April Fools 2012, Chrome Multitask

Chrome have released their latest, but probably not last, April Fools day prank. This time, Google have taken to changing Chrome, their browser. The new feature adds ‘multitasking mode’, which enables the use of two mice on one computer.

Google say that the new feature can be used for when multiple people want access to the computer, for hardcore gamers, or architects.

What’s even better, is that you can try it out by visiting this link.

April Fools 2012, Gmail Tap

Google really enjoy April Fools Day. The web giant is known for its pranks on April 1st, and recently announced Google Maps for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Google have released their second prank of the day, named Gmail Tap.

Gmail Tap is an addition to the iOS and Android Gmail application. The app update replaced the standard keyboard with two buttons, which is used the same way as morse code. You can even type two e-mails at the same time, having two buttons at the top, and two at the bottom.

What I love about Google is that they spend so much time making a brilliant looking product and video to advertise the product, even for a joke! Despite it being an utterly stupid idea, the video made the keyboard actually look great. One thing is for sure, I want to work at Google!

April Fools 2012, Google Maps for NES

Google are known for their yearly pranks on April 1st. A few years back they teased us with ‘Virgle’, a partnership with Virgin to establish a human settlement on Mars. They have also changed around their products, introducing a temporary 3D mode Google Chrome.

Today Google have uploaded an announcement to YouTube. They say that an 8-bit version of Google Maps is coming for the NES.

We’ve long neglected one of the most popular computer systems ever sold.” – Ken Tokusei, Product Management Director

Google Maps 8-bit is said to be sold in the form of a cartridge, like traditional NES games.

Google have also made a version of this available to the public. According to the video, you can test out the 8-bit version by visiting Google Maps as you normally would, and click the quest button in the top right corner.

What do you guys think about Google’s latest April Fools prank? I personally think it’s one of their better ones.

Otterbox Commuter, Desire S | Review

Part of the luxury of having a modern smart phone is having a brilliant feeling design as well as an ultra slim model. So when buying a mobile phone cover which hides all of these things, it’s going to want to be a good case…or people would abandon it. Luckily, the Otterbox Commuter Series is a brilliantly sturdy case which both feels great, and protects your device from just about any everyday use.

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Watch An Elephant Use The Galaxy Note!

Samsung have been pushing the idea of ‘bigger is better’ into our heads by introducing the Galaxy Note. Many have asked if it is too big for average use, with Samsung themselves comparing it with a tablet in adverts. Well it turns out, Samsung may have just met the note’s perfect customer.

In this video uploaded by the Technivator, shows Peter the elephant selecting music, playing the keyboard, taking and viewing photos, and even using the stylus to draw a picture.

Why? Who knows. But it’s a very upbeat video which claims to use no effects or trickery, and even has videos to support that on their channel.

Mass Effect 3, A Review

Shepard and the Normandy finally return. Does the arrival of the Reapers spell disaster for the franchise, or does Shepard get the send-off he deserves?

With its release on March 6th, Mass Effect 3 represents the culmination of a trilogy and expectations of millions of fans around the globe. The Reapers have finally arrived at Earth, and it’s up to Shepard and his small band of loyal friends to unite the galaxy and stop the threat. However, is it possible for a game like this to actually deliver on every single hope and dream of fans? The short version is, no. Does that make the game a failure? No. In most places, Mass Effect 3 excels, expanding on the improvements seen in Mass Effect 2. Some moments will have you literally on the edge of your seat. The fast paced combat and exhilarating story challenges not only players’ minds but also their hearts, and aside from a few minor gripes, Mass Effect 3 is truly an awe-inspiring experience, regardless of its flaws.

