Microsoft

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For anyone that’s played Titanfall on PC, Xbox 360 and/or Xbox One already knows that the 15 maps that already comes with the game has quite the variety as it is. We all have our favourites, whether you’re into your open and wide playgrounds for Titan and sniper heavy duals, to my personal favourite tighter built up arenas to show off your parkour abilities. The Expedition DLC adds another 3 maps into the mix that offer even more ways to take down your opponents in a variety of ways.

Runoff

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Runoff is set at a water collection and treatment facility that offers a tighter arena for Titans to engage in combat. More importantly it’s the first map in the whole game that really offers vertical Titan fights. As players might be storming the water logged tunnels on ground level you could be ambushed from players on the urban built factories above. This map is medium sized compared to the others.

I particularly enjoyed playing Last Titan Standing on Runoff as the tight corners and vertical advantages with rat runs beneath made tactical approaches and escapes work well.
(A cross between the maps Angel City and Smuggler’s Cove)

Swampland

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Swampland is a map that features a remote water processing facility amongst ancient ruins. Probably more known as the map with trees you can wall run and hang from, Swampland is large and open with a lot of foliage for all your long distant fire fighting needs. This map is extra large and offers a lot of height and cover above.

This map was great for Attrition as you have many vantage spots on top of the trees which are great for sniping, the ancient ruins for your close range pilot battles and vast open forestation for Titan fights between the trees.

(A cross between the maps Boneyard and Lagoon)

War Games

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War Games is set as a pilot certification simulator training session. With the unique opening cut scene showing the start up sequence entering virtual reality War Games looks and feels like VR through and through. If you’ve played the game’s training mode you’ll notice the same art style of bright blue and orange neon textures with purposely-placed parkour walls for convenient wall running. This map is large and is perfect for pilots to show off their abilities to traverse across the arena.

Playing Hardpoint Domination on this map was by far the most enjoyable game mode. With a variety of ways to approach the Hardpoints all with various vantage spots to defend them within, this game mode played differently every time I played War Games.
(A cross between the maps Colony and Overlook)

Expedition Variety Pack and Expedition Attrition are 2 playlists you can choose to play if you fancy just playing the 3 maps on rotation. These, the DLC and the added recent update have given more to the Titanfall experience and we await to see what’s next as part of the Season Pass. For the stand alone price for the pack some players out there that are use to getting 4 maps and an added weapon and game mode like in Call of Duty would probably find this DLC lacking on the content front. But remember what Respawn are giving you is tried and tested perfected maps that offer a unique experience with every playthrough and added variety.

Today Microsoft has announced a new Surface tablet designed to “take away the conflict” between choosing a laptop or tablet called the Surface Pro 3.

Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3 has a 12-inch screen, this is the largest yet in Microsoft’s line of tablet computers, with a resolution of 2160×1440. It’s 9.1mm thick and weighs 800 grams.

“This is the tablet that can replace your laptop,” Microsoft’s Panos Panay said.

The Surface Pro 3 uses an Intel Core i7 processor, giving it 10 percent better performance than Surface Pro 2.

The tablet will have greater battery life than previous Surface Pro models and USB 3.0 inputs, and its own line of thinner typing covers.

One of the key things that Microsoft wants to push with the Surface Pro 3 is that it can serve as a genuine laptop replacement , and as such, the hinge to which keyboard covers are connected has been redesigned for comfortable, on-lap functionality.

Display

Sleeker and less weighty, the Surface Pro 3 also packs a larger display, having been bumped from 10.6 inches in diameter to its new 12-inch set-up. This improved display real estate makes for much better multitasking, and with a 3:2 aspect ratio and better contrast ratio over a 2160 x 1440 resolution, you’ve got a QHD display that’ll showcase the Windows software and apps in all their beauty.

Hardware

The Surface Pro 3 includes an Intel Core I& processor, which not only renders the tablet as the thinnest Intel Core product available on the market, but also offers a 10 percent bump in performance over the Surface Pro 2.

Stylus

The Surface Pro 3 has a new stylus that feels more natural than before. It has the same thickness as a normal everyday pen – or pencil – and has a ton of cool tricks up its sleeve. For starters, double clicking the pen wakes up the device so you can note down your ideas in a snap. Apart from the aforementioned party trick, it’s more natural to use, and removes lag drastically, making it a perfect tool for writing down ideas and thoughts.

