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Review

If you have a weak TV aerial signal you might want to consider using a signal booster, so here is our two minute review of One for All TV Signal Booster.

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Designed to boost your TV and Radio reception in poor signal areas, amplifying the signal by 23dB and ensuring the maximum number of channels are available to choose from.

One For All Signal Boosters have a built in 3G/4G LTE block filter to protect your TV/set-top box (STB) against interference from smartphones, tablets and transmitters.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the booster, a manual, a power supply and some sticky feet.

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A Closer Look

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Final Thoughts

If you need a TV aerial signal booster, you really can’t get much more simple than this one – you literally just plug it in and that’s it, it’s works straight out of the box.

Once connected to a power socket, you just connected the original aerial cable into the booster and then connect another cable from the booster to the TV – simple!

I noticed an immediate increase in the number of channels my TV could pick up and the ones it already had were also considerably more stable than they had been previously.

The price of the TV Signal Booster from One for All is £9.99, so it’s a lot cheaper than replacing your aerial.

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To learn more, visit the One for All Aerials website.

If you often feel as though you aren’t being punished enough for simply progressing through a game’s storyline of late, or like many others, really got stuck into the excellent Bloodborne; then prepare to be castigated again. From Software is back, in a sense, to give us all another kick in the gaming teeth with the re-mastered Dark Souls II. Including all the previous DLC, running at 60fps and hopefully looking a little more refined, we could well be on to a winner here.

Whilst it certainly eases you in a little more gently, Dark Souls II still packs a wallop if you attempt to play it like any other game. Apparently completely forgetting what game I was playing, as soon as I gained control of my character, (after what still looked like an incredibly high budget intro scene many years on) I attempted to explore the wilderness stretching out before me. It wasn’t long before I’d found my first enemy, a giant troll looking character that, inevitably, beat me into submission several soul crushing times. I conceded defeat, and ruefully went about my business following the implied ‘proper’ way to go. From then on, it was a lot easier, there were instructions to heed, little notes informing you of the controls and many susceptible enemies in weak, vulnerable formations that don’t really occur ever again. I savoured this bit whilst it lasted, slowly remembering the horrors that yet await me.

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Fight however you want, you’ll still die

After some nervous foraging and a visit to a disparate warrior complaining nervously about a stone statue blocking the path, I arrived in the hub town of Majula. A place with several branching paths, an unnervingly large pit complete with visible treasure, and a merchant selling a ring to reduce fall damage. I didn’t trust him or the pit, so I left. Oddly serene, Majula instantly felt welcoming due to its soft, never-ending sunset and mostly safe setting. Save for a few small, surprisingly aggressive pig resembling creatures that is. Once again, I will point out is that there is a very helpful woman who resides here, remaining as the only place where you may level up.

Veterans of the series will know exactly what to expect in terms of the combat mechanics, every move and decision you make during combat, even against the lesser foes, could spell disaster. It’s all about learning your opponent’s patterns and exploiting their occasionally wonky AI with your own timing and stamina management. Bosses are of their own unique styles and of course, possess challenges far beyond what you’ve come to face. Once you finally manage to slay one however, the elation is incomparable, until, much like many other RPG’s, they turn up as ‘normal’ enemies… Unlike how it originally arrived on the last gen consoles, Scholar of the First Sin runs at a silky 60fps now. Fortunately for us, this means less screaming at the game when it used to diddle us out of a few crucial frames during a particularly vicious battle in the past. Now if you die, it’s quite likely your own impatient fault!

The basic mechanics of the original release still remain of course, resting at a camp fire, you can fast travel to any other unlocked camp fire without any form of either payment nor punishment. Due to the layout of the world map, and all of its different routes and avenues to explore, you really don’t want to be wandering all the way back. Especially so when you consider that in this version, Scholar of the First Sin, enemy placements and even archetypes have been tinkered with, giving those who’ve already given the game a good seeing to, something unexpected to come across. Plus it makes the frequent and inevitable return trips to Manjula significantly less painful!

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Everybody likes dragons

As before, numerous deaths will whittle away at your maximum health bar, up to 50% in fact; to replenish that lost health, you’ll have to use a human effigy, which are rare. Of course, the counter to this being that you can quell the amount of enemies in an area by repeatedly beating them to a pulp; whilst some may argue against this, I’ll take it. The last thing you need whilst stuck on an already, inherently difficult boss, is to either attempt to kill the horde of enemies along the way, or attempt to leg it past them, each and every time. For those, still on the fence regarding the controlled respawns, there is an item just for you that you can burn at a camp fire which will spawn more deadly variants to battle.

Whilst a player new to the series is always going to experience difficulties with a game like this, certain design choices don’t help along the way either. The menus, whilst archaic in looks, are filled with many, many stats that are going to go straight over most newcomers heads. Alongside this, items you acquire and come across are not named in any relative fashion to what you might expect of a traditional RPG. During the create a character stage, you are offered to pick one item from a list of gifts, most of which, inevitably sound useless yet presumably have a hidden function, accessible later in the game. I appreciate that the Dark Souls series has a reputation to uphold, but increasing the user base must also be of a benefit? I for one, would not be put off via the sheer difficulty of the game itself, but rather having to spend a few hours looking up what each item does, when you can use it and why. Some items, thankfully, are more readily accessible nearer the start of the game now, such as the dull ember, a minor health potion essentially. This for many will be a blessing when this time around; you only start off with one Estus flask.

