Tag - review

LoveHandle Smartphone Grip Review

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Let’s face it normally when you think of love handles you think of that patch of fat on your hips that refuse to leave.  If it is on your significant other it could be a spot of comfort that you hold onto in a chilly wind as you snuggle up, if it is on you it is the spot you glare at whenever there is a birthday party or wedding with particularly good cake.  But there have been a few products out there with the same name that are handles used to protect the things you love and the one I have found the most impressive by far is the LoveHandle electronics flexible band handle.

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LoveHandles On:

These have been around for a while and have been an “As Seen On TV” product but there was something that always makes you feel a little nervous trusting your multi-hundred dollar electronics to a little strap of of elastic, plastic and adhesive.  The funny thing is that we often hold them by our hands instead which can become far more compromised and likely to be holding other valuables. LoveHandle uses high quality elastic bands wrapped into solid plastic with a 3M adhesive.  When you consider it all the weakest point in the whole process is the adhesive and there are few adhesives that have a strength greater or more trusted than 3M.  I use an iPhone 6+ and after attaching the band and deciding I fully trusted it I held the strap by one index finger and spun it as hard as I can (alright I was sitting on the grass so I did hedge my bet a touch) and kept doing it until my finger got tired then checked over the strap and saw nothing wrong and I am still using it.  I use a wallet case so I really don’t want to drop and lose my phone when recording Bellagio fountains or July 4th fireworks or take a picture out the car window of the newest somehow worse Hello Kitty on the Las Vegas Strip charging for pictures.  They come in different colors as well so it was easy to match my case or they can be custom ordered by companies as rewards for employees and customers with their individual logo on the elastic.

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When my wife and I are going to bed at night we tend to wind down looking at our phones, I am usually reading a book on it and she is usually making last minute FB and twitter posts.  More than once the way we have realized it was time to go to sleep was when the phone slips from our hand in exhaustion and *SMACK* phone to the forehead if we are lucky, I have a bone disorder that can cause my nose to break from such a strike.  Now if I fall asleep my hand and phone attached to my fingers just drop to my chest.  I have enough LoveHandles for my wife to use one soon, I think a couple more decent self inflicted smacks at bedtime will do it.

Another great use for the LoveHandle is that not only can it keep the screen in your hand it can keep it out of the way of your hand.  Carrying groceries, coffee, FroYo, frozen dinners, hot soup, basically anything you would want to keep separated from a sensitive piece of electronics can be slid onto the back of your hand really easy using the strap so that it is kept safe.  I was recently on a walk, slid it around to the back of my hand and went to take a drink, the water spilled all over my hand where the phone had just been a second before. It may have been fine but I’m sure I didn’t have to worry and find out.

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One last thing and this really should not be minimized. I have nerve disorders and damage in multiple places in my body which can cause my to lose feeling in half my hand.  That means the heavier the electronic and the more prolonged the use the more I have to worry about dropping them.  The LoveHandle comes in more than one size to accommodate larger electronics and hand size but even at it’s minimal size it can dramatically help people with grip handicaps handle their electronics safer.  The handles are so efficient I have plans on putting them on my game controllers so that when I am doing prolonged gaming I don’t have to worry about dropping the controller due to my own issues.  The plan is to put them on the underside of the handles so that my last two fingers which I have almost no feeling in will just be strapped on the controller.  It will definitely go on one of my iPad 2 cases and probably on the bottom of one of my laptops so that when I pull it out or put it back in a bag I won’t lose my grip.  Just as importantly no matter what I did the LoveHandle never lost it’s grip unless I wanted it to.

Last Love:

The LoveHandle is a rather simple idea that is a genius low cost solution on how to keep your valuable electronics safe without compromising use.  Besides all the consumer uses listed above I am sure folks will find tons of commercial and industrial uses for them as well, and as a handicapped individual I can tell you I will be coming up with more and more ways to use them than as seen on TV.

LoveHandle Smartphone Grip Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
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Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con 2016 Photo Gallery

The Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con is one of my favorite cons of the year. I have always looked forward to it – to experience the big names in the business that it always seems to draw.  The past has brought Dr. Who’s and CW bad guys as well as great artists who created some iconic comic book and cartoon characters.  This was the first year it had moved into the Las Vegas Convention Center Central Hall to give itself the breathing room it was beginning to lack in the South Point ballrooms.

