Note: When I requested the LiveView, I had an Xperia Arc. However a fault in that phone meant I had to switch to the Desire S before I had a chance to try the it with the Arc. The LiveView works with just about any Android phone, however is optimized for Xperia phones. This review is based on my experience with the Desire S.
When I bought my Razr, part of my reasoning was the styling. I wasn’t a big fan of the copycat ipod look the Samsung Galaxy SII has, and the bulkier, more rounded HTCs didn’t do it for me either. As a result I chose the Motorola Razr.
In the autumn of 2004, there was a phone revolution. In bringing the Razr V3 to the market, Motorola set the standard for a mobile phone. At a mere 14mm thick, the phone was razor-like, and with its altogether sleek design, the Razr was a hit, remaining in production for over three years, and selling over 130 million units, becoming the best-selling phone of all time in the process.
Rather than produce a series of good, solid phones following on from the Razr, Motorola instead chose to attempt to again revolutionise the way we look at mobile technology, tending to choose style over substance. As a result, they failed recapture the success of the Razr, and have arguably struggled in the phone market, falling well behind the likes of Samsung, Sony Ericsson and HTC.
Recently though, it appears that Motorola may have started getting their act together, releasing phones that showed genuine promise in 2011, such as the Defy and the Atrix.
On the 18th October, Motorola announced their latest attempt at re-kindling past glories- the Motorola Droid Razr. Yup, it has pretty much the same name as its daddy, but with 7 years since the first Razr, the name is about as far as the similarities go. The problem is, in the days of 2004, mobile phone technology was still relatively in its infancy, and the market was less difficult to crack. This time, the Droid Razr has to square up to some smart-phone behemoths such as the Samsung Galaxy SII and the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Nexus. So how does it fair?
Well, not badly in truth. Styling has always been something that Motorola have prided themselves on, and with this beauty, it’s not hard to see why. At just 7.1mm thin, the Razr name has never been so apt.
The rear of the phone is covered in Kevlar fibre- that’s what they make bullet proof vests out of! I wouldn’t advise exposing it to gunfire, but at least you can be safe in the knowledge that your mobile will take plenty of punishment.
Something that has helped keep the device so thin is the lack of rear cover. This means that the battery is sealed in, leaving only a side hatch to access memory card and micro sim card slots. The battery itself boasts rather hefty 1780mAh, meaning you should have no trouble getting through the day with medium to heavy usage.
The front of the device is covered with a 4.3 inch screen, boasting Super AMOLED technology. It’s not quite as good as the Samsung screens, but you will be hard pushed to find anything else that comes close. Some have mentioned that the Pentile Matrix pixel layout leads to jagged edges. If it does, I can’t see them, and unless you’re extremely picky, or use your phone from 3 millimetres from your face, I would say that you won’t be able to either.
Coming with an 8mp shooter, the Razr sits in line with its competitors, rather than ahead of them. 8 mega pixels seem to have been the choice of phone companies for the last 2 or 3 years now, and whilst the Razr takes pretty decent pictures, if you want a camera, buy a camera rather than a phone. For point and shoot pictures, the Razr performs quite well, particularly in natural light. Indoors and in low light however, it does seem to struggle, with many pictures seemingly quite grainy.
The Razr shoots video at 1080p that is crisp and more than good enough for the average person, who only wants to take a few videos of friends etc. Again, if you want a decent camcorder, buy one, as phones still have some way to go before they can compete.
On the front of the phone is a 1.3mp camera that also shoots video in 720p, perfect for video conferencing.
The one major disappointment that most seem to be talking about is the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich, with the handset only coming with the Gingerbread version of Google’s android pre-loaded. Motorola have promised that ICS will be available for the Razr, although when has yet to be disclosed. To me it’s not a major problem. At the moment only one phone does come with ICS- the Galaxy Nexus- so if you want the very latest android has to offer, then that’s the phone for you. If you’re like me and aren’t that bothered, then it won’t be a major problem.
