Review

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition finally makes its debut, wrestling pretty much every platform it can get its hands on. This new edition features all of the original DLC, plus some extras thrown in for good Luchadore measure. Is a case of selling the same game twice? Or have Drinkbox Studios created a package that’s worth revisiting?

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This is actually fairly sedate as far as some of the fights go

Due to it being a collection, albeit with some tweaks here and there, the gameplay and storyline largely play out similarly to the standalone title released in 2013. You control Juan Aguacate, an unassuming farmer who’s hopelessly in love with ‘El Presidente’s’ daughter; needless to say, when the evil Carlos Calaca attempts to lay waste to the small, humble village, our hero has no choice but to try and put a stop to it. Unfortunately, Juan is but a simple farm hand and is inevitably no match for Calaca, who subsequently pokes him to death. All is not lost however, despite the love of your life being kidnapped for use as a sacrificial lamb, and you residing in the land of the dead, it could be worse.

Luckily for us, Tostada, yet another mysterious luchador, turns up and swings fate around for us with a dashingly magical mask. Once donned, Juan becomes more than just his namesake; subsequently turning into a luchador capable of many great things. As is the style in these types of games however, Juan can’t do everything straight off the bat, in the classic Metroid way, you’ll find areas that are currently inaccessible, puzzle rooms that require more than the standard jumping ability and more coloured destructible blocks than a Lego game.

Along with puzzle hunting, the moves you’ll learn help greatly in combat too. Aside from punches, grapples and throws, you’ll have access to moves that can quickly and dutifully dispatch enemies in one well thought out string. Despite there being relatively few moves at a glance, experimentation is key; regularly employing the dodge command on top of uppercuts, juggles and throws in hectic battles can lead to some spectacular combo counts. Whilst it may not contain the sort of command list you might find in a Tekken title or indeed require the deft timings of a pro Street Fighter duel, the combat still remains to be a clever blend of the two. It rewards complexity, timing and by the end of the game, a full understanding of enemy behaviours, attacks and required techniques.

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In chess, the pawns go first

If there’s one thing Guacamelee does right (admittedly amongst the many other things) it’s the constant feeling of progression. Whether you’re storming through the main plot, dabbling in the many sidequests on offer, hunting down those fiendishly elusive secrets or attempting to achieve gold medals in the Inferno rooms. Everything you do seems to reward you with either XP of which you can spend on upgrading the damage of certain moves and gaining extra health and stamina, or money which you can use to purchase new outfits. More than a simple cosmetic change, the costumes can also bestow helpful effects too. Fancy constant (but slowly) regenerating health at the expense of less stamina? Just slip into the chicken outfit. How about a dashing suit with the bonus of life steal upon hitting enemies? There are many outfits, all with a bonus effect that’s countered by a wince inducing negative, find what works for you however; you’ll feel even more powerful.

If you feel as though the enemies aren’t taking enough of a pounding, there’s always the ‘Intesno’ power. Charging in the usual means by achieving combos and activated by pressing L3+R3, it gives you greater health regeneration and makes your moves and specials more powerful for a limited time. However, as per usual with activated powers such as this, they’re often unnecessary and; aside from some sections on hard mode, all of the fights can easily be won by paying attention to the enemies.

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Yep, you can still turn into a chicken!

As far as the length goes, Guacamelee Super Turbo Championship Edition almost makes up for the length of its title. Focusing on the story missions will get you to the credits in around 6 hours, but sinking some time in to acquire all the collectibles, complete the Inferno challenges and resolve the side missions will roughly take twice as long. Unfortunately there’s no real replay value due to you already knowing the best ways to defeat all the enemies and also having previously discovered where all the secrets are.

Something special that might keep you coming back however, are the gorgeously unique visuals. Inspired by classic Mexican lore, the enemies, bosses and combat all ooze original mythos and really add to the overall art styling. The music will also twang in that form too, offering subtle musings whilst wandering the villages and towns.

With relatively little changed between the original offering and the ‘Super’ edition, it’s both easy and difficult to recommend the new and improved Guacamelee. For those who’ve not experienced the pleasure of Juan and his lucha-lore tale, it’s quite simply one of those games you must play. For those who’ve previously beat the original into submission, I’m not convinced there’s enough to warrant a second round. Having said that, if you’ve been hankering after another playthrough of Drinkbox’s instant classic, there’s no better place to jump back in.

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I’m a huge sucker for action, adventure films with a bit of comedy thrown in, some whit and a decent selection of cast members. When I heard that Hercules was coming to cinemas staring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson I wasn’t too sure I’d even get a couple of these points from this film. In fact, I wasn’t expecting anything big to come from this movie, apart from Johnson’s ever growing muscles of course, and from the advertisements I gathered this film would be cliché and unoriginal. Let this be a lesson to everyone, especially myself, not to ever judge a book by its cover, or in this case a film by its poster.

