Tag Archives: Reviews

New & Free Online Games at Playberry!

GAMING: Fresh offerings from Playberry

As a games critic, I have to say that I am hugely impressed with the quality of both free online games and mobile games. There are of course hundreds of really unimpressive free online games, but if you know where to look, there are many gems among the rough that are certainly worth giving a bash.

One new website that offers some quality free online games, is Playberry. Described as a “social gaming website dedicated to bringing great gaming content to your browser”, Playberry both develops and handpicks some really great games. It is made by gamers, for gamers.

Playberry Website – Free Online Games

Playberry - Free Online Games

There is a great range of freebies on Playberry, from zombie shoot-em-ups such as In Death We Rise to off-road speedsters such as Renegade Racing. Games are also voted on by Playberry users, providing a user-generated list of the most popular choices.

Playberry covers every major genre of games – from action, adventure and shooters to puzzlers, sports and strategy. Best part is that all these games are free to play and require no registration of any kind. Just visit www.playberry.com and dive right in!

There are of course benefits to registering with Playberry, which is free and can simply be done using your Facebook account. You’ll receive updates of new releases, and I see that they are creating a forum whereby users can make suggestions for new releases. A great feature for any online gaming site.

Playberry is building up a steady following on Facebook, and if you register with your Facebook account, you’ll also have the option of sharing your gaming awesomeness and progress with your friends.

So if you are a gaming enthusiast and are looking for the latest offerings of free online games, check out Playberry and get your game-face on! These games are so nice and small – making them perfect for playing while waiting around or whenever you can sneak in a few minutes of quality playtime.

Dear Esther Game Review (PC)

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** This review is spoiler free! **

Dear Esther,

I happened upon fragments of washed up letters found amongst the rubbish that the sea brings. Soggy parchments bring word that those on the mainland speak of my lonely plight as some sort of game.

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Fallout New Vegas DLC: Honest Hearts and Dead Money

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FALLOUT NEW VEGAS DLC: Honest Hearts and Dead Money

Hopefully by now all the bugs in the first two Fallout New Vegas DLC have been stomped out. If you haven’t yet played Dead Money or Honest Hearts here’s a quick review of each.

Fallout New Vegas Dead Money Review

Dead Money was a little disappointing in my opinion. It almost seems like Bethesda were trying to make a zombie shoot ‘em up expansion for Fallout New Vegas. The scenery is dull and eerie and the bad guys mostly consist of bright-eyed ghosts with multiple sclerosis. They have been cleverly named the “Ghost People.” There is a lot of dialogue if that’s your thing and, in the case of one companion, none at all. There are a few new weapons on offer, which is nice, especially in the melee department.

So if pawning zombie-like creatures with melee combat in close quarters is your thing, Dead Money is for you.

Fallout New Vegas Honest Hearts Review

Honest Hearts, on the other hand, is something of a marvel. Fresh and expansive canyon scenery will have you immersed into a newly crafted section of the Fallout universe named Zion. Honest Hearts also ties in nicely with stories told back in New Vegas. The legendary Burning Man, who shall not be named according to Caesar, is looking for vengeance. You have the choice of either teaming up with the macho mummy or siding with a soft-hearted evangelical soul on missionary work.

The landscape in Honest Hearts is home to three different tribes who live off the land and have much to teach an adventurous courier. Will you team up with the Burning Man and wipe the White Legs off the face of the planet? Or will you help evacuate the Dead Horses before they fall victim to the same fate?

  • Both Fallout New Vegas DLC are available through Steam for $10 (roughly R70).

Games for Christmas: PC on Earth

PC GAMES: A quick look at some good game titles this Christmas

IT is the most exciting time of year for retailers and children alike as we are bombarded by adverts from all directions and the kiddy winkles are putting their finishing touches to their Christmas wish lists.

If your children are as demanding as most they’ll probably be nagging for the latest and greatest gadgetry goods this year. I imagine it must be tough having to explain what a recession is to a young child and argue that Apple iPads and Xboxes just aren’t in Santa’s budget this year.

But, if you already have a workable PC installed at home, games as gifts are the perfect solution to making everyone happy this Christmas. PC games are not frightfully expensive these days and I can assure you from experience that there is nothing more exciting than being given a new game to play for Christmas.

I have compiled a list of a few great PC games that cover several genres and are suitable for a variety of ages. It is also useful to know that most PC games today are not gender-specific. What may have once been considered as boys’ games are now being played considerably by the growing number of girl gamers.