Mass Effect 3 begins on Earth, where Shepard is still desperately trying to make a case against the Reapers, a truly frightening synthetic race who come to cull galactic civilization every 50,000 years. Since Mass Effect 1 he (or she) has been trying to convince the galaxy of this threat, and yet this warning has constantly fallen on deaf ears. Now with the Reapers arriving, humanity and the rest of the galaxy find themselves in a desperate situation. Shepard must bring all the help he can find back to Earth to repel the Reaper invasion. If this is the culmination of trilogy to you, then you know the story and know the score. For new players, I insist that the first two games be played. Though EA has marketed this as a good jumping off point for the series, some of the most serious emotional punches come from the people you’ve known throughout the journey, and the consequences of your actions. It’s been a wild ride for Commander Shepard, and as the player you deserve to hear the full story.

Shepard's Back, and he hasn't lost a step.

For long time fans who are wary about the third entry in the series, there’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of. The gameplay has been polished to a mirror sheen by Bioware, and it’s clear that they know what they are doing. Combat is much like it was in Mass Effect 2, with a focus on speed and squad tactics. Each of the six different classes represents a different style of gameplay, whether you want to use the risky Vanguard who charges into crowds with Biotic powers, or the pure Soldier who uses guns and grenades to clear a path of carnage. With any class, ME3 will feel like a totally different game. Combat is even faster than it was in ME2, and squads are even more easy to control. Now your squadmates will adapt powers to the situation at hand, and it’s only a simple button press away. This makes squadmates more useful than ever before.

Also useful is the new customization system, which feels reminiscent of Mass Effect 1, but instead of having a large amount of items and a cluttered inventory system, ME3 goes for a more streamlined approach, allowing the player to attach up to two addons to any given weapon. This can mean anything from added melee damage to a scope which allows for greater accuracy. The shopping system has also been improved, allowing the player to access all the visited shops from Shepard’s ship, the Normandy. This cuts down on the clutter and complications that plagued ME1. Another addition is the Weapon Weight system. The amount of weapons that Shepard carries into combat dictates the speed at which he/she can use abilities. This adds another fun layer to the gameplay.

My usual layout, a pistol and assault rifle for fast casting.

The conversations have stayed just as complicated and interesting, allowing for an incredible number of decisions and moral choices. These all build on the decisions of the previous games, which for the most part makes for a unique gameplay experience for every gamer and every save file. Every Shepard’s journey has made different twists and turns, and almost all of them are represented in one way or another, big or small. It’s incredibly satisfying to see old faces return.

The story however, definitely fails to satisfy in certain areas. Especially when it comes to the conclusion, which most already know of by reputation due to the outcry of many fans. In addition to this, there were also a few other bugs, including the surprising return of a character who I knew to be dead. This did put a damper on the experience. However, in most cases this is not going to be a problem, and some of the emotional payoffs are huge and exciting. There were smiles, shouts and even a few tears on my play through of Mass Effect 3.

Smiles were also in abundance as I tackled the game’s new multiplayer mode, titled “Galaxy at War.” In this mode, you and a team of three others take on various forces while occasionally completing objectives, inspired by the Horde mode often seen in games today. Where ME3 differs from the pack is in bringing much of the gameplay of the single player experience online. In “GoW”, you will upgrade a character from one of the six classes just like in single player. This includes assigning talent points and customizing weaponry. The weapon weight system also comes into play here, increasing or decreasing power recharge rates based on your arsenal. The games take 20 minutes on average, awarding Experience Points for leveling up and money, which can be used to buy packs. These packs contain new weapons, mods and characters, and are completely randomized. This makes buying packs extremely addictive, much like buying trading card booster packs. It’s always exciting to see what new gun or character you’ll have next.

Integrated into this is Galactic Readiness, which determines the performance of War Assets in the single player campaign. Throughout the campaign, Shepard collects these War Assets which can alter the ending of the game. These are obtained by doing side quests and main story missions. Galactic Readiness starts at 50%, which means that the player only obtains 50% of the War Assets he or she gets. Multiplayer is necessary if the player wants to get the best ending. That’s not really a problem, as the multiplayer experience is fantastically polished and worth your time.

My soldier and galaxy at war.

