Indelacio.co.uk

Rants, Raves And Reviews

Browsing Posts in Reviews

Human Fall Flat is a physics based puzzler in which you take control of bob, a morph like character who you can paint to any theme or meme you desire as you explore the 8 dreamscapes of the game. Obvious similarities have to be noted to gang beasts and your character as the control and shape of the main character are obvious however where gang beasts is a multiplayer adversarial brawl in human fall flat the objective is to make your way to the emergency exit through any means at your disposal, and while there are obvious laid out paths with a little human ingenuity there are a plethora of intended and unintentional ways to progress through the game.

Since the alpha two extra levels have been added along with an expansion on the castle level along with additional plans to add steam workshop functionality which could lead to unlimited dreamscapes and puzzles as well as the possibility to create your own scenario’s, even without this though the main game itself will take around 6-7 hours in a single playthrough so if you go through a few times having fun experimenting and exploring the different area’s and ways to solve the puzzles there is a lot of replayability in the game, and if you have the capability there is local co-op as you can take control of an extra bob along with a friend which adds even more ways in which you could get around the obstacles that stand before you.

Each dreamscape has it’s own theme both in the level design and the methodology in which you can solve the puzzles, with simple box and button puzzles, manipulation of platforms, levers and switches along with brick walls to knock down! and even electronically themed levels with batteries and vehicles to drive. The range of items and solutions also means that steam workshop compatibility will allow for any creative idea to be realized due to the diverse range of puzzle items available for use in the gameworld with little difficulty.

If you want to create your own bob however this can be a time consuming process depending on how clean you want the final look to be as lining up paint jobs without accidentally painting on another surface can be a little difficult, and if you don’t have a good webcam, especially if you try to use an android cam service putting your own face on bob might not be as ideal as if they had the ability to simply upload a photo and resize this to fit bob’s face, but with a little human determination you can make this work, my personal second bob did take 2 hours to get right and still didn’t match what I would have liked for facial clarity!

Other features include adventure mode upon completion of a level however this is currently not as intended as bob will be unconscious on the floor while you move the camera around which doesn’t allow you to make mini-sodes much like on the remote control’s as bob lays sleeping on the job rather than moving with a dynamic camera and not even attempting to spawn a second character fixes this issue at present, but the developer is still working on some features and there may be more that happen in the future that aren’t available at the time of release of this review, but without all of these the game is a very fun game, even in a second playthrough finding new things and still enjoying traversing the levels again I can definitely recommend a purchase especially if you like what you see as there is a lot more fun in playing the game than simply watching someone else play.

Get Human Fall Flat on steam now at http://store.steampowered.com/app/477160 with a launch retail price of £12

I purchased through amazon some items including some thomson noise cancelling HED 2303 headphones and even though I selected free delivery it seems that my package was taped within amazon prime tape, perhaps this was just to advertise prime but I hope not to charge me for expensive prime services I did not want and would not use. The reason I splashed out on a purchase was a variety of reasons one being that I had been needing noise cancelling headphones for a while with my computer graphics card giving off ridiculously loud noise and they were definitely needed.

The headphones themselves were reduced from £70 to around £30 and amazon does tend to have fluctuating pricing so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on things see if you can find the product you want at a better price, and at these prices you do get free amazon delivery. This along with the fact that I had some credit from old surveys I had completed unspent needing to be used meant that I decided to splash out on a few things.

How Comfortable Are The Headphones?

The headphones do have softened ear pads and an adjustable strap on the top so you can resize to fit your head for the most part however the ear cups do seem to be a little small to contain your ear within the padded area, and so you have the pads pushing onto your ears which can be a little uncomfortable for long periods of use. If you have smaller ears or different shaped ears you might find things more comfortable but the tips of my ears which are a little more pointy do get sore wearing these for long periods as the pressure focuses down on this area.

How Effective Is The Noise Cancelling

The noise cancelling is probably the main reason you would want to buy a pair of headphones like this and with the retail price noted around £70 you expect it to be rather effective, and having tried noise cancelling headphones at shows like the gadget show in the past of a more expensive standard I had a baseline to compare to even though they were out in the open cancelling background ambient conversation noise rather than close by noisy repetitive fan whine.

This being said the fan the fan can still be heard over the noise isolation of the insulated cups, and there is a noticeable reduction of fan noise with the noise cancelling feature turned on as well as some noticeable audio noise which perhaps is a feature of noise cancelling where I may have gained tinnitus from the fan alone and as a result I am hearing the counter noise through the headphones, or perhaps the microphone just might be poorly calibrated at noise cancelling and is making additional noise in a separate frequency. Overall I feel there is some noise reduction but not to the level and standard I really expected for such an expensive set of headphones, as you do have to take things at their retail price and not the reduced price you might have purchased a product for.

How Is The Sound Quality?

With the noise reduction feature on the sound is as expected and clear as I have come to expect from headphones, however with the noise cancelling off as this amplifies the treble and muffles the base while switched on slightly due to the construction it could be how I have become use to headphones, if you prefer bass heavy headphones noise cancelling will reduce this and you’d prefer it switched off, however I prefer the sound with the amplified treble and lower bass so when the batteries run out switching it to noise isolating alone does sound a little unusual.

So What Are My Overall Thoughts?

The headphones do state that they should manually switch from noise cancelling to isolating when the batteries run out however as the batteries run lower and lower the volume becomes minuscule so you cannot hear anything and you are forced to switch manually from noise cancelling and even if you force it by switching up the volume again and again eventually you get very distorted sounds before finally the batteries run dry and you still have to manually switch off noise cancelling to hear anything, however the batteries do last a reasonable amount of time, using 900mAh Ni-MH (nickel metal hydride) rechargeable batteries the noise cancelling under heavy use would last at least 50 hours of constant use before needing a recharge or battery swap, perhaps longer if you force turning your volume up.

