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Review

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.

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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.

If you enjoy gaming on a tablet then you probably that sometimes it’s not that easy without a controller – and that’s where the Wikipad 7 Gaming Tablet comes in, and here is our review.

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Specifications

Specs

What’s in the Box?

The box is well packaged and contains the tablet, the controller, a quick start guide, USB cable and a power adaptor.

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A Closer Look

The controller is quite large and bulky, and has a slot for the Wikipad. There are thumbsticks, triggers and buttons in all the places you would expect them to be.

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The Wikipad tablet itself is both small, thin and lightweight. All the main buttons are on the top of the tablet so that they are accessible when the tablet is slotted into the controller. There is a micro SD card slot to expand the storage capabilities, along with a micro-HMDI port for connecting to a TV or monitor. There is also a 2 megapixel camera on the front of the tablet.

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Using the Wikipad

You can use the Wikipad like any other tablet, but the difference here is the controller. You slot the Wikipad into the controller enabling you to play games more easily.

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Final Thoughts

The Wikipad 7 isn’t a new release, in fact it has been available now since 2013, but there have recently been seem serious drops in price which makes it worth taking a look at.

The processor is the NVIDIA Tegra 3, so it’s not the latest and greatest (again, its been out a while) but with 12 cores it’s by no means a slouch either!

The screen gives a very clear image, although it’s not full 1080p, and it might take you a little while to get used the screen dimensions, but when using it in normal tablet mode it gives you that little bit extra screen for icons and applications.

Connectivity to a large screen TV or monitor it easy using a mini-HDMI cable, although there isn’t one in the box, but then given the new price for the Wikipad you can’t really complain.

As we mentioned earlier all the buttons on the Wikipad itself are on the top of the screen which makes it a lot easier when using the controller, which brings us nicely onto the controller. It’s rather big and hefty, and looks a little plasticy, but it does get the job done and it certainly makes it easier to play certain games than without it. I can imagine though that a few people might not take it outside the house given it’s size. The Wikipad also comes with a number of games preinstalled, and you can of course visit Google Play and buy or download more. Just be warned that there are some games out there that wont run very well due to the hardware requirements, and there are some games that are not compatible with the controller, so make sure you check before you buy. There is a button mapper app included on the Wikipad to help you map controls for other games, but this can be a little fiddly to get working, but it does work!

The battery life was pretty good – not the best on the market today, but then again remember it’s age and new price. That said you should be able to get some good gameplay times out of it.

Increasing the storage is simply a case of popping in a micro SD card, and you play a lot of games you might want to consider that.

So all in all, if you looking for a low priced gaming tablet that you really should take a look at the Wikipad 7.

Available now for £59.99 from Ebuyer.

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With THQ gone the originally planned DLC was altered to form what I thought was a slightly disappointing Saints Row IV. Although it offered the usual ridiculous Saints thrills and spills with a creatively ridiculous plot and setting. Personally I didn’t think the super powers were enough to base an entire game on. I still wish Saints IV had been the DLC to the third game so that we would now be looking at a full new title rather than using aging mechanics and technology. Still in its own right Saints IV was a great game.

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Enter Gat Out of Hell: the DLC to the game that should have been DLC to the game from the last generation. So 10 minutes in after a typically wacky set of cutscenes you see the in game graphics. They just about managed to get away with basing the last gen Saints IV on the last gen Saints 3 engine but it’s just not possible now. Switching from any PS4 title I can think of to Gat Out of Hell is an obvious step back 1 or 2 years. This isn’t a bad looking PS4 game, it’s a PS3 game that has been shoved onto the PS4.

It’s not particularly helped by the setting of Hell which creates an incredibly dreary brown, brown and brown pallet, with the inevitable, if not occasional, splash of purple. Orange jets of fire, crimson rivers of blood or bright white skeletons instantly spring to my mind as ways to add colour but none are present in Gat Out of Hell. Some sort of horrible thorny vine plants could’ve added green. I’m not artistic but the sea of browns is completely depressing from the very start.

Character models, weapons and other effects are obviously PS3 quality. There appears to be no attempt at keeping them inline with current visuals at all. The engine running Saints is just too old. It’s impossible for it to look at home on the PS4. The last Saints game should really have had an update so here on the PS4 it’s just too obvious to ignore.

