Tag - pc gaming

Dishonored 2 – A Review (PC)

I am a big fan of Arkane Studio’s 2012 Dishonored, so when the 2016 sequel became available for the PC, I quickly jumped on it.  Dishonored gave me everything I wanted in an assassin style game:  multiple ways to carry out the assignment, multiple paths through the level, and an up-gradable character that changes depending on how you want to play the game.  Dishonored 2 is that much, plus more.  Arkane Studios took the safe route in developing their sequel, and I am fine with that.  Dishonored 2 gives us more of the same, but with some small differences that makes Dishonored 2 better then the original, but not earth shattering.

Story

Set fifteen years after the original story, Dishonored 2 sees the Empire of the Isles being led by an adult Emily Kaldwin.  Emily is still protected by Corvo Attano, who is also training her in the way of the blade and assassination.  However, not all is well within the Empire, as there is an individual who has been dubbed the “Crown Killer” roaming the streets and eliminating Emily’s most outspoken critics.  The population of the Empire have begun to talk and distrust the Empress, fearing that she is using the “Crown Killer” to silence her enemies.

dishonored-2-3

The game opens with Emily and Corvo preparing to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of Jessamine Kaldwin’s assassination.  During the ceremony, the Duke of Serkonos, Luca Abele, interrupts the proceedings by offering Emily a gift, the gift of family.  Duke Abele produces Jessamine’s long lost sister, and claims that the sister is the true Empress of the Isle now.  The long lost sister is none other then Delilah Copperspoon, somehow making her way back from the void that Daud had imprisoned her.  This revelation immediately begins the coup in earnest, and you are forced to chose who you will play for the rest of the game; either Corvo or Emily.  The character you do not choose becomes imprisoned and you escape your own fate in order to set out and to take back your throne from Delilah.

Ok, so the story isn’t that much different from the first game, when you really boil it down.  You are forced out of Dunwall, hunted by your former soldiers, and are trying to recover something that was lost to you, this time being the character you didn’t choose in the throne room and leadership of the Empire.  I don’t know where Dunwall finds their soldiers at, but they have the absolute worst idea of what loyalty is.  The story progresses the same no matter who you choose, but the game will change up the small details depending on whether you play as Corvo or Emily.  I do love how Arkane Studios made this choice a thing, that way anyone can play this game as a protagonist that speaks to them.  Each character has different game play mechanics as well, but we will talk about that later.

The story to Dishonored 2 is very well done, but it does make the assumption that you played through both The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches dlcs of the original game.  This makes the story of Dishonored 2 feel much more a part of a larger story, but you may need to accept a few things on faith story wise if you didn’t finish either of the dlc.  Like the last game, the choices you make affect the story in terms of low or high chaos.  The more you kill, the more chaotic the world becomes and the darker the ending you will get.  While you get to choose how you want to go through the game, there is definitely a lean on the non-killing approach being the “nicer” way of doing things.

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Game Play

Dishonored 2 is more of the same from Dishonored, with some minor changes that makes the sequel feel much more complete then the original.  First, each character is completely upgrade-able to fit your desired play style, just like before.  However, each character has separate abilities and skills that makes each one play just a little differently.  Emily’s Far Reach works in a similar fashion to Corvo’s Blink ability, but Emily’s Domino ability is far more fun to use for me then Corov’s Bend Time ability.  Domino allows you to connect individuals together, so the fate that befalls one will be felt by the others.  This is great in subduing multiple enemies at once, and can be really fun if you chain it’s use with Emily’s clone ability as well.

Dishonored 2 also adds in a non-lethal combat ability that literally saved me hours of time.  I played through Dishonored trying to do the non-lethal pathway, and would constantly have to restart if I became discovered and cornered and was out of sleep darts.  This new ability allows you to block and counter, just like the original, but with a choice of whether you stab your enemy or choke them out.  Discovery and lack of sleep darts no longer meant a restart for me, I could just block and choke then continue on with my journey.

The other big change is the type of plague you are dealing with in Karnaca.  The plague is no longer a threat and the weepers and the rats won’t bother you like before.  However, you now have to deal with the blood flies, which I think I hate more then the rats.  Blood flies gather around hives, and become very aggressive the closer you get to the hive.  You can take these out quickly and easily using explosive bolts, but they become a huge pain if you don’t see them quickly enough, or are out of bolts.

The rest of the game play for Dishonored 2 is pretty much the same from Dishonored.  Sure, the levels are designed differently, especially the Clockwork Mansion mission, but really the point is to move through the level the way you chose how to play, collect bone charms and runes, and finish off the target character.  The game play experience vastly changes depending on your own choices with the stealthy option being the more rewarding, in my own opinion.  I found myself restarting levels or checkpoints, just because the game did not go the way I wanted it, because I got caught sneaking around.  The estimated length of Dishonored 2 is between 12-16 hours in length, but I can see that being extended  by restarts if you are going for the Ghost or Clean Hands achievements.

This game does what it needed to do in terms of game play, which is give me more of what I got in Dishonored but make some improvements in the areas that I felt were lacking in the original.  Dishonored 2 does nothing ground breaking here, but does what it needs to do correctly in order to feel like Dishonored, but still has its own soul.

dishonored-2

Aesthetics

For those of you that have read my PC game reviews in the past know that my system was lackluster at best.  Well, that has all changed now that I was able to purchase a brand new gaming PC, and Dishonored 2 was it’s first test.  Let’s start the conversation by talking about the elephant in the room, the frame rate performance.  I had read about this issue prior to running Dishonored 2 for the first time, and was very worried about it.  However, I can honestly say that my experience in game was absolutely flawless, and that I experienced little to no frame rate drops during my time with the game.  I ran Dishonored 2 on a PC that had a Core i7-6700K Quad Core 4.0 – 4.2GHz, GeForce GTX 1070, and 16GB of Ram and it ran extremely smooth and looked great.  Arkane Studios is fully aware of the performance issue, and have released one patch already trying to fix it for everyone.  If you are worried about performance, my advice is to follow this story and wait until it is confirmed that Arkane has fixed it.

