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Ditto Wearable Tech For Smartphones Review

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There are a lot of different kinds of devices that classify as “wearable tech” these days. After all, it is one of the top growing fields in consumer electronics with just about every niche considered.  The one area that generally has a short coming though is affordability. While I would love to get a watch on which I could hit a button and have it order my favorite burrito from my favorite Mexican food place, I can’t even afford the band on that particular device.  Luckily there are a few options finally coming along that fit the price point of those who spent almost every last dime on the phone and warranty and one of those is the Ditto.

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Features:

Notifications for Incoming Calls – You’ll feel it vibrate when someone you’ve chosen as important is trying to reach you.
Notifications for Incoming Texts – You’ll feel it vibrate when someone you’ve chosen as important is trying to text you.
Notifications for Incoming Emails – You’ll feel it vibrate when someone you’ve chosen as important has sent you an email.
Notifications for When You Leave Your Phone Behind – Ditto has a built-in wireless tether. When you’re about to leave your phone behind, Ditto will vibrate to warn you!
Silent Alarm – Ditto makes a great silent wake-up alarm. – Wear it on your wrist and don’t disturb your partner. Or use it as an alarm for important events, reminders or as a timer.
Notifications for Third Party Apps – Use a third party chat service? Want to stay on top of your social media notifications? You can customize Ditto to alert you about notifications on a number of popular apps including WhatsApp, Hangouts, Facebook and Snapchat.

Hands On:

Most people can live without a favorite food ordering button but when it comes to not waking their bed companion with their alarm when they have to get up in the morning, they might wish to have a way to get around the loud noises.  It is nice to know what time it is without looking at your phone but if you are in a dark theater the people around you might prefer if you set silent vibrating alarms that don’t light up during pivotal moments in a movie.  The movie scenario also works for pretty much ever aspect of what this wearable can do, silent with no lights, just a couple quick vibrations.  If you leave the theater with that phone having fallen out of your pocket or set it down at a counter after paying for something it will let you know when you are 50 feet away so you have a chance to get it before someone else does.

Then there are the main functions you want it for, you can have your phone put away in a pocket or purse and still know when you have an incoming call, text or email and even if they are people you would put on your favorites list.  It even works with third party apps.

It doesn’t require charging, it runs for months off of one watch battery and is even waterproof so you can go swimming without worrying about missing and important call.  It is a simple clip on so it can clip onto bra straps to be kept from view or under clothing even.  Some packaging includes a little velcro band that it can clip on to look more like a standard wearable but the band isn’t necessary.  Probably one of the best features is it has a standard retail price of $40 so it comes in nicely under the $50 and might even be able to be found on sale in some locations cheaper.

My only wish would be if you could program the number of vibrations for each contact, that way you could know exactly who it was and thereby judge the importance of the call/text/email.

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Last Buzz:

The Ditto is a great piece of tech that gives you the essential features of a wearable without the price tag.  It is also very low key which is great for both leisure and professional situations enabling you to know what is going on with your communications without making it obvious.  It’s a must for those who can’t afford the higher tag priced gadgets but would probably be a good choice for anyone in a professional field.

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

Quick Review: The DJI Osmo 4K Camera

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Recently, DJI loaned us out one of their new Osmo 4K cameras for a brief evaluation period. At first, its $649 dollar price point scared us – especially considering that it depends on a smartphone app to control its recording functions. The Osmo comes with rechargeable battery, charger, a smartphone clip which attaches your iPhone or Android device to the unit, as well as a case and some charge cables.

From a user friendliness angle, the DJI Osmo has a very comfortable grip and a well-designed iOS app for controlling its functions. After using it for a while, I would not have any issue with purchasing one of these for my own usage. Everything worked as it should and I never had any issues controlling the camera.

Official Specifications

  • Fully stabilized 4K, 12MP camera optimized for ground use
  • Slow motion and audio recording
  • Tripod-free long exposures
  • Remote camera control
  • Secure grip
  • 6-hour standby time
  • 1 hour of video shooting

The Osmo is capable not only of steadying the camera to shoot while moving but, also, it allows you to manually move the camera around in a smooth manner. The thumb slider joystick control is smooth and only takes a short while to get the hang of (it is pressure sensitive). The Osmo uses the Zen Muse X3 camera, the same unit designed for use on the Inspire 1 drone aircraft. The camera features a Sony EXMOR 12-million-pixel, 1/2.3 inch sensor and the ability to shoot in up to 4K resolution. If you are still not ready for 4K video recording, and not many are at the moment, the Osmo can easily record in 1080p in up to 120 frames per second mode.