Civilization V (ages 16+): R360 (PC)

Civilization VSid Meier’s award-winning Civilization series is a treat to the mind that will appeal to strategy gamers who enjoy turn-based games. Civilization takes one back to the beginnings of time where you can play as one of the great leaders from history. Discover new technologies and lands, build great wonders, forge alliances and sign treaties as you lead your people through time.

Civilization is a challenging game that promises hours of unique gaming. The previous release (Civilization IV) is now available for only R66 and includes three expansion packs.

Fallout New Vegas (R18): R350 (PC)

Fallout New VegasIn a post-apocalyptic world set in the not too distant future, you are one of several survivors who were preserved in underground vaults. After humanity emerges from living underground for generations, they have already begun to form tribes and allegiances. Conflict is inevitable as different tribes compete for clean water and survival, but one city has mysteriously been preserved from complete destruction. That city is New Vegas.

Stunning visuals and complete immersiveness make this game a personal favourite of mine. Outcomes differ depending on how you play the game and engage with its moral choice system. Just a warning: Fallout does have a gambling component and suggestions of prostitution — hence the age restriction.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (ages 16+):

The Elder Scrolls IV: OblivionThe Elder Scrolls places the player in the fantasy realm of Cyrodil — set in the Middle Ages. Made by the same company as Fallout 3, this game is equally stunning and immersive. Players are given endless quests which may see you fighting in the arena or battling mythical creatures with both magic and steel.

The Elder Scrolls is a great example of a sandbox game, whereby the player can literally venture where he or she pleases until the edge of the map. Like Fallout 3, it also features a weather system­, whereby players will experience rain, snow or shine and changes between day and night.

The game is not excessively violent or naughty, but perhaps a little complex for younger players.

Zoo TycoonZoo Tycoon 2 (ages 3+): R309 (PC)

From Railroad Tycoon to Zoo Tycoon — these games are great educational simulators. Players will learn the fundamentals of zoo upkeep and design in a fun and visually stimulating way. Zoo Tycoon is available with four expansion packs, namely the Zookeeper collection, the Marine Mania collection, Endangered Species and the Extinct Animals expansion pack.

Need for Speed Hot PursuitNeed for Speed: Hot Pursuit (ages 12+): R303 (PC)

If your offspring are into fast cars and adrenaline rushes (i.e. racing games) you need look no further than the Need for Speed series. Hot Pursuit is one of the more popular releases that will make car fans drool at the well-rendered graphics and sporty cars they get to drive.

Fifa 2011 (ages 3+): R308 (PC)

The ever successful Fifa series is back with Fifa 2011 released this year. Football games are a lot of fun with a lot of effort put into their design. Players look like the real deal, stadia are modelled­ accurately and the roar and buzz of the fans creates a high-energy atmosphere.

Fifa 2011Fifa 2010 is a good choice considering that the World Cup was hosted by our country this year. Unfortunately this release is currently out of stock; but if it becomes available again before Christmas it is selling for just R129.

GAMES BARGAIN BIN:

(these are games I haven’t personally played, but have certainly heard of. Suitable for all ages):

  • Ultimate Monster Trucks R14
  • Football Manager 2007 R14
  • Winter Games R14
  • Puzzle Quest R90
  • Zoo Tycoon (stand alone) R66

NOTE: All PC games mentioned here are available at www.take2.co.za which is also offering free shipping this festive season on all orders over R350. Games may be available in stores or on other shopping websites, yet prices may differ.

Happy gaming and Merry Christmas!

Best Games of 2009

A look back at some of the best games of 2009

2009 was a great year in gaming. Titles such as Assassin’s Creed, Wolfenstein and Fallout 3 are quite simply some of the best games ever developed. Period.

So if you’re still struggling to keep up with the new 2010 game releases, then why not catch up by playing the following, highly recommended 2009 releases (which are also a lot cheaper now than when they were first released):

Best Games: Fallout 3

Fallout 3 boxBased on the idea of a post-apocalyptic world in the near future, Fallout 3 is without a doubt the best game I have ever played to date. The game not only has a riveting storyline and an amazing graphics engine, but also has the most sublime explosions you will see in any game. Being able to create custom-made weapons from Wasteland junk and choose from a library of unique perks whenever your character levels up, are just a few pleasures that make this game a must-have.