Dark Souls II was never the prettiest game on the previous generation of consoles; the lighting issues alone were enough to irritate me, never mind the almost ‘rough’ looking finish the game shipped with. The spruced up current gen version certainly improves the majority of the games graphical imperfections, yet it’s of no match to any game designed from the ground up for current hardware. Torches seem more useful this time around, whereas before they were recommended by the game, yet for me at least they held little merit. Now they illuminate dark areas appropriately, casting shadows and the like, however I’d still take a shield in its place!

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Pretty sure you can guess which character is yours…

Online play, once again makes its return with players able to invade other peoples games, help them out or just add a further source of difficulty. The written notes also make a return, either signifying danger or, depending on the player, giving ‘helpful’ hints to others. Entering a certain covenant can also help protect you against these threats should the need arise, or you can play in offline mode to help limit game invasions, at the downside of missing out on what can make this franchise so unique.

Incorporating the DLC and tweaking item and enemy placements will grant even more playtime than the originals already healthy dosage. Newcomers can easily expect at least 60 hours out of it, and fans of the previous version will no doubt find any excuse to give it another run through, especially if they missed out on the DLC before. Whatever you might think of the Dark Souls series, this game isn’t going to change your opinion. If you’ve played and enjoyed the others, you’ll feel right at home; yes it undoubtedly improves on the last gen release with multiple benefits, yet as you might expect, it won’t hold a torch to Bloodborne.

I certainly couldn’t rank myself among one of The Evil Within’s biggest fans. I’m an old school survival horror fan and I know it. But the reliance on action and upgrades did nothing to excite me whatsoever in The Evil Within. The Assignment is the first of a two part story driven DLC that follows the story of Juli Kidman.

Gameplay takes a different approach from the action packed style of the main game and instead focuses attention entirely on stealth. Your only weapons are cover, distractions and the occasional attack that you can perform only when an enemy is looking away from you. You will absolutely be relying on avoiding engagements in The Assignment.

For the most part I preferred the pace of gameplay to the main game. Rather than wondering where the next upgrade was coming from and being required to kill all enemies before progressing I was instead reduced to crawling behind flower beds and sneaking through vents – where would video games be without vents? Generally speaking this provided a much more tense experience knowing full well that I couldn’t deal with the enemies if they discovered me.

Although to help her with these limitations Juli has a couple of all important improvements over Sebastian. The most obvious of which is probably her ability to regenerate health allowing her to say no to drugs and completely disregard syringes. Her other bonus is her ability to move better than Sebastian. After a few brief seconds of running Juli doesn’t have the need to bend over, grab her knees and breath as if she was just recovered from a lake – thankfully.

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Her abilities are mitigated somewhat, however, by certain aspects of The Assignment’s design. While regenerating health would have been an unbelievable blessing during the main game it has far less relevance in The Assignment. If you get detected it will most likely be a game over. Enemies don’t like giving up the chase and they are out to kill you plain and simple. More often than not you will only be able to withstand 1 attack with the second being a fatal blow. Where the main game has the time for you to search around for syringes it would have completely killed the pace in The Assignment. Regenerating health is a pacing design choice rather than an added ability and it helps the flow of gameplay along nicely.

The only source of frustration I found was in executing movements between cover or round corners. On occasion The Evil Within (main game and DLC alike) can be an absolute pig to handle. It’s not such a problem when you’ve got an arsenal of weapons to fall back on but it’s a huge problem when you don’t. You’re only so called weapon in The Assignment is your ability to run away and hide which is awkward to use when you get stuck on a door frame or stuck in cover. Everything is just a little bit too clumsy for the stealth to ever really work as well as you’d like.

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The 4 hours I played as Juli were brief but entirely enjoyable. The increased sense of vulnerability and threat from your lack of weapons is something that was clearly missing from the main game. It’s almost impossible to have any real fear of an enemy you kill with X amount of Y ammo. The gameplay can be a little frustrating with quick deaths and clunky controls but the tension is higher than in the main game because of it. With an interesting story to explore as the vaguely mysterious Juli (fantastically voice acted by Jennifer Carpenter) The Assignment is a great extension to The Evil Within.

A game that revolves entirely around boss fights isn’t an unknown concept. Titan Souls follows in the enormous shadow created by certain well known Colossus and concentrates solely on fighting bosses. You play as a nameless child armed with only a bow and a single arrow who decides that’s probably enough preparation to go and take on the big nasty things that live in the world. I’m pretty sure more arrows would have been useful.

Except you have a rather nifty trick at your disposal. Once you’ve fired your arrow you can recall it and fire it again. Useful. You can also roll around and sprint but that’s the limit to your Jedi powers. Playing a top down action game with this limited set of skills is Titan Souls’ key to success. The gameplay is, mechanically speaking, very limited. There are no complicated button sequences or level ups and stats. Just you, your few skills and the fact that everyone, you and the bosses, all have only 1 health.

The first few fights are reasonably forgiving, at least when you compare them to the rest of the game, and try in a limited way to introduce you to the core gameplay. Just like the action, Titan Souls is very simple conceptually. A series of bosses for you to kill. Each one has only 1 health and all you need to do is find its weak spot, not get hit and successfully attack it. Then you can move onto the next one.

But it’s amazing how much complexity can emerge from such simplicity. The bosses are all different enough that you never get the sense of repetition that could easily have ruined the game. The first few bosses are reasonably obvious although probably only after a death or two. The first splits when you attack so speed is key. Another needs you to lead the enemy around the map to reveal a weak spot. One needs you to use an environmental effect and so on.

