Wednesday 28 December 2011

Need for Speed: The Run

The series Need for Speed has amassed a loyal following of fans thanks to overall, an impressive catalogue of arcade racing games. Due to different companies constantly taking the reigns for development, fans are never quite sure how the final product will pan out – will it be a more serious racer like SHIFT, or will there be a lot more arcade-action like in Hot Pursuit. Developed by Black Box, Need for Speed: The Run falls nicely in between these two titles and brings to the table some exciting racing segments across very impressive environments. Unfortunately, the blockbuster story holding the game together is horrific at best and key issues prevent this installment from being anywhere near the best the series has to offer.

The story concentrates on the unfortunate Jack Rourke who gets involved with the wrong people, which forces him to partake in a cross-country race to buy back his freedom (because all problems are solved with cross-country races). Need for Speed: The Run’s Hollywood-like tone is cheesy, cringe-worthy and a serious waste of time. The narrative does very little to help the cast and for the most part, the story fails to make any sense at all. Luckily for you, apart from an opening cut-scene and occasional timed button-press segments, you don’t really have to pay attention or get involved with the story, allowing you to simply concentrate on the racing.

As bad as the story is, we’ve come for the racing and boy will you be doing plenty of that. Need for Speed: The Run offers beautiful and varied terrain to travel across using a whole host of different muscle, sports and luxury cars. The cars drive smoothly, the action is exhilarating and more often than not, the AI does a fairly decent job at keeping races from being too easy (although this could be due to the annoying rubber band feature where cars catch up or pull back to keep cars together offering the illusion of it being an even race).

Jack’s journey from San Francisco to New York will not only let you see lots of different environments, but you’ll also have the opportunity to compete in different challenges and race modes. As you travel across America you’ll be required to avoid mobsters, avoid natural disasters, take down police officers, increase your position, beat certain racers and play against the clock – Need for Speed: The Run does an excellent job at keeping you under pressure, which is probably the only emotion you might come to share with our lead protagonist.

As exciting as the racing is, even this suffers from key issues. Your journey across America is organised in stages, with each stage holding a number of events. You actually aren’t able to access individual events should you choose to replay them, rather you are forced to play the entire stage all the way through including watching and partaking in any cut scenes, until you eventually get to the segment you wanted to tackle again. Your racing experience is also separated by checkpoints, which is where you’ll respawn should you crash or sometimes even diverge from the race track. Finally, I have to emphasize one more time just how bad the on-foot timed segments really are, they simply don’t fit into the game and provide nothing but a distraction from what the game is actually good at.

Fortunately, there are some ok multiplayer aspects that are worth checking out in Need for Speed: The Run. Online racing is as good as it has always been in Need for Speed games, variation in game modes and car-specific races dominate the online experience. You also earn experience points by doing anything in the game, which is beneficial in the beginning but you find yourself running out of cool things to unlock pretty quickly. The absolutely fantastic Autolog experience also returns to keep track of every single thing you do, spurring some nice rivalry between you and your friends as you battle for leaderboard dominance. Again however, certain technical hitches crop up every once in a while, which don’t ruin the experience but you’d hope a series so well established would have removed these kinks by now.

Ultimately it’s just a shame that a series which seems to be constantly improving, is forced to take quite a dramatic step back. Beautiful visuals thanks to the Frostbite 2 engine and detailed tracks make travelling across America in Need for Speed: The Run, a really enjoyable experience. The average game content, completely unnecessary story and poor pacing overshadow what is a very impressive environment. A racing game has to race well and unfortunately, there are better racers out on the market – so pick up a copy if you dare but in all honesty, I’d go with FORZA 4 or Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.

7.0 | Gameplay |
Need for Speed: The Run is a good arcade racer, but it does nothing outside the box and fails to deliver any substantial content. The cars are beautiful, handle well and the racetrack designs are very impressive. A decent variety in goals throughout the racing and a good sense of constant pressure are certainly highlights in this experience.