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Even though Saints is known for being intentionally ridiculous and over-the-top the setting of Hell isn’t welcome to me. I want a city to explore and I want it to look reasonably realistic. For me being in Hell is like swamp areas on a game. There isn’t a single game I’ve ever been on and entered a swamp gladly thinking how fun it will be to navigate or how colourful it will be; and the same apparently goes for Hell.

But my biggest problem with the latest setting is the ironic reduction in the humour and insanity of Saints. The reason that gun you unlock near the end is so fun and ridiculous is because the previous 10 or 20 weapons are relatively normal. The reason the near invincible Genki mascot walking casually down the street with a taser is funny is because you rarely see him – and he can make you fall rather sadly to the floor. The humour and general lunacy of Saints relies on the contrast between the norm. In Gat Out of Hell there is no normal. So when you grab yourself a monster truck with flames blaring out of the exhaust pipes and sirens on top there’s no shock. You just get in and drive off. If that had casually driven down the street once every 10 hours on Saints 3 heads would have turned.

With none of the humour and whit of the more ‘creative’ elements of Saints and an unimaginative, bleak setting that belongs on last gen all that’s left are the missions. Usually sandbox mayhem like Saints Row needs a ton of content to keep us busy; it’s one of the best things about an open world sandbox and particularly Saints Row. The missions are varied but sadly it’s really nothing we haven’t seen in the past few Saints games. Also considering Gat Out of Hell actually is DLC it has far less content than the recent ‘full’ titles, punching in at only 4 hours or so. You can probably extend this a little if you try but you will struggle to get past 6 hours.

For me there’s something missing when you don’t get the customization and connection of creating your own character. Given the setting I found it difficult to really feel connected or care about the stuff I was unlocking. There’s an amazing difference between unlocking stuff for my customized gang hideout with my customized character driving a customized car from my garage and unlocking a weapon from hell for Gat. Add in the fact that before 10 hours it’s all over it’s difficult to care.

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Gat Out of Hell is simple. It’s DLC that offers a small amount of extra Saints Row gameplay. It looks shamefully last gen because the dev absolutely refuses to let go of the Saints Row The Third engine. It’s old and it looks it. No amount of polish can fill in the cracks, Saints Row has needed an updated engine for a long time but now it’s just ridiculous. The franchise can’t move on unless it gets an update and starts living in the now.

So Gat Out of Hell ends up being a short and disappointing DLC that offers little new content for those who’ve played Saints 3. Without the contrast of a close to real world most of the ‘crazy’ humour is lost. There’s still no significant visual updates and the environment is drab and just draining to look at. Gat Out of Hell is nothing but a blatant attempt to drag as many titles as possible out of a game that’s already done and very finished. Saints Row The Third was great, but making countless sequels and DLC using nothing but a re-skin is not the way to move Saint Row forward. I say it’s time for a real Saints Row IV.

Not everyone has an aerial point available where they need it or has the ability to have an external aerial, so an option open to you is to use an indoor aerial, and here is our review of the One for All Indoor Aerial SV9335 and SV9395.

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One of our readers contacted us asking about aerials – his requirements were that it had to be indoors and that he didn’t want anything too big and it had to be HD capable, so we contacted One for All and they sent two different indoor aerials to test.

One for All Indoor Aerial SV9335

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This one is an amplified indoor TV Aerial up to 42 dB and can be placed either horizontally or vertically.

SV9335 Specs

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It has a small dial on the rear of the unit that can be used to turn up or down the amplification.

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The One for All Indoor Aerial SV9335 retails for £24.99.

One for All Indoor Aerial SV9335

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This one is an amplified indoor TV Aerial up to 51 dB that has an external amplifier.

SV9395 specs

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The external amplifier has its own on / off switch and four buttons to increase the amplification between 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%.

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The One for All Indoor Aerial SV9395 retails for £49.99.

Final Thoughts

Both aerials have a unique 3G/4G block-filter to block all 3G and 4G mobile phone signals, to ensure the best possible reception. We couldn’t specifically test this feature but it’s good to have it!

We set up both aerials in a room that didn’t have an aerial socket and didn’t have a great line of sight of the mast (we like a challenge). Both only took a few minutes to take out of the box and plug in.

Both aerials performed very well – both finding 124 digital channels which matched up with the external aerial we later tested.

