Counter Strike Go Review

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Introduction

A remake of a classic, or rather an upgrade of one. When I first saw Counter Strike Go in action I wasn’t sure if I was excited or terrified, it is a game that I sunk countless hours of my childhood into after all. With the current trend of so many shooters turning into over the top, fast paced chaos I was a little apprehensive. I’m glad to say there really was no reason to be nervous.

Gameplay

For anyone who has played Counter Strike in the past you will be familiar with the gameplay of Counter Strike Go. Chose a side, terrorist or counter terrorist, then fight along side your team mates to carry out map objectives that range from bomb defusal to hostage rescue.

The great thing about Counter Strike is the pace, it’s not too fast, it’s not over the top with Michael Bay style explosions, it’s just right. You’ll work along side your team and use tactics to your advantage, with every shot and kill making a difference. Fire fights in corridors are intense, evenly matching all players and skill counts for something.

For the hardcore amongst you there is a competitive mode where you will need to purchase body armour during matches and your death cam will be limited to your own team. For the casual amongst you theres a casual mode, giving you an open death cam to watch all the players regardless of the team and no need to buy armour, just decide on your weapons and go complete your objective. This separation of players is fantastic as you rarely encounter people who are playing for different reasons to you.

Graphics

The graphics wont leave your jaw hanging open, it’s nothing to really write home about. However Counter Strike Go isn’t about graphics, it’s about simple and balanced gameplay and the graphics fit nicely with this. Character models have an improved level of detail over previous versions and the level design looks pretty good. One major improvement is the number of different character models which vary depending on the level you participate in. The generic four character models are gone.

What I liked

The pacing and combat has me sold. Valve has got this spot on, offering up a solid shooter with amazing gameplay. This isn’t another generic shooter, it’s a team based game with some brilliant competitive play. You’ll find yourself locked in one on one firefights or battling against a squad from the enemy team. This game offers one of the best FPS experiences.

What I disliked

There are so many attempts to get you to spend your cash on in game add-ons. Now I should point out that all the purchases you can make are purely aesthetic, they aren’t pay to win, but they are pretty consistent. At the end of each match people will randomly receive new weapon skins and occasionally stickers or weapon cases. The skins are great but the stickers and weapon cases need keys to unlock, keys you need to purchase.

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of Counter Strike then this game is a must. Valve haven’t destroyed it or altered it beyond recognition, they’ve updated it. Even if you haven’t played Counter Strike and you’re a fan of good solid shooters then I recommend this game. The Counter Strike games are some of the best shooters I’ve played and CSGO doesn’t fail to deliver.

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Work, play, write

If I’ve learnt one thing writing my first book it’s that I’m chaotic when it comes to writing. In fact I’m chaotic when it comes to most things but my writing seems to suffer the most.

My plan going forward is to enforce some structure, driving up efficiency of my writing. What tips do any if you writers out there have for managing your writing time effectively when also working full time?

Hope to see some ideas in the comments! ūüėÄ

Warhammer Quest Review

Introduction

I’ve sunk a fair amount of time into Warhammer Quest and must admit I’ve found it to be a pretty good game. It looks fantastic andworks extremely well with touch input. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into making this game.¬†

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Warhammer Quest is a top down dungeon crawler. You take control of four warriors who move from town to town, collecting quests and searching dungeons. There are a number of classes to control and lots of loot to discover. 

Combat and movement follows the conventional rules of Games Workshop, giving your warriors a set number of move and combat points per turn. This slows the combat down and forces the player to take a little more time planning their strategy which works fantastically well on the iPad. 

One thing that is a little disappointing is that Warhammer Quest is all about searching through dungeons and nothing more. It’s fun for a while but I’ve found myself wishing the game was a little more deep, allowing me more freedom to explore other landscapes or even just the towns I visit.¬†

However for the cost I can’t really complain. They pretty much nailed the gameplay.¬†

Graphics

This isn’t the kind of game that’s going to blow your socks off when it comes to graphics but it still looks good. I loved the art style of the dungeons and the animations of the warriors worked very nicely.¬†

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Conclusion

For anyone looking for a casual RPG dungeon crawler this is the game for you. There’s enough content to hold your interest for hours and it’s well worth the price. It’s a great game for killing time and it’s new and original, taking advantage of touch input and making great use of the controls.

Download – iPhone Download – iPad

iPhone 5S Review

Introduction 

Its been a long time since I used an iPhone for personal use. I fell in love with Android some time back and shunned the iPhones seeing them as basic and small so I really expected to dislike the iPhone 5S, in fact I wanted to dislike it. However the opposite has happened, I’ve fallen in love with it.

Look and Feel

Apple have done what Apple do well, built a device that looks and feels amazing. Its superbly lightweight and the screen looks fantastic despite it being relatively small. The iPhone feels premium, beautifully crafted and fantastic to handle.

I’ve been put off the smaller screen of the iPhone for some time now, preferring the mammoth sized displays you find on Androids. However using the iPhone reminded me of what this device is, its a phone. It no longer takes up every bit of space in my pocket and it feels comfortable to hold during lengthy calls. It still does everything else well while at the same time doesn’t over stretch its purpose. With tablets at such reasonable prices why do we also opt for giant displays on our phones?

If you are used to previous generations of Apple devices then you may find yourself in need of new charging or dock accessories as the port in the iPhone 5 and above has changed. There was outcry when this happened but at the end of the day it saved on time and also this device charges up extremely fast.

User Interface

I wasn’t a fan of¬†iOS¬†7 on the iPad but on the iPhone it works well. Its punchy and sharp and responds extremely fast. Noticeable differences from the previous OS are the complete change of style, new launcher options and revamped multitasking.

