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Review

You can never have enough battery power, especially when an iPhone is involved, so what do you get if you have an iPhone 6 Plus? How about the ENERGI Sliding Power Case from TYLT – here is our two minute review.

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TYLT describe the power case:

“It’s no question the iPhone 6 Plus is a big phone, even causing fashion brands to consider enlarging the pockets on jeans. This is where the TYLT Energi Sliding Power case shines, providing an additional 3500 mAh of useable power in a removable, slide-off design – similar to how a rocket ditches its booster. The Energi’s dual layer co-molded inner case protects both the front and back of your phone from serious drops, ensuring your phone is never left unprotected, yet remains streamlined to fit into your pants pocket.”

Specifications

Style: Black

Width: 86mm

Height: 175mm

Thickness: 16mm

Weight: 150g

Battery: 3500mAh Lithium Polymer

Warranty: 1 Year

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the power sleeve, the inner case, a charging cable and some paperwork.

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A Closer Look

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Using the ENERGI Sliding Power Case

The inner sleeve fits snugly around the iPhone 6 Plus and doesn’t really add much to it’s bulk, but certainly adds to it’s protection.

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To use the charging sleeve, just slide the iPhone in and press the button on the back of the sleeve to start charging.

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Final Thoughts

One of the iPhone’s biggest problems has always been it’s battery life. I have been using iPhone’s now since they came out and each time Apple release a new model I hope they have sorted the battery issues. One of the reasons I went for the iPhone 6 Plus was the larger battery, and for the most part I have been happy. That said, who doesn’t want the added assurance of an additional battery so I was very happy to test out the ENERGI Sliding Power Case.

The first thing to note is that is is a power case and a separate sleeve, so for the most part you can just use the inner sleeve to give your iPhone 6 Plus some much deserved protection. It is lightweight, sturdy and durable and I was confident that my iPhone was protected.

The power case itself is also very lightweight. It contains a 3,500mAh battery which doubles the battery life of your iPhone 6 Plus, and I can say for the few days of rigorous testing I did I had no battery issues when using it.

There is a button on the rear of the case that has four lights to show you the amount of power available (it’s also used to start the charging). Once you start the charge it charges pretty quickly, which is always an added bonus.

One thing to note is that when the iPhone 6 Plus is in the case it is a lot bulkier (that said, it was fairly bulky before) and you may not want to carry it around in your trouser pocket! That is a small price to pay for power though and for those times I was walking around and charging I placed it in my coat pocked instead.

Overall I really liked the ENERGI Sliding Power Case, it does what it says on the tin, and having the added inner sleeve as part of the package rather than having to buy something extra was a smart move on the part of TYLT.

If you want to make sure you are never without power on your iPhone 6 Plus then you should definitely look to add the ENERGI Sliding Power Case to your collection.

The ENERGI Sliding Power Case for the iPhone 6 Plus (and also the iPhone 6) is available now for £89.99 from Selfridges and also zefrom Mobile Fun.

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You can learn more from the TYLT website.

The premise of The Escapists is a simple one – escape from a prison. There’s no plot that explains that your character was convicted for a crime he didn’t commit. Nor are the guards and warden made out to be the villains of the piece. Other than a stats bar there are no relationships or cutscenes. Just your ever-present task of escaping. Of course it’s the execution that makes The Escapists complex.

In terms of options The Escapists does everything right. Rather than providing you with any options for escape or a list of objectives to achieve one of a choice of escape methods all you get are the tools to escape. From getting access to certain contraband during jobs, buying from other prisoners at the right times or even just outright theft there are a huge amount of items available to you. Not all seem useful at first but as you progress you find the need for more and more creative items to break free.

The first couple of days are usually needed to figure out the routine and generally map the prison out and spot any weaknesses. The main issue you will have in moving items around the prison is the contraband system. The metal detectors in The Escapists aren’t limited to detecting metal but instead will go off and alert guards if you have any contraband on you. Even if it’s plastic. If, for example, you need to get a shovel to a certain point through a contraband detector you will need to either sneak it through somehow or find a way around. In this respect knowing your surroundings is very important in The Escapists and makes for some strategic gameplay.

Your cell is a good place to start and either having a wall cavity covered by a poster to store things or a hole under your desk is a great way to store contraband. There’s an amazing sense of tension as you take the poster down and reveal the hole to retrieve items. If a guard sees you that’s it for you. You lose all your items and all holes and tunnels will be repaired. You also lose a chunk to your stats. Usually, in fact always, it’s best to reload.

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Thankfully you are not allowed to save as and when you feel like it. At the end of the day after all your hard work you can go to bed and the game will save and load the next day. Which means whenever you find an important item you’ve been waiting to get your hands on you need to consider if you want to use that item straight away and risk losing it or sleep and save it. When you go to sleep and save you miss the entire night and it instantly becomes day. More often than not an escape will be at night which allows the day to create a risk of lost progress and tension, but you’ll never be sent all the way back to square one.

Stats are fairly basic menu management but they do have an important role to play. You have intelligence, speed and strength to balance. Speed actually doesn’t govern how fast you move but how fast you can hit in a fight. Strength directly controls the amount of health you have. And a certain intelligence is required to craft most items. Initially they are all low but after a few days in the prison you will probably have them all maxed out. Unfortunately they do fall back down over time but they are easily manageable once they are at or around 100. It’s just another concern that makes up part of your escape plan – it’s simple but effective.

Given the amazing amount of tools available, the harsh but fair (and entirely necessary) saving system and stats the only thing left is the prison maps themselves. And I’m glad to say they’re all great. The first is a low security prison that acts as a fantastic tutorial to the game and gives you quite a bit of freedom to try different approaches. Although the game doesn’t hold your hand at all so you’ll need some persistence and creativity to progress. The guards will comment on fluffing pillows and making your stay enjoyable. The second prison is a jungle POW camp with very different atmosphere, far more limitations and a few extra complications added to the escape too. Working on the later maps the guards become even more terse and contraband sensors can be found everywhere.

Even your routine becomes more strict and gives you far less opportunity to work on your escape plan. Your heat will increase by a fair chunk if you entirely miss something like a meal or exercise period so you at least have to turn up and then sneak off to dig a hole with a plastic spoon or whatever. By the time you get to the third prison things are tough. You will need to be creative, determined and careful.

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But you can be joyful upon success knowing that The Escapists doesn’t hold back. The Escapists is an ‘8-bit’ strategy game with more than enough wit and style entwined into every single moment. It is strategic, stylish and funny. There’s a huge amount of content and the sense of satisfaction when the plan comes together and you finally escape successfully is unparalleled. You know it was your logic, quick thinking, creativity and timing that won the day.

There are very few reviews were starting with the visuals makes sense. But The Order makes so much effort to impress that I feel I cannot leave it until the end. Anybody that’s watched footage of or played The Order will know what I mean. I remember playing the preview code and could barely believe what I was seeing. It really is a stunning looking game.

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Strangely it remains just as impressive even when you’ve been playing for a couple of hours straight. I would still see something and stop to take a look and audibly express my shock and excitement of just how good looking it is. There’s usually some desensitisation with graphics like these but that just didn’t happen with The Order. Slightest details like how reflective different surfaces are are never overlooked. Fog is thick but airy and doesn’t reveal itself to be a low res image. Your protagonist, Sir Galahad’s, coat and facial expressions are constantly a delight to watch.

