do, so that will certainly be a plus for some people.

Once your Champion has been created you can easily tweak various features such as hair colour, facial hair and so on. Once you are happy it’s time to move on to the game itself.

Wake Racing

Roadshow Wakerace

You are introduced to your Coach who explains how the controls work and what you need to do – then it’s straight into the first sport – Wake Racing. This was included as part of the Kinect Sports Rivals Pre Season free download when the Xbox One was released, so if you played that you will be familiar with how it works. Once you have completed all the requirements it’s time for you to race in a team event. Only one you have completed this team event will you move onto the next event, and only once you have completed all the team event sports will you be able to play whichever sport you want.

Wake Racing has five different courses to play and this is one of the sports that actually works well if you are sitting or standing.

Bowling

Roadshow Bowling

Bowling was one of the original Kinect Sports games and it makes a welcome return here. This version of bowling provides better control over the ball and you can even see if you hand is open or closed.

Climbing

Roadshow Climbing

Climbing was one of those sports that I wasn’t really that bothered about playing – then I played it and I found that I really enjoyed it. There are six different courses to play on and it is a lot of fun to actually pull your opponent off the wall and watch him fall – er, I mean use skill to pass by your opponent. Yeah, that’s it. You can also do little jumps to help get you to the top quicker. You do need to make sure that you have enough space in the room you are playing in though, more so than any of the other sports, with the possible exception of Tennis.

Soccer

Roadshow Soccer

Soccer is another returning game from Kinect Sports – this time you have a wall of virtual defenders you need to get past in order to score that elusive goal.

Target Shooting

Target Shooting was designed to offer the variety of a low-effort, high-impact sport with plenty of visual feedback. It’s a real test for your powers of observation, memory and strategy; being able to steal your opponent’s targets makes for great disruptive play, especially in split-screen. You can even move your body to dodge incoming fire. I actually found this one quite frustrating at first, but eventually you get the hang of it.

Tennis

Roadshow Tennis

Tennis was originally in Kinect Sports: Season 2, and it makes a welcome return. It’s actually the sport I enjoyed the most although your arms ache after playing it for a while, so at least you get a work out! Like Climbing, you do need to make sure you have enough room to play.

Final Thoughts

Overall I thought Kinect Sports Rivals was a fun game. The use of Kinect 2.0 was very good (I honestly don’t believe that Kinect 1.0 could have done anything near what this does) and means that I didn’t need a room the size of a small car park to play it. Yes, there are times when the game tells me that I am slightly out of range or to move a bit when I haven’t really moved, but it’s easy to adjust position and carry on (as long as you have some room). Don’t get me wrong though, there is certainly a lot of room for improvements with Kinect. You can also you voice commands to navigate around the menus if you need a rest from moving your arms around!

One thing that can be a little frustrating is the amount of time you spend sitting watching loading screens. You really want to be playing so having to wait what feels like an eternity isn’t great. Also you can’t skip the cut-scenes either!

Also it would have been nice to have had the opportunity to just jump in with some quick play of a particular sport rather than having to go through the training, then the team events, but you only have to go through that once though.

The Champion creation process was really slick and whilst it wasn’t necessarily perfect it was very easy to tweak your look, and in fact, that can be quite fun too!

Kinect Sports Rivals is not a game aimed at hardcore gamers – it’s aimed at people who want to have fun, play as a family or with a group of friends, and just have a laugh, and at that is succeeds. Yes, some of the games are more fun than others, and some of them work better than offers, but overall you will have fun, and that’s what its all about after all. The only real downside is the room size requirements, although they are certainly better than on previous games. Just make sure you have as much space as possible to play the game or you will find yourself getting frustrated.

With more sports to be added over the coming months, I am looking forward to seeing what else Kinect Sports Rivals brings to the party.

Thank you to Xbox for the review copy.

The following Xbox Live Spring Sale offers are valid for everyone on Xbox Live now through 21 April 2014. From Injustice: Gods Among Us to Dishonored Addons and more this week including some movies.