Normally I would have thought moving it to the big convention center would have brought even bigger names, though some of the past would be hard to top and just as welcome to anchor the convention.  Unfortunately and strangely the show was a bit anorexic when it came to celebrities this year.  Rob Liefield who has shown up yearly with great energy was in the program but at the last minute didn’t make it and former celebs and writers such as Len Wein, George Perez, and John Barrowman were never on the list.  This didn’t stop it from having some great panels about Preacher and Harley Quinn with signing slack neatly taken up by Steve McNiven and Kevin Eastman but I hope with the new space will come new possibilities and next year we will wind up with the star studded con we are used to from this event.

Photo Gallery

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants In Manhattan – A Review (Xbox One)

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Platinum Games and Activision have brought us video game’s latest attempt to bring the world of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to life in digital form with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Mutants in Manhattan.  I would like to preface this review by saying that I have been a massive Turtles fan since my first TMNT comic way back in 1986.  The cartoonization of the Turtles left me somewhat disliking that particular version, making me always see the comic version being the true version, and anything other than that not up to par.  The Turtles have starred in five different tv shows and five movies spanning two franchises, all based on the non comic versions of the Turtles.  The last tv show by Nickelodeon, I have to say, has been the best of the lot for me and I was extremely happy when I saw that this game would be based on that show.  That happiness did not last very long into the game.

Story

The story for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Mutants in Manhattan is your typical TMNT story line.  Shredder and the Foot clan have joined forces with General Kraang and the rest of the Kraang to unleash their next generic evil plot and the Turtles must rise up to stop them.  The story is pretty much taken right out of one of the Nickelodeon cartoon episodes, so it feels like I’ve seen this story a million times before.  There really isn’t anything special going on here at all.

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The good news is that the developers don’t take anytime at all rehashing the Turtles origin story, since they are assuming that you already know that by now and don’t need it retold again.  There isn’t any character development, no surprise endings or twists, and really nothing more here then a generic Turtles story from a kids cartoon network.  Which is why I wish a developer would one day do a comic version and allow for much more character development, especially in the area of the constant clash of power between Raphael and Leonardo.

Game Play

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Mutants in Manhattan sticks with a video game genre that fits the franchise quite well:  the beat ’em up.  You select one of four Turtles, outfit your turtle with a load out (more on that later), then head into the stage where you will bash in the heads of every enemy the game throws at you, until you reach the arbitrary amount of baddies to start a boss battle.  The buttons do exactly what they do in every beat ’em up in the universe:  light attack, heavy attack, dodge, and jump.  By pressing left trigger, you can summon your Ninjitsu Power to defeat the enemies as well.  Each turtle will have their own special power, along with a series of generic ones that can be switched out via the load out screen.  As you level up through the game, you unlock upgrades to your ninjitsu powers.

This is all a very good base for what good have been a very good game, however, it ends up just being bland and boring.  The combat, which is the heart of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Mutants in Manhattan feels lack luster.  Your blows never feel like they have any impact, in fact I was never sure I was hitting anything half of the time.  You can spend the entire game just spamming the regular light and heavy attacks and win all the battles, making the ninjitsu moves unnecessary.  Then there are your a.i. partners.  You see, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Mutants in Manhattan does not support local co-op, so either you play online or solo.  If you choose to go solo, your team mates are morons.  Sure, they will try to save you if you go down, but I witnessed my a.i. companions trying to diffuse a bomb in the middle of the railroad tracks and were continually run over by the subway train.  The a.i. just would not move them out of the way.  You can switch between turtles as you play, but that just means the a.i. is now in control of the turtle you just left.

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Aesthetic

Platinum Games did the right thing and did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Mutants in Manhattan in a cell shaded style, but the turtles all look a little goofy to me.  I’m not sure exactly what it is, but there is a small detail gone awry here somewhere.  I like the looks for most of the game, but each individual turtle just looks….off.  The colors are nice and match the cartoon well.  The turtles do sport their iconic colors from the cartoon series, though I would love a game that has them in their standard comic red eye masks.  Again, wishing for more of the comic turtles then the cartoon ones.

Voice acting is solid and the turtles sound pretty darn close to the actual television show, though they did not get the actual actors for the game.  For instance, Nolan North is Leonardo instead of Seth Green.  North does an outstanding Leonardo, but fans of the television show will be able to tell the difference if they listen closely.

