Page 1

Gaming Systems - What You Need to Know to Make Gaming More Fun See the top 3 gaming headsets reviewed on this page... Customer reviews reveal about everything you need to know! Get the best gaming headset at the best price!

Wii 3 Common Wii Issues Solved It is easy to love the Nintendo Wii, it has plenty of great games, has a fun control system and it is a gaming experience that you can easily share with friends and family. This is why when something starts bugging up on the system, people will get worried. To help ease things out, here are a few useful tips to try out before hurriedly bringing your system to the nearest repair center. Non-Responding WiiMotes Now here is a common issue. After all, a WiiMote is how you control the console. Without it, playing a game is practically impossible. So what do when things start going south? First, check the batteries. These controllers use two AA batteries to run, so click on the home button to see if how many of the four lights on the controller light up (more lights mean higher charge). If the controller is not responding, you might want to replace the batteries. So let us say you have all four lights indicating a full charge but the game is still not responding to your commands. This may be a synchronization issue. Remember that your controller is wireless and that the Wii has to detect it before the two can work together. Simply press the red sync button near the SD card slot on your console to help your system find the controller. Inaccurate Aiming More often than not, games will require you to make use of the infrared sensor to aim at the screen and navigate menus, shoot guns and simply move things around. There are occasions when this starts acting abnormally.

1 Review the best gaming headsets Š All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

One of the first things you should do is to confirm the set up of the sensor bar. From you Wii’s system menu, you can set the configuration of the sensor to assume that it is located on top or the bottom of your TV screen. Another factor to consider is if there are lights in front of the TV and lights behind you. The sensor bar may accidentally pick up IR feedback from lights and other devices behind you. Be sure to look around your playing area to see if there might be items that are interfering with your system’s performance. Lastly, check the overall lighting. In some cases, the light in the room may be too strong and is interrupting the feed between the controller and the sensor. You may choose to turn off the lights or diffuse it a little to allow for a better level of communication between the WiiMote and the sensor bar. Unable to Back Up Save Files This is not really a hardware issue, but more of an incompatibility problem. According to Nintendo, the Wii supports only certain SD cards. This can be a little annoying if the SD card you currently have is incompatible with the console, but sadly, the only way to remedy this issue is to purchase a brand new card. Nintendo lists SanDisk and BD&A as officially compatible, but users are also recommended to update to version 4.00 or higher of the system firmware to further improve compatibility. So there you have it, three of the simplest quick-fixes for three of the main issues that Wii owners tend to run into. However, if your Wii console is still suffering from issues, it is advisable that you take it to the nearest authorized Nintendo service center for a quick check.

Backtracking on Your Wii: GameCube Gaming One of the many great features about the Wii is that it is compatible with plenty of old games. Many are already quite familiar with the many Virtual Console games which allow you to play NES, SNES, N64, Megadrive and other platform titles on the Wii. Of course, players will have to use the classic controller in order to play the games properly. But one great feature of the Wii that is being overlooked is that it can play GameCube games. There are four dedicated ports on the system to plug in the old GC controllers and 2 memory card slots for save file access. No need to worry about the smaller GameCube discs, simply pop them into the disc tray and the Wii will automatically center it for you. If you are asking, ‘what is so good about the GameCube?’ -here is a quick list of our top picks. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader 2 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

No fan of this generation-transcending work of science fiction can go without experiencing the amazing gameplay that Rogue Leader has to offer. Featuring plenty of amazing voice over work, sound effects that seem to pop right out of the move and a gameplay that truly places you in the heat of the action, this game takes Star Wars interactivity to a whole new level. The game also features a whole array of ships ranging from the well known X-Wing to the more obscure A-Wing as players fly off in missions that coincide with the events of the original trilogy. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes We have a love-hate relationship with this game. Silicon Knights was given plenty of freedom with the remake of the original Metal Gear Solid game for the Playstation and had it graphically updated for the GameCube. The result is a visually stunning work of art that comes pretty close to the graphics for Sons of Liberty on the PS2. The gameplay has also been adjusted to bring in controls and functions available in the PS2 sequel. The downside is that the Knights had a little too much freedom with Twin Snakes. While the general storyline has not been changed, minor character details have been adjusted. Otacon has become a Nintendo fanboy, Snake has turned into a bit of an acrobat –among others. While the canon story has not been altered, fans of the series felt that the changes were too out of character. Still, for those who have yet to play the MGS series, this title is a great way to be initiated into the world of stealth based action gameplay. Animal Crossing Oh, we already know, there is Animal Crossing: Wild World for the Wii. But somehow, nothing beats the charm and feel of the original AC for the GameCube. Most importantly, this is a great way for old GC owners to continue their towns and their game. The GC version of this life simulation game plays a lot simpler and less stylized than the newer version –which is something that a lot of the older fans of the series would appreciate. In any case, if you have been missing out on KK Slider’s weekend concerts and are not planning to play the new AC game, this might be the best time to take the game out of storage and pop it in for a trip back to your town.

