Thursday 18 October 2012

CeX Opens in Hyderabad, Bareilly, Kanpur & Lucknow!

17 October 2012 - Hyderabad takes CeX to shop number EIGHT in India. Come find us on the Ground Floor at the Meridian Plaza. We have a full range of goodies for you to Buy, Sell & Exchange. How long until we hit double figures in India? Viva CeX India!

Heres & cheers to some of the awesome people who made it happen:

19 September 2012 - Bareilly takes CeX India to shop number seven. Find CeX Bareilly in the Phoenix United Mall, Plibhit Bypass, near Mahanagar Colony. Can anything stop CeX?

8 September 2012 - CeX India opens shop number six in Kanpur (Unit No-34, 2nd Floor, Z Square Mall 16/113, MG Marg, The Mall).

29 August 2012 - This is an auspicious day for CeX India, who have just seen growth of 25%. Yes, we've opened CeX shop number five, with more coming very soon.

Congratulations to Uttar Pradesh, you've now got your first CeX Shop. Located in the Phoenix United Mall, your new CeX Shop is filled to the brim with phones, games, movies and gadgets. Better still you can sell your unwanted phones, games, movies and gadgets for instant cash or even more in exchange for anything we sell. That's why CeX is short for Complete Entertainment Exchange.

Here's to the folks that made it happen

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Tuesday 16 October 2012


“NBA2K13 returns in style to show why this is by far the best sports simulator on the market. This experience makes other sports games look like a big joke.”

The past few years sports fans especially in the UK, have been caught up in the FIFA buzz and have been absolutely adamant that sports simulation doesn’t get much better. Although I know that Basketball doesn’t have anywhere near the same level of popularity (in Europe), what I can tell you is that in terms of sport recreation into a video game, NBA2K13 makes FIFA look like a bit of a joke. That’s certainly a bold statement but 2K13’s developers Visual Concepts have developed what might very well be, the best sports simulator on the market. Unprecedented realism both visually and through player physics makes this look and feel like the real deal. So if you’re a fan of basketball or can pick up any sports game even if you’re not a fan, then I absolutely urge you to check out this monster of a game. 

Do you need to understand Basketball to play 2K13; well the short answer really is yes. Does 2K13 show you how to play the game of Basketball; again the answer is yes. Veterans and newcomers alike should hit the training mode as their first step into 2K13 because this is certainly an advanced and difficult simulator to fully comprehend. Advanced offensive and defensive moves, plays, tactics, copious stats, moods, statuses and other factors help key into making 2K13 the height of realism. 

When you’ve picked up the basics of shooting and defending you’re ready to hit the court and see what 2K13 has to offer. The game isn’t wholly different to last year’s title but enough changes have been made to ensure a smoother and more refined experience. Gameplay on the court look so real that if you walked into a room with this on the TV your first reaction would be to assume a real game was on the TV. Looking a bit closer and the fantastic player, court, bench and even crowd animations make this too good to be true. Even the smallest things like the guy who runs on the court to clean up sweat help make this a true NBA experience. Not only does it look real, but it feels real too. Unlike in FIFA where players all feel similar, 2K13 ensures all players have their own style of moving, shooting, passing and even celebrating. Be it LeBron James throwing baby powder in the air before a home game or Kobe’s insanely accurate jumper, you can clearly feel the difference in each player, resulting in a unique experience for every team. This is emphasized further with key traits for each player. Some players perform better under pressure while other players raise offensive morale. Again these are very similar to the traits in FIFA like ‘complete forward’ or ‘poacher’ and are important in recognizing each player’s key skills.

So you’ve given 2K13 a whirl most probably on Exhibition mode, sunk a few baskets and dunked on a bunch of guys – now it’s time to check out the host of game modes present. MyCareer mode allows you to create your own baller and put him through an illustrious career. There’s much more to do here than simply play games though. You begin by playing in a rookie All-Star game and then get drafted into a team. Don’t expect to be a superstar straight off the bat, in fact my first character was expected to “put in a performance off the bench” for the Dallas Mavericks. Similar to Be a Pro in FIFA, your player gets point in a grade fashion by performing well in the role you are assigned to. For example if you’re a Point Guard you gain points for spreading the ball quickly and efficiently, stealing, shooting when appropriate and assisting other players. Turn over’s, missed shots and letting your man score takes away from your points and by the end of the game you are given a rank between F and A+. These grades and your bi-weekly pay slip give you currency that you can then spend on training camps, items and improving your player’s attributes. When you’re not thinking of playing you can use Social Media to raise your players popularity, interact with your team and even sway your General Manager into making certain decisions about the team when your influence is at a high enough point of course. 