We still lack some of the customisation options that you would find in an Android device but iOS 7 is pretty nice. Its fast and intuitive and above all else its extremely simple to use. Like all previous iOS devices Apple have maintained that quality where anyone can pick up a device and find their way around it regardless of experience.

Camera

Here’s where things aren’t quite as good. The camera is an improvement over previous models and the dual LED flash is a welcome addition. I managed to snap some great looking pictures on the go and with the additional camera functions, such as slow motion videos, things got really fun.

However, where the camera falls down is against its competition. Its the best Apple camera on any of its devices but when pitted against competition flagships it falls short. The main devices I have used along side the iPhone 5S are, Galaxy Note 3, Xperia Z1 and the Lumia 1020. What we do need to consider however is that they pack a better camera but they are also huge devices when compared to the iPhone. Its a trade off you need to decide on.

Battery

Battery life was surprisingly good, easily lasting me a full day. Its what I’ve come to expect from this kind of device. It won’t blow you away and you’re still going to need to charge this on a daily basis.

What I liked

Surprisingly I loved the size of the device. It felt almost perfect to use as a phone with all the smart added extras. For me it is nearly perfect as I carry a tablet around everywhere I go and have the option of using my iPhone as a mobile hotspot. For some, the size will be a let down, for others a massive bonus.

What I disliked

The price. Yes Apple have made a beautiful and premium device but I still cannot accept that it is worth the asking price. It has lovely features and is well crafted but its a hefty price tag.

Stand Out Feature

The finger print reader for me was the stand out feature. I expected it to be a gimmick, something that rarely worked. Instead I found it to be fully functional and pretty handy. Literally I pressed my thumb on the home key and voila! No need for patterns, codes or pin numbers.

Conclusion

In conclusion I loved the iPhone 5S and I can’t really fault it. Potential buyers need to decide on what they really need from a phone and take a look at what other devices they carry. If you lug a tablet around with you then the iPhone is a nice companion. If you’re looking for an all in one device for heavy browsing on productivity on the go then this device probably isn’t for you.

Is it worth the price tag? Hard to justify really. However its one of the most surprising devices I’ve used in a long time and for once I’ve been pleasantly¬†excited while using the iPhone.

Check it out here: iPhone 5S

Samsung Galaxy Gear Review

Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy Gear, an intriguing bit of kit and perhaps one of the smartest wearables out there. With competition hotting up and wearables fighting to become relevant in the market place how does the Gear hold up?

Look and Feel

To start with, its a lovely looking device. Its sleek and elegant with a gorgeous premium feel to it. The screen is a good size and the metal surround looks fantastic.

The strap isn’t to my taste, an off rubberised texture that has started to irritate my wrist after a few days of use. I wish Samsung had opted for a metal finish for their strap as the current one really takes away from the premium look.

While we are on the subject of strap the clasp on the bottom is pretty large. This houses the speaker for the Gear and due to it being beneath your wrist it really gets in the way. I constantly found myself getting caught against desk edges or on keyboards and the clasp makes the Gear extremely uncomfortable for everyday use.

Another issue I found with the design is the camera location. I would have much preferred a front facing camera for video calls, instead we have a very large and obvious camera located on the front of the wrist band. Great if you desperately need to snap a quick picture but people will throw a fair few questioning glances at your Gear when they spot your spy camera.

User Interface

Its pretty basic yet intuitive at the same time. Lift your arm up towards you and the Gear will spring to life, by far my favourite feature. Swipe to the left to show notifications or continue scrolling for other apps.

You can also set quick gestures, for example the pre set gesture, swipe down from the top of the screen and your camera will power up, swipe up and your phone dialer will pop up. These gestures are welcome when it comes to such a tiny screen.

Normally I wouldn’t touch on this subject here but I feel sound quality needs a mention. Its good, very good in fact. During a call I could hear everything clearly even when I was in a relatively noisy area. Those around me fed back that all they could hear was muffles which allowed the call to remain private. I didn’t expect this device to be any good during calls and must admit I’m pleasantly surprised.

Camera

As I mentioned already I would have preferred a front facing camera, however Samsung opted to give us a spy camera shooter. To be honest the camera is OK, its not good, its not bad. I can’t see many occasions where you would want to use it but for some it is handy.

The major issue I have with the camera is that its relatively large and adds some bulk to the device. It also stands out like a sore thumb, with many people asking why I have a camera on my watch and giving me weird disapproving looks. I can see where they’re coming from, I mean what kind of person needs a secret camera on their watch?

Battery

I’ve heard some horror stories about the Gears battery. I managed a consistent and solid two days on my Gear between charges. Its not fantastic but its better than expected.

A word of warning for potential buyers. The Gear has to be charged in its unique cradle which doesn’t make charging on the go as easy as I’ve had liked. The reason for this is to remove the need for micro USB ports on the device itself, a trade off I wish Samsung hadn’t made.

What I liked

It does a lot more than the competition currently does and saves a lot of battery on my phone. Whenever my phone buzzes I can check wherever or not its worth while looking in more detail with a quick glance at my watch.

What I disliked

It’s uncomfortable. I thought that with a little time I would get used to wearing the Gear but I’m still very conscious its there. Its just a little too bulky in the wrong places. The clasp on the bottom ruins the device completely in my opinion, sticking out and catching far too much.

Conclusion

I really want to love the Gear but I just can’t bring myself to fall for it. Its gorgeous and well built but some of the trade offs that Samsung made are far too obvious to ignore.

The lack of compatibility also causes issues, confusing many potential customers. Unless you are sporting one of the latest Samsung Galaxy phones then you are out of luck.

The Gear feels like a gimmick at the moment with a fair bit of potential. In my opinion it just isn’t yet ready for prime time and my recommendation would be to wait for the second generation of the Gear.