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Injustice: Gods Among Us Games on Demand 50%
Injustice: Gods Among Us Season Pass Add-On 50%
Assassin’s Creed IV Season Pass Add-On 33%
Assassin’s Creed IV Add-ons Add-On (x11) 33%
Saints Row IV Games on Demand 50%
Saints Row IV Add-ons Add-On (x24) 66%
Dead Island Add-ons Add-On (x2) 75%
Dishonored Add-ons Add-On (x4) 75%
F1 2013 Add-ons Add-On (x3) 50%
Borderlands 2 Games on Demand 65%
Borderlands 2 Add-ons Add-On (x44) 50%
Armored Core Verdict Day Add-ons Add-On (x53) 75%
Skyrim Add-ons Add-On (x3) 75%
Fallout 3 Add-ons Add-On (x5) 75%
Tropico 4 Add-ons Add-On (x12) 50%
Fallout: New Vegas Add-ons Add-On (x6) 75%
The Walking Dead Season 1 chapters Add-On (x5) 50%
Wolf Among Us Ep2: Smoke and Mirrors Add-On 50%
Pinball FX 2 tables Add-On (x31) 50%
Toy Soldiers add-ons Add-On (x2) 67%
PAC-MAN  CE DX Arcade 50%
PAC-MAN  CE DX Add-ons Add-On (x9) 50%
Lego Marvel Super Heroes Games on Demand 33%
Assassin’s Creed Liberation Arcade 33%
Prototype 2 Games on Demand 75%
Thief: The Bank Heist Add-On 50%
State of Decay: Breakdown Add-On 50%

Starting tomorrow (10th April), the famed Long Beach circuit is coming to the “Forza Motorsport” franchise for the first time in “Forza Motorsport 5.” Available for free as part of the latest “Forza Motorsport 5” content update, delivering tight turns and blindingly quick straights, Long Beach is surrounded by the sun-drenched beauty of southern California. Long Beach in “Forza Motorsport 5” is packed with stunning detail, with the entire track and surrounding area recreated with obsessive precision through laser scanning, thousands of photos, and hours of video.

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From the angles of each unique palm tree along Shoreline Drive to every nuance of the track’s surface, this circuit is a racing experience unlike any other.

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The full eleven-turn, 1.97-mile course, home to this weekend’s 40th running of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, is included, as well as two alternate ribbons: the slightly shorter East Loop and the half-mile West Loop, both of which are perfect for drifting or pushing your technical driving skills to their limits.

Like all track add-on content for “Forza Motorsport 5,” Long Beach has been fully integrated into every mode of the game. Once you download the content update, the Long Beach circuit becomes part of your “Forza Motorsport 5″ world. You’ll find brand new events in Career mode, new Rivals and multiplayer lobbies to challenge your friends, and more. Download the latest update for “Forza Motorsport 5” and experience this world-class track for the very first time in the “Forza Motorsport” series!

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Today Channel 4 in the UK has announced details of a new sci-fi series titled Humans. The eight-part drama is based on Swedish series Real Humans, and will be produced by Kudos, the team behind Broadchurch, The Hour and The Tunnel.

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The new 8 X 60 series will share a 2015 premiere broadcast window on both Channel 4 in the UK and the Xbox platform in North America.

Written by British writing partnership Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley (Spooks, Spooks: The Greater Good), Humans is an English language adaptation of Sveriges Television (SVT) and Matador Films’ acclaimed series.

Set in a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a ‘Synth’ – a highly-developed robotic servant that’s so similar to a real human it’s transforming the way we live. When a rushed-off-his-feet suburban father of three buys a refurbished second-hand Synth, he hopes it will relieve some domestic pressure and paper over the cracks of his marriage. But sharing their life with a machine has far-reaching and chilling consequences – for this Synth, the cuckoo in the nest, is harbouring an extraordinary secret.

Channel 4 Head of Drama, Piers Wenger says: “In Humans, Sam and Jon have not only crafted an ingenious and imaginative thriller, but they’re also asking big, thought-provoking questions about how we live.  I’m thrilled to be working once again with the team at Kudos and to be partnering with Xbox to bring this extraordinary and epic series to the screen. This is the first co-production commission to benefit from Channel 4’s increased investment in drama and reaffirms our commitment to ambitious, highly original drama series.”

President of Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios, Nancy Tellem says: “Humans not only questions personal relationships, but we loved how this sci-fi show toys with reality and our connection to technology.” She adds “This deal with Channel 4 and Kudos underscores Xbox Entertainment Studios’ commitment to programming premium TV series with global partners and creating engaging interactive experiences – and sits alongside other original commissions including a Halo TV series executive produced by Steven Spielberg.”

