Sunday, 25 September 2011

"CeX pay more than the rest" say Which? & ITV

It's official, CeX pays more cash than the online companies who spend a fortune on TV ads trying to buy your old phones.

A joint investigation by the Consumers Association Which? and ITV Daybreak has found that it’s simple to recycle old or unwanted mobile phones at CeX and we pay more than the rest.

“Surprisingly, we also made more money by selling our phones on the high street than we did by using the online recycling sites, with national chain CeX paying £306 for our iPhone and £17 for the Samsung. Doing the deal in person meant that we could change our mind at any point and we also got our money on the same day, though we did have to wait a couple of hours while our phones were tested.”

Read the full verdict here and find your local CeX shop. CeX pay the same values online too, giving you another option if you are not lucky enough to live near a CeX shop.

This isn't the first time Which? has found CeX pays more for your stuff. Read the Which? report on where to sell your games, where CeX also came top.

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Friday, 23 September 2011

Game Review – Resistance 3

Formats: PS3

It’s pretty incredible that I still remember March 2007; the month PlayStation 3 debuted in Europe. Resistance: Fall of Man was arguably the best launch game Sony’s new console had to offer and who would have known that it would spawn such a successful series culminating in September 2011, as Resistance 3 hits shelves worldwide.

Continuing the battle against the Chimeran invasion, Resistance 3 offers plenty of exciting gameplay, some old and some new to the series. A gripping campaign mode, very engaging multiplayer and some well-implemented mechanics makes this installment in the series, the best yet.

Resistance 3 tells the tale of Capelli, a survivor on a mission to defeat the Chimera once and for all. Capelli actually makes a return from Resistance 2 and while he’s not the most engaging of protagonists, his background, history and the characters around him, make for a well-rounded and engaging cast. You join Capelli and the acquaintances he meets on a thrilling journey, that unfortunately is a little bit brief, clocking in anywhere between 7 – 9 hours. That said, the campaign moves along at a good pace, there’s plenty of tense firefights and there’s decent variation in the environments you find yourself in. Overall, it may be a small package, but there’s plenty of bang for your buck here as there’s rarely a moment to rest with the Chimera constantly engaging you in combat.

The Chimera themselves are certainly a force to be reckoned with. Resistance 3 isn’t an easy game; there’s plenty of challenge here and playing on a higher difficulty will certainly increase the campaign’s life. You will find a plethora of awesome weapons throughout your journey, some old like the Bullseye, Carbine, Magnum and Auger – while new weapons making their debut including the Mutator, Deadeye Sniper and the Shrapnel Grenade. There’s no limitation to the amount of weapons you can carry, which is a good thing considering ammo isn’t exactly plentiful and enemies tend to over-run you consistently. This will give you loads of opportunity to try out all the weapons and get a feel for your favourites. Then when you start using weapons more often you begin unlocking awesome upgrades including stat increases and perks, giving Resistance 3 a little role-play like dimension.

Of course if you don’t fancy fighting an entire alien invasion on your own, then you can find plenty of content in Resistance 3’s multiplayer scene. You are provided with an offline and online cooperative campaign mode, allowing you to join forces with a friend to take on the Chimeran threat. If campaigns aren’t your thing then there’s also a robust competitive multiplayer mode. The ridiculous 60-player matches from Resistance 2 have been removed, with a cap of 16 players now enforced. This allows for more tactical gameplay as opposed to the carnage and random mayhem before. Plenty of well-crafted maps are available that offer diversity in gameplay, which is a testament to how well they are designed. You can take part in familiar game modes; your standard Deathmatch and flag-based games are all present. This all seems pretty generic, but Resistance 3 provides some intriguing battle abilities that help make this more than just another online shooter.

Resistance 3 shines gloriously with the in-game multiplayer perks and abilities that you unlock throughout your battles. Protective shields, power boosts, speed boosts, invisibility, clones, movement detectors, there’s so much stuff to sink your teeth into here. That’s not even mentioning the basic increases to reload time, damage, accuracy and so forth. Another interesting attribute here is like in the campaign mode, there’s no limit to the amount of weapons you can carry; thus when you scamper around the battlefield you inevitably pick up a variety of deadly goodies that you can use in that battle. This means that new players, who are yet to unlock some of the more advanced abilities, can still try their hand at the more powerful weapons by simply picking them up off of fallen friends and foes. These nifty perks help Resistance 3 to be a diverse and thrilling online experience where you’re unlikely to get bored easily.