On top of the stock Android 2.3.5, Motorola have used their own interface. It’s come a long way in the past few years, but many may feel it still lags behind the likes of HTC’s sense and Samsung’s Touchwiz. Personally, I love it because it isn’t either of those. I’ve played with both the Samsung Galaxy SII and the HTC Sensation XE, and although Motorola’s effort perhaps isn’t as slick, it’s a refreshing change from having the same UI on nearly every phone. The good thing about android is that personalisation is literally limitless, with 1000’s of wallpapers, widgets; unlock screens and themes all available to download from the Android market.
With a 1.2GHz dual core processor and 1 GB of RAM, the Droid Razr has more power than most computers did at the time of the original Razor’s release. It is more than enough to allow the phone to run smoothly, even with multiple apps running, and will play even the most demanding of games without a hitch. The device comes with 8 or 16GB of internal storage space, with a micro SD card slot for additional room, should you need it.
The Motorola Razr is connected in all the ways you would expect a new smartphone should be. With HSDPA at speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps, web browsing is a smooth experience. 3G and Wi-Fi mean you will rarely find you are unable to access the internet, whilst the phone boasts Bluetooth 4.0, something only a handful of devices currently have. One issue I did have when testing the Wi-Fi was that sometimes when signal strength was weak, the handset struggled to connect, whilst other handsets tested alongside connected without too much difficulty. When signal strength was increased however, the Razr was fine.
Two of the main features on the new Razr are Moto cast and Smart actions. We’ll deal with them one at a time. Moto cast, once downloaded onto your PC, allows you to wirelessly stream documents, music and video on your Laptop or computer to your phone, Provided your laptop is on and both devices are connected to Wi-Fi. It works pretty well provide you have decent internet speeds and means that you can effectively take your laptop with you in your pocket.
Smart Actions is another great idea from Motorola. Effectively, it lets you control your phone’s settings based on external factors. Say for example, when you get to work, you wanted your phone to automatically go to vibrate. Well, you can set up a smart action to do it. There are literally 1000’s of combinations that range from saving your battery at night, to sending an automatic text when you reach a specific location. In testing it worked pretty impressively and often gave us helpful new suggestions that made the overall user experience of the Razr much better.
The phone is also compatible with Motorola’s webtop app system.
After using the phone now for a few weeks, I cannot particularly find a fault. The specification is more than a match for any other device around at the moment, and whilst it isn’t yet running Ice Cream Sandwich, it should be just around the corner. With Samsung having sold over 20 million of their Galaxy SII, it seems unlikely that the Razr will ever be recognised as the top dog, but if you’re prepared to stand out and step away from the likes of HTC and Samsung, then the Motorola Razr may just be the phone for you.
After spending many hours within Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, I find myself caught between two very distinct opinions. This game is both amazing and insulting, quite literally, at the same time. The reasoning behind this decision is a much more difficult and detailed description than I envisioned making, but a necessary one nonetheless. I would like to start with the positive, but will be nitpicking over various things as I go.
TOR (for the sake of simplicity) is a massively-multiplayer online game set in the Star Wars universe, many years before the events of the movies. You are able to pick one of two factions, Imperial or Republic (good vs evil). Within each faction, you are given the opportunity to move along a Light/Dark path, somewhat reminiscent of the Chaotic Good or Lawful Evil-style systems of D&D. Decisions you make throughout your leveling experience will impact your character’s alignment and appearance, as well as give you access to various goods that would be otherwise unavailable. The quests that allow these decisions are a feature at which Bioware excels. Each of the stories for the various classes is different, interesting, and thoroughly enjoyable to play through. There are a few dull moments here and there, but the individual storylines are well-written and quite excellent.
Where one might begin to see an issue is within the ‘grind’ that appears to occur at each new planet. The formula runs a little something like this: Arrive on X planet to continue main story, be bombarded by side-quests. Do main story quest and attempt next section, but forced by inadequate level to go back and do the far less-interesting side quests, many of which require a decently-sized group. Fine, fine; so you go about your business and finally get to continue the interesting quest. Wait, no, now you have yet another zone of seemingly-endless side quests to complete.
This formula spans the entire slew of planets that you are given to explore. But don’t let the word “planet” fool you; because these zones are more like large zones that span a few pages on your zoomed-in map, but no more. While one surely doesn’t expect a game to have dozens of entire worlds to explore, the concept was somewhat overstated during the marketing process.
