Thursday, 28 April 2011

Advice for Playstation Network users

In light of the PlayStation Newtorking being attacked, Sony advised all PSN users last night "For your security, we encourage you to be especially aware of email, telephone, and postal mail scams that ask for personal or sensitive information. Sony will not contact you in any way, including by email, asking for your credit card number, social security, tax identification or similar number or other personally identifiable information. If you are asked for this information, you can be confident Sony is not the entity asking. When the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services are fully restored, we strongly recommend that you log on and change your password. Additionally, if you use your PlayStation Network or Qriocity user name or password for other unrelated services or accounts, we strongly recommend that you change them, as well.

To protect against possible identity theft or other financial loss, we encourage you to remain vigilant to review your account statements and to monitor your credit or similar types of reports."

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Friday, 15 April 2011

CeX comes to Ireland as Dublin store opens

The first CeX in Ireland has just opened in Dublin. Look who turned up to help;)

We buy, sell and exchange phones, games, DVDs, Blu-rays, computers, digital electronics and vision products. Visit us 7 days a week at 11-12 Liffey Street Upper, Dublin 1 to see just how much more we pay for your stuff. We have two floors of fun just waiting for you. A website with Ireland pricing, stock levels and much more is coming very soon.

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Opening hours
Mon - Wed 10:00 to 19:00
Thurs 10:00 to 21:00
Fri 10:00 to 19:00
Sat 9:00 to 19:00
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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Game Review - Dissidia 012: “Duodecim” Final Fantasy

Format: (PSP)

September 2009 saw the release of a surprising title on the Playstation Portable. Dissidia: Final Fantasy was a breath of fresh air for the hand-held, bringing an exciting fighting game mashed together with role-play elements. It was more than a simple fan service as it stuffed many of Square and Square Enix’s most famous protagonists and villains into one fierce battle, rather it became it’s own franchise. Dissidia 012: “Duodecim” Final Fantasy brings this winning formula back for another helping and while at first glance it may seem like nothing has changed, the introduction of great new characters to the roster, some tweaks to single player and multiplayer and plenty more features, make this an enhancement well worth checking out.

Naturally taking so many characters out of different realms and putting them together in one game is no easy task, so the story surrounding Duodecim is of great importance. Unfortunately this is no Kingdom Hearts where characters seamlessly blend into one interconnecting piece of genius, this is a simple good-guys versus the baddies scenario. This story plays out in a new Overworld where players instead of only navigating on grids, you are now given the opportunity to traverse varied lands full of people to talk to, items to unlock and rewards to find.

The rather simplistic story isn’t entirely a bad thing as it does allow some fantastic encounters between famous characters that you would of course not find anywhere else. So while Duodecim is certainly lacking in depth, it more than makes up for with content. This game is all about giving to the player. Each character has their own story path to follow; completing their paths unlocks other paths and characters. Completing the game unlocks another game mode and allows you to pick characters to do prior missions; there’s just so much to do and the game rewards you for the time put in.

This idea of rewarding may sound incredible familiar to those who have played the predecessor and it is indeed one of the best things about the Dissidia series. You will find that each character has so many unlockables in the forms of moves, combos, costumes, weapons and loads of other cool stuff that it’s almost impossible to stop until you’ve collected it all. It certainly helps that all of this stuff is attainable and you don’t have to do anything too ridiculous to get the best gear, but it is the speed in which you unlock stuff; Duodecim has the perfect play / reward curve in any role-play game.

It may come as a surprise that such emphasis is placed on the role-play elements of a game that seems predominately about combat, but that’s how good it is. Fortunately Duodecim’s addictive hording is complimented perfectly with a thrilling and intense combat system. One on one battles are the port of call here and you wage battle by using Bravery attacks that steal Bravery points from your opponent, or HP attacks, which do damage. The more Bravery points you steal, the stronger your HP attacks become. So Duodecim becomes a complex and strategic fighter where players have to pick the right moment to deliver the big finishing moves. These finishing moves, known as EX Burst Attacks, are dazzling cinematic explosions of combat, which end in button pressing segments that deal plenty of grueling damage. Another new addition to Duodecim is the ability to call in an ally to attack or block using your Assist mode. You will find other little enhancements along your journey that all help make this sequel that much more thrilling than the last installment.

Duodecim makes sure to appeal to fans across the entire Final Fantasy spectrum with not only its broad range of characters, but also the fantastic settings in which battles take place. Plenty of memorable locations are transformed into platform like stages that allow your chosen character to run and fly around as you attempt to eliminate each other. The large environments all look good and your characters move along them eloquently, making effective use of the space.