Best Games: Wolfenstein

Wolfenstein boxYou are super-spy BJ Blaskowitz and your job is to singly-handedly put a stop to those naughty Nazis and end WWII. The earlier versions of Wolfenstein still fill me with nostalgia and give me a tingly feeling in my fingertips. The latest Wolfenstein is a treat to the eyes and is one of the most intense war games in my collection. The game has a real solid feel and explosive effects, and being able to move in and out of the veil is certainly a unique gaming element. There is a great selection of upgradable weapons and is awesome if you’re a fan of the rifle. Capping Nazis has never been this fun!

Best Games: Call of Duty 5 – World at War

Call of Duty 5 World at War boxGranted that this game was released at the end of 2008, it is certainly in the same league as 2009 war games. It is fast-paced and intense, and in my opinion the best Call of Duty title released. This is one of those titles that gamers can play time and time again whenever the urge to kill kicks in. My only gripe is that Captain Price is off the scene (I understand that he was busy auditioning for a place in Modern Warfare 2). Nonetheless, the American and Russian campaigns are a blast.

Best Games: Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5 boxI was never a fan of the third-person Resident Evil games until I played this one. The Direct X 10 version of the game is both spectacular and intense. Even on normal difficulty, Resident Evil 5 is a desperate challenge to find ammo and cap zombies. Having a hot sidekick follow you around is a very welcomed element and she is far more than just a well-rendered face. Resident Evil 5 is also by far one of the longest games I’ve ever played (perhaps too long), but no doubt it will keep you entertained for months. Keep clean underwear nearby.

Best Games: Assassin’s Creed

Assassins Creed boxBeing a huge fan of Assassin’s Creed, I bought the second installment this year and was rather disappointed. Although ’Screed 2 is far better looking than its predecessor and offers a few more gaming elements, it still does not match up to the story and immersiveness of the first game in my opinion. Nonetheless the Renaissance environment in which you play is rather appealing. The controls for ‘Screed are by far the easiest to learn and nothing beats leaping off a clock tower into a bundle of hay. Bundles of fun!

All of the games above are available at Take 2 for reasonable prices. If the prices have not yet come down, it may be a good idea to simply add them to your wish list. Take 2 will then notify you when the prices drop.

Happy gaming!

Related Post: Fallout 3 Tweaks & Tips

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Teen dream machine

THE SAMSUNG CORBY: For nimble-fingered tech savvies

Samsung CorbyTHE iPhone has certainly set the standard for new cellular descendants with newer mobile releases favoring the larger, full-touch screen. There is also a major focus on making cellphones exclusive social networking devices.

Samsung has followed suite with the release of a few touch-friendly iPhone clones – one of which is called the Samsung Corby. The device is specifically aimed at the youth market and it’s easy to see why; it takes a tech-savvy youth to get to grips with it. However, touch technology is amazingly intuitive and it shouldn’t take long for anyone to learn to use a Corby – provided you have thin and nimble fingers and thumbs.

Social features
On the plus side the Corby is certainly a very social phone. It is fully Facebook, Twitter and MySpace compatible and can be used to upload content to a variety of sites, such as YouTube, Flickr, Picasa and Photobucket. One is also able to receive updates and live feeds via Facebook, MySpace and Twitter through a simple pop-up SNS (Social Networking Service) notification feature.

With a Corby, users can upload photos and videos and view such content on these sites through a feature called Communities. However, community access is only granted after an extensive disclaimer is displayed, which includes the clause that any content uploaded may be accessed and used by third parties. Be warned that there is a risk of being spammed with adverts once your personal details are divulged.

The screen
The 2.8-inch QVGA screen is large and crystal clear – something that Samsung certainly gets right. I thought the screen would get smudgy after a few hours of fingering and was surprised to find that it didn’t leave a single fingerprint behind. Apart from three buttons found on the front, the phone is entirely operated with the screen using one’s fingers and thumbs.

This may pose a problem for some as the Corby does not favour users with fat fingers. You have to use your thumb to type / touch anything comfortably and I’m sure that the average thumb is not as small as most of the keys on the touch-screen. A better option is to use a stylus (a phone-poking pen with a thin, touchy tip). Yet the Corby comes with none.

What’s on the menu
The Corby has an elaborate menu – two and a half screens worth. These all have a function and purpose but Samsung could have easily gone for a minimalistic approach by combining some of these. For example, there are separate synonymous icons for “Google” and “Internet” as well as separate “stopwatch” and “timer” functions. I guarantee that consumers would agree that less is more and imagine that a lot of the Corby’s multiple functions would go unused.