Party Host and More: the Nintendo Wii The Wii is taking the concept of friendly get-togethers into a whole new realm with its motion gaming controls and multiplayer functionalities. Of course, figuring out which titles to go for is not exactly the easiest thing to do –especially when there are hundreds 3 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

to choose from. Here are four of our most recommended titles to help you figure out which games would best fit your party needs. Super Smash Brothers Brawl Sometimes, there is nothing that can hold down the hyperactive needs of a preteen boy – let alone four of them. Fortunately, Nintendo’s four-way beat-em-up 2D fighter promises plenty of fast paced action to keep even the most hardcore player of the bunch focused on the game. Smash Brothers brings back a great lineup of Iconic Nintendo characters such as Mario, Samus, Fox, Zelda and more into a free spirited battle tournament. Parents watching on will appreciate many of the old and new Nintendo franchise cameos ranging from the Game and Watch era to the more recent Animal Crossing and Nintendogs title. Metal Gear Solid fans will also be happy to see Snake pop up as a playable character. Boom Blox When EA announced that Steven Spielberg was working on a game, we were wondering what kind of fantastic stories he would be bringing to interactive life. Nobody expected that the man would spearhead the creation of a game that would later take spotlight of any party: Boom Blox. It sounds silly and even the concept is hard to take seriously: you throw balls at blocks. But give the game a quick whirl and after five minutes, you and your friends will be addicted. The game pits you against your friends in turn based ball-throwing battles where you each pit your accuracy and skill at strategic block knocking. There are various gameplay objectives such as blowing up a specific number of blocks or knocking off blocks in a certain order to win. Highly replayable, intuitive controls and an overall fun gameplay experience makes this title a must have for parties. Wario Ware Smooth Moves Of course, when it comes to motion gaming, you have to bring out Wario Ware Smooth Moves. Players take turns as they each try to do various motions in order to achieve the various stage objectives. Each stage only lasts a few seconds or so you players have to think fast about what to do. On a multiplayer game, you and your friends have to communicate fast in order to pass the WiiMote (you only use one) around to the next player. Fun, frantic and certain to tire payers out within an hour or two; this is the best way to whip up an appetite before serving the hors d'oeuvres. Wii Sports It is old and comes free with your Nintendo Wii, yet Wii Sports is still a much recommended title for those who want to have various activities without having to change discs a lot. Players get to participate in various sports such as tennis, boxing, billiards, air hockey and more. The best part here is that you can get your friends to make 4 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

custom Miis to use prior to the game –as each player can select their own Mii avatar to play. The next time you become the designated host of a party and are stumped on what to do; do not hesitate to fire up the Wii and buy some new batteries for the controllers. This little home console will solve all your entertaining needs.