Are they worth the retail price, possibly not I would suggest to look for sale’s as at £70 it is a large commitment even with noise cancelling, but at around £20-30 then these are a reasonable purchase and only because of the added value of the noise cancelling, perhaps if the earphones were a little more comfortable for all ear types and the folding feature actually did anything rather than be pointless the cost might be higher but these might as well be generically shaped headphones you could get for £10-15. The fact that the product comes with a separate cable does add a little to the value as it means if you break the cable you don’t have to replace the entire headset which is good, however I have dropped these off my desk once and it did leave the sound a little strange for a few days, and the adjustable ear pieces if swiveled too far in one direction even though they are designed to swivel more to adjust to your head shape can knock off the noise cancelling feature perhaps due to a loose wire or something getting caught which is disappointing.

However if you need a set of noise cancelling headphones these are the cheapest I could find at the moment and that is a good thing as they tend to be a lot more expensive, sure the noise cancelling isn’t as good as I hoped but there’s no guarantee’s that more expensive noise cancelling would do any better as I can’t test them with my computer fan either.

Don’t confuse “noise cancelling” with “noise isolating” which often get’s branded as noise cancelling, this is active noise cancellation technology and you will struggle to find another pair cheap at this time, perhaps this is the herald of cheaper active noise cancellation technology but for now if you’re not willing to wait a few years for prices to come down this is the best you will find at a very affordable price!

What About The Whiteboard?

I did get an “add on” item from amazon, something you have to buy other products of a minimum price to get, with toothpaste and a whiteboard, the whiteboard would normally be £15 but I got it for under £3, and it’s only really worth the price I paid for it, sure it come’s with a pen which magnetises to the board, 2 magnets and hanging strips but the whiteboard is a little flimsy quality seperated in half from the corkboard and looks like it could fall out or break off easily, which could be fixed no problem with something perhaps gluing the whiteboard down so it doesn’t flim flam around or if the corkboard simply was seperated with a little plastic divider so the whiteboard was held down, but this looks like a corkboard with a flimsy bit of whiteboard plastic attached inside it cheaply and it wouldn’tve taken much to make the quality better to justify the retail price, however at under £3 it wasn’t a bad purchase but would require you to buy other things on amazon to meet the £15 criteria and also to qualify for the free shipping.

Life is strange episode 5 Polarized has been out for a while now and did polarize people in many ways with some hating the whole series as a result of how the game ended and some still loving the overall theme despite how it ended, however many seem to have missed the possible explanations for why and how things have gone as crazy as they did in the final episode through the natural plot progression.

This review will contain heavy spoilers so I would advise simply buying the game and checking it out for yourself if you wish to avoid these spoilers, however if you have played and completed the game or don’t mind spoilers feel free to read on, in the meantime you can find the game at http://store.steampowered.com/sub/56692/

Episode 5 begins in a natural position captured by jefferson waking up from being drugged at the end of the last episode and attempting escape, it is worth noting how jefferson establishes that max has this way of staring blankly into space as though daydreaming perhaps as she always has and how under his drugged state allows her to fall into her daydreams feeling them to be real, and how the entire game has been max’s way of escaping what has really happened to her. There are many points in this episode where she “escapes” the dark room by focusing on photo’s to enter their timeline and enact changes allowing her to escape, however in a drug induced state these could easily be explained away as a daydream especially as in every instance within the game no matter what she ends up back in the dark room with jefferson even when reality had no way to establish her ending up there poorly explained as jefferson burning her photo album, however this was in a halted timeline so having escaped and not been his victim this should never have occurred unless she never escaped the room other than in her mind.

Max does initially manage to escape to a perfect possible reality in which she has won the everyday heroes competition, where the other entries in the gallery are more heroic themed photo’s like firefighter’s, people training for running, pets etc, however max’s wall of selfies somehow wins the competition perhaps simply for being award winning jefferson’s prize student, or as it is max’s delusion of true happiness of course she won the competition, however a nosebleed quickly reminds her that arcadia bay is doomed and she cannot stay in this reality. These nosebleeds continue in the darkroom with jefferson noting how it must be a result of using too high a dosage of the drugs to incapacitate her and leave her malleable. Don’t forget that in previous episodes in the rewind you can hear voices stating to “stay with me max” as though she is dying and attempted to be coaxed back to life.

To save chloe once more she rips up her prize winning photo, which she had always ripped up in the original timeline before “altering” thing’s with her powers in order to save chloe’s life in the first place, her childhood best friend who she had not had a chance to reconnect with since returning to town, who’s death in the original place may have lead her to investigate the situation in a similar manner to the main game plot but on her own and to investigate why nathan shot her and the unraveling plot from there leading to her inevitable kidnap by jefferson for snooping.

So why do I believe she is still in the dark room and always has been? There have been far too frequent opportunities throughout the entire game to “sit” at every opportunity as though it is a common theme that you’re always sat down in thought, and while jefferson was photographing you he kept the dose rather low, but at this scene just prior to “escaping” he notes how it will be the final time she will have to listen to one of his lectures knowing it will be the last time she is conscious and alive. It is at this point when she has the needle to her neck that miraculously she is saved by chloe’s stepdad cop, and being heavily induced by the sudden drug overdose she enters the storm itself attempting to save the residents of arcadia bay on the way to the diner to see warren in order to be able to save chloe, however altering the timeline on this occasion doesn’t result in escape or reality forming to her will instead she awakes back in the classroom again, with jefferson wanting her to say how chloe deserved to die, how her selfies are shit etc and max’s subconscious states how she doesn’t want to say any of the options provided however her drug induced compliant state means she has to make one of those options before she can leave the classroom which itself has reminders that max is in fact “dead” already, and after getting out of the classroom she enters the corridors of her dorm (and perhaps symbolic of her mind and memories) with kate talking like jefferson’s puppet stating how max was responsible for her death and everything that happened to her as though he is roleplaying her or saying these things to her on the floor as she slips away as jefferson had liked kate as his new muse and felt max’s interfering prevented him taking it further.