More points must be given to the game for voice-acting. I’ll admit, I was skeptical about really needing an actor to tell me to go kill the equivalent of eight pigs, but they did a fine job, and I was more happy to sit through the various conversations than I expected. Bravo here, it really gave the game a more immersive feel. It seems that this is one of those bars that other companies considering or working on MMOs should aspire to. While on the topic of aspirations then, let’s discuss Bioware’s engine and gameplay itself. Here I am afraid that there is more criticism than positive feedback.
First and foremost, mouse smoothing and acceleration are forced (and still so as of 1/27/12). Many PC gamers have thrown up their hands in outrage at this discovery. When people invest large sums of money into their peripherals, they expect to be able to use them to the best of their ability. Being restricted to using a software mouse rather than your well-worn hardware is incredibly frustrating, not to mention a poor business move. If you cater to a particular group in particular, you learn that group’s quirks, interests, and requirements. PC gamers are a picky bunch, and demand quite a bit from their developers. This is why some companies are on nearly-untouchable pedestals while others are the subject of derisive scorn.
The engine itself also appears to need a bit of work. If you’ve ever played World of Warcraft, you’re well aware of what response-time means in regards to pressing a button and having your character perform an action. MMO-players expect that when you hit the cast button, your avatar will begin to cast. Likewise, when the cast is finished, you expect to be able to move around or begin another spell or ability. Not so with The Old Republic. There is a delay between pressing a key and having your character perform an action, and casts are not always properly finished. If, for example, you attempt to use a speeder (the equivalent of a mount), there are three primary actions that must occur. First, your character must begin a cast. Second, you must finish that cast. Third, the animation used to do the cast must complete before you can do something else. Many other games have eliminated step 3 long ago, incorporating it into step 2 or allowing it to work while on the move. This odd requirement vexed me for several minutes while playing, and still irritates me to this day.
While on the subject of engines and options, one should note that the user interface is not terribly customizable, nor are mods yet allowed. Many hardcore gamers absolutely require things like this for an MMO that they are expected to spend many hours on. If a company wants people to treat their game like a digital world and not just a single-player game, the players will require the ability to change things about how that world is presented to them. But I digress.
Regarding in-game content, there is quite a bit to level on. I had few moments where I was utterly sick of a particular planet, and the pace kept me moving fairly quickly. The addition of “Flash-Points” (dungeons) offered a nice refresher from the regular grind of questing and killing monsters, though I can’t help but feel like they were implemented fairly late in the development cycle. Call me skeptical, but they are all accessible from the exact same spot in your factions space-station; perhaps they were added that way in order to allow the developers an easier time when adding new ones in the future. Regardless, each one was quite enjoyable, and occasionally vexing as my group figured out the best ways to deal with certain mobs. Every so often, it was possible to run across a world boss: a large, imposing, and very tough monster that existed in the open world. I made several attempts with a large group at killing one of these, but we were ultimately unsuccessful. However, I feel that this was more a problem of latency delay (lag) than anything. Enough people in one area seems to choke Bioware’s servers, and if they’re all using abilities…. Well, let’s just say that PvP, in its current state, needs some work.
Given the fact that The Old Republic is fairly new, and that the Bioware team seems to be at least reasonably responsive when responding to forum movement, I believe that we will be seeing quite a few improvements over the next couple of months. For now, I will keep my subscription active, and I very much want to see TOR succeed. Only time will tell, but given the current state of content, I am going to give it the following score:
I review games based on a five-point system. Ten and one-hundred point scales offer too many options, and many gamers will not go near a game that has anything less than a seven or seventy. There is no need for the abundance of extra points when trying to convey a simple score. Let’s break down a few of the features that influenced my decision below.
Story gets a wonderful score, with sound receiving a very similar one. Gameplay suffers from the latency and delay issues, while customization takes a major hit with the lack of options presented to players. Immersion would score higher, but the constant frustration with delay and inability to remove the software mouse kept me from enjoying the game as much as I felt I would normally be.