If you’re more of whole-team kind of person than Franchise mode allows you to take control of an entire team and guide them through seasons. You go through the entire Draft process, sign big money players, keep harmony in the squad and balance your finances – all the while getting results on the court. There’s a lot to do in Franchise mode and players looking for an engrossing experience will find this mode highly rewarding. If that’s not enough then 2K13 even offers 3-on-3, running through directly to the Playoffs or continuing to hone your skills in the tutorial mode.

Fans of the NBA will be very happy to see a massive roster of teams included in this year’s instalment including many great players from the past. Teams such as the 1992 Olympic Squad and The Showtime Lakers are present with iconic players like Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and even Charles Barkley, who can be pitted against the modern teams for some entertaining matches.

Another new addition to 2K13 is the changes to the controls. The right stick has now been given the privilege to be the advanced ball controller. Players now have the ability to intricately control subtle hand movements to allow for exceptionally detailed and tight ball control and dribbling. Players can perform the basic basketball moves and more advanced ones to recreate very life-like animations that interact with your defensive man to create a truly believable display of basketball. 

2K13 continues to impress on the court through the wonderful audio present. Jay-Z co-produced this title and upon first hearing this I was skeptical as to what he could possibly offer. Upon viewing the menus and the brilliant choice in music I have come to the conclusion that Jay-Z has brought style to 2K13. The audio continues in the commentary with awesome banter between Kevin Harlan, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr. The commentary feels so accurate down to the smallest of details for every game you play and as a result, is by far the best iteration in any sports game on the market. 

Ultimately even if you’re not a Basketball fan, it’s very important to check NBA2K13 out just to see how much further behind other sports games really are. This is a truly remarkable representation of a sport that encompasses life-like physics with life-like visuals – there’s really no other way to say it other than this is an exceptional game that must be played if you’re a fan of the sport or at least checked out if you want to know how a sports game really should be made. 

9.0 | Gameplay | 
The most accurate depiction of Basketball combined with a host of different game modes makes this an NBA game you simply cannot miss. So much detail has gone into ensuring every team’s starting line-up feels unique and different and accurate to the real thing. This is sports simulation at its finest and you’d be silly to miss out, even if you’re not a fan of Basketball.

9.0 | Presentation | 
While the menus are quite dated and awkward to use, everything else is stylish and sleek. Players are pretty much life-like, clever use of real-world footage from the stadiums combined with the buzzing of players and the coaches on the sidelines – all of these things culminate in making a true game of Basketball. As I stated before, if you walked into a room and saw this on the TV, you would think it’s a real game. Props to Jay-Z for giving this game a cool sense of style. 

10.0 | Replay Value | 
Just like any other sports game, if you get hooked that’s it you can very well end up playing this game for a whole year. Fortunately for you, there’s plenty of reason to get hooked so I’m very confident if you purchase NBA2K13, you will spend a lot of time forging champions and having a damn good time doing so. 

9.5 | Final Thoughts | 
Sports simulation has met perfection. This is currently the pinnacle of sports video games. NBA2K13 has it all – incredible life-like animation and physics coupled with beautiful visuals and presentation. This is as close to the real thing as it’s gotten so far. 

Igor Kharin. 

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Pokemon Black & White version 2

“Nintendo’s iconic franchise returns as more than just a mid-generation revamp – rather Version 2 is a remodeling of the Pokemon universe. While the core gameplay has stayed the same, nearly everything else has been tinkered with to provide an even more enjoyable trip down memory lane.”

There is no bigger series on Nintendo’s handheld that I look forward to reviewing more than Pokemon. Black and White version 2 is more than a minor expansion and aesthetic revamping of the predecessors, rather this direct sequel incorporates the same tried and tested formula that fans love alongside some engaging changes and refinements that culminate in one of the best Pokemon experiences to date.

Just like with any of the third instalment titles Version 2 doesn’t change the mould of past Pokemon games: at heart this is the same experience that you’ve played through numerous times before. This may put some fans off and if you were hoping that the series was finally going to get a dramatic overhaul, well you’re going to have wait a little longer I’m afraid. Those of you who accept this fact will be able to enjoy this high quality turn-based role-play game while also partaking in a mass of new content created specifically for Version 2.

