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Review

It’s time for another two minute review, and this one is for the Sony PS Vita CitySlicker Case from Waterfield Designs.

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We have reviewed a number of products from Waterfield Designs in the past, including MacBook Air cases and even bags, and so we thought it was time to review something a little smaller, and hope that we could get the same sort of quality and protection for our Vita.

This is how Waterfield Designs describe the case:

“The slim PS Vita CitySlicker is probably the best-looking case out there for your PS Vita or PS Vita Slim. Made of sturdy ballistic nylon and leather, it’s custom-fitted for your device and provides pockets for commonly-played games you may want to take along. The cushy interior hugs the PS Vita so it doesn’t jostle around. The exterior sports a double-layer leather flap that enriches its look. The back of the case has a stretchable, self-locking zippered pocket to hold more games and ear-buds.”

A Closer Look

The back part of the case has a very easy to use zip which opens up the rear compartment.

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You can easily store your earbuds or something else in the back as it is quite stretchy.

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Even with the Vita in the case it still is quite small.

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When you open up the front flap you have access to the main compartment and also cartridge holders.

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Using the Case

It is very easy to slip your Vita into the main compartment.

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And the same goes for the cartridge holders. There are only five but you could always store some in the back.

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Final Thoughts

Having reviewed a number of Waterfield Design products in the past, I was expecting a certain level of quality, and I wasn’t disappointed. The case is very well made, and feels very good in your hands, it is also very lightweight but at the same time is gives your Vita a lot of protection for when you are carrying it around in your bag.

The front flap opens and closes very easily and locks in place with two studs – it won’t open on it’s own so you don’t need to worry about something falling out! The back has a large zip and you can store whatever you want there, as long as its small. I stored my earbuds there and it didn’t detract from the look of the case.

The front also has five cartridge holders and again these are very secure, so you won’t be losing anything from in there! The Vita slides in very easily into the pouch and is held there very securely.

Overall I was once again very impressed with the amount of effort Waterfield Designs has put into their work, this really is the Vita case to own.

The Sony PS Vita CitySlicker Case is available now in Black, Kiwi, Orange, Camel and Grizzly (which is the one we are reviewing here) and costs $49.

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You can learn more from the Waterfield Designs website.

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When I was growing up in secondary school I was like most youngsters that collected the original Pokémon trading cards. However, I didn’t learn how to play it the proper way until late last year when I went into full Pokémon mode with the release of their latest game X & Y. After acquiring my first grass type starter deck from the Kalos Region I once again found that love again and need to collect, or should I say catch em all. Every few months a newer expansion pack is released to keep the trading card game fresh, up to date and most importantly offers you a chance to collect a shiny Pokémon card to add to your every growing collection. So when I was asked to review the latest Furious Fists expansion packs I was instantly onboard and have loved every minute of it.

What is this Pokémon Trading Card game?

Whether you’re a fan of the TV series, an avid Pokémon trainer that plays the video game or just a lover of the Japanese pocket monsters you’ll somewhat already know that battling them is one of the primary roles. The trading card game is the battling side to the ever-growing Pokémon franchise with the obvious opportunity to trade for better cards. Once you’ve laid out the playmat to battle on you’ll divide your deck of 60 cards into a Prize Card section where you collect up to 6 cards after defeating your opponent’s individual Pokémon, your Bench where you line up 5 of your own Pokémon ready to battle with, your Deck pile where you draw new cards from, your Discard Pile where used cards and defeated Pokémon go, and most importantly your Active Pokémon section where you fight. The system works similarly to how the series and the game works. You only can defeat 6 Pokémon, items can boost your team and you even can to be tactical with whatever cards you randomly deal yourself.

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What is Furious Fists?

With most successful franchises out there releasing a sequel or an expansion is what the fans would always want. Something to keep the interest, a new talking point and most importantly renewing this brand to keep fans happy and even bring in new players. Furious Fists in an expansion to the XY set of cards with 2 theme decks and multiple expansion packs. The 2 theme decks is the Dark Hammer deck with the mascot Pokémon Pangoro, the fighting panda, and the Enchanted Echo deck with the mascot Pokémon Sylveon, the fairy evolution of Eevee.

Dark Hammer consists of Pokémon that are hard hitters, fighting types and dark types. Featuring cards such as the Pokémon Mienshao who pulls a tricky hit-and-run as Pangoro hammers away at your opponent’s deck. Landorus keeps your team powered up with energy and Machamp’s Fighting Fury Ability can boost your attacks. To name but a few from this deck of 60 you’ll certainly be pulling out all the stops.

Enchanted Echo consists of Pokémon that are more likely to disrupt your opponent’s strategy as this deck of fairy types isn’t as innocent as it seems. Damage prevention moves from Clefable and Accelgor plus the healing powers of Victreebel and the Potion item, this deck balances out the fight to whatever the opponent throws at you.

Is Furious Fists for you?