From a technical perspective, Resistance 3 is hit and miss. It’s not the prettiest game; most environments are quite grey but that’s simply because of the setting. Character models aren’t fantastic but some of the bigger Chimera are pretty impressive. The voice acting again isn’t exactly fantastic, but the atmosphere created with a fantastic soundtrack makes Resistance 3 a gripping experience, especially throughout campaign mode. The game is also Move compatible in the single-player campaign and can be played in stereoscopic 3D (although I didn’t get a chance to try either so I can’t comment).

Ultimately Resistance 3 tries to offer something a little different to your generic FPS game and for the most part it succeeds. It brings to the table a thrilling campaign mode and supplements it with a multiplayer variant that has everything you’d expect in an online shooter, and more. These notable abilities and perks help keep combat fresh and exhilarating, making Resistance 3 a fantastic addition to any PlayStation 3 owner’s collection.

8.5 | Gameplay |
An engrossing campaign complimented with a fantastic online experience makes Resistance 3 a winner.

8.0 | Presentation |
Hit and miss, the setting forces a bland colour palette, but the Chimera in particular are terrifying and look awesome.

9.0 | Replay Value |
The campaign can be enjoyed alone or with a friend, but the online succeeds in bringing something a little different to the online FPS scene. As a result, it’s definitely worth checking out as you might find yourself completely engrossed.

8.5 | Final Thoughts |
A fitting end to a fantastic trilogy; Resistance 3 provides a larger-than-life conclusion to the war against the Chimera (although I’m sure we will see them again) and also lets you continue the battle online in an engaging and thoroughly entertaining online mode. Buy Resistance 3, it is great.

Igor Kharin, CeX UK Contributor
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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Game Review – Dead Island

Formats: (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

It seems that in contemporary video game development, the zombie franchise has seen more than its fair share of involvement. From independent zombie titles to add-ons, expansions and mini-games, zombies are clearly in fashion right now. Enter Dead Island, an action role-play adventure that doesn’t bring much new to the table, but pays homage to well established zombie games such as Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead and their sequels. Zombie killing and questing is a whole load of fun on the fictional island of Banoi, but a few minor issues prevent Dead Island from being the number one zombie title on the market.

Please be aware this is a trailer for an 18 rated game and can make even the toughest people choke up. *weep*

Dead Island begins in exciting fashion; you wake up after a night of fun and frolicking to find your once peaceful Palms Spring Resort has been overrun with zombies – not exactly the first thing you’d find in a guide-book. Amidst the panic and destruction, you play as one of four pretty lifeless and un-engaging characters as you try to survive and find out the mystery behind what happened on Banoi. This sets up the sandbox style open-world gameplay that is at the heart of Dead Island. As you find survivors throughout your journey you will be offered quests to complete, which range from saving survivors to finding particular items and so forth. The RPG like elements are clear for all to see as you level up, unlock new skills, enhance abilities, improve your upgrades; all of which clearly resembling the Dead Rising series.

Just like Capcom’s zombie slaying experience, Dead Island leans almost entirely towards melee combat; pipes, oars, mallets, axes, whatever you can get your hands on, you will certainly try to bash a zombie with. Fighting waves of zombies is incredibly satisfying in Dead Island as the weapons make a believable impact and cause serious damage whether you’re slicing the undead limb from limb or putting gruesome dents into their heads. There is a weapon degradation mechanic present here, which can serve to irritate at times. Some weapons break all too easily and later in the game when you begin creating advanced weapons, it’s frustrating having them break down, especially after working so hard to get all the content to create it in the first place.

Whatever your weapon of choice may end up being, you will have fun trying out everything you can find on Banoi. Unfortunately not all is well with Dead Island’s first-person fighting mechanics – the game can feel clunky at times and a page could have certainly been taken out of Condemned: Criminal Origins or The Chronicles of Riddick for better dodging and blocking. Guns are introduced eventually into Dead Island, but these are predominately used to kill the human enemies (yes, we are once again given a moral story suggesting that the real evil is humanity), but these are really nothing to write home about. Nevertheless, armed with your trusty push-kick and a whole load of things to swing at the undead, there’s no doubt you will have a blast battling your way through the various environments of Banoi.

As with each zombie game, we always wonder what kind of special zombies the developers have it store for us. Unfortunately Valve are going to think that someone sneakily went through their garbage and found discarded zombies from the Left 4 Dead series and put them in Dead Island. The cast of super zombies includes the Suicider, a large enemy who explodes in proximity, the Thug who knocks you down with viscious tackles, the Drowner who uses projectile vomit and a few others I’ll keep hidden to avoid given away everything. Nevertheless, it is clear for all to see where inspiration came from when these super zombies were being designed.