Filming in the UK will begin in summer 2014, with casting to be announced.

Executive Producer Kudos, Jane Featherstone says: “Exploring themes of love, discrimination and integration, this thrilling, beautifully written series allows us to get under the skin of what it means to be human in the most compelling way. The bold, innovative storylines and subject matter lend themselves perfectly to this pioneering collaboration with Channel 4 and Xbox.”

 

 

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As with the current generation of Windows, Microsoft made a pretty big bet on touch and mobility. Along with building on top of the strong foundation in Windows 7, there also introduced a brand new approach to the Windows user experience that brought touch to the forefront. The Windows 8.1 update starts to roll out next Tuesday (8th April) free for all Windows 8 users.

Since the original introduction of Window 8 in 2012, there have been continuously refining the experience, and we are making steady progress. There believe deeply in the notion that delivering a compelling personal and modern experience across all the devices that matter in your life should not mean sacrificing familiarity. Windows 8 and 8.1 were first steps, and Microsoft are to continue to make refinements based on customer and partner feedback.

Last fall, less than a year after their shipped Windows 8, Microsoft released Windows 8.1- bringing a large set of customer-driven improvements including the return of the Start button, tutorials, more personalization options, the ability to boot to desktop, improvements to multi-tasking, and more. Today marks the next step as we release a new update for your Windows experience.

The Windows 8.1 Update delivers a collection of refinements designed to give people a more familiar and convenient experience across touch, keyboard and mouse inputs. It also brings improvements for business customers, really accelerates opportunity for developers, and enables device makers to offer lower cost devices.

Easier access to your favourite apps and key controls:

Windows 8.1

On the Start screen, on select devices you will now find Power and Search buttons at the upper-right corner next to your account picture. You can now more quickly shut down your PC if you need to and do a search right from the Start screen.

If you like using the desktop, you will be happy to know that select devices will now boot to desktop as the default setting. And on your taskbar, you can now pin both desktop apps and apps from the Windows Store as well as your favorite websites. You can now pin any app you want to the taskbar so you can open or switch between apps right from the desktop. I’ve got some of my favorite apps like Xbox Music, Skype, Facebook, Flipboard, and Mint pinned to my taskbar. You can also access the taskbar from anywhere when you’re using a mouse; you can see the taskbar on any screen by moving your mouse to the bottom edge of your screen. Just click on any of the apps pinned to your taskbar to open or switch to them.

More familiar mouse and keyboard options:

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Their made it so your mouse works more consistently anywhere in Windows. If you move your mouse to the top of the screen when using a Windows Store app, you will see the familiar Close and Minimize buttons. When you move your mouse to the bottom of the screen in a Windows Store app, the taskbar comes up.

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On the Start screen, if you right-click on an app tile, you will get a context menu next to the app tile that shows you what you can do with the tile, like unpin from Start, pin to the taskbar, change the tile size or even uninstall the app. Right-clicking on an app tile on the Start screen works just like right-clicking on something on the desktop.

Simpler way to find new apps:

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After installing the update, you’ll find the Windows Store is now pinned to the taskbar by default so you can easily discover new apps (yes, you can unpin it if you don’t want it there).

And after installing new apps, you’ll notice a message at the lower-left corner of the Start screen that points you to the Apps view so you can see what you recently just installed.

Seamless browsing on all devices:

With today’s update, Internet Explorer 11 adapts your browsing experience by detecting your Windows device and input type, whether an 8-inch touch tablet in portrait mode or a 24-inch desktop with mouse and keyboard. The web is still front-and-center but new design enhancements make your browsing experience feel like it was made just for your device – like the number of tabs on-screen, the size of the fonts and menus.

Yesterday at the Build conference from Microsoft it showed off the new Windows Phone 8.1 update coming soon to all Windows Phone 8 devices.

Windows Phone 8.1: More Personal, Smarter, and even a “World Record Holder”!

If you’re a Windows Phone user, you already know that Microsoft set out to create an experience that puts you and the things you care about most front and centre. As a result, we believe Windows Phone is the world’s most personal smartphone… and with Windows Phone 8.1, Microosft added a BUNCH of new features that make your smartphone even more a reflection of your personality and desires.

Start screen: Make the Live Tiles Yours

Your Windows Phone Start screen to genuinely reflect your personality and the people and things you care about—so we are making it even more customizable!