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Accessories

Surface Pro Type Cover

Here is the new Type Cover for the Surface Pro 3

Price and Release Date

The Surface Pro 3 goes on sale in the US and Canada on 20th June is available to pre-order right now starting at $799, and is available in Core i3, i5 and i7 options. The International release of the Surface Pro 3 is the end of August.

The detailed pricing of the Surface Pro 3 is as follows

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Today 343 Industries has posted the official name for Halo 5 it will be called Halo 5 – Guardians coming out Fall of 2015 for Xbox One.
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“Any time you transition to a new platform, there is the opportunity to look at things with a new perspective,” wrote 343′s GM Bonnie Ross wrote a post over on Xbox Wire about Halo 5 Guardians. “For us at 343 Industries, the launch of the Xbox One was an opportunity to think about what stories we wanted to tell, how to tell them, and how best to push the Halo franchise to showcase the platform. And maybe, most importantly, combining our passion for Halo with the vocal and informative input from our fans.

“Halo isn’t simply a perennial game franchise, it’s a part of the Xbox platform itself,” she continued. “In terms of innovation and ideation, it’s sometimes important to people who might not even play Halo. In the past, Halo games have pushed the Xbox forward, showcasing the console and its ecosystem in entertaining and innovative ways. Making a Halo game that runs at 60 frames per second, on dedicated servers, with the scope, features and scale we’ve been dreaming of for more than a decade, is non-trivial. It’s a task that we, at 343 Industries, are taking very seriously to ensure we deliver the Halo game that fans deserve, and a game that is built from the ground up for Xbox One.

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“I’m happy to reveal that Halo 5: Guardians, the next installment in the legendary saga of the Master Chief, will launch on Xbox One in fall of 2015. In the tradition of every Halo game since its debut in 2001, it is a massive and exciting project.”

Ross promised to give further details on the game, and the Halo TV series tie-in, at the Xbox E3 Media Briefing next month in LA, but she did say that Halo 5: Guardians was “a bigger effort than Halo 4. That applies to the content and scope of the game, as well as the technology in what’s now a brand new and more powerful engine. Certainly there are some core elements carried over from prior games, but we’ve invested a huge effort in retooling our tech to take full advantage of the Xbox One’s hardware and ecosystem to create worlds and experiences worthy of next-gen.”

Today Microsoft also announced the Xbox Live Games with Gold programme, which will begin for Xbox One in June with two titles – Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. The two Xbox 360 titles will be Dark Souls and Charlie Murder, and as a one-off bonus, a third title – Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition.

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It means that with a Gold subscription you will now presumably get four games free per month – two for Xbox 360 and two for Xbox One.

Microsoft just done a new major reversal comes today in the form of a Kinect-less Xbox One. This comes after Microsoft repeatedly said that Kinect is an “integral part of the Xbox One experience”.

Xbox One without Kinect

The announcement is made in a post on Xbox Wire titled “Delivering More Choices for Fans.” Beginning 9th June, users in all markets will be able to purchase the Xbox One without the Kinect at £349 / €399/ $399.

Microsoft will sell a standalone Kinect sensor for Xbox One later for people that want a Kinect in the future.

What do you think about Microsoft doing Xbox One without the Kinect.

Here are the times of the Press Conferences for this years E3 event, we will be at all the events getting hands on, with all the new games and more. We got interviews and more already lined up for you all here at Connected Digital World.

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Here are the Press Conferences Times for this years E3 event

Microsoft   Monday, 9th June at 9:30 am PT, 12.30pm (ET), 5.30pm (BST)  
EA   Monday, 9th June at 1pm PT, 4pm (ET), 9pm (BST)  
Ubisoft   Monday 9th June at 3pm PT, 6pm (ET),11pm (BST)  
Sony   Monday, 9th June 9 at 6pm PT,9pm (ET) . Tuesday 10th June 2am (BST)  
Nintendo   Tuesday, 10th June at 9am PT, 12pm (ET), 5pm (BST)

With E3 is just a few short weeks away, Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox E3 2014 Media Briefing, titled Xbox: Game On, will take place Monday, 9th June beginning at 9:30 a.m. PDT.

