Tag - review

Hard Reset Redux – A Review (Xbox One)

hard_reset_redux_2

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.

hard_reset_redux_3

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.

hard_reset_redux_1

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
Learn About Our Rating System

Enhance GX-H3 PC Gaming Headset Review

gx-h3-headset

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!

815L54gAeKL._SL1500_

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.

81Xdmn8a1PL._SL1500_

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.

81la96TNATL._SL1500_

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
Learn About Our Rating System

Tropico 5 Penultimate Edition Review

tropico-5-48987943624768163568213146234217

IMG_83162

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.

tropico-2-1024x574

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!

pc_tropico5d1j

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
Learn About Our Rating System

Battle Worlds: Kronos Review

battle-worlds-kronos

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
Learn About Our Rating System

 

Bloody ML160 Commander Laser Gaming Mouse – A Review

bloody-ml60-3

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.

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

Postal Redux Review

ss_c6bfbf98f48b328469133bd15402fb5f3814d3d5.1920x1080

Lately I have been playing a lot of strategic games, sharpening my mind while my body is resting.  I start playing figuring I might go for an hour – then three hours later I’m still playing, my eyes have become blurry and I need something to take my mind off of sharpening my mind.  TV can be nice for that but it is passive participation and sometimes you really just need some silly hands-on carnage to release the stress of the day.  It doesn’t get much more active crazy carnage than a classic killer brought up to date with gorgeous gore like Postal Redux on Steam.

ss_879f0a9cdad00b2fb561bd8410a206010693d438.1920x1080

Hands On Guns:

Ah 1997, the Nintendo 64 was hot, Final Fantasy VII reased in Japan, human cloning is banned… ah heck who cares about that crap?  If you are reading this you want to know about Postal which made a bloody splash on the market back in that year.  In human years 19 isn’t that big of a deal, in video game years that is an exceptionally long time ago!  As a result Postal was a little unrefined looking but nobody really cared it was all about the mass unadulterated slaughter of everything in sight.  It earned it’s claim to fame in video game history and those who lived through the days talked about it fondly.

Now fast forward to these days and those who talk about it fondly decided to do something about it and bring it back, cleaned up graphics with a couple more goodies to main and kill with, another mode and some new areas to kill in because let’s face it everyone wants to go kill happy in a Carnival.

Just like in the old days the cops show up at your house and boy is that a mistake.  So as to not give away plot points (there are a couple) you use up to 10 weapons including mines, heat seeking missiles, flame throwers, of course machine guns and now the Commanding Revolver to tear your way through 17 levels.  Tear through a junkyard with your trusty boomstick (they call it a shotgun but I will always call them boomsticks) which is also great for the all important double tap, head through the ghetto with a Molotov cocktail (I’m sure they won’t mind) and lay mines for extra fireworks on the midway at the Carnival.  Just remember above all save some flamethrower for the marching squad, that is epic!

ss_a87cec4b47fe12f2c51077bdbfb7a085f835b1d0.1920x1080

 

The improved graphics really make the game the fun that it is, the old one which is still available and around is okay but look at a comparison and you can see the huge difference.  I absolutely love the Carnival level in case you haven’t gotten the hint, the colors and richness of the graphics show the how much the developers cared about the game’s updating.

The addition of Rampage Mode also will keep you coming back for more since it is a constant wave mode that rewards kill streaks, creative kills and speed.  It’s a great way to play then challenge a buddy to beat your score and go back and forth.

Last Blast:

Postal Redux on Steam took a classic game that players looked back on with nostalgia and gave it a caring update that makes it even more fun than it was in the old days with graphics that it well deserved.  So the next time you head it pounding from a hard day or you just want to unwind or heck you simply want to napalm angry ostriches have Postal Redux updated and thrill in the mayhem.

Postal Redux Review Score
Overall Nostalgic Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Learn About Our Rating System

Corpse Party – A Review (PC)

corpse-party

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.

Corpse Party Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Steel Series Siberia 200 Gaming Headset

steelseries_siberia_200_blanco_1

As a full time gamer, I can say that the problems with dealing with wearing headsets during long gaming sessions is very real.  There are environmental considerations, aesthetics, weight, mic design, where controls are located, and overall head comfort to consider when purchasing a new one.  You can buy multiple pairs for multiple uses (I have) but it is always nice to find one that you can use in multiple locations without it looking silly or paying for a celebrity’s name.  With all this in mind I am reviewing the Steel Series Siberia 200 Gaming Headset, a descendant of one of the first headsets I ever reviewed for GamingShogun.com.

