Thursday, 28 March 2013

Video Review - Sony Xperia Z

Check out our CeX Vlog - Sony Xperia review on our brand spanking new YouTube Channel.


"A phone for butterfingers, with a 13MP camera, drop resistant, dust resistant, waterproof & being bloody CeXy to boot. I want this phone badly, but not *that* badly."




Sony Xperia Z at CeX



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Gears of War: Judgment


Review – Gears of War: Judgment (Xbox 360 only)

“Gears of War: Judgment takes fresh ideas and brings them back in time to the beginning of the Locust invasion. Terrific character development and story pacing combines with thrilling gameplay that’s expanded beyond what we have come to know from Gears of War to make this not only the best game in the series but the best third-person shooter on the market.”

Big guns are back in GoW: Judgement

Just like humanities battle against the Locust, Gears of War goes through a powerful resurgence in Judgment. A formula that was beginning to rust around the edges has been leased with new life, deepened and explored further to become not only the best instalment in the series, but also one of the best third-person shooters of this generation.


Judgment is a culmination of all the finest things from the series, polished into one beautiful package. The story, set 15 years before the events we have all come to know and fear, concentrates on two of the series side characters – Baird and Cole. No longer battle-hardened veterans, Judgment looks at these recruits as they begin their journey as COG soldiers and come to grips with their new lives. The squad they belong to Kilo is also full to the brim with entertaining personalities that blend together in stereotypical Gears of War fashion bringing heated rivalry, sarcasm, jokes, puns and other interesting dialogue.

The story-telling itself has had some real thought put into it, Gears of War that quality it was always missing from the narrative department. Your journey with Kilo is fast paced but always engaging and this interaction not only bonds you closer with the characters, it keeps you invested in the story all the way till the very end.

When you get an play a COG soldier with Judgment’s new mechanics and tweaks to the system, you will be very pleasantly surprised. While the core gameplay remains the same, there’s enough change here to make Judgment feel like a totally fresh third-person shooter. Characters move a lot faster now, weapon swaps are more fluid, grenades have a quick throw function and not to mention the new weapons and upgrades to old ones (I’ll talk about this later in the multiplayer section.) If you have played a Gears of War game before will find familiarity here but at the same time enough change to force another round of learning the ropes once again.

Judgment feels smarter than previous titles in the series. Perhaps this is due to fantastic level design but a new semi-random spawn system as well as further enhancements to AI intelligence makes battles against the Locust enemy hard-hitting and absolutely enthralling. This becomes especially apparent in Judgment’s fantastic ‘Declassify’ system – an option that you can activate before enemy encounters. Declassify allows you to activate certain handicaps to make your battle more challenging – in exchange however, you accumulate loads more points for the new scoring system that synchronizes to leaderboards. These handicaps range from increasing the enemy count to lowering ammo supplies – you name a frustrating scenario and Judgment will probably put you in it. Approaching different battles using the Declassify system opens the ability to make each and every encounter different from the last, which really helps increase Judgment’s replay value as well as making it one of the most enjoyable campaign experience either by yourself or with up to four friends.

It’s hard to believe things get even better for Judgment, but the multiplayer is really the highlight here. One of the new game modes titled OverRun sees COG’s go against the Locust in an attack-defend style game where the Locust aim to push forward through COG defenses while trying to open new areas while the COG’s aim to keep them at bay. A new class system has been implemented as well as some tweaks to balance the Gears of War multiplayer formula. In OverRun players on the COG team can choose from characters that specialize in mending defensive weaponry, healers, offensive soldiers and so forth while the Locust can choose between the different types of creatures like Wretches, Tickers and normal brutes. Naturally, each has their own ability, starting weapon and a noticeable changes have occurred with players only carrying one main weapon from the beginning as opposed to the traditional machine gun / shotgun combination. The Locust on the other hand have a variety of different skills depending on what type of creature you go, as expected. Tickers move with lightning speed, have the ability to destroy defenses quickly and can even eat ally grenades to really cause absolute mayhem against groups of COGs. There’s plenty of variety depending on who you choose to play as and without spoiling any more, each character and creature is unique and interesting in their own way.

The traditional horde mode has for some strange reason been omitted from Judgment and instead replaced with Survival mode. Not quite the same experience but with similarities – Survival pits you against waves of enemy foe but not through unlimited numbers of waves.

Those of you looking for a more familiar experience can jump into Team Deathmatch. The new maps are strikingly large and more importantly are layered with top, bottom and intermediate sections meaning enemies can come at you from any angle. Characters can now jump and roll off relatively high ledges too so you always have to be on guard and ready for potential battle. Choosing your starting weapon is vital here because the weapon limitation means you can play with only one of the previous weapons – gone are the days of holding a retro lancer AND gnasher shotgun. Some new weapons have also been introduced like a large-clipped sniper rifle, a grenade launcher and previous weapons have been tweaked like the sawed-off shotgun now has 2 rounds in exchange for nerf’d power. New grenades including the stim and beacon have also made the cut with the former regenerating teammate’s health while the latter spotting enemies and temporary hindering their health and damage capabilities. There’s enough change here to keep you invested and curious as all these different game modes and weapons make a seemingly old formula feel exciting once again.