Given these amazing visuals it would not be my decision to cut half of the game out and discard those beautiful pixels. Yes, The Order has a film like letterbox style with black borders constantly showing at the top and bottom of the screen. Great. It doesn’t make it look ‘more cinematic’ it just wastes screen space. In film IMAX is generally too expensive to use but when it is (e.g. The Dark Knight’s prologue) it looks stunning filling up that 16:9 screen. In video games there’s no problem and I desperately hope this letterbox style stops, soon. It’s not cool, it’s not artistic it’s just annoying.

The Order’s party trick also rests on its self confident good looks. This is the first time I’ve had to flick the thumbstick so often to see if the cutscene was over and see if I had control back. Between camera angles and slight alterations in fidelity there’s always a way to tell when a cutscene rolls. Not with The Order. I know it’s superficial but I couldn’t help be impressed every time I was left foolishly pushing buttons during a cutscene. Apart from the completely pointless and terrible QTEs. Who put QTEs in the cutscenes? It’s like they haven’t been paying attention to any game for the last 5 years.

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But the appeal soon wares off after as little as two hours when you realise how little you’ve actually done. Core gameplay is a simple third person shooter. Pick up guns, take cover, aim and shoot. Kill all the enemies, move on to the next area. The AI will attempt to flank you and make advances but not enough to make things exciting. In certain areas destruction adds a dramatic flair to fire fights but is entirely dependant on breakable objects and isn’t a core mechanic. The guns are fun to use but all feel much the same, despite their cool steampunk design.

Finishing an area will prompt someone to say ‘Looks clear’ or something similarly generic and indicate you are free to move on. Unfortunately the problem with the fire fights is that they’re just not that fun. They’re very static and often become a case of sitting down and popping out to kill an enemy as they reload.

Unless you’re fighting werewolves. The first one I fought wasn’t too bad as I blasted away at the encroaching beast. Once you do enough damage it will run off and mysteriously disappear only to reappear moments later running straight at your face while conveniently providing you another opportunity to do ‘x’ damage. Once they’re down you need to run up and press ‘triangle’ to well and truly destroy its heart.

All too soon you start getting trapped in corners and periodically interrupted and damaged by off-screen enemies. Moving the camera slowly to find my enemy made me feel like a very tasty looking piece of meat. Galahad just doesn’t have the mobility to compete and I constantly felt like I was playing a third person action game with overly slow cover mechanics. The third or fourth time I was attacked from off screen and my actions were interrupted to the point were I died frustrations were high.

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You might at this point think The Order will sweep in with a fantastic story and save the day. Sadly it doesn’t. The plot is mainly told through small sections before, after and during actual gameplay where you will be walking to and from objectives. Unable to run all there is to do is listen to the characters’ voiceovers. It’s a great way to build resentment when every time a character starts talking your heart sinks a little as you prepare to walk slowly through another pointless, albeit good looking, street. The plot itself is a little generic but not terrible but it’s told in such a way that makes it completely inaccessible and frankly exhausting.

It’s also a shame to have such beautiful areas with nothing to do. Nothing to do at all. Even the NPCs scattered throughout aren’t really talking and certainly don’t allow for you to go and interact. Picking up collectables and looking at them before placing them back down is the only feeling of connection with environments outside shooting the place up. It’s irritating that such a detailed world has been made so inanimate.

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The Order’s unbelievably gorgeous surface is wafer thin. It’s so good looking you have to see it to believe it. As a technical showcase of what can already be achieved on the PS4 The Order is a huge success. I can only imagine what is going to be possible a few years down the road. But good looks alone aren’t enough. If they were The Order would be a 10/10.

But the narrative is delivered so boringly it’s very easy not to care or even for it to become a drag when a character starts talking. Combat is very static and most of your time will be spent popping out of cover at the right times and waiting for your chance. Combat outside of cover feels like a cover shooter trying to be something it’s not, which is exactly what it tries to do.

Fixed, non-interactive, environments waste entire areas at the expense of telling the story through voiceovers. On screen messages and tutorials are a constant pain too and every time a new concept is introduced (for a one time use) an incredibly patronising prompt will just straight tell you how to handle it. The Order 1886 is a superb technical showcase but just isn’t very fun to play.

If you love your planet, and I’m sure you do, you owe it to yourself to enlist into ‘Super Earths’ Helldivers programme. A coop, twin thumbstick shooter from the sadistically team killing folks at Arrowhead, Helldivers will test your patience, your skill and of course your planetary patriotism.

If you can get through the game’s opening cutscene without either fawning over Starship Troopers or at the very least, bursting into laughter, then this is likely a fair warning for you. As demonstrated by the overly elaborate recruitment campaign, Helldivers takes few things seriously; and who could expect any different from the people who bestowed upon us the carnage that was Magicka? In terms of narrative, the game gets off to weak, if not still hilarious start. Super Earth, as it’s now known as in the future, is ruled by a ‘managed democracy’ and finds itself in the middle of a galactic battle against three hostile species.

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It’s never this well organised…

Fighting a war on several fronts is never going to be easy, just ask you know who; this is reflected in the game via a synchronised global effort. In an attempt to create a variable sense of struggle and conflict, each faction will need to be pushed back into their own territory and eventually invaded themselves. Conversely, this can also happen in reverse too; not keeping up the aggressive pace will eventually see everyone having to band together and repel the occupying forces. For now it’s unclear as to how this will affect players in the long term, but already it’s nice to have a common overall goal for the community.

Over-arching objectives and intentionally hammy plotlines aside however; it’s the gameplay that’s likely to hold your attention. With room for couch coop alongside online support too, the methodically paced combat comes into its own as soon as another person joins your plight. The game’s tutorial does a fair old job of explaining the basics, such as how to shoot, move and get down whilst also (not so subtly) hinting at the possibility of death and how often to expect it. Everything will kill you in Helldivers, friendly fire is one thing to contend with, but there’s more… Calling in an ammo resupply atop an unsuspecting player will reduce them to pulp, an airdropped turret will differentiate between neither friend nor foe, and even the extraction shuttle won’t think twice about landing on your face should you be daft enough to stand beneath it.

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Ah the bridge, the place where you spin in circles

Helldivers is hard, make no mistake about it, it’s a very challenging game. Whilst the early levels can easily be completed by oneself via employing stealthy tactics and keeping a watchful eye on the mini map for enemy patrols, the game will soon ramp up the difficulty. Each planet plays host to a specific set of enemies, whether it be the swarming, melee oriented bugs, the augmented cyborgs or the clairvoyant aliens, fighting each type demands a new set of tactics. Armoured enemies, ideally, need to be perpendicular to your gunfire to maximise damage and reduce the chances of deflected shots. Also certain ‘Stratagems’ perform better against different targets too, napalm style strikes work better on fleshier enemies than they do reinforced ones for example.

Aside from the standard weapons you deploy with, consisting of a primary and a pistol, you also get to choose four Stratagems to take into battle. Whilst they’re not crucial to the success of a mission, they’re there to help. As with everything else, they’re unlocked via level progression and completing select sets of missions. Deployable in game via a surprisingly tricky (when under pressure) d-pad combination, you can call in ammo supplies, bombing runs, turrets and many other helpful tools to aid you at any point. Balanced by a cooldown timer, and of course the threat of viciously maiming your team mates, they can often spell the difference between success and failure in a mission. Whether you prefer the stealthy or ‘loud’ approach, choosing where to deploy before starting a game matters significantly. You can choose to drop in right next to the objective at the risk of instantly alerting enemies that are likely lurking beside it, or you can go for the conservative approach and take a leisurely stroll in the hope you’ll stumble across some research-gaining pickups or some extra ammo along the way.