There’s loads of variation and there’s never anything other than the simple mechanics and the same single health point system. There isn’t that one boss that has 5 health and you never briefly acquire jump boots or a jetpack. Titan Souls has an incredible robust and well designed set of mechanics and it’s confident enough to stay true to itself and use them effectively.

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But that also means that aside from the boss fights there is nothing else to do in Titan Souls. Which is great in one way but also limits its potential. I love that it stays focused and doesn’t get clouded by anything else. It really lets the battles shine. But the world ultimately acts as a hub for fighting bosses with no interaction at all. Random enemies would not have worked but there aren’t even people to talk to in the world.

There isn’t really much in the way of a story either. I understand the very deliberate design and the aim of the game to stay minimal and focused but the vague hint of a plot is underdeveloped and my playthrough suffered from it. It’s difficult to say it’s a problem because the entire point of Titan Souls is to avoid these complications but for those who want plot or character development you will probably be left wanting.

So too will those looking for longevity. There are some options that become available after completion but they really weren’t anything that appealed to me. In fact their inclusion seems to have had zero thought at all. One option disables your roll which is just ridiculous. It’s not fun on any level. There is challenge to be had from executing your attacks but the main challenge is from solving the bosses ‘puzzle’. Once you’ve completed them during your first playthrough there’s a lot less satisfaction to be had.

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Playing through and figuring out bosses is a fantastic experience. The gameplay is solid and finding a boss’s weakness isn’t patronizing. Executing your attacks and successfully defeating an enemy is tough and you know it from the sense of satisfaction you get after each victory. The deliberate trade off of plot and world design for solid mechanics is partially successful but it does leave Titan Souls with something missing.

There’s really no significant plot to wrap yourself in or characters to talk to. Personally I think it works but it’s not for everyone. Your nameless protagonist and the absence of complex plot elements really allow Titan Souls to focus on the minimalist concepts and mechanics. But without much replay value there isn’t a whole lot to do after the initial 5 hours or so.

Titan Souls is a short but satisfyingly challenging boss fest with tons of style and impeccably well crafted top down action gameplay. It may be short and lacking in some respects but my first playthrough was so satisfying it didn’t matter.

After the resounding success that was Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD my interest in Final Fantasy has certainly been renewed. It’s a shame making new titles doesn’t have the same effect but never the less Square finally seem to be getting the idea. Type-0 was originally released on the PSP back in 2011 and now you can enjoy it in the glory of HD. Sure there are other Final Fantasy games I’d rather see in HD but ah well.

Right from the word go Type-0 concentrates almost all of its attention on characterization and plot. And it doesn’t do a bad job of it either. For Final Fantasy the story is reasonably realistic and focuses on military campaigns rather than apocalyptic monsters and world ending magic. Type-0 certainly doesn’t hold back and isn’t afraid to lay the emotion on thick. The characters are just interesting enough to keep it all together but it’s cutscenes and the strong soundtrack that really sell the emotion.

The plot itself is much less interesting. It never develops into anything even close to complicated enough to really suck you in. There’s definitely some interesting characters and emotional set pieces but getting involved in the larger story takes too much effort without any real reward. There isn’t enough complexity to allow the connections with characters to become anything significant.

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Despite the undoubtedly good soundtrack that reminds us why we all love the music of Final Fantasy the visuals just aren’t good enough to let Type-0 feel at home on the big screen. Admittedly there’s only so much you can expect when coming from a PSP but it’s all too obvious that Type-0 doesn’t belong. It’s not just the visuals either that are low quality and dated but the controls and mechanics at the core of the game.

I regularly had to battle with the camera which constantly thought it knew better and decided to centre itself at will. More often than not pointing me away from my enemies and towards nothing at all interesting. It doesn’t complement the action well to be continuously fighting the camera and at times it became a significant problem.

The action itself is light and fast paced in a way only a Japanese game knows how. And Type-0 knows how to use it well. Battles are short but lively and always keep the excitement high. If you’re wanting fast paced, cinematic action then Type-0 doesn’t disappoint. There isn’t much in the way of depth so don’t expect much difficulty or strategy to become part of your fighting.

Favouring impossibly quick, and unnecessary, flips and rolls isn’t a problem at all but forgetting about adding any tactical depth to the fighting is a big turn off for me. There’s also a timing system that allows you to perform much stronger attacks with the use of a bit of precision but it’s no replacement for strategy. Although it does lend a sense of character connection and power when you get it just right.

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One of FFXIII-2’s biggest most ridiculous sins for me was enforcing the totally arbitrary time limit that forced you to chose what to do. For some reason Type-0 does the same thing, although it was technically made first. I absolutely hate exploring an area and knowing that I can’t complete everything just because the game says so. In something like XCOM were decisions are tactical fair enough. Here in an RPG having to miss sections of the game for no reason is just ridiculous. There’s no risk/reward, you just miss something no matter what you do.

Not all sections suffer from the time limit and when you’re left to enjoy and explore at your own pace the environments are well designed – at least enough that you feel there is a world here somewhere. Being an action based title there clearly wasn’t much in the way of priority given to exploration and world creation but during those moments Type-0 does a decent job of allowing you to enjoy the world.

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For me Type-0 has almost nothing I want in a Final Fantasy game. It favours button mashing and spectacle over thoughtful battles. It puts limits on the amount of extras you can complete in a single playthrough. The plot is solid but underdeveloped and doesn’t make enough use of the characters. There are also issues derived from Type-0’s PSP origins. The camera is awkward and rarely helps you see anything important. Plus visuals don’t feel like they received enough HD treatment to belong on consoles – which is particularly irritating considering what Square managed to do with the X/X-2 HD remaster.