With all the hype towards graphically superior first person shooter such as Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 being released this year, the biggest attention has been towards the online PC game Minecraft. Minecraft, developed in Sweden by Markus Persson and his company Mojang, is the online phenomenon that has been bought by over 4 million people worldwide. In essence it is a first-person sandbox game in which you are free to build whatever you want in a randomly generated world. They can be basic such as a hut or something extraordinary like a castle. With the popularity of this new franchise, Minecraft is now available for 10p/C (limited offer) on Android and £4.99 in the App store.
Pocket edition is almost an exact clone as the PC version but is just as enjoyable on a smaller screen. The controls are as fluent by using a D-pad to move in different directions, flicking the screen changes where you look and touching down on certain blocks makes you place down or mine blocks. You are able to mine and build various structures just like the PC version however there are some limitations.
With the original Minecraft, there are two different modes that you can choose from. The first being creative mode. This is where you all the different blocks like wood, glass and bricks are available from the start so you are able to create anything you want straight away.
The second more popular mode is Survival. This mode gives you a health bar, no resources and living creatures and enemies that affect your experience. The Survival mode gives you more of objective to survive the world especially at night when you can be become defenceless against the enemies that appear. The way you gain resources is by mining different blocks and crafting them together to make new materials that can be used within the game.
This is the more popular mode in Minecraft and is what draws people to continue making new creations. However the pocket edition does not include the Survival mode yet and leaves you with the creation mode. This may be put-off for fans of Minecraft especially if they are not getting the full content that is found on the PC. Since the release Mojang have confirmed that the survival mode will appear on the pocket edition soon. Also the price of the game is pretty steep especially as other popular apps like Angrybirds and Fruit Ninja are 69p.
However there is free version of the Pocket Edition available which lets you create things in the randomly generated landscape but gives you less blocks to use and does not allow any online multiplayer world or save your world. The free version is still useful to get used to the controls and shows what the game is about, especially if you are new to Minecraft.
Overall the pocket edition is a good addition if you want to be mining on the go. However it is not the revolutionary change from the pc version
Batman: Arkham City will feel very familiar to those who played the prequel, and injects just enough new features, gadgets and missions to keep the idea fresh and exciting.
Not long has passed since the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Batman….or Bruce Wayne has been taken into a new prison the size of an entire city, along with a number of classic villains from the comic book series.
The first villain Batman meets is Hugo Strange, a deep voiced Dr, who is in charge of Arkham City. He is obsessed with the idea of launching a mysterious plan named ‘Protocol 10’. His very un-warming welcome soon leads to Batman’s escape to the city of Arkham City, where you are able to roam as the Dark Knight himself.
Of course, this game would not be complete without the Joker. Introduced with in minutes of the campaign, the Joker appears to be seriously Ill. Using a ‘Bargaining Chip’, he sends you off to get the cure. Unlike the previous game, the Joker doesn’t steal the entire plot. His missions are shared with the Hugo Strange missions to create the main plot. Enemies like Penguin, Dr Freeze, Poison Ivy all add something to the storyline which the original game was missing, – option.
While a big fan of the original game, I always felt that there was little chance to do anything else other than follow the main plot, solving riddles as you go. Arkham City fixes this issue, offering several story lines, characters and items to collect.
The combat has remained, for the most part, exactly the same. There are some extra moves for Batman to perform, and the ability to counter multiple enemies certainly is nice, however the controls and strategy to the combat system remains identical to Arkham Asylum. If it’s not broke, why fix it? The enemies remain the same as previously, thugs that have no idea how to fight, however when caught in groups can be a tough combat challenge.
Arkham City also introduces some new playable characters, depending on which edition of the game you have. I was able to play as both Catwoman and Robin, however Robin was limited to the combat challenges. I was extremely glad to see, that each character was given their own personality, and in the case of Catwoman, a different way of moving around.
As Catwoman, instead of using a cape to dive and glide to move like Batman, you were given the trademark whip to sling to each building. I can not stress how much Catwoman felt like a different character. She is faster in movement and combat, and forces you to change the way you go about stealth missions. The missions in which you play as Catwoman are spread out across Batman’s campaign, often cutting to the Catwoman missions leaving the batman story at a cliffhanger.
Something that disappointing, was that the game did not allow me to play as Robin at any point in the campaign, not even after i had completed the game. The reason that this was such a shame, is that Robin had possibly the best combat out of every playable character, combining the toughness of Batman with the agility of Catwoman.