The cast of humans is unfortunately even less inspiring than the undead, with the four playable characters all bringing almost nothing to the table in terms of emotional attachment or even likability. An employee of the resort, an ex-cop, a former NFL superstar and a has-been rapper make up the group you’re expected to lead to survival; but caring about the protagonists gets harder and harder with each sentence they spew out of their mouths. Dialogue and voice acting is pretty poor across the entire board, ranging from the four playable characters to almost everyone you meet throughout, which is a shame because you really lose the sense of terror when you become distanced from those you are trying to rescue. Fortunately there is hope and that comes in a terrific co-op 4-player mode present. Enjoying Dead Island is a lot easier if accompanied by a group of friends and this is especially true for the more exhilarating set-piece scenarios that are spread across the story. While you may not care about a particular character, you do want your friend to survive so that terror that is clearly lost when playing alone, is brought back in full force when you partner up with buddies.

It is unfortunate that not even your friends can help you escape from the minor technical hitches that hold back Dead Island. We know the kind of top-end visuals are present in some games, so sub-par character models, scenery and lighting in certain areas make Dead Island not the prettiest game available. The story serves as nothing more than an excuse to drive the action forward and it is thanks to the action that these minor deficiencies can largely be overlooked. Dead Island deserves praise for thoroughly entertaining combat, an enjoyable cooperative experience and the use of RPG like elements lets you sink into the fictional paradise of Banoi and become engrossed with the characters’ stats, regardless of how unlikable they all are as people.

8.0 | Gameplay |
Plenty of zombies to kill, lots of different weapons to do the aforementioned and big talent trees create an immersive role-play adventure.

7.5 | Presentation |
It’s by no means bad, but it could have been so much more. Special zombies look very cool but human character models and some environments are dull.

8.5 | Replay Value |
If you played it through by yourself first time round, then you must experience Dead Island with friends. The RPG elements will hook some more than others but there is definitely room to come back and bash zombies around multiple times over.

8.0 | Final Thoughts |
Zombie killing is entertaining, that’s fact. An open and expansive environment makes moving into uncharted territory incredibly tense, especially considering you’re using sticks and poles against waves of the undead. There is something captivating here but clear shortcomings hold Dead Island back.

Igor Kharin, CeX UK Contributor.
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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Game Review – Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Formats: (PS3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX).

Deus Ex: Human Revolution tells the story of a futuristic world struggling to come to terms with new mechanical body augmentations becoming freely available in society. Humans are beginning to pay for enhancements in strength, intelligence and an era of Cyborg-humans is quickly becoming the norm. You play as head of Serif security Adam Jensen, who has augmentations forced upon him after life threatening injuries during an attack on Serif. It is up to Adam to discover who attacked Serif, their reasoning, while at the same time unraveling a plethora of intriguing side missions and quests that will lead you to a number of different endings, all satisfying in their own unique way.

At its core Human Revolution is a blend of action-adventure, role-play, first-person shooting and stealth, so there’s definitely plenty of ways to sink your teeth into this game. In fact that is precisely what developers Eidos Montreal were going for, allowing gamers the opportunity to choose how they want to create their own experience. This comes down to things like killing enemies and going in gun-crazy, or silently immobilizing a threat and sneaking through a back door or vent. But things become a little bit more interesting when you are given different ways to interact with fascinating characters throughout your adventure. Your actions, what you say and the manner in which you speak all seem to have life-like consequences upon the world and inevitably on the result you are looking for.

Human Revolution continues to put the emphasis upon each individual gamer by allowing you to choose what augmentations you power up and activate. These range hugely from being able to hack technology quicker, silent footsteps, super strength, stronger interaction skills, even the ability to jump higher and hold your breath longer. This is implemented well and you can clearly feel the game is offering you freedom to play in any way you choose, but unfortunately some times a lack of guidance can hinder your experience. This is largely due to set-piece segments throughout Deus Ex that will either force you to use stealth, make you hack consecutively, or put you head-to-head with an enemy; in these situations it would be reasonable to allow movement of your augmentation points (Praxis Points) onto other abilities to help you deal with the situation at hand. This becomes especially prevalent in boss battles where boring patterns are easily identifiable and can potentially spoil the atmosphere and ambiance you’ve been working so hard to create. Nevertheless, Human Revolution screams the issue of consequence and you have to play with the choices you made and the skills you have or have not obtained.