Overall, the DJI Osmo is an expensive, but incredibly useful handheld stabilized camera for your film making needs. Not only is it very light and comfortable to hold for long periods of time, but it also delivers on bring a very good 4K camera in the middle ground between cheap and expensive stabilizing camera units.

The Walking Dead Daryl with Chopper Building Toy Set Review

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When I was younger, I used to do puzzles and play with Lego blocks for hours on end.  The only limitation to them seemed to be my imagination.  As I grew older, I got shamed out of Legos (I could have been a professional!  That exists now!) and the subject matter of the harder puzzles were often the most boring such as an all blue sky or a field of wheat.  Nowadays though thanks to McFarlane Toys there is a whole bunch of building sets that combine puzzling and building blocks.  Recently I got the pleasure of playing with The Walking Dead Daryl With Chopper Building Set.

Hands On:
There are 154 pieces to this set which is actually one of the more simple of the sets and affordable. 44 pieces of it are weeds so there is some optional parts that can be added depending on how weedy you want it. Honestly the weeds were the only part of the set that felt a bit monotonous, it felt like I was putting in hair plugs on a bald man. Strange analogy I know but seem to fit so well.

The base consists of asphalt and dirt stuck building block style to a base pieces. These were pretty easily put together and quickly as was the guard railing. Putting Daryl and the zombie together took seconds.

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Probably the most challenging part to put together was Daryl’s chopper which starts in so many pieces even Daryl might have thought to just go looking for another bike, but that is the challenge for the builder and by far the most fulfilling part of the build. You take your time and go little part by part starting with an empty frame and bare rims. When you finish it placing Daryl on it’s back is a pleasure and will have you looking for someplace to display it.

I found the single walker and Daryl to be a bit lonely though and picked up some of the individual mystery packs of characters to try to fill the weeds with walkers and a couple humans. Luckily the they are all set to the same scale so you can add individual mini figures to different sets without worry about matching.

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Last Look:
My guess is that once you get your hands on The Walking Dead Daryl With Chopper Building Set you will want to start building other more complicated ones such as the Governor’s Den or the Prison sets (oh how I want these!) and before you know it you will have a whole bunch of builds that you can customize by mixing and matching. I have always had McFarlane toys on my wish lists and I expect that to continue for years to come.

TWD Daryl With Chopper Building Set Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

GoGroove BassPULSE Wireless Speakers Review (Tech)

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My wife and I recently moved Nevada and there are still a lot of boxes left to unpack including whichever one held my speakers. Luckily GoGroove came along at just the right time with their flagship product the BassPULSE Wireless Speakers so that now I’m not too concerned if we ever find the moving box labeled “computer speakers”.

Features:

  • Just Groove – Your audio will never be the same with the newest in BassPULSE technology. Never worry about AUX cords again as you experience the freedom of Bluetooth. Simply pair your device with the BassPULSE wireless and you’re free to roam, enjoying your music with your device in hand from up to 33 feet away. The only thing left to worry about is what to play next
  • Find Your PULSE – Featuring a 40mm main driver and 101mm woofer, the BassPULSE Wireless is built to bump, and a 40-watt peak leaves nothing to the imagination. Bluetooth 2.1+EDR technology with the A2DP profile makes your music sound better than ever, and the optional AUX port lets you have your music just how you like it.
  • More Power To You – The BassPULSE Wireless is powered by an AC plug, which lets you kiss dead batteries goodbye and keep the music alive. Pair with your favorite amp for even more advanced sound.

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Hands On:
First things first one of the things I noticed was missing from their “Features” section on their website is that these speakers look bad ass. This is not a technically important aspect to the speakers and their sexiness can actually be lowered for an office environment but really aesthetic looking speaker systems don’t come along that often, most of them are just clunky black or silver boxes. In the case of the BassPULSE there is a transparent jagged design on the speaker casings and the front of the subwoofer that can be lit with LED lighting at the puss of a button to give them a futuristic almost Tron feel to them. This doesn’t impact performance at all but let’s face it the first thing people will notice is how awesome they look before the quality of the output.

The output can be done in two separate ways which makes this speaker system more diverse than most are. They can be paired with anything that has Bluetooth technology so that they can be set up wireless wherever you want which is great for going from the PC workstation to the consoles or on to a party. So if you want to listen to some poolside jams but don’t want to risk them getting water damaged you can pair them with your phone and listen to your tunes controlling them with your phone poolside while your speakers are a safe distance away.

they can also be connected wired through an AUX cable. This is great if you have devices such as your laptop computer that aren’t Bluetooth enabled. In that case the speakers are just plug n’ play getting you up and using them immediately. If you are like me and have a light-up keyboard, light-up mouse and a light-up computer case then the light-up speakers are a perfect match and handy for late night gaming sessions.