Being a direct sequel it becomes immediately apparent how familiar and yet surprisingly refreshing the content in Version 2 feels. You begin the game in a new city and while Unova for the most part is the same, new areas and revisions to old ones have occurred to revitalize the world around you. These aesthetic changes go as far as the wonderful use of 2D sprite art and 3D graphics that the originals began implementing. This art style gives Version 2 a real sense of grandeur as you look over a horizon or gaze down upon a city. This slight subtle tweak to the visuals really makes Unova come to life and gives the game a real mature feel.

Of course the stars of the show are the Pokemon and Team Plasma’s attempts at world domination. Those of you who completed the original games will have an option to sync the content together and add a few nice references to events that occurred two years before Version 2 is set. These references aren’t needed to understand the story presented here, but syncing will provide those who completed the games homage to their work and how their efforts helped to shape the present Unova region.

I think it’s fair to assume that everybody reading this review pretty much knows exactly how Pokemon plays by now, so I’ll only go through the key combat quickly just in case someone has randomly decided that this will be the first Pokemon game they pick up. At its core Pokemon is a turn-based RPG where players catch Pokemon and battle them against each other. Pokemon have their own types, sub-types and moves. A rock, paper, scissor like game occurs with fire beating grass, grass beating water and water of course beating fire and so forth with other types. This principle applies throughout the whole game but after years of tweaking and adding to the formula don’t be fooled by the game’s apparent simple nature. Indeed Pokemon can be as advanced and complex or as easy as you want it to be. Natures, hidden stats, IV stats and many more factors attribute to the multitude of ways you can raise your Pokemon as they gain levels, but the beauty of Nintendo is they layer their games in such a manner that anyone of any age and skill type can pick Pokemon up and have a blast.

Fortunately even for veterans of the series there is a whole load of new content to try out and explore in Version 2 that’s brand new to the series. Pokemon World Tournament is one of these new additions, allowing you to partake in an event that challenges previous gym leaders and champions. This makes for a wholly exciting and nostalgic game mode that puts you to the test against some of the most challenging trainers Version 2 has to offer. If you’re looking for something to do other than battle than PokeStar Studios which allows you to create movies using your favourite Pokemon, might just be the mode for you. Along the same wavelength is the returning Pokemon Musicals, which can also be quite fun if you’re into that sort of thing.

Version 2 also emphasizes interconnectivity with other players. Using the game’s various communication methods players can get together with other players and explore a variety of unique shops only available in Join Avenue. On top of that the Entralink introduces brand new Fun Fest Missions – paired with the chat capabilities of the Xtransceiver, there’s a whole load of ways players can interact with each other and partake in various quests and missions in exchange for goodies.

New additions don’t stop there: the addition of Pokemon-esque achievements in the form of Medals will force you to look at your Pokemon experience from a different angle. With hundreds of medals to acquire, this system is an interesting and fun new way to add some more spice to your adventure. Perhaps more importantly is the new key system, which when acquired lets you manipulate the game in interesting ways. Keys can be found by fulfilling certain goals and can then be used for example to change the game’s difficulty setting from the standard normal to either easy or hard – this is a never before seen feature for a Pokemon game and can enhance the experience drastically for veterans of the series. Even the Pokedex has been given an upgrade with the ability to point out what creatures you have spotted in each area. This now makes capturing all the Pokemon incredibly easy in a systematic fashion.

It’s fairly obvious that Version 2 is far more than your traditional mid-generation third version release – these direct sequels provides much more than the customary updates Pokemon fans are used to. Will it provide that same wonderful spark you first felt when you played Pokemon Red/Blue, probably not. But the same can be said for every Pokemon game – it’s never the same as the very first time. That’s not to say however, that this isn’t a rich and deeply engrossing experience – this direct sequel enhances the game and builds upon it while not necessarily changing the formula. As far as RPG games go, the Pokemon series is right up there and why change a formula that has proven to be successful time after time. So go get yourself a copy and relive this beautiful adventure once again and become captivated by the glorious world of Pokemon.

8.0 | Gameplay |
Your traditional Pokemon gameplay returns in glorious fashion. This beautifully styled and refined game refuses to change an already proven formula, but sands down the edges and pretty much updates everything outside of the core gameplay. The result is a shaken up adventure full to the brim with excitement.