Level environments are boring and typical for a Turtles game.  You fight in the subway, the streets, sewers, etc.  I found it fascinating, of course, that the streets level was completely devoid of any human life.  While I have never been to New York, it is hard for me to be able to imagine a time at any point of the day where a neighborhood is completely devoid of any life at all; no traffic, no people, nothing.

Final Thoughts

As much as I wanted to, I just cannot like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:  Mutants in Manhattan.  The look and the base game play are solid, and you can see a very good game lies beneath all of the garbage that got piled on top.  The combat, the root of the entire game, is boring and has no punch at all.  The ninjitsu powers are pretty useless when you can beat all the enemies just by spamming your basic attacks.  The dodge/counter mechanics feel clunky at best.  The levels are lackluster and completely devoid of life and soul.  Finally, the story is nothing special, at all.  You have seen this story a million times in a million Turtles episodes over the years.  I just cannot recommend this game, even to a hardcore fan of the television show.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants In Manhattan Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Deadlight: Director’s Cut Review

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Over the last couple of years not only have the indie games had a very nice resurgence but they have done so with beautifully stylized gameplay.  Limbo was a great example of this and one that many people not even into video games heard about with its gloomy black and gray atmosphere and child protagonist who suffered the fate of many hells.  Other great examples were Contrast with its vintage carnival feeling and Valiant Hearts with its pencil drawn appearance and heart wrenching story line. This is indeed a great time for indie games to show style and shine.  Which brings us to another great example of this trend: Deadlight: Director’s Cut on the Xbox One.

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Hands On:

Deadlight popped up on my radar the moment it was announced because for the last 20 years whenever I have a game with a clan or guild I always name it the Deadlighters and also the first reference to “deadlights” I had ever read was in Stephen King’s “It”, a favorite read of mine.  Then when I saw how the game looked I was constantly watching for updates and waiting impatiently for the release date.  I love stylized games and this is the perfect time to have that love flourish with episodic games like the Tell Tale titles “The Walking Dead” and “Fables” and even some big names like Dishonoured, Bioshock Infinite and the Borderlands games.  Deadlight: Director’s Cut reminds me a lot of Limbo with a little Borderlands feel for the background since the background has colors to their settings whenever there is light but the foreground is almost exclusively shades of black.

This isn’t just done for atmosphere though, it plays key into the game itself.  The zombies instead of going with a name like walkers or deadheads or zombi are called shadows because when they attack in dark places all they are are moving shadows, at their most in a well lit environment they are shadows with a little grey silhouette where the light strikes them.  This makes it so that sometimes the choice isn’t whether or not to fight or run but trying to figure out where they are and how many since once they pile up in a group they are just a black and grey mass.  Those of you who just think they will crank up the contrast and brightness to make them out better should know that they considered this and all you do is just make all the shadows look washed out and grey, no help it just spoils the mood a bit.

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You can have a beautiful looking game but if the gameplay sucks it doesn’t matter.  It is a side scrolling platform game but unlike most of them in that genre it isn’t a fighter.  Fighting is the quickest way to get yourself killed.  Run, jump and roll are really you keys to survival.  Sure you get an axe at one point and even a gun and shotgun a couple times (the game finds ways to take these away when it chooses) but unless you are fighting a lone shadow or attacking from a point of advantage such as above and out of reach odds are they will kill you.  Their damage seems to compound by the number of them you are fighting so that if you are fighting one and button mashing B with all your might you may only lose one or two of your health bubbles but if another one comes along you will be dead in seconds.  Gunshots to the legs will drop them and slow them as they have to get back up but headshots are the way you need to go.  There are a couple of spots where you get a secure location with a bullet stash nearby so that you can fire away and release some frustration but mostly you are dodging shadows and finding creative ways to use the environment against them and to keep yourself safe.

For the most part the save spots are pretty well located so that if you go through a series of difficult jumps and dodges you get rewarded with a save so that you can worry about the thing around the next corner.  There are different ways to make it through sections which is nice, when you die and go back to a spawn you might find yourself considering another approach.  For puzzling purposes you can’t swim, which I would probably find far less annoying if it were not for the fact that your character is a park ranger from a small town in Canada that came down following a recording that Seattle had a safe zone.  By the way if there is one thing that I have learned from apocalyptic stories never trust a government recording, feel free to check it out but do so with great care.