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The picture quality was superb – we had no complaints on either.

Depending on your specific requirements the choice between the two aerials may be easier – for us we preferred the SV9335 because it was smaller and could be easily tucked away, however the larger more powerful SV9395 with its additional amplifier might be what’s required depending on the room in the house you want to use it and how far you live from the nearest mast. The SC9335 has it’s own little stand which keeps things tidy where as the SV9395 has two feet and the option to wall mount it if you have the room and the need. The only issue with wall mounting it could be the amplifier as you will need to find somewhere to put it, but worst case you could attach it to something!

All in all, if you have a need for an indoor aerial then you should take a very close look at the aerials from One of All – they are great and they won’t break the bank.

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You can learn more from the One for All website.

Back in 2002 I was overjoyed to have the chance to replay one of my favourite games with new shiny bells and whistles. I’d already played the original from 1996 and it had earned its place as one of my favourite games. And a further 13 years have passed and I’m excited to be playing it again, although this time with the added bells and whistles in HD.

It’s generally considered among fans that the original Resi remake for the GameCube is Resi at its best and I firmly agree that Resi has never been better, although 2 and 4 come close at times. Despite the pre-rendered backgrounds and voice acting so bad it’s funny, in its day it was one of the best looking and atmospheric games around. It’s an art that’s largely lost in modern games which so often favour action over consideration and jump scares over tension.

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Almost everything has been left alone from the GameCube remake. The puzzles and areas are exactly as I remember them, and I remember them well. There is a joy to revisiting a place you haven’t been to in over a decade and having an almost photographic memory of every corner and object. For those who haven’t visited the Spencer Estate before it is likely the place will be quite overwhelming. Rooms and corridors are anything but uniform and it will take some time before you have an adequate working knowledge of the mansion and its secrets.

The Puzzles are classically over the top and often totally inexplicable. Examining an emblem that was hidden in a particularly vicious dog’s collar reveals it to be an imitation of a key that you place inside a socket after removing the real key to stop the suit of armour on tracks from crushing/stabbing you to death in a stone hallway. The Spencer’s really believed in strong security. Having so many object results in a sort of constant trading of items back and forth. The dog whistle I used to attract that particular dog is now useless and I can discard it, saving a valuable inventory slot for the new key it allows me to collect.

In fact a large part of solving puzzles, and progressing generally, relies on solid inventory management. Luckily there are ‘magic boxes’ to help you which allow you to store a colossal amount of items that can then be accessed from any other magic box. Even so it’s all to easy when exploring to find a few pieces of a puzzle you’re not even aware of yet and some healing herbs and end up totally full and unable to carry any more items. Making more trips than you need to is not a good idea in this house.

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Also returning from the original and the remake are fixed cameras. And with them come two control schemes; the original ‘tank controls’ (with a button to ‘accelerate’ and buttons to turn like Heavy Rain) and the new scheme that uses the left analogue stick like conventional modern third person titles.

The new scheme is far better for giving enemies the slip ensuring it’s your error that gets you into trouble and not awkward controls. Although they don’t make you untouchable and back in the day I was just as good at dodging the undead with the tank controls as I am now with the new scheme. But the updated controls make it far easier to get playing considering we’re all used to similar schemes – I can imagine many players will never have even used tank controls.

The only time I felt they let me down were on a few transitions when the camera changed and my character was spinning backwards and forwards cutting the camera repeatedly. Almost all transitions worked with absolutely no problems, but when it went wrong it was somehow even worse than it used to be with the old scheme. Out of hundreds of transitions only two or three don’t work but when it happens it’s bad. Throw in the need to dodge an enemy in such an area and it’s all over.

Other than the very rare problems I actually found myself enjoying the fixed cameras. They’re restrictive and claustrophobic. Time and time again I just wanted to rotate the camera to check around the corner. Hearing the shuffling of a zombie that you can’t see creates a tense game of hide and seek that gets the heart going. So much of Resi’s atmosphere comes from the camera angles and I’m glad to have them back. They may have originated from technical limitations but in this arena they excel.

The fixed shooting style also returns and makes for a slow and calculated combat style. Forget about Leon Kennedy’s ability to kick zombies to death or suplex their heads into the ground. You will stop, aim and fire. If you want, or need, to kill something it will have to be thoughtful. If you wait until you need to react it’s unlikely you will have enough time – unless you use some of the rarer ammo. It may be out of place compared with many modern games but again it adds to Resi’s unique atmosphere.