After a few crazy corridors with the facts of rachel, haunted memories of victoria and her own life and time’s flashing through as selfies on the wall the drugs overdose really starts to kick in with time flowing backwards while max moves forwards and everything being woozy before everything goes dark and she’s hiding from a plethora of jefferson’s coming to hunt her down and take her back to the dark room, now unfortunately she follows the symbolism that escaping the light is staying alive, perhaps as he flashes a flashlight across her eyes checking if she’s alive or even the possibility that someone has discovered her body perhaps on the side of the road where she begin’s the game attempting to revive her, but rather than go into the light and awake she hides from everyone and everything following the road to the lighthouse at the end of the tunnel, which if she was actually going into the light could be considered holding onto life but she does avoid it at every turn sticking to the dark. There is an optional bottle hunting mission here which can even be accidentally skipped without realizing, perhaps symbolic of your own torture trying to find that fifth bottle in the first place! However you once again return to the familiar seated position, where if you escaped and examined your chair you will note max “still feels the bind’s” as though she never escaped and was still tied up in that chair in that dark room.

Reality begins to unravel further as the drugs take further hold, as you find yourself escaping reality within the snowglobe sat on chloe’s mantelpiece seeing yourself perform the actions you had made in the past, although knocking off the snowglobe and shattering it would have been a fitting snap from this scene transition to the next it’s not essential as max passes onto a room trying to find the combination from a million possibilities carved into the walls. If you find the combination it leads to a diner filled with all of the people significant to max with an etheric reality outside of the diner filled with all of the other meaningless souls which may have passed.

The diner is a mirror of symbolism for judgement in death, filled with all the people you’ve helped in life and those you’ve wronged to sit in judgement over your eternal soul, and you can hear the voices echo out to you some questioning why you didn’t help them and others thanking you for saving them or helping them resolve issues in their life which leads me to wonder whether there might have been a perfect possible ending to the game hidden away in which you help absolutely everyone there and turn all of the voices positive and perhaps allowing you to leave the diner and escape back into the room and take down jefferson once and for all with him being in shock at you surviving the overdose. However instead you talk to yourself the only true judge over your soul as to whether you are deemed worthy of heaven or deserve eternal damnation in hell, this perhaps is mirrored in your actual decision at the end of the game as you move on from the diner to watch the last moments with chloe you shared flash by as though your life was flashing by in the last moments before death, heading into the lighthouse at the end of the road, of course you return to a reality within the storm with chloe to face the final decision as to who to save.

The end choice here is rather a silly one and does render the entire game pointless as regardless of who you saved and what you did in the game everything is the same if you choose to save arcadia bay, you get the happy ending with everyone alive and happy, even kate regardless of whether you saved her or not. This does fly by in a flash though, with flashes of photographs quickly explaining how jefferson was taken down somehow by simply not saving chloe this resulted in him being arrested and kate never jumping! Ending on chloe’s funeral without a word being uttered as life fades away, and focusing on max’s face looking into the light perhaps happy fading away to heaven, whereas if you choose to save chloe you have doomed arcadia bay and everyone in it to utter destruction and you know that no matter what you will always be fighting to save chloe over and over never learning from your mistake as the world and universe continues to rain down destruction wherever you go hurting the lives of everyone around you and destroying the entire world for the sake of one life who never should’ve lived, truly creating hell on earth and always being in danger and with something to lose which you would always have to protect.

I do feel the ending could have gone better but if it is explained as either passing away peacefully or continuing to defy the reality of the situation as the drugs rage through your system to an inevitable painful death the crazyness at the end can be explained away, and this is the only way it leaves room for a sequel season, as if you are max again following on with the time travel abilities she knows she can’t change anything for fear of causing catastrophe’s or she fights on in a universe falling apart keeping chloe alive and neither would make a good game, however a narrative where jefferson (or someone else) has kidnapped a new victim knowing or not knowing they were kidnapped and drugged trying to come to terms with it (perhaps realizing later and actually having a chance to escape depending upon the choices made and the information gathered) could make for a good second season, and jefferson noted himself he wanted to kidnap kate again, so perhaps season 2 could focus on kate having been retaken by jefferson trying to figure out what is going on and using time travel abilities to gather the facts and attempt to wake up and escape from her inevitable fate. This would make a compelling second season and allow for different narratives and timelines and different effects and influences, as max was influenced by the stormy weather for her dreams perhaps kate or whoever is the new victim would have other thing’s going on around their delusional state.

Those who have played season 1 would also for the most part be unaware of what was going on as they took the time travel ability for granted and didn’t question the possible natures of realities within the game, so a reveal that she is kidnapped later would be a good twist to the plot and this allows for a narrative world to be established without having to be fully influenced by the factors of the first game as for the most part it was all in the delusional state of max’s mind as she slipped away inside jefferson’s dark room. If the victim was kate obviously thing’s could take on a more biblical front as she is very religious and takes influence from her experiences and thought processes, and the game could even begin with her in the hospital recovering and perhaps believing she has been granted these powers by god to change things for the better and that her life was spared for this very purpose.

Of course I am expanding and theorizing heavily on what could be coming for season two as nothing is known but simply following max would not make a compelling game it does need to be a new protagonist and with a reasonable explanation for what is happening, and in my opinion max dying in that dark room from that final overdose is the only thing that explains why the walls of reality collapse as much as they do, and the symbology used within the game at the end fits the theme’s of dying and the end of life far too well for there to be any other explanation. Go play life is strange for yourself and explore the game and experience the plot and the emotions as that is the point of a narrative game such as this, and make up your own mind as to what is going on.