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This is honestly, fairly calm

In terms of keeping players interested for the long haul, Arrowhead seem to have tried their best with unlockable kit, customisation options, a main level to rank up and of course the overall community goal to help contribute to. There are just a few things that let it down slightly, the largest culprit for me, being how quickly it starts to drag when you play alone. The difficulty is woefully unbalanced and the lack of hilarity from drop pods landing on teammates soon starts to kick in. To further impound this, mission objectives are distressingly repetitive. Within the first hour or so, you’ll have seen the majority of variation on offer, accelerating the notion that you shouldn’t be playing this by yourself.

At a glance, Helldivers can unfortunately often look quite bland, especially during the quieter moments. The environments are mostly a generic pastel shade and the enemy designs are nothing original to say the least. When it all inevitably kicks off however, it can get quite colourful and diverse, even if it does become chaotically difficult to differentiate between enemies at times.

Helldivers is not a game for those who like to go it alone, it’s also best played with a group of friends who aren’t partial to flipping out at the first sign of ‘accidental’ friendly fire. When not taken too seriously, there’s a lot of fun to be had here, even if it’s often at someone else’s expense. The variation in mission design will get dull quickly, but hopefully the carrot-on-a-stick mentality of unlocking new gear and upgrades should ensure Super Earth’s survival for a little while longer. Just remember accidents can and will happen…

It’s literally hunt or be hunted in Evolve. You either play as a giant monster struggling to survive or the team of hunters tasked with taking the beast down. It’s a fresh take on multiplayer which is rare these days so I was keen to get involved.

As usual getting stuck in and playing games is the best way to learn. But there is a simple tutorial that explains the basic ideas. There are also a basic and advanced videos showing tactics for each character buried in the menu. It’s well worth checking out and to my surprise the advanced videos actually showed decent tactics worthy of any YouTube tutorial.

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The hunters have four different classes available Assault, Trapper, Medic and Support. Assault is in charge of dealing damage plain and simple. The Trapper is charged with finding the monster and keeping it from escaping while the team gets to work trying to kill it. The Medic is required for the team to stay healthy, and living. Support does just that providing shields and the like for the rest of the team although they serve as good secondary damage dealers too.

Each class has three characters to choose from and each has a unique set of equipment and a class dependant ability. But even considering the unique loadouts there isn’t really much to play with. The Assault gets a personal shield to sponge damage, the Trapper gets the mobile arena which creates a barrier so you can actually fight the monster, the medic has an AOE healing mist and the support gets an area effect cloaking field.

Other than that load outs are absolutely unique and varied which is cool but they offer zero customization or freedom. Beyond picking a character there are no decisions to make other than a single alternate skin for each character. Honestly I don’t care all that much about the way I look. I’d far rather have had scopes and other equipment to make a class unique. It’s very restricting to select a character which chooses all three pieces of equipment and have no combinations or alternatives at all.

It won’t take long to unlock all the characters which would be a bonus except there’s not much else to unlock in Evolve. Once you’ve picked your character and got them unlocked that’s really it. Each piece of equipment has three upgrades but they do such a small amount, like 2% range or 2% damage, they really don’t matter. And the character perks aren’t enough to change gameplay noticeably. I didn’t find the sense of progression satisfying for long and without it the only reason to keep coming back is for the gameplay itself.

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It also doesn’t help that the game has self described ‘key classes’ which are the Trapper and Medic classes. Given that your task as the hunters is to track, catch and kill the monster the Trapper is undisputedly the most important class. With a bad Trapper you will not find the monster. You will not catch it and therefore cannot deal any damage to it. A close second to that is the medic who is very much necessary to keep everyone alive in a battle. A bad medic will get the team killed quickly. The other two classes are far less important and primarily act as damage dealers.

It’s a shame that as Assault or Support you spend almost all your time following a Trapper, who’s doing all the work, deal some damage and then begin following again. The Trapper is definitely the key and there’s very little to do when you play as anyone else. Your Assault could be running on the spot in a corner all day and nobody would notice. If your Trapper doesn’t find and catch the target before it evolves you’re much more likely to lose.

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Which leads me nicely onto playing as the monster. There are three monsters to choose from and each one has four unique abilities. Goliath is Godzilla like with fire breath and physical attacks. Kraken can fly to a limited degree and has some really devastating ranged electricity attacks. Finally Wraith plays as an assassin class using evasion and stealth techniques to win. Your job as monster is to basically play as a jungler and kill as many AI animals as you can so that you can evolve. All the time evading capture from the hunters.

In your first stage your pretty vulnerable and whilst you can probably survive a round in the mobile arena with the hunters it’s best avoided at this stage. At evolution 2 you have much more chance of standing up to the hunters and can give them a pretty rough time so really your goal is to reach the second evolution as soon as possible. Should you make it to the third evolution you can easily take on the Hunters. Even a Goliath’s fire breath becomes a ridiculously devastating AOE attack that can quickly end the game.

They key to success with the monster is strangely to run. So many times I’ve seen people stand and fight in the first evolution when running away would have let them fight back later when they’re almost unstoppable. And that’s where Evolve’s gameplay falls down for me.

If the monster runs and evolves quickly there’s very little chance of the Hunters winning. If you die and find that your medic is running around shooting a dead animal on the floor while your team dies you’re going to lose. If your Trapper can’t find the monster you’re going to lose. All you can hope is your team is good and your foe doesn’t know he/she should run away at the start. And that you don’t get surprised by a man eating plant that completely disables you without any chance of escape other than help from a team mate. How fun it is when you track the monster and a hidden plant grabs you only to reveal that your teammates are too far away to help and you can do nothing but sit and wait to die.

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Evolve would definitely benefit from a more considered approach to tracking rather than the ‘never quite enough sprint’ approach it opted for. Tracking damaged foliage, animal corpses and disturbed birds are all well implemented ideas but are pointless in practice because you spend too much time running just to keep up. Even when trapped in an arena dome the best players will hide behind rocks and obstacles leading to a ridiculous looking game of hide and seek with a giant beast holding a thin branch in front its face as a disguise.

It’s easy for hunters at evolution one and almost impossible for them at three. There’s a forcibly rushed feeling to the tracking which stops any sense of tension or atmosphere from forming. A lack of meaningful upgrades and general lack of options in how to play result in a very short life span for Evolve. Unbalanced gameplay can lead to frustrating experiences and with nothing to look forward to in the future there’s very little to keep you interested in Evolve beyond the initial premise.

But I’m a sucker for originality and Turtle Rock Studios have done something new. There is definitely co-op fun to be had in Evolve, provided you’re not playing with complete lemons, which is often not your choice. Ultimately though Evolve is a great idea that has been poorly realised and frankly that’s a damn shame.

Considering how completely cliché they are I find myself presented with hordes of the undead proudly wearing the swashsticker more often than I’d expect. There are three human-like things you’re allowed to kill in video games with as much violence as you wish. Zombies are probably number one but Nazis are arguably just as good. So Nazi zombies will do the trick just fine. Sure they’re pretty unoriginal at this point and they’ve been done countless times before but for a tongue-in-cheek take on Sniper Elite they might just do the trick.

Selecting a character to get out and slaughter countless foes with is a rather arbitrary decision and doesn’t even determine which weapons you will use. It’s just a case of picking the name you like the most or the picture that pleases the eye more. In a co-op romp like this a slightly deeper character system would definitely be desirable. Unfortunately there are no abilities or stats for you to consider or upgrade.

As you might expect there isn’t much in the way of a plot either which would only get in the way of the all important zombie killing. In fact I wouldn’t have noticed its absence had there been some sense that my character was unique. There is no sense of ownership over your character that allows for those little emergent stories between you and your team. I’m not expecting the complexities of a full RPG or entire rosters of abilities but some basic, upgradable stats would have helped things along a lot. Or a solid loot system.