These changes make Judgment a very impressive technical achievement. The new development team have really brought the stunning Gears of War universe back to life with a vibrant new make-over while gameplay has been brushed up to be a fluid and fast-paced experience. Musical presentation and dialogue are brought together nicely in a well thought out narrative and gameplay is tight, responsive and varied. This all comes together as a perfect Gears of War package.

Gears of War: Judgment sets the stage for the future of third person shooting. As we move ever closer to the next generation of gaming, one can only hope that titles in this genre will aspire to not only recreate but also innovate on the fantastic ideas the Gears of War series has produced. Terrific gameplay and excellent story telling makes this fresh new take on a well-known formula a true joy.

9.0 | Gameplay |

Gears of War: Judgment brings entertaining and varied gameplay back to the series. Clever technical design takes advantage of fantastic level structure and clever AI intelligence to provide a thrilling challenge offline. Online the multiplayer has been tweaked and is the best version of the Gears of War formula to date thanks to an awesome class-based system, varied game modes and balancing tweaks to the weapons.

9.5 | Presentation |

Gears of War has always had a very unique and distinctive look. The boundaries have been pushed even further by People Can Fly as this development team’s bold and vibrant artistic design brings the series to life with even more passion. The story is interesting, moves well and keeps you invested throughout while the character narrative is brilliant too.

10.0 | Replay Value |

The campaign is so great you’ll want to complete it numerous times to get through all the difficulty levels. On top of that Declassify mode ensures further challenge and variation throughout your time with not only each level, but every single set-piece enemy encounter, which is stunning attention to replay value. The multiplayer is simply one of the best out there and there’s no reason why you won’t be playing this a year down the line just like you’re still playing Gears of War 3.

9.5 | Final Thoughts |

Gears of War: Judgment is almost absolutely perfect. There’s literally nothing you can say that’s negative. A thrilling campaign that is so well designed it just shows off the absolute best of Gears of War’s terrific storytelling and ability to engage players in awesome battles against varied and challenging enemies. If that’s not enough for you, an almost limitless multiplayer mode is almost present that’s so much fun you won’t be able to put the pad down. Gears of War has certainly had a resurgence and it’s come in the form of Judgment – this is how you take a slightly rusty formula and boom it right back onto everyone’s radar.

Similar games: Gears of War 3, Bulletstorm & Vanquish

Igor Kharin.

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God of War: Ascension


God of War: Ascension (PS3)

“Kratos is back in a thrilling yet repetitive adventure that has all the wonders of the God of War experience without really adding anything new to the formula. The result is an underwhelming battle against the Gods.”

Who got out of bed on the wrong side today?

God of War has cemented itself as a staple hack-n-slash phenomenon on Sony consoles so it’s absolutely no surprise to see another title arrive for the PlayStation 3. God of War: Ascension follows in the footsteps of its predecessors, bringing the destructive and menacing power of Kratos onto the screen as he slaughters his way through hordes of demons, monsters and gods. This may not be a striking recreation to the series, but God of War: Ascension brings the full force of the gameplay back and as a result, is heaps of fun for those craving another adventure with Kratos.


This time round Ascension concentrates on trying to become more than a blood-bath experience by opting to change the dynamic of Kratos’s story this. After breaking a blood oath Kratos finds himself in a feud with “The Furies”, a triangle of wicked sisters. While the usual thrill for destruction is present, Kratos is in search for answers and this somehow humanizes the figure we relate to carnage and chaos. The style of campaign is as you’d expect, spread across varied locations filled with entertaining and larger-than-life boss battles – Ascension rarely fails to disappoint as it utilizes the series unprecedented ability to pull off the ‘wow’ factor.

Familiarity continues through to Ascension’s combat mechanics that feel largely unchanged from God of War III. Some subtle changes have been made including opting for only the Blades of Chaos as Kratos’s weapon of choice. Fortunately these blades can be infused with different elemental and magical powers that not only increase gameplay depth, but also provide different resources when used against enemies. For example using a particular weapon will release a health restoration orb, while another might bring back your magic – this is a really clever way to ensure players mix and match their play styles to not only the enemy they are facing, but the position they are in during that particular battle.

Upgrades have always been one of the franchises strongest points and Ascension keeps this tradition alive by rethinking the upgrade trees to provide a little bit more challenge throughout your time with the campaign. This is done by keeping some of the more powerful magic locked away until much later in the game. Players will be forced to master their melee abilities and use what magic they do have as a way to supplement their battle skills, not as an easy way out trump card.