Apart from the 27 pre-installed widgets an additional 75 are available for download from Samsung’s online Widgets Store (not unlike the iPhone App Store). The Corby makes use of quad band connectivity to download content and browse the web, which is no 3G experience but is still sufficiently fast.

Nonetheless the Corby is easy enough to navigate and it doesn’t take long for all the mysterious symbols to start making sense. There does, however, seem to be a slight misunderstanding between the scroll and the zoom functions – often confusing themselves with each other. What also lacks is an on-screen QWERTY keyboard – making message-making rather difficult.

Other features
The Corby has an impressive memory and can support up to 8GB of external storage. Battery life is said to be 9 hours of talk time and an incredible 730 hours of standby time. It has a camera yet this is a mere 2 megapixels and has no autofocus or flash. It does have a “smile shot” function which is becoming all the rage – i.e. the phone will only take a photo of a person when he/she is smiling.

There are two unique features belonging to the Corby, namely “one finger zoom” and “smart unlock.” As the name suggests, one finger zoom enables consumers to zoom in and out with one finger, while smart unlock is a feature which enables users to unlock the phone by drawing a letter on the screen. One can choose from 9 letters with which to secure their phone from teenaged trespassers.

The verdict
The S3650 Corby would definitely appeal to youngsters that are keen on technology and consider themselves as active social networkers. It is also a phone for those who like to personalise and customise and comes with extra covers slanged “fashion jackets”. The relatively low price of R1500 implies no fancy stuff, but the wide range of features and downloadable content is certainly relevant to the target audience. Tech-savvy and mobile-intuitive traits required.

Related Reviews:
Samsung S3500: Budget Bundle
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Blogger’s Greatest Hits

POST PROMO: Blogger’s Greatest Hits attempt to make a comeback

Each post I’ve ever written is like a digital child of mine – each given due attention and updated when necessary. However, as a parent, I naturally grow concerned over how some of my digital offspring are more popular than others.

They each have their own unique talents and personalities, and although popularity is a fickle thing, I can’t help feel that it is my fault as a parent that some of my children get more attention than others. Perhaps they weren’t labeled properly at birth, or their dad simply lacked the know-how of how to get them ahead in life at the time.

I have therefore made it my parental duty to promote some talented children of mine that still have much to offer and are yearning for your attention. Below are a few of my personal favourites from each category – my greatest hits trying to make a comeback. I’m certain that you will find yourself willing to adopt some of the following:

From Quite Interesting:

“Staring blankly at my keyboard the other day (as one does) I began pondering over the arrangement of the keys. “What’s up with that?” I heard the comedian within me say. I set forth on a cyber-galactic journey to discovery why my keyboard’s layout looks the way it does…” (Read more)

Santa Claus“So just who is that fat, old jolly guy in the red suit that parades around shopping malls at Christmas time – entertaining kids and scaring adults with his “ho ho hos”? It’s usually someone’s dad – the one (in any community of close friends) with the biggest beer boep…” (Read more)

“Do you ever use sayings such as “saved by the bell” or hear your grandmother squawk something like, “Heavens, it raining cats and dogs outside!” A lot of people still do yet have no idea where such phrases originate from. I got a little history lesson the other day which explained the dark truth behind some of these popular figures of speech…” (Read more)

From Web 2.0:

“Digital Blasphemy is by far one of the best places on the web to find incredible pc wallpapers. Ryan Bliss has made a career of creating digital desktop backgrounds that are simply amazing. He is also quite the generous type and offers a few of his digital artworks for free. I have collected several of these over the years and wanted to share my top 10 with anyone who appreciates such talent…”
(Read more)

Photofunia“There are some great digital photography websites out there that allow you to do some wondrous things with your own (possibly dull) collection of pics. Such sites also make you look really smart when your family and friends don’t know about them and ask, “how in the name of Luke Skywalker did you make your facebook profile pic like that!?”
(Read more)

“If you feel that you missed out on an opportunity to be pasted in your fellow matriculants’ yearbooks and be remembered forever, you can now do it online. With a little imagination and creativity, you could digitally create an entire yearbook of all your former classmates, whether you matriculated in the ’50s or the ’90s…” (Read more)

From Happy Friday:

“The video “Where the Hell is Matt?” has seen over 21 million views to date, so you’re likely to have seen it before, but if you haven’t, you should give it a watch. It takes you to a place of magic and joy and wonder – a place where all the bad in the world is forgotten for 4mins 29secs. It is one of the most viewed viral videos of its time and one of my top dancing videos…” (Read more)

chip-n-dale“There are no cartoons better than the hand-crafted animations of the 80s, which make today’s cartoons look rather crappy by comparison. The following make me slip into a nostalgic state and give me the urge to run around the garden naked climbing trees again. What? That’s not weird. It’s called my “inner-child” – eveyone has it… don’t they?” (Read more)