As for the rest of the aesthetics of Dishonored 2, the game is great looking in Ultra thought the textures, while still being above standard, didn’t match up to other games on the market.  The cities feel much more alive to me then they did in the original game, which is fantastic.  The new plague, the blood flies, apparently didn’t scare the residents of Karnaca off like the Weepers did to Dunwall.  The lighting is top notch, giving the city and locals a mood that I felt added to the story telling.  The voice acting works, but can feel stilted in some cases.  I am not sure if this was due to the actor’s performance, or the actor having issues with the chosen dialogue, but it isn’t that big of a deal for me.  The production is top notch, with just a few hitches along the way.

Final Thoughts

Dishonored 2 is a fantastic game that truly allows you to play the game your way.  You get to chose your protagonist, your style of play, and your pathway through the missions.  This is flexible game play at it’s best.  The worst part of Dishonored 2 is that it may not feel different enough from the original to really give you a unique gaming experience.  It ultimately is more of the same, but with a few tweaks and changes to make the game play better.  As a fan of Dishonored, this was enough for me to enjoy my time revisiting the Empire of the Isles.  The game is beautiful on the PC, and the music and voice acting worked great, most of the time.  Your biggest concern should be the performance issues that have hounded Dishonored 2 from the beginning.  While I did not run into these issues personally, they are out there and you should be informed before you buy.  Arkane is working on a fix, but last I heard people are still having issues getting the game to a playable state on their PCs.  Dishonored 2 is available now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.


Dishonored 2 Review Score:

(4 out of 5)


 

Razer Ornata Chroma Keyboard – A Review (PC)

When it comes to my keyboards and mice for my PC, I am a creature of habit. I find a good quality keyboard or mouse that fits my hand, feels good to use, and performs well and I stick with it.  It’s a pretty rare occasion that a review item replaces one of my standard items for daily use.  Well, the Razer Ornata Chroma keyboard is one such item.  From day 1, I fell in love with the way the Ornata Chroma felt in my hand, and just how satisfying it was to use, both in gaming and for daily use.  I loved my Thermaltake Poseidon Z keyboard, but just after a few hours of using the Ornata Chroma, I knew that the Thermaltake was going to go onto the backup PC.  And the Ornata Chroma gets released just in time for the holidays?  I see what you did there, Razer….

Features

The Ornata Chroma is being described as a mecha-membrane keyboard.  The mecha-membrane system combines the best of both mechanical and membrane keyboards, into one hybrid system.  I have always been partial to mechanical keyboards, I never liked the tactile feedback that I received from a membrane keyboard.  One of the worst typing experiences of my life is using the touch keyboard that came with the Surface Pro 2 that I use for book projects.  The Ornata Chroma has all of the tactile feedback of a mechanical keyboard, but without the fatigue that you experience from long hours of typing or gaming.  That’s thanks to the membrane section of the keys, the membrane helps soften the amount of pressure needed for a response, keeping that old mechanical fatigue to a minimum without loosing the tactile feedback. Razer promises an “typing experience unlike anything before” and they deliver.  I have never used a keyboard that felt like this in my hands, and immediately fell in love with the Ornata Chroma.

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Another fantastic feature of the Ornata Chroma is the use of mid-height keys on the keyboard.  The use of a mid-height key is brilliant with this design, it gives the Ornata Chroma a faster response time to the pressing of these keys.  A higher key height will delay that time, even if it’s measured in milliseconds and most people would never feel the difference.  PC gamers do and that’s what’s important here.  I have never liked the feeling of the chiclet style keyboards either, so the mid-height key design is perfect.

There are two more features which make the Ornata Chroma my new “go to” keyboard, customizable lighting effects and the wrist rest.  I’ll speak more about the lighting effects in the Aesthetics section of this review, so let’s look closer into the wrist rest that comes with the Ornata Chroma.  I usually hate wrist rests, I never got used to using them.  They always feel like they get into the way of my typing for some reason.  The Ornata Chroma comes with a detachable wrist rest, so if you feel the same way you can just not use it.  The wrist rest attaches to the main keyboard by what using what feels like low strength magnets.  When attached, the wrist rest does not move or shift, even under some intense gaming.  I never use these things, but I found myself using the wrist rest for the Ornata Chroma and felt that it added to my comfort level when using my PC.  Even if you don’t like using these wrist rests on other keyboards, give this one a shot.  It might be a different experience then you are used to.

Aesthetics

The Ornata Chroma looks like a pretty standard keyboard, design wise.  In comparison to the Black Widow Chroma, the Ornata Chroma does not have the row of keys on the far left side.  The Ornata Chroma is roughly 18 inches long, 6 inches wide and about 1.5 inches tall, so pretty standard in size also.  What makes the Ornata Chroma come alive is the customizable lighting effects, which sets the Chroma line apart for Razer.  When active, the Ornata Chroma can produce over 16 million different types of color combinations and is customizable for personalization.   The standard effects that the keyboard comes with are beautiful in their own right.  These effects include fire, full spectrum cycling, starlight, breathing, static, reactive, wave, and ripple.  Using the Razer software is easy also to program these lighting effects, and these effects can be applied to other Chroma devices you may have.  Chroma will also react differently depending on the game you are playing if the game is on the list for Chroma effects.  For instance, playing Overwatch will cause the WASD keys to glow yellow and your ability keys will glow in different colors depending on the status of those abilities.

Performance

Ok, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I love the Ornata Chroma.  For this last week or so, I have put it through the ringer to see what it can do.  I played H1Z1, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Dishonored 2 (review pending!) and felt that playing on the Ornata Chroma was a vastly superior experience then playing these games on my old Poseidon Z.  The response time felt shorter from key press to on screen action, I felt that I could move faster or use items faster, and I noticed a serious drop of on keyboard fatigue because of the mecha-membrane keys and the wrist rest.  I felt better after hours of playing then I had in a while.  The Ornata Chroma feels good, performs well, and looks great doing it.