This restructure to the magic system was perhaps necessary considering how easy some sections of the game actually are. Modern video games tend to be quite generous with their checkpoints, health etc and Ascension really is no different. Unfortunately it also suffers from shaky pacing and balance with gameplay become burdensome and frustrating occasionally when Kratos is swamped with enemies out of nowhere.

Well at least the Ascension can hold soo many models on the screen and not go crazy. From a technical perspective Ascension looks, sounds and feels great – the visuals are as you’d expect, simply stunning. A fantastic audio score intertwines with the story to bring about some dramatic moments that entice and excite the senses while Kratos moves and kills with graceful precision.

It’s also nice to know that once you finish with the campaign you can always move on to Ascension’s genuinely enjoyable multiplayer outing. This experience aligns players with a different God granting you particular powers and skills depending and pits you in different game modes against other players. Essentially the game modes rely on killing and point accumulation but it’s a lot of fun and feels relatively balanced and entertaining. When players are swarmed and trapped by groups of other players is where Ascension’s multiplayer can become quite frustrating but despite that, it’s a load of fun. This only lasts so long though once you begin to realize that Ascension relies more on swarming rather than tactical precision and after a while the novelty does wear off.

Ultimately God of War: Ascension’s biggest problem is that it had to live up to a game of God of War III’s caliber. This is by no means an easy task and unfortunately Ascension falls short in almost every department. This is not to say it’s a bad game, on the contrary it is a very good and enjoyable experience – it’s just not as good nor as enjoyable as past instalment in the series. In fact I’d go as far as to say this is the worst God of War in the series. No, worst is the wrong word or phrase, it is the least enjoyable and jaw dropping.

8.0 | Gameplay |

Fans of the God of War formula will be very pleased with Ascension’s ability to stay true to traditional gameplay while altering some minute details to make things feel slightly different. The lack of weapon variety might frustrate some but the new God powers are a lot of fun and create variety in the gameplay.

9.0 | Presentation |

As always God of War: Ascension lives up to the technical masterclass of the series. Unfortunately the story itself feels a little lackluster and although there are magical moments in Ascension, one can’t help but feel that there isn’t as much excitement or oomph as there has been before in the series.

5.0 | Replay Value |

God of War: Ascension is the weakest link in the series and I’d expect fans to get through it and perhaps replay another title like God of War III if they really wanted to adventure with Kratos again. The multiplayer is quirky but fails to hold lasting appeal.

7.0 | Final Thoughts |

Fans of the series should absolutely check out God of War: Ascension but don’t expect a step forward for the series in any way, shape or form. There are better hack’n’slash games out currently that are worth checking out in front of this.

Igor Kharin

Igor recommends similar games: DmC: Devil May Cry & Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.




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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct


For most of us the brand name speaks for itself, for those who have lived under a rock for the past 3 years The Walking Dead started as a comic which grew in fan base so quickly that it was developed into a TV series and now acts as one of American TV giant “AMC” flagship shows.  Set after the zombie apocalypse (Zom-pocalypse).


The story follows Daryl and Meryl Dixon in a prequel to their time in the TV series where the player takes on the role of Daryl the red neck crossbow wielding bad ass. 

Now that the synopsis has been covered unfortunately I should cover the game, which in passing sounds like an epic piece of gaming - a first person shooter with some role-play elements to keep the interest.  Though the role-play aspects have been done well the actual handling and graphics leave a lot to be desired.


Firstly there are the “walkers” or zombies to non-WD fans. The number of models used were so limited during my game play I resorted to naming them and counting off the kills of each person per level. The game engine seems to forget that an area has been cleared and entering a building or area you cleared mere minutes ago will often see new walkers roaming about.  Next we have the melee based combat, which in all essence is the key to making this game work since noise is the primary thing to attract walkers. It feels almost clunky and after a while makes the badass we all know and love feels like a teenager who failed to climb the rope in gym class. Running is almost as painful since the run time is limited to about 5 seconds before a water effect/sweat pours down the screen and you’re reduced to walking again.  Most of the game you will spend crouched sneaking about but be sure to check your corners twice, random spawns often end up happening when you least suspect it.

This leads on to my next issue with the game – The set piece walkers play dead, sitting or lying in place waiting, even gunshots don't wake these guys. Yet, the second you step close that snarling sound kicks in and you have a minimal amount of time to execute a quick melee attack to kill them in one hit before they stand up and can take a much heavier beating. While lead pipe or a machete can kill most enemies in one hit, these guys require at least 3 smacks before they finally die.

Should the situation arise (and it will) that you get overwhelmed and close to having your fleshed clawed from your body by multiple walkers you will find yourself in a quick time event which becomes tedious rather quickly in which you need to quickly move the right analogue stick into position to then launch a quick head stab while your life gets slowly witted down. Sounds okay? Well when you have more walkers the more times you have to do this in quick succession which loses its charm relatively fast.