The full season of life is strange is available on steam at http://store.steampowered.com/sub/56692/

The gadget show live returned to the NEC for 2016 and I received tickets and decided to take an unofficial review of the event along with trying a more on the go style of recording footage.

This year there were a number of record breaking attempts along with the usual gadget show live experience, and the plethora of stalls with all of your gadgety needs available to purchase. New to this year however there was also a yogscast special event, which it was lead to believe would be through the friday ticket but turned out to require it’s own ticket so while I would have attended it seemed I was unable to as a result of the ticket type I had been provided.

There were some new games on show and available to play both in regular form as well as a variety of 3d methods ranging from simple headsets utilizing your smartphone, through a unidirectional treadmill used to traverse a van gogh experience to the advanced 3d experience of the vive which allows you to interact while moving fully around your own room. I did have a press session with esper2 booked which I will be bringing you a review of separately later.

There were some other interesting events going on around the hall with a “robot wars” clone with competition to pit the other competitors as opposed to dismembering their robots.

I felt there weren’t as many items which were featured on the show to see around the halls and it felt simply like an excuse to sell gadgets, even if it was a range of products which had been tested during john bentleys trials it would have been something more associated with the show. There were some unique things available to buy such as getting your own 3d printed model made at the show however this would really be something to know in advance so you can ensure you would look as you wish for the model whereas if you show up not ready for a model then you’re not going to wish to purchase one as they aren’t inexpensive.

Previous years had featured a chance to queue to get something signed by the gadget show crew however this year there was no such stall, as I had stated in previous years the security had been pretty terrible telling you not to queue early telling you to come back at X time then when you came back the queue was “full” so I missed out meeting the crew and getting things signed on my birthday because of that useless security guard ruining the day, so that get’s removed by removing the chance to get anything signed entirely but it also removes another step of the actual event being related to the gadget show as you would have to attend the live session in the hall with tickets to such in order to see the presenters whatsoever, while in the hall you could queue for the yogscast to meet them and have things signed it seemed more like the yogscast were the main draw for many attendees on the day I visited.

The day was enjoyable and if you wanted to attend it would be recommended that you purchase the supertheatre tickets in order to get your moneys-worth out of the experience, other previous benefits have included discounts on products for show attendees and special competitions which only attendees could participate in, there were very few of these with most stalls being full retail and offering little in special variety or discount over online purchase, but most of the stalls were things to participate in with the likes of the gaming section, and a very large creativity section encouraging youngsters to learn about engineering and creativity through paperwork, and another large section with driving experiences from learning to drive and be driven in a small circle in a tesla motor car, for a ridiculously long queue and a rather fun remote controlled vehicle race section with prizes, unfortunately I played in the session directly after the finals for that day and won my race which would have placed me in the finals to win the trophy had I been able to play and it would have been good to try out for the trophy but I played too late.

I felt something was lacking during the experience and it was hard to put my finger on exactly what was wrong, but I think there was a distinct lack of upcoming technology or anything particularly special, sure there were a lot of vr experiences but it seemed that the show had been downgraded for a much younger audience as opposed to providing a variety of products to try and buy, also looking for active noise cancelling headphones in any of the audio sections proved rather difficult and I was only able to find one pair at a ridiculously expensive price, however this provides ample ground to learn for next year’s event, to provide a wider range of products, more from the show, and perhaps a better chance to interact with the presenters on the show floor, as they would be the main draw for any attendee.

Check out the gadget show live website for more details about upcoming events www.gadgetshowlive.net

I received a voucher to try products from the tesco finest party food selection for review, and along with a 3 for 2 discount I got a major price reduction on the food selected to try.

The tesco finest party food range was all designed to cook at the same temperature and be easy to heat up with minimal effort for party food over the seasonal christmas holidays and parties in general. Located on the shelves next to tesco’s regular range of party food in very similar packages it perhaps wasn’t ideal for choosing items in the same discounted range but for a shopper wishing to choose their party food for the holidays the entire selection was available in one convenient location.

Although there was a selection noted on the website to try I found the range in store had other products not mentioned whilst also finding it impossible to seek out some of those nicer products which were stated to be in the range.

•Tesco finest* Posh Pigs in Blankets
A pork sausage with cinnamon and ginger coated in a port and cranberry glaze, wrapped crispy bacon.*
•Tesco finest* Bourbon Beef Waffles
8 mini Belgium waffles topped with shredded Aberdeen Angus beef, Bourbon BBQ sauce and medium Cheddar cheese*
•Tesco finest* Mini Steak Pies*
Mini pies with beef and a cornish ale gravy in crispy pastry.*
•Tesco finest* Butterfly Prawn Selection with a Mango Dipping Sauce
King prawns coated in coconut and black & white sesame seed crumbs.*
•Tesco finest* Thai Chicken Curry Pastries
Pastry pockets filled with green Thai chicken curry, or Panang chicken curry with lemongrass.*
•Tesco finest* Oriental Selection
A selection of ready to eat oriental snacks, prawn and coconut spring rolls, chicken satay cones and Mussaman crouton bites.*
•Tesco finest* Mini Strawberry Trifles
Strawberry sauce, diced strawberry, sponge cubes with vanilla mousse topped with freeze dried strawberry*
•Tesco finest* Lemon Sherbet bites
Mini cheesecake with biscuit base, lemon cheesecake topped with sherbert dust.*
•Tesco finest* Swiss Chocolate Truffle profiteroles
Swiss chocolate truffle mousse in choux pastry, topped with a swiss chocolate sauce with “gold sparkled” butterscotch pieces.*

The majority of this list was impossible to find in store, especially the frozen and sweet treats, only finding the pigs in blankets, a selection of differing prawn based products, the oriental selection, an indian selection pack and some crispy chicken skewers.

Obviously there were some products I would have tried had I been able to find then however the variation in the finest range in the store I visited was lacking choosing to only have traditional party fare along with the oriental and indian selections lacking the choices in varied party foods, this could be a sign of the area however being stagnant full of old people set in their ways unwilling to try new and different food styles and only including the oriental and indian selections for natives in the area.

