Author - Jerry Paxton

Need for Speed Shift PC Demo Released

PC gamers, take note! The PC demo for Need for Speed Shift is available now at the game’s official website. In the demo, players will be able to drive the following vehicles in two circuit races:

• BMW M3 (E46)
• 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10
• 2006 Lotus Elise 111R
• 2008 Nissan GT-R
• 2006 Pagani Zonda F (unlockable)

The Xbox 360 and PS3 demos will be available early next month.

One2One Announces 1:2 Scale Master Chief Bust

One2One Collectibles has announced a 1:2 scale bust of the protagonist in Bungie and Microsoft’s legendary game series, Halo – the Master Chief. The 12-inch tall and 12-inch wide bust is made from polystone and has a solid gold-plated visor and base. The bust will retail for $224.99 and is available in an extremely limited edition run.

Via GamesWire Via One2OneCollectibles

Check out a full image of the bust, After the Break!

CM Storm Sentinel Advance Gaming Mouse Review

Cooler Master USA has long been known for their PC performance cases and accessories. However, they recently launched a gamer-specific line of products known as ‘CM Storm’. This brand has been picking up some serious steam around the tournament circuits with their first two PC gaming chassis, the Sniper and Scout, and now they have released their first ever foray into the gaming mouse market with the Sentinel Advance.

The Sentinel Advance is actually fairly large for a gaming mouse, sporting a size similar to older models you would expect from companies like Logitech. However, for its overall size the Sentinel Advance is very sleek and the size is just perfect as it was meant for long periods of gameplay and you can easily rest your hand on it without problems. To further accentuate gamer comfort, the Sentinel Advance sports both thumb and pinky rest areas which really help avoid nasty cramps from heated tournament-play. Additionally, the mouse is all black, rubberized plastic save for the underside, OLED, and grates.

You did read that correctly, one of the more eye-catching features of the Sentinel Advance is its OLED screen which displays helpful information like X and Y sensitivity levels as well as a monochrome, 32×32 image which can be pretty much anything you like (in that size) however CM Storm recommends putting your clan logo in it. This can be accomplished via the software, but we will get to that later.

Aside from the two main mouse buttons, the mouse features a treaded middle-mouse button, a profile changing-button, two sensitivity adjustment buttons, and two thumb-buttons for extra functionality. For your twitch-based, high-reflex gaming this amount of buttons would be fine however for the MMO or RTS gamer, you may want to opt for a mouse with additional, programmable thumb and pinky buttons.

I am not usually a huge fan of flashy lighting systems on mice but I will make an exception in this case. The lighting effects of the Sentinel Advance are very impressive, with multiple modes of display (including my personal favorite – a ‘breathing’ pulse) and seven vibrant colors. There are two LED ports on the bottom-front of the mouse which shine light out like two laser beams when active and you can independently set the color of those and even have it only show when you click one of the mouse buttons.

A huge factor of awesomeness for CM Storm in choosing to include five 4.5g weights in the bottom of the mouse. They are, of course, removable to allow you to hit the weight you like but I found the mouse most comfortable at the full 22.5g addition. It is not light as far as gaming mice go but the added weight gives you a solid mousing platform to play off of. The biggest issue I see with the mouse is that they do not include any carrier for the discarded weights, which in my case could lead me to losing them.

The Sentinel Advance also is built with a braided cable as opposed to traditional plastic ones. The benefits of the braided chord is increased strength, flexibility, and a decrease in cable ‘stickage’ and bunching.

Installation and use of the mouse is simple: You can choose to go plug-and-play with the unit, in which case you can select between four different DPI settings. Or, you can install the CM Storm Sentinel Advance control software and get the ability to have multiple control layout profiles and, as previously-mentioned, upload your own clan logo into the mouse’s OLED screen.

As you can see, CM Storm has done a fine job of creating not only a useful control suite but a stylish one as well. The various controls are laid out as one would expect and are not hard to navigate to in the least.

Gaming with the Sentinel Advance is incredible. The Sentinel Advance’s twin-laser sensor has a max setting of 5,600 DPI and, while ungodly sensitive, remains smooth in its motions thanks to the size and weight of the unit. This may not make sense to you, weight and size do not regularly equal ‘smooth’ but along the bottom of the Sentinel Advance you will see four mouse feet, two of which along the sides with a very high-surface area in comparison to feet usually seen on gaming mice. These ultra-smooth feet allow the mouse’s weight and size to work for the gamer, instead of against.