9.0 | Presentation |
As far as the Nintendo DS goes it doesn’t get much better. A beautiful world comes to life and changes as the seasons turn. Unova is a wonderful region full of mesmerizing and memorable areas to explore. The use of 3D environments surrounding 2D sprites really gives the towns and cities the sense of scale they so desperately needed and as always, the Pokemon are so damn cool.

10.0 | Replay Value |
I’ve purchased every Pokemon game since Red and Blue and my minimum game time on average spans somewhere close to 50 hours. As a result I’ve probably spent more time playing Pokemon than any other series of games and I never get bored of it. This is a game you can really get sucked into and lost for a very long time. The world of Pokemon is brimming with life and the emotional connection created between you and your favourite Pokemon is difficult to emulate in any other video game.

9.0 | Final Thoughts |
Let’s not get stuck in the argument that the series hasn’t changed for years and it’s still the same old thing. Pokemon Black and White Version 2 openly avoids changing what we know and love about Pokemon but literally goes to town on everything around it. The result is a polished off game with a host of new content and additions that make this Pokemon adventure, one of the most enjoyable yet.

Igor Kharin.

Editor’s note – To clarify Pokemon Black Version 2 and Pokemon White Version 2 are two separate games. I merely mentioned them as one game in the review for ease of writing. The differences between the two copies are those you would expect from a Pokemon game: changes in locations of Pokemon, changes in available Pokemon, a couple of variable locations and so forth.

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Resident Evil 6

“Building upon Resident Evil 5, the sixth instalments in the series expands Capcom’s iconic world and brings forth a delicately woven story across four thoroughly enjoyable campaigns. This may not be the Resident Evil you remember, but this new breed of horror is still just as much fun, if not more.” 

Taking another step towards modernising the franchise, Resident Evil 6 at times betrays the traditional survival horror roots the series is known for, but redeems itself with high production value, multiple long and enjoyable campaigns and some incredible set-piece battles. Old school fans may still be frustrated at the path Resident Evil has now been pushed down, but it’s hard to deny that despite a few technical flaws, this is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. 

Resident Evil 6 is structured across four different campaigns with seven key characters: Leon Kennedy and Helena, Chris Redfield and Piers, Sherry Birkin and Jake Muller and finally, Ada Wong. As a result, Resident Evil 6 immediately offers four separate, slightly different and interesting takes on the events of this game. The story you engage with intertwines each character and key set pieces that might be hinted at in one campaign and then answered in another. This structure is enticing, exciting and forces players to complete each story (like you needed a reason to anyway). 

It’s also incredibly refreshing to see that every campaign is slightly different in gameplay too. Leon’s story comes first and clearly caters to the traditional survival horror elements of Resident Evil. The gameplay especially at the beginning is quite slow, ammo is scarce and zombies come at you in abundance. Some wonderfully terrifying moments occur throughout including a battle reminiscent of Leon’s encounter with a giant pond creature in Resident Evil 4 (he must feel such nostalgia). Leon’s campaign gives you sneak peaks into the other stories and by the time you finish this section of the game, you’ll be eager to see what happens in the other story arcs. 

When you move on to Chris and Piers’ story it’s awesome to see subtle changes in the HUD and gameplay. Chris caters to fans of Resident Evil 5, keeping the action fast-paced, offering plenty of knee-high walls to use as cover and gun down mutant zombies. The gameplay speeds up and the action becomes a lot more frantic. Then once you’re done here and you move onto Sherry and Jake the gameplay changes once again to a mix of the previous two campaigns while offering a few nifty additions too. Finally when all three main campaigns are over, Ada Wong’s solo campaign is unlocked: the only campaign you play without a partner. This too moves back to Resident Evil’s traditional roots as you uncover her plans throughout this timeline.

While it’s a whole load of fun to see how the stories mix together, the result sometimes creates moments where you’re forced to replay sections when groups of characters meet. This is a frustrating occurrence but can be forgiven considering the amount of unique content across the four campaigns combines to offer a whole load more substance than the majority of action adventure games on the market. 