Hercules is a film that questions who the legend actually is which includes his band of heroes that follows and fights with him. Most tales about this demi-god is usually about the son of Zeus fighting mythical creatures with his great strength. This film is more about Hercules inspiring and leading great wars against fearless armies. His crew is made up of various fighters, an archer, a wild mute beast like brawler, a prophet gifted with seeing the future and even Hercules’ nephew who isn’t much of a fighter but tells the stories of his uncle’s mythologies.

Haunted by nightmare of his family’s death Hercules becomes the fearless hero that strives to do what’s right so that the innocent wouldn’t be hurt no more. But when he and his team are offered a chance to working for a bigger bounty than normal the blurred lines between working as mercenaries and keeping a good morality gets them into trouble. The film is built up of epic scaled battles that doesn’t skimp on the over the top action that is pretty blood thirsty. I’ve been let down in the past with similar films of such genre with the directors not thinking it’s necessary to show the details of war from start to finish. It’s great to see in Hercules the anticipation before war leading to the initiation, then the waves of combat right before the victory.

I was impressed to see a few British actors in the film including Ian McShane who provided most of the whit and several hilarious moments as well as John Hurt playing a Lord which he did a fantastic job with. Dwayne Johnson has always continued to impress me with his on screen persona. He knows what works to be a believable actor and playing the mighty Hercules fits better than any glove. Director Brett Ratner, known for X-Men: The Last Stand and the Rush Hour films did an incredible job with this film especially as the story is a different approach to the legend.

I’d be recommending this film as I feel that the trailer and adverts doesn’t do the film any justice. Seeing a story about a legend through the eyes of a different director, taking a different approach to the mythology and tying it together in a brutal bow made from swords, arrows and the beheaded heads of mythical creatures, Hercules is one to watch. If you’re a fan of Dwayne Johnson, Greek mythology, Hercules or even just fancy a tongue in cheek film with a bit of brutality here and there then this is a film for you.

Here is the trailer:

This is going to be a difficult review. Blue Estate is an on the rails shooter based on the graphic novels of the same name. As with any rail shooter your character will be guided automatically from area to area as you blast away countless enemies. Back in the old days that would probably be done with a Light Gun. In Blue Estate it’s done with the PS4’s Sixaxis. There are several slight problems that sour Blue Estate’s otherwise mediocre gameplay.

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We’ve seen quite a few implementations of the Sixaxis over the last generation and more often than not it was merely an afterthought that was forced into a game somewhere. On the rare occasion it was used more fully however I never actually felt that the Sixaxis tech let me down. Regardless of the fact I would probably just rather not use it, the Sixaxis is quite a capable bit of tech.

Well in Blue Estate it just simply doesn’t work well enough. I can’t help but feel the problems lie in Blue Estate’s design but whatever the cause it doesn’t matter. When me and Sam from here at Connected Digital World ventured out into the first level in co-op the sight that unfolded was, I imagine, both ludicrous and hilarious. Over time your cursor will become completely out of sync with your pad to the point were you’re having to figure out which direction is now up, down, left or right. I ended up with my pad completely backwards and Sam with his upside down.

Truth be told we eventually found the centre button (up on d-pad or ‘L1’) which returns your crosshair to relative normality so you can carry on blasting your targets. At the absolute centre of this game is your ability to aim at targets. In fact it’s all you do because it’s a rail shooter. Having to constantly wait and get shot at repeatedly while you find your cursor is just ridiculous. I curse anybody that actually saw how this game works and thought it was OK. After another go we both quickly got intensely sick of having to fix the game for the developer as we played and quit in frustration. I pushed on with solo to get this review done but that is the only reason I had to play Blue Estate.

You will be bombarded with constant humour and stereotypes that we could all live without. It’s not particularly clever and at times it’s just patronizing. For instance Blue Estate seems to think that women are strippers. End of story. I’ve got nothing against ‘exotic dancers’ but the tasteless assumption that all women are just sex objects is not good or wanted in any way. The jokes are something that even a 10 year old would cringe at. It’s not charming at all, although it seems to think it is for some reason, and it certainly isn’t clever.

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Blue Estate is just a mess. Rail shooters aren’t exactly the most inspiring platform to begin with but when that platform is entirely comprised of jokes that range from bad to almost offensive even a 20 year old arcade game would look appealing. On top of that the gameplay isn’t even entertaining. The auto aim is seriously strong and it seems it needs to be just so the game functions at all. But I’ve never seen the Sixaxis perform so poorly and I can’t escape the feeling it’s Blue Estate at fault. You spend just as much time having to centre your crosshair as you do shooting. This is a game to avoid at all costs. I couldn’t recommend it to anyone under any circumstance.

Once upon a time skating games were all about button pressing and just a little timing. Then it all became about intuitive controls and feeling more connected with your avatar rather than just controlling a rolling combo machine. Well OlliOlli takes us back to a simpler time, or so it seems. And it does it with style.

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After a warning that the game was made to be played with a pad, a little odd if playing on a PC, you get to have a go and learn the basics. Although this warning is worth heeding because if you do use a keyboard (as I did for a while) you will essentially be mimicking a thumbstick using the WASD keys. As you can imagine that doesn’t really transfer very well.