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Another thing about the game is it is set in Seattle in 1986, which means you see a dark silhouette of the Space Needle jetting up towards the grey sky when you are outside and it is before the time that you could just give your wife and daughter a call on their cell phones and ask where they are now.  There are multiple ways this could have been handled such as power outage or government communication blockages but just setting it in 1986 seemed a nice and elegant solution.  In general the storyline is full of elegance and on this Deadlight Director’s Cut the alternate ending makes you really think about what you just played through and makes you consider playing through the game again, maybe this time on Nightmare Mode which means no save points (yikes!).

Besides Nightmare Mode Deadlight: Director’s Cut also boasts a Survival Arena mode in which you see how long you can survive and your score is posted on a leaderboard online so you can see who are the best shadow boxers out there!  It also has beautiful 1080p graphics and improved controls so if you played it before and felt it was sluggish jumping or had poor response in some other way they have been working to get the bugs out and have come up with a nice smooth play.

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Last Light:

Deadlight: Director’s Cut is a beautiful game with solid side scrolling gameplay and fun but challenging puzzles.  The storyline will make you think about what you would do in an apocalypse and if you pay attention to the clues in the story and the hidden items you might just figure out the alternate ending which is almost as dark as the shadows themselves…

Deadlight: Director's Cut Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
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Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus

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Japanese culture has always been unique in its development and tastes but some of the most well known ways are those that gamers experience.  In particular would be the fighting games which have developed so much respect over the years that they are often only partially dubbed and instead are subtitled in sections where the beauty of the language can be appreciated.  This is also found in Japanese animation which is known for it’s uniqueness and sometimes naughty or risque nature which then bleeds over to the video games which are often based of the animated or printed works.  So one form of expression effects the other and keeps circling until sometimes it hits a spot where folks stop and say “wait a minute… that isn’t very PC” like in the occasion of Senran Kagura Sinovi Versus.

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Hands On… err Game On:

You may have heard of this game, well seen it in writing, hearing it is kind of hard to understand to most folks in the U.S. but you may have in the right group of friends.  It is the immediate sequel to Senran Kagura Burst which, once again, in the right circles you may know as the tales about warring shinobi hidden in girls’ academies across Japan as well as mercenary strike teams all composed of “buxom ninja girls”.  They do battle not so much to save their lives but rather to stay clothed as each section of health dropped takes a piece of clothing with it.  You don’t go down to visual full naughty bits but a couple of band-aids over the tips of jiggling top section and what I would guess to be a micro-panty covering the front lower section or a light flash might be considered a bit exposing and less than PC.  All “in HD and silky smooth 60fps on Windows”.  There are different outfits from undergarments to powerup special garments to be unlocked and used over 20 different characters giving lots sexy fun to be had.

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Now there are people who the above would be all it would take for them to say game over, give me a different title.  The pros and cons about are valid and not what I’m here to debate.  I’m a game reviewer, I am giving you all the information you will need to decide if a game is for you or perhaps a family member.  There is no true nudity but it comes close and the girls are mostly the school girl archetype that get stripped down.

With that handled let’s get into gameplay.  As you fight you level and with each level you can unlock more attacks and combos as well as purchasing more clothing styles.  Clothing styles that are unlocked are cosmetic but make the game more interesting.  The weapons that can be unlocked and purchased however do add to gameplay so it is good to keep an eye out for those.

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It is 3D brawler gameplay with mid-air combos and some silly, fun special attacks that I won’t spoil here.  There are 20+ fighters all have their own weapons, attack styles, combos and special attack.  The game was originally released on the PS Vita so now this version has the advantage of all the DLC that came down on that platform included in it.  Clothing comes off as a damage indicator much like in other games which would have had a large cut that would be bleeding.  In a sense this game gives you an option to gratuitous blood and violence by having sexuality instead, though our society is generally known to be more tolerable of violence over sexuality as we witness on television.  I forgot the clothing was even coming off and was concentrating on health meters for when to use a special health boost or when a special attack was ready.  Bystanders watching you play the game probably get the most from the clothing flying off.