Time to Party with the Nintendo Wii No other console in the gaming industry has closer to becoming the absolute party system like the Nintendo Wii. With its wide range of local multiplayer games, motion based controls and comparatively affordable price tag (as compared to the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Sony Playstation 3), the Wii quickly made carved out its niche in the video game industry when it launched in 2006. Now, half a decade later, the Wii is still among the most played console systems. For the most part, the system has a steady following among die-hard Nintendo fans. With exclusive games under the Super Mario, Pokemon, Metroid, Zelda and other first-party franchises, the core fan base of the Wii will always have something to stick around for. There is no doubt that the iconic value that Pikachu, Samus, Link and many others provide draws in a definite charm that is hard to deny (the massive Nintendo crossover game, Super Smash Brothers Brawl sold over 9 million copies). Aside from the main Nintendo series games, the Wii is often the top choice for familyroom consoles. Many of the games on the system (both first and third party titles) allow multiple players to play together at the same time, either cooperatively or competitively. This makes many Wii games as excellent party choices for entertaining guests and there are no messy piñata bits to clean up either. Boom Blox, Mario Party and Wii Party are just some of the few games that are sure to liven up your get-togethers. While many hardcore gamers are focusing more on titles being released exclusively for other next generation console, it is important to point out that the Wii also gets its share of some pretty impressive games. Sky Crawlers is an impressive and challenging flight simulation game from the Namco Bandai’s Team Aces (developers of Ace Combat) which allows players to use the Wiimote as a flight stick. The Resident Evil Chronicles titles (Umbrella and Darkside) provides players with a solid point and shoot gaming experience that relives many important events in the RE storyline. Grasshopper Manufacture’s No More Heroes series takes on the 3D hack and slash genre to a whole new level with its stylish delivery and innovative use of the motion controller. Aside from having a great game lineup, the Wii itself is a pretty good console in terms of hardware. Available in white, black and red, buyers have options on being able to choose the visual style that suits them the most. It also comes with a stand which supports the 5 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

system in an upright position (for those who are saving up on space or simply feel that it looks better that way). In terms of functionality, there is plenty to do on the system. First off, the Wii’s basic OS allows players to add functional channels such as web browser or a picture viewer. Thanks to the console’s WiFi features, going online is as simple as setting up your router information. Additional channel functions such as news readers and the official Nintendo channel can also be downloaded as well. The system internally stores game saves and channel data files into pre-set ‘blocks’. In terms of data file size, this is roughly 512 MB. Not that big, but fortunately, the system supports certain brands of SD cards for backing up data. Aside from playing Wii games, the console can also load up the much older Nintendo GameCube games. In order to play these, users will have to hook up the old GC controllers to one of the four specially designated ports on the console. There are also two GC memory card slots on the Wii which will allow players to store their GC game saves. If you love having friends and family over, have roommates who are fun to play with, or simply love to play video games but do not have the time (or resources) to invest in hardcore games, then the Wii is your number one choice. It offers easy and fun to play games, innovative controls and a great range of functionality that would make any type of gamer happy.

The Top 5 Revolutionary Games for the Wii Nintendo Wii has been considered to be the pioneer in motion gaming. Released years ahead of the PS Move the Xbox Kinect, the Wiimote controlled console has shown us all how fun and exciting motion gaming can be. Of course, not all Wii games make full use of the motions controls –some games can be played just fine with the optional joy padstyle ‘classic’ controller. Others on the other hand, take the use of the Wiimote and Nunchuck to a whole new level.

No More Heroes We open this list with none other Goichi Suda’s masterpiece of a beat-em-up: the No More Heroes series. In terms of controls, not much has changed from the original and the sequel (No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle), but regardless, this game is still one of the most quirky motion controlled titles to be released. Lead character Travis Touchdown ends up joining a tournament of assassins, and in order to reach the top spot, he has to eliminate the rest of the competition. The game opens with the beam-sword wielding hero starting with the tenth spot and as you progress through the story, you get to meet whole host of sexy and bizarre assassins that stand in your way. 6 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

There’s plenty of adult humor in this game, some subtle, others crude. The action sequences on the other hand, are plenty of violence. It is encouraging to see that Nintendo is now making room for more mature players (after all, most of us who grew up on Mario and Donkey Kong are now a whole lot older). The controls for this game place it as the first entry on the list: the combo system makes full use of the buttons, motion and even Nunchuck movement to execute Travis’ wide range of moves. We are also going to tip our hats off for the “phone call” event sequences where you need to press the controller against your ear (the Wiimote has an internal speaker) as well as the slightly naughty beam-sword charging motions. Of course, we will not be going into that, it is up to you players to explore. Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces While we are not too fond of the Japanese novel or the anime, the Sky Crawlers game on the Wii is one of the most impressive flight simulation titles we have seen on the device. The big advantage of the Wiimote is its versatility. Players can use it as a gun, as a sword, as a regular controller and in this case, as a flight stick. The WiiMote can be used to control your plane’s pitch while the Nunchuck handles the acceleration. Tilting both from side to side will control turning and rolling. It is fun, though a little exhausting after an hour or so –which is due to the fact that unlike a typical flight stick which rests on a base, the WiiMote is supported entirely by your arm. Also, the lack of a base means not having a reference point for a ‘neutral’ position. Some inventive players are known to have crafted their own mounts for the Wiimote to get past these issues.