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If you remember last year Microsoft added a third column on devices for 5-inch screen or larger devices, like the Lumia 1520, to enable more stuff to show up on the screen. With people really liked this so we are enabling this on all screen sizes in Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft have added the ability to customize your Start background with a favourite picture or one of the options we’ve provided, which will make many of the tiles on your Start screen become clear so you can see the background you selected as you scroll up and down.

Cortana: Your PERSONAL Digital Assistant

Microsoft also introduce you to the world’s first truly personal digital assistant, now on Windows Phone. Microsoft were inspired by the popular character from Halo who served as a brilliant AI and a deeply personal digital assistant to Master Chief… so Microsoft called her Cortana.

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Powered by Bing, Cortana is the only digital assistant that gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behaviour and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something. She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you. Cortana will launch shortly in the U.S. first as a “beta,” and then will launch in the US, the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014 with other countries to follow afterwards into 2015.

In Windows Phone 8.1, you get to Cortana by either a Live Tile on your Start screen or by pressing the search button on your device. This will take you to Cortana Home. To interact with Cortana, you can either speak or type—if you’re in a meeting, just type and Cortana won’t talk out loud. But if you ask her a spoken question, she’ll answer verbally and even carry on a natural conversation.

When you interact with Cortana for the VERY first time, she will start learning things about you… like your name, how to pronounce it, and ask for some personal interests.

Once she’s learned a bit about you, Cortana’s home populates with information that is curated just for you. You’ll see things like flight information she’s found from your email confirmations, weather, the latest news, and even traffic information once she learns your commute routine, such as from work and home.

Microsoft announced a lot more for Windows Phone 8.1 like new features like Photos & Camera Data Sense, Wi-Fi Sense, Storage Sense, and Battery Saver and more.

Action Center:Live Tiles are a great way to “glance and go,” and now we’ve added Action Center to enable you to see notifications from ANY app – pinned or not—and to give you a customizable way to quickly access the settings you care about most, like Wi-Fi, Flight Mode, Bluetooth and Rotation Lock.

Word Flow Keyboard:The keyboard in Windows Phone is smart enough to learn your writing style and even knows the names of people in your contacts for faster typing. Best of all, our new Word Flow Keyboard lets you glide your fingers over the keys to type INCREDIBLY quickly… a kid was able to BREAK THE OFFICIAL WORLD RECORD previously held by the Swype keyboard on a Samsung Galaxy S4 using Word Flow by 8 seconds!

Skype:The new Skype app for Windows Phone 8.1 brings the best of Skype on a smartphone. It’s integrated with the Phone dialer, so if you’re on a call you can quickly and easily “upgrade” your ordinary phone call to a Skype video call at the tap of a button! And… the new Skype app is designed to work seamlessly with Cortana so you can use Cortana to setup your calls within Skype.

Calendar:The new Calendar has been redesigned to add a new week view which lots of people have been asking for and it has many nice touches—like panning right to get to the next day or week or month! What’s more, it looks a lot like Outlook on your Windows PC… e.g., the weather is integrated at the top – just like in Outlook.

Music, Video, Podcasts: We’ve made a ton of improvements to these experiences, which are now split out as separate apps and all of which can be updated via the Store. In Music, you can edit your playlists and manage your cloud collection really easily and effectively. Video makes it possible to buy or rent videos from Xbox Music, and Podcasts now lets you subscribe to any RSS feed AND provides a Bing-powered podcast search for every country where Windows Phone is available. Oh… and we’ve improved the phone volume control by including separate sliders for your ringer/notifications and for your apps and media. Just the way you asked for it!

People Hub, Email and Accounts: The People Hub has higher-fidelity feeds for your social network content (large photos!) and it connects directly to 3rd-party social networking apps so that you can have easy access to all the full functionality of the 3rd party apps once they are installed. Email now supports S/MIME secure email, and we’ve broadened our support for different account types, now including iCloud.

Photos & Camera:The Photos experience now jumps directly to your most recent photos and shows as collections automatically organized, in a view grouped by date and location. Online photo albums are now supported via app-extensibility, so 3rd parties can plug in their services. In the Camera, Microsoft have updated the UI and added “burst mode” photography that lets you capture exactly the perfect moment—just like on Windows 8.1.