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Strangely the mission design far from promotes the drop in gameplay such nameless characters would provide. Missions are long and are no meagre undertaking. Without any explanations or even the vaguest hint of logic, plot or setting you have an objective. Get to this point killing as you go. Then, more often than not, you will hold an area for basically no reason at all – but then who needs a reason to kill Nazi Zombies? Once you’ve killed the hordes you can move onto the next objective.

Each mission has plenty of these objectives to complete but they become slightly tedious before the mission ends. You can definitely complete missions under an hour but it’s odd to have such long missions on a game crying out for short, simple drop in gameplay. Even given the arguably overlong objectives killing the masses with snipers, SMGs, pistols, grenades and other weapons is fun until some of the more ‘advanced’ zombies appear. Those that run at you and explode are always fun. They are a particular treat in Zombie Army Trilogy because they can run faster than you. Oh happy days.

So the first time these things run at you and you have no clue what’s going on, and die, you find out how terrible the checkpoints are. Gaming conventions have gone back a decade for ZAT and rather than checkpoints just before a difficult area they’re just after. So if you should fail you get to replay 10 minutes of easy stuff first before you get another chance at the actual challenge. There’s nothing worse than being slightly annoyed from dying and then realising you have to repeat gameplay.

The second enemy that had me jumping for joy is a giant trench coat wearing MG42 wielding monstrosity. Zombies that shoot back are never fun and those that posses hulk-like strength and toughness whilst wielding light machine guns are no fun at all. Repeated sniper rounds through the head, several grenades and constant damage from a Thompson machine gun might not be enough to stop one of these super zombies. And because of the slouching checkpoint system get ready to replay some ‘get to point n’ gameplay.

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Zombie Army Trilogy does a great job of not cluttering up proceedings with plot or complicated characters to make room for more zombie killing. Especially given the co-operative gameplay that could have been a good thing. But it’s unusual to disregard these things when there’s nothing else to fall back on. With no looting, upgrading or even basic customization all that’s left is the culling of zombies. Sadly a poor checkpoint system makes death a tedious affair of unnecessarily repeating objectives before retrying the challenging section. Bland objectives don’t help and are repeated constantly throughout. Assumedly another casualty designed to make room for the core gameplay.

Luckily shooting and killing zombies is fun and Sniper Elite’s slow motion head shots rightfully take centre stage. Watching the bullet work its way through skulls is just as fun as ever. The secondary weapons are good fun too and all the more important in ZAT given the horde’s tendency to surround your character. It’s a shame not to have the tactical elements of Sniper Elite and sniper shots have much less impact but blowing heads off zombies is good simple fun.

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ZAT has loads of content and provides a decent co-op zombie killing experience. It desperately needs playing with at least one friend, not only for survivability but because things get boring on your own. Unfortunately objectives quickly become dull and the gameplay alone isn’t enough to make up for lack of characters, story, objectives, upgrades, loot and customization. Despite the good fun unfortunately ZAT is too shallow to be fun for more than a few hours. ZAT offers some gory sniper goodness but nothing that blows the mind.

 

Advanced Warfare was a bold move for the series; whilst fans will have certainly adjusted to its game changing mechanics by now, it was certainly something to split opinion. Curiously however, the first, of a series of four, map packs seems instead to focus on pleasing everyone. Four new maps of various sizes and playstyles (no re-makes yet) a new assault rifle, and of course bringing back the ol’ zombies. Have they played it too safe by trying to cater for everyone, or will it still retain the uniqueness that’s helped resuscitate the waning franchise?

Urban is this year’s Nuketown. It’ll likely be voted for by anyone with a penchant for shotguns and those possessing nippy reaction times. Certainly the smallest map of the game and a far cry from some of the maps in last year’s Call of Duty Ghosts. Urban’s quasi-futuristic design fits in place well with the general aesthetic feel of the main games’ campaign; with its blue hues helping to echo the police theme it’s based upon. The outer portions of the map’s square-like design are inevitably going to be the ‘safer’ way to traverse your way around; however balconies, ledges and windows ensure that you’re never too far from being spotted. The maze like barriers of which adorn the map promise tense gun battles with people funnelling through like rats, attempting to not give away their position by overusing the exo movement. Once confrontation starts however, battles quickly elevate and a game of vertical cat and mouse begins. Due to the, sometimes frankly horrific, nature of the spawns in modes such as Free For All and Team Deathmatch, it’s best to approach this map in the knowledge that you’ll likely die, a lot.

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Perfect recruitment banner placement

Drift is this packs’ resident snow variant; featuring a fairly predictable map-specific score streak too, I won’t spoil it, but I’m fairly certain you can guess what happens! A medium sized map, Drift plays best in objective type modes when you’ve got a fairly decent idea of where the enemies are going to be spawning from. A carousel resides as the focus of the maps large open area and can of course be used as a dizzying piece of cover for those with the stomach to take it on. The other side of the map plays host to some potentially long range gunfights. An elevated position is the ideal spot for snipers with a twitchy trigger, with the locations downside being the various routes of entry inside. A well-coordinated team could easily hold this power position and dominate the enemy with streaks.

Sideshow is the penultimate map here, and also one for any coulrophobics to be wary of. Set in and around a decidedly creepy abandoned inn, Sideshow displays how two opposing playstyles can actually come together and not be irritating. For those into ‘playing cautiously’, rooftops and long lines of sight will create perfect opportunities to set up a few tents and sit pretty. Those averse to sitting still for any many of seconds however, can equip the almighty ASM1 and flank to great effect. Sideshow, on any other Call of Duty game would be a horrendous mess of spawn trapping and sniping, yet due to the exo movement however, it’s actually great fun to play. With the ability to traverse the entire map in seconds, getting up behind people and disrupting their inattentional blindness is a rarely matched feeling.

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I don’t know why people might have a problem with clowns…

Core is probably the weakest of the bunch in my mind; as a fairly large map, non-objective type game modes can play out in a somewhat leisurely pace. Long, winding flank routes and short, tight tunnels provide some variety in gunplay but you’re likely to be better off bringing an assault rifle and adapting to each situation as they come. Domination and Hardpoint could well be the saviours of this map and playing a roaming, harassment type role should serve you well. Set in the Gobi desert, amidst the ruins of a nuclear plant, Core is ultimately a little bland in general. The snippets of technology dotted about, however striking and interesting as they might seem, ultimately pale into the wash of sand.

AE4 is the name of the standard variant of your new toy in this pack; although if you’d previously purchased the season pass, you’ll have had access to it for quite some time already. Described as a directed energy assault rifle, it functions as you might expect. As is the case with Advanced Warfare, there are also several variants to unlock via getting lucky with the supply drops too, but the basic premise and utility is the same. It comes with its own optical sight (although others can be attached) and like all good energy weapons, you essentially have infinite ammo; with the downside being the overheating issues. But, provided you’re not too trigger happy and you remain accurate, it can certainly hold its own with the majority of other guns on the game.

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Good luck

Exo Zombies is likely to be one of the greater draws for some in this DLC pack, and rightly so too. Whereas the games’ standard co-op multiplayer was functional enough, it never quite hooked the zombie faithful, however that could soon change. The unfortunate four who happen to be around during what can only be described as an enormous cock up on Atlas’s side, must use the environment, weapons, care packages and more to survive as long as possible in typical zombie fashion. Keeping in line with the excellent performance of Kevin Spacey in the game’s campaign, we’re spared no expense here either. John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, Jon Bernthal and Rose McGowan are our celebrity foursome and are as suitably hilarious and enthralling as you might imagine. Ditching the crazed and convoluted zombie storyline of Treyarchs fame, we’re instead given a brief outline of their plight and roles during a cutscene at the start.