The game has four different story narratives for the four different groups making it interesting to approach from each view and know why they are willing to go into a battle where the costs are the loser has their school burned to the ground.  One of them is rather disturbing, made to be funny no doubt but would be a crime in our country and I can understand why they wanted to fight.  This game uses its storylines to point out that even good can be a shade of gray.

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Beside the single player campaign there is also 4-person multiplayer online in classic Death Match, Strip Battle to unclothe your opponents, and Understorm, a race to grab the most falling undergarments from the sky.  The first two are pretty obvious and standard but the Understorm was pretty funny, I found myself laughing pretty good during that one.  It was nice to have one where you are almost doing an odd Easter egg hunt.

There is only one real complaint I have about the game but some people will find it a pretty decent one.  The game is a direct port and very obviously so.  All tips and instructions are given for a controller and trying to train let alone fight on the keyboard is miserable.  So I grabbed my Xbox 360 controller and plugged it in and the game played fantastically.  Some hardcore PC fans just hate to use a controller and for them you can remap the controls to suit your needs.  I found plugging in a controller to be a far easier and just as satisfying game play.

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Last Peek:

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus is a great game with solid brawling, fun combos, and all around nice action.  It has plenty of playtime from plenty of point of views as well as online gameplay to keep it always fresh.  It is also not a “PC” game and is loaded with gratuitous jiggling, near nudity, and lots and lots of panties which may upset some players.  For those that don’t mind a bit of naughty bust out your controller and give it a play.

Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
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Hard Reset Redux – A Review (Xbox One)

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Ah the classic first person shooter of my youth, how I remember you fondly.  Your ability to carry 50 guns for no explainable reason, non-regenerating health which forced me to explore the level to find the hidden health packs, and  the complete lack of any cover to hide behind to slow down the action, made you so much more difficult at heart then the shooters of today.  Even your lack of story really made the action felt fast paced and frenetic, compared to the Call of Duty or Battlefield of today.  But every once in a while, a developer remembers those tough, old first person shooters of their youth and sets out to remake then using today’s technology.  That’s how we get games like Hard Reset by Flying Wild Hog.  Hard Reset was released in 2011 on the PC and immediately received praise for being similar to games like Serious Sam or Painkiller, enough so that Flying Wild Hog decided to remake it to today’s graphical standards with Hard Reset Redux.

Story

Hard Reset Redux is the old style shooter from beginning to end, and that includes the game’s lack of commitment to fleshing out a solid narrative.  Cut scenes are fully voiced and presented in a graphic novel style, but really don’t give us any more glimpses into the overall story.  The story goes roughly like this, you play as a armed protector named Fletcher in the last city of Bezoar.  Bezoar is now constantly under attack from rogue robots that have gained autonomy through their advanced a.i.  The robots are trying to wipe out the last trace of humanity, and it is your job to prevent this by simply killing every mechanical being you see.

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Compared to other shooters today, Hard Reset Redux  has a very lack luster story that is told horribly.  There isn’t a clear narrative here at all.  Now, whether that is due to the developers not having a writer to put the story in a clearer format, the story was lost in translation, or simply wanted to be closer to the old school shooters of my youth isn’t clear.  The end result is that the story does not matter in Hard Reset Redux at all and will not add nor take away from your enjoyment.  In the long run, that makes Hard Reset Redux feel much closer to games like Quake or Serious Sam then Call of Duty.

Game Play

Hard Reset Redux goes back to the beginnings of the first person shooter genre for much of it’s game play mechanics.  To begin with, regenerating health is gone.  You much be able to find health packs in order to continue on in the game.  That means you will have to explore each level and find those secret areas in order to survive, and the enemy a.i. will make that a difficult task.  Hard Reset Redux focuses on fast paced action that is going to test your skills as a gamer.  This game is hard, but it isn’t unfair.  While the action will feel hectic, you will always feel like there is a glimmer of hope and that it is possible to get through a certain section alive.  I never played the first version of Hard Reset but from what I understand, Redux did re balance some of the game’s difficulty based on the negative comments of it being too hard.  Expect a challenge, but don’t expect it to feel impossible.