The gameplay itself has been refined from Resident Evil 5 and has a certain fast-paced feel about it now. Players can now run, dash and dive out of harms way all the while moving around and gunning down enemies. The introduction of a cover and duck mechanic and the ability to pummel your foes with a barrage of melee attacks truly shows that Resident Evil has now taken a step away from survival horror and is now a fully fledged action game. For the most part however, the gameplay is highly enjoyable, when you’re allowed to play and are not bombarded by quick-time events. Resident Evil 6 is a game driven by a story and while there are certainly incredible set-piece battles, they are spread few and far between engaging battles with enemies, and monotonous exploring. The issue here is predominately pacing – Resident Evil 6 has a hard time keeping the action flowing and is often distracted by both story telling and quick time events. While the aforementioned is perfectly acceptable in a game of this nature, the latter is highly annoying, in particular is one QTE that occurs when climbing up a rope at the end of Leon’s campaign: a buddy and I spent forever trying to overcome a section of the game that ultimately, was completely unnecessary and frustrating, almost ruining the entire positive vibe we carried all the way through Leon’s story. This could be in part due to the size of the project with Resident Evil 6 being developed across various groups of developers and perhaps communication may have been lost at points of production, thus losing on occasion, its fluidity. 

Speaking of buddies, the issues that were so apparent with AI in Resident Evil 5 have also been refined. There are certainly no prizes for guessing that playing with a human friend is a much better way of experiencing Resident Evil 6, but the AI does a good job accompanying you should you choose the solo route. It can be annoying at times when the AI blatantly ignores orders you issue, but the job gets done eventually after a bit of teeth grinding. Thankfully online link up and offline split screen are present to allow you and a friend the opportunity to go through the game but expect a frame-rate and graphic drop when playing split-screen as I encountered this issue on the PlayStation 3. 

Resident Evil 6 also provides certain role-play elements in the form of skill points that are acquired throughout the campaign and other game modes. Skill points can be used to purchase and upgrade skills, with you being able to equip up to three at a time. These include strength increases to weapons, melee, item drop-rate increase, defensive additions and so forth. While the ability to upgrade each individual weapon like in Resident 4 is still omitted, the ability to create various skill sets and employ them at different points in the game at a whim provides an interesting twist on the Resident Evil formula.

Speaking of other game modes, The Mercenaries and Agent Hunt are also present should you want to take a break from the campaigns. Mercenaries provides the same timed zombie killing experience we all know and love, while Agent Hunt allows you to enter into the game of another player online. Skill points are also earned here should you want to collect them in another manner. 

Resident Evil 6 deserves massive praise in the technical department. Brilliantly created environments make this a memorable experience and this level of consistency transcends across all of the campaigns, with no particular weaknesses across the board. Beautiful lighting, textures, character models and a wide assortment of new and horrifying monsters makes every scene beautiful to look at and engage with. The new controller mechanics make Resident Evil 6 a much faster and exciting game but typical camera issues are present that can frustrate on occasion. 

Ultimately a series as iconic as Resident Evil will always find it very difficult to transcend into a modern franchise. I believe however that Resident Evil 6 does a wonderful job catering to the classic and modern fan (me being both) while clearly showing the direction the series is heading. There has been a lot of controversy on the Internet regarding Resident Evil 6 with lots of reviewers scoring it as low as 4.5 out of 10: for me this is ridiculous – I’ve played games that deserve such low scores and Resident Evil 6 isn’t even on the same wavelength. We are all entitled to our opinion but I had a blast playing through Resident Evil 6 and the over-use of quick-time events, slight repetition across the campaigns and occasional pacing issues are not enough to distract from the brilliant set-piece battles and wonderfully woven storylines across four distinct campaigns. Resident Evil 6 is an action adventure game that should not be missed. 

8.5 | Gameplay | 
Fast paced, exciting and engaging gameplay is spread across four different campaign modes. Each campaign has its own individual play style, individual enemies and individual iconic battles. The gameplay is hectic and a whole load of fun. Whether you’re shooting traditional zombies or giant Ogre-like mutants, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. 

9.0 | Presentation | 
Resident Evil 6 is a beautiful game across the board. The visuals are an absolute delight, both character models and the gorgeous environments. New devilish monsters are disgusting and terrifying, exactly how you’d want them. The narrative and voice acting are both of the highest quality with nothing sounding cheesy or awkward. The unique manner in which the story is told and intertwined across the campaigns makes you want to continue playing through each story arc to finally culminate the entire story and fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. 

8.0 | Replay Value | 
First of all it will take some time to get through each campaign, which is a testament to the longevity of Resident Evil 6. Then you have different difficulty levels, should you decide to tackle the game again, which you will. On top of that you’ll want to unlock all the different skills and this requires a whole load of skill points and you need to keep on playing to keep on earning! Playing with a friend while removes the horror somewhat, keeps the game itself very interesting and lots of fun. Nothing builds comradery like shooting zombies and monsters. If that’s not enough, then The Mercenaries, Agent Hunt and inevitable DLC will surely keep you playing Resident Evil 6 for a long time to come. 