One of the biggest challenges visually comes from working with Resi’s pre-rendered backgrounds. Without a fully realised 3D environment improving elements is difficult, especially when modern lighting models are concerned as they rely on the environment being 3D. But the remaster looks incredibly good throughout. Certain environments are improved more than others, the main hall stands out as an example of one of the best, but nothing looks like it’s from 2002, or even close. To get everything in a 16:9 aspect the top and bottom was cut from the original 4:3 which is a pretty crude technique but at no point did I notice anything missing. Capcom really have done an amazing job getting a 13 year old game to look modern(ish) on a PS4.

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Limited saves, elaborate puzzles, punishing difficulties, cheesy voice acting and door animations all make their glorious return and I couldn’t be happier. The visual overhaul is nothing short of amazing. Areas have been cleaned up and overhauled so they look refreshed and the Dolby 5.1 further rejuvenates Resi into the current gen. The ‘96 original was one of my favourite games until the 2002 remake came out and know there’s the 2015 remaster. That brilliant little GameCube disk remained one of (if not) my favourite game for over a decade. Now that it’s back I’m glad to say this opportunity wasn’t wasted.

It’s great to have a proper survival game back at its best. The only problems are a few iffy camera transitions, some aging that can’t be hidden (i.e. the voice acting) and the knowledge that this is the best Resident Evil in a long time, and it’s only this good because it hasn’t changed. The Resident Evil franchise is so far off track that I can’t ever see it returning to this kind of legendary game. So while I love playing this Resi remaster it’s hard not to play it knowing this is the ultimate version of the long dead glory days of the Resident Evil franchise. I’m so glad I am able to enjoy Resident Evil once again, but it’s extremely unlikely there’ll be another one as good as this. It’s not a negative mark against this game but it is sad to know this is highly likely to be the last time I will play, and love, this truly amazing, genre defining game.

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It’s time to review the WD My Passport Wireless drive.

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This is how WD describe the My Passport Wireless:

“This is the one wireless drive for all your devices. Free up space on your tablet and smartphone. Back up or transfer your photos and videos from your SD card to keep on shooting. It’s wireless. Portable. It’s one drive with no boundaries.”

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the My Passport Wireless, a power adaptor, a cable and some paperwork.

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A Closer Look

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Using the My Passport Wireless

Once you have charged the My Passport Wireless, it’s time to connect it to either your computer, or your mobile device. The following screenshots show the web interface via my MacBook.

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Once you have signed into the My Passport Wireless you can easily see how much capacity you have remaining, what you have used, how much battery charge is left, how the My Passport Wireless is connected and more.

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You can also make changes, for example how your My Passport Wireless connects to your network or the Internet, various admin type tasks, hardware details, media streaming and even checking for and updating the firmware.

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You can then start using the My Passport Wireless for whatever you need it for – for example, if you want to transfer images from an SD Card, just pop the SD Card into the side and then press the WPS button to start the transfer.

Final Thoughts

The WD My Passport Wireless is available in either 500GB, 1TB or 2TB (2TB is the one we have here for review.

The My Passport Wireless is a little bigger and heavier than a standard external drive, but then it is doing a lot more. It also looks good with its silver edges and black top.

Configuring the My Passport Wireless is fairly simple and straightforward – my advice would be to fully charge it first though, especially if you want to do the firmware update. You can leave it plugged in to the power thought if you don’t want to wait.

Battery life is pretty good – I got somewhere between 4 and a half and 5 and a half hours from it, and that was a mixture of file transfers and media streaming.

The media streaming work well – just connect whatever you want to use to play the files to the My Passport Wireless and away you go.

One thing that I didn’t like was the amount of time it took to transfer my files via SD Card, it seemed to take forever, so make sure you do regular transfers if you are taking lots of photographs otherwise you will find yourself waiting around, a lot! Transferring files was easy though – just put the SD card in and press a button. Then wait…..

However, what was fast was connecting via the USB 3.0 port – transferring files this way was very quick!