8.0 | Presentation |
The Frostbite 2 engine certainly makes Need for Speed: The Run a beautiful looking game. The cars are gorgeous and the environments are not only developed for good racing, but also look terrific. The same can’t be said for the story cut-scenes, with character models nowhere near to the same standard with improper lip synching and poor voice acting present throughout.

5.5 | Replay Value |
Multiplayer and the brilliant Autolog system will give you reason to come back and continue racing, but it’s difficult to justify a lot of time after you’ve gone through Need for Speed: The Run’s story. I can pretty much guarantee you won’t do story mode more than once.

6.5 | Final Thoughts |
Disappointing is unfortunately my final verdict for Need for Speed: The Run. This series has been going from height to height in recent years and after thoroughly enjoying Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, I was pretty excited for this installment. From the moment I saw the first ever footage with this emphasis on a human character being able to do on-foot segments, I knew it was going to be a mess. Need for Speed: The Run does arcade racing well, but by no means the best on the market and everything else about the game is dull, unimaginative and not worth your time.

Igor Kharin.

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Selling? Consumers' Association finds CeX Pays You More & rated by Yahoo!

CeX is the fastest, friendliest and fairest place to sell your unwanted games, movies and gadgets. This has been backed up by a pile of independent surveys CeX where has come out as the place that pays you more.

A survey published by Which, the UK Consumers' Association, found ‘it was CeX that made us the most money’ when selling a camera for cash. CeX paid more than anyone else on the High Street and more than time consuming auction sites too.

Read the article here.

CeX was also named on Yahoo Finance, where expert Felicity Hannah states in an article "How to sell your stuff" that her avid gamer husband uses CeX too. Praise indeed.

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Monday 19 December 2011

CeX opens in Flatbush NYC

We’ve been expanding the reach of your stores in the US and are delighted to announce the first CeX in Brooklyn for your buying, selling and exchanging pleasure. Indulge yourself in CeX seven days a week at 865 Flatbush Ave, NY11226. We’ll more share photos soon.

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Some of the fine folk that made CeX Flatbush happen.

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CeX in The Times of India

The Times of India reports on one of the first of many CeX stores opening in India. The CeX store count in India as of December 2011 stands at four, with many more to come.

"Mumbai finally gets a new shopping landmark with the launch of Phoenix Marketcity (PMC) spread across a retail space of about 2.1 million square feet. Located at LBS Marg, Kurla; the Phoenix Marketcity is all about its expanse, experience and exclusivity for serious shoppers. PMC will house 330 plus brands across categories like fashion apparel, footwear, jewellery, accessories, F&B, entertainment, and much more. The perfect destination for discerning shoppers and brand lovers, PMC brings the international standard hub of retail with domestic and international brands along with entertainment. Phoenix Marketcity will house 330 plus brands to the ranks of Zara (flagship store), CeX (first time in India), Nike (flagship store in India), L’Occitane, Luxury Boulevard (first time in India), BEBE (biggest Store in India), AND (biggest store — introducing menswear for the first time), CafĂ© Pico (first in India), Puma (flagship Store), Reliance Mart (biggest in India), Hush Puppies, Catwalk, Esbeda, Derby, Puma, Provogue, Denizen, Blackberry, Levis, Aldo, Promod, Charles & Keith, Clarks, Indian Terrain, John Players, Swarovski, Vero Moda, Jack and Jones, Only, Pieces, FCUK, UCB, Debenhams, Luxury Boulevard, Lavie, La Senza, Lifestyle, Nine West, Timberland, Diesel, Zingrin and many more.

We have to agree with The Times who state, "It doesn't get much better than this."

CeX Phoenix Marketcity, Kurla.

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Tuesday 13 December 2011

CeX in India: 4 stores & counting!

UPDATE 13th December 2011

.....and Kurla makes 4 CeX stores in India this year!

We are ecstatic that our fourth Indian store has opened in Kurla today.
2011 marks the year CeX landed in India & we could not be happier.

We have a treasure trove of phones, games, movies and gadgets just waiting for you to buy, sell and exchange.