For a very open-ended adventure, Human Revolution does a fantastic job ensuring you know pretty much exactly what you have to do at any given time. A handy pocket secretary keeps logs of all the information you come across throughout your exploration and then arranges it into levels of importance. Main quests come up as yellow icons in the world, while optional side quests are blue. It’s really your choice whether you want to help a fellow colleague get out of a drug scandal he’s caught up in, or break into someone’s home to clear a friend’s name – the world gives you these choices and it’s up to your conscience to decide what course of action is the most appropriate. You can even choose to do such missions for a reward, or for free because you’re a nice guy, it all depends on how the story, objective and even the character moves you. Of course the bulk of the main quests you must carry out, but even these have key moments where the story might diverge as characters change loyalties or meet an untimely demise.

To accomplish these quests you will find that you have two options, the stealth approach, or the lethal approach. This is emphasized early on in the first mission where you get to choose between a machine gun, stun gun and a tranquilizer rifle. The stealth approach is certainly the more engaging way to tackle Human Revolution because it makes the game harder. Adam has the ability to knock out enemies using various takedowns, which are limited and can only be used when your battery gauge is replenished (otherwise the game would be too easy). This, accompanied by your stun weapons and stealth augmentations, all make trying to get around enemy complexes without being seen a whole load of fun. It even has a Metal Gear Solid vibe about it once you activate augmentations that show you enemies’ field of vision, the amount of time they will be on alert and then there’s more abilities that let you see enemies through walls or highlight certain foes to keep track of them easier. All of this versatility provides a much more engaging experience than picking up a machine gun and just gunning down room after room of enemies. The latter method is by no means an easy one either; enemies come at you in large groups and without a lot of health and armour upgrades you will find yourself dying almost instantly. So perhaps the best choice is to find a code for a side-door, jump over a fence or push debris out of the way to get to your goal rather than getting involved in a firefight.

This course brings us back to Human Revolution’s guidance issue as at times you will find yourself in a position where your hacking skills aren’t advanced enough, you’re not strong enough to move an obstacle or can’t jump high enough to use that particular mode of entry. While there’s certainly always a different way to approach the situation, you wish at times that your skills were slightly more balanced to give you some variety in gameplay. Speaking of hacking, that in itself is an entirely different mini-game. Taking after other games like Bioshock who implemented fun little ways to hack, Human Revolution forces you to try and infiltrate a network by capturing nodes and moving through to the source of information. Each time you capture a node there’s risk of you being compromised, which activates a countdown forcing you to complete your hack as quickly as possible. If you’re able to go around and capture all the nodes you gain bonus experience points but without high hacking skills, this becomes tricky with more advanced locks and terminals. Nevertheless, it is an engaging way to make what could have been a very tedious process, rather enjoyable.

While you engage with your surroundings and characters in Human Revolution, you will find that Deus Ex isn’t the prettiest game, both in texture and character models, but it certainly has plenty of character. The cyberpunk theme the series is so famous for is portrayed in a beautiful manner. The futuristic Detroit is full of dull colours, poverty, destruction, all masked in a golden ambience that brings a shed of hope that there might be a positive outcome for this society. Adam’s voice actor can be a little irritating as he rasps his way through every conversation without a shed of emotion, but for the most part, conversations are believable and you will want to listen to what those around you have to say. Ultimately, the art design and dialogue take centre stage over quite dated graphics and voice acting, but this is by no means a problem, especially considering how well the former is executed.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is not the best shooting game, it’s not the best role-play game, nor is it the best stealth game, but it intertwines them all to a very good standard and it is this consistency that makes the third installment in the series well worth your money. There’s plenty on offer here, a multitude of ways to accomplish your goals and the game screams for you to replay to find all the endings. Deus Ex: Human Revolution brings you into a fascinating sci-fi world, which is full of intrigue and mystery and is an absolute must for gamers looking to become engrossed in a new adventure.

8.0 | Gameplay |
Stealth gameplay is definitely the more entertaining and exciting way to play Human Revolution, but going gun-crazy can have it’s fun moments too. Lots of different ways to accomplish your tasks ensures your choices matter, but once you opt for a particular path e.g. hacker; you will find that you’ll have no choice but to use those skills.

8.5 | Presentation |
A beautiful artistic design creates a stunning cyberpunk world and great narrative engrosses you. The game does have a dull colour palette at times and character models could have been a little better.

9.5 | Replay Value |
You will definitely play Human Revolution at least twice, once using stealth and then with weapons. However, once you get engrossed in the story, the lure of alternate endings should have you back for more.

9.0 | Final Thoughts |
Deus Ex: Human Revolution does justice to an iconic franchise; it brings together some excellent styles of gameplay and intertwines them to form an engaging, exciting and intense adventure that you simply must go on.

Igor Kharin, CeX UK Contributor.
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