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Let’s Play: Alien Isolation Oculus Rift

Well, after taking Alien Isolation out for a spin on the Oculus Rift, I know that I’d be absolutely no use to Ripley against the Xenomorphs! This is perhaps the most terrifying game I’ve played on the Oculus Rift and I’d even go as far to say it’s the best virtual reality experience I’ve had.

The game looks absolutely fantastic with a huge amount of attention to detail. Exploring the ship and taking a look at what’s on display can take forever because there is just so much to see. The effects look fantastic, with steam rising from vents and really adding to the atmosphere.

The dark corridors make it so much harder to see that pesky alien and with it’s random exploration things get really interesting. This isn’t a game thats just filled with jump scares and set pieces, this is a game where the alien is hunting you, listening out for any sounds you make. Now, combine that with the Oculus Rift and that makes Alien Isolation one hell of a game!

If you’re interested in seeing how terrified a grown man can get then check out my gameplay videos below:

 

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Umbra: Kickstarter Campaign

Well this sure looks interesting, a brand new action RPG built in Cryengine with some very ambitious goals. Umbra is currently just a Kickstarter campaign, but what has already been built looks pretty fantastic.

It looks a lot like Diablo but with some very high end graphics. The developers promise some very ambitious features, but if they can pull off what they have planned then this promises to be a great game. Check out the features below:

  • Open World : Discover the world and enjoy it at your own convenience
  • Exploration and experimentation is rewarded with new powers, attributed according to your play style!
  • Free character development – No class limitation. You have three resources: Rage, Stamina and Mana, and they all interact with each other in order to balance gameplay.
  • Apocalyptic Form: According to your play style, you will develop special powers for your character, changing their abilities and look. Fierce melee warriors may gain a third arm to equip with a new weapon; a fire caster will have their skin turn into lava and heal from fire. Even wings and horns might appear on your character depending on your actions!
  • Tons of Loot: Weapons, Armor, Potions and randomly generated magic effects for more gameplay diversity!
  • Semi procedural Weaponry: Blades, pommel and guard details can be randomized for more unique gear in the game!
  • Advanced Crafting mini-game: Build your own weapons and armors thanks to a complex and challenging module in Umbra
  • Tons of Destructible environments: From small walls to complete parts of an area. We hope you enjoy it!
  • Housing: Create your own house and proudly showcase your special gear!
  • Mature story full of secrets to discover exploring the world
  • Kythera AI system: The automatic real time navigation adaptation of Kythera adapts to any change in the physics of the world, allowing us to create exciting scenes including large portion of levels collapsing or moving and fighting on the back of giant creature, creating never seen before gameplay situations!
  • Dungeon challenge (Stretch goal): Transform a special part of your house into a dungeon and challenge other players to survive the onslaught!
  • Multiplayer mode (stretch goal): Multiplayer is an ambitious goal we would love to achieve, but it must be done correctly.
  • We plan to have different interesting stretch goals for you that will allow us to build the foundation of the multiplayer. In the best case scenario, we would like to have the following mods: Dungeon Challenge (see above), Co-Op mode, and Competitive Plaver vs Player vs AI.

Check out their Kickstarter campaign page here and their promotional video below.

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Cheaper VR Gaming

If like me, you’re looking to experience the intrigue of VR gaming, but you don’t want to invest in the short term solution of an Oculus Rift developer kit then I may have the solution for you! For a while now I’ve been following VR, especially when it comes to gaming. I love the idea of immersing myself in a game, but the VR headsets out there aren’t built for the consumer yet and they come at a price.

We either need to fork out our hard earned cash and pick up a developer kit, which will get a consumer release at some point in the near future, making our purchase almost redundant, or we can try a different route. Now I need to point out that this isn’t going to supply you with the perfect VR solution, but what I have to tell you does give you a pretty good idea of the future of gaming!