Where Type-0 excels is perhaps the last place you might expect, in evoking emotion and making good use of a fully fledged soundtrack. The more realistic (everything is relative) story of war is met head on and I was surprised at how well it was represented. For a game usually concerned with demons and gods I was pleasantly surprised by Type-0’s fresh outlook.

Unfortunately there are too many missteps for me to forgive. I enjoyed the cutscenes, listening to the music and summons are definitely back on form but getting back to the gameplay drained any remaining enthusiasm. It’s too difficult to enjoy button mashing and get involved in the battles. A serious battles system would have done a lot to get me more involved. If you want fast, satisfying action, heaps of emotion and a simple plot Type-0 is your game. If you’re looking for a serious RPG sadly you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Not content with the current unforgiving onslaught of Assassin’s titles that do little to move the franchise forward Ubisoft now bring you Chronicles: China. Moving away from the intricate open worlds of full titles Chronicles is a 2D scroller set, rather obviously, in China. But Assassin’s Creed is Assassin’s Creed and try though I might to resist I still get hooked into every new game.

My biggest problem with the franchise is the lack of direction and seemingly zero intention of pursuing the ultimate ending we are assured is planned. It definitely seems the primary goal is to squeeze games out at any cost. The move into a 2D world feels more like this than ever. There’s really very little attempt at a plot other than a token reason for you to go around assassinating certain people to retrieve an item. Fair enough I wasn’t expecting much in the way of plot for a 2D scroller but there’s little to no attempt at injecting the larger Assassin’s Creed world around Chronicles. It’s very much a stand alone addition with little connection to the wider story and lore. Other than the fact our protagonist was trained by Ezio. Again. Apparently.

Considering gameplay is completely different to anything else we’ve seen before it does a surprisingly good job of mimicking the 3D world. Most of your time is spent sneaking around to slip past guards or killing them silently. There’s also the opportunity for open fights should you want them. The lack of depth that a 3D world allows does become a problem before too long though. Even during some full AC titles the missions can become repetitive but with the limited possibilities to either slink into the background or hide in a hay bale action quickly becomes repetitive.

This isn’t helped by the fact that guards are really quite dense. And I’m talking by AC standards. There are convenient sight lines strutting from every guards face that allow you to sneak past easily – which isn’t hard given that all the guards seem to be badly short sighted. It’s fun for a while even if it is a little on the easy side but after an hour or so I expected a ramp in difficulty. Unfortunately the mechanics are just so limited that there isn’t any room for a difficult ramp.

Right up to the end of the game puzzles and solutions are still exactly the same. There’s a real opportunity for a game that makes you think within the AC world. I’m thinking Hitman GO but Assassin’s Creed. As it happens there wasn’t even enough challenge and different puzzles to keep me interested for the 5 hours of the game.

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Ironically the most fun I had goes completely against the thinking game and was actually during the fighting or escape scenes. Hopping from ledge to ledge, back ejecting and diving from impossible heights was when Chronicles came to life. It’s also when it best mimicked one of its 3D counterparts. It’s the last place I expected to find enjoyment but there it was.

The combat is appropriately simple but satisfying too. I was always a fan of AC when it’s combat was simple and basically made you feel like a complete badass. With a few elegantly thrown punches and high kicks your foes are cut down. It’s not challenging but it is fun. Sadly just like the rest of the game there isn’t space for expansion or evolution of mechanics as the game progresses. Before the end the magic had worn off.

One thing Chronicles definitely has going for it right up to the end is style. There is a gorgeous Asian artwork style to blood splatters when you take enemies out and cutscenes look like living paintings. Chronicles looks undeniably good throughout.

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But it’s difficult to remain interested in a game that shamelessly does nothing to engage the player. The completely missed opportunity for a puzzle game or an expanded version of the management style mini games within the full titles baffles me. I cannot see why Ubisoft opted for this instead. Decent stealth puzzles with a real challenge would have been infinitely more desirable than a four hour guard slaughter with very limited mechanics.

At only 4 or 5 hours long Chronicles still gets boring before the end. Chronicles really just feels like another needless AC tie in that forgets the wider franchise. It’s not that it’s a bad game and I certainly had fun at points. There just isn’t enough interesting gameplay or plot in chronicles to really get involved.

Whilst certainly on a roll from the past two episodes, it’s now the time of the tricky third album. Can Telltale pull it out the bag and expand on the ever intriguing storyline?

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Brothers, but for how long?

Of course they can, once again; as soon as the infallible intro music has run its course, you’re in for another couple of hours’ worth of relentlessly capturing gameplay. Whilst of course the mechanics haven’t been altered, it still feels like fresh new content, mostly in part due to the addictive narrative styling of the writers. As is evident from the teasers, and the previous episodes ‘next time on…’ section, one of the first few sequences pits you up against a fabled dragon in another of Asher’s well-choreographed action scenes. Not only are there choices aplenty, but several have meaningful consequences that you might well not have the foresight to see.

As per usual, each of the Forrester’s storylines are intertwined with excellent pacing and depth. No sooner have you reached yet another inevitable stumbling block for the poor House Forrester, when the arch twists and turns before presenting another character embroiled in their own plight. The focus on this episode seems geared much more towards the potential of intertwined goals from each member than before. Characters will reference one another’s tasks whilst not so subtly implying that the outcome of which will have meaningful consequences on one another.