The products I took were very tasty although the indian party food seemed to be rather toned down unless you dipped the products in the included sauce which doesn’t seem very indian as usually all of their food is filled to the brim with flavours and sensations, and for the most part the combination required the sauces in order to get the full indian flavour. The chicken skewers I took also had a very good crispy coating far beyond what you would find in most fried chicken and with the ease of cooking is a definite recommendation and would be perfect to dip into any of your usual dipping sauces you could include with a party selection or to eat separately on their own.

Now ideally as this was purchased to be used as party food where it would provide something of extra sustenance rather than the usual selection of cheese and crackers, sweets, crisps and nuts and even provide something warm and satisfying as a variation. I would even state that these would be fine to eat cooled down after cooking however my mother set in her ways didn’t wish to have these on the christmas table after everything instead choosing to just lay out a selection of the usual cold snacks, so I had these on a separate occasion, but it’s the thought that counts right? I personally thought these were an ideal small nibble selection to put out on the table for those who want a little warm treat and something more wholesome than simple snacks and something very tasty that would fit perfectly on a party selection table, this is also the reason I didn’t take the oriental selection even though it looked tasty I wanted to go for something which would be warmed and offer variation, not that if I’dve taken those they would’ve been included as they were too different for my mother to include on the table.

All in all the party food range is very tasty and ideal for party situations and with 3 for 2 often better in price than the regular party food, or competitors counterparts which will be lower in quality and flavour.

Parts of this video are pre christmas where the deadline stated 5 days (with the same number of days til christmas) however visiting the next day while still preparing this it stated 34 days so priorities got reshuffled, apologies to the lateness of the review being that christmas is over, however these are ideal for any party, including the chinese new year, birthdays or even easter, any excuse for a party.

* All product names and descriptions adapted from tesco orchard as they are relevant to the review, to show the range stated and products which could not be found, their direct descriptions are not used as they desire to hold the “marketed” terms under federal trade commission regulations and as a result the products are described but without using their buzz terms. As this is used in a review this fulfills fair use statutes.

Insomnia LAN Gaming Festival returned for it’s 56th incarnation at the NEC in Birmingham for the first time through the 11th-14th of December. Established as the uk’s biggest gaming festival many attend for the tournaments and social LAN gaming elements, but many do not realize that there is also a gaming expo associated with the event.

The expo hall had a good variety of content, from an indie games section, more established franchises like dark souls and halo, as well as competitive zones for those who didn’t bring their own computers such as the smash bro’s and minecraft zones. On top of this there were two main stages featuring a plethora of youtube and gaming personalities over the weeekend as well as a cosplay section showcasing various tools of the trade with cosplayers available for advice and tutorials.

I visited on the friday so unfortunately was not able to delve into the main competitions and talk to those taking part as these had not yet began, but I did get a glimpse of the true silver champion hearthstone trophy which was very impressive indeed, so much that I would consider beginning playing so as to get the possibility to win such a trophy someday.

Comparing the expo to EGX the hall is smaller, as EGX spread through 3 halls and this event was contained to one, with a seperate hall for the LAN arena and another for tents (it is a true festival after all, and does not require you to purchase a hotel, although camp fires would not be advised nor barbeques unless you wished to take them outside onto the car park. Saying this at one third of the size the number of visitors and the queue sizes were significantly smaller, this lead to a more chilled and relaxed atmosphere, attendants were accustomed to the friendly and social aspect of LAN gaming and the event, so when there were queue’s these were very small; literally waiting for the current time period to finish then play. While waiting in any queue everyone struck up conversations with each other and the entire event was very chilled out, much like the ice and winter theme of the expo.

While at the event I decided to take part in the super smash bro’s tournament mostly because I was asked by the pretty lady on the stall and I figured why not, I got through a couple of rounds but ultimately failed by picking little mac and flailing off the edge in over ambitious attacks attempting to counter my opponents ryu game where he could be hit blazing to the edge and off the screen yet still come back, so verticallity for victory seemed ideal with a well timed uppercut. For the most part we tied on percentages and I only failed by my own ineptitude.

There were a number of stalls to purchase all sorts of geeky goodies too, from plushies to t-shirts and even knitted winter jumpers with geeky styles. And for the dedicated gamers there was a GAME stand selling not only electronics you may require for the lan (new keyboards, mice etc should yours break) but also some discounted special edition games and even tickets to the next insomnia festival at a discounted rate.

Some of the indie games I will attempt to bring to you on the main gaming channel with their own reviews, still awaiting confirmation. One game I wouldn’t be able to but was fun was a game called unbox, taking the irony of “unboxing” to a new level you play as a cardboard box in a variety of mini games from races to downright elimination of the other cardboard companions. The game was very fun however the local multiplayer only element of the game may make this difficult for some, and would be the reason I couldn’t take it on at present, perhaps I should’ve asked to record at the event gameplay as the games were very fun and I enjoyed playing with who I presume was the developer of the game and would recommend a purchase should you be able to get people together to play.