The game itself makes use of Ace Combat’s game engine, which means that many of the factors considered in flying have been simplified to a point where the game is actually enjoyable (without having to think too much about calculations). Simplified, however, does not mean unrealistic. Reckless flyers will still find themselves stalling and crashing if they do not act with care. Overall, this game provides a nice change of pace for many Ace Combat veterans. The old school planes and new approach to the delivery will certainly be a welcome change. The challenge level for some of the special boss fights will also force players to start taking the game a lot more seriously even on the normal difficulty. If you are a fan of great dogfights and have been looking for a new way to experience it, Sky Crawlers is the way to go. Trauma Team 7 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Combining various point and click game genres can be a little tricky, but the folks behind Trauma Team certainly know how to make a great game. This little gem of a Wii title is basically an advanced version of Trauma Center for the DS. Not only does it improve on the gameplay of the original, it adds plenty more to the mix. Players start off the game by choosing one of six characters. Doing so determines what story missions will be played and how the gameplay will turn out. After each mission, players will be returned to the character screen and the same process plays out. This continues until all story missions start overlapping each other in a much larger plot event. Each character introduces a new form of gameplay. One involves investigation, some require medical surgical procedures, and others require players to talk with patients for diagnosis. There are a total of six individual gameplay features on this game, and they all come together to bring a truly inventive experience in the use of the Wii’s motion controller. If you have been looking for a game that delivers in terms of controls, storyline, visual style and gameplay, then Trauma Team is a definite must have for you. Resident Evil 4 As ironic as it may seem, a game that was not meant for the Wii is also one that has completely redefined the concept of hardcore motion gaming. Enter Resident evil 4. This little pseudo-zombie fest of the great sci-fi survival horror series from Capcom takes on a whole new style of gaming as it got ported over to the Wii. Now, looking back at the original Playstation 2 version of the game, it is pretty obvious that the creators wanted to do something different. An optional chainsaw controller was released for the Sony which introduced a new way for the player to ready their weapon (the special controller had more than aesthetic value). With the Wii version, RE veteran Leon –and his epic emo hairstyle, gets the full set of controls that the PS2 controller hinted at. Movement is controlled by the Nunchuck and the gun control makes use of the Wiimote. This turns the game into something of a hybrid 3D-adventure and on-rails shooter. In terms of graphics and storyline, not much has changed. Those who already played the PS2 version will not find anything new outside of the control system. This game is a must have for RE fans who have yet to play RE4 (and you should, it has been out for a while) and any Wii owner wanting a little more thrilling than the usual fare of Nintendo titles. The innovative use of the Wiimote and the way it changes the gameplay experience from the original title will certainly be an experience players would not want to miss. Elebits

8 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Last on our list is Elebits, a storybook style, children’s sci-fi game that had us wondering just how much potential the Wiimote truly has. For a point of perspective, players have to remember that this is one of the first Wii games ever released, and for that time, the graphics had been pretty good and the controls were nothing short of amazing. The main story is simple, bizarre beings known as Elebits have starting popping out and it is up to the player to find them all and capture them with a unique laser-gun-zapping apparatus invented by the protagonist’s father. To play the game, players simply have to point and zap objects in game. Initially, you can only zap small objects as you move things around the house (small books, chairs, etc), doing so will uncover various Elebits that can be captured. One you accumulate enough of the alien-like beings, your zapper will become more powerful, allowing you to move larger objects such as entire shelves, phone booths and cars. The real fun in this game is when you are moving around the stages and tossing objects around. Various power ups will boost your ability to grab, push and even thrown objects up in the sky –which is a great way of clearing the view. It is a fun and light gaming experience, mixed in with a few challenging timed missions. Elebits is a perfect recommendation for those who want a quick taste of real motion controlled gaming.