The accessibility into playing with this pack doesn’t change if you’ve already learned how to play the Trading Card Game itself. It offers more to choose from and the initial game created years ago hasn’t been changed. This means that the expansion will appeal to anyone that’s previous played and the learning curve for the new cards is null. Literally you can play out of the box on release.

The quality of the components within each theme deck and the expansion is top of the range, sturdy and the shiny cards always gleam, just how a rare card should. The deck box, damage counters and metallic coin are built to last and endured the beating I gave them from the battles I had during my review.

The newer cards weren’t overpowering the older cards meaning you can incorporate older cards into the game. I purposely played with my older deck from last year against a Furious Fist deck and still managed to have a great match. I threw in a few expansion packs into the mix too and it complimented what cards I originally played with and still didn’t unbalance the game. So if you have your older cards around don’t think that they’re now redundant, dust them off and get back into the action.

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Verdict

I love playing anything Pokémon related but the latest Furious Fist expansions have rekindled my excited to play and trade more. Each of the 2 theme decks come with a decent amount of cards, evolutions, items and are all balanced to ease you into battling straight away. I’m pleased with the individual booster packs for Furious Fists offering me some pretty awesome and rare cards and now I must collect more. I’ll urge any Pokémon fans out there who were like me, a collector of the card but not the player of the card game, to try out the game and see it’s actually as fun as the video game battling itself. I, for one, am excited for the next expansion but until then I must become the Pokémon master, of the cards I already own that is.

Now that the retail boxed version of Ultra Street Fighter IV has arrived it is now the complete edition. Within the boxed title comes everything that was available from the digital upgrade a couple of months prior but with all the alternative costumes that were purchasable over the years. Players like myself who held off from buying the online upgrade that required the Arcade edition before hand have also had the chance to pick up additional costumes through pre ordering the game at selected shops. Doing so and awaiting for the boxed version now means you’ve got everything that Capcom has to offer. This is biggest update to a Street Fighter game to date even though Seth Killian originally planned for the previous title to be the last.

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Over the past few years we’ve seen 2 updates, the first being Super Street Fighter that added 10 new characters, then Super Street Fighter Arcade Edition which brought 4 more characters, and now Ultra Street Fighter IV which adds 5 more characters. 3 of the 5 characters you might have already played or come across from 2012’s Street Fighter X Tekken game. Poison, Hugo and Rolento, all from Street Fighter X Tekken have their same moves with some tweaks and are joined by 2 additional characters, Elena and Decapre. Elena is a female Capoeira fighter seen in previous Street Fighters with the unique ability to heal as her ultra move. Fighting only using her feet as Capoeira fighters do, Elena is the only additional character that offers a unique fighting style and is also very quick and accessible to learn. Decapre was the last character to be announced and also debuts in Ultra Street Fighter IV. She has a similar look to Cammy but has her own unique move set and is armed with a claw and some moves which resembles Cammy’s.

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With the added characters there sadly isn’t the option to take them into the Trial mode to challenge yourself to furthering your training. Being a feature I only tend to use when I fancy trying out a new character I can’t fault this but there will be some fans out there who’ll miss the 24 stages of trials. Perhaps this is something that could be rectified by an update as opposed to a paid microtransaction.

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There’s an additional 6 stages to battle it out on for even more visual variety. Pitstop 109, Mad Gear Hideout, Cosmic Elevator, Blast Furnace, Half Pipe and Jurassic Era Research Facility make their way across from Street Fighter X Tekken which I enjoyed as they were dynamic in that game and some of the background animations have made it over too.

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There are a few other additional cool tricks you can now pull off within the matches. From delaying your standing up after being knocked down to throw off your opponent’s timing if they’re anticipating you getting back up, to the new Red Focus move which absorbs multiple attacks in exchange for some of your super bar. But my favourite feature is having the option to having both of your ultra moves. For anyone that doesn’t know, your ultra move is only powered up if you’re taking quite the beating, previously named the Revenge bar which makes sense. Now this ultra bar allows you to do 1 of 2 moves chosen by you whilst selecting your character and can’t be changed mid fight. With the addition of Ultra Combo Double you can now have the option to do either move at the cost of reduced damage to keep it fair. Now players like myself who use a character with an ultra offensive move and an ultra counter move can have game changing options right at our finger tips.

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This version of the game has added a lot more than it says on the tin and with almost no faults it’s the best upgrade to the current Street Fighter series. The only crime is that if you’ve moved onto the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 you’ll be missing out as this title is only for the 360 and PS3, for now.

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The second set of maps for Titanfall has arrived for gamers to enjoy more Titan bashing fun across 3 more battlegrounds. Whether you’re into your open and wide playgrounds for Titan and sniper heavy duals, to my personal favourite tighter built up arenas to show off your parkour abilities there’s something for everyone here. The Frontier’s Edge DLC adds yet another 3 maps to the game’s playlist giving you more reasons to take down your opponents in a variety of ways.