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Tech Specifications

  • Razer™ Mecha-Membrane Technology
  • Mid-height keycaps
  • Razer Chroma backlighting
  • Ergonomic wrist rest
  • Razer Synapse enabled
  • Fully programmable keys with on the fly macro recording
  • 10-key roll over
  • Dedicated Gaming Mode
  • Anti-ghosting capability for up to 10 simultaneous key presses

Final Thoughts

The Razer Ornata Chroma is my new keyboard for my main PC.  This is the keyboard that I will be doing all of my gaming and writing on in the future.  I can quote you all the specs and features in the product manual (which I guess I did during the review…) but at the end of the day, the Ornata Chroma feels and performs the way I want a keyboard to feel and perform.  The new mecha-membrane keys feels fantastic and is precisely what I would want in the perfect keyboard.  I feel like I can type faster, play faster, and react faster to changing situations with this Ornata Chroma keyboard, due to the fast response and tactile feedback I get.  Price wise, the Razer Ornata Chroma keyboard is on the higher end, but not as expensive as the Black Widow Chroma.  The Ornata Chroma will set you back about a $100, but I feel you are getting every penny’s worth.  The Razer Ornata Chroma is available now, and it’s fantastic.


Razer Ornata Chroma Review Score:

(5 out of 5)


Kaliber Gaming Retikal Pro FPS Gaming Mouse Review

About a month ago, I reviewed IOGear’s Symmetre mouse, and was somewhat not impressed.  I wasn’t a fan of the design nor the feel of the mouse, even though the performance was pretty good.  Today, I get another crack at a mouse from IOGear, this time it’s the Retikal Pro FPS Gaming Mouse.  Will the Retikal fare better then the Symmetre in my hands, or will it earn the same fate of being banished to the bottom of the “Extras” drawer?  Let’s find out with my full review.

Features

The Retikal is designed to be a much more traditional mouse then the Symmetre, which means it feels proper in your right hand (as long as you are right handed).  The Retikal comes with 9 programmable buttons, one of which is featured as a sniper mode button.  Essentially, this button will slow down the mouse speed to allow you to focus in, but it doesn’t slow down the game so unless you are already in the vicinity of the head, slowing the mouse down won’t do you much good.  The Retikal can hit up to 5000 dpi (1000 more than the Symmetre) and can switch dpi on the fly, as well as profiles with just a button press.  The Retikal also features a USB 2.0 braided cable, which I do love.

So, my biggest negative with the Symmetre was the feel of the mouse, and unfortunatly that is also my biggest negative with the Retikal.  While the Retikal feels initially better in my hands then the Symmetre did, it never once matched the feeling of some of the higher end mice that I have owned over the years.  I literally felt like I could snap the Retikal in two with one hand.  The Retikal is light and flimsy feeling, has almost no weight to it, and does not feel sturdy enough to handle some rough gaming hours.  This is all based on my own preferences when it comes to the feeling of a mouse, but there it is.

  • USB 2.0 eSports professional optical gaming mouse
  • 9 programmable buttons with custom programming software
  • Non-slip rubber coated click wheel and thumb rest
  • Up to 5000dpi with shift-on-the-fly adjustment
  • Sniper button- instantly increases aim accuracy
  • Instantly switch between 5 profiles
  • Adjustable weight system for precision tuning
  • Sculptured housing designed for FPS gaming
  • LED backlighting with “breathing” effect
  • Pixart 3310 optical sensor
  • 128K built-in memory
  • 125/500/1000Hz adjustable report rate
  • 6400 fps frame rate
  • 130 ips speed

Aesthetics

The Retikal looks slick, with the logo glowing blue on the palm rest and the wider frame of the mouse to fit your hand.  There is a nice pad near where your thumb rests that’s made out of a slip proof material, which increases your grip on the mouse.  Right above your thumb is where the sniper button is located.  While I didn’t really like that button as a feature, it is placed in the best place possible.  Just don’t accidentally hit it while you are playing, you will get a nasty surprise.  Overall, the Retikal is a clean looking mouse, but does not do anything special either.

Performance and Specifications

So I took the Retikal out on few gaming dates with my new PC, and saw what it could do.  The last week saw some increased play time in H1Z1:  King of the Kill, World of Warcraft, and some Battlefield 1.  While the performance was decent, I could not get rid of the feeling that I was going to break the mouse, and absolutely hated the weight of the Retikal.  Maybe I’ve gotten too use to my Bloody mouse, but the Retikal did not feel natural in my hands, though it performed pretty well.  I was never happy with the mouse sensitivity that I set it to, and would switch dpi on the fly a few times more then I’m used too.  I tried out the sniper button, but did not like the immediate slow down of my mouse.  It’s a good idea, just one that I would never use.

Final Thoughts

I know it sounds like I’ve been rough on IOGear these last couple of reviews, but the market is a tough place and there are a lot of mice out there.  Finding one that truly fits your play style and sense of touch can be tough, and once you found your range then anything outside of that just feels off.  The Retikal is an entry level gaming mouse, priced at roughly $26.00, so the investment isn’t high if you are looking to use it.  The Retikal is a decent mouse for the price tag and will perform well enough.  There are better mice out on the market, though not many under $30.  This one’s a toss up for me, the Retikal is pretty much the definition of an average mouse, so if you need one for under $30 I would say check it out.


Kaliber Gaming Retikal Pro Gaming Mouse Review Score:

(3 out of 5)


 

Symmetre Mouse – A Review

Today I look at the Symmetre mouse, an ambidextrous PC gaming mouse from Kaliber Gaming.  Reviewing mice and keyboards is always a little tricky for me, it’s like trying to review a brand new pair of shoes after  you’ve been wearing Converse your whole life.  I get used to the feel of a particular mouse or keyboard, then switch it all up with a new product.  The trick is trying to be objective and reviewing the product as fair as possible, but sometimes you just prefer your current mouse or keyboard, and that taints your view.  Yeah, you guessed it, the Symmetre didn’t fair too well this week.  Let’s find out why.

Features

Let’s begin by saying that Symmetre is a truly ambidextrous mouse.  The design is perfectly symmetrical, hence the Symmetre name, with two thumb buttons on either side of a standard mouse configuration.  Standard left and right mouse buttons are exactly where you would expect them, plus a scroll wheel third button, and two switches that allow you to switch dpi profiles on the fly.  The Symmetre mouse ranges from 500-4000 dpi depending on the setting you have it at and features a USB 2.0 braided cable which is always appreciated.