It’s (mostly) business as usual with the zombies, starting out at lower rounds they’ll take no more than a few bashes to the head, but progress past wave 15 or so and things really start to kick off. As ever with a zombie’s mode, it’s all about restoring the power as quickly as possible; never is that truer than here, especially seeing as you don’t start the game with your exo suit. Feeling strangely naked and mashing jump to no boosting avail, you’ll eventually start to make some progress. Once things (and oneself) are up and running, you’ll find many tweaks to the formula. The 3D printer is your new mystery box; weapons can be bought off the wall and upgraded at stations. Upgrades to your exo-suit can be purchased; care packages can be picked up outside and zombies get tougher alongside gaining new abilities to match and counter your own.

In all, the Havoc DLC pack seems to have something for everyone, the maps are varied between size, playstyle and appearance, it adds a new weapon (plus the potential for variants) and also includes a new zombie’s mode too. The maps, for the most part, should fit any game type well and the AE4 seems to be well balanced too. Exo Zombies will likely draw a crowd, in part due to its fan favoured theme, but also due to its own unique form of exo movement. The Havoc pack helps to freshen up the experience once more, and is a great start to this year’s season of DLC.

The Dragon Ball franchise is often regarded as highly influential, not only by the series veterans who’ve followed its meteoric rise across the globe, but also the newcomers to manga and anime who, without its severe popularity, might never have explored those avenues. In the past, as exciting and as over the top as they can be, Dragon Ball games have largely felt all too familiar with each other, let’s hope its first venture onto the newest generation of consoles can spice things up a little.

In a hope to freshen up the series of games that, unfortunately, can’t delve into new canon story arcs, developers’ Dimps have chosen to incorporate the ol’ fan favourite time travel mechanic. Instead of repeating classic storylines from the past ad nauseam, instances in time have been altered in order to create some seriously fan-salivating moments. Whilst the plot itself will neither truly excite nor disappoint fans, it’s the clear attention to fan-fiction that will prevail; thinking of the game as more of a sequence of ‘what if’ moments will largely set the tone for what you’ll be playing. The inevitable downside being that, once more, newcomers to the series will likely not appreciate, or even vaguely understand the source material here.

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One of the subtler screenshots

New in this iteration, is the inclusion of a loose, if not terribly addictive set of RPG mechanics to tinker with. Starting out, you’ll create a character from a fairly diverse set of races including Saiyans, Majins and others; with each race also possessing bespoke abilities that are reflected in the show. That’s not where it ends either, you’ll also have to pick between either a male or female combatant, the male being physically stronger, in comparison to the females’ higher agility. Once you’ve finally plastered on an outfit and of course, chosen the most outrageously overt hairstyle, it’s pretty much time to explore the city of Toki-Toki.

In a style oddly reminiscent of Destiny’s Tower, Toki-Toki is where the MMO style (yes that’s right, MMO) hub is located. From here you can strut about, adorned in all but the commonest of clothing options, hoping people will notice your, not entirely unique pose. Clearly aimed around a centric community atmosphere, you can form up groups, request help from others, and even start a ruckus with a stranger, the usual stuff really. Whilst it seems to be the way games are going in this generation, they do still require a little work in terms of fluidity and streamlining. The separation between having an eye watering, airborne battle, complete with more anime effects than you can physically comprehend, before trotting about casually on your way to the shop is jarring to say the least. I suppose everyone has to have some downtime, but the pedestrian pacing can often be too much, especially when a simple menu would often suffice.

On top of the starting levels of customisation, Dragon Ball XenoVerse has plenty of loot tricks up its ghee too. On your way through the games’ many, many quests, there are quite literally hundreds of skills and pieces of equipment to unlock and acquire, not only satiating many a hoarders needs but also attempting to ensure each character can have a fairly versatile and distinct feel from one another.

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Your guess is as good as mine…

It wouldn’t be a Dragon Ball game without completely over the top battles; needless to say, this one doesn’t disappoint either. Whilst the combat might seem a tad too familiar to veterans of the series, there’s still a lot to appreciate. Fighting still takes place in enormous, dense and rich 3D arenas ripe for exciting brawls. Alongside the myriad of moves at your whim, there’s also a smattering of destructibility to the environments too, perhaps not as much as I’d like, but enough to echo moments of the show when they do occur. Attempting to once more add to the veritable spectacle are the 3 vs 3 fights where you would expect all hell to break loose. Unfortunately, they’re more frustrating than epic as your AI controlled ‘teammates’ will just nonchalantly sit back and relax whilst you’re getting beaten from all angles. It doesn’t help that the targeting system largely shows its true colours here either, often being the cause of many a cock up.

Once more, in terms of fighting, people new to the series will struggle to keep up for quite some time. There is a tutorial, but as is the trend with pretty much every fighting game, it’s of little help. Grasping the basics should, and will certainly inspire some to explore further into chaining attacks and such, but the true newcomer will likely be either spamming basic attacks or getting beaten up relentlessly. When eventually you do end up playing with some modicum of skill, the fights can genuinely become as epic as some of the franchises most well renowned moments. Patience and experimentation are usually their own rewards with fighting games; this is no different.

Whilst there is fantastic roster of nearly 50 fighters to choose from, I felt that my own unique(ish) creation was always my go-to character. Levelling up and unlocking both abilities and game altering items was by far my greatest draw. Others who’re much better versed in the lore of the series than I will likely relish the opportunities of certain matchups and scenarios, but I’m always partial to a little levelling! Content is certainly one area where the game simply doesn’t let up, as described earlier there’s no shortage of missions, unlockables and playable characters to whet ones appetite. Add to this, the sheer amount of fan service included and devotees of the Dragon Ball universe are bound to be happy.

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Chillin’ with Krillin

Dragon Ball XenoVerse is probably the nearest you’re likely to have come so far, to playing an interactive version of the show. It simply looks fantastic. The outrageous special moves and detailing of each and every character really help draw you in to the game. Vibrant and bright colours splash everywhere and are a treat in comparison to the many variants of brown and grey on offer elsewhere. The only slight let down sadly being the city of Toki-Toki, without much interaction on offer besides a smattering of shops and quests, for a hub, it seems a little too sparse and barren for somewhere to truly savour and enjoy.

There’s no doubt about it, XenoVerse has been imagined, designed and tailored for the fans. It’s got a plot that they won’t instantly know the outcome of; it’s got set pieces with a variety of ‘what if’ situations and a decent RPG base. The unfortunate downside to this is that newcomers won’t have a clue what’s going on for the most part. The story will make no sense and the tutorial’s lacking anything beyond basic actions. If you can get past that however, there’s no shortage of content to sink your teeth into.

The Warriors series has never really been something that catches my imagination. Even between Dynasty and Samurai flavours the ability to run around slaying a ridiculous amount of enemies has never been enough to excite me. Don’t get me wrong, taking on wave after wave of nameless foes has it’s appeal but I always feel like Samurai (and Dynasty) Warriors chucks everything else out the window to make room. There’s only so much button mashing I can take and that’s one thing you can guarantee a Samurai Warrior title will have enough of.

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In fact on my very first outing I was presented with a good few hundred enemies that made no attempt at all to fight me or even a vague sense that they would evade my attacks. Sure they ran towards me but all I had to do was press the same button over and over as I watched the combo numbers climb. On occasion I moved the thumbstick to orient my character but literally no extra effort is required. The very second I realised the tides of slightly animated scarecrows posed no threat at all I was bored. But I pushed through to get onto bigger and greater things.