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Dig Site is a small industrial mining facility where energy-rich ores are extracted that offers a tighter arena for Titans to engage in combat. Build out of from the interior of a mine this environment incorporates both naturalistic rock formations to parkour on as well as the man made factories to enter into. Players can storm these mines on this medium sized map in numerous ways. From the open ground level you’re exposed a lot more and could be ambushed from players if you’re not quick, cautious or not in your Titan. This map is medium sized compared to the others.

I particularly enjoyed playing Capture The Flag on Dig Site as the various ways to get from one base to the other were plentiful. With the central structure being the key vantage point any team nesting within can control this game mode pretty well.
(A cross between the maps Airbase and Boneyard)

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Haven is a map that features a hotel, several sky scraping buildings and a beach. This is a luxury retreat for the wealthy built on the shores of a natural crater lake and it shows. And with every city-like map in Titanfall comes the tighter, less spacious streets restricting Titans from moving as freely. This map is extra large and offers loads of interiors, a lot of height and cover above if you’re into your sniping.

This map was great for Hardpoint Domination as nothing really beats running from building to building avoiding Titans and capturing bases. With the main hotspot being ‘B’ inside a hotel lobby it is a scene for mayhem as Titan’s can enter as well as a couple of elevated floor for pilots to rain down covering fire from above.

(A cross between the maps Fracture and War Games)

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Export is a dock with an interesting feature that can cause quite a lot of panic. With an exposed generator housed in the centre of the map, shooting this will result in one of pathways from one end of the map to the other to become electrified frying friend and foe. This map is my personal favourite from this pack as it balances a decent amount of building to enter, amazing vantage points for snipers, great open spaces for Titan fights and a decent amount of zip lines to get from the ground upwards out of danger. This map is large and is perfect for pilots to show off their abilities to traverse across the arena.

Playing Last Titan Standing on this map was by far the most enjoyable game mode. With a variety of ways to cross from one side to the other not forgetting the potential electrified easier route, this game mode played differently every time I played Export.
(A cross between the maps Smuggler’s Cove and Relic)

The Frontier’s Edge Variety Pack and Expedition Attrition are 2 playlists you can choose to play if you fancy just playing the 3 maps on rotation. These, the DLC and the added recent update have given more to the Titanfall experience. Since the last DLC we’ve now got the additional OS Voice option to choose what AI speaks to us once inside the Titan. The Titan Insignia is also added as the emblem to show off what challenges we’ve accomplished to heard these. The Black Market is also available to sell you current Burn Cards at and the one stop shop for buying more insignias or packs of Burn Cards, some featuring some rare cards.

It’s that time again, Invasion, the third DLC drop for Call of Duty Ghosts has arrived, offering the usual four multiplayer maps and a new Extinction episode. Whilst not directly offering any new weapons with this pack, a free timely patch ensures everyone gets to play with two slightly modified variants of existing weapons, DLC or not.

Pharaoh, an ancient multi-levelled archaeological dig site located in Egypt; plays host to diverse gunfights due to its myriad of sightlines. Close quarters combat in the catacombs is encouraged due to the inevitable tight corners and lower light levels. Venture outside however and you may wish to alter your setup due to the map significantly opening up. As opposed to the tight, run and gun nature of the tunnels, the opposite side of the map plays best for long range engagements down some nasty lines of sight. Proceeding with caution around this area is advisable due to the many spots which can overlook popular routes, expect many a prone player. Much like the second DLC pack, Invasion offers unique Field Order rewards for those lucky enough to receive them. Pharaoh houses an interesting one; the great Anubis will grant you every perk on the game for a few lives, use them wisely! Despite the map being fairly balanced; discarding the inevitable camping epidemic, there are some odd design choices such as pots of scarabs that will instantly kill you should you wander near whilst they get broken.

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Beware unnecessary scarab pots

Departed is a vibrant, medium sized map located in Mexico during the ‘Day of the Day’ celebration. Standing proud as one of the better maps of the pack, Departed offers a familiar style of play with large scale battles occurring in the centre of the map, whilst flank routes litter the outskirts. Due to the variety in routes, most weapons can be efficiently utilised here, the Assault Rifles may take an edge, but that could apply to many scenarios in Ghosts! Whilst still playing out as a genuinely fun map, it’s the art direction that will stay with you longer. It’s always nice to have some colour in a warzone; Departed feels reminiscent to some of the popular Black Ops 2 DLC’s in that regard. The special Field Order is once again unique, in that it turns you into a Death Mariachi, complete with dual wield revolvers. Kills will grant you weaker versions of yourself acting as squad mates, up to a maximum of two, giving you even greater control of the map.

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It’s not brown and grey!