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One of my favorite aspects of the connectivity is that you can have the Bluetooth paired to your phone and the computer plugged in via AUX port at the same time. So I could be playing a game and get tired of the sounds in it and choose some music on my phone and push a single button and switch modes computer to phone. The alternate is true also, I can be playing a FPS loaded with explosions and gunfire and if a call comes in I can push a button to switch over to Bluetooth and take the call through the BassPULSE speakers.

You can have twenty ways of connecting it and it won’t matter if you can’t get the sound quality you want. So I tested it for days playing different video games from MMORPG to FPS always getting great results and excellent directional sound, clean with no distortion. After that I played every kind of music I could think of, especially bass heavy music to test the subwoofer but also classical and classic to test clarity. At one point I even ran some bass testing tracks to test the almost sub audible levels of bass all with the speakers performing outstandingly.

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Last Listen:
GoGroove BassPULSE Wireless Speaker System is one of the most versatile and solid performing speaker systems on the market with an excellent price point. They do it with an exceptionally aesthetic design as well leaving little more to ask for.

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

Star Wars Force Trainer II: Hologram Experience Review

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is upon us and what better way to celebrate it than with a review of the Star Wars Force Trainer II: Hologram Experience by Uncle Milton. Science and science fiction collide in this latest Force Trainer that promises future Episode VII content while providing real science fun.

Using The Force:
The first Star Wars Force Trainer used a combination of an old NASA endurance test with the latest science to provide an interesting but limited experience. When I was younger they came out with a toy that was supposed to be able to read brainwaves but in reality only read movements of the muscles on your scalp when you grimaced concentrating. The Force Trainer actually reads the brains Beta waves and translates your concentration level to a device using a Bluetooth connection. This part of the original Force Trainer was pretty cool but then it was hooked up to a ball in a beaker that would float higher the more you concentrated (NASA used to use a similar ball and tube in old lung capacity tests). This was pretty cool for a while but it can get boring just watching a ball float. So they came up with the design for the Star Wars Force Trainer II using the same science and a very old stage trick.

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The base and source of the very Star Wars looking hologram actually dates back to the mid 1500s when a scientist realized that object reflected onto tilted glass could make things look like they were in places they actually weren’t, particularly people.  This later became known as a “Pepper’s Ghost” and is used in teleprompters in television stations and, more notably, in Disney’s Haunted Mansion with the ghosts in the ballroom set. In this case, the image reflects from your iPad onto the glass and makes it look like the image is inside the box instead of reflecting off it. This brings up the point that the lower the light in the room the better the effect works and also make sure the brightness on your iPad is all the way up.

Getting started requires the base to be put together which can take about 15 minutes for an adult and would probably get broken by a kid.  Then the iPad needs to be sync’d up to the Bluetooth headset. So, if you are buying this for Christmas, you may want to wrap the box but have the assembled toy somewhere else already put together to avoid impatient kids.  Don’t be surprised if the reflective plastic pieces are also scratched, it seems to be a common issue but doesn’t really affect the hologram.

Once you get everything put together you need to fit the headset on which only requires some minor adjusting, the key being that the three connections need to make direct contact with the skin in the locations indicated on the diagram, if you are a bit off or there is too much hair in the way then the headset will have constant connection issues.  If you are hairy like me you might have that problem anyways, I really needed to get a haircut and a trim up off the ears and it would have been less frustrating.

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Once everything is setup on the base with the iPad in place and the headset adorned it’s just a matter of tapping the iPad screen and away you go.  It starts off pretty easy with some levels that are designed to help you figure out how to concentrate just the right way to make the device work. The headset detects Beta wave brain activity which is present when someone is alert, active, concentrating or anxious. So when my cat woke me up at 4:30 in the morning I became anxious and active and decided to see if I could get alert and concentrating to follow suit.

So first couple of levels are pretty easy once you get a feel for how you have to concentrate. When growing up imagining the Force we always imagined you just thought push really hard with your mind and it would happen which isn’t how this works at all. You can think push all you like but the real results come when you just try concentrating on the item on the screen. When you have to move an item up and down the screen the more you concentrate the higher it goes, the less the lower it goes much like the ball in the original Force Trainer. When you need to do a force push you just look at the object on the screen and concentrate with all you got. If you aren’t used to concentrating on things so hard this shouldn’t be done for extended periods of time, it might give you a headache from the effort but it is also exercising your brain and the more you level up the stronger you ability to concentrate can get.