But it just never happens. There really isn’t anything just around the corner. Missions play out as a series of you pressing the same button until you win. On occasion you might find the need to press a different button to do a special attack but more often than not I just used them to break the tedium. Bosses play out as little more than slightly challenging versions of their straw counterparts, especially early game.

There are combos and abilities that make it worth while levelling and thinking about a character to an extent but without more complicated gameplay the only reason to do so is from self motivation. There is definitely a place for it but I constantly had the thought in the back of my head that it was all pointless. Truth be told there is a combo system and character variations for those who look for them but for me the combat is too simplistic to warrant any real investment.

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On the face of it there seems to be plenty of missions in Samurai Warriors too. There is a campaign for each of the 50 or so characters which is impressive and does provide loads to do. At least in terms of time spent on the game. The problem is that they’re all largely the same. A ridiculous pop-up will appear for each character and explain what’s happening while characters talk mindlessly during your combat. There’s nothing even close to depth in the story and each campaign soon follows the path of the combat and becomes mindless.

It’s fine to have this amount of content, in fact it’s commendable, but it’s not enough to stretch gameplay out just for the sake of it. If there’s little there to start with dragging out the same repetitive gameplay really isn’t likely to add much to a game. The main problem I had was that despite the amount of content I was bored well before the gameplay had run out.

Chronicles mode allows you to make you’re own character with a modest set of customization tools. There is a more persistent upgrading system in chronicles and on your travels you will have the opportunity to equip yourself with better equipment. However I still wasn’t thrilled by the missions. It’s certainly more engaging knowing that you have your own character but ultimately the gameplay still failed to engage me. Soon I was back to playing the same mission repeatedly.

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The visuals are nothing special although there’s nothing particularly awful either. Characters are well detailed and look respectable even though they don’t hold up too well on closer inspection. For me Samurai Warriors’ biggest sin are the environments. There’s a decent amount of colour splashed about but the quality of the textures is low, although HD, and often areas aren’t interesting enough to capture the imagination. Samurai Warriors 4 certainly doesn’t look bad but it’s a long way from looking good.

Samurai Warriors 4 has this absolute reliance on quantity over quality. Rather than a complicated combat system that allows for some skill or character investment there are thousands of enemies. Which would be cool if there was actually something to do other than pressing the same button over and over again. Chronicles mode adds some customization and makes missions a little more interesting until you realise you’re again just pointlessly wading through enemy after enemy.

As an incremental update there isn’t much on offer that improves over other Warriors games. Even the visual updates aren’t really significant enough to convince veterans to return and the multi-format release has done nothing to help. There isn’t enough to get new players or people who didn’t like previous titles involved. Ultimately I found Samurai Warriors looked poor and was just plain boring. For me that’s the worst thing a game can be.

With such a wait between each of Telltales’ episodic content releases, I’m often torn between frustration and excitement. In Telltale Games, we have one of the few, rare developers who don’t instantly ruin an established franchise as soon as they’re let loose upon it. Instead, they take their time, work to the series’ strengths and always attempt to emulate the experience of watching an episode. Can they continue upon their success of the first chapter and deliver the thrills once more in ‘The Lost Lords’?

Continuing on from the shockingly dramatic end of the previous episode, we’re thrown in once more with a mix of both new and returning characters. New to the table is Asher, a son of the Forrester’s, and Beskha, his dangerous and flirty mercenary partner. Aside from the ever present and ever irritating quick time event fight scenes of which you’ll no doubt enjoy, it’s business as usual. After you’ve muddled your way through the surprisingly well choreographed, yet frustratingly confusing, fight scene, it’s off to explore Telltale’s other avenues of gameplay, namely dialogue and a small amount of pottering.

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This has to end well

Whereas the first episode clearly had its prerogative set to introducing the series’ characters, this second chapter can be now devoted to setting up and exploring the overarching plot that will run throughout the remaining episodes. Each character gets a significant portion of screen time to further engage in their plights; and scenarios that felt lacking from the first episode get a little more attention too. Gared Tuttle, for example, gets a few more deserved heavy hitting scenes, including one with the popular John Snow. Likewise, Mira Forrester, one of the weaker characters in episode one, save for the Cersei scene, feels a little more fleshed out; with her narrative becoming increasingly more standalone and unlike that of Sasha Stark’s.

Along with the tense, if not occasionally slightly ambiguous conversational choices, the timer returns once again to pile on the pressure to either blurt something out or hold your tongue. Whilst some decisions from the previous episode already seem to be making their mark, there are plenty others present in this one that’ll also have you fumbling for the ‘right answer’. After being sceptical about the timed choices before, in a game that doesn’t require you put over 60 hours into it, they can be a welcome addition. Instead of sitting back and having a good old think about what you’re going to say, you’re always on edge, forcibly listening to the dialogue and trying to anticipate the set of answers available. It tends to flow much more like a real conversation and makes situations mirror the source material more accurately.

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Moody brooding 101

Much like the previous chapter, you’re let out of the stressful conversational constraints once in a while to have a little wander. Unfortunately, much like the previous chapter, there’s not a lot of wandering to be done. Once again, you’ll get the opportunity to talk to a smattering of people and get to ‘investigate’ various objects of interest. Just because it resembles an old school point and click adventure however, don’t expect witty retorts and gainful insights from searching around. Despite what they could’ve been, the free sections feel more as though they were put there simply to spread out the pacing and freshen things up a little for the player; it would be nice to get a tad more meaningful freedom in the future.

As ever with Telltale games, it’s not so much about the fidelity, but rather the stylised picture as a whole; the brushstroke-esque filter works as well with scenic backdrops as it does with the individual characters faces. Unfortunately, as has been with the past few Telltale games, there are the odd few technical hiccups. Certainly not enough to ruin the game, but they’re on the rough side of noticeable; and as prominent as the art style is, if the game jutters, loses audio sync and struggles with the occasional timely button press, it’s more enough to take you out of the experience.

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Just because there’s a sunset, it doesn’t mean everyone’s happy…

The Lost Lords is a solid, if not slightly safe, episode in the saga; it follows on well from the first chapter and impressively, improves upon some of the pacing aspects too. Both the good and bad things regarding this series so far, is that it is quintessentially a Telltale game. It brings all the things you love from the developers such as the difficult moral choices, the well thought out characters and the distinctive art styling. However, hand in hand, it also brings along QTE’s (sigh) and the odd bug too. There’s by no means anything particularly wrong with The Lost Lords, or the Game of Thrones adaptation as a whole in fact, it’s just you know exactly what you’re getting; meaning there’s no real innovation anymore, and that your enjoyment is reliant purely on the source material its based upon.

First appearing as a Kickstarter project, Flippfly’s Race the Sun has gone from strength to strength; at one point hoping to overcome the Steam Greenlight process, its success has now proved itself worthy to join the ranks of the always increasing Playstation indie market. Available on the PS4, PS3, Vita and of course PC, let’s see how an endless runner style game works on the big screen.

Most games employ characters, a plot and other narrative devices to help keep you both interested and wanting to continue playing. Race the Sun instead, relies upon its ‘just one more go’ ethos to try and inject its own form of longevity. The goal of the game is to pilot a solar powered craft towards the ever setting sun in the distance. Movement, at first, can be tricky due to the (presumably) high speeds you’re attaining; especially considering it’s only really the lateral movement you generally control.