The latest halo game was also available to play with an ironic queue for photographs with two spartans yet no queue for the main game itself, a little out of practice the level of the demo threw a horde of enemies upon you with very powerful tank like minions who could down you in one go and your AI companions would then rush in to pick you up getting downed themselves proving a rather difficult challenge indeed, at least I assumed they were AI the potential is that they were interconnected machines and it was the other demo participants also getting downed by the fiend either way it shows that halo is not a casual shooter in any respect (at least on the difficulty the machines were set to)

From this I went on to play dark souls 3, noticing the demo at present lacks any leveling system as I rested at the campfire after dispatching a few enemies hoping to up my defense a little due to the difficulty of some of the enemies. I notice that things are a lot more linear in this incarnation of the franchise, not to state that there aren’t other paths as there were two distinct ways to progress interwoven through the level, I focused on taking down the extra tough minion up the stairs on the left who seemed to raise the dead as he was tougher than the other enemies hoping to get some decent loot but alas to no avail, from this I progressed the main way finding secret windows to progress through leading down to the dragon. The dragon was very apt at setting fire to your path if you didn’t use cunning, it is entirely possible to chug estus constantly and rush through it however the smart amongst you would note that you could taunt the dragon to go one path then double back up to his origonal position and through the safety of the building before the next area you would require to race the flame once more. Having spent my time exploring and trying different things and paths I ran out of playtime unfortunately, but would hope to be able to bring a demo play to you should I be able to get hold of a copy.

Other experiences around the event included a racing simulator which you had to pay £5 for, which unsurprisingly remained unused considering people had paid to enter the event such a game was not very well received, especially as another driving game with steering wheel and (loose floppy) pedals was available for free in the center of the event. Also there were a few 3d experiences, knowing that I missed out the vive at EGX I immediately signed up and got to play on this, where the games were very impressive, there was an underwater experience watching a whale get close, a 3D drawing game where of course you have to draw something of an immature and penile nature… In 3D! then the real games began and there was a 3D western zombie shooter which I unfortunately forget the name of but was very fun and showed just how responsive and accurate the controls were, and of course I completed it flawlessly! Finally there was an aperture science 3d experience with GLaDos and the co-op robots which contained the usual portal humour but also some intimidation with GLaDos towering over you, and the floor beneath you giving way before finally you get crushed out of existence. The vive will be coming soon with development kits going out in january, and an estimated release around april. You can find more details at www.htcvr.com and I would love to bring more should HTC desire to send me a version and some demo’s ;-)

The vive was very much off the rails, so you were’nt constrained to following a set path or a rollercoaster as many existing 3D experiences tend to be, you were free to move around fully up to virtual walls, which represent by honeycomb shapes when you get too close (imagine a star trek holodeck saying hey the wall’s here don’t walk into me) and I can imagine the software and games developed for such a system could be very inspirational indeed.

There was also a Merge VR for the lower budget which converts Iphone’s into a 3d Experience, obviously lacking compared to the vive as there aren’t the handheld controllers which get sensed regardless of where you leave them, and lacks the native room based intelligence, but was a reasonable on the rails experience.

The final main game I played was battleborn which is an online first person shooting moba style game, with a variety of champions to choose from and an in game leveling system to keep ahead of the competition. Playing the game it was very fun and seemed promising, currently in beta I would have to keep up to date to see how things progress and hope that the game doesn’t get a toxic community like super monday night combat did as a game like this is very dependent upon the community and I would hope it would remain fun and fair.

There were a number of giveaways at the event itself, along with freebies to collect. One competition I took part in was with #gamestate a unique game development method where the game will entirely be designed as to the whim’s of the website’s members giving everything a choice and open to forum suggestions. I took part in the competition because I was told that the prize was a cap, a pair of headphones and a rugged looking backpack, all on display at the event and needing a new set of headphones which were decent I decided to enter. I sat around during the drawing process where a few names were selected but as they were not there to claim prizes these got dismissed, finally they narrowed it to the three of us that were there and my name was selected, I got excited thinking I would be getting all of the prizes but instead was given the snapback hat with blocks to put on it, the only thing I wouldn’t ever use. Being a community based game design where the users get a choice if you ignore the fact that I was mislead to believe that all of the items were the prize I would have chosen either the headphones or the rugged backpack, both of which I would use constantly as I carry a backpack everywhere and a rugged strong one would be very useful, and the headphones would be good for recording and playing games, the cap I would never wear as it is not my style let alone the childish brick part of the cap. So sadly although I won this was very dissappointing.

Other freebies I received included the battleborn t-shirt, a sonic hat which I am more likely to wear as a novelty than the stupid cap, and some in game dlc. I’m sure there would have been more freebies on offer but I don’t tend to ask but when provided I happily accept.

The expo also had two stages which a variety of content could be seen throughout the show, from competitive gameplay to youtubers putting on a live “lets play” and even talk panel shows with live audience Q&A sessions. I sat down and watched gassy mexican and daithidenogla play a couple of sessions of keep talking and nobody explodes, as a live setting it was very interesting to see them shouting instructions across the stage from each other in an attempt to diffuse the bomb, both having their own style of play, gassy listening to daithi but ultimately never having played before not knowing in some of the more difficult puzzles what was required due to unclear instruction, and daithi’s style on the bomb was to often ignore gassy and just panic cutting wires and exploding the bomb immediately. As this was a live show it would have added further entertainment if there was a penalty for exploding the bomb (like a water bomb to the face or something) but either way was very entertaining to watch.

Ultimately as a comparison on an expo level I would recommend visiting I56 for the shorter queue’s (and often non existent queue’s) and for the more relaxed atmosphere, perhaps taking advantage of the indie games at EGX and saving the hefty queue’d games for a visit to I56 where you could play the titles such as rise of the tomb raider, halo, assassins creed syndiccate etc with absolutely no queue where at EGX the wait time had been in the 1 hour plus frame. Furthermore if you wanted to get really social and play in the lan tournaments you should definitely get a BYOC ticket and camp at the event in style (or at least your tent) I would say if you’re a gamer you should check out an insomnia event for yourself and get the full experience.

The next insomnia will be held 25th to 28th of march with full details at insomniagamingfestival.com whether you choose to only visit the expo or take part in the lan gaming festival you won’t regret your visit.

The christmas special of dr who is nearly upon us and with the season finale of dr who promises were made that the dr would be different, where previous seasons the dr had been focused on clara and had been noted by many as the worst dr of all time thing weren’t looking great when the season consisted of two parters where everyone was dead or dying one week and saved and alive the next week through increasingly absurd plot lines.