The main feature of the Symmetre is its ambidextrous design, so let’s really discuss this feature.  As a right handed individual, I found the design of the Symmetre mouse to feel clunky in my hand.  It never molded to the shape of my hand like my other mice do, so from second one the Symmetre mouse never felt natural.  One of the flaws in a universal design, is that it never feels like it’s shaped to your particular hand since it needs to be universal, and that is truly where Symmetre failed for me.  I never once felt comfortable using the mouse, and looked forward to going by to my old stand by.

  • USB 2.0 Full speed gaming mouse
  • Fully ambidextrous design for right- or left-handed gamers
  • 9 buttons with custom programming software
  • Avago 3050 optical sensor
  • Adjust on-the-fly up to 4000 dpi
  • 64K built-in memory
  • 125/500/1000Hz adjustable report rate
  • 6600 fps frame rate
  • LED backlighting with “breathing” effect

Aesthetics

The Symmetre mouse is a very clean design.  Designed to be completely symmetrical, Symmetra is the type of mouse that Death the Kid from Soul Eater would prefer (see how many of you get that reference, ha!).  Symmetre is back lit blue out of the box, which is always an appreciated feature from an aesthetic stand point.  The Kaliber Gaming is placed on the mouse in a non lit version.  Overall, the aesthetic is something that has become understood as the norm in mice these days.

Performance and Specifications

The Symmetre and I went through some good games together this last week, including being used in my two reviews of The Final Station and Zombie Night Terror.  The Symmetre worked fine, for the most part, but never felt just right in my hands.  Plus, missing the extra buttons that are a feature on my Bloody ML160 mouse hurt in my mmorpg time this week.  The Symmetre never felt like it fit in my hand, mostly due to the symmetrical design, and I hated the weight of the mouse.  The Symmetre was way to light for me, and never felt comfortable because of it.  I prefer heavy mice when I play, not sure why.  I prefer heavier hockey sticks when I play hockey, and that has carried over to my gaming habits.  While the Symmetre performed well, I never got comfortable with it, and could not wait until I could go back to my old mouse.

Specifications
PART NUMBER
GME630
WARRANTY INFORMATION
3-year Limited Warranty
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
Windows Vista®, Windows® 7, Windows® 8, Windows® 8.1, Windows® 10
Mac OS X 10.3+ (user interface software not supported)
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
Housing
Case: ABS, Polycarbonite, Rubber
Resolution
up to 4000 dpi
Operation Temperature
0 to 40 degrees (Celsius)
Final Thoughts
In the end, I did not enjoy using the Symmetre mouse from Kaliber Gaming.  This is solely based on my own comfort level using the mouse and how it felt in my hand.  The Symmetre performed well in most game genres (not so much in mmorpgs, but again I went from my mmorpg Bloody mouse to the Symmetre), so the performance is there.  Priced at around $25 USD, the Symmetre mouse is an entry level gaming mouse that won’t break the bank, but you will get what you pay for.  Kaliber Gaming also has software that allows you to set your own macros and programs the Symmetre to do more, but unless the mouse feels right in your hands while you are using it, all of these features just won’t win over your heart.  Unless you are in absolute need for an ambidextrous mouse, I would have to not recommend the Symmetre mouse from Kaliber Gaming.
[easyreview title=”Symmetre Gaming Mouse Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”2″ ]

Zombie Night Terror – A Review (PC)

Today, I review Zombie Night Terror, the second zombie themed PC game this month.  Yes, I can hear you saying it, “not another zombie game”.  One thing that can be said about the video gaming industry is, like the movie industry, when a theme or a genre is popular, even for a moment, then we get tons and tons of content from that idea.  Zombies have become the new World War II shooter in today’s market, so it takes something different or fresh to really get me to take notice.  While Zombie Night Terror isn’t the greatest zombie game in the world, in reminded me of another game from the early nineties that I used to play a lot of, Lemmings.  This connection alone made Zombie Night Terror, by NoClip, much more interesting and worth my time then I originally thought it would be.

Story

Zombie Night Terror centers around a mad scientist who has created a new street drug called Romero (as in George).  This new street drug has a horrible side effect on the user, and by horrible I mean it kills the user and they return as one of the walking dead.  Apparently, the mad scientist didn’t concern himself with returning customers that were still breathing.  You are the hive mind behind this newly created horde, and you are out for blood.  And brains, brains too.

The story for Zombie Night Terror gives you a framework for why you are doing the things you are doing in the game, but it doesn’t really drive the overall game play.  The story is told through in game cut scenes, or through dialogue boxes that come in the shape of news reports.  Usually, these news reports are telling you about a new ability or feature that you can do, but more on that in the Game Play section.  Each level gives you a certain amount of humans you must eat and convert to move onto the next level, but there are also challenge objectives that can be done, like find the secret drug stash or kill every last human on a level.  Ultimately, the story is pretty simple to follow with nothing substantial or ground breaking, but it is a zombie game so what did  you expect.

zombie-night-terror-1

Game Play

Zombie Night Terror plays a lot like Lemmings, a lot.  For those of you that are on the young side and don’t know what Lemmings was all about, let me describe the game play style.  You are placed in charge of a horde of creatures that have no mind of their own.  This horde will walk right into dangers and perils, without any thought of their own safety.  Your job as overlord, is to complete the task set in front of you, by commanding your horde in a way to preserve the most numbers.  As you loose members, you become less efficient, and it becomes harder and harder to complete the level.  That perfectly describes what Lemmings and Zombie Night Terror are at their core.

So, how does Zombie Night Terror differ from Lemmings?  Mostly in theme, but you have a few other things you need to worry about.  First, you can get a certain amount of syringes filled with Romero to infect humans anywhere in the level.  This could give you a tactical advantage, or help you kill off hard to reach humans.  You can find more Romero in the level as you play, but it is always a limited amount so what you you stick.  You will also have access to special zombie types that will help organize your horde.  Like the Overlord, who will block a path and tell your zombies to walk the other direction, or the Exploder, who can destroy certain walls on the level.  You also only have a certain amount of DNA to use, and you need this DNA to create special zombie types.  You can burn your own zombies to get more DNA, but must watch because the less zombies you have, the less effective your horde is.