You would never know that the Sentinel Advance was CM Storm’s first gaming mouse. The quality and precision of this mouse is incredible and CM Storm has a real contender here capable of going toe-to-toe with any other gaming mouse on the market. Expect to see this mouse readily-adopted by even the most hardcore gamer. The CM Storm Sentinel Advance is available now.

CM Storm Sentinel Advance Product Page

Images of Modern Warfare 2 Night Vision Goggles in Creation

Looks like some Chinese workers at the factory where the night vision goggles for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 are being manufactured decided to snap some pics of the process including the NVG internals. Judging by the similarities between the layout of the EyeClops Night Vision system and this one, it is my guess that they are using the same internals. Not actually a bad thing, as our very own GS liked the EyeClops system very much in his review.

Checkout the full gallery at the via link below or some of the screenies After the Break!


We Review the EyeClops Night Vision Binoculars v2

Jaaks Pacific recently released a second edition of their EyeClops Night Vision Binocular. With this new edition, they have redesigned the unit to take up less vertical space and upped the ‘sci-fi’ factor as well.

Technically, while it is marketed as a ‘binocular’, the unit does not actually magnify the view in front of you enough to be able to accurately call itself one. Furthermore, unlike most night vision goggles, the perspective is magnified just enough to not be useful while moving around. When being used from a stationary position, however, they will allow you to see mostly clearly up to about fifty feet away in total darkness.

The elongated binoculars feature the EyeClops-synonymous spherical infrared emitter for long-range viewing while it can also be switched over to use the lower-powered  emitters on each side of the unit. In the center of the spherical ‘eye’ is the infrared receiver which collects the light and an internal processor displays the images on a very large, and surprisingly clear, internal LCD.

There are multiple control knobs and rotators on the body of the unit as well. For instance, you can change between a black & white viewing mode and the traditional green modes. You can also switch between the previously-mentioned high-power infrared emitter and the lower-powered ones. Also along the top-side of the unit is the power switch. Aside from switches, you will find two rotators, one which controls the focus of the binocular and the other to control the eye-width setting of the viewfinder.

The unit’s construction is a thick plastic which, while much ‘cheaper’ in quality than on a higher-end consumer night vision unit, was actually heartier than I expected and it felt like it could definitely withstand some abuse and keep working.

While the company gears this unit for children, I would not hesitate to bring this along with me to any camping trip our outing where they will undoubtedly come in handy so long as you have enough batteries as the unit takes 5 AAs internally.

At the time of this writing, it appears as though EyeClops has released an even newer version of their night vision gear, an actually NVG this time, which uses the same basic technology as this unit albeit with, we imagine, a more-accurate perspective for easier movement.

For $60 dollars, you just won’t find a better night vision unit out there – they simply don’t exist. Buy one of these and throw it into your ‘go pack’, you never know when it will come in handy!

We Review the New HP 2709m LCD Screen

HP’s 2709m is one of their latest LCD screens. With a real 27” diagonal display, it boasts a hefty amount of physical screen real estate, no matter what you are doing with it. I say that because HP has designed the 2709m to be an all-in-one display solution. Its native 1920×1080 resolution along with an HDMI input makes it also good for being used as your television set!

Physically, the display measures 26.43”w) x 18.45”(h) x 8.41”(d) with a mostly silver body save for the front bezel which is a glossy black. The panel itself is coated with a high-gloss, anti-glare coating which is not overpowering like some displays and really does cutback on glare. Usually these coatings only serve to make the display act as one giant mirror – Not so in this case.

The HP 2709m features multiple inputs and along its underside you will find a VGA port, DVI-D with HDCP port, and HDMI with HDCP port (although USB passthrough ports are strangely missing). Also included is a 3.5mm speaker input for the on-board 2W per channel stereo speakers. They were a bit weak when compared to our standard desktop speaker solution, but should work quite nicely in a smaller space such as a dorm room or small apartment. It is a very nice feature to include and those lacking in desktop or entertainment center real estate will be pleased.

One of the best features of the 2709m is its ambient light sensor which adjusts, on-the-fly, the overall brightness level of the display based on the ambient light in the room. This feature, simply, rocks! How many times have you turned down, or off, the lights in your office to save on power only to be blinded by your LCD screen? I have done this more times than I can count and now, with this feature, I just don’t worry about it anymore. For those of you who are brightness-sticklers, having to maintain absolute control over the setting, you can switch the ambient light sensor off so don’t panic.