Mutiny is pretty much exactly as you might expect, a small map centred around a pirate ship, offering chaotic close quarter battles with little chance of respite. If ever there was cause for a silencer on your weapon, this will be it. The shorter engagements mean the range stats will be largely unaltered for most gunfights too, limiting the penalties. If gadding about like a reckless lunatic isn’t your bag, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t be, there’s always the central position to set up camp on. Fortunately for everyone else, the central ship, and its inhabitants, stick out rather nicely due to the plethora of flank routes adorning its sides. There are two special Field Orders on this map; the first is the rather predictable ‘Cannon Barrage’ which effectively is the ‘Mortar Fire’ Field Order from Warhawk. The second is decidedly more exciting with the summoning of two ghost pirates that will hunt and destroy your enemies on your behalf.

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Aaaarrr, inevitably…

Favela, the inevitable pack remake from the beloved, (save for grenade launchers) MW2. A map offering high levels of verticality and range in the right positions with dangerous close quarter battles that will test your reflexes, and your ability to spot a hidden enemy. The higher tiers of buildings provide greater vantage points at the expense of being accessible from more than one entrance, either via the usual staircase or some risky parkour. Hopping from building to building across scantily clad scaffolding before knifing that pesky sniper is as rewarding now as it was in 2009. Sitting in a corner is as viable as ever on Favela; sprinting around the map and not checking your angles is likely to get you killed unnecessarily. The infamous ‘ditch’ area still remains to give objective hunting players something to keep in mind too. Games of Domination flow well as the power points are constantly being contested to cover flag positions; as usual, good team coordination is required to secure a win. Harking back to MW2 fame once more, the revered AC-130 returns in a spiritual form due to the unique Field Order on the map. Named instead the Y-8 Gunship, it will either rain down destruction on a hapless team, or be utterly useless if used against people already inside a building.

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Prepare to get stressed out at snipers once again

Awakening is the latest episode in the Extinction saga; and is probably the best so far. Rammed with new features and mechanics, Awakening is more akin to the fan favourite’s zombie mode than ever. The objective is to reach the ‘Cortex’ which holds the secrets of the Ancestor’s psychic powers, obviously bypassing all manners of hell first. Standing in your way will be three new enemy types, Gargoyles, Mammoths and Bombers with each providing their own threats. The flying Gargoyles will not only take a surprising amount of punishment, but can also volley acid down on the player. The Mammoths can spawn Hunters seemingly at will and also frustratingly burrow underground, whilst the aptly named Bombers are like a biological version of the Hunter Killer from Black Ops 2. To combat these weird and ‘wonderful’ enemies, you’re also given a few toys and tools to play with. For a start, the jump height is increased tremendously, letting you reach areas that would have been previously inaccessible. The buildable items return from the last episode and lastly, the newly implemented ARK attachment can be found loitering in hidden areas too.

Overall, Invasion is another great map pack, and whilst one or two of the multiplayer maps are a little weak, the others make up for them in spades. It’s a little disappointing to not see another new weapon added to the mix, but the free automatic PDW and knife are nice additions. One of the main draws in Invasion, surprisingly seems to be Awakening, the new Extinction map which improves on its predecessors in most areas, and may even sway some of the dedicated zombie fans. Once again, it shows that the developers have listened to their fans requests and offered smaller, denser maps with more opportunities for movement; of which can only be a good thing.

Devastation, the second DLC pack for Call of Duty Ghosts adds four new multiplayer maps, another episode in the Extinction saga and an all new, dual-purpose weapon, the Ripper. Can Infinity Ward build upon the success of their previous pack by listening to the fans and catering for their requests?

Ruins is up first, an old Mayan temple that plays host to some of the better domination games due to its triangular base. As per usual in Ghosts, flank routes are commonplace; Ruins is no exception. Narrow catacombs slither under and around the map offering SMG’s and shotguns their roles, whilst an open centre lets assault rifles open up. Roam for too long however and it’s ironically safe to say that you’ll eventually be picked off by a sniper from the central overlook. With the map adorned by old, ancient Mayan structures and littered with plenty of greenery, you’ll find the Ghillie suit more of an issue than ever. As far as unique strike packages go, Ruins offers up something interesting too, with the fabled Predator making a stealthy appearance. Should you complete a field order and be fortunate enough to air drop a predator suit, you can utilise his shimmering invisibility, his wrist blades and of course the gloriously satisfying plasma cannon (which fortunately has a recharge delay). On top of this, even when killed, the fun doesn’t stop for the lucky player as the predator will drop to the floor and essentially unleash a K.E.M. strike onto the opposing team.