After performing you’re trick of choice you will need to press either ‘A’, ‘X’ or the down arrow to land properly. The closer to the ground you are when you press land the higher the combo will be for the trick(s) you just performed. Miss it and your 2D friend will be put off balance and you will score next to nothing.

You don’t fall off with a ‘sloppy’ landing but it’s often difficult to recover from a bad landing as it takes you a huge amount of time to get back on your board correctly. Before you know it there’s a small drop that, due to your unbalanced state, leads to a face grind. Or it will become apparent that you no longer have the space to perform the next jump. Landing correctly is important and one wrong landing could end your run early. Get used to failure.

There’s a satisfying simplicity to OlliOlli that relies more on timing than remembering overly complicated button combos. The other trick to mastering a level comes from remembering the area’s layout. It’s a lot like a much less punishing Impossible Game. Except my score actually improved after each failure. Learning a level also means you’ll be doing less sloppy landings and getting that score up while making sure you don’t end up leaving your skin all over the concrete.

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The levels are well designed and intricate. There’s always loads to see and grind on or jump over and loads of opportunities to horrendously smash your body all over the place. The pace is quick enough to create a challenge but I never started feeling like I was going to have a seizure at any point, again I’m looking at you Impossible Game. The areas are simple and the only real detail is on the objects you’re interested in, which doesn’t lead to impressive graphics but does allow you to play the game.

But that’s not to say that OlliOlli is limited or easy. Soon I was looking to to increase my score and go for some of the higher score objectives within a level. Once you’ve learned a level and feel comfortable completing it successfully there’s still a load of goals to achieve that mainly come from scoring higher. And inevitably to do so you’ll have to get complicated. I hope your pad gymnastics are up to scratch.

You’ll want to be performing more complicated jumps and flips that can all be find in the games move list called the ‘Tricktionary’. They’re not too complicated on their own but quickly rushing through one of the levels, remembering complicated jumps, avoiding hazards, making the most of each grind and landing them all perfectly isn’t easy. And then, in similar style to Skate, you’ll want to be spinning at all times if you really want to get that high score. At this point, and a little before if I’m honest, I struggle. But the point is the potential to improve is there supported by appropriate objectives if you want to push yourself.

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OlliOlli is relatively simple to complete, challenging to improve and practically impossible to perfect (at least for me). And all the time the scoring system rewards you for pushing your limits all be it only with another objective complete. There’s a simple control system that can be used to perform complicated tricks that shares a surprising amount of ground with games like Tony Hawks and Skate. The 2D style isn’t exactly blockbuster stuff but it looks fine and complements the gameplay well. OlliOlli is well worth your time even if it’s only as a ‘time waster’. It’s so easy to just throw it on and enjoy a few levels for 20 minutes. Or you can be sure there’s plenty to do for longer sessions. OllieOllie is just good simple fun.

With storage requirements becoming bigger and bigger all the time, WD have released a new 6 TB drive in their Red NAS range, and here is our review.

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WD Red hard drives also feature 3D Active Balance Plus, an enhanced balance control technology, which significantly improves overall drive performance and reliability. Exclusive for WD Red customers, WD offers free premium 24×7 dedicated support. By increasing NASware 3.0 capability, the WD Red 1–6 TB capacity drives are capable of supporting up to eight bays NAS systems with no negative impact to performance. The drives have a 3.5 Inch, 1.2TB / Disk; 5-Platter Design.

Who are WD?

From their website:

We are thousands of people worldwide working to enable you to store, collect, access, and use a vast and growing body of digital information. Our reliable hard drives and solid state drives, marketed under the WD and HGST brands, are everywhere that digital information and content is found: in the cloud, supporting your mobile digital lifestyle; in business and personal computers; in external storage devices; in the digital video recorder in your home; and in sophisticated medical, military, aerospace, automotive, manufacturing and telecommunications systems. We also make media players that enable you to enjoy your digital content on the biggest screen in your house – your TV. Our customers range from some of the largest companies in the world to individual users like you.

Specifications

Specs

A Closer Look at the Drive

CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 4CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 5CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 6CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 7

Windows sees the drive as 5.45 TB.

CDW Review WD 6.0TB Red Drive - 3

Performance Tests

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The average read speed was 177.8 MB/s and the average write speed was 172.6 MB/s (which is up on last years 4 TB Red Drive).

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Final Thoughts

The WD Red drive comes in a variety of sizes from 750 GB all the way up to the new 6 TB version we are reviewing here.

This is one of the first 6 TB drives on the market so if you need a lot of storage, and a good speed, and you plan on using the drive in your NAS then you really should look at this drive closely.

Also, this drive comes with a 3 year warranty. Now this may not seem like a major selling point to some people but believe me over the years I have had my fair share of failed drives and so it’s nice to know that anytime during that 3 year period WD will replace my drive if I have a problem – after all, you are spending a lot of money on it!

Every WD Red hard drive also comes with professional support services which includes a premium dedicated 24/7 support line. I didn’t need to use them during the course of this review, but having that option there if you need it is very good.