Now after a lot of negativity let me tell you some positive points, the role play aspects are great, your inventory space is limited both on your person (10 unique items as standard though stackable) and your car (more on that shortly) so what you keep and what you leave becomes an issue sooner or later. There are 2 forms of health items, sports drinks (minor) and meals (major) and since regenerating health does not exist outside of ending a level.  Distraction items in the form of bottles and flares, as well as an array of shotguns, pistols, rifles, ammo, melee weapons and of course Daryl's signature crossbow and bolts. 
Survivors are a key element to the game, during your travels you will meet many people wanting a ride and although level wise they provide no support you do have the option to send these minions out to gather supplies for you each time you reach a destination to hunt for ether ammo, fuel or food, though this does come with the risk to their own health and potentially their death.
Each survivor will have their own traits, which will play towards your decision-making, their preferred weapons, if they are strong or weak, reckless or smart. These all will aid in your decision making of who gets that final seat in your luxurious transportation to the next area and again be sent off to find you more resources and who gets left behind to fend for themselves.

Next up is the choice of transport, every few levels you will find keys to a new ride which may be beneficial to trade up for or ignore since each car has a number of seats for your gathering monkeys as well as inventory space and rate at which it will drink your fuel supply. 
The next factor you have to consider is how your going to travel, I.e. Highways, streets or back roads, giving you a choice of high congestion (breakdowns), moderate or resource spots respectively.  Needless to say all these aspects lead to a lot of decision making to come which to be honest adds a refreshing mix to your usual bland FPS gaming.

If you’re an achievement hunter, which I will admit I am, this game doesn't cough up its points easily, and the full 1k will set you back a second play thanks to collectables which are on both sides of a choice you will make on where you wish for your crew of zombie fighting scavenger crew and yourself to set down next in hope of finding somewhere untouched by the wave of risen dead.

To be fair, the game has some really good qualities but feels rushed and forced out early to try and maximise sales off a franchise currently living in the spot light and it suffers for this all in all the only way I can sum it all up is Terminal reality (Developers) I'm not angry just disappointed.

Fans of the series its worth picking up for the joys of getting to play as Darly, live the choices of a zombie survival game which isn't just gun down everything and run to a safe room, but don't be expecting a game of the year award winning title. 

Ted.



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Friday, 22 March 2013

CeX Wexford is open!

What a day! We've just finished opening CeX Bangor in the North, and now Wexford is open too. Yes, the second CeX store in the Republic of Ireland is now open at 3 North Main Street for your buying, selling and exchanging pleasure. Pop in and see why we're so excited. Better still bring in your old games, phones, movies and gadgets and sell them for a fist full of Euros.


Wet CeX in Wexford, now open!

Just some of the Global team that made CeX Wexford.


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Thursday, 21 March 2013

Crysis 3


“As a franchise Crysis defines this gaming generation’s fantastic graphical capabilities while intertwining an interesting and action-packed single player experience.”


Considered by some as a pioneer in the first-person shooter genre, Crysis returns for its third outing expanding on an already impressive formula to bring visually defining action alongside fast-paced and exciting gameplay. Crysis 3 does a stunning job of taking the best bits of both its predecessors and mashing them into another stimulating single player campaign. Those of you looking for another reason to shoot some aliens need look no further because Crysis has what you want. 


“How many more people can you shoot before FPS gets boring” I hear you ask. Yes it’s absolutely true and most of my reviews begin by stating that the gaming market is flooded with shooting titles, however developers Crytek have full right to continue bringing Crysis across gaming platforms as they continue to redefine elements of the genre. What was previously a shallow story experience driven by gameplay and graphics has now evolved into a surprisingly deep and intricate storyline filled with interesting characters and narratives. No longer is this simply a run-and-gun battle against an alien invasion, rather this is a look into humanities psyche, demonstrated by the lead characters Prophet and Sykes. Their partnership is often humorous while simultaneously endearing and serious – which helps blend the story to the gameplay. 

Of course Crysis’s wonderful graphics play a massive role in helping to deliver the terrific dialogue found here. Absolutely stunning character models with detailed facial animation tell their stories in a believable manner allowing you to perceive them visually as well as through their words. These generation defining visuals move further than just character models as just about everything in Crysis 3 is stunning. Set in New York 2.0 (a combination of industrial buildings and earthly nature), the terrific blend of jungles and urban environments gives players plenty to gawk at while planning their assaults: think of New York 2.0 as a giant green house playground for you to explore. While Crysis 3 has plenty of sites to take in, it’s considerably smaller in size than its predecessors – by a few hours actually. However, the brilliant balance between Crysis 1’s open-world feel with the sequels linear pathways makes for a fantastic blend of gameplay that’s paced well throughout. Take note that this is coming from someone who played Crysis 3 on the Xbox 360, those of you lucky enough to have PC specs that can run this will be in for a serious treat as Crysis 3 can justifiably be called the best looking game of this generation so far. This is absolutely a technical as well as artistic marvel for the video game industry. 