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(Ghillie) Suit up

Behemoth harks back to the old styles in more than one way. Not only is there a field order for a ‘heli gunner’ that plays out almost exactly like the chopper gunner from Black Ops fame. The map also more closely resembles a three lane style affair opposed to the ‘all out chaos’ category approach most of the original maps seem to follow. Set upon an enormous earth excavator, Behemoth is a medium sized map with opportunities for some reasonable firefights down long corridors, so long as you beware the inevitably prone enemies. Despite the seemingly simplistic layout of the map, there are less travelled routes that serve as flank options if you’re against a particularly trapping team. Falling off the map to your death is remarkably easier done than said, especially whilst in those strafe battles that get a little out of hand. Despite it being a darker than usual map, the lack of tedious camping spots around corners helps keep the pace up too. A central viewing area gives those pesky snipers a mediocre view of either side of the map, but also seems to bestow a shocking amount of tunnel vision too, helping you get the humiliating drop on your unaware foes.

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Someone seems to be overcompensating for something…

Collision takes its name from the enormous container ship which has found itself lodged into the Brooklyn Bridge, and plays home to aggressive styles of play. Those who favour SMG’s will enjoy the tight corners and relatively shallow lines of sight, whereas snipers will savour the higher grounds that overlook the centre of the map. Domination games in particular rely upon map control with the B flag being placed smack in the middle of what can only be described as a kill box; wrestling the centre of the map back from the opposition can be difficult if you’ve not got a coordinated team. Again, a specialised Field Order reward can also be earned on this map; if successful, you get to control two strafe runs in the infamous A-10 Warthog. Whilst not particularly great for racking up kills, it of course makes up for it with ‘that sound’.

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Strafing Warthog sadly not pictured

Unearthed is the final multiplayer map in the Devastation package and as is becoming tradition, it features a remake of a fan favourite map from the series. Those who’ve been with the series for the past few years will recognise Unearthed as a reimagining of Dome from MW3, a small fast paced map that requires your head to be on a swivel. The familiarity of Dome remains but due to the upgraded visuals and alternate aesthetics, Unearthed does come across with a fresh feel. Despite the feeling of familiarity, there are several additions to convince you otherwise. Along with a moveable crane, giving you a vulnerable 360 degree view of the map, there’s also the maligned Venom-X weapon, ripped straight from the Extinction mode and available once per game via some carefully placed explosives… Keeping in theme with Extinction, the unique field order for this map involves three loveable Seekers that will hunt down the enemy and explode upon close proximity.

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A dome shaped remake

The Ripper, one of the larger draws to new content for me and others, is the new hybrid weapon available with this pack. Operable as either an SMG or Assault Rifle and swappable on the fly, it can not only suit most gunfight scenarios, but also opens up more flexibility with perk selections. Due to its high manoeuvrability and tighter hip-fire spread than most assault rifles, players can save points on ‘speed perks’ and put them to better use elsewhere. Whilst both the SMG and AR modes won’t surpass the Vector or the Remmington R5 in their respective classes, the extra functionality can often make up for any statistical weaknesses, provided you can keep the right mode available for the correct situation.

Mayday concludes the package with the next episode of Extinction, Ghosts’s answer to Zombies. Continuing on from the Nightfall epilogue, Mayday sees you boarding a Chinese ship in an attempt to rescue and extract a foreign double agent. Standing in the way of course is the very real threat of the Kraken. Combining huge bosses with the newly implemented crafting and new weapons gives a great incentive to jump into the horde. To greet you, the Seeders make their first appearance too; if you didn’t get on well with the Scorpions, you’re not going to like these either. On top of expelling a toxic gas, they can also spit out turret pods to ruin your day. Either way, Mayday gratefully expands on itself, offering more content with each episode; if you fancy a little coop and are into the story, it’s a great way to spend a few hours.

As an overall package, the Devastation set offers a great set of maps that appear to have been tailored for the fans requests. A balanced and unique hybrid weapon plus more Extinction content helps too. If you’re on the fence, this is categorically one of the better Call of Duty DLC packs; if you fancy some new content for Ghosts, there’s no better place to look.

Sacred 3 is aimed directly at your mindless horde killing, loot collecting, levelling up craving. But with any game that scratches those particular itches there has to be something to keep us coming back. In Diablo III it was a good looting system plus plenty of levels and abilities to unlock and customize a character with. So which part of Sacred keeps us coming back for more many hours into the game?

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After a brief introductory cutscene it becomes abundantly obvious that it’s not going to be the graphics. Environments are defiantly passable but it’s unlikely you’ll ever stop and take a look around for longer than you need to. Unfortunately the same can be said for the character models too. Both your avatar and your hordes of foes are jagged and the whole thing just looks low res. And even then the frame rate isn’t exactly smooth. The particle effects from execution moves and some of the specials look nice but they intentionally take up most of the screen which can lead to some infuriating moments when you can’t see anything at all behind the effects. It’s particularly bad when you acquire a new weapon or upgrade as on occasion once you return to the action you’ll find that you’ve been beaten for the last 10 seconds by something you couldn’t see.

So if not the visuals the core fighting mechanic then. Which certainly has its entertainment value. At the start it’s likely you will be using the simple attack button a lot. There’s a dodge which allows you to roll out of harms way, which can later be replaced by a block if you choose, and a stun move to handle shielded enemies and knock others back. There’s a simple methodical nature to the combat. This enemy is defeated with that move and that one with this move all the while frantically bashing away at ‘x’ in between.