Come find us on the Ground Floor of the Phoenix Market City Mall, Kurla.

UPDATE 26th October 2011: CeX now open in Bangalore, India.

Here at CeX we are celebrating the opening of our 3rd Indian store in Bangalore. In perfect timing with Diwali, lots of fireworks & smiles going around.

Find CeX Bangalore in the shiny Phoenix Market City Mall.

UPDATE: 5th October 2011: Vashi now joins Pune.

CeX stores in India take after London buses it seems. After waiting ages for one, they come along together, with a new CeX shop just opened in Vashi. Find CeX Vashi just outside CentreOne Mall at 15, Real Tech Park, Plot No. 39/2, Sector 30A, Vashi, Navi Mumbai 400 703. We've two floors of phones, games, movies and gadgets just waiting for you to buy, sell and exchange.

CeX Vashi, now open!

CeX opens in India!

A new day, a new Continent for CeX! We're overjoyed to announce the opening of the first of many CeX stores in India. CeX is now open in Pune, in the shiny Phoenix Market City Mall. Find this historic CeX on the second floor between Fun City and Pizza Hut to see just how much more cash we pay for your stuff.

We're ready seven days a week to help you buy, sell or exchange phones, games, DVDs, Blu-rays, electronics, iPods, cameras, computers, components and displays. Look out for more CeX stores opening in Banglore, Vashi and Mumbai very soon. A website with Indian pricing, stock levels and much more is coming very soon.

CeX Pune, some of the many that made it happen:)

We ♥ recycling.

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Monday 12 December 2011

FREE Shipping on orders $50+

Order now and get FREE shipping on orders $50 and over to all lower 48 States until Jan 1 2012. We’ll brave the cold for you so you can stay snug & snap up those holiday gifts without even leaving your house. Toasty!

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Order in time for CeXmas

Order by midnight on the 17th Dec (GMT) & we'll try our very hardest to make sure Santa's CeX sack gets to you by Xmas.

Merry CeXmas

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Saturday 10 December 2011

CeX Opens in Portland, ME

CeX has opened in Portland, Maine. We've polished the iPhones and rolled out the red awnings. CeX Portland is open 7 days a week for you to buy, sell and exchange games, phones, DVDs, Blu-rays, computers and electronics. Check what we pay compared to the other guys, you'll be shocked just how much more you get at CeX.

Find CeX at 18 Exchange Street, Portland, ME 04101. We'll post photos very soon.

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Friday 9 December 2011

Win CeX Vouchers!

Win CeX Vouchers with the Stick 'n Snap Photo competition
For your chance to win CeX Vouchers head on over to our facebook. Open to all!

Get CeX snap happy!
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Wednesday 7 December 2011

Super Mario 3D Land

As far as video game franchises go, does it really get any bigger than Super Mario? Our favourite iconic plumber returns in glorious fashion but this time, he has more to do on his agenda than simply rescue Princess Peach. Nintendo have stated in the past that the first Super Mario game to be released on Nintendo 3DS will be the first proper representation of what their 3D handheld is capable of. So inevitably Mario sets out on a new adventure in Super Mario 3D Land that encompasses everything we know and love about Mario, while at the same time adding a few fresh touches to keep this trip to the Mushroom Kingdom, another thoroughly entertaining one.

Super Mario 3D Land begins with yet another plot device as an excuse for Bowser to kidnap Princess Peach. After a wild storm hits the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario finds a letter next to a special tree standing on Princess Peach’s land. Not only has the Princess disappeared but also the magical leaves from the tree were blown away, granting Tanooki power to anyone lucky enough to touch these leaves. Of course Mario and his buddies aren’t best pleased with the situation and so begins your journey to rescue the Princess and save Mushroom Kingdom.