As you kill humans, your horde becomes stronger and stronger.  The humans, however, won’t stand idly by and let you just eat their brains, oh no!  You will encounter tougher enemies, like bat wielding tough guys, or even SWAT officers, who could easily decimate your entire horde if you are not thinking ahead.  Controls are fairly simple, once you get used to them.  You use the arrow keys to move around the camera around the level. The HUD has a dashboard on it that allows you to choose your zombie type or use certain powers.  The rest is pretty much point and click, then watch humanity die.

Zombie Night Terror plays extremely well and is a great take on this genre.  Yes, it’s another zombie game, but it’s a zombie game based on Lemmings!  That’s something we haven’t seen at all yet. It will take some tactics to complete each level, you just can barrel through the game without thinking, but it will take some real planning to hit all of the challenges.  Zombie Night Terror allows you to pause the game by using the space bar, and this will allow you to think ahead and plan.  You can also use this time to see each route through the level.  There will be doors you need to break down or stairs you need to climb, and you will need to tell your horde to do just that by clicking on the icons near each feature.  These icons can be switched at any time, and doing so will help guide your horde or keep them locked in the attic until you have figured out your next move.

zombie-night-terror-2

Aesthetics

Like The Final Station last time, Zombie Night Terror uses outdated graphics to both help keep costs down on development, but to also make the aesthetic fit the game.  Zombie Night Terror looks like the old Lemmings game visually, using pixelated graphics that won’t win any prizes this year.  With that being said, Zombie Night Terror isn’t a bad looking game, not in the slightest.  NoClip chose to use these graphics with a monochromatic color pallete.  The game is almost entirely done in black and white, with the only two major colors being green and red.  Green shows the player where more Romero is, and red is, well, it’s the blood.  Lot’s of blood.

The sound design follows the visuals in aesthetics.  The characters all talk like they are rejects from a Sims game, speaking mostly the same type of gibberish, with all dialogue being shown in subtitles.  Again, a smart design decision that helps keep costs down for a small developer, while feeling like a conscience design thought.  If you are a graphics hound and only play games for the shiny, just skip Zombie Night Terror.  For those of you that are willing to look past the aging exterior, you will find a really, really fun game.

Final Thoughts

Zombie Night Terror is flat out fun and challenging.  This is a new take on a tired genre, and helped relive my high school years by bringing back memories of Lemmings.  Is it possible that I’ve been seduced because of my memory of another great game, sure.  I recommend this game anyway.  The theme and aesthetic work perfectly together, the game play and mechanics are finely tuned, and the game is just flat out fun.  What else do you need from a game that costs $12.99?  Zombie Night Terror is available now on Steam.

[easyreview title=”Zombie Night Terror Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”4″ ]

Corsair Launches ML Magnetic Levitation PC Case Fans

FREMONT, CA –July 11th 2016 – CORSAIR®, a world leader in enthusiast memory, PC hardware and components today announced the launch of its new range of ultimate, high-performance cooling fans, the ML Series. Equipped with a revolutionary new Magnetic Levitation Bearing and custom rotor design, the ML Series redefines fan performance to deliver higher airflow, lower noise and better cooling, whatever the requirement.

When powered, the magnetic levitation bearing completely suspends the fan blades from the motor housing, delivering almost frictionless operation. The huge reduction in friction, in comparison to all conventional physical contact bearings, allows the ML Series to offer lower noise at higher RPMs giving PC Enthusiasts a true no-compromise fan.

Offered in ten different variants, the new ML Series is available in a full range of colors and multiple sizes, letting you customize both your build and your performance. Launching in standard ML, ML PRO and ML PRO LED models and in both 120mm and 140mm sizes, there’s an ML fan to suit almost any performance PC cooling requirement.

All ML fans offer a huge PWM range, giving users total control over how their fans perform. Value silence above all else? At their lowest speed of 400 RPM, the ML Series will push more airflow at near silent 16 dBA (decibel A-weighting). Performance junkie? ML Series fans push up to 97 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of air. Be it a low noise case, high density radiator or anywhere in-between, the ML Series delivers best-in-class performance.

ML Series also provides next-level fan customization. ML PRO fans feature removable color co-coordinated corners fitted to the fan’s vibration dampening rubber grommets, allowing easy color matching to accent your build’s color scheme. ML PRO LED goes even further, mounting four ultra-bright LEDs into the central fan hub to radiate vibrant, even lighting through the fan’s frosted blades.

“We built the ML Series to be the ultimate fan, offering exceptionally low noise levels to those who value silence and insane airflow for those who demand it” said Michael Hooper, Product Manager for Cooling at CORSAIR. “With the use of the Magnetic Levitation Bearing and custom rotor, we’re able to create a single fan that lets the user choose their perfect balance between airflow, static pressure and noise with no compromises.”

Specifications:

Magnetic Levitation Bearing: Harnesses Magnetic Levitation technology to provide lower noise, higher performance, and a longer lifespan.

Custom Rotor Design: Delivers the perfect balance between high static pressure and high airflow, operating flawlessly in the most challenging environments.

Extensive Control Range: A 2,000 RPM control range gives you total control between low noise and absolute performance. At 400 RPM ML Series 120mm fans provide 12 CFM of airflow at just 16 dBA for near silent running. At 2,400 RPM, the same fans offer a huge 75 CFM of airflow, at an un-intrusive 37dBa. You choose the balance between silence and performance, and the ML Series delivers.

Color Customization: Replaceable corners mounted to anti-vibration rubber dampers allow you to match your fans with the rest of your build while delivering quiet operation at higher speeds.

Bold LED’s: ML120 PRO LED and ML140 PRO LED are available in Red, White or Blue, with ultra-bright LEDs mounted to the center rotor, outputting a vivid blast of light and color.