For this to work you’re going to need a few things:

  • Android Handset
  • Google Cardboard type headset
  • Trinus VR
  • Limelight Streaming
  • Nvidia GPU

So how does it all work? Well I picked up a relatively cheap Google Cardboard equivalent from Amazon and combined this with my Google Nexus 6. With these two devices alone you can have some good fun with apps downloaded from the Play Store, but the real fun comes when you download Trinus VR.

Trinus VR is an app that you download for both your gaming PC and your Android handset. The app allows you to customise how your PC and Android handset communicate, giving you different levels of connection options, e.g. wifi direct, USB etc. It will also give you a number of different options so you can chose how your games are streamed to your device, either in VR or non VR.

The great thing that Trinus VR offers is the ability to work alongside Limelight. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Limelight it’s basically a reverse engineered version of Nvidia’s Gamestream software. Limelight turns any Android device into an Nvidia Shield and allows you to stream your games from PC to your phone or tablet. Trinus VR takes this and turns it into VR.

The ultimate result is your Android device becomes the screen, that when inserted into your VR goggles gives you a pretty good virtual reality experience. As I mentioned, it’s not perfect, but it’s an awful lot of fun. While you’re stuck waiting for the final consumer versions of VR to hit the market this is a pretty good solution.

So why not check it out? You’re in for a lot of fun, and maybe some motion sickness, but hey, it’s worth it!

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My Virtual Experience

Its been a week now since I started playing with my Oculus Rift and I’ve got to say I’m more than a little impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Of course my feelings are mixed, but I can safely say that I cannot wait to see some finalised consumer products hitting the market.

 
The Oculus Rift Developer Kit 2 isn’t meant for consumers, but I wanted to give it a go anyway. So far my experience has been amazing, but VR sickness is a very real thing (as you can tell if you watch my gameplay videos)

 
Its been a while since any form of technology blew me away, but when you find yourself in a piece of software optimised and made to work in VR, you’re in for a real treat. Playing games that aren’t made for VR is intriguing, but it’s not a great experience. I tried to force games like Skyrim and GTA V to work in VR and even got them running, but things just didn’t look right and I couldn’t get that sense of presence everyone who uses VR talks about.

 
I moved on to try games and software made with VR in mind like Elite Dangerous and that’s when the fun began. Suddenly I was in a world I felt a part of. While sat in my spaceship I felt as though I could really reach out and touch the controls or interact with my ship. The feeling is just breathtaking.

 
It was this kind if gaming experience that made me believe that VR can be the next big step in gaming. On the flip side, using other demos available, I also came to the realisation that VR is going to be huge in other areas such as education and communication.

 
Walking around virtual museums, or taking a tour around locations around the world in the Rift is pretty impressive. Watching a huge virtual cinema screen is another big win. Unfortunately due to the low resolution of the developer kit these things aren’t perfect, but once the consumer version lands I can imagine myself using VR to replace things like TV’s and monitors.

 
The possibilities of VR are endless, and although the technology isn’t quite there yet, using the Rift has made me realise how close we are and what a massive potential the technology has.

 
I have to wonder, especially since my background stems from retail, what the impact of VR will be on online shopping. As these devices become mainstream I’ll be interested to see what companies get onboard and transform their online shopping experience.

 
Imagine being able to slip on your VR headset and walk around a virtual store and interact with the products. The sales staff, instead of being webchat advisors, would be real people using a VR headset themselves, interacting with you in your online session.

 
If this is done right it really could revolutionise how we shop online, but also help to bridge the gap between online shopping and high street retail. Most people might think this is a long way off, but I think it’s a lot closer than we believe.

 
So in conclusion VR is amazing! The time with my Rift has blown me away and left me a true believer in the technology. As I said, its been a long time since any form of technology really impressed me and now I can’t wait to see the final product.

Feel free to check out my two VR gaming videos!