8.5 | Final Thoughts | 
Let’s not judge Resident Evil 6 on what it’s not: we all know this is no longer a survival horror game. Rather let’s judge it on what it is, a really enjoyable action adventure game. I cannot stress enough how well developed the story is across the four campaigns and how much fun I had playing through with each cast of characters. People may say that the traditional Resident Evil roots are long gone but I say that these roots are there, placed delicately between engaging modern combat and mesmerizing story telling.  

Igor Kharin.

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Thursday 11 October 2012

CeX @ MCM London Comic Con 2012

Oh yes, CeX fans, we’re coming to MCM London Comic Con 2012. 

Come say “Hi!” at our Pop Up CeX-Shop at Stand 365, right by BBC Worldwide & Square Enix. You won’t miss us.

“Pop Up CeX-Shop?,” you say. Never fear, you’ll be able to buy, sell & exchange as usual with our Aladin’s cave of goodies for you. 

Held at ExCel London on 26-28th October, MCM London Comic Con is Britain’s biggest festival of popular culture. The perfect place to unleash your inner geek, the show gives you the chance to preview the hottest new videogames, with confirmed publishers including Nintendo; Namco Bandai; 2K Games; Square Enix; Ubisoft; Konami; NIS; Microsoft and Rising Star Games.

Show goers will also get to attend panels hosted by top sci-fi stars, including Doctor Who's Matt Smith; explore the country’s largest gathering of comic creators and discover more about Asian culture, food and fashion in the JapanEx area. This month's MCM London Comic Con also plays host to the new VidFestUK zone, which celebrates all things online video, as well as the 2012 EuroCosplay Championships.

MCM London Comic Con tickets are available at
See you there!

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Friday 5 October 2012

Borderlands 2

"Full of character and brimming with charm, Borderlands 2 brings more of what we loved back to Pandora just in case you didn't get enough the first time round."

What do you get when you mix captivating gameplay, beautiful surroundings and serious attitude? The answer is of course Borderlands. The original was such an excellent example of how to perfectly balance first-person shooting with certain role-play elements that blended together to make an engaging and wholly entertaining experience be it alone, or with friends. The sequel aims to replicate these ideas but does so on a much bigger scale. While Borderlands 2 doesn't really bring anything totally new to the series, it is vast, expansive and continues being a whole load of fun – certainly an experience you shouldn't miss. 

Pandora was once a desolate planet, but now thanks to a host of new and entertaining characters alongside some familiar faces, is brimming with life. What was a wasteland has now become a world full of charm and character, amidst all the murderers and monsters of course. The new casts of characters although resembling Brick, Lilith, Roland and Mordecai, still have their own personalities and variety of powers to try out. First is Salvador the heavy tank character, then there’s Maya the psychic and force manipulator, third is Axton the commando and finally Zer0 the stealth and distance character. Just like in the original you have the opportunity to climb an assortment of skill trees and unlock powerful and potent abilities for each of these wonderfully created protagonists. 

A major change to Borderlands 2 comes in the massive expansion of Pandora. While Borderlands 1 didn't exactly feel small, some of you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of this sequel. We’re talking about a serious amount of exploration if you really want to find what every nook and cranny has to offer here. Thankfully this is a sheer joy to do in part thanks to the beautiful world surrounding you, the absolutely wonderful dialogue woven between pretty much every character you come across and the assortment of side quests that will keep you away from the main story line.

Borderlands 2 continues to keep you invested with not only side missions and the story, but also challenges scattered across all of Pandora. These are check-list like objectives that are automatically recorded as you manage to complete them. These range from simple tasks like killing a certain number of enemies to area-specific goals; all of which upon completion reward you with small upgrades to your attributes. 

If you want your rewards to come in the shape of huge guns instead of little attribute boosts, than fear not because Borderlands 2 continues the tradition of absolutely bombarding you with a whole host of loot. Managing your inventory and items is a big part of the Borderlands experience as you constantly find awesome new weapons, sell old ones, upgrade this, and exchange that. This back and forth is perhaps what makes Borderlands in part, so addictive and thankfully, these mechanics are back and completely in tact with a few tweaks. This simply includes streamlining the whole process, allowing players to flag particular items, arrange them and ultimately do these transactions in quicker and easier fashion. 