The performance of the drive is very good – especially as these drives are optimised and designed for use in a NAS, so if you want a reliable, good performing storage drive for your NAS then this will be right up your alley.

The WD website also has a NAS Compatibility Selector which enables you to check if these drives are compatible with your NAS – it’s certainly worth checking, although you will find all the usual suspects are supported.

The retail price for the 6 TB drive (WD60EFRX) is around £240 but as usual look around for a good deal.

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Learn more from the WD website.

If there’s one thing gamers like, it’s killing Nazi’s, a staple of video game entertainment for (console) generations. Bandai Namco and CI Games attempt to cash in on the Nazi gold with Enemy Front, a game they hope will give us more freedom with open-ended levels and the ability to complete objectives however you wish.

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Not representative of game footage…

Enter Robert Hawkins, who to most, is just a simple, everyday war correspondent, yet to the evil Nazi’s, he’s a stripped down Rambo with an eventual kill count to shame most 90’s action films several times over. Set mostly in Europe and heavily featuring the Warsaw Uprising, it’s of course only natural to have an American protagonist ruthlessly slaughtering anyone and everone he can find. You’ll meet up with other classic videogame tropes, such as the French resistance fighter who’s more fatale than femme, the generic commando and of course the German operative.

It certainly comes as a surprise that a game being developed by a Polish company, featuring the largely untouched (in gaming at least) Polish theatre of war, would chose to set out their game like this. It would be far more interesting, and perhaps unbearably harrowing, to see a game entirely and devoutly from the Polish perspective, instead of the usual American hero tale we’ve all come to expect.

The horrors of World War 2 were plentiful to say the least; Enemy Front does attempt a fair stab at representing these atrocities. Several times throughout the campaign, you’ll stagger across situations that you can step forward and intervene, inevitably at the expense of an otherwise, avoidable firefight. It does of course slightly pale into comparison however at the sheer number of Germans you’ll slaughter along the way.

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Again, it doesn’t really look like this on PS3

Despite the game feeling overly ambitious throughout, there is some semblance of truth to what they were attempting to accomplish. Areas are indeed open to experimentation in terms of stealth and covert affairs; with most missions being open to completion with minimal fighting. You can take the guns blazing approach, but you’ll often find yourself in one of two scenarios. Either you’ll alert the relentless assault of the German war machine and get shot in the back repeatedly from the suspiciously spawning Nazi’s. Or, you can let the atrocious enemy AI do the work for you and stand calmly in a doorway whilst they graciously walk towards you in single file.

It’s not only the AI that can cause difficulties in a gun fight either, the weapons feel inconsistent at best. Not far from the beginning of the game, you are offered the choice between a rifle and a sub-machine gun, should you pick the bolt action, (which comes without a scope) be prepared for confusion. Not only will hits not register even vaguely near the target, but due to the lack of any optical attachment, you’ll find ranged shots exasperate the problem. Fortunately for us however, you always come prepared for such an outcome; your trusty sidearm will see you through a majority of battles. Seemingly the perfect combination of more up close stopping power than the SMG’s and possessing more accuracy than the rifle at range, you’ll do most of your work with this.

Luckily for us, there are more than enough excuses to take the stealthy approach. It’s often just a matter of finding the correct climbable open window or the sneaky dusty trail to follow. Inevitably, stealth play has its downsides too however, the stealth takedowns can often be subject to the constant uncertainty and possibility of a hilarious glitch occurring. Whether it be the body of a recently stabbed Nazi disappearing into thin air after flying inside a wall or a guard periodically flopping to the floor in front of his superior, who incidentally, couldn’t care less that he just saw me crouching in front of him.

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These ‘in game’ shots are ambitious…

On top of the obligatory ‘explosive set-pieces’, Enemy Front also borrows heavily from other games too. You’ll find yourself breaching doorways in slow motion, alongside sniping using mechanics very reminiscent of their previous Sniper Ghost Warrior titles. Clocking in at around 5-6 hours for completion; not offering much in the way of replayability, save for the myriad of useless, obligatory collectibles doesn’t inspire much either.

The game’s multiplayer doesn’t offer too much in the way of reprisal, with a scant few modes and no progression system to speak of. Your interest would likely wane after a few matches, should you find any. Having such few people online, the blame can’t squarely be placed at the developers, but with nothing to draw you back in, there’s not much incentive to play when other games on the market better implement their ideas.

If all of these problems weren’t enough, Enemy Front still has one major kicker that you’ll likely notice straight away, its horrendous frame rate issues. It will regularly fall below 30 fps, even whilst there’s no discernable action on screen. Unfortunately, coming off the silky smooth, high resolution games of the PS4, it’s even more noticeable. Whilst the graphics are serviceable, except for some nice lighting effects dotted about, the voice acting, again, lets it down somewhat too. There’s a decent rousing score that kicks in at the right times, but in the end, it’s too little, too late.

Everything regarding Enemy Front screams of a high ambition that it’s not quite reached for whatever reasons. The premise is good, the setting will always appeal to gamers and leaving the style of play up to the user is always a good choice. There can be fun to be had; ‘outsmarting’ the enemies by sneaking your way around can feel rewarding, if not a little hollow. Unfortunately, unforgivable amounts of technical problems are hard to squint past and are inevitably, Enemy Front’s downfall.