Instead of list a bunch of feature gobbledygook, I will mention a few where they seem most important.  First off a very important feature is that the SteelSeries Siberia 200 has a microphone that slides up into the left cup area and becomes barely visible.  This is great when you are playing games that don’t require team communications or if you slide them up far enough they might not be noticeable if you take a walk somewhere in them.  Another feature to this effect would be the in-line mic and sound controls so that if you need to shut off your mic to talk to someone or one of your teammates start throwing a massive meltdown you can easily turn down the volume until they have eased up.  It is also handy if you are just wearing them walking around the house listening to music, you can leave your device in your pocket and adjust the levels in-line.  The nice thing about the mic system is you retract it into the headset cup and it is safely tucked away from harm. I have used some very nice headsets with some very sexy looks and a name you know but after a couple days of heavy use the mic which is a jack plug into cup system has worn out at the jack and hangs limply or worse just randomly falls out.  Let me tell you when you are in front of an audience and up against a professional gamer that was flown in for the event you don’t want to be constantly losing communication with your rookie teammate.  That being said when you are kicking it at home and decompressing and it happens that just jacks up you tension rather than releases it.

steelseries_siberia_200_blanco_1

While the SteelSeries Siberia 200’s microphone design and performance is important – let’s face it, generally it is the second most important aspect behind the actual speaker design.  The Siberia 200 Gaming Headset uses 50mm drivers in a system they call “audio shaped” so you pick up key sound frequencies and their locations.  So the idea is no one will be able to sneak up on you because you will be able to hear where their footsteps are coming from or tell where the bombs will fall to get the heck out of their way.

These drivers are encased in heavy duty plastic and nice thick cup cushions so that hopefully it will survive gamer rage or just the occasional accidental standing up with them still on.  the solid cup and cushioning does a terrific  job of blocking out sound, I found myself using them around the house to block out an argument of playing white noise to help fall asleep on those rough to sleep nights that I have from time to time.  The cups aren’t perfectly comfortable when laying down but they aren’t designed to be either.

322007

The headsets are designed for long term gaming use so we know the sound in it is good and it handles a block-rocking beat, can be quickly turned down when some kid rages in game’s com and you can flick a switch to turn off your mic when someone decides to have a conversation with you by yelling from another room.  All of that is important and nice but if you can’t keep them on your head for long periods of time none of that matters.

First off all the above mentioned hardware and casing is extremely lightweight which really means the bridge section of the headset just needs to maintain the weight and comfort as much as possible.  To maintain the shape and tightness without increasing the weight they did a dual bridge system, one is ridged and two pipes and goes up above the head.  The next is a lower section which is directly on the head and has a lightly padded flattened section held to each cup by double cable wrapped in rubber.  At first this looks like it would be too fragile to hold up but on closer inspection the wrapped metal cables inside the plastic look like one of the most durable parts of the headset which is important for how often it will be rubbing against your head.  Attaching this piece to the cables maintains a strength in the bridge without adding much weight (it actually then spreads it out to the upper bar a bit and into the cups).

The Steel Series 200 is compatible with mobile devices, PC, and consoles (adapters may be required).  One last thing if you are wondering the difference between the Siberia 200 and Siberia 2V, the 200 features an upgraded headband, a longer cable, and a mobile adapter.

steelseries-siberia-200

Still Listening:

Steel Series is a reliable name that makes reliable products and the Siberia 200 Gaming Headset is an excellent example of that.  I expect these headsets to be in my main usage for years to come, the only decision will be where to use it.  If you want a quality, comfortable product with a reliable name rather than a trendy one give the Siberia 200 a place in your house.

Steel Series Siberia 200 Gaming Headset Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Learn About Our Rating System

Dark Souls 3 – A Review (Xbox One)

dark-souls-iii

There are some video games out there that just finishing the game is a huge accomplishment.  These games go down in history of being the hardest games to complete, and to finish one was a badge of honor.  Being of the older generation of gamers (not saying how old mind you), my earliest accomplishments of beating NES classics such as Mega Man, Contra, Battletoads, and Ninja Gaiden still fill me with pride.  However, we lost some of this pride as games progressed.  Developers started putting in multiple lives, save points, or just made the games easier to beat in order to reach a wider audience.  That was, until From Software and Namco Bandai released their version of pain and suffering in the form of Demon Souls.  Demon Souls, and the Dark Souls games that followed, turned up the heat on gamers everywhere.  I have friends that either love or are absolutely afraid of these games, there isn’t an in-between.  When I beat Dark Souls, I felt the same pride at that accomplishment that I felt as a kid beating those super hard NES games, and that just made me want more.