So far you may be thinking that this review is a little soppy, concentrating on the visuals and emotional heart-to-hearts that you’ll be having throughout your time with Crysis 3 – well don’t be fooled because there is a serious first-person shooter to be found intertwined amidst the terrific presentation. Crysis 3 is the kind of game that people who haven’t played the first two, can actually still pick up and enjoy after a quick Wikipedia update on the previous two storylines. For those of you who don’t know, the main attraction of Crysis games is the super powered Nanosuit that players are fitted with. The Nanosuit gives you incredible powers and abilities that can be upgraded as you move further into the game. Different vision types, lock-on systems, weapon schematics, movement adjustments etc are just a number of different abilities you’ll be able to manipulate to create the perfect super soldier. New to Crysis 3 is the hacking ability, which ironically seems pretty overused in other franchises. Players can now hack equipment starting from basic locks to eventual turrets and weapons, giving you a distinctive advantage in combat. The bow-and-arrow seem to be quite popular in video games currently – with Lara Croft wielding an awesome bow and now the Predator bow available here, players get the opportunity to covertly take out enemies silently from a distance to avoid any unwanted enemy contact. Unfortunately just like in Tomb Raider, the bow happens to be so much fun to use that it almost renders the rest of the awesome arsenal you have obsolete – so be sure to experiment with everything at your disposal. 

For a game that boasts so many upgrades, enhancements and options, Crysis 3 is surprisingly easy to manage. With an interface that’s a delight to interact with, you should rarely find yourself frustrated, which can occur in other games. While PC gamers get the option for using the keyboard + mouse combination, those of you using controllers will also find a really smooth experience as you begin enhancing your arsenal and picking up more abilities – the ability to keep things streamlined is incredibly important and Crysis 3 does a great job doing so. 


We’ve come to know the Crysis franchise as predominantly a single-player experience, but that’s not to say it’s not worth giving multiplayer a go. Following in the footsteps of various other modern shooters, you should feel right at home jumping into the multiplayer variants available. The best in multiplayer definitely comes out of the modes that emphasize the Nanosuit’s awesome powers – Hunter mode in particular that forces to cloaked Nanosuit soldiers take on a group of soldiers with only the bow and stealth camouflage. 

Crysis 3 is a well-rounded FPS title that does the series a world of justice. With careful emphasis placed this time round on the campaign, Crysis 3 feels much more than a generic and bland alien shooter, there’s something a little bit deeper and more emotional here, which certainly aids to an experience already brimming with life visually. Jaw-dropping design and technical presentation supplements engaging and fun gameplay, making this a great experience across the board and across all platforms. 

8.0 | Gameplay | 

Crysis 3’s take on sci-fi action is exhilarating and varied – it’s your choice how you want to handle the situation, guns blazing or silently with your Predator bow. Variety in a terrain helps transform combat and keep it feeling fresh and exciting as you progress from mission to mission. Multiplayer also holds its ground despite the series being renown for single player gameplay. 

10.0 | Presentation | 

Across all platforms but especially on a top-end PC, Crysis 3 is stunning in all visual departments. Words don’t do the game justice. On top of this fantastic narrative and dialogue help supplement the gameplay and make this more than a mere run-and-gun experience. 

7.5 | Replay Value | 

You’ll want to replay the game on a harder difficulty level once you’re through the first time round. It’s also worth spending some time on the multiplayer, which is quite entertaining but might get overshadowed by the other comprehensive online shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty.

8.5 | Final Thoughts | 

As this generation comes to an end it’s still wonderful to see such fantastic titles come out for us gamers to enjoy. Crysis 3 does so many things well and rarely falters in its attempt to bring well-rounded and engaging first person shooting across all the platforms. Absolutely incredible visuals intertwine with great dialogue, narrative and gameplay to create a really great game. 

CeX recommends similar games: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Battlefield 3 & Crysis 2.

Igor Kharin.








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Monday, 18 March 2013

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is the oddly named title for this spin-off of the hugely popular Metal Gear Solid series.



Taking control of Raiden - the star of Metal Gear Solid 2 and all-round crazy cyborg ninja - instead of the familiar Solid Snake, you jump straight into an action-orientated adventure. It's quite a shock to the system, considering the usually stealthy emphasis that fans have grown accustomed to from a Metal Gear game.

During Revengeance you cut and slice your way through multiple UG's (unmanned gears, a type of AI-controlled robot) and other cyborgs out for your artificial blood.


Story

Revengeance is set four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4. By now, the Patriots system for global war control has been dismantled - thanks to Solid Snake and the anti-Metal Gear group philanthropy. It is the remnants of the paramilitary corporations - known as PMCs - which now pose the primary threat to world order in various hotspots around the globe.

