25 June 2016

Fallout 4 - Contraptions Review

Fallout 4 continues its run of post launch DLC, this time giving players the ability to create some pretty out their contraptions, so those who want more story or locations to discover will be disappointed, this is all about building.

What Contraptions allows you to do, above the main game is that you can now automate things, create some interesting machines and go out there with the crazy designs you have. However, right of the bat, there are two big problems with this new batch of items, first is that creating anything other than a ball ramp or two is going to require some serious resources. The second and for more concerning for some people is that, there are no instructions on some of the more advanced items, which if you don’t understand how they work, you will not be able to use them right.

There is another concern to be found, space, in order to build some more elaborate pieces, you will need to find yourself a nice open plot of space to build upon. If you are like me and have set up a few different settlements, then you can build a few smaller things at each one, but even the prefabricated pieces take up quite a lot of room, so all of that must be taken into account when you start to build. There are easy things like elevators that are just place and connect, but the most fall into either the construction piece or the program piece of gear, which when you combine them together will allow you to create some fun. The one people are likely to mess around with first and it is the one I did, is the ball and track pieces, which you can use to trigger things or just create a very cool track. The triggers can be set up than when the ball passes under them, they send the on signal to a piece of tech you have connected, it can be as simple as a light or really anything else you can think to connect.

The second thing that I played around with, were the machines, you have a few of them, if you drop supplies into them, you can have them create weapons, armour and more, depending on the options you select. It is a nice way to have a machine create some guns for you, but just as you would need the materials on your person to make something else, you need the right materials to make a gun, which then comes back to the resources mentioned above. The hopper is a great way to add materials, but in order to make one single item, you need to ensure you drop the right ingredients in and it can be quite the process, just for one gun, which begs the question why automate that.

You can of course, choose to mix all of these things in with the cages and arenas given in the wasteland workshop dlc a few months back, which can result in some funny experiences, like having a raider trigger a ball drop, which takes for ever, only for it to trigger a floor plate of spikes to shoot up and kill him. What you can do, if you have the know how is use and or nand switches, there is also or and nor switches, most of which won’t mean anything to most people and even if you want to learn how to use them, you will need to go elsewhere as the game does not offer any instructions on how to use them. An And swtich is great if you want to have two different rules be completed before an action starts, like a pressure plate in a corridor means a laser trip wire activates and if passed through by a friendly, nothing happens. If however it is an unfriendly the And gate gets its second yes and then kicks off your machine of death.

The advanced functions could have been implemented in a nicer way, giving people who are not familiar with them the chance to learn, so it is a missed chance. Perhaps an even stranger one, the menus for building are now so blown out, that it can take forever to find the piece you want. Rather than placing the new switches and gear in their own sections, they are put into existing ones, so you will need to relook at almost every menu to find them, which is only exacerbated more when you need to swap between a few different items during a build. Things like the pulse generators are nice and I fully expect someone to make use of them to create some great music, but they are buried at the back of a category that makes no sense.

Fallout 4 has given players a lot of different options with the post launch DLC, with story, locations and building, there was something for all. The latest Contraptions, though feels more at home in an advanced coding class in a school than Fallout, while there is some fun to be had with the simple tools, the need of massive resources and space for anything bigger, before you get to understanding advanced programming is a giant lead weight on this one.

Thanks to Bethesda for supplying the DLC for review

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Pac-Man 256 Review

Last year Bandai Namco gave Pac-Man a boost with the new game Pac-Man 256 for mobile devices and it proved to be quite popular. Almost a year later the game has made the jump from mobile to consoles and PC, but does it keep the fun alive.

In this version of Pac-Man, you must make your way up an ever growing board, while avoiding all the ghosts, some you know and some new and at the same time, you must avoid the infamous level 256 glitch from the original arcade game, which is moving up the board behind you. The idea is simple, but there are a few ways you can play it and given that it is now on consoles, they have also added a new multiplayer mode, to up the challenge if you have friends around.

Moving about the board is easy enough, just change directions with the stick or dpad and Pac-Man will change course, as you move about though, you can eat the dots that line the board, with the goal of eat 256 in a row, which will give you a bonus. There are breaks in the dots though, which if you hit, your counter resets and you need to start again and while you can generally see the breaks easy enough, you need to avoid the ghosts as well, which can mix things up a lot.

Each of the ghosts have a unique ability, blue ghosts will just keep going around on the same path, orange ghosts will move down the board, taking turns as they want, whereas pink ghosts will not move until you cross their line of sight and even then they will move in a straight line. There are also Green, Purple, Red and Grey ghosts, all of whom have different actions, so learning which colour corresponds with which action is crucial to helping you keep ahead of them. The game does offer up the traditional Pac-Man power up, which turns all the ghosts dark blue and allows you to eat them, giving you a nice score boost, but 256 mixes things up with new ones, like Laser, Tornado and more. These power-ups are all unlocked as you eat more of the dots, with the latter power ups like Stealth needing significant dots to unlock. As you play the game, you can also collect coins, which you can use to upgrade the power-ups, giving them a longer duration and more.