Once you’ve done the initial run through of Duodecism and realize the ridiculous amount of post-game content there is available, you will undoubtedly jump into the new available Labyrinth mode. This game type is all about acquiring random equipment, enemies, allies and so forth from a deck of playing cards. After that, the game is like survival, as you try and get as far as possible without dying. This mode gets rid of the needless dialogue and drivel from the story mode and concentrates on pure action, while at the same time forcing your hand with other characters that you may not be so confident with, but will soon learn that Duodecim’s roster is balanced and well thought out.

Duodecim continues to impress with its great multiplayer options. You and up to 9 of your buddies can get together and compete in tournaments. The lack of online play is hugely frustrating, but the local play does run very smoothly, allowing for some great battles to be waged between friends. The ability to fight your friends’ ghost characters is also a welcome feature to get stuck in with. Duodecim even has a creation mode where you can create your own story-like missions with its own dialogue, forcing your friends on a brand new fan-made adventure.

From a technical perspective Duodecim is a winner. The graphics across the board are gorgeous for a hand-held. Character models, level design, cut-scenes and even the menus are beautiful. The audio is hit and miss; an incredible orchestral score and great remixes of classic Final Fantasy tunes are an absolute joy to hear, but the dialogue and voice acting is poor and cringe-worthy at times. The controls are smooth and for the most part, aside from the awkward camera angle, the game plays well, most noticeably it deserves praise for the efficient local connectivity it provides.

Ultimately Dissidia 012: “Duodecim” Final Fantasy is a terrific brawler/role-play hybrid. It is absolutely bursting with content and long-lasting appeal. With beautiful and memorable characters, some of the best graphics on a hand-held to date, epic game-play and lots of stuff to do after completing the story mode, and while the lack of an online multiplayer is frustrating, you can’t really ask for a better-rounded package than Duodecim.

Technical presentation – 8.0

Graphics – 8.5

Game-play – 8.0

Replay value – 9.0

Final score – 8.5 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor.
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Friday, 8 April 2011

Game Review - Crysis 2

Formats: (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

At last console owners can tell their hardcore PC building friends to shut up, as Crytek's renowned system-killing FPS comes to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Having missed out on the previous installment, will most consoles owners have the confidence to jump straight into the sequel, or will they suffer from a Crysis of faith?

Picking up 3 years after the events in the first game, Crysis 2 depicts a shattered New York in the grip of a terrible flesh-melting viral outbreak as well as a horrifying alien invasion. Talk about your bad days! Stepping into the stealth-cloaked shoes of Prophet, new silent protagonist Alcatraz dons the heavily advertised Nanosuit and uses its increased armour, power, speed and stealth to dominate his enemies and master his environment.
At least that's what I was expecting from this game. Upon encountering my first small set of enemies, I was surprised to find my heavily armoured super-soldier being bested by the lowliest of grunts. After restarting the first section a number of times, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and chose to sneak past my unstoppable adversaries using the Nanosuit's stealth mode. Indeed, many of my early experiences with this game involved me tiptoeing around invisibly, quietly exclaiming expletives whenever a NORMAL SOLDIER MAN walked in front of me unexpectedly. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't playing as a highly trained US marine wearing a cyborg super-suit leave you feeling slightly empowered?
But don't get me wrong: things do get better. I'm not sure if it's because the level design becomes a bit more manageable or if it's because your weapons and armour deal and absorb more damage, but after a while things start to click. Since you can take more punishment, you feel more confident in trying out some of the more complicated moves and strategies, and the game becomes much more rewarding.

Of course, all this talk of rewarding gameplay and difficulty curves is piecemeal to some of you. The more pressing issue of "But how are the graphics, though?" is surely more important. Well, I'll start by saying that the visuals are, hands down, the best I've seen on a console. While they suffer from a low draw-distance and various other glitches (at several points during the game my gun magically disappeared), I was at times completely taken aback by the incredible environments, particularly by the use of lighting within them. Crytek has done a phenomenal job of creating a range of believable lighting effects, from stark noon-day sunshine to the brief muzzle flash of gunfire in a darkened room, and even the eerie glow of extra-terrestrial machinery. On top of that, the developers have put a lot of effort into creating intricate and interesting environments to explore. The virtual landscape of a destroyed New York is one that has to be seen to be believed. Obviously this game would look better on a high-spec PC, but this is probably the best looking game most console owners will play.

On paper, Crysis 2 appears to be the greatest game in existence; Incredible visuals, customisable weapons and on-the-fly armour abilities, smart enemy AI and a strong and exciting (but not necessarily emotive) storyline all point towards the AAA blockbuster title that everyone expects. However the early portions of the game lack that certain spark, and that may prevent many people from discovering a real feast, peppered with great set-pieces and topped with a delicious twist ending (let's just say the main character suffers a 'Crysis of identity'! Ho-ho!) . The online component is also great fun to play, and has an addictive level up and unlock ranking system, and encourages players to select different classes and armour abilities in order to back each other up. If that wasn't enough to keep you playing, the single player portion contains loads of secrets to discover, as well as a new game+ mode that allows you to carry your upgrades through to subsequent playthroughs. Even if you're new to the Crysis franchise, I suggest you slip on a Nanosuit and Power Sprint to your nearest CEX to pick up a copy!