 

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Borderlands 2 Review

Introduction

Borderlands 2 is a frantic FPS/RPG, sending players on a series of missions where they are able to collect loot and face insane enemies. It’s fast and furious, and hilarious at the same time, with a fantastic art style and interesting weapons and abilities to choose from.


Gameplay

Borderland gives players a choice of characters to select from, allowing them to customise their character as the game progresses. You’ll be offered a range of abilities from your characters skill tree and also a number of customisation options for how they look.

As you progress through the story, exploring the insane and interesting world of Pandora, you’ll be given a number of side quests. These are often absolutely absurd, but they really help to keep things interesting, adding humour with every turn in the game.

The games combat mechanics work amazingly well, blending FPS and RPG. As you open fire on your enemies you’ll see the amount of damage you inflict appear above their heads, something that will greatly increase as you gain better loot. The shooting works well, drawing players into some frantic fun firefights.

Looting is addictive in Borderlands 2. Seeking out new and exciting weapons has never been so much fun. All of the weapons have different abilities and work in their own unique ways. Finding a new weapon and discovering how it works and how it fits into your load-out really helps to mix things up. You’ll end up with a number of different guns, all of them complementing each other.

I played this game co-op, and I can’t imagine playing it any other way. Not only do you end up collecting and equipping weapons that match your own load-out, but you end up working as a team, mixing and matching different fighting and play styles. Also, playing co-op ensures that the mayhem is truly maximised, unleashing some epic fights on the team.

Graphics

I remember playing the first Borderlands, and immediately the graphics struck me as being odd. It took me about half an hour before I had adjusted to the style and the same thing happened to me once again upon loading the second game.

The art style is very cartoony, but it works incredibly well. The setting and the absurd characters really blend nicely with the graphics, creating something even more unique. Instead of getting a Fallout style game, the graphics really help to emphasise the satirical nature of this game.

What I liked

For me one of my favourite parts of this game is the dialogue, your enemies exchanging banter of the radio throughout the game. As we explored Pandora, we were often mocked, taunted and downright insulted by the things coming from our enemies mouths, but that just made it even more entertaining when we finally tracked them down.


It’s witty, and really keeps things interesting, rather than just sending a player back to turn to talk with all the NPC’s and then leaving them in cold silence as they explore the wasteland.

What I disliked

For me my dislike is pretty petty, but I’d have liked to have built my own character from the ground up. It’s not major as the pre-built characters are all pretty interesting, but with some of the character models I’ve seen I’d have loved to have been able to completely construct my own.

Conclusion

If you played the first Borderlands then you already know what to expect. If you haven’t, then don’t worry, you can still jump into this game and you’re not really going to find yourself lost.


For fans of RPG’s or FPS’ I’d recommend giving this game a go. It’s thoughtfully put together, offering some amazing moments in combat, with fantastic dialogue to match.


Overall, I can’t really fault this game, it’s been an absolute joy to play and I can see myself sinking many more hours into it. Definitely worth picking a copy up.

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South Park The Stick Of Truth Impressions

So I’m four hours into South Park The Stick Of Truth and so far I’m impressed. I’ve been following the news leading up to the game’s launch and was feeling pretty apprehensive about the title landing on my machine, so much promise, could it really deliver?

The short answer is yes. I know I’m only a short way into the game but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much. Transferring the style and content from the TV show, and putting it into a much longer and open-ended game experience, was always going to prove difficult. What worried me was the potential for this game to grow dull in some areas, slowing down as the player is forced to trawl through filler, repeating the same content over and over again. So far there has been nothing like this.

South Park The Stick Of Truth has nailed both the gameplay and the content. Considering this is a South Park game I was expecting relatively basic and dull gameplay, the content keeping it afloat. However the gameplay holds its own, offering a turn by turn based combat system that wouldn’t look too unfamiliar in a Final Fantasy title. I’d even go as far to say that the combat in The Stick Of Truth holds up better than a lot of other turn based combat titles I’ve played in recent years.