Never before have I experienced a game like How To Train Your Dragon 2 on Wii U. Really, it’s such a bold accomplishment it warrants contemplating for a moment. In my many, many years as a gamer I’ve played a huge number of games: E.T. on Atari, Superman 64, Shaq-Fu, Bubsy 3D, Ride to Hell: Retribution… even ‘Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties’ on 3DO. This is all important context, because How To Train Your Dragon 2 is the worst videogame I’ve ever experienced in my life.

This is a real promotional image the developers released.
This is a real promotional image the developers released.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is going to be the game I use in future arguments that proves whatever game the other person is talking about isn’t the most tragic thing to happen to gaming. I completed this game. Two weeks of my life were spent trudging through this awful, mundane, lazy, horrid, putrid excuse of a release. After the first few hours it wasn’t merely for the review, but was to say that I god damn did it. Now I can do anything. No longer will X-Factor faze me, Kim Kardashian make me cringe, or three hour bus delays bother me – because I completed How To Train Your Dragon 2.

Allow me to break the gameplay down for you. You start the game, and are immediately greeted with the training section. No title menu, no story, you’re just sat on Toothless with a training list in your face. Here you learn how to fly through rings, shoot cardboard Viking cutouts with your fire-breath in rail-shooter style, and pick up sheep to put back into their respective coloured pen. Each objective has a grading system (bronze/silver/gold), but these only unlock different dragons/characters from the movie – which are purely aesthetic changes.

From here you can see the entirety of the game's "level".
From here you can see the entirety of the game’s “level”.

Once you finish training you’re into the full game, which consists of… flying through rings, shooting cardboard Viking cutouts with your fire-breath in rail-shooter style, and picking up sheep to put back into their respective coloured pen. This isn’t an exaggeration. The entire game consist of these “minigames” and nothing more. There’s no story, no multiplayer, no unlockables, no collectibles (unless you count the dragon skins), no variation, no hidden missions – this is it.

That’s not all: there is only one level. It’s not even a whole level, the game all takes place on the same piece of island. You don’t even get to see the whole island, because the game doesn’t allow you to leave the set area. So really it’s less one level and more one cliff face. Think this means the graphics on the one area will be at least be terrific? Absolutely bloody not. Game looks like a rejected GameCube era title who’s disk has been through into a blender. The graphics clip, the colours are muddied, what little scenery there is looks arse ugly, and despite everything the game still has frequent screen-tearing.

That's supposed to be a sheep under there. I promise.
That’s supposed to be a sheep under there. I promise.

You’d imagine at least riding a dragon would be enjoyable, but they somehow dropped the ball on that too. The controls are painfully inaccurate. When trying to make precise turns the controls feel slippery and imprecise. If you have the audacity to try to descend for any period of time Toothless will divebomb at triple his normal flight speed.

The fire-breath only fires straight ahead of you, so hitting anything in free-aim is impossible with these flight controls, leaving you entirely reliant on the homing fire that has a very loose definition on what is and is not a target. It’s a travesty of dragon flying.

This is an Xbox screenshot because I'd lost heart looking at screenshots by this point.
This is an Xbox screenshot because I’d lost heart looking at screenshots by this point.

Does How To Train Your Dragon 2 have any redeeming features? Well, the soundtrack is quite lovely. However, it gets NO credit for that because it is literally (literally) three tracks from the movie’s soundtrack ripped into the game with no context. If you turn off the music from the options menu you’re greeted with bloody terrible dragon effects that sound as if they were recorded in an outhouse submerged in sand, and a selection of incredibly repetitive soundbytes from the movie of your chosen dragon rider (on average I’d say maybe 3-4 per rider, tops). Though I admit without these ghastly clips there would be no connection to the movie franchise at all.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is available now on Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (and ports on Wii and 3DS). For love of everything that is good in this world – do not purchase it.

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I can honestly say I’ve been clapping for some time now since completing the final episode of The Wolf Among Us ‘Cry Wolf’. I rarely feel compelled to clapping after films and video games. I must be thoroughly entertained, brought to some kind of tears and/or left wanting more in whatever type of ending I’m left with. I’ll put my hands up now and admit that Episode 5 did this and gave me the same closure to the story, content with my decisions throughout and the emotional rollercoaster ride that their previous game The Walking Dead ended on too. Anyone that has read my previous reviews for these episodes will remember that every episode has got progressively better. More detective elements balanced with Bigby’s quick time events in the wolf action sequences has made each episode progressively better. And to top it off, Cry Wolf takes everything that worked well and ends on an incredible climax.

For anyone that still hasn’t played through the game I’d recommend you to overt your eyes and pick up the season pass as soon as possible. For everyone else that has you’ll be glad to know that Bigby’s tale of uncovering the mysteries behind the deaths in Fabletown and the corruption behind the key characters actually ties together nicely and all questions answered, unlike in the TV show Lost. In the final scene from the previous episode Bigby finally comes across the infamous Crooked Man, instigator behind everything that went wrong and is the sole reason behind this investigation. What cleverly flips these accusations against said man is the reasoning behind such manipulation and exploiting throwing the player into their biggest morality trip ever. If someone instructs the murder of someone then are they innocent or just as bad as the killer themselves?