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You are rewarded with moments from the movie as you go from level to level. You start out trying to move the Force training ball that gave Luke some decent jolts during his training, find yourself lifting and X-wing from a bog and fighting droids. If you work at it you can find yourself up against Darth Vader himself and then… well the game has 8 Padawan levels, 9 Jedi levels, and 10 Jedi Master levels with promises of more levels and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens content in the future. The really great thing about this game being powered by a mobile app is that once you have all the parts the only limitation on level expansion is what Uncle Milton is willing to give us. In theory, there will hopefully be more content as the movies continue, maybe even more tie-ins to the already released films.

Last Force Push:

Star Wars Force Trainer II: Hologram Experience is a vast improvement over the first edition – it is a great educational tool while also being a fun game for all ages. Don’t play it for hours on end at a time but the more you play it the better your concentration and alertness becomes. The levels have built-in replayability and continuing challenge with the prospect of more play expansions coming in the future.  Just make sure you have your iPad fully charged because once the scoring competition kicks in among the players time with fly by.

Star Wars The Force Trainer II: Hologram Experience Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege Review

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Anyone who knows me as a gamer knows there are two kinds of games that I am thoroughly addicted to: MMORPGs and first-person shooters. The funny thing is I’m not extremely great at either one, but I am always a solid team player willing to take a bullet/axe/arrow to cover my teammate’s six or to complete the mission. I’m seldom the guy who gets top place and I almost never talk in chat due to PTSD but I’m ALWAYS by your side which the “fit hits the shan”. If I’m a healer/medic you can be sure I will risk my arse to save yours.  My addiction to FPS is so deep that I even got my RL nickname “Ripper” from my fondness for sneaking up or ambushing an enemy and cutting them down with a blade.

So when a FPS comes along I am always quick to pick it up even though sometimes it sits on a shelf for a while tempting me until I get other reviews done.  Luckily in this case Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege was the review so I got a chance to dive in deep to one of the most anticipated FPS of the year.

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Description:
Rainbow Six is an elite team composed of members of the best Special Forces units from around the globe:
• The British SAS
• The American SWAT
• The French GIGN
• The German GSG9
• The Russian Spetsnaz
Trained to operate in tight formations in indoor environments, they are experts of close quarter combat, demolition, and coordinated assaults.

Hands On:
Admittedly, I am a big Tom Clancy fan, having read or listened to almost all of his books so when it comes time to play as his elite unit Rainbow Six I dive on the chance. The idea of a no-borders world terrorist defense team is more than appealing. If it doesn’t exist in secret already, it should. This could easily become a hot button debate but this is about a first-person shooter, so let’s just leave it at that. The storyline described in a quick cinematic is that there are a new group of terrorist called The White Masks and they have scared the world enough that Rainbow Six is being re-activated to deal with them and you are to recruit from any agency in the world without concern for borders or protocol. Just get the job done.

You start off as a recruit and through doing the tutorial missions and watching instructional videos you can earn enough points to unlock so of those world specialist to be on your play list. Each of the five agencies have two categories of specialist, attacker and defender, and each category has two specialists to choose from. One might be an expert in high caliber weapons for defense, another might be a breaching rocket expert for attacking. Each of the specialists have a unique style of attack or defense so you are sure to find one that suits you best. They also have cool nicknames like Pulse who is an expert in detecting enemy heartbeats close by to possibly determine which direction an attack is coming from.

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The name of the game is Rainbow Six Siege so the game is all about siege physics and gameplay, one team wants in to do something and the other wants to stop them. As a result the environment is one of the biggest factors in how this game is different from a lot of FPS games with most of it being able to be reinforced, barricaded and most importantly destroyed. Open doorless entry ways or windows can be boarded up with a weak defense that at least obscures line of sight and provides notice of a possible direction of breach. If the attacker doesn’t have a breaching device they also have to strike or hit the boarded up location a few times to breach. If an attacker has a breaching device they can blow holes in some walls and floors or completely destroy boarded up entrances quickly and with enough destructive power to cause cover by flying debris and possibly even an enemy kill. High caliber weapons can blow holes in walls as well as destroying furniture taking out cover in a hailstorm of bullets. There’s nothing quite like being a defender and having a desk your hiding behind disintegrate except maybe the feeling of watch a wall blow out and seeing an enemy right on the other side having put his back against that wall for cover.