Pricing, Availability, and Warranty

All ML Series fans are backed by a comprehensive five year warranty and are available immediately from the CORSAIR worldwide network of authorized retailers. ML Series fans are available in ten different variants in both 120mm and 140mm sizes. Please refer to the below grid for MSRP. Prices are Exc. Tax.

ML120

ML120 PRO

ML120 PRO LED White

ML120 PRO LED Red

ML120 PRO LED Blue

Pack Quantity

2

1

1

1

1

Rubber Corners

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Corner Color

None

Black

White

Red

Blue

LED Lit

No

No

Yes – White

Yes – Red

Yes – Blue

RPM

400 – 2400

400 – 2400

400 – 2400

400 – 2400

400 – 2400

CFM

12 – 75

12 – 75

12 – 75

12 – 75

12 – 75

Static Pressure

0.2 – 4.2

0.2 – 4.2

0.2 – 4.2

0.2 – 4.2

0.2 – 4.2

Noise (dBA)

16 – 37

16 – 37

16 – 37

16 – 37

16 – 37

MSRP ($)

$34.99

$24.99

$27.99

$27.99

$27.99

 

ML140

ML140 PRO

ML140 PRO LED White

ML140 PRO LED Red

ML140 PRO LED Blue

Pack Quantity

2

1

1

1

1

Rubber Corners

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Corner Color

None

Black

White

Red

Blue

LED Lit

No

No

Yes – White

Yes – Red

Yes – Blue

RPM

400 – 2000

400 – 2000

400 – 2000

400 – 2000

400 – 2000

CFM

17 – 97

17 – 97

17 – 97

17 – 97

17 – 97

Static Pressure

0.2 – 3.0

0.2 – 3.0

0.2 – 3.0

0.2 – 3.0

0.2 – 3.0

Noise (dBA)

16 – 37

16 – 37

16 – 37

16 – 37

16 – 37

MSRP ($)

$39.99

$28.99

$30.99

30.99

$30.99

 

To learn more about CORSAIR ML Series fans please visit:

http://www.corsair.com/mlseries

Bloody ML160 Commander Laser Gaming Mouse – A Review

For about the last week, I have change out my normal mouse for the new Bloody ML160 Commander Laser Gaming Mouse from Bloody.  These types of reviews always take a little longer than a game review, since really for the first day or two you are just getting used to the configuration and the feel of the new mouse.  So, putting my Roccat Lua into the drawer of my desk, I connected the ML160 to my desktop and took it for a spin through a week of normal computer use, that featured some MMORPGs, FPS, and normal PC use such as web browsing and writing.

Features

The ML160 has a nice set of features.  The obvious feature right out of the box is the replacement of the right mouse button for a 9-key number pad for mmo games.  Out of all the features, this was the one that I had to work my brain around since I have never used a mouse like this before.  The 5 key acts as your right mouse for everyday use, but when played in an mmo game, the number pad really shines.  The key response for all the mouse buttons, not just the number pad, is measured at less then .2 ms.  Truth be told, I could really feel that response speed when clicking the buttons.  Games felt much more responsive when using the ML160 versus my old Roccat.

Other features of the Bloody ML160 include 17 buttons overall that perform different actions (two on the side, left mouse, middle mouse wheel, 9 key pad buttons,  and 4 profile buttons), metal pro mouse boots for smoother gliding on the desktop, an infrared mouse wheel, adjustable resolution, and 4 weapon profiles.  After my adjustment time with the ML160, I have to say it is the most responsive mouse I have ever used.  I never felt any type of delay between the button press on the mouse and the action in game.

bloody-ml60-1

Aesthetic

The ML160 has a nice aesthetic to it.  The mouse is large enough to fit in my hands and I never feel like I struggle with the over all design of the mouse. The only design issue I had is with the lack of a right mouse button for every day computer use.  Even as I type this and need to make corrections, my brain has to register where my finger is on the number pad.  What would have been idealistic would have been a slightly more raised 5 key, or some sort of nodule on the 5 key for finger placement.

The ML160’s buttons are backlit in red, which really makes the Bloody hand print logo show up nicely on the mouse.  The mouse wheel is also red when using the first weapon profile, then will switch to green, yellow or blue depending on the next profile you use.  Through the software, you can adjust these colors if you like. The cord for the mouse is a nice braided cord that is a great length when connecting the mouse to the back of your computer.  I never feel like I have less cord then I need.

Performance and Specifications

The ML160 performed fantastically during my week of using it for all of my gaming and computing needs.  Overlooking the right mouse button I mentioned earlier, the 9 key pad set up was great for running my mmo games.  I was able to use abilities without key strokes, and the abilities would fire off almost immediately.  Bringing my middle finger back to the 5 key as the home position was still problematic in high stress situations, but one I can live with.

The weapon profiles were fun to play with.  Each profile is designed to be used with a particular style of gun, so if you have a 3-burst weapon you would want to set your mouse to profile 3.  This feature will help keep your shots accurate and on target.  The ML160 also had 6 sniper modes that also helps increase your accuracy by adjusting your mouse movements and sensitivity to your weapon.  I have no idea if the ML160 made me a better gamer in my fps games, but it felt better to play these games.  I felt that I had the drop on people when we would meet due to the responsiveness of the ML160.

Sensor AVAGO A9800 Laser
Buttons 17
Connector USB 2.0 / 3.0
Cable length 1.8 meters
Size 126 x 81 x 40 mm
Weight 153 grams
System requirements Windows (all versions)

bloody-ml60-2

Final Thoughts

The Bloody ML160 is a great gaming mouse, not only for mmorpgs but also for fps games.  Excluding the minor issue of finding the home key on the number pad quickly when needed, the ML160 feels superior when it comes to responsiveness and accuracy for my game playing.  I found the ML160 light in my hands while I played and easy to move around the desk.  The mouse felt great and comfortable while I played, and even with just every day computer use.  If you solely play fps style games, then the ML160 may not be the perfect fit, but if you have any mmorpgs in your game rotation, then I highly recommend the Bloody ML160 as a great gaming mouse.  The Bloody ML160 is available now for $79.99.