Unable to find regular work after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, Raiden falls into working for one of these PMCs. He is part of a team, who are aptly named 'Maverick', who provide security for a newly-elected Prime Minister of a developing African nation, a man named N'Mani.

While under the protection of Maverick, N'Mani is kidnapped by a group of cyborg assassins who appear out of nowhere. Attacking the convoy, they manage to evade the attempts of Raiden to protect N'mani.

What follows is then a very odd - yet intense - plot involving the mass kidnap of children across developing nations to build an army of child soldiers. This mirrors the upbringing of Raiden himself, and there is a slightly eyebrow-raising critique attached of America's electoral process and monetary system - a critique that could only come from the mind of Japanese developer, Hideo Kojima.

Gameplay

Revengeance does make attempts to keep certain elements of the Metal Gear Solid series, for example the Soliton Radar and the alert system. Raiden is even able to make one-hit stealth kills using his high-frequency katana (that is, if you can manage to sneak up on an unsuspecting enemy).

However, it must be said, this one-hit stealth-kill addition feels like it was thrown in to appease fans of the older games, and being stealthy can feel like a chore, as most of the time you are spotted after getting the drop on an opponent and sticking him.

More often than not, the surrounding enemies turn around spontaneously and see the attack, or they simply hear the commotion and suddenly every guard in the area is on alert - forcing a restart if you're aiming to remain undetected, or forcing you into a much more entertaining all-out brawl with a swarm of enemies.

The Combat System in Revengeance is not the most in-depth, complex example of the genre. When you take into account that it's rubbing elbows with the recently released re-boot of Devil May Cry, and the most recent entry into the God of War series, and its apparent there’s a much more casual approach to combat.

What can't be denied is that the game definitely excites in the button-mashing department. Hitting the buttons like a maniac, while trying to balance attack commands and introduce a bit of skilful play to take on your foes is satisfying.

To stop the game being a bit too silly, though, the higher difficulty levels do severely restrict the ability to stumble through the game using this tactic and it is much more taxing to get out of sticky situations by simply whaling on the pad hoping for everything to be dead when you stop.

The combat initially begins with a simple two-button system compromised of light and heavy attacks that expand progressively through the game as you purchase new moves. Points are allocated based on how well you string your combos together along with other contributing factors, such as your parry rate, and ability to complete quick-time execution events that are possible after evading an attack. Throughout the game you will be able to unlock leg-sweeps, multiple quick stabs and launchers that really add a lot to the complexity of the combat.

At its best, the game has a real ebb and flow as you go from enemy to enemy, slicing them apart and pulling out their innards (which you can then use to regain your health and energy bar, allowing you to continue your rampage). It's a real power-fantasy, and you can't help but feel like a total bad ass after you rip through cyborg after cyborg, chopping them down into bits of fizzling metal.

The stand out feature of Revengeance is the self-titled 'Blade Mode' - a sort of matrix-like effect you enter after hitting the shoulder button. Blade Mode allows you to whip the right joystick around to cut 'freestyle', slicing and dicing enemies - and the environment - into hundreds of pieces. Your devastation is tracked by a little counter in the corner of your screen, and it's pretty empowering to see just how deadly your weapon is.

There are certain enemies that only be eviscerated in Blade Mode after a parry, setting up "Zandatsu" kills where you must guide the joystick through a highlighted red box on the opponent. This gives you access to their gooey cyborg-organs, which Raiden requires to regain health.

It's really satisfying, to the point that you might even start to question how much you really should be enjoying the horror you are causing. In fairness, the game does constantly remind you that you are facing cyborgs and not human beings, and therefore, it's okay to cut them up into tiny bits for pleasure, at least that’s what I kept telling myself.


Presentation

Revengeance is a pleasant looking game with a high frame rate during gameplay that only starts to chug after you have created thousands of parts from cutting everything apart.

The environments go from classical looking London-style cities to industrial factories, sewers and skyscrapers with office like interiors. There's a diverse set of areas to keep you interested, and you don't linger in one area too long, encouraging you to keep playing and not take a break.

Raiden himself looks downright mental - covered head to toe in cybernetic implants and gadgets. A far-cry from his appearance in MGS2 but, in my opinion, a welcome change from his whiny unlikeable demeanour from that game.

Most of the enemies in the game are generic cyborg bad guys that, while not looking awful, get tiresome to see after the thousandth time you have killed them.

The more challenging enemies, the UG's, are introduced in small mini-boss like encounters that teach you how to defeat them. They are almost always mechanical beasts and add a nice change of pace to the game showing up in greater numbers after you first meet them and have learned how they work. They range from the weird cow-like mooing gecko enemies from MGS4, to fast animalistic robot panthers complete with electric stun tails and claws. It's a real mish mash that adds to the over-the-top feel of the game as a whole.

Conclusion

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is nothing like the other games in the series, but I can't help recommending it to both fans of the franchise and new comers alike due to its simple fun slice-n-dice gameplay.