Lukao gives Crysis 2 8 gun attachments out of 10.
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Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Android conquers the UK

Maybe conquered is too strong of a word to use but it's been named as the most popular smartphone OS, overtaking iOS (iPhones). Android phones now account for 28% of the market, iOS 26%, Blackberry OS 14%, the rest being made up of Windows, Symbian and other phones. This is remarkable achievement, taking into account the market dominance of Symbian and the first Android phone (Google G1/HTC Dream) was released nearly 2 years after the first iPhone.

Android's dominance has spread far and wide, it's officially the most popular in Europe and, according to latest ComScore figures, in the US as well. Having taken over Blackberry phones as the market leader, it's now 4.1% above the number 2, a greater gap than in the UK. IDC a leading marketing intelligence firm predict that by 2015 Android will be the world's most popular smartphone OS, and by a long way, being run on nearly 50% of the world's smartphones. Check out a video of Android activations worldwide.

What exactly makes Android phones more popular than iPhones or BlackBerrys, or any other phone? Most probably the wide range of choice. You have your standard run of the mill Android handsets to your blazingly fast, dual core, 3D, i-don't-know-how-many megapixel handsets made by many many manufacturers. With iOS, there's only Apple, BlackBerrys only RIM and most Symbian phones are made by Nokia. Another major factor and Android's prime selling point is that it's so easy to do what you want with, it's open source and the possibility to do what you want with it is there. However a rather large downfall of Android is fragmentation. A major new version of Android will undoubtedly need new hardware. You're HTC Dream isn't going to run Gingerbread. This makes app creation pretty difficult for devs, as of now there are 3 major Android versions, 2.1 (Eclari), 2.2 (Froyo) and 2.3 (Gingerbread). Despite only a 0.1 increment in version number, each is very different in terms of battery life, functionality, speed and most of all the hardware needed to run it. However this doesn't look like it's stopped Android becoming the most popular phone OS, heck it's even running on tablets, music players and car stereos!

Omran, CeX UK Contributor.

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Monday, 4 April 2011

Sony to provide 8MP camera for iPhone 5? We hope so.

At a recent talk held between The Wall Street Journal and Sony it was inadvertanlty revealed that Apple are buying image sensors from Sony. Sony’s CEO, Sir Howard Stringer was quoted (paraphrased) “Our best sensor technology is built in one of the (tsunami) affected factories. Those go to Apple for their iPhones…or iPads. Isn’t that something? They buy our best sensors from us?”. Although not 100% certain it's possible that these sensors are going into the iPhone 5 that we're all clambering to get news on (and this is some juicy news!). Exactly which image sensor is unknown but most people are betting on the 8 megapixel 'Exmor R' image sensors as found in Sony's newest Xperia. An example image from the Xperia Arc is below.

However (more likely) Sony are supplying sensors for a new iPod nano, packing the same form but with an added camera. Image below.

If the sensors are for the iPhone 5 it is unknown how it will affect its release date (still unknown, iPhone 5 still unconfirmed), will it even reach us this year as we all suspect? It seems like the iPhone 5 is getting quite a makeover, larger screen, slimmer build, better camera? 4G? Dual core? You'll have to wait and see. We'll keep you updated right here!
Omran, CeX Towers
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Game Review – Super Street Fighter IV 3D

Format: 3DS
The Street Fighter series is certainly no stranger to continuous enhancements and revamps and it is an absolute joy to see Super Street Fighter IV find its way onto Nintendo’s new 3DS handheld. Street Fighter IV 3D deserves immediate praise for its phenomenal and almost flawless transition from next generation consoles, to the 3DS. Little has been stripped from this version, making it an excellent port of a terrific fighting experience. Great game-play, beautiful graphics, audio and excellent use of the new 3D features make Super Street Fighter IV 3D edition one of the most technically appealing and fun fighters on any handheld.

Like many other iconic franchises, I find it hard to believe that there’s anyone out there who hasn’t at one point or another played a Street Fighter game. Street Fighter IV however, is still relatively new and expands the roster from fan favourites such as Ken, Ryu, Sagat and Chun-Li to new faces such as Viper, Rufus and Seth. A total roster of 35 characters find their way onto the 3DS, with absolutely no omissions from the home console versions. It is a shame that just recently a revamped arcade edition of the game has been announced, introducing a new Evil Ryu character amongst rumors of others, it would have been nice to see even these guys get on the handheld version right from the beginning. Nevertheless, this balanced group of fighters is at your disposal as you battle your way through each individual’s story modes using a variety of punches, kicks, super moves and grapples.