Hard Reset Redux does go against one of the old shooter conventions in terms of weaponry.  Characters used to act like pack mules and was able to carry 10 massive weapons at one time, but Hard Reset Redux will only give you two weapons; an energy weapon called the NRN and a projectile weapon called the CLN.  While Hard Reset Redux does limit the amount of weaponry you are given in the game, it allows you to modify these weapons in a great many different ways.  This includes boosting health, damage, ammo capacity or adding alternative fire modes to the weapons, like a shotgun or grenade launcher.

You pay for these upgraded at stations located around the city, using something called NANO as currency.  NANO is gathered from kills, or can be found just laying around the levels as you explore.  The secret areas will also contain huge stashes of NANO to help you purchase the modifications you are looking for.  NANO is plentiful enough to buy what you need to in order to progress in the game, and some of these upgrades feel absolutely necessary in later levels.  You also have a melee attack, that is a katana, but you will almost never use it.  It caused more hard to me then good.

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Aesthetics

Hard Reset Redux looks like it was cut from the same cloth as Blade Runner in terms of visuals.  The levels look dark and gritty, but with enough bright neon to light your way.  The robots looks suitable threatening, and you will have no problem in seeing what is an enemy that means to turn you into a soft pile of goo, and what is a vending machine.  The graphics have been upgraded from the original game, and look quite pretty on the Xbox One.  In fact, it compares nicely to many of the AAA game releases that have hit the console in the last six months, without the hefty price tag.

Voice acting is par for the course in a game like this, not great but not the worst I’ve heard either.  Since the story is almost non-existent, the voice acting wasn’t a big deal for me at all.  Sound design was quite good.  The sound effects and music adds to the gaming experience and makes the game feel even more hectic then it may actually be at that time.  The guns have a satisfying sound when fired, the robots sound convincingly menacing, and the city sounds like it should.

Final Thoughts

Hard Reset Redux is the classic first person shooter in a beautifully updated shell.  The action is fast paced, the a.i. is a serious threat, and the level design is an almost perfect marriage of exploration and keeping the action going.  Hard Reset Redux does everything right, and for the fraction of the cost of a AAA game.  Flying Wild Hog addressed the negatives of the original version of the game by re balancing the difficulty and by adding in extra content to keep the game from being to short.  All of this for $19.99.  What Flying Wild Hog have done is put out a serious contender for part of the market that the new Doom was aiming for.  For a third of the cost of Doom, you will get the same old school shooter action, the same great fight sequences, and the same gorgeous visuals.  Plus, you can order a pizza, some beverages, and still have some left over.  Hard Reset Redux is available now for the Xbox One.

Hard Reset Redux Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
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Enhance GX-H3 PC Gaming Headset Review

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When you live in a household of multiple generations and different sleeping schedules you are always working to stay quiet but still enjoy life.  You may want to play that video game where listening for the direction of a step or heavy breathing makes the difference between being the hero of the round or the latest teammate to be roasted by your friends for a bit after you got shivved.  Or maybe after a stressful day, you finally got to take your shoes off and you just want to listen to your own music with your eyes closed for a bit.  If the music has bass or highs you may find yourself turning down the music which let’s face it sucks.  Our question of the day is will the Enhance GX-H3 PC Gaming Headset handle all your PC sound needs while coming in at a price point well below a lot of the competition?  Let’s find out!

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Heads On:

If you just glance at the side of the box you might think that the ear cups have lights in the logo which they do not.  That point aside the Gx-H3 has a very nice look with black and blue coloring and the shade of blue is a dark one which looks nice and reminds me of the color of professional cabling I used back in my broadcast news days.  To this same point the cable from the headset is wrapped in the same durable rubber used at a professional level.  Located on this cable is the volume control and mic on/off switch which are both large controls on a large stylish box.  I found if I needed to adjust this quickly or open and close a mic quickly I was able to find the box quickly thanks to location and size then find the setting I want to change extremely fast.

The cable is 104″ long so that you can sit at the computer and use it comfortably but it won’t keep getting caught under your rollers when you move. The rubber cable ends in dual 3.5mm inputs on one end and the left ear cup at the other end.  The microphone is attached to the left ear cup and is comprised of a 5.5″ rubber arm with rotating adjustment and slight in and out adjustment to bring the mic closer to your mouth but not have you heavy breathing in everyone’s ear on team chat.  It is particularly nice to be able to push the arm up and out of sight if you are playing on a game without mics and yet if you switch to a game with chat you can quickly move the arm down, flip the in-line mic switch and start saying your piece.