The same style of streamlining has also been applied to the gun combat, which remains largely unchanged but still incredibly satisfying. You use your large arsenal to tackle a variety of different enemies, some more challenging than others. Swarms of partially invisible insects can pose just as much of a problem as large Ogre like creatures, so be ready to fight for your life and grind to be even in combat against your foes. Ultimately how diverse you want your Borderlands 2 experience to be really depends on how you choose to play the game. Playing as Salvador or Axton gives you nothing more than core gunplay mechanics, while Maya and Zer0 provide something a little bit different to the action. Thankfully the game pretty much requires you to try out each character so you will have plenty of opportunity to experiment with what style of play works best for you, if you haven’t found out from the original already.

It doesn't take a genius to point out that like the original, Borderlands 2 is best when played cooperatively with friends. While it’s possible to go through the game by yourself, it’s lonely and simply, nowhere near as fun. When you take friends along for the ride you find perhaps one of the most entertaining cooperative experiences out on the market that really caters to all of your needs in the form of action, exploration and team work. You can get lost for hours in Pandora and who better to ask for directions than your friend with that huge grenade launcher? 

From a technical perspective Borderlands 2 is a joy to behold. While the graphical style is still subjective to opinion, it’s undeniable that it’s charming and vibrant. Pandora is buzzing with life and each and every character you meet will put a smile on your face. Particular kudos should be given to the wonderful narrative and dialogue that really gives this game life. 

So if you’re reading this review and thinking that this sounds all too familiar, well you’re not wrong. Borderlands 2 picks up nicely where the original left off, enhancing and expanding the experience without making any serious changes. As a result the wow factor that surrounded Borderlands 1 is gone, but in its place is the awe factor as you experience a technically impressive game that provides everything you need for another exciting trip to Pandora. 

8.0 | Gameplay | 
You won’t find anything new in Borderlands 2, rather a revamped and expanded experience. The gun-play is still solid, exploration is still a whole load of fun and the joys of being on Pandora are ever lasting. The giant map and host of different missions, side quests and challenges will keep you invested for a long time to come. 

9.0 | Presentation | 
Pandora is beautiful; there are simply no other words to describe it. The excellent cast of characters really helps bring this game to life. Gearbox have definitely taken time to flesh out their desolate planet and the result is a joy to behold. Not many games really make you want to go out of your way to find each and every secret, but Borderlands 2 has that appeal. 

8.0 | Replay Value | 
Those wanting to hit the level cap of 50 will absolutely need to replay the game on the harder difficulty setting that really ramps up the game. Pandora is so much bigger this time round that it’s really hard to fit everything in during one play-through. As a result it’s highly recommended to come back, try the other characters and have more fun. 

8.5 | Final Thoughts | 
There was something truly special about Borderlands 1. That something special I realize now was perhaps the ‘wow’ factor I felt playing with my friends. The sequel just doesn't have that same initial impact because ultimately, you have played this game before. Saying that, this is an excellent expansion of Borderlands 1 – the world is bigger, the characters are more entertaining, there’s more to do and just about every section of the game has been improved and polished. There’s no doubt you will have an absolute blast with Borderlands 2 but be warned it is in a good way, more of the same. 

Igor Kharin.

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Monday 1 October 2012

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Android has evolved from its humble beginnings to become a major player in the world of Phones and Tablets (lets not forget Cameras too). It’s risen over the last few years to become the most widely used operating system and a real contender for Apples IOS crown. Ice Cream Sandwich was a major step forward in functionality and design. But can its successor Jelly Bean 4.1 continue the innovations of ICS 4.0? Read on and see.

Project Butter

“We have declared war on lag” - Mathias Duarte

Ambitious words from Mathias Duarte the “Director of Android operating system User Experience”. When Google began with Jelly Bean one of their stated goals was to trim lag out of the operating system. The project was termed “Project Butter” and it must be said that Jelly Bean feels a lot smoother and faster than ICS. When loading web pages they appeared much faster and smoothly than on ICS and it must also be noted that Apps too are quicker and smoother to open than before. Project Butter has also been applied to simple things such as scrolling through the Apps screen and even across the home screen. All in all it really does seem like a success. Jelly Bean feels super responsive and is great to use. The only downside that seems slightly related to lag is a small annoyance I’ve found when receiving calls. I’ve noticed that if I end a call and immediately lock my phone when I turn it on again the “call ended” screen appears on the screen. This sometimes briefly tricks me into thinking I’ve had a missed call or that I’ve called someone whilst the phone has been in my pocket. It’s only a slight annoyance and doesn’t happen often, but I thought it best to highlight it in case other people have had the same issue. Other than that in my time with Jelly Bean, I can confirm that lag has been at a bare minimum.