Arkham City is no better than its predecessor, but it is also no worse. The city to explore, whilst fun at first often left me wondering where to go next, causing me to miss the nicely restricted corridors of Arkham Asylum. The campaign will be emotional to many die-hard fans of the comic book, and the different easter eggs, mysteries and riddles will mean a little something extra to you.
If you were a fan of Arkham Asylum, you should go out and buy this game. It is certainly a worth successor.
Thanks to Gaming Zap for the product to review.
Headsets for console gaming begin at a very cheap price, for a reason. These headsets almost always produce a very tinny noise, and poor chat input & output. The ‘hardcore’ gamer will spend hundreds on a good headsets, which never fail to manage your speech whilst giving you the best surround sound gaming effects money can buy.
The ORB GX1 costs just under £25, which is a little more than a ‘budget’ headset, but a lot cheaper than those usually considered for the serious gamer. But how do they perform?
Design & Comfort
The GX1 is nothing extravagant in design to stand out alongside competitors, but keeps it simple by offering a very bold, black & white design. The volume control options on the wire look plain at first, however when turned on lights up – blue when the microphone is un-muted, red when it is muted. Whilst very useful, the bright LED may distract you when playing in a dark room.
I wasn’t at all surprised by how comfy the headset was when gave them the first try. I could see taking them out of the box that they would be very comfy, thanks to the extremely padded headband. The padded earcups can be extended to fit to your liking, and the surprisingly light weight provides a very comfy gaming experience. Whilst very comfy in short periods, the headset begins to cause discomfort when used for more than a few hours, however this was resolved by taking a 5 minute break without the headset.
Chat & In-Game Audio
The audio is where the GX1 really shines. Speech was very easy to hear when playing in an Xbox Party, or in a game lobby. I was pleased to be using the headset as the main audio source of ‘Battlefield 3’, a game which has received critical acclaim for it’s brilliant sound effects. The base boost system created great surround sound and aided in identifying my enemies, their location, and bullets that were coming my way. The sound maintained it’s consistency from beginning to end, without a single slip up. No matter how loud or quiet, the headset was able to give me a great audio experience.
Both the chat and main game audio were able to play hand in hand, and the volume control buttons on the wire allow you to adjust to your liking.
Summary, Pros & Cons
Brilliant bass boosting sound.
Creates great surround sound.
Microphone never fails record your full message, sentence or taunt.
Volume control allows you to adjust chat and game volume to your preference.
Design isn’t anything special.
Bright LED can be annoying in low light.
Can cause discomfort after several hours of use.
What the headset lacks in design, makes up for by offering a great customizable audio gaming experience that comes very close to matching that of mainstream headsets like ‘TurtleBeach’. The bass boost system makes it a very good option for competition gamers, who need to know the location of others and events at all time. The trouble-less set up and simplicity of controls means that the Orb GX1 can be used by any form of gamer, both serious and relaxed.
When i first began to play the game, i was amazed. Whist the graphics are nothing compared to the superior graphics on the PC, they are still some of the best i have ever seen on a console. They are not as crisp or shiny as one might find on games such as Crysis 2, however the frostbite 2 engine really creates an atmosphere that makes you feel like you have been dropped right in a middle of a war.
On a number of occasions, i have attemped to blow a bridge or building to smithereens using a ‘SMAW’, only to see the rocket go straight through the wall, or only chip of a small amount of the structure. Other than the few times this has happened, the destruction seems to be working very well. Bits of a wall chips off as you shoot over it, trees fall in front of you, and now falling debri can harm your character. The Frostbite 2 engine seems to be worth all the hype, and DICE assure us that the destruction has been limited for the beta, and will be better in the full game.
Glitches, there are many. Using the new prone feature, you may find yourself under the map. Following a team mate, you notice his neck extend comically. These and many other glitches should be finished by the games release later this month, and maybe even be fixed later on in the beta testing process, as they continue to release updates. In my opinion, the glitches to not really effect how much I enjoy the game. Partly as I am aware that it is the beta, and also that the glitches are mostly small, visual glitches that don’t effect the core gameplay.