Which is fine for a couple of hours. But then it starts to lose some of its appeal. There are a few abilities for each of the four characters which can be upgraded as your level increases. And the upgrades make a significant difference but I never really got the feeling I wanted (or needed) any of them. Despite my increasing boredom endlessly pressing ‘x’ I never felt that my special ‘combat arts’ would help or were even necessary. This wasn’t helped by their limited use. Even though you pick up orbs that refill your energy more than enough I tended to ‘save’ my moves for something that needed them. And that never really happened. And when you do finally unleash a combat art you’re greeted by a move that does little damage above your standard attack and is usually more difficult to hit with. Back to pressing ‘x’ then.

Another problem is that the enemies rarely offer you much of a challenge. Shielded enemies require you to press ‘square’ to stun then and break their defence so you can kill them before they even get a hit. Standard enemies just require you to hit them mindlessly until they die. Any attempts at more advanced combat would require a much more responsive control system. And that’s not the only reason the controls need to be more responsive.

One enemy spins at you blades extended like a weaponized Crash Bandicoot. The only way to stop him is to, again, stun him. Except aiming your character is quite rigid and as your foe bulldozes his way towards you as you struggle to turn and perform your attack in the right direction you find it easier to head straight in, tank a little damage, and stun him to open him up for attack and an inevitable death. So the only challenge I ever really felt was when the controls were stiff or unresponsive. On its own this wouldn’t be such a problem but as Sacred has enemies that ideally require you to be precise and quick it feels like the game is working against you.

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Periodically you will collect some loot in the shape of weapons, armour and souls that can be assigned to weapons to grant different benefits. All of them can be upgraded with gold collected on your travels and again the upgrades feel significant. Except, this time it’s far more important as your weapon effects the all important basic attack. Different weapons have different sets of upgrades and there really is plenty to unlock. On top of that you can equip a soul that adds additional effects. For example you can have a chance to fire a lightning bolt to cause extra damage to enemies. Or you might increase the potency of health orbs for the team, but reduce their effect on you. They’re well balanced and often require some thought as different souls will work better with different equipment.

The soul will also talk to you during a mission and on occasion they even contribute to the conversations between the main characters. They also make general comments during combat but it’s particularly nice that they have relevant things to contribute. Some of them are completely over the top characters, others are cynical and sarcastic but they all work with the humour of Sacred. And it is actually funny. The humour is understated which stops it becoming embarrassing. And then on occasion a brash character will chip in like a cross between Stan from American Dad and Buzz Lightyear. It won’t leave you in hysterics but because of that it never becomes brazen and embarrassing.

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Sacred 3 is a fun romp for those wishing to satisfy the need Diablo III fills. It’s not particularly good looking but it gets the job done, although I would’ve liked a smoother frame rate. What I felt lets down Sacred is the repetitive gameplay. Without much loot killing enemies can only keep you entertained for so long particularly as your special abilities are so underwhelming. The upgrades feel meaningful but with only two equip-able ‘combat arts’, that often don’t help at all, everything begins to feel a bit futile.

Playing with friends helps alleviate some of the potential tedium but not enough to keep Sacred interesting down the road. Sacred 3 is good fun for a short play but the replay value is almost nonexistent, especially compared with games like Diablo III. With a bigger roster of abilities and character upgrades Sacred 3 might be great but as it stands it’s decidedly average to play.

 


I was asked if I would be interested in reviewing Sonic Jump Fever. Enthusiastically, I bounded at the opportunity and said I’d love to. Always happy to give Sonic a shot, even with past discrepancies. Personally, I found Generations and Lost World pretty entertaining, for what they were. SEGA were finally turning things around for Sonic, and perhaps wanted to do the same for mobile devices.

Oh, but no. It didn’t take long to dawn on me this could not be a mere written review. This experience was going to need full documentation. So, without further ado, I give you the live and uncut first hour I spent with Sonic Jump Fever; SEGA’s latest free-to-play Sonic game on iOS:

Here we see the jumping off point of booting up the game – and yes, despite looking like a Las Vegas slot machine has thrown up on your iPhone, the first screenshot really is the “main menu”.

You can upgrade your character’s power up abilities, or add boosters to gain more rings, more points, or better bonus opportunities. Everything is looking peachy so far, if a little standard.


This is the “standard” timeline of a level in Sonic Jump Fever: Your character jumps automatically, and the goal of the entire game is to jump as high as you can before the time runs out. There’s also an option to double jump if you tap the screen while in the air.

Once in a while you’ll get a mega leap where you’re flung upwards Dragonball Z style to try and tilt your way to grab more coins. When you finally reach the end of the level/time limit you’ll hop into a hot air balloon and throw little animals up into the basket. Every time you miss an anonymous crowd will boo at your failure to rescue the cute little buggers.