Another useful feature is the Internet Sharing option. What this does is allow you to connect and use the My Passport Wireless as a Wi-Fi hub so that multiple devices could connect to the My Passport Wireless to share a single connection. This is very useful if you are somewhere like a hotel room that might charge you to use Wi-Fi on a per device basis!

The interface is very simple to use and gives a lot of information – it’s very easy to make changes and to get an up to date picture of the drives usage.

The My Passport Wireless also comes with a 2 year warranty.

The WD My Passport Wireless costs around £199 for the 2TB model so it’s not cheap, but you do get those added features, it’s not just another external hard drive.

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You can learn more from the WD website.

Fundamentally Warhammer Quest is a classic turn based strategy game. You take your band of heroes into a dungeon to kill it’s inhabitants and steal their stuff. Visiting one of Warhammer Quest’s villages will reveal at least one quest for your team to take part in when you return to the world map. To move things along the story is told through a series of text boxes. They’re well written but it can make quests feel a little dry when the big conclusion is a box of text you get to read.

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Dungeons are randomly generated but they’re nothing special. There are clear blocks that form simple shapes that fit together nicely. No matter what the quest is or what’s happening in the ‘story’ the gameplay never deviates from its path. Walk through the dungeon to reveal the area and kill everything in sight. There’s absolutely no variation in objectives other than the distinctly missable text boxes.

Unfortunately this is where the fact that Warhammer Quest was originally from iOS starts to become a problem. Sure when you play a mobile game you want 10-15 minutes of uncomplicated fun. A complex story would probably just ruin the pace. But it doesn’t translate to the ‘big screen’. On a mobile you would expect to play for only a short time and keep returning for a similar burst of game time. You expect to be able to sit and play a full PC game for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Warhammer Quest makes it very difficult to stay interested for that length of time given that not a lot changes.

Finding loot is one of the only ways I felt the need to return to Warhammer Quest. Whichever of the four characters you choose to play with will have loads of options for equipment and loot drops are frequent enough that it’s never long before you find yourself reequipping a character. But the loot isn’t particularly imaginative. More often the not it’s a simple case of replacing items for superior ones rather than any complicated compromises or choices.

The combat is another casualty of Warhammer Quest’s mobile origins. There is nothing more to do than move near an enemy and click on them to attack it. If you have a character capable of ranged attack they obviously will have more choice but it still basically comes down to tapping a creature and seeing if you killed it or not. The only sense of strategy involved is making sure everyone in the team gets an attack which is really a case of making sure you move characters with common sense rather than any strategy.

Yet again this gameplay would work if I were tapping away on a mobile screen but on my PC with a mouse and keyboard it’s just too simple. Click to move, reveal map, click to move, attack enemy. That’s really it. There are a few abilities and spells to concern yourself with but that’s basically just one more click. There’s no cover or defence to concern yourself with. There’s no overwatch or strategic positioning to think about. You move and hit the enemy and hopefully it dies first. The miss rate is unbelievable and more often than not you’ll spend your time swinging and missing; until you finally hit something and kill it.

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Warhammer Quest’s worst sin however has to be the visuals. They haven’t been altered from the mobile version at all. And it shows. At best there is a slight blurring around everything that makes it look like you’ve zoomed in on a low resolution video. At best you have huge patches of unused black space around the edges. Top down strategy games usually don’t focus on high fidelity but Warhammer Quest literally hasn’t been improved from the mobile version to the PC.

One of the most glaring occurrences of this is when you visit a town and a pop-up book opens showing a rough 3D map of the place. It’s a nice way to represent it without rendering an entire town pointlessly but viewing on the PC just makes it look stretched. Which is exactly what it is. It’s pixelated, blurry and just horrible to look at.

But just when you think it can’t get any worse there’s just one more thing that Warhammer Quest has brought with it from the mobile platform – premium currency. I’m not actually so offended by premium currency as a concept these days and some of my favourite games have been free-to-play with currency. But to pay for a game as badly ported as this and then find a premium currency system is just an insult.

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Unfortunately there’s nothing complicated to Warhammer Quest. You play for 20 minutes and probably get bored and turn it off. Which really is to the games credit considering it’s a mobile game. But to port a game successfully from iOS to PC there needs to be at least some changes. Increasing the resolution on videos rather than just stretching them is one. The same goes for the environments too, stretching low resolution assets is never a good move.