The terrible plot’s didn’t end there with the doctor increasingly breaking the fourth wall to explain plots and subtext directly to the audience in order to make the episode feasible. This was of course made worse when there was a special episode consisting of a character telling a story to the audience of sleep based creatures outside of the dr who universe being a pure work of fiction from a one time character, things were looking bad for the series and it was looking like the entire franchise was about to be ruined.

The dead/not dead plot lines continued in varying forms even revolving around the doctor dying over and over in a never ending cycle through time until he was on gallifrey at the end of time itself having gone the long way around, using up “lives” being reborn by a special technology which reset itself including his teleporter signal yet ignored the final room where he was able to chip away diamonds until the end of time quoting a parable to explain how through persistence a raven could chip away a mountain until the end of time. One major plot fault is if everything reset within the dial of the castle surely that room too would reset.

The story then began to revolve around a “hybrid” who would destroy the universe, where the doctor believed himself to be this hybrid refusing to reveal it to the timelords there have been previous hybrids throughout the series with no mention of this “prophecy” at any point, including dalek sec, the hybrid human timelord daleks, davros himself, and more that shall not be named. The problem is however that dalek caan was voiced by the same lady on gallifrey who was also in a similar prophetic role as the insane dalek who saved the daleks from the very same point of the time war as the doctor did, not to mention the problems that would ensue with the fact that both factions of the war are separately saved throughout time somewhere, this also makes the possibility that caan and the lady are bound and one with the prophecy as the cause of destruction, furthermore the story continues to the shielder maisie williams who now goes by “me” being the last survivor of the universe having traveled the long way around also, having lived every day yet maintaining human form unlike the face of bo: jack harkness who of course failed his form and eventually died.

The shielder theorized that together the prophecy of the hybrid may also be that the end of the timelords and time may not be simply one person but a hybrid of multiple people working together whether intentional or not throughout time that causes the prophecy. Of course having traveled the long way around, past even the timelords where she could have existed on gallifrey at the time and also even given birth to timelords themselves (or the doctor or even the master) she may have knowledge beyond the doctors as to exactly what happened.

While on gallifrey the doctor of course enacted the prophecy in some form, bringing back clara from the point of death freezing her in time but alive under the promise to return her to the point of death and prevent the catastrophe that would ensue by keeping her out of time. Together the shielder takes clara herself on their newly stolen tardis to travel throughout time keeping clara both dead and not dead at the same time which forgives some of the terrible plots as a hint as to clara’s inevitable condition, this even allows for further points where clara has been experienced in history without the doctors knowledge, where the doctor had been obsessed with why clara appeared throughout multiple timelines having taken her on his travels he has slowly put her into those positions, pairing with a daleks mind inside, and continuing to propagate at points in time and now travelling with the shielder dead but alive with no life signs she can return to the beginning and die (or pretend to) at the point the doctor knew her to die, and forgetting the paradoxes of the shielder existing twice in any timeline she visits due to having travelled the long way it could be any instance we see her in the future.

The ending however redeemed a lot of the series and even the terrible doctor, with him being the doctor to piss off most of the universe and wreck things through that simple action, yet being saved in the series through forgetting clara and in that instance clicking his fingers to close the tardis doors as if to show that he is the doctor to be with river song (the christmas special where this didn’t need any hint beyond the finger click) and having the chalkboard state be the doctor showing he should be more like the doctor of past and not the terrible doctor that he had been written to be in the seasons thus far of this actor; this was furthered by getting a new sonic screwdriver rather than the sonic douche glasses as though to say he is now the doctor again and not a douche.

Things yet to happen would be to save river song by giving her the sonic screwdriver with the saving facilities intact on it, the major worry is that upon giving this to her he would return to douche glasses and not have another sonic screwdriver, as terrible as the worry he would have a new tardis he could disguise as something else (maybe a blue portaloo) However he would have to meet river and her not know who he is, this would show to him it would be the last time he is alive in this form and soon to die, which would be the time for him to give her the sonic under the plan to use his regeneration energy knowing he is about to die and save everyone from the computer by using this energy to give everyone form once more including river song his fellow timelord and bring everyone back to life.

Of course this is all theory on how things would seem to play out in the universe should they not add rather silly or unusual reasons for things, and the actual plot may play out differently as I have no insider knowledge but this would be a sensible way for the series to progress with the doctor now on track and able to get viewers back under an air of a fresh start.

I was sent a sample of the new 007 Seven fragrance to sample and provide my opinions on, other than the cool bottle and interesting spray mechanism the product itself is rather generic.

Men’s aftershave and fragrances do tend to be strong and overpowering and this at least holds back to be a more sophisticated and subtle scent but still have the usual and fairly generic male fragrance scent where you would expect a fragrance suitable for james bond to stand out and be bold.

Being a spy who is often approached and gets all of the ladies in the films you would want a unique scent perhaps more fitting to the theme, with 007 being famed for martini’s, money and cars I would expect a scent that is reminiscent of these or perhaps some of the exotic locations that bond visits in various guises. Obviously not knowing the upcoming film in depth I cannot say if it fits spectre or even attempts to, but as a fragrance for men for me it is a little generic.

Perhaps they decided to play it safe in order to appeal to the most people, with a familiar scent that wouldn’t scare people from trying it, but that isn’t bond. Bond is never one to play it safe, he always takes the risks and comes out on top and that is what I think the fragrance with his name should do.

So all in all the fragrance is pleasant enough to use, but nobody would ever smell it on you and know it was 007 seven, it could be any fragrance to someone smelling it, and as a result makes itself replaceable in purchase for any other mens fragrance in my personal opinion.

I was sent a voucher to get £4 of fish from the tesco orchard, and decided to use it only on the fresh fish counter although I could have used it on any fish in the store, and see what the counter had to offer and just how fresh the produce was.