Your journey spans across a variety of themed worlds from Mario’s classical heritage, all the way through to modern environments. You will be required to travel to these locations and collect Star Coins to unlock new stages and progress to new worlds. Super Mario 3D Land does an excellent job at pacing your experience, with special stages and boss battles mixed nicely into the regular platforming action. The platforming itself has been designed remarkably well with Shigeru Miyamoto describing the game as a “mix between Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 64.” Your goal is to reach the flagpole at the end of each level before the timer runs out -- sounds simple doesn’t it? Unfortunately through the beginning levels it actually is relatively simple, but sticking with Super Mario 3D Land to the latter portion of the game reveals a thoroughly challenging and engaging set of levels that will make any fan of Mario or platforming in general, squeal with delight.

Despite modern elements of Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario 3D Land plays predominately like classic Mario games. Fluid controls thanks to the 3DS’s circle pad makes moving Mario simple and fun. Throughout your adventure you will come across plenty of lovable bad guys, interesting puzzles and cool power-ups. What’s a Mario game without a few fire-flowers and mushrooms? Well Super Mario 3D Land adds a few other cool toys to play with, including the classic Tanooki Suit – allowing Mario to hover in mid-air and bash enemies with a cute tail. A hard-shelled suit is also available, giving players access to a boomerang, which can be used not only as a weapon, but a hook to grab hard-to-reach goodies. Even invincibility items have been included called The Invincibility Leaf and P-Wing for that extra hand in case you get seriously stuck. These along with other nifty surprises thrown into the mix make Super Mario 3D Land’s platforming feel fresh and exciting.

Inevitably we were going to discuss the 3D elements of Super Mario 3D Land. Claiming that this will be the title to make full and optimal usage of 3D technology was a brave statement from Nintendo, but for the most part it is fairly accurate. While Super Mario 3D Land can be played completely in 2D without any problems at all, the level design has been created with 3D in mind. Depth perception, aerial sections and Mario’s power-ups all look stunning with 3D turned on. The 3DS’s gyro technology is also implemented for binocular segments in the game, allowing Mario to locate Toads to earn additional goodies. With other Nintendo 3DS games you normally hear the same old line “the 3D does nothing to enhance the experience,” – Super Mario 3D Land is an example of a game built from the ground up with 3D at the heart of development. It’s such a fantastic game that you will enjoy it in 2D, but there are moments here, magical moments that you will miss, unless you have 3D turned on.

Super Mario 3D Land also ensures not to leave you by yourself and implements some level of player interaction. Since all levels are timed and recorded, you can battle it out for best completion in both normal levels and the various challenge rooms available. Street Pass is also enabled allowing players to exchange items in challenge cubes. All of this lets you engage with other 3DS owners and spurs on friendly competition, adding replay value to an already plentiful game.

Every single time a new Mario game comes out I always ask myself “how on earth are they going to make it different this time, surely they’ve run out of ideas by now?” Every single time, I’m wrong. Super Mario 3D Land takes the best from Mario’s past and modern exploits and rolls them into a specially designed, 3D package. This is everything you love about Nintendo’s iconic franchise, bundled in a beautiful, easy-to-use and refreshing manner – the gameplay is fun, the 3D is important and the replay value is high. Super Mario 3D Land is the staple platformer for any Nintendo 3DS owner this holiday period.

9.0 | Gameplay |
Super Mario 3D Land has a variety of different worlds to explore, each with their own unique stages, puzzles, challenges and boss battles. On top of this, the mirroring challenge worlds help step up the difficulty, giving hardcore Mario fans even more to obsess about. Lots of fantastic power-ups and clever level design makes you want to keep playing just to see the next thing you have to tackle.

9.5 | Presentation |
Built with 3D in mind, Super Mario 3D Land is a beautiful game full of vibrant colours and fantastic characters. I keep going back to level design, but it’s truly what makes Mario games so unique, especially considering how well the 3D is implemented. To an extent, Super Mario 3D Land is its own worst enemy because the level design is so good, you could play with 3D turned off and still have a remarkable experience.