So, here we are with the release of Dark Souls 3, what very well could be the last in the line from From Software.  While I feel that the game is still harder then most of the games on the market today, I also feel that this game is the easiest on the new player to the series, the most accessible to the average gamer.  Now, I know that “accessible” is a bad word to many gamers, just look at the Starfox controversy lately if you want to see that in action, however there is still plenty of challenge in Dark Souls 3 for the veteran player to work through.  Is Dark Souls 3 the ending that the series so richly deserves, or does it fall flat by trying to reach out to a wider audience?  Let’s take a deeper look.

dark-souls-3-screen

Story

Unfortunately, the overall Dark Souls plot is still a little muddled for me.  I catch glimpses of clarity when I understand where the games fit in sequence and the overall story that wraps the games together, but that usually gets tied up at the end of each game, not while I am playing it.  I will stay away from spoilers here, and just give you the overall story of the game.  If you are a veteran of the Dark Souls franchise, you will know that the story goes much deeper then what I have here, but part of the fun of playing the game is discovery.

Dark Souls 3 story begins during an Age of Ash, where the First Flame is just about to go out.  No one has tried to link the First Flame, to rekindle the fire and prevent the coming darkness.  As the world succumbs to the darkness, a bell rings out from Firelink Shrine.  This bell awakens the Lords of Cinder and you, the player, as the last hope to link the First Flame and push back the darkness.  You begin the game as one of the Unkindled, an undead that is unfit to even become a Hollow.  This difference in terminology has different game play effects, which I will talk about later, but in terms of story it means you are the lowest of the low.  You are not even fit to become a cinder in this world, but you are the last hope to rekindle the First Flame.  You set out, seeking the four Lords of Cinder, then must decide on whether to fulfill your purpose and link the flame, or let the world finally plunge into darkness.

The tone of Dark Souls 3’s story is similar to the other games of the series.  There is always the present feeling of desperation as the world decays around you.  But with Dark Souls 3, you get a different feeling to your character, based on how the game deals with your death.  Since you do not Hollow like in previous games, there isn’t such a feeling of desperation when you die.  You never quite feel like you are climbing up a steeper hill with each death, like you do in Dark Souls 2.  This does affect the overall tone of Dark Souls 3, especially in comparison to the previous two games in the series.  This isn’t a bad thing, not at all, but it does change how you play the game.  I’ll expand more on this in the next section.

dark-souls-3-screen-2

Game Play

In Dark Souls 2, your death meant you were cut off from your humanity.  Every time you died you lost a little bit more of your maximum health, until your humanity was restored.  With being Unkindled in Dark Souls 3, this mechanic was removed.  While Embered, you will have your maximum health raised quite a bit, then will lose that when you die.  You can restore this health by using an Ember, which replaced Humanity in Dark Souls 3.  For me, this changed how I played the game versus how I played it in Dark Souls 2.  I was much more willing to run into an unknown place to grab items, or tackle a new boss without reading a guide online, because I no longer truly feared death.  Sure, you could still loose your souls, but all you loose really is the bonus health, and some of the bosses just didn’t require that much to begin with to beat.

The other biggest change in the franchise is the addition of Focus Points.  You now have a blue bar that sits underneath you health bar, that will affect your fighting arts and magic use.  Magic is no longer limited by a certain number, now you are limited by the amount of Focus you have, and that can be restored by using your Ashen Estus Flask.  You can even talk to the blacksmith in Firelink Shrine to alter how much of which Estus you carry.  If you are not using much Focus, you can carry more Health Estus, and vice versa.  Focus Points are not limited to magic, but also affect how much you can use a fighting art.  Fighting arts are determined by the type of weapon you are using, some will allow you to shout for an area of effect attack, others will let you flip through the are or sharpen your blade to give yourself life drain.  Weapons are no longer chosen by their stats, but also the move sets you get with your fighting art.

The rest of the game play is very much old Dark Souls.  You will still progress through the world, searching for souls, bonfires, and bosses.  There are plenty of NPCs to interact with, many being recurring characters from older Dark Souls games.  The controls and mechanics, aside from the Focus Point system, feels like the older Dark Souls games.  The enemies range from tough, to maddening and that can happen in just a few steps from each other.  The boss fights feel all over the place though in terms of difficulty.  For instance, I was able to one shot High Lord Wolnir but was crushed on a consistent basis by the demon that was guarding the path to the Smoldering Lake.

Online play and interaction still works the same as previous games, as well.  While Embered, you run the risk of being invaded by another player.  You can also summon players to your world to help you conquer an area’s boss, or summon an NPC to also help you and to further that character’s story line.  Factions return again in Dark Souls 3, and many work well with the online play.  You have factions that focus on killing other players, while others focus on protecting the helpless players in the world from those that will hunt them down.

dark-souls-3-screen-3

Aesthetic

Dark Souls 3 is beautiful, from an aesthetic point of view.  The world is old, and looks to be entering it’s last days.  The environments also look to have a thin film of ash on everything, which works well in terms of the story.  The design of the world is well done, and it an absolute joy to explore, if you didn’t have hundreds of enemies looking to have your guts for garters.  Boss fights are visually stunning as well, and I found myself on more then one occasion focusing on some aspect of aesthetic instead of what was killing me.  Dark Souls 3 is easily the best looking game in the series.