My idea initially was to find fish to use to create sushi with some sushi wrappers to make your own which you could purchase in store, however it was quickly established by the counter operative that the fish was not fresh enough for this purpose (and you could see that even though it was stored on ice obviously it was not freshly cut to order or of a suitably fresh standard) I then decided to see if they had some sashimi grade salmon, although usually served raw is ideal for lightly toasting, however having a number of varieties of salmon this was sadly lacking from the counter.

Instead I decided to them look what was on offer, along with the usual cod, haddock, several types of salmon I opted instead for the more unusual varieties, firstly trying some manta ray fin, and secondly taking a piece of rainbow trout, where there were two colours white and yellow and I opted for the yellow fleshed variety.

The manta ray fin was very large and essentially came with two portions per fin, although on bones the bones were very large and once cooked easily separated to serve a boneless and tasty white fish, not only was the fish very tasty it also had a very creamy texture while maintaining a familiar white fish cod like flavour. I think this would be a good option for battering and deep frying as not only would it taste a lot like cod but also the creamy texture would lead to a higher flavour retention against the oils coming in during the cooking process and make a very delicious fried fish option which may even be healthier as it would likely minimize the oils being absorbed.

The rainbow trout variety I chose surprised me quite a bit as it tasted like a high quality cooked salmon, which is usually hard to get to this standard even with a high quality cut. As a result this would be an option for anyone wishing to have the high quality salmon flavour with little effort and would also save a lot of money, sure you would have to deal with some bones and a softer flesh which breaks apart easier, but for the convenience and ease of cooking for the same flavour I believe this is a suitable compromise to make

Over all I think it is a little disappointing that the counter isn’t as fresh as it might put accross, had I not asked the counter operative I would have assumed that any fish purchased would have been suitably fresh to make sushi with and possibly risked food poisoning as a result, and the varieties on offer were average, but you can understand that most people would be seeking the “usual range” of cod and haddock and salmons that were displayed, as opposed to seeking something different or special, but there was the manta fin as a little excitement and something different so it also caters a little towards that. I just wish that there was the option to get a truly fresh product if requested, that the fishmonger could cut a fresh fish right then and there suitable for creating sushi with, or freshly cut upon request for those who want a freshly cut slice of fish, while leaving the display for those who wish it and don’t have the truly fresh requirements.

Other than the “fresh” issues the counter is a nice option and good to go to if you want some advice or to try something a little new, and perhaps may be fresher than the shelved produce. Either way you can have a free garlic or chilli butter to cook your fish with so there are bonuses to visiting, and if you like fish I think you should consider looking at the fresh counter first in case something catches your eye.

Firstly I must apologize for the quality of the video, the poor lighting required me to up the brightness so things are visible which has caused everything to become rather pixelated like a computer game, and the audio has an echo due to the noise removal technique and amplification required to eliminated the crowd noises, which is why when I am not directly facing the camera some of my audio becomes non existent.

Guitar hero live is a change in direction for the usually cartoon sprite based game, where instead of watching computer characters perform on stage in the background while you play along to the tune instead behind the familiar riff line is a live stage and support band who react based upon how well you are playing the track.

Other significant changes to the game are the actual way you play, which involves a dual 3 button strip with black and white controls, helpfully hinted at on screen with up and down buttons om case you forget which side is which. With a little adapting this seems a lot easier to use than the 5 button system, so even though you are essentially playing with extra buttons this will feel like less.

I do like the new style and the new opportunities it could provide but I think they really missed out by not having a full 8 button swing to utilize all 4 fingers, or even having the duplicated 5 buttons players will be use to but with a dual line system in place allowing for some very difficult routines to be established. Gone is however the tap strumming bar some players will have adapted to which provided a fun way of playing the game along with extra manipulation of the sounds, and activating star power becomes more difficult with the higher positioning of the buttons on the neck of the controller. Sure there is a button to activate star power but this is never the most effective way to use the power, and it isn’t in a convenient location.

Further changes to the game are the facts that it is planned that any further releases will not require a purchase of another game and instead will come as purchasable or rent-able content providing access to any new tunes in a variety of genre’s for example without having to purchase a “Metallica” special guitar hero game. Also for those who wish to compete live there will be a guitar hero live channel where people at home can play along with other players worldwide on the same live track, at present there have been no plans to include a live leaderboard however I think this would be the ideal social situation to provide live results for all players partaking in the live track and provide the ultimate bragging rights topping the live leaderboard broadcast to everyone currently watching that channel.

The game itself will have made up bands playing actual songs so you will always feel like part of the band, and the audience will react to your playing prowess, if you’re doing well they will cheer for more whilst terrible play will result in objects being thrown at you as you play with boo’s and jeers.

I think this is an interesting direction and some good improvements to the genre as actually feeling like you’re on stage and playing adds to the immersion of the game, perhaps having a more transparent riff bar could make things better as the audience and band are obscured a lot of the time.

Little is known about the competitive aspects of the game as yet, as often the same track gets chosen in competitions where the longest possible track provides the best score and is repeated by every single team, a change to this system competitively might make things more fun, perhaps requiring a mini set of 3 short songs to feel more like a proper band and completely eliminating all ridiculously long songs from competitions, or even having all songs have a similar point limit perhaps boosted with freestyle flourishes enabled via star power at the appropriate times, I have no idea how star power works in the game as I could not get the controller to trigger this despite vertically lifting the guitar at any time.

Another interesting aspect for scoring might be if the accelerometers in the controller responded to how you flourished and moved about on stage to incorporate “stage presence” into the scoring system to provide those truly representing on stage and not just playing the tunes the biggest and best scores, but this could always be something to consider for future releases.

As it stands I would definitely recommend a purchase for any guitar hero fan as all of the changes are definitive improvements and go beyond simply releasing further tracks with a whole new play style to master.

Follow updates at www.guitarhero.com