9.0 | Replay Value |
Plenty of replay value and it’s very easy to become obsessed with collecting all the Star Coins and getting everything out of this game, including a certain green-capped brother. Competitive elements also help keep you interacting with other 3DS console owners. Street Pass lets you get involved with people who don’t even own Super Mario 3D Land.
9.0 | Final Thoughts |
Super Mario 3D Land is the staple platformer for Nintendo 3DS – it is beautifully designed and executed with perfection. Everything about this game suggests care and attention to detail and you will feel the love and affection Nintendo have for Mario when you play every single level in Super Mario 3D Land. It’s an absolute testament to how a series can keep coming back feeling reinvigorated and fresh – Nintendo are simply the masters of taking the old and launching it into the modern era of gaming.

Igor Kharin.

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Thursday 1 December 2011

Weekend Site Maintenance

We hate any down time, but need to do some site maintenance on from 10pm GMT (or if you're the US 5pm ET, 2pm PT) Saturday 3 December to 6am GMT Sunday 4 December. We hope to keep the offline time under 4 hours, but just wanted to inform you of this maintenance.

We'll keep the down time to a minimum, we know it sucks.

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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Upon arriving to The Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary, fans of the series would inevitably be expecting a mesmerizing new title in the franchise. While The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword isn’t a total reinvention of the formula, it is certainly a nostalgic trip encompassing everything we know and love about Link and his adventures, sprinkled with enough modern elements to keep it feeling fresh. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a great installment that continues the thrill of exploring dungeons, defeating giant bosses and engaging with a charming and beautiful world. Unfortunately, the experience is interrupted at times by occasional hitches in the control mechanics and some repetitive exploration segments. Nevertheless, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will engross fans of the series and fans of adventure games by doing the franchise utmost justice with another fantastic installment well deserving of being named one of the best The Legend of Zelda has to offer.

Skyward Sword acts as a prequel to Ocarina of Time and tells the tale of Link and Zelda’s life in Skyloft, the discovery of Hyrule, the forging of the Master Sword, the battle against Lord Ghirahim and Ganondorf’s origin. Naturally our silent protagonist is at the heart of the adventure, but Zelda plays a slightly more prevalent role than in prior games – their rapport is well developed throughout, so well actually that it makes other characters throughout seem quite empty in comparison. That’s not to say that the evil Ghirahim won’t pluck at your heart strings as he weaves darkness upon the land or Fi doesn’t add companionship in her own little way, but ultimately for the past 25 years we have been following this fictional couple and it’s a joy to see their interaction reach a more engaging level.

Traversing across Skyward Sword’s various environments is an absolute joy. The story encompasses numerous areas, towns and dungeons to explore as you travel between Skyloft and Hyrule. No game has looked better on the Nintendo Wii and you could go as far as to say that no game ever will. Beautiful artistic design and vibrant colours bring these locations to life as Nintendo opted for a nice middle ground between The Wind Waker’s cell shaded design and the more serious tone of Twilight Princess. Whether you’re travelling by foot or flying a Loftwing uncovering secret islands in the sky, Skyward Sword ensures to marvel with brilliant visuals and another wonderfully orchestrated sound track.

Naturally roaming these wonderful environments you will encounter a wide variety of enemies. Skyward Sword opts to use Wii Motion Plus that transforms your Wiimote into Link’s sword. I found the controls to be surprisingly responsive but the experience is really shaped depending on how seriously you choose to take the game. What I mean by this is enemies reveal weak points that require different types of hand movements from you to perform a particular sword attack – but unfortunately it is possible at times to simply parry and flail your controller like a mad man and chances are you will still get the job done. So the question is whether you’d like to play the game slowly and skillfully, engaging each enemy, finding and exploiting their weak point, or rather opt for the hyperactive swinging controller technique. There’s no question that Wii Motion Plus is used brilliantly here for all of Link’s tools and gadgets as well, but occasional awkward camera scenarios and frequent recalibration can lead to frustrating moments in your Skyward Sword experience.

