Steam In Home Streaming Beta

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Finally I’ve been accepted into the Steam in home streaming beta. Couldn’t be any more excited! I guess the question you maybe asking right now is why am I so excited?

For a while now I’ve been looking for a good streaming solution to stream my games from my gaming rig to other devices in the house. I’ve used Splashtop,which is absolutely abysmal, and I’ve tried other non main stream options. When I read about Steams streaming option I got pretty excited and signed up for the beta immediately.

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t expect it to work, but to my surprise it does! I sat upstairs with my MacBook Pro Retina perched on my lap and clicked on the option to stream Skyrim, a fully modded version of it, and bam, it loaded and played as smoothly as if I were playing on my gaming rig.

I haven’t spent much time with the streaming service but I intend to have a real good play. Once I’ve had some more hands on time I’ll get an update out. Right now however I’m having a geek overload.

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Elder Scrolls Online Preview

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When I saw the announcement for The Elder Scrolls Online my heart fluttered and sunk. My feelings were mixed, on one hand we were finally being given the opportunity to play with our friends in Tamriel, on the other hand there was a risk of this being a quick and easy cash in for the studio.

I watched trailers and hands on videos, showing off what this game was all about, but still I was unsure. We’ve all been let down by MMO’s before, ones that had extremely fancy game trailers, how could we possibly know whether or not this would be any different?

Finally the beta weekend came up and I got my first hands on experience with this game and straight away a number of my fears melted away. The first thing you notice when you jump into The Elder Scrolls Online is just how detailed it is. The character creation has an awful lot of depth, giving the player a huge amount of customisation options and the character graphics are absolutely superb.

Pretty impressive and very similar style to Skyrim.

Once I created my character I was thrown into my first dungeon, a prison, from which I had to escape. My first quest was fully voiced and felt like something from Skyrim, not World of Warcraft. The same can be said for the majority of quests I have played through, they are all pretty detailed, not your standard fetch or kill style quests.

The gameplay felt very similar to Skyrim, a first person or third person adventure depending on your preference. I played first person, a warrior wielding two handed weapons. A soon as I entered combat I found myself in familiar territory, the game handles just like Skyrim, left mouse click attacks and right blocks but there are also a couple of extras thrown into the mix, such as the ability to double tap your direction keys to dodge and evade attacks.

A lovely reminder of my days spent in Skyrim

Once you fight through your first quest you’ll be taken to a new location. I played as a Nord and was transported to a snowy village with lush forest surrounding it. The environment was absolutely stunning and an absolute pleasure to explore. Unlike other MMO’s, the graphics are rich and detailed, the environments exceptionally well developed. There were large forests to wander through, high mountains, flowing rivers and cascading waterfalls, really something I didn’t expect to see in an MMO.

Time for a drink

Time for a drink

I teamed up with my brother and we went exploring, seeking out new and random quests which were all voice acted and interesting. Some of the quests were bizarre and humorous, sending us on random missions, while others were more serious, pitting us against invading soldiers. My only gripe when exploring with a friend is that even when you are both grouped together and completing the same quest there is no combining or sharing the quest. If one of you completes the quest they are the only one to do so. I loved the way SWTOR handled a group when completing quests and

I created a second character in order to check out some of the other starting locations and found myself in a desert village, a huge port beside a beautiful ocean. Once again exploring felt great, wandering along side cliff edges and looking down at beautiful lagoons. All of the fauna was different, completely styled to match the hot and arid landscape I was exploring. Interesting animals roamed the sands and ruins were scattered about all over. The whole place was a stark contrast to the earlier snowy landscapes I’d explored as a Nord.

A stark contrast to my earlier play through

I teamed up with my brother and we went exploring, seeking out new and random quests which were all voice acted and interesting. Some of the quests were bizarre and humorous, sending us on random missions, while others were more serious, pitting us against invading soldiers. My only gripe when exploring with a friend is that even when you are both grouped together and completing the same quest there is no combining or sharing the quest. If one of you completes the quest they are the only one to do so. I loved the way SWTOR handled a group when completing quests and would love to see something similar in ESO.