The biggest issue with Dark Souls 3 in terms of aesthetic, comes in performance.  On the Xbox One, Dark Souls 3 will experience nasty frame rate drops, especially during some of the boss battles.  This is incredibly frustrating, especially when dodging and speed are so vital to your ability to survive encounters.  I have seen Dark Souls 3 played on PC, and this frame rate does not occur there.  I have no idea how the PlayStation 4 fares, but the Xbox One does suffer from this frame rate drop, so be warned.

Final Thoughts

Dark Souls 3 is, thus far, my 2016 game of the year.  It isn’t just a great game for fans of the series, but also the best game to play if you have never experienced a Dark Souls game before.  Dark Souls 3 is the most accessible game of the franchise, and that isn’t a bad thing.  The challenge is still there for the veteran player, but newer players will find it easier to get used to the game, but it is in no sense of the word, easy!  This game will still kick you in the shin, steal your pudding, and strut away laughing at your pain and sorrow if you underestimate it.  If this is truly From Software’s last Dark Souls game, then the series ends on a very high note.

Product Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

 

Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 420X Headset – A Review (Xbox One)

ear-force-420x

Turtle Beach, one of the premier video game headset manufacturers, has just released a new wireless headset for the Xbox One, the Ear Force Stealth 420X Headset (shortened to the 420X for the rest of this review).  The 420X might just be one of the best headsets I have ever owned, and most definitely the best one I’ve had for a console.  The headset fits quite nicely, never pinching nor feeling to small for my head, and is incredibly comfortable to wear for hours of gaming.

Features

The 420X is completely wireless while in use, the only cord that comes in the package is used to connect the headset to the Xbox One for charging.  Using a USB wireless connector, the 420X stays connected for up to 30ft, which is perfect for me to grab a soda from the garage and still be able to talk between online games.  All the controls for the 420X are on the headset, including game and voice volume, bass boost, mute, and a button for presets.  The power button is on the right ear cup, dead center so you can easily feel for it and turn it on or off while the headset is being worn.  The 420X also features a removable omni-directional boom mic, so you can use your headset for music or mobile gaming.

I love the fit of the 420X on my head.  Comfort for me is pretty high on my must have list for gaming headsets, if the headset hurts after a few hours of gaming, then it just isn’t a good quality headset.  The 420x has synthetic leather ear cups that fit over the ear, keeping outside noise to a minimum while keeping your ears from sweating.  I also love how the ear cups swivel to match the shape of your head.

Aesthetic

The 420X is a very clean looking headset, which is pretty typical of Turtle Beach.  Most of the headset is set in a matte black color, with some green highlights around the ear cups.  The Turtle Beach logos are also green, and glow green when the headset is on.  This is just your clean looking, basic design for a gaming headset, which I love.

ear-force-420x-1

Performance

I was able to use the 420X extensively over my testing period, focusing on a few different types of games.  Games like Dark Souls 2, The Division, Black Ops 3, Far Cry Primal, and Borderlands 2 sounded fantastic through the headset.  During multiplayer, I was able to hear footstep directions to give me a better indication of where my opponents were.  With single player games like Dark Souls 2, the music and sound effects really came through nicely and added to my immersion into the game.  Voice communication was clear with no issues at all, though finding the mute button was somewhat difficult at times.  I guess my only complaint with the 420X really is that it was hard to find the controls while the headset was on.  Feeling for the mute button was difficult, and I had a hard time remembering which volume control wheel controlled which volume.

Specifications

  • Digital Signal Processor: Digital Signal Processor for independently controlled chat, game and mic signals
  • Audio mute: Audio mutes automatically when carrier signal is lost
  • Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
  • Shut down: Automatic shut down after approx 10 minutes of carrier loss or silence to conserve battery power
  • Weight: 8.6oz
  • Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Battery life: >15 Hours
  • Speakers: 50mm with Neodymium Magnets
  • Digital Wireless RF wireless carrier reception.: 2.4GHz
  • Speaker Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Microphone Design: Removable Omni-Directional Microphone
  • Earcup Design: Around-Ear (Closed)
  • Headband/Earpad Material: Perforated Synthetic Leather (Black) with Foam Cushioning

Final Thoughts

The Ear Force Stealth 420X Headset by Turtle Beach is the best headset I have ever used for the Xbox One or Xbox 360.  The wireless connectivity is a must with my current living room set up, the voice communication was clear, and the headset was incredibly comfortable to wear over long periods of time.  I do wish the controls on the ear cups were a little easier to use or the buttons and wheels separated over both ears, but that is a fairly minor issue unless you are adjusting these items constantly during game play.  The price is set to be around $150 MSRP, which could be considered a little steep, but worth it if you are looking for a quality wireless headset.

Turtle Beach Ear Force Stealth 420X Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com