Whilst there are still the infamous QTE fight scenes, they’re handled with much more respect to the action this time around. It admittedly helps that the fights you engage in are often with characters that are much more meaningful than generic guards. Emotions will be high as you stick up for friends and attempt to follow vows, even they do contradict what you might be feeling at the time. The developers have also done an excellent job of making the QTE’s less arduous and seemingly more related to what’s happening on screen. A lunge for a blade feels a lot more natural this time around for example.

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Surprise!

It’s not only the conversations that embed problematic decisions anymore either. Several times during one of the excellently composed fight scenes, you are presented with an opportunity to decide where on your opponent to strike, do you show them mercy, or are the atrocities they’ve committed too large to ignore?

Opportunities to explore your surroundings appear to be less and less available as the season progresses, but whereas before this might’ve been a problem, now it simply help the game flow and lets it dictate its own pace. There’ll be the odd section where you can have yourself a little wander and muse about the surroundings, but for the most part, it’s all about the brutal conversations and their dreaded repercussions.

Without trying to give too much away, things are still dire for House Forrester. The injured Rodrick steals the scenes most often with his dwindling grasp of Ironwrath due to the invasion of the Whitehills; humility and self-preservation being the forefront of his set of decisions. Asher and his companions still struggle with regards of finding an army who’ll answer the call and Mira gets progressively fleshed out as she interacts with members of the Lannister family; inevitably becoming torn between the obvious two powerhouses. Gared continues his goal of searching for the mythical North Grove at the bequest of the fallen, and of course has numerous interactions with a certain Mr. Snow. You get the feeling that this is certainly the midpoint of the season due to all the trails being fully explored and realised; whilst this does come at the cost of potential newer narrative arch’s, it does bring aboout the plight of each characters struggles sinking in.

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A tree worthy of nightmares

Despite the ever enjoyable writing and story-lines, the technical side of things isn’t nearly as polished. The brushed art style looks discernibly great at times, whereas in others, it’s starting to show its age. Some character animations are a little stiff and aside from the fight scenes, it can look a tad awkward. The frame rate can suffer at times too, as can the lip synching, it’s not a huge problem, but it’s certainly noticeable.

The amounts of difficult and thought-provoking choices are definitely a forte of the writers and there’s no sign of them slowing down anytime soon. Episode three continues the trend of the series and shows once again that great writing alone, can make a great game.

With the giant void left by the undeniably disappointing city builder that shall remain unnamed (*cough* Sim City *cough*) I for one was left with an itch to scratch. Luckily the lovely people over at Colossal Order have just the answer for us. Moving forward from the great Cities in Motion games they decided to have a go at a fully fledged city builder. All be it winner of the ‘Most Awkwardly Named Game 2015’ award.

Taking your first steps into a city can be an intimidating experience, particularly if tutorials are over intrusive or under developed. There’s a lot of tools and a lot to learn. Across the bottom of the screen is a toolbar that contains all the stuff you need to create your city. Initially there is only a limited selection for you to play with. As your population grows more tools become available and the pacing is just perfect.

Features like global policies that can reduce power consumption or increase fire safety are introduced at a rate that never feels like a bombardment. The same goes for buildings and services. Rather than a sit down and read endless pop-ups style tutorial features are gradually introduced so that only small explanations are needed at each stage. It really lets you get hooked even during those often tedious early learning stages.

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Another reason Skylines is so fun straight from the start is that each and every tool you use is so effortless. From square one I created a dual carriageway with streets set to one way traffic, a junction and a satisfyingly freeform residential block. I didn’t get stuck or have to continuously remove and relay sections of the road. I just clicked on the tool and started building. I did all this in the first 5 minutes of gameplay.

There’s a zone system used that is very similar to everyone’s favourite Sim City game. But again the tools are there for you to make your life easy. Streets come ready equipped with grids attached that you can either paint one square at a time, use a paint brush tool or even a fill tool to create entire blocks easily. Then waiting just a little time everything comes to life as buildings are erected and citizens go about their daily lives.

Linking up electricity and water facilities is satisfyingly simple too. Once you’ve created your water pump each property will need connecting up with pipes. Once again in the interest of user friendliness pipes have a decent sized radius around them and any areas within it will have sewage pumped away and fresh water in. Pylons too are needed to connect each area to your power plants but it is assumed that cables come included to transfer the power locally so you don’t need to spend hours connecting every single building. In fact my little town had power, water and sewage needs sorted within minutes. Even 20 minutes in I had a decent little town starting to thrive.

All this simplicity isn’t to imply that Skylines isn’t complex. Underneath the user friendly interface there are a set of menus and tables that reveal some of the numbers that lie beneath. Finances, happiness, healthcare, education, crime and transport are all detailed enough to make Skylines worthy of any city building fan. That swing meter balancing act is calculated just as well as the intentionally paced introduction of tools.

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Another major victory for Skylines is the potential size of your city. At first appearance it looks to be OK. Nothing special but probably about the same size as Sim City allowed. But, and it’s a giant unmissable BUT, Skylines allows you to expand and include multiple city-sized tiles in one giant city. So once you’re city is big enough, you can expand and make it bigger. Rather than be forced to stop and never play again.

Once your city grows the districting tool starts to become very important. It allows you to paint an area, select the relevant policies and even allows you to select an industrial specialization. For example, you can make an industrial zone agricultural or just leave it general. Each area is automatically given a realistic sounding name and referencing different parts of your city by districts adds a nice layer of realism.