I’ll admit, I’m still undecided about this game. I want to love it and I came pretty close. I can see myself sinking hundreds of hours into ESO, exploring alongside friends and drinking in the new environments. On the flip side it’s an MMO and they are normally plagued with issues, ready to ruin the game experience. The subscription worries me as I’m not a fan of having to pay for a game upfront then continue paying monthly. If the developers can continue to deliver updates and new content after the games release then maybe, just maybe, I’ll take the plunge and finally commit to an MMO.

All in all, an absolutely fantastic Elder Scrolls experience, even if it is online.

Zelda A Link Between Two Worlds Review

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Introduction

Zelda A Link Between Two Worlds is a pretty neat little game with a very interesting mechanic behind it. I’ve never really been able to get into any Zelda games and I’ll admit my 3DS was purchased purely to play the new Pokemon game on, so imagine my surprise when I found myself enjoying this game. So what makes this a game worth playing?

The game follows our hero, Link, as he battles a villain who is seeking to transform the Seven Sages into paintings, adding them all to his horrid collection. When Castle Hyrule is attacked by the menace things really get underway, sending our hero on his quest to save princess Zelda and the Sages.

Gameplay

imageWhat I really enjoy about Zelda is the casual gameplay. It’s easy to pick up and play and you don’t need to invest hours at a time to enjoy it. Exploring Hyrule and Lowrule is good fun, using a number of different tools to help get to new locations. The added ability to transform into a painting and meld with walls adds a whole new level of exploration and puzzle solving. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I saw pictures of Link turning into a painting but I’m impressed with how well the concept works.

Puzzle solving works well in this game, giving the player a range of abilities and tools to help them get from A to B and discover treasure or hidden items. The puzzles aren’t overly taxing but they are enjoyable and add a little something more to the game.

Combat starts out pretty basic but as you progress through the game it gets a little deeper. The new items the player acquires help out in fights, all causing different types of chaos for your enemies to deal with. One thing that I found to be pretty different is how the players user interface becomes more intuitive as they progress, the quick skills bar evolving with time.

Graphics

The graphics are pretty good, a top down, cartoon style. It’s just what you’d expect from a game built for the 3DS. The style works really well and works perfectly with the 3D option.

Speaking of 3D, I found that it works well in Zelda, the most tolerable game I’ve played yet with 3D on. After a while though the novelty wore off and I went back to 2D but I’m sure there will be plenty of players out there who will be able to play all the way through with 3D on.

What I liked

I loved the way that this game mixes things up with new concepts like turning into a painting to explore. It’s different to anything I’ve played in quite some time and really adds depth to the game. I can’t really imagine this being a particularly great game without these added concepts.

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What I disliked

That the guy I rented my house out to kept taking my rented items if I died! Damn you!

Stand Out Feature

It’s definitely the range of unique tools and abilities this game gives the player. It just adds so much and really helps to mix things up. I’ve had some great moments staring at the screen figuring out where on earth I need to go next when a lightbulb moment hits me and I use one of my tools to fly over some spikes or meld with a wall to cross a mountain ledge. Hats off to the developers on this one, some really good fun things to play with.

Conclusion

As I said at the start of this review I’m not a fan of the Zelda franchise but I’ve really enjoyed my time with this game. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’ve even decided to give Ocharina Of Time another blast!

If you’re looking for something to sink a fair amount of time into on your 3DS then is recommend giving this game a blast. I’d almost go as far to say I’ve enjoyed it more than Pokemon… almost…

Give it a go and see for yourself how much fun this game is. You won’t regret it.

Zelda A Link Between Worlds Impressions

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I’ll admit, I’ve never really gotten along with Zelda games. I attempted to give it a go on the N64 when it first came out and I enjoyed it a little but it wasn’t one of my favourites. My 3DS has been a little neglected, growing unloved now I don’t sink much time into Pokemon so I needed a new game. I saw the reviews and user opinions of Zelda A Link Between Worlds, and decided to give it a go.

My first few hours have been great fun. It’s a pretty casual game and looks very nice. The puzzles are fun, and the world is enjoyable to explore, a fantastic art style really shining through on the 3DS. 

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this game but so far I’ve had a blast, wandering the kingdom of Hyrule and battling a range of enemies. I’ll post a full review once I’m done with the game but so far so good! Let’s hope it keeps it up.

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.

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! 😀