The actual gameplay is very good, its fast pased and has tense moments. The only playable map, ‘Operation Metro’ is set in Paris, and begins in a park, before going underground in a subway station, and then coming up to the main streets of Paris. This was a great choice of map for the beta, it shows off some of the best lighting moments in the subway, when you turn a corner, and an enemy’s tactical light blinds you. The map allows you to play as almost every class, as the park works well with snipers, and the underground works well for close combat.
Overall i love the beta, and i will love the full game. As i fan of Bad Company 2, i am glad to see that it is still quite similar. It seems like the grabbed the best bits of BC2, such as destruction, vehicles, weapons etc, and then they combined it with the best bits of call of duty, making the game feel alot smoother.
Before I start rambling on, I should mention that, unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of playing the game’s humble predecessor Deus Ex, nor its sequel sub-titled Invisible Wars. Having not done so, others wouldn’t likely consider me to be sufficiently qualified to judge any aspects of the game. Fear not however, as I struggled to point out any downfalls.
DEHR is heavily aimed towards those gamers that like to soak up every ounce of available information in the plot and know its goings on inside out, gamers that I like to refer to as “Sherlocks”, I am a Sherlock and I felt very much aimed at. In fact, in your first location, there are 5 items and 4 e-mails that contribute to the story, Examine them all and see be rewarded with and achievement.
The game offers a seemingly unending amount of background information throughout your adventure, so much so that committing to investigate and adopt that detective approach is hard to keep up. Let’s admit, many of us found ourselves hacking people’s computers, might I add quite easily considering the future setting , and sifting through their e-mails to see what juicy, plot relevant info we could find and more often than not, you would. Some way or another, what seemingly irrelevant and insignificant info you’d stumble across in those e-books, newspapers, e-mails and pocket secretary’s, would manage to tie into the game in more plot revealing ways than what you might have thought.
Upon beginning your journey, what are immediately apparent are the long loading screens that appear to delay it. However, after the first 20 or so you become immune to the impatience that they would first bring on. Therefore it wouldn’t really be fair to interpret this as a con, especially considering the vast and networked maps that understandably take just a little longer to construct during loading time.
A labyrinth of countless alleyways, corridors and apartments in every city gives almost too many opportunities to carry out your detective work and learn about your surroundings. By incorporating this feature, it allows missions and quests to be approached differently depending on which direction or path you follow, in doing so definitely brings about a ‘Mass Effect’ feel about it. Again, your quests are influenced by the decisions you make and what you choose to say, having to sneak into the police precinct while avoiding being caught after upsetting the receptionist in an earlier conversation may prove a lot more difficult than being allowed to freely enter the station and explore as you please after having had a more positive and successful discussion.
Augments, mechanical add-ons and adjustments, play a key part in the story. After having been severely injured, Adam Jenson (your character) is robotically reconstructed with augmentations in order to save his life. Adam, not too pleased with his recent reconstructive surgery, must learn to cope and come to terms with his new capabilities and absence of sensation, making him feel more machine than man. These views, however, are not shared with the game player as progressing through the game and earning experience means you can ‘level up’ your specific augmentations that consequently let your Deus Ex adventure become easier and more enjoyable. With upgrades such as super-human feats of strength, x-ray vision and increased cardiovascular capacity, you’ll want as many of these mechanical developments as possible so saving up for what are called ‘Praxis Kits’ (boxed augmentations) would prove to be a wise decision as they come to 5000 credits a piece. Before you try to purchase your way to augmented perfection though, Limb clinics (the places you go to purchase health related products and praxis kits) only stock a maximum of two praxis kits and will only replenish once you have exited an re-entered that city, shame…
Human revolution also comprises of boss levels which some have argued ruin the choice making theme by forcing Jensen to deal with the baddies by unleashing his torrent of weaponry to be used up against them, although personally I didn’t deem this to be such a bad thing as it kept in check and limited ammo which in turn would mean the usage and exploration of different guns, keeping the game interesting.
I conclude, you will be glad to see, by summing up Deus Ex Human Revolution in a highly spoken manner thanks to its well thought out plot that incorporates every bit of info, bountiful investigating and decision making opportunities, impressive artistic design and engulfing story line.