The only thing that some may not like is the slightly sandbox style, especially later in the game. Once the learning curve and introduction of tools is done with there are very little objectives to give you direction. If you’re quite happy developing a city and have enough self motivation to keep going then Skylines will not be a problem. It definitely provides you with enough space and tools to create whatever city you like. But those looking for an objective driven experience may be left wanting. For many the sandbox way will be a plus point but everyone else optional objectives to follow wouldn’t have done any harm.

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Skylines knows what other games have done wrong and pulls no punches in getting it absolutely right. Colossal Order also have more than their fair share of experience working with Cities and know how to use that experience. The ‘miniature village’ style is gorgeous and intricately detailed. You can even see people leaving houses, getting in cars and driving around. There’s a real eye for detail that you can see in Skylines if you’re willing to look. Another big winner is the size of the city. Knowing that you can keep expanding at least for five entire city sized tiles is relieving.

But there’s no doubt at all that the key to Skyline’s success is in the design of its interfaces and tools. Every element of the interface is simple and fun. I didn’t need to remove and relay roads or demolish incorrectly placed pipes. It didn’t take painstaking hours to hook everyone up with water and power. Every tool is just a joy to use. Making sure the tools you’re given to build the city with are accessible and fun to use was no mistake and Skylines gets it right every step of the way.

 

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As Quadcopter filming becomes ever popular, more and more companies are providing their own consumer level videography solutions.

One such company is Yuneec Inc, who have come up with a potentially game changing all-in-one hardware offering that seems to give a great balance of both in the air AND on the ground filming that could turn the “Pro-sumer” on it’s head.

To find out more, Moobit caught up with Yuneec at their Gadget Show Live stand to get an exclusive glimpse of their upcoming Go-Pro Hero action camera compatible “Pro-Action Steadicam Grip” – due to release later this year – whilst also getting a product tour of their existing proprietary camera toting “CGO Steady Grip” – both of which are compatible with their brilliant “Typhoon Q 500+” Quadcopter which brings you an “all in one box solution” by letting you swap out the 3-axis camera and gimble attached to the Quad Copter and then attach it to the relevant Steadicam Grip – using your own smartphone as a viewfinder!

Look out for a full tech review of this videography solution by moobit in the coming months. In the meantime, further information can be found at the Yuneec Website.

Our favorite Fezcam wearing Freelancer returns with another report straight from the Gadget Show Live expo floor – This time we bring you a multiple product review of the latest in Smartphone Pico projector technologies from Apitek.

The i55 and i60 are both an “all-in-one” solution for your iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 respectively, with the A5oP bridging the gap for Android OS devices. Also featured is the top spec A100W Pico projector, which as you’ll see is packed full of features!

MORE INFO:
Aiptek Website
Aiptek Facebook Page
Aiptek Twitter Feed

 

MUSIC BY (and used with permission of): TeknoAXE

Our resident Daddy/Daughter tech team, Moobit and his Daughter CheekyParrot bring you another hilarious and honest (C.P, like every 7 year old tells it as she sees it!) review – this time it’s the turn of the Philips Screeneo HDP1590 Short-throw Projector.

This cool piece of technology runs on Android OS and gives you a 100inch+ screen from only around 40cm away from the wall – perfect for gamers and Man-Caves with limited space.

Moobit will follow this up with a shorter “pro-shoot” video review of the Screeneo right here on CDW in the coming weeks, but for now, please enjoy this fabulously entertaining pair giving a hilarious twist on the usual generic “un-boxing” video:

More from Moobit and CheekyParrot:
*Screeneo at Gadget Show Live: CDW Report
*Moobit Vs Cheeky Parrot: Super Smash Bros live
*Alton Towers Haunted House 2015 Updates: DUEL

PROUD TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH: http://www.specialeffect.org.uk – Make a donation NOW and change a child’s life – GAME ON FOR EVERYONE!

MUSIC BY (and used with permission of): TeknoAXE

If you have a large TV that you want to wall mount, you might want to read our review of the Sanus VLF311-B2 TV Mount.

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The SANUS VLF311 Super Slim full-motion mount places 37″ – 84″ TVs just 1.36″ / 3.5 cm from the wall, yet still allows full-motion capabilities. With its cable management guide, the VLF311 keeps loose cables organized, creating a clean appearance without compromising TV movement. A cutting-edge gliding system makes ideal TV positioning effortless—TV can easily extend away from the wall and shift left or right on the wall plate. The VLF311 always has a finished appearance with a decorative cover that conceals assembly and mounting hardware.

Features

  • Conceal exposed hardware with decorative cover
  • Conceal unsightly cables
  • Easily adjust your TV without tools
  • Enjoy a great picture no matter where you watch
  • Expandable TV brackets ensure a perfect fit
  • Hardware included
  • Levelling adjustments allow TV to be perfectly positioned after hanging
  • Position your TV as close to the wall as possible
  • Slide TV side-to-side for perfect positioning on the wall
  • Swivel your TV left and right for the perfect view
  • Tilt your TV for perfect viewing from the couch or floor

Specifications

Specs

Who are Sanus?

According to their website, Sanus “Designs and builds a broad variety of home AV furnishings, TV and speaker wall mounts, speaker stands and accessories.”

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the mount, an instruction manual and a useful wall template.

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Mounting the VLF311-B2

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Final Thoughts

I’ve been wanting to wall mount my 50” Pioneer Plasma TV for quite a while, but I just couldn’t find the right mount for what I wanted, that is until the Sanus VLF311-B2 mount arrived for review.