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You’ll rarely be this high up for the first couple of hours

Inevitably, there are plenty of obstacles in between you and your infinitely elusive goal, yet what sets Race the Sun apart from the plethora of other ‘endless runner’ type games is its cycling map. Instead of being a random set of junctures each and every time you restart (as you will, a lot!) the ‘map’ cycles every 24 hours giving everybody a fair shot at the leaderboards, but more importantly, letting you learn specific routes to take and avoid. This simple idea makes a larger difference than you might imagine as the problem that often occurs with these sorts of games is the lack of progression. Whereas this way, spending a couple of hours on it will actually make you feel as though you are improving.

On top of the visible feeling of progression you get, Race the Sun also has a few other tricks up its sleeve that help to sway you towards hitting retry. Missions will be constantly doled out, up to a maximum of three at a time, which include a cross section of both easy and difficult tasks to complete. Some might be as simple as ‘travel a cumulated amount distance’ or simply ‘have a few crashes’, whereas others can test your mettle a little more. Getting through zones without denting your ship are easily accomplishable after a while, yet performing 25 barrel rolls in a single run seems a little steep. Acquire three of this level of difficulty and you’ll inevitably feel a tad disheartened at the prospect of progressing.

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Yes, those blocks are moving…

Completing these missions does alter what appears on the map however. At first, it’ll just be you and the open road, yet after making your way through a few objectives; you’ll notice power up items appearing throughout. Some are simply point and score modifiers, whereas others can offer speed boosts, a single jump or even an extra life should you inevitably slam into a wall. Levelling up also unlocks upgrades for your ship too, such as the possibility to carry an extra jump module or a magnetic effect on your ship which’ll help you collect everything from a slightly further distance. The caveat being that you may only equip one at a time, meaning you’ll often have to sacrifice something else you like the sound of.

When you first start playing Race the Sun, not many options will be available, after an hour or so of completing the set goals however, you’ll unlock the Apocalypse mode which is essentially the same, but with a brooding red colour scheme and a much more punishing difficulty. Later on, you’ll also unlock the Labyrinth mode which switches things up a little via zooming out the camera and tasking you with navigating a much more intricate warren of obstacles.

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Staying out of the shadows doesn’t become a priority until you get to the later zones

The games’ minimalist style graphics works to its favour by being both abstractly pretty whilst also highlighting things for the player. In latter zones, the sun will appear to set quicker; therefore casting shadows across the nefarious blocks that threaten to spell your demise. Not only will this make it inherently more difficult to see the clearest path, but let’s not forget we’re in a solar powered ship, and regardless of how ‘green’ that is, too much time in the shade will cause you to slow down to a halt, ending in an immediate game over.

Endless runners usually fall into two separate camps, those who enjoy a quick ten minute romp during a daily commute, and those who feel their lack of depth and substance is more of a barrier than the intended accessibility. If there’s one thing they’ve all got in common however, it’s the pursuit of a highscore, and whether on the global leaderboards, or just some friendly banter between friends, the ability to chase scores is always bound to draw a crowd. Race the Sun then finds itself at an impasse, the smattering of upgrades and permanent progression unlocks are possibly unlikely to draw too much of a large crowd from the more hardcore of gamers who own a PS4. Whilst on the other hand, those already into the ‘endless runner’ genre will most likely have their needs satiated via a smartphone game. That’s not to take anything away from Race the Sun, it is certainly one of the better games of its type I’ve ever played, it just might have suited the mobile market better.

Do you need Ethernet in a room but you don’t want or can’t have cable running in? If the answer is yes you should take a look at this review.

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This how devolo describe the dLAN 1200+:

“The latest Powerline generation – devolo dLAN 1200+. You can easily build today‘s most powerful home network over the power line: connect your network-compatible devices at speeds up to 1,200 Mbps for advanced data transmission and lightning-fast Internet access. Connecting your computer, TV or game console to the Internet via adapter with Gigabit LAN port is a breeze. The integrated range+technology ensures a stable connection with significantly longer range than before.”

Technical Data

technical data

What’s in the Box?

The box contains two adaptors, two Ethernet cables and an installation guide.

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A Closer Look

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Using the dLAN 1200+

Make sure you plug the adaptors directly into a wall socket and not into an extension cable.

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Once the adaptors are connected up, and you have pressed the little button on the side of both to connect them you are good to go. I recommend downloading and installing the develo Cockpit software from their website (there is also an app too) so that you can make changes like naming the adaptors, turning off the LEDs if you need to and evening deactivating PowerSave mode.

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A quick check showed me that there were firmware updates available for the adaptors, so I updated – this only takes a few moments.

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The cockpit utility then shows the speed you are getting – in my case I got 524 Mbit/s although it also went higher (and occasionally lower), but overall I was very happy!

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I had previously got in place the dLAN 500 AVplus which got me 244 Mbit/s per second. I used the same plug points and the same Ethernet cables in the test, so it just goes to show the new kit is significantly better.

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Final Thoughts

For this review we had the starter kit which includes two adaptors, but you can also buy single adaptors.

I found it very simple and quick to plug in and getting paired – I was up and running in a matter of moments. The connection uses AED 128bit encryption to keep it secure.

I am really impressed with the speed of the adaptors, especially when compared with some of the previous devolo adaptors (which I was happy with previously).

Each adaptor also has a plug socked on it so that you don’t use valuable sockets plugging the adaptors in – just plug whatever you had in there before into the adaptor.

The manual is short but shows you pictures of everything you need to get up and running – the only thing to note is that the images in the manual are the wrong way up – they show the Ethernet port on the bottom of the adaptors, when in fact they are on the top (just check the picture above)!

devolo have also included a 3-year warranty so you are covered if anything goes wrong.

You can pick up the starter kit for under £120 now.

If you want Ethernet in different rooms in your house and you don’t want to, or can’t install Ethernet cabling then the develo dLAN 1200+ starter kit is a must addition to your setup – I can’t recommend it enough!

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You can learn more from the devolo website.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Dead Island Riptide there was certainly something missing. It wasn’t so obvious then and the zombie smashing co-op action quickly had me happily distracted. Apart from the swamp area. Techland have decided to abandon their extremely good work on Dead Island and concentrate on Dying Light.

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Expect the first couple of hours to be way to difficult for you to have much fun. Even with two players zombies are unreasonably tough in the early game. You will be running a lot because it’s your only real option. I’m glad I pushed through and managed to get past the overly difficult start and slowly but surely you start to feel more comfortable dealing with Dying Light’s creatures.

Leaping from a building can easily put your stomach on edge as you reach for a ledge – unsure if you can reach it comfortably. More often than not you succeed and I very rarely missed a grab even though I still exercise caution even now.

The only occasions I felt let down are when you have to aim the camera at a ledge or grab point to pull yourself up. Most of the time it’s not a problem and you find yourself aiming the crosshair where you’re heading anyway. But sometimes you need to make an effort and move the camera before you can leap or pull yourself up. It really breaks the flow and although very rare does cause frustration in the middle of your awesome parkour skills.

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Luckily, running, jumping then eventually rolling and sliding through the city though is a joy. Jumping over zombie’s heads and staying out of reach of the more intimidating enemies is always fun. Games like Assassin’s Creed could learn a thing or two from Dying Light’s free running. It’s a real art to make running away just as fun as combat.

Especially when the combat is this good. Dead Island managed to make crushing skulls, breaking bones and slicing limbs off both (very) violent and fun. You’ve got to love zombies for guilt free violence. And none of those joys are lost in Dying Light. Stabbing with small knifes have a satisfying speed that makes up for their lack of power. Hammers swing a bit slower but their reach and ability to crush limbs makes them satisfyingly efficient.