That is really the fun of this game. In many ways it is a standard multiplayer FPS (no single player campaign) with many standard weapons but it is the destructive environment and the weapons for attacking and defending that make this game standout. In FPS we have a tendency to no look up, in this game that is almost like an invitation for the other team to blow a hole in the ceiling above you and rain death from above. While you are watching the doors it is a wall that blows in on you that you had put your back to. It is all close quarters which would be a little dull after a while were it not for the breaching and destruction. It is the “siege” and the different ways of performing it that really defines Rainbow Six Siege.

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It is meant to be a multiplayer game but there are game modes that allow for some single player. There are 10 training missions that you can do on normal, hard, or realistic that teach you the different elements of the game but also provide interesting scenarios against AI. A lot of people like to skip training missions and jump right into online play and I saw a lot of people doing just that but you earn weapon and specialist unlock points by going through these missions and accomplishing objectives and that is a great way to give you a few specialist at hand when you jump into multiplayer mode as well as teaching you different techniques or enabling you to try out ideas.

The other mode is Terrorist Hunt in which you can put together a team or go Lone Wolf mode and the system picks a scenario and location while you pick from the three difficulties and your unlocked specialists. This mainly consists of you protecting a hostage while under siege by the White Masks. There are waves after waves of attackers that will come at you from every direction you can imagine and the environments can be as big of a challenge as the enemy attackers. For example one defense I was in the middle of an airplane. You might think that means above, below, and to the sides of your position will be safe and you just have to worry about the two directions. In some ways that actually makes it more difficult because seats are obstructing lines of view and all the attackers are either attacking you from in front of you or behind you. If you go up against the fuselage your hostage is a clear shot and the seats are in your way and you are still getting shot from two directions in a space small enough that if they breach simultaneously they will obstruct your field of view even more. These were some of the most frustrating missions and yet they are probably the best training for multiplayer, you really find the strengths and weaknesses of the environment.

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Last Shot:
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is a beautifully crafted multiplayer FPS that makes the environment a crucial part of the gameplay. This game is about a close quarters siege and as a result it polishes all the important physics that would be involved in such a situation. I like single player first-person shooters and in this game it seemed to primarily function as a preparation for the multiplayer instead of telling it’s own story. I wish it had a single player campaign worthy of Tom Clancy novels but it never claimed to be about anything but Rainbow Six performing in siege environment and that is where the game excells.

Rainbow Six Siege Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Game of Thrones A Telltale Games Series Season One Review

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Telltale Games has chosen a style of storytelling and stuck to it so strongly that if you are talking about a game and say it is a Telltale Games game people will already have a general sense of what you are talking about. It will be setup in episodes making a season. There will be a stylized art style and it will be storytelling gameplay where you make decisions that will directly impact the entire season of gameplay. When you are in control walking around where you look and just as importantly don’t look will have consequences. When you are choosing the timed multiple choice answers which answer you choose or if you choose no answer at all in time and instead provide silence to the conversation will have long reaching ramifications. I get REALLY excited every time I get to play a Telltale Games production because I know it will be a sort of interactive cinema and a great story will be told.  Telltale Games Game of Thrones Season One is no exception.

 

Background:
Based on HBO’s award-winning television drama, Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series tells the story of House Forrester, a noble house from the north of Westeros. Caught up in the events of The War of the Five Kings, they are placed in a precarious position where members of the household must do everything they can to prevent the house from meeting its doom.

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Hands On:
So that was the official background and you can tell they are trying not to give away any spoilers but it sounds awfully dry to me. It is about House Forrester who was closely aligned with House Stark, if you know anything about Game Of Thrones you know that after a certain point in the saga that is a bad place to be. Well this is at about the worst time to be aligned with the Starks since events take place starting at “The Red Wedding” which is capitalized for a definite reason and was the one place the HBO producers said they were trying to get to before getting cancelled (which isn’t likely to happen anytime soon). In the first couple minutes of the game, which starts off fast and furious, you make a decision that effects you for a long time. Though the game, particularly the mid episodes, do drop into dialogue driven action every dialogue has ramifications, some downright deadly as you would expect from a Game of Thrones story.

Those who watch the television series will be treated to what the events of the show look like to side characters and what those characters do when they aren’t onscreen. If however you have never watched an episode of the series you will still be fine and enjoy the game just fine, you will just know what is happening from the perspective of the Forresters and they get around as much as any other house, more than most even. As a result you get to see all the main players from the HBO show and get to deal with all the issues anyone close to the Starks did which were mostly unpleasant. At times you feel relief that your decisions bore certain long term results, other times you find yourself thinking “why didn’t I handle that quick moment differently?” when two episodes down the line it is still coming back to haunt you. Leading a house is harder than it looks on TV, sometimes you are relieved when you get to watch a bit of action unfold that you don’t have to make a direct decision in.