Also polished is the sound, which is one of the most important things in any Mass Effect game. Within Mass Effect 3, there is an incredible amount of dialogue, and some characters are going to make you laugh again and again. For established characters, Bioware does not stray from their personalities, instead delivering a consistent experience. Sound effects have also been improved, with guns making satisfying sounds, explosions knocking you back in your seat. My one gripe would be the Reaper sound effects, which constantly sound like auto tuned garbage. I was pretty tired of it by the end of the game.

Graphically the game is solid and up to modern standards. In most ways it looks about the same as Mass Effect 2, which by its own right was a very good looking game. It runs consistently at 60 FPS, without any stutter. Some of the vistas in the game are absolutely beautiful, and the game occasionally has set pieces that are gorgeous. The art direction is fantastic. I did find the sections that take place on Earth to be a little bland and devoid of the color that usually is present throughout the Mass Effect universe. I also found there to be a few graphical glitches, such as the camera blurring at odd times and characters disappearing during conversations. Other than these minor issues, ME3 continues Bioware’s tradition of polished gaming.

Mass Effect 3 is a fantastic game. The final chapter of Shepard’s story is one that should not be missed, and the invasion of the reapers makes for some dire consequences that every player should experience. The gameplay is absolutely fantastic, and the presentation is truly stellar. It is the culmination of nearly ten years of storytelling. Regardless of the rage at the conclusion, Mass Effect 3 is a game that I will continue to come back to, and one I think that any gamer will enjoy.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

[checklist]

  • Fantastic Gameplay
  • Great Multiplayer Experience
  • Interesting Characters and Dialogue
  • Solid Graphics and Consistent Frame Rate

[/checklist]

[badlist]

  • Disappointing Conclusion
  • Occasional Camera Glitches and Bugs

[/badlist]

Ready Steady Bang For iOS

Today whilst browsing Vimeo, I came across a promo video for an iPad and iPhone game called ‘Ready Steady Bang’. Released just over 6 months ago, the official website describes the app as ‘A beautifully addictive quick-fire dueling game.

The aim of the game is simple. You find your character in a western style stand-off, and wait for the commentator to say “ready, steady, BANG”, at which point you frantically tap the screen as quick as possible, in order to beat the enemy to the trigger.

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Here is how the game is described on the official website.

Play face-to-face with a friend on a single screen in 2 player mode or pit your trigger finger against 10 of the fastest outlaws and collect a hoard of achievements along the way.

Progress through the game to unlock 31 unique cowboy deaths, then show them off in your Kill Gallery.

Game Center integration allows you to compete against a world of cowboys and girls.

Are you fast enough?

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As fun as the game is, many people might just enjoy the screams of pain that the little pixelated character lets out as he falls to the ground. The deaths are always comedic, with over 30 death animations. The style of the game reminds me of the ‘suicidal bunnies’ franchise.

The developers behind the game have made an extremely minimal but enjoyable game, which can be bought for 69p on the App Store.

Cadbury Replicate Google Plus With Chocolate

The massive confectionery company Cadbury has celebrated it’s 500,000 google+ member by re-creating the social network entirely out of chocolate.

People were invited to watch through the use of a Google Hangout as the finishing touches were made to the chocolaty masterpiece.

The Google+ profile page replica used an assortment of different Cadbury chocolates, including edible ink for the text.

To see images of the project in creation, follow this link.

The Original Little Black Book | iPhone 4(S) Case

The Original Little Black Book is a smart and tidy way of keeping your iPhone 4 or 4S away from bumps and scrapes.

Designed in the style of a small notepad, the black book has a hand-crafted wooden frame with a leather binding. Despite doubling as a stand for the iPhone, it doesn’t add much bulk at all – a very nice change from other dock cases we have seen!

The Original Little Black Book is a prime example of how good a case can look. Larger companies should be aware that there is a big market for old fashioned vintage style cases like this, not just shiny metallic ones.

The case is available on Etsy via this link.

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