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Xbox will look at previously announced games to trailers for Xbox unannounced games coming in 2014 and beyond. Also Microsoft will show what Master Chief has got up his sleeve with the new Halo from 343 Industries.

You can stream Xbox: Game On live beginning on 9th June at 9:00 a.m. PDT with our pre-show coverage on Xbox.com, Xbox Live, and Windows Phone globally.

You can also watch Xbox: Game On on Spike TV in the U.S. and Canada at 9:30 a.m. PDT.

Over the last year you might have heard about a game called Strike Suit Zero that has been available on the PC and playable using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

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This game is now available on more formats since the debut on the PC, sadly not available in VR, but is still a great port to the Xbox One. Strike Suit Zero : Directors Cut is an up to date space combat simulation game very similar to the classic and retro Elite, X-Wing and Tie Fighter games. I grew up playing these titles using a joystick peripheral and was a bit sceptical if this same genre of game would work as well with a control pad with analogue sticks. But what makes Strike Suit Zero different is actually in the name itself, the Strike Suit allowing you to transform from a ship into a hulking suit of space armour, think Zone of the Enders. Switching from Pursuit Mode (speed and power) to Strike mode (a powerful, highly manoeuvrable combat mode) is the game’s initial selling point and this certainly won’t let you down.

For anyone that hasn’t played a similar genre game before you could refer to any aerial dogfighting games out there, swapping planes for robust nimble space ships, replacing the environments and clouds with space, asteroids and floating debris, and think of Star Wars’ epic space battles. Once you can picture this image throw a mechanical suit into the mix along with a colourful and vibrant universe. Indeed, Strike Suit Zero is personally up there in the most recent beautiful and colourful games this year with your missiles and the enemy’s explosions being your own personal light show. It’s good to get away from the next-gen grey and brown colour schemes and this game didn’t make that easy decision to be generic like that.

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When you load up the Xbox One version you’d be greeted with probably more button layouts than you could imagine. I found it a little difficult remembering what button did what exactly and with the quick onscreen prompts suggesting new moves during the tutorial it was easy to overlook which actually would put you at a disadvantage if you forget said new moves. For instance pressing up on the d-pad switches your guns from alternately firing to both firing simultaneously taking down enemies quicker, using more weapon energy but this input doesn’t appear in the controller layout. Another big teething problem was not being able to bind the controls to see fit for my preferred preference of play. I’d have liked to swap the analogue stick’s ‘Yaw’ and ‘Roll’ movements without choosing a different layout in the process but that’s the price we pay for console gaming as opposed to PC.

Steep learning curve aside and a few missions further into the game, Strike Suit Zero features fast paced action fights against countless foes and eventually cruiser ships that come in titanic shapes and sizes. The game doesn’t stop you from enjoying such epic battles from the start right through to the end. With a great soundtrack, a perfect fit for the space and cyber punk meets Japanese mech anime-like battles you’ll encounter, the music just adds to that level of immersive action.

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This version of the game is the Director’s Cut version of the game that was previously already out and in comparison to the original this features a next-gen graphical overhaul, restructured campaign and additional content which makes a great bundle for the price. Other than the lengthy campaign, which has several difficulties to replay on for that extra challenge upon completion, you also get the Heroes of the Fleet campaign that recreates battles that are part of the backstory in a simulation environment narrated by your ship’s A.I explaining what each scenario played out like. The Director’s Cut also features two additional Strike Suits all designed by the renowned mechanical design engineer Junji Okubo who worked one Appleseed: Ex Machina and Steel Battalion.

Altogether Strike Suit Zero : Directors Cut was a great bit of nostalgia harking back to the days of space dogfighting games I use to play and it goes to show that this genre is still worthy in today’s current market. The fact you’re getting more than the base game and loads of replayable features including punishing difficulty settings this is one game you’re getting your money’s worth with.

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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.

CDW Review Microsoft Wireless Mobile 1850 Mouse - 1

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.

CDW Review Microsoft Wireless Mobile 1850 Mouse - 2

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.

CDW Review Microsoft Wireless Mobile 1850 Mouse - 3

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).

CDW Review Microsoft Wireless Mobile 1850 Mouse - 4

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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This years entry to the Magic franchise. Have they got it right this time?

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