Performance-wise, the 2709m is a fine monitor for your PC gaming needs. I prefer the 16:10 aspect ratio in larger gaming LCDs, usually with a native resolution of 1920×1200. However, the 1920×1080 resolution of this monitor did not prevent me from enjoying my games in any way, and the trade-off for having the larger screen as well as media-capabilities is worth it. The contrast ratio is good, with deep blacks and the dynamic contrast ratio further increases the effect, especially while watching HD movies. I noticed no ghosting effects, the 3ms response time handling both Crysis and Left 4 Dead without issue.

The 2709m currently retails for $399.99, making it generally less expensive than other 27” LCD monitors on the market at the time of this writing. This is a smart move on the part of HP as it greatly increases the ‘buy factor’ of the unit in comparison with other, more gamer or theaterphile-oriented LCDs.

As for hardcore-gamers out there, if you don’t want or need an HD display for your movies, you may want to
go with a native 16:10 monitor running at 1920×1200. The wider aspect ratio will help you in your gaming by allowing you to view more of the game world.

However, the HP 2709m would make the perfect gift for someone looking the find a 1080p movie-watching solution as well as a quality PC monitor without the living or office space for both. Parents, send your kid to their college dorm with one of these things, they will love you for it! Not only will they have all the screen space necessary to do homework but they will also be able to hook up their video game console and DVD or Blu-Ray player to it, essentially-becoming the ‘must hang’ dorm room in the hall for late-night movie-watching. You are essentially buying your college student lots of friends with this thing, GO YOU!

Official Product Page of the HP 2709m

Need for Speed Shift Soundtrack Announced

Electronic Arts has announced the full track listing for its soundtrack to the upcoming Need for Speed Shift. Need for Speed Shift is due out in stores on all major platforms on
September 15th in North America and September 17th in Europe.

The Tracks
Buraka Som Sistema feat. Pongolove: Kalemba (Wegue-Wegue)
Chase And Status feat. Plan B: Pieces
Deadmau5: Ghosts N Stuff
Eagles Of Death Metal: Anything ‘Cept the Truth
Fort Knox 5 feat. Asheru: Insight (The Nextmen Remix)
Gallows: I Dread The Night
In Case Of Fire: This Time We Stand
Jamal: Pull Up
Kanye West: Paranoid (Part 2)
Kasabian: Underdog
The King Blues: The Streets Are Ours
Mala Rodriguez: Te Convierto
Mando Diao: Mean Street
MSTRKRFT feat. E-40: Click Click

Check out the rest of the soundtrack After the Break!
The Tracks (Cont.)
N.A.S.A. feat. Spank Rock, MIA, Santigold and Nick Zinner: Whachadoin?
The Prodigy: Run With The Wolves
The Qemists feat Mike Patton: Lost Weekend
Regular John: Transmitter
Rootbeer: Under Control
Shinichi Osawa: Electro 411 (Lies In Disguise Mix)
Spoon Harris & Obernik: Baditude
TOKIO: Dogonim
Twisted Wheel: Oh, What Have You Done?
Two Fingers feat. Sway: High Life

Be Part of the Fab Four with Our Review of The Beatles Rock Band

I have a confession to get out of the way before I start my review so you can understand my Beatles-leaning bias. To start at the beginning, I remember playing Guitar Hero II for the first time and playing Woman by Wolfmother on easy and getting my ass handed to me. It didn’t matter at the time, I just knew that my rock star fantasy had been met and I was hungry for more. I remember playing the first Rock Band fondly for the first time with friends, stumbling over the drums and praying the neighbors couldn’t hear the awful singing. It was just like that first time playing Guitar Hero so long ago… When I learned The Beatles Rock Band was being made – I think I blacked out for a few hours from pure joy. This was the reason I was alive, this would define me as a person.

So when I say I love this game, I hope you understand I do so taking into account my pure and utter love of what I consider the finest rock band of all time. Now let’s get down to it, shall we?

When you break the game down, you do have a Rock Band game at its core so if you’ve played one, you’ve played this one. You have four instruments to choose from: guitar, bass, microphone and drums. The ‘Fab Four’ fit right in don’t they? Each instrument has its own training of which I dabbled in. I was most interested in learning the drums more than I’ve been able to in the past I and was pleased to find the tools for learning them are much advanced from any of the other games. Not only do you have a basics trainer that will teach you 45 different beats, but you also have Beatles Beats where all of Ringo’s famous beats are broken down so you can learn them at your own pace. You can move automatically between beats per minute by pressing up or down so when you think you’ve mastered any particular set, push it up to fail miserably all over again. I can see myself spending a lot of time annoying everyone within close proximity trying to learn the way Ringo would play a set of Rock Band drums.