Music, Video, Podcasts: Microsoft have made a ton of improvements to these experiences, which are now split out as separate apps and all of which can be updated via the Store. In Music, you can edit your playlists and manage your cloud collection really easily and effectively. Video makes it possible to buy or rent videos from Xbox Music, and Podcasts now lets you subscribe to any RSS feed AND provides a Bing-powered podcast search for every country where Windows Phone is available.

People Hub, Email and Accounts: The People Hub has higher-fidelity feeds for your social network content (large photos!) and it connects directly to 3rd-party social networking apps so that you can have easy access to all the full functionality of the 3rd party apps once they are installed. Email now supports S/MIME secure email, and we’ve broadened our support for different account types, now including iCloud.

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If you are an Xbox One owners in Europe and Canada then soon you will be able to test the TV integration features of the console. With the OneGuide, which is Microsoft’s TV guide service and set-top box control for Xbox One, has been available in the US since launch, the company has not yet started rolling it out elsewhere. That’s not changing immediately, but selected Xbox One preview members will be able to test the features today in the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. With plans to tweak the OneGuide functionality over the coming months during the preview phase.

Starting this week, you can rent (or buy) a movie on Xbox Video, begin watching on one screen, then pick-up right where you left off on another.* Perfect for movie junkies or anyone who loves marathon-watching TV shows, Xbox Video makes it easier than ever to watch whatever you like on Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, or even online at XboxVideo.com. This comes just in time for the blockbuster smash “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which you can buy this week or rent starting Tuesday, 8 April. Or you can buy a Season Pass for season 1, 2, or 3, to catch up on “Game of Thrones” before season 4 starts.

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More SmartGlass Features Make Navigating Xbox One Experiences a Snap

In addition to watching your favorite content, we know you want a range of options for how you navigate Xbox One experiences. You can use the Xbox One controller, Kinect voice or gesture commands, the new Xbox One media remote, and Xbox SmartGlass on your smart phone or tablet. We added a range of new SmartGlass features recently to make it easier for anyone around the world to navigate Xbox One experiences. With SmartGlass you can now:

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  • Easily navigate game options so you can quickly get to the full list of Achievements, challenges, and game clips without jumping through multiple screens.
  • View recent players to find people you recently gamed with, easily add them as a friend, or issue a rematch challenge.
  • Sort the Friends list by online status for a quick view of what your friends are doing.
  • View your Activity Feed in a way that matches the view on your console
  • Launch an app in Snap from your mobile device, and when you’re done, simply unsnap it.
  • Receive Xbox Live messaging alerts on your mobile device, making it easier to stay in touch with friends when you’re on the go.

Those select Xbox Live members will see:

  • An enhanced TV watching experience (already available in the U.S.), which sees TV listings added to OneGuide, alongside Favorites and App Channels. This will work for people in Europe and Canada who have their TV connected to Xbox One via HDMI-in.
  • More control over Xbox One, their TV, and set-top box, including setting new recordings and watching recorded content from their DVR, all from a tablet or smart phone. Xbox SmartGlass also adds a cool new feature to show the most recently-watched channels.
  • New Kinect voice commands in Europe and Canada (already available in the U.S.) that lets you control your set-top box and other AV equipment.

So the long waiting game is over and Titanfall successfully made it into stores to pick up and play without any hassle. Other than a Day 1 patch, which made the game even more stable, the launch of this year’s most anticipated video game sold in vast amounts and boosted sales of the Xbox One console. I’d like to think I’m one of Titanfall’s biggest fans who couldn’t wait any longer in between the public beta and the 3 weeks until official launch and I must say Respawn have once again made an instant classic.

Titanfall Screen 1

Anyone who read my previous feature ‘T is for Titan’ would remember how satisfied I was with just having the 2 playable levels from the Beta with only 5 weapons and 3 match types. Since launch I’ve continued to be won over whenever I experience something that wasn’t playable before. The map variety is a sufficient number all with different terrain and design keeping Pilots and Titans happy. The weapon variations are strategy and I’d even say map specific to keep players alert to finding the right gun for the situation. Every detail in this game comes across as tried and tested and the balancing has been perfected. So why is it that Titanfall has met and bettered expectations? Here are 3 reasons why I think Titanfall has dominated the market:

Balancing

The secret to having an enjoyable game that offers different playable classes, whether it is solo, co-op, multiplayer or massively multiplayer online role-playing games is balancing. Having the choice to pick a character is always great even if you wanted to customise what they bring with them onto the battlefield but always remember good balancing means you might be stronger for some situations but always weaker in others. In Titanfall you have the option to choose one of three class of Titans, the nimble Strider, the all rounded Atlas, or the tank Ogre. Each handle differently with my personal favourite Strider class having a triple dash with the infinite dash power up. Compared to the Ogre who is built to withstand heavy amounts of damage unlike the Strider it only does a single dash but has an overshield power up meaning it can survive even more damage, an example of good balancing.