Visuals aside there just isn’t enough complexity in Warhammer Quest to compete with other turn based strategy titles on the PC. That same complexity that would be undesirable in a mobile game is so important to a PC game. Space Hulk offers more strategy in a Warhammer setting and if you’re just looking for turn based strategy there are loads of better games on Steam for this price; and almost all of them don’t have premium currency. If you want Warhammer Quest get it for iOS where it belongs, as a PC game it’s just not worth playing.

If you play a lot of games you might be on the lookout for a decent gaming chair – we got to test out the Xenta Pedastal Gaming Chair and here is our review.

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This is how the chair is described:

“A gaming chair needs to be comfortable, include all the audio features you need and if it just so happens to make you look like a Bond villain in the process, so much the better. The Pedestal Gaming Chair from Xenta provides all of these things and more.
The sleek and imposing no-nonsense design lends the chair an air of authority. If you didn’t already know about the built-in speaker system, you might assume it belonged in the office of a high-ranking executive. Lower yourself into it and prepare to feel both relaxed and fully supported through the combination of ergonomic design, adjustable headrest and curved armrests.
No matter how you swivel it, the chair is only a chair until you give it power. Plug it in and prepare to experience your favourite movies and games like never before. The audio is piped in directly over your shoulders to make you feel a part of the action like never before.
The chair itself if fully adjustable and comes with a number of levers and switches that allow you to adjust the seat to your exact specifications. A handy control panel is also included in the seat unit so you can adjust the volume and bass levels while barely moving a muscle.”

Key Features

•    Compatible with all games consoles, media players and video devices
•    Built-in 2.1 speaker system
•    Ergonomic design for the hardcore gaming comfort
•    Connect up multiple chairs for multiplayer mayhem
•    Fully adjustable

Putting the Chair Together

The chair comes very well packaged and only has a few parts to fit (and comes with everything you need to put it together).

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The seat part is actually folded together.

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The base is heavy and sturdy, so place it on the floor or another stable surface.

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Drop the stand into the base unit.

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Fit the lever mechanism to the base of the chair.

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Then fit the arms to the side – this can be a little fiddly so be patient.

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After you have then slotted the chair into the base just add the final piece which is the headrest and they you are pretty much ready to go!

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A Closer Look

This is what the chair looks like when it is put together.

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On the side of the chair is a control panel that has the power connector, a headphone socket, an input for connecting either a games console, a tv, dvd, blu-ray player or other receiver, or a handheld device such as an iPod, iPad or mp3 player. There is also a Multi Player connector for connecting up to a second Xenta gaming chair. There is also the on/off power button and both volume and bass buttons.

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Final Thoughts

If you are a serious gamer then you want a serious gaming chair, and the Xenta Pedastal Gaming Chair is just that! It looks like a luxury leather business chair and is rather comfortable for sitting back in for extending gaming sessions. The arm rests are in a good position too!

As we mentioned, the chair comes very well packed and everything you need to put the chair together is included in the box. It took us about 30 minutes to put it all together properly as fitting the arms proved a little fiddly. Once put together though the chair is very stable. You can adjust the chair as needed to you particular requirements – I personally found that I didn’t really need the headrest so I just took it back off – it was only held on with velcro so it wasn’t a big deal to do it.

Connecting the power to the chair was easy – just make sure you give yourself enough room as you don’t want to start swivelling in the chair and pull out the power in the middle of a hectic battle!

Connecting up a console, or other device was also very simple with it just being a case of connecting up the right cables to the input on the chair, and in the case of the PS3 making a settings change, but don’t worry the documentation tells you everything you need to know about the settings change and also about connecting up various devices.

Once all that was done and the game was running I found the sound to be very good – the speakers are either side of the top of the chair so you get a good listening experience. You can easily adjust both the volume and the bass by reaching down with your hand (you don’t even have to get out of the seat if you don’t want to). It also works well with headphones for those late night gaming sessions were you need to keep the noise levels to a minimum.

There is also the option to connect to another chair for multi player fun, however as we only had one chair we couldn’t test that out.

All in all we really liked the chair, it was easy to put together, was comfortable and produced a good sound.

The Xenta Pedastal Gaming Chair is available for for £149.99 from Ebuyer.

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Learn more from the Xanta website.

One gadget we all need around the house is a vacuum cleaner, and Vax recently introduced their new Air Cordless – and here is our review.