It’s The Little Things…

There have been some small changes that are welcome editions to the OS that should be mentioned. First of these is a great change to Face Unlock. Jelly Bean introduces a feature called “Liveness Check” to its Face Unlock Software. Previously Face Unlock could be exploited by anyone having a picture of you and holding it up to the screen to unlock the phone. Jelly Bean has an option to turn on Liveness Check, which relies on you blinking when using your face to unlock the phone. It’s a nice feature that adds a little extra security to your phone.

There is also a nice change to the camera. When in camera mode and taking pictures it’s now even easier to access pictures that you’ve just taken by swiping to the left on the screen. It’s actually a feature I really enjoy being someone who takes a lot of pictures.
Google has made some adjustments to its keyboard within Jelly Bean that are useful. The Keyboard can now predict what you’re going to type. It’s a nice feature for some but it must be said that I actually rarely used it personally. Whilst I think Google has come a long way with it’s keyboard over the last few years I still find myself actually preferring Apples IOS keyboard which I find to be a little bit more intuitive.


Notifications have had a small make over and I like what I see. Gone are the bold font and blue highlights of ICS to be replaced with a subtler font. Overall Notifications has always been an incredibly strong feature for Android, but it now feels like it’s getting some more spit and polish that refine it without going over the top. The best new feature to notifications is the ability to expand some of them. I found this most useful with my GMail app. The ability to expand a mail notification and read the subject and contents whilst still in my notification screen is a really great touch, meaning I no longer have to open up GMail to check my mail. The only detraction with this is that it’s not widely available yet for third party apps.

Google Now

This is the big showpiece. Google Now is an Ambitious project. People have compared Google Now to the Apple Siri service. There are similarities, but where as Siri to me has always felt more like a personal assistant (and usually one that feels a little gimmicky) Google Now feels like it’s trying to be more. How it works is that Google Now “Learns” from your Google search the things you like and updates them for you on “Cards” that appear within your Notifications. It also has similar PA like abilities, which are more in line with Siri. Google Now can also learn your commute to work and update you on travel information for the journey before you head out. If this all sounds a bit…well…Skynet, then I can alleviate your fears. I actually found Google Now to be unobtrusive and for the most part a nice feature (though very much in it’s infancy). It did learn my route to work, though I walk to work so the information it gave me was slightly pointless. Google Now can also learn which sports teams you support and update you on them. I actually found this to be a bit disappointing. Google Now just didn’t learn which team I supported even after spending an awful lot of time repeating Manchester Utd (no hate mail please) in to my search bar over multiple days and weeks. In the end I just had to tell it which team I supported in the settings. There also does not appear to be an option to change the priority of the sports updates. Which stayed permanently fixed at “Low Priority” which to me, football is not.

Overall Google should receive plaudits for Google Now. It is an incredibly ambitious project and I can see in the future it becoming much more reliable and useful. It’s just that right now, it’s still very much in it’s infancy.

Final Thoughts

Jelly Bean 4.1 is the best Android operating system so far and really gives IOS a run for it’s money. It takes what was great about ICS, polishes it and refines it, whilst adding some great new features. I would certainly recommend updating to it if you can. But that’s the crux of it isn’t it?…If you can. Nexus owners will be the only ones at the time of writing that will be able to update. Samsung is releasing its version of Jelly Bean soon and HTC’s version is also on the horizon. But both these versions will not be the pure form of android that nexus owners will enjoy. For me, this is androids biggest drawback, to the point where at times I found this feature review hard to write. I knew that many would not have the same experience I’ve had whilst they still have a version of Jelly Bean. In the end I had to settle in my mind that I was writing this for a small portion of android users. Is it time to do away with OEM skins like Samsungs Touch Wiz and HTC’s Sense versions of Android? In some respects yes, but in other ways no. They do offer some innovations, Samsungs Smart Stay and HTC’s ImageSense being examples.

But this is another argument for another time. The question is. Should you update to Jelly Bean? the answer is yes. If you can’t update, too bad, you’re missing out on a great product folks.

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