There’s plenty to choose from between hammers, knifes, swords, sledgehammers, bats and much more. Plus each one comes with a certain amount of upgrade slots so you can modify the weapon’s stats quite significantly. And then you can use a blueprint and really change things up. Each weapon also comes with a limited number of repairs and once the weapon’s durability is low enough it becomes ineffective and you have to repair it using a single abundant consumable and one of the weapon’s repairs. Despite the ability that grants a 50% chance to repair without using one of the repairs it’s incredibly unlikely any weapon will last forever.

At first I was dubious. Having a limit on weapons makes you slightly cautious, making sure you don’t ‘waste’ valuable repairs. But as you level up new items become available so there’s also an incentive to use your good loot before it becomes outdated. Despite my reservations the system works well and knowing you will eventually need to find new equipment keeps things fresh and really encourages you to try new things. Eventually it even encouraged me to use things more to make sure I used the lowest level items before levelling up to a point where they became redundant.

Firearms are exempt from degradation and instead rely on maintaining a stock of ammunition. Ammunition is reasonably easy to find and can even be bought from shops if you need it. Gunplay is satisfying and sounds particularly punchy. It’s a vast improvement from Dead Island and I enjoyed using them a lot, although they never take over from the melee weapons at the core of the game.

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Upgrades are split between Survival, Agility and Power. Survival is levelled up based on quest xp and provides upgrades like bartering and other general character abilities. Agility is levelled up from xp given when running and jumping and gives more stamina, rolls, slides and more. Power concentrates on combat and is earned from killing zombies with upgrades to combat stamina, craftable bombs, special moves, etc. Progression is well balanced and the next ability point is never too far away.

Unfortunately the simple plot very quickly becomes a secondary concern and apart from the occasional important scene there is very little added from listening to people talk. It was never going to be Dying Light’s strongest asset and the weak story and ancillary characters didn’t effect me at all, positively or negatively. I simply ignored them and enjoyed the game for what it is.

On the bright side (geddit? I’m so sorry) one thing you cannot ignore is the night time. It’s no gimmick. Getting caught in the middle of nowhere at night time can be a very real problem. Usually running to a nearby safe zone is a good plan. If another player ‘invades’ your game and takes control of the chasing zombie things get really interesting. But honestly the The ‘be the zombie’ mode isn’t really necessary. Dying Light is a solid co-op game and being constantly reminded you can play as the zombie in adverts, box art and even in game is strange. I want to play co-op with my character and a friend, invading someone else’s game isn’t really a priority for me. But if that’s what you want it works well and can at least be a distraction and you can always opt out if it’s not your thing.

The day/night mechanic is at its best when you still have objectives to complete and you can see the sun slowly going down. The panic of the ever-present passage of time is unique and creates a wonderfully frenzied rush that is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in a game before.

And just to round everything off Techland have again excelled themselves by making the environment ridiculously beautiful. Sun glare is a particular speciality but the lighting in general is something special. However my favourite aspect is the motion capture of the zombies. When you see one stumble over a barrier you would swear you were watching an episode of The Walking Dead. Hacking the leg of a zombie on a car bonnet will see it fall, bang its head and then flail on the ground. It’s amazingly, occasionally hauntingly, realistic. It’s all the more impressive given how many zombies appear on screen at once and how massive and detailed the city is.

02

Dying Light is absolutely the game I wanted Dead Island 2 to be. And even though that’s gone in a different direction Dying Light picks it up and improves on it perfectly. Cooperative not-quite-zombie killing with elaborately modified melee weapons has never been better and it’s clear an experienced team has crafted Dying Light.

There are So many zombies that you’ll never go wanting and each horde has a very genuine look to it. A free running mechanic that actually feels responsive with only the occasional hiccup is almost unheard of and Dying Light’s is almost perfect. There’s a decent level up system that rewards your actions and a massive amount of loot to find. A little more confidence in being ‘just a co-op game’ and a solid story and characters are the only thing missing in this amazing FPS. Dying Light is a beautiful looking, content packed co-op zombie romp that is exactly what it should be.

If you want a single device that prints, copies, scans and even faxes (yes faxes) then here is our review of the HP OfficeJet Pro 8620.

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Features

  • Automatic two-sided printing, plus two-sided scanning copying and faxing
  • Print from the office or on the go via your smartphone, tablet or notebook.
  • Get more done with a range of productivity-enhancing business tools
  • High capacity XL cartridges print up to 2,300 pages black and 1,500 pages colour
  • Up to 30000 pages duty cycle (monthly)
  • Get the job done fast with print speeds of up to 21 ppm black, 16.5 ppm colour
  • Create double-sided flyers, borderless photos, impressive leaflets and other marketing materials
  • Print with just a touch from your NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet.
  • Print wirelessly from your mobile device – no router or access to local network needed.
  • Share high-productivity print tools across the office with 10/100 Ethernet connectivity
  • Tap and swipe the large touchscreen to access time-saving apps and manage print, copy, scan and fax tasks
  • Scan to email, network folders, and the cloud – LDAP directory lookup locates your email destination.
  • Handle high volume print jobs with confidence – up to 30,000-page monthly duty cycle

Specifications

There are a lot of specs for this device, and rather than reproducing them here, if you want to see them take a look at the specs page on the HP website.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the printer, a duplex unit, manual and driver CD, power cable, telephone cable and a set of starter ink cartridges.

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A Closer Look

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Setting up the 8620

When you first power on the printer the colour display shows each step you need to take, for example, installing the two-sides printing accessory.

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Each step gives you clear instructions and images, and you follow them and press Next when you are ready.

Adding the four starter cartridges was very simple.

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Test prints are produced so that you can see that the printer is ready to go.

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Using the 8620

Once all the initial configuration has been completed, the printer is ready to use. There are some built-in apps on the printer that you might find useful and interesting. Everything can be accessed via the touch screen so have a look at the various options and get familiar with it.

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You can install install the software on your computer. It’s very straightforward and only takes a few minutes – again you just follow the steps.

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You can also configure the printer so that you can print to it via the web. Again this is very easy.

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You can access all the functions from the installed software – just click on what you want to do.

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Final Thoughts

The 8620 does everything – you can scan, you can copy, you can print black and white or colour, you can print double-sided, you can print to it from the web or from mobile devices, you can use NFC to print and it even has fax capabilities. Yes, I said it earlier and I will say it again, it can send and receive faxes! If you want an all-in-one device for a home or small office then this one does it all.

The first thing you notice when you take it out of the box is that it is big – very big, and it is also rather heavy, so make sure you position it just where you want it.

Putting the printer together and performing the initial configuration was relatively quick – the clear instructions on the built-in touchscreen really made it easy.

Installing the software onto my computer was also easy and it gave me all the options I wanted, plus a few I didn’t know I needed!

The printer itself is fairly quiet and it prints very quickly, that goes for both black and white and also colour. The paper tray can hold a lot of paper so there won’t be a need to constantly fill it up with paper, and double-sided printing is a great addition for any ink jet printer.

Talking of ink-jet printers, this one comes with a set of starter cartridges so you can print out of the box but you will want to buy some replacements ones fairly quickly. The software has the option to order cartridges but as usual look around for the best deal on cartridges. I would recommend sticking with “proper” HP cartridges though.

Scanning was very simple and quick, it did everything I wanted at the push of a button. You can even configure the printer to scan and email you the results if that’s what you want.

I really liked the ability to print from a variety of sources, the one I used the most during the review was from the app on my iPhone as I had a number of photos I wanted to print and it was easier and quicker than emailing the pictures or copying them over and then printing.

Overall I really liked the HP OfficeJet Pro 8620 – it did everything I wanted and needed without the fuss. I am looking forward to the day when I need to send a fax!

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The HP OfficeJet Pro 8620 is available now from Ebuyer for £169.98.

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