It takes a good player to notice this but a better player to work out how to change their loadout to lessen these cons to their classes to be able to stand a chance in battle. Do you go for a Vortex shield to catch any projectiles fired at you before throwing it back or do you go for the Electric Smoke to kill pilots and damage Titans at close range? Strider players like myself must be able to learn that dashing is their best friend when going up against tougher classes as you’ll avoid most of the incoming payload, whereas Ogres are sometimes better to hold defensive positions when playing domination or taking on Titans when outnumbered.

Titanfall Screen 3

Campaign Multiplayer

Many people have complained that Titanfall isn’t going to be right for them due to the fact there isn’t any campaign mode, the kind with a solo/co-op experience with levels, story and an epic battle as the climax. The campaign multiplayer is a great mode which still incorporates all the above but playable with the other players, think of a war with every solider being played by another player. Amongst these we’re given our grunts and field captains who drive the story forward as well as A.I controlled Titans to tackle at the start of every level unlike the core multiplayer mode. The Story is dictated to you in the pre game lobby screen whilst you’re changing your loadouts and waiting for people to join. You start off playing the IMC side of the battle for the Frontier before switching to the resistant Militia in this 2-part story seeing it from both sides which is a nice touch, similar to the game Brink. Unlike Brink, the story is already set and whether you win or lose each chapter the outcome will be the same story-wise and nothing you do is contextual. Compared to a war scene in any of the Halo games what you do will progress the mission, whether it be destroying a group of enemies or taking down a shield to be able to continue, in Titanfall even though you’re capturing hardpoints or destroying masses of Titans, win or lose the story won’t change.

I don’t have a problem with this mode, in fact I wish I could have understood more from it. By this I mean anyone who’s played campaign multiplayer knows that during each chapter there’s story still going on within the picture-in-picture in the top of your screen and voiceovers. Respawn have made such an action packed engaging game that you’ll forget to care what drama might be happening in the background whilst you’re diving from a building onto the back of a Titan avoiding all incoming rockets, hitting cloak and tearing open a Titan’s hatch, shooting inside before dismounting the exploding metallic beast for the win. I’d love to be able to know what was happing behind the scenes of these battles in-between the lobby screen and the post lobby screen, but too much awesome wall running, Titan rodeo’ing and drop kicking got in the way.

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Burn Cards

I’ve played my fair share of online multiplayer games to be able to say kill streak rewards and character perks aren’t exactly a balanced feature even though they try hard to be. Using Call of Duty for example I’ve levelled up to a point in every game where I’ve unlocked something that’ll always give me the advantage over the newer players even if we’re at the same skill level when it comes to games. Titanfall does something different with Burn Cards which is a unique approach to having perks but also keeping the game fair. Burn cards are rewarded to players doing different challenges but most importantly are handed out indiscriminately. You’ll find cards that give you a different weapon, a faster boost to your next Titan or even faster movement but most importantly these cards are expended after activating it and only last as long as you’re alive. With only 3 slots to fill with burn cards per game it adds a tactical approach to every match you’ll play. With the random cards you’ll come across even the newer players might get the chance to call down an instant Titan at the start of the match.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, 3 of my favourite things that has made Titanfall so enjoyable and different to any other shooter out there. The game is worth every hard earned penny and has masses of replayability. With a season pass and new content in the near future Titanfall will only get better. With great balancing every game you’ll play would be different all with memorable moments you’ll share amongst peers at the water cooler or post up online with the Xbox One’s DVR and upload feature. And to think people were worried about having 6 verses 6. We’re in good hands!

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Today, Microsoft finally released Office for the iPad.