Nothing that the game offers is any different from the mobile release last year, even the themes are the same, what it does offer is a new multiplayer mode, where you have two to four people playing on the same board, attempting to earn the best score. The mode can get chaotic with four people playing, all with power-ups going and such, but it is still fun. Perhaps the game’s biggest issues is that is does nothing new, sure multiplayer is different, but only those that can convince friends to play along with enjoy it. Even the menu navigation is still the same as it is on mobile, the gifting of free coins returns as well, don’t mistake this for anything bag about the game, just if you have it on mobile, getting the console or PC version will not deliver you anything different.

Pac-Man 256 on consoles does not offering anything different to the experience to the mobile versions, the multiplayer mode is fun, but you need to have friends around to play it. The game is enjoyable, but because of its roots in mobile game design, the feeling of playing on console is strange to say the least.

Thanks to Bandai Namco for supplying the game for review
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23 June 2016

PowerCube Review

So it has come to this, reviewing a powerboard, I mean it is a thing that everyone knows, understands how they work and why you use them, but it was not until I got the Powercube in my hands that I understood that this is a shift and in the right direction.

Right off the bat, you will notice that the shape of the Powercube, is unlike any sort of powerboard you will have seen before and that is its biggest strength. Depending on the board you replace it with, it can save significant space and given its overall small footprint can take up very little room wherever you place it. The unit comes with a nice 1.5m length cable, giving you a lot of space from your wall socket to the cube, and if you are someone who likes to keep their cables nice and tidy, there is also a small bracket that can be screwed into place, keeping the power cable tucked away.

The actual cube face has 5 outlets, but if you mount the unit, as is recommended, you will only get access to 4 of them, which is still a good amount. Mounting the cube is really easy as well, as you get a plate and some sticky pads, much like on those reusable hooks, you just need to place it over the point, depending on how you want to orientate the cube and that is it. The only caveat with your layout choice is that on the back there is a reset switch, in case of a power surge, so you need to keep that in mind.

If you find that you require additional slots, you can actually purchase an adapter that will plug into one face of the Powercube and given you an additional series of slots. If you do this though, it is recommend that you avoid having the cube mounted, as the additional weight is too much for the connection for it hanging, more so once you plug things in.

There are two things that do make using the cube a bit of a hassle though, if you are using power adaptors that have those big bulky plugs, having a few of those attached, takes this compact cube and makes it very large. While the outlets all face different directions, you should not run into plugs butting up against each other, but if you think more along the lines of Katamari and then you’re on track, of course, this will only impact you if you have the big bulky plugs. The other strange thing is that, the two models of the Powercube come with a wildly different function on one and not the other. The one I was given for review, did not contain any USB ports, but the other model that exists replaces a full face with two ports.

At the end of the day though, the Powercube is one really great piece of tech, it takes decades of powerboard design and distils it down to the basics. This is not going to help with the bulkier power adaptors, but for the slim line setups, you can’t go wrong.

Thanks to Allocacoc for supplying the item for review and if you are thinking to pick one up for yourself, you can find them at Harvey Norman, OfficeWorks and Howards Storage World
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Guitar Hero Live Brings The Pop And Punk

Guitar Hero Live keeps on releasing more content, bringing the addition of some Pop Punk tracks to the series.

First up is the Pop Punk Invasion, which delivers the following tracks:

  • New Found Glory – My Friends Over You
  • Good Charlotte – The River (ft. M. Shadows & Synyster Gates)
  • Sleeping With Sirens – Go Go Go

Additionally, players have another reason to spend quality time with dad by travelling back in time and playing the ‘Dads Love Rock’ show. ‘Bar Classics’ are on the lineup for one more week and then will be added to the GHTV library where players can choose to play songs on-demand.

Dads Love Rock

  • KISS – Rock and Roll All Nite
  • Blue Öyster Cult – Take Me Away
  • Rainbow – Since You Been Gone

Bar Classics

  • Spin Doctors – Two Princes
  • Semisonic – Closing Time
  • Bon Jovi – I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
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See How The Overwatch Mural Came To Be

What you see above is one very large and very detailed Overwatch mural that was painted on a wall in Sydney, Australia in the lead up to the games release. Blizzard have now released a very impressive time lapse video, which lets you watch the whole thing being created.

Overwatch also crossed the milestone of have over 10 million players, are you one of them?
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Star Ocean: Integrity And Faithlessness Launch Trailer

Ahead of its release next week, Square Enix have released the launch trailer for Star Ocean: Integrity And Faithlessness, the next entry in the popular Star Ocean series.

Players will go on an epic adventure that will introduce seamless transitions between gameplay and dynamic cut scenes. The popular real-time action battle system from previous titles in the series has been overhauled - with improved game mechanics and action sequences for a truly uninterrupted and immersive in-game narrative.

A Limited Edition version of the game is available (while stock last), and will include the game and Steelbook plus five in-game DLC and two battle BGM from Valkyrie Profile Series. The game will only be available for PlayStation 4 as well.

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