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From the opening scenes you’ll find yourself playing this season’s most heavily quick time event driven episode so far. Fighting for your life and chasing down the truth players will find the first half of Cry Wolf pretty much an extended action sequence. With less than a handful of choices deciding where you’d like to pursue first and very little differences in the outcome of the choices we discover who actually killed Faith and Lily before facing off with Bloody Mary, finally. With a lot more back story to hear from Georgie the pimp, his girl Vivian and their club Pudding N’ Pie we learn some disturbing truths and finally understand what exactly the magical neck ribbons actually do. And there’s me thinking it was just a magical fashion statement.

The second half of episode 5 is by far one of the best bits of writing I’ve experienced in a game. To set the scene, the Fabletown members including Snow and Bigby have an informal trial regarding The Crooked Man’s crimes. Getting to hear what he has to say countered by what you could possibly choose to say sways the ‘jury’ to who’s making the better point to defend their actions. You have The Crooked Man on one side explaining that this manipulations and exploiting characters such as Beauty and Beast was for a good cause to keep a roof over their heads. On the other side you have Bigby defending his own actions for hurting or killing characters, if that’s how you played, and with Snow over watching our choices does this make her just as bad as The Crooked Man for not being involved in the killings and just over watching it too? All the moral choices are played out in this amazing trial and depending which people you please there’s always going to have others that are upset with either your kindness or brutal decisions. I certainly learned a lot about myself as a human being during this scene. I’m diplomatic, allow everyone to have equal say to defend themselves and if there’s no evidence to clearly prosecute someone then I won’t treat them as bad, or I could have just cut off the heads of everyone that opposes me. The choice is really up to you.

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Everything from this trial onwards teases the fact that there could be more to come from detective Bigby Wolf. Not so much a cliffhanger but more to the point that Fabletown is a town that needs work to be cleansed still. We’ve learned that none of the characters are perfect, every choice has impacted characters such as Toad and his son not being able to live peacefully among the Mundies and sometimes you got to put the squeeze on someone to get an answer. But most importantly Cry Wolf questions at the end if we’ll go out of our way to help someone if there’s not an emotional reason to get involved. My mind was blown. Thank you Tell Tale.

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I must honestly say I’ve always known about the One Piece anime but never watched it or played any of the other games. I can now say that I’ve missed out. After playing through Unlimited World Red on the 3DS I’ve started watching the show and I’m now actually a fan. If a video game makes me interested in the story and characters outside of the game that’s pretty good in my books and this latest title from Namco Bandai was the perfect stepping stone into this world.

One Piece Unlimited World Red follows the protagonists from the Straw Hat pirate crew on an adventure led by Luffy, the kid with the elastic rubbery limbs. All the characters are extremely unique and very eccentric. There’s a skeleton with an Afro called Brook who’s the musician of the group and there’s even a shape shifting talking deer. No one in this game, friendly or foe, is normal but that’s what makes this game have its charm and uniqueness.

Unlimited World features two very different game modes, the story mode and the Battle Coliseum mode. The Story is the adventure that is the action role playing game side to the game. There is a town development element to the game where you must collect resources on your outings to build shops, places to eat and other useful outlets for the town hub you come back to. Having such shops allows you to buy items for your missions but from my play through isn’t as vital as you might think. As the base genre of the game is fighting you can more or less complete the game as a fighting game and overlook the town expansion side to this game. It is there however for anyone that wants to further their experience and for the players playing on a console with the trophies system who want that platinum.

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Within each mission you’re usually trying to track down something or someone before coming across a boss character that you must defeat. The only thing that mixes up the variety is all the side tasks you can participate in. Whether you’re exploring to collect materials and resources for your town hub, grinding the enemy hordes to level up your characters or participating in the mini games such as fishing, there’s something for everyone making the missions less linear than you would expect. The presentation for the in game cut scenes is quite the spectacle. You can see the team behind the game have tried to keep the epic fights and humour as true to the anime from the episodes that I’ve seen. This is a game about the most eccentric group of pirates with their own unique approach to fighting and morals and each of the playable members come across exactly how they’re portrayed in the show.

The Battle Coliseum mode was my favourite mode to play through which follows a different story arc to the game and show itself. Instead of just being a mode where you can fight all the bosses and enemies it has been structured into an actual developing story itself unlike other game’s similar modes. The Coliseum is about Luffy’s team partnering up with the new playable character Law to fight in a tournament. With more characters to play with including the unlockable bosses you must work your way up through the 3 leagues. The types of fights to choose from are Duel which is one verses one, Scramble which is fighting multiple enemies just like in the story mode, Battle Royal where you battle two strong foes or a strong foe and an enemy horde or the Boss Rush which is 5 boss fights back to back. These eventually come in 3 difficulty settings that unlocks more experience points to progress through the league.