[easyreview title=”Bloody ML160 Commander Gaming Mouse Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”4″ ]

Corpse Party – A Review (PC)

Independent games have always been hit or miss with me.  For everyone that I find just beautiful and fun to play, there are twenty that I could not ever see myself playing another minute and that is only thinking about what is released in the United States.  Japan’s independent game scene is a little bit different then ours, many dojin software creators make the games more for fun then profit.  The industry isn’t driven by profit or exposure, but more about making a fun game that the developer wanted to play.  Dojin software games, therefore, have a tendency to be more polished and more fun to play, since they are not rushed out to make a profit.  Developer Team GrisGris and publisher Marvelous USA have released one such product in Corpse Party, a Japanese role playing game that was originally released in 1996.  Corpse Party went on to be a big success for Team GrisGris, spawning six games in the series, multiple manga series, anime, and a live action film.  This version of Corpse Party is, follow me on this, is a re-release of the re-make of the original game.

Story

The story for Corpse Party begins in a high school in Japan, where Mayu Suzumoto is preparing to transfer to a new high school, away from a sizable group of friends.  On the eve of her last day, the group of friends are helping clean up after class, when Ayumi suggests performing a ritual called “Sachiko Ever After” to bind all of the friends together to keep them from growing apart.  Any fan of the horror genre already will know that this ritual does not go as planned, and the group of students finds themselves transported to the decrepit remains of the Heavenly Host Elementary school, a school that once stood where the high school is today.  Heavenly Host Elementary played host to a series of ghastly murders years earlier, before being demolished.  The only way for the students to survive is to uncover the details surrounding these murders and to help free the ghosts that still wander the halls of Heavenly Host Elementary, before the students themselves met an ugly end.

corpse-party-2

The story for Corpse Party is, by far, the best thing about this game.  The story is gripping, intriguing, and makes you want to uncover what had happened years before to these poor students.  Corpse Party drips with atmosphere, which helps keep the story and the player on the edge of their seat.  The story is also broken up into five chapters, each with multiple endings and detailing different sections of the overall story.  Corpse Party also adds in four bonus chapters, including a retelling of “Tooth” from Corpse Party:  Book of Shadows.  I felt that the game did a great job in pacing the tension and balancing the overall feeling of the story, but that dialogue….

Japanese games have had a lot of issues in the past with translation over into English.  No one will forget just how popular “All your base are belong to us” became from Zero Wing.  Well, I think Corpse Party gives that one a run with “I’m gonna butter up my pooper with it real good!”.  No, seriously, that is a line from Chapter 1.  While lines like this do remove me from the tension that the game was building so expertly, I have to forgive it because I understand the tricks and traps of translating between the two languages.  However, yeah, I have to knock a few points off just for that line.

Game Play

Corpse Party plays like a very traditional Japanese role playing game, for the most part.  You begin the game with two students that travel around the elementary school in a line.  As you explore the Heavenly Host Elementary School, you will discover dead ends, hard to reach paths, and corpses, lots of corpses.  Your quest is to collect the information that is littered around the school to discover who these corpses were and what exactly had happened here decades before.

What isn’t so traditional about Corpse Party is that there is no combat, no stats, and no inventory per se.  Sure, you collect names tags and pieces of lumber to help you explore, but no inventory in the sense we are used to for a jrpg.  Since there isn’t any combat, death will usually come as a surprise to you, and usually because you did something out of order, or turned down the wrong hall, or explored a dead end that you were not supposed to explore.  This will lead to a lot of reloading of a previous save.  As a friend of mine put it, “the story is fantastic, but the game is a total dick”.

Your actions and choices will help determine what story ending you get.  There are multiple ways and paths to explore the Heavenly Host Elementary School, so you never feel railroaded into a particular path, but unless you are a veteran at this type of game, it can feel a wee bit overwhelming.  Corpse Party will not hold your hand through the story, nor does it really particularly like you.  If you can live with this uncertainty and dislike, you are in for a treat.

corpse-party-4

Aesthetics

Corpse Party is rendered in a retro 2D graphic style that helps recreate the original game from 1996.  From an aesthetic point of view, this is a fantastic design decision, however, I did have a hard time in telling what items were.  It took my almost a half an hour just to discover a plank of wood that I could use to get over a whole in the floor to get out of the first classroom.  Many items you will never guess what they are until you interact with them and get a description from the game.  I am always for retro gaming aesthetics, but with the technology we have today, designers should at least make the items look like they are supposed to.  Still, I felt that the overall visual aesthetic worked real well for Corpse Party.

The original Japanese voice cast is used for Corpse Party.  With over 5,000 lines of spoken dialogue in the original Japanese, Corpse Party delivers the original gaming experience that was released in 1996.  Since the acting is in Japanese, it is impossible for me to tell how well the dialogue is performed.  I mean, it sounds good and all, but I can’t tell if they are over-acting, under-acting, or just giving us a shopping list.

Final Thoughts

Corpse Party is a great retro-style Japanese role playing game story that is almost completely ruined by the game play.  I love the story, the atmosphere, and the tension that Corpse Party delivers to the player, but the game play is one that almost borders on frustrating due to the absolute lack of any direction.  In some cases, I love this freedom, but for some reason it was a negative for me in Corpse Party.  By no means negative enough for me not to recommend Corpse Party, but one that I feel I need to mention.  Corpse Party is a great game, and a great example of what the Japanese independent game industry is capable of.  If you are a fan of creepy Japanese rpgs, then Corpse Party is an absolute must for you.  For everyone else, this is a solid game to pick up and play for about ten hours.  Corpse Party is available now on Steam.

[easyreview title=”Corpse Party Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”3″ ]

Kalypso Media Announces Urban Empire

Ridgewood, NJ – March 10, 2016 – Kalypso Media today announces the new IP Urban Empire, to be shown for the first time at GDC 2016 – Ever looked out at your town or city and thought about what you’d do if you were in charge? Of course you have, but running a city involves far more than building a few roads and buildings, right? Well forget about city builders, because Kalypso Media is thrilled to announce its brand-new city ruler – Urban Empire, developed by Fragment Productions.