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Gamers who get into long gaming sessions can tell you that one of the most annoying things is when the headset gets uncomfortable to the point you just crank the sound up on it and set it on the desk top to listen.  This kills the effectiveness of stereo sound to help locate targets and your ability to block out the local environment while gaming.  To that point the comfort of the cup and weight of the headset comes into play.  At a weight of 10 ounces they come in lightweight and there is a very comfortable thick padding on the bridge between the cups that made it so that I forgot sometimes I was wearing a headset instead of using speakers and luckily took them off right before getting yanked back.  The ear cups are well designed too, rounded and decent size, they helped block out the yelling in the next room about a WWE match so I could concentrate on writing reviews.  The padding keeps them comfortable over your ears, if you are prone to sweating in headsets you will get the cups a bit damp but they dry quick and are sweat resistant.

I guess you can have all of the above and still have a headset that doesn’t get the job done if the key element of the whole thing doesn’t work; that key element being sound.  Luckily the GX-H3 has a very solid sound setup.  Using 100mW speaker power the sound was clear whether I was assaulting it with bass, highs, gunshots, footsteps, voice chat.

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Last Listen:

The GX-H3 PC Gaming Headset will handle all your computer headset needs while doing it in a nice looking product.  To top it off at the time of print it could be purchased new at a $35 price point which is a great deal on such great gear.

GX-H3 PC Gaming Headset Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
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Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition Review

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El generalissimo and I stare at each other across, neither of us flinching.  Slowly I reach forward and, ever so gently, flick his nose causing his head to bob.  Now that I have once again controlled him at my desk, previously on the PC then as a bobblehead, I now prepare to do battle as him on a new front… the console!  One of my latest reviews is Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition and even though I have faced him before this is the first time in the Penultimate Edition.

Features:

  • Penultimate Edition contains the full version of Tropico 5 and 5 DLC packs – The Big Cheese, Bayo del Ofato & Hostile Takeover (Generalissimo, Mad World, Joint Venture) as well as 5 exclusive bonus maps.
  • The Eras – Start your reign during colonial times, survive the World Wars and the Great Depression, be a dictator during the Cold War, and advance your country to modern times and beyond.
  • The Dynasty – Each member of the extended family of El Presidente is present on the island and may be used as ruler, appointed manager, ambassador or general.
  • Research and Renovate – Advance your nation by discovering new buildings, technologies and resources.
  • Advanced trade system and trade fleet – Amass a global trade fleet and use your ships to secure trade routes to neighboring islands or world’s superpowers, both for export and import.
  • Explore your island – Discover what lies beyond the fog of war. Send prospectors to look for new deposits, but be wary of hostile animals and native tribes.
  • All new art – All artwork is re-made from scratch to provide Tropico 5 with a unique visual identity.
  • Cooperative and competitive multiplayer – Up to 4 players can build up their own cities and economies on any given island map. Players can choose to share resources, supply and population or declare war on each other.

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First Volley:

If, like me, your visits with El Presidente were mostly limited to the main package then trust me are you in store one heck of a lot of extra material.  It has been a while since I played AND that was on a PC which has a heck of a lot more buttons and a different feel entirely.  So the first questioned I encountered was how hard would it be to control?

Luckily they did a pretty good job transferring the title between platforms following the footsteps of other sims that got moved to the console so that for the most part the controls were intuitive to anyone who has played console sims. There is a tutorial which is pretty long but I recommend playing all the way through to really get the controls down and a help section for anything that doesn’t explicitly cover.  The tutorials might seem way too easy at times but still play them and use their time to practice other aspects since they are designed with getting you prepared for long sessions at the game.  Luckily playing on the console you can take your controller anywhere and sit, lay, do handstands, any way you want as long as you can see the television.

Glancing up at the features you can see that you have a couple of centuries to play through as well as extra maps. The original maps and quests are fun but the new additions are really where the fun can be found.  You can tell that the development team that worked on them weren’t in it for the money but were in love with the title and wondering what they could do next.  So you travel through the Great Depression into the possible futures you may choose to create for yourself.  Personally I am just really wanted to get blimps going myself, always was fascinated with the aerial trees of development.  When it came down to it though I found I really liked the World Wars which reminded me of a couple other war sims but with all the details we have comes to expect.  When it comes right down to it this a b

With multiplayer element it is pretty much like any multiplayer you would expect where up to four players build as quick as they can then whack each other.  Now is a good time to play multiplayer too with a renewed player base!