The plot can get a little existential and whacky, but this should be no surprise to anyone familiar with Metal Gear Solid. While the game can be rushed through in about seven hours, there is certainly an element of re-playability as you have the ability to take your shiny new toys you gathered through the game into a new play through. My score - 8/10.

Chris Heeley

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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Nexus 4

After hearing so much about the Nexus 4 & going ga-ga over its features, finally Google & LG's baby was in my hands. And the first impressions are amazing! 

The phone looks brilliant out of the box & display is breathtaking when it's turned on.


Design

The Nexus 4 has a Gorilla glass 2 Screen & all glass front & back but easily damageable on the back if dropped - Invest in a case! The shiny futuristic back panel has the IMEI barcode stuck on it (on a plastic cover) with Nexus & LG branding. Although at 139grams, it's a tad too heavy but it gives the phone a rich, premium feel (unlike other plastic phones). Disappointed to see no headphones? Why?! Don't tell me it's a cheap phone, all cheap phones have bundled headsets! 


Hardware & Software
   
Equipped with 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 with 2GB RAM. AnTuTu Benchmark results prove that it's better than the Note II, its closest competitor. 2100MAh battery that could've been bigger since moderate usage can easily exhaust it in less than a day but like all other Android phones, the screen drains a lot & you have to charge it every day. Glonass, Bluetooth 4.0 ,3G , NFC/Android Beam & Wireless charging all inclusive, leaving no stones unturned. 

Latest Jellybean 4.2.2 OS (native android) with no knick knacks lets you enjoy the real experience of Android.   

Interface

Stock Android 4.2 feels lighter and snappier. One finger drag brings down the notification tray on the screen but a 2 finger drag brings down toggle shortcuts for the important settings or the most used ones, also displaying a cool contact image on top left. Notification bar can be dropped and then extended by long press. Missed calls can now be replied to from the notification tray itself via call back or SMS, super cool! Should allow FB and twitter updates via notification bar like iOS to make it more social network friendly.

5 Lock screen widgets are also pretty nifty but should have more screens and allow customization like the home screens inside. The Google search bar cannot be moved or removed , I wonder why since Google Now can do that if you keep the home button pressed.

Default Swype like keyboard was a good change from the regular android Keyboard. Play Music syncs easily with windows for songs & got a nifty equalizer too. Couldn't see too many widgets for it though.

The home screen looks pretty big but still the icons at the bottom take up a lot of valuable screen space. Wish I could reduce the size of the app drawer at bottom of the screen with messages and browser icons etc. Love the TV switch off style lock screen, a tradition with the Nexus devices.


Camera
  
8MP rear & 1.3 MP front camera. Has all Basic modes, filters, scenes & 360 panaroma (takes a bit of getting used to but is breathtaking when you do).  The 360 panaromic shot also has a "little planet" feature that gives top view of the pic in 360 degrees. HDR modes is a good addition & front camera also lets u pinch to zoom and record videos. Gallery albums can be viewed in grid or film strip modes (just something different). Video wise a "movie studio" app is pre installed for editing. 

Google Now

Google now is crazy predictive & it learns based on your google searches and locations if you've signed into google while searching. Locations can be erratic sometimes but bus/train schedules are almost accurate, it recently got updated with a widget. It's basically a mixture of search and voice recognition with understanding of all your favourite topics and interest layed out in a card format. Creepy when it knows what you want to know without you asking for it ! Voice search has improved tremendously and is more "Siri"ish now.   

Memory

8GB or 16GB storage non expandable, with storage options like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive etc. Some lucky users also got 50 Gb BOX.com storage on their Nexus 4. (Including me, yippee!)   

Display

4.7inch HD IPS disply  with a  resolution of 768 x 1280 at  318 PPI. LED indicator at the bottom of the screen is cool and you can customise with the "light flow"app from the market. 

Cons
 
No 4G. No flash (will be extinct soon anyways). No expandable memory. Camera still has scope for improvement . 

Pros

Value for money! Easy to root & flash. Ubuntu is already available. Always 1st to get a software update from Google. Beautiful screen & premium design.     

Extras

Tap on "Build no" in Settings a few times to unlock Developer Options. Tap a few times on "Android Version" to see and play with jelly beans :) 

I'd finish off by saying this is the best phone in the market right now in terms of "value for money". GO GET IT! (Before it disappears again).

P. Khilnani

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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider is an intense reboot of the series, a prequel which allows you to see Lara Croft as you’ve never seen her before. Young, vulnerable and in danger, Lara learns to adapt quickly and become the tough heroine we’ve come to know and love.