The box was quite heavy, but then it did have a very sturdy mount capable of mounting a TV as big as 84”, which would put my 50” one to shame!

The mount was very well packaged, and came with both an instruction manual and also a very useful wall template, along with all the screws and bolts you need to fit it.

Now I have to be honest, I decided that I would get a professional to fit it for me rather than doing it myself, although the instructions are incredibly clear and easy to follow, I just felt happier someone else doing it. Although having watched it be fitted I realised I could easily have done it myself, I know for the next one.

Once fitted to the wall, the mount felt very sturdy and had a full range of movement, even when the TV itself was attached to the mount.

In order to keep everything looking good and tidy, there are wall plate covers and cable management provided. These were very easy to use and quickly made the entire area look neat and tidy without the need to dig holes in the wall and re-plaster, so good job there Sanus!

Once the TV is in place you can easily adjust the tilt and the level using one of the supplied hex keys all with very little effort.

As this mount provides full-motion, it is easy to adjust the position of the TV in or out, left or right or different angles. And then once you are finished you can just push it back into position neatly against the wall.

Very little effort was needed to move the TV – Sanus say it can be done with a touch of the finger, and for the most part that’s true – although I used a little more force, but the mount was brand new and the TV was heavy! I have noticed it getting easier with more use.

Overall I was very impressed with the Sanus VLF311-B2 TV mount and can highly recommend it to anyone who needs a very sturdy and secure TV mount that offers easy to use full-motion movement and can accommodate larger and heavier TVs and that looks good when its mounted.

Cost wise you are looking around £130 but as usual look around for a good deal.

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You can learn more from the Sanus website.

Amazon are about to release their Fire TV Stick and here is our review.

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Fire TV Stick connects your HDTV to a world of online entertainment. With a huge selection of movies and TV episodes, voice search that actually works and exclusive features like ASAP, Fire TV Stick is an easy way to enjoy Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, BBC iPlayer, low-cost movie rentals, live and on-demand sports, music, photos, games and more.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the Fire TV Stick, a remote, some batteries, a manual, an HDMI extender, a USB power cable and a plug.

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A Closer Look

The Fire TV Stick is quite small as is the remote.

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Using the Fire TV Stick

The first thing you to is connect the USB power to the Fire TV Stick then connect the Fire TV Stick to an HDMI socket on your TV.

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Then switch on the TV and away you go.

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There is a 3 minute getting started movie you can watch.

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If you have an Android or iOS device you can download the Fire TV Remote App to the device. When you tap connect you need to put in a pin number that is displayed on your TV.

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Then you can use your device as a remote, including using Voice Commands.

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Final Thoughts

Most modern TV’s now internet capabilities and even apps like Netflix and Amazon built in, but what if you have a TV that doesn’t have it – what do you do then? Well that’s where the Amazon Fire TV Stick comes in. It’s a small device that connects to an HDMI port on your TV and delivers streaming content with very little effort.

The Fire TV Stick is a dual core device with 1GB of memory (that’s double what Google Chromecast or the Roku Steaming Stick has) and a dedicated VideoCore4 graphics engine. It also has 8GB of flash storage so you can store quite a lot on it.

It can stream up to 1080p HD quality TV or movies and has Dolby Digital Plus surround sound capabilities.

The Stick is wireless and connects to your home router using a dual bank (MIMO) signal ensuring the best quality you can get from the Stick – after all, when you are watching a movie the last thing you want in the middle of a major action scene is for the device to stuff buffering!

The Stick gives you the ability to connect to a variety of subscription and streaming services such as Amazon Instant Video (obviously) and Amazon Prime Instant Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Spotify, YouTube and lots more. There are also over 400 games you can play if you get bored of watching TV or listening to music.

The Stick was very easy to set up and within a few minutes I was choosing what to watch.

The inclusion of an HDMI extender in the box really worked for me. The TV I wanted to use the Stick on is mounted to the wall and in my case part of the mount goes over the HDMI sockets on the TV. Normally this isn’t a problem for the HDMI cables I use but the Stick is a bigger than the cables and so needs some clearance, and that’s where the HDMI extender worked perfectly.

The remote is easy to use, and if you want to add voice search you can easily do so by downloading the iOS or Android app.

There is a feature of the Stick called ASAP which stands for Advanced Streaming and Prediction, which basically means it learns what you like to watch and dynamically adapts to your viewing habits which enables immediate viewing of your chosen TV show or movie.

You can also view your own videos and photos on the Stick – you just have upload them to Amazon Cloud Drive first.

Because the Stick is so small you can easily pack it in your bag when you go away so you can view content wherever you are.

If you have a older TV or you just want the ability to watch TV shows and movies wherever you are then you should get yourself the Amazon Fire TV Stick, it delivers everything you need.

The cost of the Fire TV Stick is £35 and it can be ordered right now from Amazon.

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With the monumental cult and critical success of both Demon’s and Dark Souls, director Hidetaka Miyazaki has certainly carved out quite the brutal niche with his blend of punishing, yet rewarding gameplay that harkens back to a time when games relied much more upon skill and patience. The Playstation 4 exclusive ‘Bloodborne’ hopes to carry the established formula over to the current generation; providing yet another proving ground for those with the willingness to accept failure and learn from it.