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This is what Microsoft posted on their blog today:

Today in San Francisco, we made some exciting announcements about our company’s mobile first, cloud first approach. Office played a big part in today’s news. Over a billion people on the planet use Microsoft Office to get more done at work and at home. Every day we hear from you how important it is to have a great productivity experience on all the devices you use. We take that very seriously – we know that means you want the authentic experience of Office, made right for the device you’re using.  Whether you’re creating an Excel spreadsheet on your tablet, authoring a Word document in the browser or making edits to a PowerPoint on your phone, you want the great Office experience you love, everywhere you are. Today, we unveiled Office for iPad® – specifically Word, PowerPoint and Excel. But this isn’t simply Office on another device. We thought a lot about what people want to do when they’re on their tablet, iPad functionality, and touch-first when we were building Office for iPad. We reimagined Office on the iPad, while retaining what people love about Office. We hope you’ll be as pleased with the results as we are. In the future, we will bring Office apps to the Windows Store and other popular platforms. In addition to Office for iPad, we’ve gone a step further in our mobile first and cloud first approach, and like Windows Phone, we’ve now made Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones available for free.  You can read more about how we’re expanding Office across devices below.

We know you’ve been wanting it, and starting today, you can download Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad from the App Store.  The apps have the robust capabilities and familiar look and feel that is unmistakably Office, while offering a fantastic touch experience built from the ground up for iPad.  With the free versions of the apps, you can read your Word documents, view your Excel data and present with PowerPoint. Your documents will look as good as they do on your PC and Mac, and better than ever on your iPad.  With an Office 365 subscription, you can edit and create new documents with the iPad. When you edit a document, you can be sure that content and formatting will be maintained across Office on PC, Mac, tablet and phone. And, you always have access to your up-to-date documents in OneDrive and OneDrive for Business.

Are you going to use Office for iPad?

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Xbox announced the kick-off of the “Kinect Sports Rivals World Championship,” the first ever global motion-sports competition. The “Kinect Sports Rivals World Championship” will challenge players from around the world who have honed their “Kinect Sports Rivals” gameplay skills and award the grand prize winner with $10,000 in cash and a trip of a lifetime to one of four amazing destinations: a water sports adventure in Bora Bora, walking the Great Wall of China, trekking to Machu Picchu, or skiing the Swiss Alps.

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Additional prizes include:

  • 2nd Place:  USD $5,000
  • 3rd Place:  USD $2,500
  • 4th Place:  USD $1,000
  • 5th – 11th Place:  USD $500 each

The “Kinect Sports Rivals World Championship” will begin online on 11th April in the U.K., France and Germany (8th April in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Brazil) as competitors go head-to-head in the semi-final round of the global competition online.

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It will culminate with a live, in-person final championship this July at the San Diego Comic-Con, where top finalists from each participating country will battle for their country’s glory and the grand prize.

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Starting today, players who want to enter the “Kinect Sports Rivals World Championship” can register here. Additional details, including rules and restrictions, about the “Kinect Sports Rivals World Championship” can be found on Xbox.com.

Next month sees Microsoft releasing Kinect Sports Rivals on the Xbox One, and I recently had the chance to visit to Rare where I created my very own Champion.

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Kinect Sports Rivals is the next generation of the best-selling Kinect franchise, Kinect Sports, that brings your favourite sports back in re-imagined ways, and delivers new sports and events made possible only with Xbox One’s revolutionary technology. Kinect Sports Rivals puts you in the game like never before, tracks your movements and expressions with incredible accuracy, and offers never-ending competition with your friends and rivals.

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The all-new Kinect instantly scans and creates a stylized digital version of you, your Champion, then drops your virtual athlete into the ever-evolving world of Kinect Sports Rivals. Compete in a world full of competitors on one of three global teams, each with its own philosophy and playing style. As you enter into competitions with players from around the world, Xbox One uses the power of the Cloud to create an always-evolving experience that responds to how you, the champion of the game, play.

Kinect Sports Rivals contains 6 game experiences : bowling, shooting, climbing, soccer, wake racing and tennis. You can play against the computer, your friends, or even split-screen.

Harry is one of the team at Rare working on Kinect Sports Rivals and he talked me through the process of creating my very own champion. Over to Harry:

You can also check out my interview with Kinect Sports Rivals Executive Producer Danny Issac here.

Kinect Sports Rivals will be released on the Xbox One on April 11th.

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