The danger with moving any game onto a handheld console is the control scheme. Fortunately for SSFIV3D, the transition is very good, mapping your light and medium attacks to the face buttons, strong attacks to the shoulder buttons and movement to the D or circle pad. The 3DS’s touch-screen makes it a unique device and the developers have made full use of it by implementing a new control method. The game features two designated control schemes, light and pro. Light mode allows players to set up four special attacks onto the touch screen, which can be activated by a simple tap, while pro players can assign up to four certain commands to help with the difference in control schemes from the home console versions. The light mode is a welcome addition to SSFIV3D as it really helps newcomers to the game get adjusted and enjoy some of the game’s more complex button commands and moves with minimal effort. It’s also useful because the lack of a real tutorial in training mode has been omitted, meaning you are forced to learn as you go along.

The difficulty curve behind SSFIV3D is decent, the game is very challenging on higher difficulty levels and once you start getting adventurous and learning about the various focus attacks, chain combos and all the other professional malarkey, you will find that this really is a deep and exciting experience where you learn from each and every battle. SSFIV3D provides you with the traditional challenge mode that allows you to practice advanced combos and move-chains but I’ve always found these incredibly infuriating, so use it at your own whim.

Of course we all really play fighting games like SSFIV3D because we want to battle our friends and human opponents. There’s only so many times you can go through arcade mode and get stuck on the final boss Seth before you want to vent your anger on a buddy. Well you get plenty of opportunity here to do so in the games versus wireless mode. Going wireless is a smooth and exhilarating affair and really shows the extent of the 3DS’s power. Even going online against people for the most part is lag free, but it does depend on the strength of both of your signals, as sometimes there can be some issues. Playing online is enjoyable, but feels rather stripped down due to the lack of any leaderboards and any other fight types aside from just your basic one on one option. A lobby based tournament or group mode would have been a welcome addition here. You do earn points as you win battles online, but these are little to brag about and simply allow the online match making system to pit you against players with similar points scores as you. Online options are quite good, allowing you to choose custom settings if you play against players using light or pro control schemes, the number of rounds, the region from which your opponent can be found in and a few other nifty little options. You can even play against friends who are playing at the same time as you by setting up a lobby and sending a play request. It is a shame that you can’t message your friends in game, but you can’t have it all.

An intriguing new feature courtesy of the 3DS’s very cool interactive features, is StreetPass. Nintendo always go on about the ability to exchange information with other gamers while your handheld consoles are in sleep mode and you pass by another system, well SSFIV3D has it’s own version of this mode. In your options mode you choose a set of fighters in figure form and when you pass other players with SSFIV3D, your figurines battle each other in an RPG like fashion. These little figures can be acquired by accumulating coins in the game by carrying your 3DS game around like a pedometer (Pokewalker anyone?) and then you can trade and exchange figurines with friends. The more your figures battle, the stronger they get and ultimately, it’s a nice little diversion from the usual Street Fighter brawler formula.

From a technical perspective SSFIV3D is a work of art. The beautiful graphics feel right at home on the 3DS and I don’t think anyone would have thought the transition would have been so smooth. Characters and backdrops all look vibrant and fluid, standing out brightly. Now, onto the 3D, the segment everyone’s waiting for in reviews these days. Switching on the 3D slider actually slows the game down a fragment, worth considering for those gamers out there who enjoy a steady pace in their fighting games. Other than that, it is nice. That’s about as much as I can say really, the 3D does not affect the game-play, but it does make super moves look cool as they come out at you, the sense of depth becomes apparent as your characters stand out from the backdrops. A versus 3D mode has even been included which pans the camera to your characters shoulder, giving a much better sense of 3D. It is a cool addition to the game, but you’re really no worse off having the 3D turned off the entire time. I think it is incredibly impressive from a visual perspective, but games should be all about the game-play and to play SSIV3D properly, the 3D unfortunately, has to be turned off. The arcade mode visuals during each character’s opening cinematic and closing cinematic are all beautiful, and the audio throughout the game compliments the Street Fighter series perfectly, with all the known iconic songs remastered for the handheld system.

What’s shocked almost everyone and what is undeniably most impressive about Super Street Fighter IV 3D is the phenomenal transition from home to portable gaming. Little has had to be sacrificed to get this game to handheld gamers, and that is a serious win in my book. You are given an opportunity to experience one of the best and most well rounded fighters available, on your brand new Nintendo 3DS. It’s a no-brainer as far as the console’s launch titles are concerned; this is the one you should be picking up. Terrific game-play, beautiful graphics and good implementation of 3D makes Super Street Fighter IV 3D a fine example of how portable gaming should be done.

Technical presentation – 8.0

Graphics – 9.0

Game-play – 9.0

Replay value – 8.5

Final score – 8.5 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor.
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