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The animation is great, the characters look like stylized versions of themselves from the series so with only a couple exceptions if you watch the show you will recognize them the moment they hit the screen, I almost think the game would be more challenging though if you don’t watch the show and go in with any preconceived notions of what the characters are like. “She looks like the mom from the Terminator series, I bet she is nice!” that type thing. I was a bit concerned when I first went into reviewing Game of Thrones because it is one of the few titles that are based on non-animated characters but Telltale Games does a great job of riding the line between their stylized visuals and the real actors’ looks, so much so that I am looking even more forward to The Walking Dead spin-off they are doing about Michonne.

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Last Look:
Game of Thrones Season One is a terrific game that feels like it belongs as part of the HBO series’ cannon. Telltale Games has woven a great story showing how other houses were effected by the events of the show while at the same time giving the player enough control to make decisions that will have long lasting ramifications throughout the next season and knowing Telltale throughout the game’s entire run. I’m already looking forward to playing the next season though for now I can at least be content with playing through this season again and seeing how different it will be with different decisions.

Telltale Games Game of Thrones Season One Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Mad Catz R.A.T. Pro S Gaming Mouse Review

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The Mad Catz R.A.T. Gaming Mouse series has long been the leader in customization and one of the standard setters in comfort and performance. This is so much the case that many gamers have a hard time getting used to gaming with any other mouse when it comes to tournament time. Mad Catz has come up with the solution to this problem with the R.A.T. Pro S, a no frills gaming mouse with the design and benefits you have come to expect from the R.A.T. series.

Features:

  • Customize Your Comfort via Length- and Tilt-Adjustable Palm Rest
  • PixArt PMW3310 Optical Sensor Delivers Game-Proven Performance
  • Change DPI Settings On-The-Fly
  • Weighs a Mere 77 Grams (2.71 oz) for Hours of Fatigue-Free Gaming
  • Onboard Memory Stores up to 3 Profiles for Plug-and-Play Gaming on Different PCs

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Hands On:
Unlike many of the R.A.T. series the Pro S is designed for streamlined plug and play performance. When you get to a tournament or just someone’s rig for competitive play you don’t want to be pulling out a tool kit and parts and fine-tuning your mouse. You want to be able to sit down, press a couple of buttons and be ready to play but still have the mouse feel you are used to. The R.A.T. Pro S has a palm rest adjust on the back of the mouse, a button which can store three programmable profiles, 8 programmable buttons and a DPI settings button and that is it. You sit, adjust the palm, select your profile and you are ready to go in seconds. The key to this mouse is quick ease of use on the go allowing you to keep competitive by being prepared.

This is also the perfect choice if you find the customization of some of the other mice in the R.A.T. series to be a little overkill or overwhelming. The Pro S only has minor adjustments like the palm rest and DPI while still having the comfort of the thumb rest and the ergonomic design of the wheel and right and left button. You can program the buttons as needed and if you don’t need three profiles you don’t have to use them. The Pro S is a very entry level gaming mouse that allows more customization at the user’s comfort.

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One of the more unique features compared to the other mice in the R.A.T. family is the PixArt PMW3310 infrared optical sensor. It has a true 5000 DPI sensor guaranteeing the dots per second while there is a button that allows you to adjust the sensitivity. If you ware simply typing something up or surfing the web you might want it on a lower sensitivity but if you are a MOBA player or a FPS player who loves sniping the heightened sensitivity might be the difference between getting that head shot or controlling the playing field. If you want even more control there is software available for programming the precision aim button allowing you for example use a different lower DPI setting then it the precision button when you want the DPI you have determined is just right for you sniper rifle.

Lastly, the Mad Catz R.A.T. Pro S is one of the lightest gaming mice on the market and have PTFE which enables it to glide smoothly across most surfaces so you won’t have your mouse bog down your movement.

Last Thoughts:
The Mad Catz R.A.T. Pro S Gaming Mouse is the perfect mouse for the gamer on the go. With plug and play design, built-in profiles and programs while keeping the physical customization to a minimum this is the perfect mouse for the entry level gamer or the gamer heading out to a L.A.N. party or tournament.

Mad Catz R.A.T. Pro S Gaming Mouse Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Mad Catz C.T.R.L. R Mobile Gamepad – A Review

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The C.T.R.L. R Mobile Game Pad by Mad Catz is a fitting way to complete my trilogy of mobile gaming reviews. Unlike my other two mobile gaming reviews, the C.T.R.L. R took a little more convincing for me to see the positives that it brings to mobile gaming. The C.T.R.L. R is not a bad product by any stretch, but just does not feel necessary, or even helpful at times when it comes to mobile gaming.