Urban Empire is the pioneer of a new breed of strategy games that combines city builder features with political scheming and adds 200 years of historical progress into the mix, creating a whole new gameplay experience where players must employ strategic planning and political savvy to successfully grow their cities in their role as Mayor.

Take control of a mayoral dynasty at the start of the Industrial Age. Establish infrastructures, plan city districts, debate political decisions at the town council, bribe or blackmail your opponents, empower the democratic rights of your people or ignore them and reign supremely by yourself – the decision is yours! Master the challenges of 200 years of societal changes: face political struggles, experience world-changing events and pioneering inventions, and eventually, Be a Mayor Player and create your very own Urban Empire!

To celebrate the announcement, Kalypso Media has prepared a teaser trailer, and is currently taking appointments for the game’s full debut at the Games Developers Conference 2016 from March 14-18 in San Francisco, CA. Kalypso Media would like to invite members of the press to see the game first-hand and to speak with the game’s producer to learn all about the how this new strategy title will change the way you look at city simulation games.

Features of Urban Empire

  • City Ruler, not City Builder: Urban Empire offers a unique combination of classic city building and political management gameplay. Take on the role of a mayor, be a political mastermind and prove your skills by prevailing against opposing parties and guiding your city through technological evolutions and ideological revolutions
  • Choose from 4 ruling families with 5 characters each, like the equal rights and social justice advocates the Kilgannons, or the Sant’Elias, who focus on scientific progress and the pursuit of knowledge
  • Create and manage city districts on a large scale and fulfil your citizens’ needs – such as happiness, safety, and public services
  • Introduce new ideas and technologies, like the electric tram, antibiotics or video games and use your power to convince the city council of your political agenda
  • Up to 800 dynamic events represent the twists and turns of urban life: make and influence decisions on issues such as women’s rights, the hippie movement, and child labor

Urban Empire is slated for release on PC in Q3 2016, with its public debut set for the Games Developers Conference 2016 in San Francisco, CA. To make an appointment for GDC please contact Kalypso PR USA as soon as possible to secure a time slot. Appointments are for registered GDC attendees only.

Punch Club – A Review (PC)

Unlike that other fighting club, we are not breaking any rules by reviewing and discussing Lazy Bear Games’ newest creation, Punch Club.  Punch Club is a life management role playing game, where you take control of every aspect of your fighter’s life, from what he eats to how much he trains.  The only time you don’t control your fighter’s every action is when he actually has to fight.  The fights are completely run by the game’s artificial intelligence, based on the tactics pre-selected by the player and the stats that your fighter possesses.  Is Punch Club any good?  Let’s take a closer look.

Story

Punch Club’s story line begins as many stories do, with the brutal murder of your father before your eyes.  In order to discover your father’s killer, you must rise in the ranks of fighters, choosing different paths that are open to you along the way.  Along the way, you will have to juggle all of life’s varied obstacles, including friendships, love life, training, work, and recreation.  Finding that fine balance in Punch Club is what the game is all about.

Punch Club is full of 80’s and 90’s nostalgia bits, and the story line fits that feel perfectly.  Punch Club feels like a martial arts movie from the late 80’s:  murdered father, training montages, working your way up through the ranks of generic bad guys, finding love along the way and finally ending with a boss fight to gain vengeance.  Lazy Bear Games went for a nostalgia piece, and it works just fine.  While it’s not perfect in any sense of the word, with some of the humor just feeling forced or off a bit, Punch Club’s story line is great and fits the feeling that the developers were aiming for.

punch-club-2

Game Play

I called Punch Club a “life management role playing game” in the intro, and that description fits the game perfectly.  In Punch Club, you have to manage your fighter’s daily life and choose what to focus on during the time you have each day.  In the beginning, that’s fairly simple.  If you hungry, eat.  If you don’t have any money, go to work.  However, just like life, the game gets more complicated when you have more obligations to manage.  Do you spend time with your friends or your love?  You need money to go out, but you haven’t eaten in a while.  To make these choices even more crucial, your states will deplete if you are not training enough, so you constantly have to maintain what you have worked on.

When you train, you will get to focus on one of three stats:  strength, stamina, or agility.  Some exercises will increase small amounts of two stats, but it isn’t very efficient when you factor in your time management.  You pretty much need to focus on one stat as a primary then one as a secondary, leaving the third stat almost untouched.  So you have to decide what type of fighter will you be?  Punches rely on strength, defense rely on agility, and stamina keeps you up and moving longer.

You have total control of your fighter, that is until it is fight time.  You get to select a few fight tactics that your fighter can use before the match begins, but once those are in place and you start the fight, then the a.i. takes over completely.  Whether you win or lose will be dependent on your tactics and your stats that you have trained in.  As you fail, and you will, then you have to decide what other stat or tactic would work better in that situation.

For the first few hours, I really enjoyed Punch Club’s game play.  I thought the life management game play was fun, and it was satisfying to see my hard work pay off.  The problem with Punch Club comes a little later, when you find yourself grinding for hours on end just to win one fight.  This makes the game absolutely no fun to play anymore and can lead to feelings of frustration and bitterness as you loose time and time again.  The shine and enjoyment that I felt in the beginning of Punch Club did not last throughout my time with the game.

Aesthetics

Because the developers were going for a retro style 80’s nostalgia piece, the game looks like it came out of that era as well, though much more defined graphically.  Punch Club has pixelated graphics that reinforce the feeling of nostalgia, without actually looking like an 80’s game.  I felt that the aesthetics of Punch Club fit the vibe of the game perfectly and did everything right, even down to the small little nods to popular culture you will find throughout the game.

Final Thoughts

Punch Club is a great game for the first few hours, then it turns into a complete grind fest that will try even the most die hard gamer.  In the beginning, your fighter’s life is easy to manage, and the fights are easy to train for.  As the game progresses, your life becomes a chaotic mess and the fights are brutal slug-fests that you are not prepared for.  My life is complicated as it is, I don’t really need to play a game that replicates that complexity.  I would still recommend the game for anyone who is looking for a game like Punch Club, because what is there is really well done.  Just be prepared to grind through the middle of the game.  Punch Club is available now through Steam for your PC.

 

[easyreview title=”Punch Club Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”3″]