The game itself consists of several modes of play, each with an online component. Quickplay gives you all of the songs right off the bat without having to unlock any thankfully. It’s a sort of instant Beatles party where anyone can pick their favorite song and join in or leave any time in between sets. They made it painless to see how difficult each instrument is by incorporating the sliders from the previous Rock Band. Before any song you can individually turn on or off the no fail mode if you happen to be playing with beginners or you’re trying to show off in expert mode before you’re ready.

Story mode is an awesome trip down The Beatles’ career. The animated videos that break up each set are a lot of fun and pure Beatles porn for the aficionado. There are a lot of nice details that go into this. While the song is loading, I presume a studio recording of the band right before the song is actually recorded (complete with the date) is played like ambient noise. For me, it gave me that connection like I was actually in the recording booth or in the studio itself. Seeing bits and pieces of their famous recordings from the Ed Sullivan show recreated, or the girl running across the grass at Shea stadium or the famous final performance all meld together in an experience unlike any I’ve had while listening to The Beatles. A lot of times what happens behind the flying notes is looked over because it’s lame. The awesome intro that was released online is basically how the entire game looks. A lot of the songs are just the boys on stage, but as they move into their psychedelic phase, so do the graphics. Yellow submarines fly around, the guys fly around in some floating gazebo or stand in front of an animated Soviet propaganda poster and it’s all so beautiful the first few times you go through a song it might actually distract you from the notes much to the chagrin of your band mates. When I had a chance to let others play and watch it closely, the only thing I could possibly say in negative were the facial expressions being very robotic. I can forgive them that, even Pixar struggles with this.

The difficulties all received a good tweak in this version. Easy remains the entry point for all wannabe rockers using only the first three buttons of the controller. On the drums it really breaks down the basics of the beat to the bare minimum. You can sing off-key fairly well, even I was able to keep on my feet singing on easy. When you first start out it seems like the notes are flying at you like a sub-orbital SR-71, but it doesn’t take long before you feel like the slow kid everyone used to make fun of. Medium brings an extra button into the mix as well as an additional layer of complexity to the notes. On drums you will be asked to use your foot more often while blasting away at quicker beats. Singing for me becomes impossible thankfully. Hard really kicks things into gear, but it’s not nearly as jarring as previous versions. Yes you’re using all the buttons on the guitar, but the complexity is much more forgiving. I’ve never been able to come close to finishing drums or singing on hard personally, but I’ve seen it on TV. Expert is the realm of those with too much time on their hands, every note is accounted for. Those are the kids people always shake their heads at wondering why they don’t spend that much time learning a real instrument.

I don’t know if it was my pure memorization of all the songs before ever booting up the game, but I felt that this game was easier as a rule. I can hang on expert, but I’m not pulling off perfect scores. In previous games I couldn’t even finish the last few songs without failing halfway through. Here I can finish all the songs on expert guitar with 80% and up, most 95% and up. I have a feeling most that are on my level and up will not find this game a challenge necessarily. That said, I personally haven’t had as much fun since playing Free Bird the first time. If you’re looking for any face-melters or something to dethrone Dragonforce (ed. note: Dragonforce, hell yeah!), you might be disappointed.

One thing that is really cool about this game is the bass track. Even back in the Guitar Hero days if you wanted to play with a friend playing bass is something that had to be traded back and forth because, well… it was boring or frustrating. The guitar had all the solos, got all the girls and glory. The bass was just keeping time, filling things in. Not here, my friends, oh no. Paul kicked ass apparently. I didn’t mind playing bass for about 10 songs while my friends played along and I would have kept on going, but someone requested to take it over! I think it might have been the first time in the history of mankind. We can all thank Paul for this. I would love to talk about the three part harmony available in certain songs, but I couldn’t find enough singers to sing by themselves let alone attempt to sing with two others. I must admit when no one else was home I had my way with a few songs, I just couldn’t help it. After a few attempts I felt dirty sullying their beautiful voices in such a way. I may never be able to forgive myself.

Do you like The Beatles? Do you like playing on plastic instruments? You will absolutely adore this game. I know I’ll be playing it for a long time to come. Maybe I can do a follow-up report on how well the drum trainer goes. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Abbey Road album and any others Harmonix has up their sleeve. All that said, if you don’t really care about The Beatles, or if you’re only looking for the most insane riffs to show off with, this really isn’t the game for you… and I can’t be your friend any more.