Design

The design of the C.T.R.L. R is much like your standard Xbox 360 controller. The game pad has a pair of analog sticks, four main face buttons, and a direction pad on the face. There are two shoulder pads and two triggers in the same places as they are on the standard Xbox 360 controller, with a Start, Select, and power buttons in the center of the face. The placement of all of these features are precisely in the same positions and spots as they are on the Xbox 360 controller, so those of you that are used to Microsoft’s controller layout will feel right at home.

The differences that the C.T.R.L. R has over the Xbox 360 controller are significant. First, this is a strictly wireless controller. The small, micro USB port on the front is only used to update the game pad’s firmware, not to connect the game pad to a device. The C.T.R.L. R connects via Blue Tooth to your mobile or pc devices. The biggest difference in design between the C.T.R.L. R and the Xbox 360 controller is the mobile device holder. This holder screws into the controller between the shoulder bumpers, and holds your mobile device in place. The calipers slide open and then closed by using a spring for tension, to hold your device in place securely. The mobile device mount unscrews with ease, to return the C.T.R.L. R back to the standard controller configuration.

The C.T.R.L. R also features a few more buttons that are not found on your standard controller. A row of media remote buttons sit above the power button, which includes Play/Pause, Fast Forward, Rewind, Volume Up, and Volume Down. There is also a three-way switch on the bottom edge of the controller that switches the C.T.R.L. R to work with different devices, such as your mobile device or your PC.

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Performance

The C.T.R.L. R Gamepad can be used in three different ways; as a mobile game pad, as a mouse controller, or as a PC game pad. Most of my testing was done as a mobile game pad with my Samsung Galaxy S4 device, but I did test it on my Windows Laptop as a mouse controller and a game pad.

As a mobile game pad, the C.T.R.L. R worked wonderfully well. The phone fit into the mount well with no fear of slippage or droppage at all. The C.T.R.L. R paired right up with my phone in a matter of seconds and was very responsive in game. I don’t have too many games that the C.T.R.L. R would work with on my phone, but the ones that it would work with played just like I was on my Xbox.

As a PC game pad controller, the C.T.R.L. R didn’t fare as well in my testing. First, since it will only connect via blue tooth and cannot be wired, I could not use the C.T.R.L. R with my desktop. I did not have the capability to connect blue tooth devices, so the C.T.R.L. R would have been useless in that department, except that I have a new laptop that is blue tooth capable. Again, connecting the C.T.R.L. R was a piece of cake, and the mouse mode of the C.T.R.L. R worked great. However, the game pad mode did not work as well as it could, and I experienced connection issues with many games that I tried to use the C.T.R.L. R with. Using the free Mad Catz app, unfortunately, did not fix the issue. I feel that too many developers out there are expecting PC users to just use a 360 controller these days, and have programmed their games to work just fine with that particular one.

Final Thoughts

The C.T.R.L. R Gamepad is a solid controller that works very well with your mobile device. The functionality and performance of the C.T.R.L. R met and exceeded any expectations I had for a mobile game pad. My issue with the C.T.R.L. R isn’t with its design or performance, it’s with the necessity of the game pad. For me, having a controller for my phone just does not make sense. The types of games that I play on my phone are designed to be played in small increments, and without having to lug a full size controller around. Mobile gaming has to be just that, mobile. The C.T.R.L. R game pad is just too large and unwieldy to be mobile. For the C.T.R.L. R to really become necessary in my life, it would have to double as a PC controller, and it could not do that. If the C.T.R.L. R could hook up to my desktop and play my games without issue, then I would love this product. But since it cannot connect to my desktop, nor even work well enough with my laptop games, the C.T.R.L. R just becomes a well-working novelty piece that I cannot see myself using in the future. If you need a mobile gaming device controller, then I can recommend the C.T.R.L. R, but at the price of roughly $40 the game pad is a little expensive for what it can be used for effectively. Otherwise, I would steer clear of the device, especially if you were looking for a universal game pad to use with multiple devices.

Official Store Page

Mad Catz C.T.R.L. R Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide Review (PC/Steam)

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Rats! I mean like a tide of vermin! It’s the end of the world… of Warhammer and there are a lot of rat bastards to deal with in these final days. So grab three friends, or bots if you don’t have any friends, and take to fighting the good fight one last time in Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide!