The game sees the budding archaeologist shipwrecked on an incredibly beautiful island, regrouping with her friends, and above all trying to survive the wrath of some pretty unpleasant islanders. With wrecks everywhere, unwelcoming inhabitants, creepy artefacts and even a plane crash before your very eyes – it all feels very Lost. Just like the Lost island, it’s breathtakingly beautiful. Tomb Raider provides plenty of opportunity to show off the stunning landscapes as you clamber dangerously across rope bridges or scale a radio tower; you simply cannot play this game without appreciating the spectacular graphics. 


Everything feels smooth, too. Particularly for the first hour, the game can feel almost like a continuing cut-scene as Lara moves flawlessly and realistically from one space to another. This feels a little restrictive to start, with quick-time events and structured set pieces, but becomes more open as the game goes on. The gameplay seems to have a perfect balance between feeling completely natural whilst still being challenging, it feels genuinely dangerous to scramble up walls and use your axe to haul up rock faces, and yet Lara’s movements are still confident and relatively easy. 


Whilst we’re used to Lara Croft with a hardened attitude, this game sees a completely different side of her character. It’s genuinely interesting to see the young Lara starting out as an archaeologist, suddenly she feels like a completely normal human being, and it’s really realistic. You’ll be so interested in listening to Lara that the other characters seem completely obsolete and a little lacking, but it actually doesn’t even matter. Ignoring every word her friends says wouldn’t take away from this game, which should be a criticism, but it’s a true testament to how brilliant Lara’s character is here. Her attitude is perfect, even when struggling for survival she still manages to take note of the archaeology around her, being fascinated by the history of the tombs and symbols around her. 

Whilst she is vulnerable, she does not feel weak. She hardens quickly, almost too quickly. Your first kill as Lara is one of the most intensely emotional moments of the game, as she struggles with a near-death scenario, grabs the hand gun and gorily blows the head off her first kill, promptly breaking down into tears. From this moment, she wields this weapon and many others with ease, needing to pop heads off of several islanders around most corners she takes. Whilst this quick development feels a little startling, you can see how it would be tiresome dealing with a teary Lara at every kill. However, this could have been paced a little better.

Combat may be thrown upon you a little, but it’s easy enough to pick up. It’s pretty standard. Cover based, aim for the head unless you want to waste a ton of ammo, and vary your weapon choices. Collecting of XP and salvage from surrounding objects and from looting dead bodies is an intuitive way to engage more with your surroundings, allowing you to upgrade skills and weapons. It’s a familiar system and it works well here, encouraging you both to explore a little further and take a little more care during combat scenes. 

Tomb Raider is a game you should probably play whether you’ve been a fan of the series beforehand or not. It’s certainly been taken up a notch, all you need to do is not press ‘Y’ quick enough or misjudge a jump to see Lara brutally and realistically die in front of you; hearing her scream and her bones crush is enough for you to be pretty terrified of letting her die again – and you can definitely see why the game gets its ‘18’ rating. The gameplay is fast pace and exciting, yet still allowing you to chill out and explore tombs if you’re interested. The smooth, natural feel of incredibly high-pressure events is difficult to achieve and it’s done brilliantly here, and everything looks, sounds and feels stunning. The reboot gives you a totally different view of Lara Croft, adding an incredible layer of depth and realism. As she stands covered in blood, exhales and mutters “I hate tombs”, you can’t help but giggle a little. She’s a real person for once, and she’s a pretty amazing one.

Gameplay – 8.5

Impressively smooth and intuitive whilst still challenging, you feel like you’re constantly taking risks. Moving from place to place is fluid and dynamic, it never feels repetitive. Combat is good, just thrown on you a little unrealistically.

Presentation – 9.0

The island is not only beautiful, with vast landscapes constantly viewable and gorgeous, but also very much alive and responsive. Animals move around you in the forest and water washes dirt off your body, the game’s attention to detail is noticeable and looks fantastic.

Replay value – 7.5

It’s very tempting to just storm through the first player campaign, which does leave some room for replay, as you’ll probably want to go back and explore some of the secret tombs you left behind. However, once you’ve completed that, there’s probably not much left to do. The multiplayer isn’t anything new or exciting, and whilst if you’re a fan of multiplayer you’ll enjoy it, you’ll probably be back on Call of Duty by the end of the week.

Final thoughts – 9.0

Tomb Raider is an extremely impressive reboot of a series that I’d never taken particularly seriously before. It’s a beautiful game with smooth, fast paced and challenging gameplay. Most significantly though, Lara’s character is brilliantly written and gives amazing depth to probably gaming’s most iconic heroine. 

Kaz Scattergood


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Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Video Review - Nokia Lumia 920

Check out our CeX Vlog - Nokia Lumia 920 review on our brand spanking new YouTube Channel.




"If you are after a phone that you can drop without it breaking first time or you want a phone that just simply works, perhaps you fancy trying out a new system than HTC or iOS then check out the Nokia Lumia 920 - The brick that ate all the pies."


Let us know what YOU think! www.webuy.com



Nokia Lumia 920 at CeX



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