Exploring the town of South Park offers players a familiar setting to search, offering laughs along the way. I’ve found myself looking for all of the side quests and hidden content, checking out all of the item names I find along the way, purely because it’s all so hilarious and clever.

I’ll post my review once I’m through with the game but I can already tell you that this game is fantastic. If you’re a fan of South Park then you need this game. It really has lived up to all of its promise and potential.

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Steam In Home Streaming Beta

Finally I’ve been accepted into the Steam in home streaming beta. Couldn’t be any more excited! I guess the question you maybe asking right now is why am I so excited?

For a while now I’ve been looking for a good streaming solution to stream my games from my gaming rig to other devices in the house. I’ve used Splashtop,which is absolutely abysmal, and I’ve tried other non main stream options. When I read about Steams streaming option I got pretty excited and signed up for the beta immediately.

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t expect it to work, but to my surprise it does! I sat upstairs with my MacBook Pro Retina perched on my lap and clicked on the option to stream Skyrim, a fully modded version of it, and bam, it loaded and played as smoothly as if I were playing on my gaming rig.

I haven’t spent much time with the streaming service but I intend to have a real good play. Once I’ve had some more hands on time I’ll get an update out. Right now however I’m having a geek overload and cannot wait to give the steam in home streaming beta a thorough workout.

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Counter Strike Go Review

Introduction

A remake of a classic, or rather an upgrade of one. When I first saw Counter Strike Go in action I wasn’t sure if I was excited or terrified, it is a game that I sunk countless hours of my childhood into after all. With the current trend of so many shooters turning into over the top, fast paced chaos I was a little apprehensive. I’m glad to say there really was no reason to be nervous.

Gameplay

For anyone who has played Counter Strike in the past you will be familiar with the gameplay of Counter Strike Go. Chose a side, terrorist or counter terrorist, then fight along side your team mates to carry out map objectives that range from bomb defusal to hostage rescue.

The great thing about Counter Strike is the pace, it’s not too fast, it’s not over the top with Michael Bay style explosions, it’s just right. You’ll work along side your team and use tactics to your advantage, with every shot and kill making a difference. Fire fights in corridors are intense, evenly matching all players and skill counts for something.

For the hardcore amongst you there is a competitive mode where you will need to purchase body armour during matches and your death cam will be limited to your own team. For the casual amongst you theres a casual mode, giving you an open death cam to watch all the players regardless of the team and no need to buy armour, just decide on your weapons and go complete your objective. This separation of players is fantastic as you rarely encounter people who are playing for different reasons to you.

Graphics

The graphics wont leave your jaw hanging open, it’s nothing to really write home about. However Counter Strike Go isn’t about graphics, it’s about simple and balanced gameplay and the graphics fit nicely with this. Character models have an improved level of detail over previous versions and the level design looks pretty good. One major improvement is the number of different character models which vary depending on the level you participate in. The generic four character models are gone.

What I liked

The pacing and combat has me sold. Valve has got this spot on, offering up a solid shooter with amazing gameplay. This isn’t another generic shooter, it’s a team based game with some brilliant competitive play. You’ll find yourself locked in one on one firefights or battling against a squad from the enemy team. This game offers one of the best FPS experiences.

What I disliked

There are so many attempts to get you to spend your cash on in game add-ons. Now I should point out that all the purchases you can make are purely aesthetic, they aren’t pay to win, but they are pretty consistent. At the end of each match people will randomly receive new weapon skins and occasionally stickers or weapon cases. The skins are great but the stickers and weapon cases need keys to unlock, keys you need to purchase.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of Counter Strike then this game is a must. Valve haven’t destroyed it or altered it beyond recognition, they’ve updated it. Even if you haven’t played Counter Strike and you’re a fan of good solid shooters then I recommend this game. The Counter Strike games are some of the best shooters I’ve played and CSGO doesn’t fail to deliver.