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Last Shot:

Playing Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition was like revisiting an old girlfriend, or in this case one who had grown up and made a lot of new additions to her life.  It is a good time with all the extras you could want for the game then probably a few more, with multiplayer running hot right now.  Time to get out and make your legacy again El Presidente!

Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
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Battle Worlds: Kronos Review

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As a junkie for tactical games, our Editor-in-Chief doesn’t even ask if I want the assignment, he just passes it my way.  He knew he especially had me hooked with Battle Worlds: Kronos because this big fish of a game was making splashes on a console platform, giving me a chance to rest my back in bed and figure out how they took a game format that usually uses most of the keyboard and squeeze it down to 12 buttons and a couple sticks.  So enough about me, let’s talk about Battle Worlds: Kronos.

Hands On:

When the developers  started at building the game they had a vision, what would “Panzer General” or Battle Isle” look like if it were made with modern technology and graphics?  So they went to crowdfunding through Kickstarter and tried to get their backers input as much as possible so that they can truly bring about a game that the backers wanted to see.  I got into Panzer General a lot but for the most part I went into this game not remembering either of those and so as to not go in with a bias I didn’t research.  I quickly found I was playing a hexagonal strategy game with vehicles that looked like StarCraft but the gameplay was very traditional hexagonal turn-based which intrigued me since traditionally strategy games don’t mesh well on the console, partly the player based but mostly since it generally takes a lot of keyboard to get some of the work done and you are now down to a dozen buttons and a couple sticks.

Going with a hexagonal base was a very smart choice, there is no rush to get through you turn you just need to make sure you get everything done with a controller.  Taking your time, double check choices, save often and end your turn only when you are completely sure you have done everything.  If you did forget anything that is why you have the frequent saves. If you are a bit of a perfectionist like people who keep re-rolling their adventure game stats until they feel they have them about as high as possible you can do the frequent save before each battle since it is random chance and can turn out ugly.  If you are an armchair general this game is terrific, you can figure out flanking maneuvers, that a frontal attack by itself is usually suicide and when to pull back and regroup.

I really thought using a controller would slow me down because the only way you would be able to do anything was to memorize a complicated set of buttons to get anything done but it features a really well-done design that wasn’t quite intuitive but really not that bad. Once I realized that turns had phases to them (MTG fans will pic it up in a heartbeat) then it went even smoother.  It was also already built into the game that way since the game’s PC days but if a game is having a hard time converting from PC to console and can work in a phase system it will insanely ease their work.  With phases you can use the same buttons you used in phase one of your turn for say phase three because they are no longer occupied with the last commands.  Brilliant!

The single player campaigns boast over 50 hours of content which would probably fry your brain on so take breaks to stretch often and don’t be afraid to save, it will just make your game more fun.  There were a few times I would forget to save for a couple hours then BAM! I need one and I have to go back nearly to the start of the level.

Another nice thing about the game being turn-based is how the multiplayer system can be set-up.  They have actually implemented a “play-by-mail” system which is something I haven’t seen a game do in some time.  Back in the days before telephones in every house game of chess would be played through the mail, each player having a table in their house and making their moves and their opponents on it.  In this case the multiplayer game is very similar.  You make your move then turn it over to the other player and come back later in the day or even the next one.  During that time the other player will come and make their move.  It’s clever and I’m surprised I can’t remember seeing it done with a turn-based strategy game.  Maybe the impatience of the generation. Additionally, the game’s graphics look great and fit this genre perfectly.

Last Volley:

Battle Worlds: Kronos was a great example of a game that promised it’s Kickstarter supporters something and not only delivered but set a new bar.  I look forward to playing it some more and replaying it and DLCs on their way.  I’m not sure what I hope for more, that the development team gets snatched up to create even bigger projects or have them continue making great games on their own terms.  For my money (and it would be since I would invest in the next DLC) I hope to see more Battle Worlds in the future…

Battle Worlds: Kronos Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
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Bloody ML160 Commander Laser Gaming Mouse – A Review

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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.

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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)

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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.

Bloody ML160 Commander Gaming Mouse Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com