Features:

  • Cooperative Survival For up to 4 Players – Band together with your friends or die alone. Vermintide will continuously test the teamwork and skill of you and your friends. Drop-in, drop-out Multiplayer and the addition of A.I. bots ensures a full team at any time, regardless of available players.
  • Play as Five Unique Heroes – Five distinct characters to choose from, each with their own personality, agenda and story to tell. Learning what it means to work together is key to the group’s survival.
  • Huge Hero Arsenal – Each hero has its own unique weapons arsenal to draw from, allowing players to adjust their combat style to fit their gameplay preference. There are hundreds of different weapons, includíng swords, daggers, axes, hammers, bows, guns, magical staves & more
  • Embark on an Epic Quest – Boasting 13 diverse levels – on the ground, in buildings, on walls and underground – ranging from the immense Magnus Tower to the treacherous Under Empire, Vermintide will take you on a journey you’ll never forget.
  • Experience the Skaven Like Never Before – A rising tide of malicious and cunning rat-men await you, hacking, clawing and eviscerating all that stand in their way. Face vicious packs of clan-rats and deadly specialized elites.
  • Gather Mountains of Shiny Loot – Rewarding teamwork above all else, players are given loot dice at the end of a mission that will reward them with a weapon, a hat or a trinket. Completing side objectives means that better loot dice can be added to the roll.
  • Battle Unpredictable Enemies – Vermintide features a dynamic spawn system providing a constant set of new challenges lurking behind every corner.
  • Experience an Immersive Story – Games Workshop veterans have banded together to write a fantastic new addition to the Warhammer lore, offering a new perspective on the cataclysmic events of The End Times.
  • Find a Path to Safety – The Skaven boast incredible mobility, able to climb and leap fantastic distances to make life a living hell for the Heroes. No matter where you go, they will be there, ready to pounce.

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Hands On:
First off, all the features above that were listed on the Steam site were solidly in effect when I played. When it came to character building and armaments, there are tons of options and more arrive throughout play with teamwork being an integral role. If you don’t stick together and watch each others’ backs, then there is a good chance you can get dragged off like a raccoon by animal control – a loop around your neck while other rats take shots at you. At one point during an AI-partnered match I got ahead of my AI team and when they tried to catch up with me we wiped and it was mission over. It was all nicely accentuated by a “Defeated” screen to rub a little salt in our wounds. It wasn’t for a lacking in AI building either, the bots are solidly designed and, mostly, behave like real humans. The biggest weakness I saw in this was when to take healing potions. If a bot is at 60% health and comes across a healing flask they wouldn’t top off instead passing on healing and only using the flask at dire times. Though character AIs quip and fight differently they apparently all have a slight weakness when it comes to self preservation which is a weakness the group then suffers from. Part of this is because the behavior built into the enemy AIs is so well done. They run at you in packs but the stronger ones that benefit from distance will run off if it suits their purpose. Sometimes, the rats will stop attacking and retreat to gather forces. They then re-advance with strength in numbers. When you hear one of your team say “It’s a trap!” and you turn and see a flood or I guess you would say a tide of rat-men pouring over a wall at you, it can be a bit daunting.

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I have talked a lot about the AI of both the rat-men and the fellow teammates because I am one of the folks above who don’t have any friends playing the game. As a result I have dropped into hosted games or tried to host my own with some rather rough results. The game requires a team, whether that consists of real players, AI or both seems to depend a bit on luck and timing. The success of that group seems even more in the balance. For example I entered a game and had my graphics cranked so it looked beautiful but the player hosting the game kicked me, my guess was for a lag issue. I lowered the graphics settings and got in another game where the host was complaining about players running off ahead to getting the loot dice and leaving others behind and then quitting. I entered another game where there were two real players and two bots and, since no one else joined, the host cancelled the mission. I then went and started a game myself hosting in hope that, with a stable host, the game would be more successful. It was in a sense, no one else joined and using the bots I was pretty successful and a lot less stressed about the mission possibly ending or someone shooting off ahead for the loot dice. At that point though I realized I could just start a private game and no one else would be able to join and I could just run with the bots who wouldn’t bring personal player issues to the game. This also made me realize it might as well be offline play then since I was a solo party with bots.

I wish I could say I had one stellar mission with other players but I’m not sure I ever completed one. Maybe if it had dedicated servers that the games were being hosted on like in Diablo it would be a more stable online experience and less dependent on the numbers of players and dispositions of them. The game is solidly built with tons of great features that lead to detailed customization and lots of Warhammer lore, the only problem is a lack of player base and possibly it’s quality.

Last Tide:
Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide is a solidly built game with great features and excellent AI. It is a visually beautiful game that deserves an equally terrific player base. Not just deserves it though, requires it for the game to continue on its hairy rat legs.

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com