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Building on their iconic Air range of lightweight upright vacuums, Vax has created a full-size machine that’s powerful enough to clean your whole home for 50 minutes2 without having to find a plug socket. By changing just one simple thing – replacing the cord with their extended runtime LithiumLife battery – they’ve changed everything about the way you clean. The Air Cordless gives you the freedom to vacuum without limits, obstacles or boundaries.

Specifications

  • Lightweight – 4.6kg
  • No loss of suction – cyclone technology
  • Two extended runtime LithiumLife batteries – 50 minutes
  • Exclusive WindTunnel3 technology
  • Air Motion technology – swivel and twist around furniture and objects
  • Large-capacity, bottom release dirt bin – 1.05 litres
  • Multi-floor cleaning
  • Removable cleaning wand
  • Battery level indicator
  • 6 year guarantee

What’s in the Box?

The box contains the Air Cordless, along with the battery charger, 2 batteries, instructions and various tools.

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A Closer Look

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Cleaning the Air Cordless

There are two elements that can be easily removed and cleaned on the Air Cordless.

The first is the filter in the dirt container. You just lift off the dirt container and twist off the top to gain access to the filter. You can then remove it and wash it under some water and then re-fit it.

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You can also easily remove the brushbar and clean it. Certainly I had to do that a couple of times when things got wrapped around it, but it was a very simple and quick process.

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Final Thoughts

Now I will be honest, I am not a fan of cleaning and hoovering, but then how many of us actually are? One thing I really find a pain is having to keep finding plug sockets to plug in the cleaner, then lifting up cables and then doing that strange dance around the room trying to not go over the cables and then having to find another power socket and doing it all over again. So when I heard that the Air Cordless was well cordless I wanted to see how much of a difference it would make to me, and believe me it made a huge difference.

The battery lasts for about 50 minutes of use, so for most people that will be enough to clean everything. One really good thing is that Vax included a second battery so that can be left charging whilst you are using the Air Cordless and if you do run out of battery power you just swap over the batteries and carry on. The downside is that you have no excuse for stopping as you will always have power!

Cleaning the Air Cordless was a breeze, and described earlier, and emptying out the container just involved the press of a button.

Using the Air Cordless was also very simple indeed – it moves fairly effortlessly across both carpet and flooring (you can select to switch the brushbar on or off depending on the surface you are cleaning). It also works fantastically on corners and on stairs. The extension tube is very easy to use and has quite a reach to it!

The Vax Air Cordless is available now for £299.99 and frankly it’s worth every penny, unfortunately I have no excuse anymore not to do the cleaner – so thanks Vax!

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Learn more from the Vax website.

The original Little big planet was nothing short of amazing. The mechanics where,  even at the time, rather outdated and giving them a quick polish worked amazingly well. It’s pure innocent charms and Steven Fry’s commentary are impossible to resist. But really how complicated can a platformer be? Sure the graphics are nice and the platforming is huge fun but ultimately that’s not enough. And there lies Little Big Planet’s key to success.

As with so many successful modern games opening design and creation to the community can be a huge advantage. You can all but guarantee that eventually someone will make something amazing or use tools in a totally unique way that nobody ever thought of. There’s something very satisfying about playing each level knowing you could make everything in it, with enough talent.

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So Little Big Planet was something new and Little Big Planet 2 added a huge amount of features to expand the creative side of the game and therefore what was possible in a level. For Little Big Planet 3 Media Molecule had a seemingly simple, albeit brilliant, idea. More characters. Given what was possible in the previous two games with one character imagine what you could do with 4. In essence the single player campaign is an extended tutorial, now more than ever given the amount of new stuff to be explained. But it’s a decent adventure with the usual pantomime villains and silly jokes. As usual it’s impossible to resist Little Big Planet’s charms for all of its 6 or so hours offline.

The plot is simple, Sackperson has been captured and 3 new characters are tasked with rescuing him. There’s Odd Sock who’s a sort of dog like Sackperson who can repeatedly back jump off walls to make his way between two objects. When playing as Odd Sock there’s a definite flow to the game with levels tending to be fast paced and almost Sonic like at times. The speed and momentum is similar to the standard platforming with that slight weightlessness that makes the platforming so satisfying, but with some extra jumping abilities levels feel surprisingly refreshed.

