Author - Jerry Paxton

Verizon’s LG Voyager Hands-on

Engadget has posted its ‘Hands-on’ of Verizon’s LG Voyager phone. The phone is Verizon’s latest attempt at stabbing into the iPhone market and offers some very good features.

From the article:
LG uses a generously sized touchscreen here that provides haptic feedback while pressing the screen and a standard, non-touch display on the inside. Both screens run at 400 x 240 resolution while serving up 262,000 colors.

LG designed the Voyager with an optimized HTML browser that naturally works best over Verizon’s EV-DO airwaves. The pages load fairly quickly, and by and large, render correctly. LG added three different ways for the browser to render — Standard, Screen Optimized, and Text Only — which should offer a good range of functionality-to-speed ratio depending on the site and the speed of the network.

Overall, the LG Voyager is one of the best, feature-rich phones (without making the jump — nay, leap of faith — into smartphone territory) for Verizon to date. From the beautiful exterior touchscreen to the fantastic photos the camera takes, we found that the VX10000 is a top-notch offering for the carrier. Granted, it’s not without its occasional faults, but for those of you that have been waiting for Big Red to release something comparable to other carriers’ offerings in the high-end dumbphone range, the wait just might be over.

Razer Diamondback 3G Gaming Mouse Review

Not long after the release of then-flagship Death Adder mouse, Razer announced they would be upgrading their older Diamondback design with the newer 3G infra-red sensor. This version of the Diamondback, called the ‘Diamondback 3G’, was designed to be a lower-cost alternative to the Death Adder, while also providing left-handed gamers a 3G choice (as the Death Adder is built for right-handed folk).

Gone is the transparent outer plastic shell of the unit, now replaced by the non-slip black plastic found on the Death Adder and Lachesis. The buttons are large and easy to depress making ‘accidental clicking’ possible, but the mouse is held with the clicking-fingers elevated slightly, so that isnt usually a problem during use. The side buttons are a bit crisper and harder to depress which is a benefit when having to pick the mouse up.

The 3G IR sensor is capable of 1800dpi and should be capable of 1000Hz polling rate, although the latter is never stated. While the Death Adder allowed users to not only chose between three levels of dpi, the Diamondback 3G only allows the choice of two: 800dpi and 1800dpi. When comparing the control panels of the Death Adder and Diamondback 3G, the lack of features is very noticible. It also feels as though the Diamondback 3G is locked at a lower polling rate than what it should be capable of, probably at 500Hz. This is supported by the fact that the unit’s polling rate is never mentioned in the docs, control panel, or the website when the ‘1000Hz UltraPolling’ is highly-touted on the Death Adder, Lycosa, Tarantula, and Lachesis descriptions.

Now this limitation is not a deal-breaker from what we saw by any means, however such a thing can tend to bog down public opinion of an otherwise great gaming mouse. The sensitivity and performance of the mouse during gaming (Bioshock and Age of Empires III) is smooth and consistent. Using the mouse in desktop apps such as Photoshop and even MS Word is also smooth and easy to handle. This is a definite plus, as many high-performance mice out there tend to be erratic and jumpy when used in applications like those.

Driver issues aside, the little brother to the Death Adder and Lachesis would make a great gift for casual gamers, gamers on a budget, or even the left-handed gamers out there. It provides very good performance while also not breaking the bank when compared to other gaming mice. I even wrote this review while using the mouse and am seriously considering picking a few up as stocking stuffers for some family members I am trying to get into gaming on their PCs.

IGN Mass Effect Review

IGN has posted its review of Bioware’s Mass Effect, the highly anticipated RPG for the Xbox 360, giving it a high 9.4 out of 10.

From the article:
In a year that has seen the Xbox 360 library finally round itself out with a series of quality Japanese RPGs, BioWare has shown just how far ahead of the curve it is with Mass Effect. The cinematic design is nothing short of masterful. This is a game that takes the aspects of film that make cinema so compelling and crosses it with the interactivity of games with unprecedented success. Linear storytelling feels quaint by comparison.

Mass Effect is game that is greater than the sum of its parts. Technical issues abound, but the majority of Mass Effect is so expertly delivered that it can transcend its weaknesses. Applying number ratings to a game like this doesn’t do it justice because there is no way you can ignore its technical flaws. Simply put, Mass Effect is a game that must be played. Then it must be played again. Don’t pass this one up.

Amazon Kindle Hands-On

Engadget has posted a ‘hands-on’ the Amazon Kindle e-Reader. At $399 dollars, this is the ugliest expensive e-Reader on the market. The thing looks like it is the strung-out little brother of the Macintosh 128k computer. Aside from the looks, however, are some good features and of course, the Amazon.com library which is without equal.

Among its many features:

  • E-ink display, 6-inch SVGA 800×600, 167dpi, 4 grey scales.
  • Keyboard
  • EV-DO wireless
  • 10.3 oz battery, up to 30 hours battery life.
  • Native capacity 200 books.

Microsoft Releases Vista SP1 to Testers

Engadget reports that Microsoft has released SP1 of it’s Vista operating system to the it’s testers. According to the article, ‘Although there don’t appear to be many new features on top of what we’ve already seen, SP1 appears to be well-received, with testers reporting better laptop battery life, faster networking, and improved wake-from-sleep speeds. There’s still no word on when the final release of SP1 will hit, but if you’re in Microsoft’s tester program, SP1 RC1 is available online now.’