What makes the Battle Coliseum amazing is that there are multiple challenges to complete before you’d even get a full completion rate. You have to unlock characters which aren’t available by meeting requirements such as winning battles with certain characters, performing a number of special attacks or even participating in Special Matches where fixed combatants must face up against each other as rivals all with its own back story.

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There’s very little to fault with this game as every small issue I’ve had with it has a solution or understandable excuse. At first I found the camera angle to be tough to get to grips with but there is a Circle Pad Pro option to have that second analogue stick to fix this on the Nintendo 3DS (sold separately). The game wasn’t in 3D at all and it would have been interesting to see some of the sequences like this but the game itself is on multiple formats and is understandable to keep it the exact same. Finally, the game seems to be a game that would be better to play with others and is actually cooperatively for the Wii U if you transfer your save file across. Ideally for me I’d have liked to play this on the move on the 3DS and the on screen hints about playing with others does appear on the format that doesn’t have multiplayer capabilities, but I can half excuse it as you can transfers your save to the Wii U.

All in all I enjoyed my first experience into the One Piece franchise. It’s quirky, fun and offers something for everyone out there with longevity, replayability and the lack of portable cooperative play keeps it from being perfect.

If you enjoyed the first GRID it’s likely you were disappointed in some way by GRID 2. Many of GRID’s best features were unnecessarily cut. The entire game went too far down the arcade route and lost sight of why it’s predecessor was so great. Managing to remain simultaneously focused but still offering a chance to race across many disciplines with handling a nice hybrid of simulation and arcade. Well Codemasters appear to have recognised this and GRID: Autosport sees the return of many of the ideas and features that made GRID so great.

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Probably the most important change to Autosport is with the handling model. Autosport attempts to again find that sweet spot that is the balance between arcade and simulation from the first GRID. That satisfying sliding and skidding that would probably leave us critically injured in reality makes a strong return. But Autosport doesn’t let it get out of control and you don’t get those moments were you wonder whether you’ve started playing Burnout. As with the original GRID, Autosport dares to take itself seriously enough to become a racer but doesn’t require absolute perfection with every button press.

More than once I was reminded of how I felt during my time with the original. GRID is forgiving enough to encourage bravery at every turn but complicated enough that hitting an apex or being smooth with the throttle on the exit of a corner matters. It’s a fine line, and GRID 2 lost it’s way, but Autosport gets it right by looking back to the original for inspiration.

Car models help things by looking their best at all times, especially from the outside. I tend to play racers from the bumper cam anyway but the vehicles in GRID look great. And Autosport allows you to play from an interior camera too. Rejoice all those who will now briefly look at the interior of a car and then continue playing from a different view anyway! But it’s good to see Codemasters have included it anyway. The detail of the vehicle interiors isn’t quite as good as the rest of the game but I imagine statistically there’s very few gaming hours spent there and Codemasters’ attention has been correctly focused elsewhere.

During a bad collision that detail becomes obvious. The detail of the car models becomes clear as bits of car fly off, shatter and bend while the slow motion gives everything a cool weighted feel. There are some areas that don’t have quite the fidelity we might be looking for, particularly with next gen hardware around, but for a last gen title it looks very good.

One of my favourite things in GRID 2 were the tracks. There weren’t many of them and the tracks themselves weren’t always fun to race on but their detail was second to none. And the same goes for Autosport except there are loads of tracks on offer as well. There are a huge number of tracks for you to play on and each is detailed enough to stave off the boredom of hour after hour of grey tarmac rolling off the bottom of your screen.

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Autosport’s career mode yet again returns to old ideas and replaces constant, repeated, first place wins with realistic objectives. In your first season your goal isn’t to finish in first place. In fact you shouldn’t be finishing first place in your first race and Autosport encourages you to continue playing and improving as your position gets better with practice. It’s so much better not to be expected to overtake 20 or so vehicles even in your debut event. And the return of an AI partner as your teammate allows GRID to again feel like a team effort, which was one of my favourite features of the original. With the AI helping create excitement every step of the way you can be sure you’ll get to do some actual racing.

This time your career is split across multiple disciplines; Tuner, Touring, Street, Endurance and Open-Wheel. If there isn’t at least something for everyone in Autosport I’d be surprised. And each discipline feels unique and separated from the others. Touring races see you fighting wheel to wheel in huge packs. Open-Wheel races favour F1 like precision. The only disappointments for me were that the endurance races really weren’t long enough (but then I like the old Gran Turismo style that took many hours each) and the Tuner class wasn’t quite as enjoyable or exciting as the others. But some people will no doubt prefer the races I don’t like. The point is there’s a choice for you. On the whole the multiple class system works well and offers loads to keep you playing even long into your career. Just being able to change things up a bit occasionally makes a big difference.

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A lot of things were missing from GRID 2. And they’re all back in Autosport. Codemasters have really listened to what people want and actually made changes. The thrill of wheel to wheel racing the way only GRID knows how is so close to making a return. The handling model nearly finds that glorious balance between simulation and arcade. There are loads of tracks and plenty of good looking vehicle models. And then there are multiple race classes, realistic career objectives and a teammate. Although I would’ve still preferred to be able to fully manage a team, much like a more in-depth version of the first GRID. But some new features are what GRID needs now.