Toggle is probably my favourite character to play as and also adds the most new function to the game. Toggle can either become very small so that he has very little mass or become large and have a very high mass. It’s another case of a simple mechanic that can give birth to complicated gameplay. One example is launching yourself out of water by first becoming heavy and sinking then switching back to being light and rising to the top violently to spring yourself up and scale an obstacle.

Swoop is basically a bird and as such can fly – a bit. Swoop is a little less interesting to play and can basically glide and fly about as well as flappy bird. As Swoop you can also pick certain objects up and move them around as a sort of plug and socket puzzle. There isn’t the same pace and momentum that I like so much about the gameplay of Little Big Planet and swoop just doesn’t capture me like the other characters. But still it’s yet another way to play and another option for level creation.

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The compulsory tutorial that you always have to complete before getting stuck into level creation has thankfully been drastically overhauled. Previously they have became stale long before the end. Even Stephen Fry’s narration wasn’t enough to keep the boredom away. With as many complex features as Little Big Planet now has an in depth tutorial is inevitable but luckily LBP 3 makes it slightly more interesting than before. Instead of pop-ups full of information and the odd video the tutorials now play as simple puzzle solving levels.

In one series you will need to create, delete and reshape items to get through the level. In another you will use string and elastic at different lengths and strengths to move objects or create swinging grab able items to Tarzan over a gap. Slowly but surely you make your way through all that LBP has to offer. Making the tutorial a series of mini challenges rather than just being told what to do you not only gives you a greater understanding of how to use the tools but helps prevent boredom too.

And once you’re done you can create and upload levels as much as you want. They can be simple or complex, long or short but they’re fun to create and LBP still invites you to get stuck in and just play around. Creating with a friend is especially fun and can even be quite productive. But I’m not a creative kind of person so playing other people’s levels is the main attraction for me. Luckily all the levels from both previous games are playable in LBP 3 which means there is an absolutely colossal archive of levels ready to be played already. There are some really amazing levels to be played from the previous games so it’s nice to have them all in one place.

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Following tradition everything still looks great but nothing is allowed to look slick. Everything has that tacked together feel that makes LBP look so distinctive. But that doesn’t mean the visuals haven’t been improved. The fuzz from Sackperson’s material in particular looks amazing. It catches the light just as you would expect and really makes you want to reach out and scratch the hessian.

All the usual charm and character is still the basis for LBP. In fact it forms the foundations for everything else to be built on. The first game was a great base and the second one expanded on that in a way that seemed very complete. But Media Molecule have managed it by adding new characters with new abilities that can drastically change how a level is played, or created. Even without substantial new tools just having a couple of key new mechanics has yet again expanded on Little Big Planet’s already impressive world. Even if you’ve been here before and played the previous games extensively LBP 3 is well worth visiting.

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If you are interested in a retro radio then here is our review of the Steepleton Heartbeat 60’s Retro Radio.

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When you were young, everything was so much better. You lived in a much better world, with much better people and even better music! Get back to the days when music was gold with this amazing Heartbeat 1960s Retro Style Portable Radio!

Features

  • 1960’s Style AC-DC Radio
  • MW/LW/FM Radio
  • Leather finish case
  • Big analogue dial scale – key station markings
  • Rotary ON/OFF, Volume and turning knob

Dimensions: 16.5 x 14.5 x 10cm

A Closer Look

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Final Thoughts

The radio comes in three different colours – pink, black and the one we had for review, Orange.

The radio is quite small and is very light so carrying it around won’t be a problem, although you are most likely to use it in a kitchen or bedroom.

It is powered by either the included power adaptor or by batteries.

It has a telescopic aerial for FM radio, with internal aerials for both MW and LW. I found even inside the house I got very good clear reception.

The sound quality is very good, and there is a headphone socket on the side as well for those times when you don’t want to disturb anyone else.

The power and volume is controlled by a dial on the front and there is also a tuning dial, just like old fashioned radios! Tuning in was simple, and gave me a very nostalgic feeling! Yes kids, we used to have to tune things in using dials!

Overall this a great piece of retro kit and would look good in any room.

Available for only £34.95 from www.prezzybox.com

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Telltale Games have released Episode 2 of Tales of the Borderlands, and here is our spoiler free review.