Hous of the Dead 2 & 3 Coming to the Wii Next Year

Joystiq is reporting that SEGA will be reviving House of the Dead 2 & 3 next year, bringing it out for the Nintendo Wii. According to Joystiq, the aimed release date is March 31st, 2008. It seems as though very little is known about the revival aside from the tentative date. Important info such as if there will be graphical upgrades to make the games look more ‘current-gen’ have not yet been answered. And as much as I think SEGA will release these separately, with as old as they are, they should really release them in a bundle pack.

Lionhead Wants Your Insults for Fable 2

Joystiq is reporting that Lionhead Studios, creators of the upcomming Fable 2, are looking for insults to use in their game. The insults are shouted by villagers at your character if they do not like you…In the first game this insult was mainly ‘Arseface’ but apparently they seek variety this time around. Maybe they will deliver on the procedural world this time too, but I digress…

You can submit your insults through this link.

Hellgate: London Review

Imagine, if you will, the quaint city of London overrun with all manner of creature from zombies to skeletal fiends. A London where Hell has literally forced its way through the surface to wreak havoc on the human population above. This is the world of Flagship Studios’ Hellgate: London. Masterminded by Bill Roper, creator of Diablo and Diablo II, it is easy to see this influence in Hellgate’s quick gameplay.

Speaking of gameplay, I refer to it as ‘quick & light’ as it plays as a first-person or third-person actioner and feels fast-paced and fun, similar to Serious Sam. You can choose from a variety of class types, each with their own abilities and play styles. These are taken from standard stereotype characters such as a dual-wielding swordsman, gun-toting marksman, shield and sword-toting guardian, etc. The game’s switching back and forth from ranged to melee combat is smooth and adds to the fun of the experience. Hellgate features a campaign that you take part in, however the player can always go back to previous areas and fight to gain experience as well. Characters level and gain experience much like they do in Diablo II which adds to the fps-light feel. Items can be upgraded a-la Diablo II and merchants are central to the game. By selling the loot you find you can buy health/power potions, new equipment, etc. Missions will lead you from the surface to subway lines, sewers, and even hell dimensions.

Graphically, Hellgate is nice. The game does not look like the latest & greatest as even with DirectX 10 features enabled the game’s textures can be a bit bland. The post-apocalyptic landscape is done very well and is…depressing as it should be. Equipment looks sharp and weapon/spell effects do the job nicely. Exploding and destructible objects also add to the experience of tearing up the city even more than it already was.

Hellgate’s score is better than you’ll find in most Hollywood flicks out there and reminds me of the score to George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead somewhat. In fact, the score adds so much to the game that the fps-light feel goes away and anxiety goes up when it starts blaring. Sound design is equally good, with ambient sounds such as paper ruffling across the destroyed roads of Piccadilly Circus and the distant sounds of whaling zombies and screams of survivors.

Now to the part where Hellgate: London falls apart: BUGS! This game was released way too early with not enough QA testing done on enough rig types as so many games are these days. This is unfortunate as the bugs skew review scores on this game everywhere. This game would have been fun enough to survive a few months more testing before release. The game is virtually unplayable in DirectX 10 and freezes/crashes randomly in DirectX 9 mode. The problems don’t stem from the test rig we used either, sporting a high-end dual-core processor and 8800gtx video card, we should have been able to tear the game up like a hot knife through butter. Instead we end up with a buggy mess on our hands when we really want to love this game. We have lost our place on missions soo many times to the game’s inexplicable crashing…very annoying.

Overall, we would highly recommend Hellgate for a fun popcorn-game if it were not for the horrible bugs still plaguing it.

From E3 Demo:

Gamespot Reviews Kane & Lynch: Dead Men

Gamespot has posted its review of Kane & Lynch: Dead Mean for the XBOX 360, PS3, and PC giving it a meager 6.0 out of 10. This comes as a surprise as the much-hyped title seemed to be a ‘must-have’ for next-gen consoles. Looks as though lots of things add up to bring the game down from it’s anticipated pedestal.

From the article:

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is an ugly game, and we’re not necessarily talking about the graphics. This criminal tale is packed with a collection of completely unlikable characters with no redeeming value whatsoever. It’s impossible to even root for them as antiheroes. Once you get past the messy, meaningless story, things don’t get too much better because you’re saddled with clunky artificial intelligence on the part of your allies and your enemies, as well as a core shooting mechanic that simply doesn’t satisfy. The unfortunate part is that the game does have a few bright points and feels like it had a lot of potential that just didn’t come together as well as anyone must have hoped.

Bungie’s Weinland and Cowan to Keynote GDE 08

Joystiq is reporting that Bungie’s audio lead Jay Weinland and director of cinematics CJ Cowan will give the keynot at the Games Development Expo 2008, running January 19th and 20th in Vancouver. They are expected to talk about the techniques used in the creation of Halo 3’s visual style.

From the article:

‘…once the microphone is turned over to the audience it won’t take long for the topic to turn to what life is like after the dev’s much-publicized divorce from Microsoft, including how they are holding up and, more importantly, who got to keep the dog.’