You’re given a score for your ability to hold your phone in an upright position for 60 seconds, and now the real fun begins…

WELCOME TO THE ADVERTS! Now, before I get assaulted by all the Sonic fans, I’m aware that a free-to-play game is likely to have some adverts to subsidise the lack of upfront cost. These adverts at the end of completing a level, and a quick pop-up to let you know you can pay for boosters if you want, is reasonable. However, you haven’t seen anything yet.


Don’t worry if you felt £1.49 wasn’t a good enough bargain, because there are Red Star packs of all kinds available. Going all the way to a £69.99 value! That’s not just value, that’s “BEST VALUE!”.

Sonic Jump Fever understands, should you decide to pay £69.99 for Red Stars, that videogames can still be rather addictive at times. This is why there is an Energy Bar that only allows you to play your game so many times before having to pay more money, or leave your phone alone to go outside and do something equally trivial until it recharges.

After waiting, or paying for some of those Red Stars, you can leap right back into the action of… bouncing up to the top of the screen.


Seems I have discovered a Chao. This randomly popped up out of nowhere after I completed a level run.

Only get one free though, I tried to look for another one but it was asking me to pay Rings – because of course.


Oh! It did turn out to be useful. Seems this particular Chao makes more platforms appear from another dimension for me to spring from. I’ll admit it’s a partially useful… power up, I guess? Doesn’t really change the gameplay at all though.

Plus some more adverts. Lots of more adverts, even got an unskippable video this time! The roller-coaster fun ride of Sonic Jump Fever is really heating up now.


Thank you, SEGA! Refilling my Energy Bar for free meant I got (/had) to keep playing this session.

There’s also a daily spin function (because of course there is) which largely gives you utterly pointless items, at least in my experience. The screenshot above was my first win, and the subsequent three wins following it. Maybe I’m merely extremely lucky, but it felt like being trapped in a perpetual loop of winning £1 on a £1 scratchcard.


Figured out the tiny little video-clip symbol means you can watch an advert to earn stuff. Like more spins. So I got to watch another advert. To earn another spin. To potentially win more spins.

Yes, I’m aware by this point you’re probably bored out of your skull – image how I feel.


WHOA! WAIT! HOLD THE PHONE!… Am… Am I playing the same level over and over again?!

I’m no idiot, I noticed the jungle style was on every level play through, but the layouts are near identical! It’s the same god damn pattern. Play the one level, win around 100 coins, see another god damn bloody advert, and do it all again until your energy runs out. The pattern never changes.


Got a new highscore. Nothing is achieved from this, aside from a leaderboard with nobody. Felt it was worth mentioning because it’s honestly the most exciting thing that’s happened in the last 10 minutes.

Had a thought. The Energy Bar has a video-clip symbol. Does this mean I can sit here watching adverts to earn more energy to play the game for longer? Then watch more adverts?


YES! YES IT DOES! Oh joy of joys.


More adverts. More highscores as I’ve damn near memorised this level now. Even more adverts…


Oh my glob… Did… Did I unlock Sonic?! FINALLY! Everybody take note, rejoice in the streets, because after nearly 40 minutes of playing SONIC JUMP FEVER I have been able to find SONIC in this SONIC game.


It was all totally worth the effort. The repetitive levels, the boosters, the adverts, now I get to… play the same level again but with a Sonic-skinned character? REALLY?! Oh for the love of all that is unholy.

And no, Sonic Jump Fever, I will not rate your greedy, advert-ridden game right now because you’re hoping that I’m still riding that Sonic high. Nor will I pay £2.49 to play the same pissing boring level 6 more times. Seriously, £2.49 to refill an energy meter? Who buys these things? Who gives money to acts this shameless?


Up to Level 6 now, profile-wise. Keep running low on Rings though, because they keep limiting my Energy Bar and I can only gain around 8-100 RIngs per run. Guess I’m watching some more adverts to get the 100 Ring bonus on the “main menu”. Wonder if I can do this indefinitely…


… So far so good…


… It concerns me this appears to still be working…


… I’m earning more Rings sitting here watching this craptastic adverts than I was playing the game. Faster too, because this process doesn’t involve depleting a sodding Energy Bar – and then watching adverts to refill thee Energy Bar.


… Okay, I’m stopping here. Been sat watching these tedious videos for nearly 5 minutes now. On the plus side, now have a very upgraded Tails. Time for some more gameplay!


Holy shit, everybody. Free baby dragons. Want one. I would name them ChiliBreath.


It’s getting to the point where the adverts in between levels are making other games seem more appealing than the one I’m currently playing.

I need to state, by the way: These screenshots are all taken separately. When you see a screenshot of my chosen character standing waiting for the level to begin, or an advert, they’re all taken at different times. It just happens to be the same damn thing every time.


CoinDozer?! You’re losing me here, Sonic Jump Fever. These adverts are starting to get far less appealing.