There are a great number of differences between this and a ‘Souls’ game; whilst not all of them are initially apparent, they certainly set Bloodborne apart from its spiritual, DNA ridden counterparts. The first similarity you’ll notice is the character creation screen; despite the sheer dominance of intimidating numbers, new players will simply do well focusing ideally on strength and endurance for the time being. Veterans on the other hand will know the relative unimportance of some stats, and how to compensate for the occasional lowly attribute. Experience, in more ways than one, is key. After you’ve struggled for half an hour googling a suitably Gothic name, you’ll be set to go; chest puffed out and determined not to be killed by the first enemy you encounter…

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You’ll quickly learn to hate these things

The bad news for you is that Bloodborne has other ideas up its sleeve. You will likely die in your first fight, mainly because you’ll be fighting an enormous hound with just your bare mitts. Thankfully, this is just one of few ‘helping hints’ from the developers to put the idea in your head early on, that you will not only die often, but that you should learn from your mistakes. If all goes according to their sadistic plan, you’ll awaken in the only safe haven in the game, the spectral realm of the Hunter’s Dream. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity whilst you can, as there’s soon no choice but to venture out into the unknown with your tail stuck firmly between your quivering legs.

Much akin to Bloodborne’s spiritual predecessors, other players can leave daubing’s of text behind in order to help, trick, or in the case of the start of the game, placate others. The starting, gloriously Gothic section of Yharnam is designed to break you. In the immediate opening of the game, enemies shamble alone or are at most grouped in twos, get past this bit however, and you’ll hit a wall. Barely 15 minutes into the game will you encounter a monolithic grouping of enemies that goes well beyond double figures. Scrawled across the floor are encouraging messages of perseverance that will likely do nothing to put your mind at ease, despite how right they are. Get past this section for the first time and you’ll have a feeling of accomplishment unlike little else.

If you do go for the manly/brave/stupid approach of slaughtering everything in sight, it’s actually a remarkably unspoken tutorial of how to intelligently take on a diverse pack of enemies. However, instead of the game helpfully explaining exactly what to do in each scenario, you’re left to your own wits and grace. Trial and error will undoubtedly be little consolation at the start, but you will subconsciously improve and get better to a point where you can comfortably get through fifteen or so torch wielding madmen in minutes not hours. Much like the Souls’ games before it, your gathered experience will be dropped on your first death and lost for good should you die again before reclaiming it too. A quick cheeky tip being that if you can’t find your stash of Blood Echos, it’s worth looking into the eyes of nearby enemies, as that may well indicate who’s wandered off with them…

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A little help can go a long way

Aggressive play is actively encouraged in Bloodborne due to the alterations in mechanics. There are no shields, armour penalties or sarcastic circle strafe bouts in Bloodborne; instead, you’re much more nimble and nippy on your feet. Where once you would be wise to play passively, it’s now much more visceral, especially taking into account that you can recover a small amount of damage taken should you attack an enemy (with a melee strike) in the following short window. That’s not to say it’s lost the rewardingly punishing difficulty it’s famed for, it’s just played at a seemingly quicker pace. Dodges, rolls and sidesteps are your best friends now. You’ll not only still have to memorise enemy attack patterns and adapt to new scenarios, but also master the new weapon and combo system too. Your chosen weapon can transform at the touch of a button to help adapt to different styles, often at the expense of speed. Wielding the shorter ranged option however, lets you also equip a gun. Before doubts arise regarding how overly powerful these are, I’ll state straight away that they’re often at their best when used to interrupt an enemy attack. You may well find and acquire more powerful variants, but their limited ammo and surprisingly useful close quarters ability ensures you won’t be performing any 360 no-scopes anytime soon.

Despite the synonymous thoughts of difficulty with a game like this, it would do Bloodborne a disservice not to delve into the architecturally fascinating world of Yharnam and its inhabitants. Whilst by no means the best looking game on the market in terms of fidelity and frame rate, the attention to detail and general artistic design more than makes up for any minor shortcomings. The layout is designed in such a way that you’re mostly funnelled along a fairly linear path, of course with many an offshoot hiding both beasts and rewards, yet without feeling constrained. The lack of checkpoints is gracefully handled by shortcuts back to previous areas, giving the feeling of both progression and it conforming to a hub-like world where everywhere is interconnected. Enemy designs, whilst rarely fundamentally unique, are always well thought out and artistically stunning; needless to say, boss designs are often the highlight.

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Something to look forward to in a Chalice Dungeon…

Whilst it may not be the longest RPG in a single run, there’s plenty to keep you occupied both before and after you’ve seen the credits roll. On top of the excellent new game plus system, there are also the somewhat undersold multiplayer offerings in the form of procedurally generated dungeons filled with bosses, treasure and hordes of enemies. These ‘Chalice Dungeons’ can be played solo, cooperatively with a few people or even competitively. The game’s invasion system returns with a risk/reward mechanic too, using a consumable, players can receive assistance from nearby others to assist with bosses and the like, at the expense of potentially allowing an unwelcome incursion from another player. Should you wish to, there’s also an offline mode to safely guarantee you’ll be playing alone.

Once more, Hidetaka Miyazaki and his development team of From Software have created another punishingly addictive piece. Yes, it’s still not going to be for everyone due to the inherent difficulty level; and it does come with a few minor irritants such as when you die, you essentially have to sit through two loading screens, but it’s worth it. Bloodborne is a game where you’ll die to frustrating circumstances, attempt to blame anything but yourself, and still look forward to trying it again. It’s designed to punish you at the start, to make you learn, adapt and struggle. Get past the beginning section a few times and you’ll struggle to turn it off.

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