I wish I could have seen Autosport made for PS4 and Xbox One though as some nice next gen visuals would greatly increase the overall presentation of Autosport. It still looks good, especially for a last gen title but I’m still without a racer for my PS4 and GRID for some reason didn’t take advantage and fill that gap. Well done Codemasters for actually listening to fans but truth be told GRID Autosport is really just what GRID 2 needed to be. Still at least it’s safe to say GRID is back on track. What we need now is the next GRID to see were the franchise goes.

 

It’s time for another two minute review, this time for the Synology DiskStation DS414.

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Synology DiskStation DS414 is a feature-rich 4-bay NAS specifically designed for growing businesses to effectively manage, protect and share data. Equipped with comprehensive office applications, DS414 raises working efficiency while securing data with full backup solutions.

  • Dual Core CPU with Floating-Point Unit
  • Over 207.07MB/s Reading, 135.63MB/s Writing
  • Dual LAN with Failover and Link Aggregation Support
  • 1GB RAM Boosting Multitasking Power
  • Features SuperSpeed USB3.0
  • Hot-swappable & Tool-Less Hard Drive Tray Design
  • Running on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)

Specifications

Specs

A Closer Look

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Final Thoughts

The DS414 looks great with it’s black matt sides which do a great job of keeping it looking clean.

The DS414 doesn’t come with any hard drives preinstalled, so the first task is to slide out one of the drive bays and fit the drive. The whole process is very quick and easy and you should be up an running in no time at all and you don’t need any tools to do it either!

As usual with Synology, the thing that makes everything so easy, and provides all the functionality is the DiskStation Manager software – everything you could possibly need to do can be done from it, from setting up users and folders, to installing and configuring applications.

The rear of the DS414 has two USB 3.0 ports, unfortunately the USB port on the front, which can be used for bulk ingestion of data from a USB drive is only USB 2.0 meaning it can be a lot slower. Hopefully on later models this will be addressed.

There are also dual fans (only one of which is in use at any one time which is great for keeping the noise levels low) and dual Gigabit LAN ports. So you have a fair bit of redundancy packed into such a small box.

The cost of the DS414 is around £350, although as usual you should look around for the best deal.

If you are looking for a NAS box with some great features, then this could be the box for you! Remember, the major selling point for any Synology box is the Diskstation manager software, so keep that in mind when comparing the DS414 against other NAS boxes on the market today.

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You can learn more about the DS414 from the Synology website.

Well the name says it all really. You play as Buck Mann a glorified space delivery boy charged with quickly, and safely, delivering various goods across incredibly dangerous areas of space. I don’t know if there are any space police or whatever in Space Run but if there are they’re really bad. It’s a warzone even for a delivery company!

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Space Run is essentially a side scrolling strategy game that draws heavily from the ideas of a tower defence game. Your ship consists of various hexagons that allow you to place your precious cargo and any of the turrets, shields and thrusters available. You’ll need to ensure that your cargo is protected on a suitably defendable hexagon whilst making sure you have space for thrusters, to get through the level faster, and are able to aim your guns at incoming threats. It’s not always easy to fit it all in.

The exact size and shape of your ship will depend on the mission you take on so you will have to employ different strategies each time. And it gets more complicated when you need to use a power generator to power turrets correctly. There’s a lot to think about and usually there isn’t a perfect solution so there is a sense of just getting the job done rather than creating a super-death-delivery-ship.

After each mission you can spend your hard earned space credits on upgrades for your turrets, buildings and their abilities. There’s a good feeling of progression and you are handsomely rewarded for completing missions quicker. There’s a real incentive other than score to keep completing missions as fast as possible.

But unfortunately there isn’t really enough variation to keep the gameplay interesting past a couple of hours. The ship changes and levels become more challenging and tactical to a degree but there are only so many different runs that you can do. All too soon it becomes a case of repeating the same things over and over. It is challenging, especially if you go for the fastest time, which is where most of the appeal comes from but there isn’t enough strategy to keep things interesting past the 2 or 3 hour mark.

There is a thin plot forced in around Space Run’s missions but it’s really just a way for the game’s characters to be amusing. Or at least try. Sadly it’s almost impossible to feel much of a connection to Buck Mann. He’s about as generic as space scoundrel rip offs come and isn’t as funny as he thinks he is. You’ll have a few laughs, but not as many as are intended. There are some nice Sci-Fi geek references though. My particular favourite was the word ‘frak’ which reminded me how much I need to get a life after I laughed.

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Space Run is a good side scrolling adventure for a couple of hours but there isn’t much replay value to keep you coming back for more. The half baked characters and humour unfortunately don’t deliver as much entertainment as they needed to. With subpar characters and mediocre humour Space Run relies solely on its gameplay. Which is good fun for a brief period but doesn’t do anything to hold your attention for too long. But it is good fun while it lasts.

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