“Here you’ll find a collection of humorous and memorable South African Facebook statuses I’ve come across over the past two weeks to illustrate my point that South Africans are pretty, funny people…” (Read more)

From Online tips & tricks:

“The video-web is an exciting place to be involved in these days, particularly because it is constantly evolving and simply brimming with potential. If you have untapped creative juices, or any original video-related ideas, there is nothing stopping you from making a contribution to the growing videosphere…” (Read more)

blogging 101“If the idea of blogging excites you, there is nothing preventing you from starting one today. There are several ways to go about this, but in the spirit of keeping things simple, there are two blogging sites I would recommend…”
(Read more)

“… here’s a much more controversial-friendly, and very easy way to learn the SA anthem if you don’t know it already. You’ll see that it’s as easy as ABC” (Read more)

From Gadgets & tech:

“Specifically since the introduction of Windows XP to Japan, more and more consumers have been taking their laptops and electronic devices to Shinto priests to be blessed against system crashes and technical failures…” (Read more)

“Our traffic nightmares may soon come to an end thanks to an invention known as the Shweeb. And this is not just some fancy new swear word, but the world’s first human-powered monorail” (Read more)

“I wrote a hand-written letter the other day and found that my hand-writing looked like barbed wire. I realised that it had been a good while since I had used any hand-writing skills due to my increasing reliance on typing everything. It seems obvious to me that the archaic technology of hand-writing is being slowly killed by digital technologies. Yet just when the patriotic hand-writers thought things couldn’t get worse, society unleashed something called “digital paper” or iPaper…” (Read more)

Reviews:

“The gaming chair came in attachable parts with a set of tools, a spider diagram, some Chinese instructions, and a note of encouragement. I half expected to find a small key, some coded message, a strange map and an enchan­ted ring” (Read more)

Aibo“I’ve been thinking of getting a puppy; one that’s potty-trained. Or perhaps a streetwise cat that can take care of itself. The thought that I could never find the time to raise a pup made me consider robot pets. Several of these can learn skills and tricks, recognise faces, voices, and colour; but they won’t pee on your carpet…” (Read more)

“Twisp is not a real cigarette, but a personal and portable vapouriser, that uses micro-electronics and a lithium polymer cell to evaporate nicotine in ‘smoke’ from a replaceable cartridge. The vapour does not smell nor does it contain tar, carcinogens or smoke particulate found in first and second- hand cigarette smoke, but it feels, tastes and looks just like the real thing…” (Read more)

Gaming & virtual reality

“It has been said that Wannado has redefined child entertainment by simulating a dream world where children are encouraged to take on and experience one or several adult professions. It features 60 Real-play venues and over 120 career possibilities – ranging from archaeologists, doctors, attorneys and TV hosts to fashion models, pizza makers, DJs and clowns…” (Read more) 

VisionDome 5“As computer-processing power increases and even more realistic graphics are developed, the simulated environments produced by virtual reality systems will become even more believable than some already are. At the cutting edge of vitual reality is the VisionDome…” (Read more)

“Known as the godfather of modern videogame systems, the Atari 2600 (originally called the Atari VCS) helped spawn a multi-billion dollar gaming industry. Released in 1977, the Atari 2600 was the first successful console to use game cartridges and its influence can still be felt today in the Xbox, PlayStation, and GameCube…”
(Read more)

Cellphones & cellular technology:

“The Samsung Jet has opened up a whole new world of mobile web browsing with its high performance Dolfin web browser and revolutionary 3D cubic interface, allowing super-fast surfing. The device also supports the option of multi-window browsing – allowing one to surf up to five pages simultaneously…” (Read more)

iphone art“Some of the latest hype arriving in the wake of the new iPhone 3G S is an Apple application for the device called Brushes, which allows users to do more than just doodle on their iPhones. The images are “painted” freehand, using fingers and thumbs…” (Read more)

“The Health Concept Phone (pictured) is equipped with eNose technology, which effectively allows it to electronically “smell” what you eat and keep track of your food intake. It is able to ‘recognise’ food (and other things) by its unique chemical signature. Recommended for people who have a habit of eating with their eyes closed. Similar phones have the ability to emit a whiff of your significant other’s scent every time he or she phones…” (Read more)

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