The way you are forced to engage with these mechanics is a whole other story. Wii Motion Plus has allowed Skyward Sword to evolve the franchise in magnificent and entertaining ways. Although there’s plenty that is familiar about this game, the motion controls make Skyward Sword stand out above all other installments in the series. Clever puzzle design, engaging enemies and dangerous boss battles all try and get you to use the motion controls in fascinating ways, making it very difficult to justify going back and playing The Legend of Zelda with any other control scheme.

Another highlight in Skyward Sword is a slight overhaul of the traditional dungeon elements all The Legend of Zelda games are known for. Usually each dungeon rewards you with a new gadget and you use the gadget to complete the dungeon – things aren’t as linear anymore. While the pace of acquiring gadgets is still great, you will be required to use your entire tool bag to get through the various dungeons and caverns you find yourself in. Full to the brim with clever puzzles, twists and turns, Skyward Sword will you have scratching your head but with a very balanced difficulty curve you’ll rarely get frustrated, but prepare to grind to a halt from time to time.

Like all The Legend of Zelda games, your experience can be hampered somewhat by repetition. Skyward Sword is a large game that is set across a variety of environments but you will find that the game forces you to return to areas you have already explored on numerous occasions. While your objectives and goals change, sometimes if feels cumbersome running up and down the same grassy plain when you know you’ve already been there and done that. Thankfully plenty of side quests and hidden treasures are hidden and reward exploration so getting inside every nook and cranny is absolutely essential if you want to discover everything Skyward Sword has to offer.

A few other additions have been implemented to ensure Skyward Sword continues moving the franchise forward. An upgrade system for your tools is introduced to make collecting various items a worthwhile detour. These make significant changes to your items, upgrading their power or changing how they are used – finding the appropriate items to enhance your bag of goodies is a whole load of fun and will keep you busy while progressing through the main story.

It is never an easy task to create new installments into a series that for the most part, has seen nothing but critically acclaimed success. The Legend of Zelda knows nothing but glory and fortunately, Skyward Sword follows the franchises traditions to the letter while at the same time bringing in modern elements of gaming to ensure progression. Appeasing fans of the series while at the same time moving The Legend of Zelda forward is certainly no easy task but it is achieved in a spirited fashion here. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword implements an excellent blend of nostalgic fun, coupled with a brilliant new control scheme while at the same time tidying and polishing up those little elements that were starting to get old and made them user friendly for the modern age of gaming. If you’re looking for an engrossing and enchanting adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is the game for you this holiday period.

8.5 | Gameplay |
Classical The Legend of Zelda gameplay intertwines with modern Wii Motion Plus movement mechanics in seamless fashion. Newly designed dungeons helps make a traditional formula feel reinvigorated, in particular impressive puzzles are spread across your entire journey. Occasional issues with the motion controls and some camera issues hamper the experience somewhat.

10 | Presentation |
Stunning visuals and a beautiful orchestrated soundtrack makes Skyward Sword the best looking game you will ever see on the Nintendo Wii. Blending cartoon-like graphics from The Wind Waker and the more serious of Twilight Princess has created the most beautiful installment of The Legend of Zelda we have seen yet.

9.0 | Replay Value |
A 35 hour + story mixed with lots of side quests warrants your time and deserves more than one play-through. It truly is a magical journey taking from all of The Legend of Zelda’s history – with plenty to see and so much to experience; it’s difficult to leave once you’ve been sucked in.

9.0 | Final Thoughts |
When talking about The Legend of Zelda and any new installment in the series, everyone always asks one question – “Is it better than Ocarina of Time?” Each new game tries to bring something new and move the series forward – Skyward Sword’s use of Wii Motion Plus changes the whole dynamics of The Legend of Zelda. Once you interact with Link’s gadgets using the intuitive motions controls, you’ll find it difficult to ever play another The Legend of Zelda game without these new mechanics that really feel like they belong. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword deserves its place on Ocarina of Time’s pedestal, but not as a superior, rather an equal with its impact on the gaming community similar to that of the Nintendo 64 classic.

Igor Kharin.

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