At this point I’m reviewing the adverts as much as I am the game itself, because they get as much screen time.


DinoHunter sounds pretty fun. I was actually Tweeting about wanting a dinosaur hunting game quite recently.

This was the highest highscore I’ve been able to grab too. No idea how. Helped to level me up to Level 7 though. Sure do hope Level 7 gameplay improves the title. We can ride this wave all night then. We’ll be able to keep this live coverage all the way until we complete the entire game – together!


… I quit.

Once again I find myself sitting in front of a new Magic game. As a Magic The Gathering card player I have a soft spot for the game. I love the artwork and complexity of the game but these days I struggle to find an opponent to spa with. So the video games are my way of getting my Magic fix, or at least in theory. So far I have been rather disappointed by the series but still get excited every time to see if they’ve got it right.

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Rather than creating your own deck or being forced to use a single deck the first thing you will do in Magic 2015 is choose your colours, and therefore your deck. I’ve always been a fan of white so that was my first choice but then for some reason you are required to pick another colour. Not such a problem as I don’t mind a White/Blue mixed deck but for some reason you have to use a mixed colour deck.

So with my White/Blue deck I proceeded to work through the tutorial. It does a very good job of teaching you everything there is to know and lucky for those who know the game, either from previous video games or the card game, can skip it. Oh rejoice! I don’t have to spend an hour learning how to play a game I already know very well. If you skip you go straight to your first duel which you must first pass in order to proceed. You can also reselect your deck colours so it functions well as a testing duel to make sure you’ve got the right deck for you.

As ever with Magic it’s a tough fight. Especially as you have no options to edit your deck at this point. It can be slightly frustrating as Magic is so heavily reliant on deck building and you’re left against a superior deck with very few options but to retry and strive on.

But as you fight and defeat opponents you earn booster packs with cards to improve your deck. It’s a simple but effective reward system that ensures you deck keeps improving. One of the biggest problems I’ve had with previous Magic games is the lack of new cards to keep altering your deck with. It seems easy to give you a way to grind out for cards and improve you deck but for some reason the Magic games always seem to resist it.

When you get past the tutorial to the main campaign map you will have a series of Planeswalkers to duel with. Each time you defeat one you unlock another until you finish the zone and move onto the next. But Magic 2015 provides you with a repeatable area for each zone that you can grind out to acquire more cards. There’s a small selection of enemies you may fight but you can keep coming back, getting more booster packs and ultimately improving your deck to take on the real threats. This does make Magic 2015 quite ‘grindy’ but I like that.

It also means that eventually you can craft yourself a single colour deck if that’s what you want. I don’t really understand the focus on mixed decks. Sure they’re good but I don’t really want a mixed deck as I always find single colours more effective. I wonder if the game knows this and makes you wait but either way after a couple of hours you’ll have a decent handful of cards to properly make your deck with. The selection of cards is reasonable and there’s just enough to keep you altering and shifting your deck to take down your often superiorly equipped opponents.

But even though the card selection is enough to craft a reasonably potent deck the overall selection is disappointing. Mainly because you’ll need to pay to access some cards. They’re not attainable in game at all. And while you don’t need them it makes online play a tricky concept. If you pay you’ll have a better chance to win. That’s called pay to win. Also for some reason certain cards that your single player opponents use are not attainable either, regardless of if you pay or not.

There’s also not much in the way of game modes either. I usually play the core game single player anyway so it wasn’t too much of a problem but those who enjoyed the challenge modes will be disappointed. Even though I didn’t play them much I still enjoyed them every now and again and the option would be nice. Especially the clever puzzle style modes.

It’s impossible to finish this review without pointing out how irritating the menu is. It’s 100% focused on mobile platforms and it’s obvious. I fumbled around for ages before I understood how to properly use it and the transition animation every time you select something is just plain annoying. If I click something I want a response as quick as possible, not a fancy animation.

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I enjoy the grind. I enjoy the single player. But the pay wall is just unnecessary, even though it wouldn’t cost you that much to acquire all the cards, it’s not what the game should be about. I don’t understand why the game modes are missing. I can’t think of a single reason to remove something that people enjoyed. And while the single player is great I want more cards. Why aren’t there more? WHY?! There’s a lot of different cards in Magic and the relatively small selection in Magic 2015 seems arbitrary. I haven’t collected new cards in years but I probably own more actual cards than are in this game.

However, I am really enjoying Magic 2015 and will be playing it long after this review. But I’d rather pay more for the game and have access to all the cards, even if I’d have to grind out for hours to get one. Those who enjoyed the other game modes will be disappointed with Magic 2015. Some of the negative reviews out there are, I think, overly harsh but it really depends what you want out of Magic. I wasn’t a fan of 2014 and actually prefer this one, despite its flaws. Either way, yet again, so close yet so far.

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.

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Sean takes a look at Fantasy Life on the Nintendo 3DS.

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