Wii for Two: Two Cooperative Games for the Win Everybody loves to talk about the many multiplayer aspects of the Wii, how impressive the system is for entertaining plenty of people and how well it functions for the family in general. But for standard two player games – that is an issue that is often unanswered yet much valued by hardcore players. So today, we are giving you our favorite cooperative games for the Nintendo Wii. Of course, with plenty of great two player campaigns available on the Wii, we’ve decided to serve up a pair of titles that will really want to make you work with a friend: a couple of the best horror games. Obscure: the Aftermath Survival horror games tend to lose their fright factor when there’s more than one player – take Resident Evil 5 for example. But there are times when even having more company doesn’t take the fright away. Enter “Obscure: the Aftermath”. This scary little masterpiece is a sequel to the original Obscure and introduces players to the two survivors of the first game and a whole new bunch of college coeds. The game is scary, disturbing and frantic. When a bizarre sexually transmitted demonic plague starts creeping about the school, players must controls various pairs of characters 9 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

through obstacles and puzzles as they try to escape chainsaw wielding psychopaths, mutated flying monsters and a whole host of other malicious beings. The cooperative aspect really shines through as players must support and protect each other. Gone are the days when you are safely picking a lock on a door (which often opens up a user interfaces that temporarily halts any enemies). In Obscure, you will have to count on your partner to shoot down any nasty things that might be coming up your back. For the ultimate in a two player scare fest, we definitely recommend playing this game. House of the Dead: Overkill Normally, when people talk about on-rails shooters for the Wii, the Resident Evil Chronicle titles (Umbrella and Darkside) are among the first to be mentioned. But when you want to have a little more fun shooting down zombies and just enjoying with your buddy, then you will certainly want to pop in House of the Dead: Overkill instead. This game features plenty of 70’s inspired fashion; grind house movie visuals and enough swearing to make a B-movie starring Samuel Jackson blush. It is funny, witty and still surprisingly dark. The game is considered to be a prequel of all the HotD games – showing players the early beginnings of lead character Agent G –the heavy language in the game comes from the second main character, Isaac Washington.

The cooperative aspect of the game mainly involves shooting everything onscreen as fast as possible –which is certainly easier with two players. For bosses however, a little more communication and planning are required in order to get the best ranks. Alone, players will still be able to enjoy, play and finish these two games. But in twoplayer mode, players get to experience a rich and fulfilling cooperative gameplay aspect that the titles have been truly designed for. If you have not had the chance to try either Obscure: the Aftermath or HotD: Overkill, then now is the best time to bring your best friend over for some real gaming action.

Getting More Out of Your Wii Nintendo’s motion controlled gaming console is considered to be one of the top systems in terms of overall entertainment. While its value to hardcore gamers may not be on the same level as the Playstation 3 or the Xbox 360, the Wii has more to offer to a broader market of casual gamers and of course, families. If the Wii is currently on the center of your home entertainment system, with the console playing host to friends and family, you might want to consider investing a little bit of money and time to grab these very useful accessories. 10 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

First off, the Wii Balance Board –normally, we would not recommend getting a console peripheral that is only useful for one game (Wii Fit), but in this case, the Balance Board is a must have. Not only do you get to do really amusing things on it (you can test which among your friends can balance best on one foot), but there are plenty of useful applications that use the board. These applications mainly improve exercises that help you keep track of your weight –something that many gamers would appreciate. When it comes to pointless accessories that offer loads of fun, nothing beats the various add-ons to the WiiMote controller. They range from simple items such as a sword, shield, tennis racket and the like. While they do not add any functional value (some even make playing a little harder), it is always fun to see your friends waving a plastic sword at virtual enemies onscreen. Speaking of playing in front of a screen, get better WiiMote straps. Nintendo’s WiiMote comes with straps that are used to tie the controller to the player’s wrist (which will help prevent people from accidentally throwing the controller). There are already countless tales of various plasma and HD television screen that have been smashed by an overeager player’s WiiMote. Better straps would help fasten the controller to the wrist better –just be sure to tell all your users to put on the straps when they play! Aside from the usual array of swords and hammers, there are a few WiiMote add-ons that actually help, such as the steering wheel, the gun-grips and yes, even the Link crossbow (from Link’s Crossbow Training). These do not necessarily help you aim better –as most of us are far more lethal with a remote control style grip. But they do actually enhance the gameplay experience. There is also an additional extra motion sensing device that goes on the bottom of the WiiMote as well –which helps tracking your movements a lot more accurate. To get more out of your gaming on the Wii, it is a good idea to buy rechargeable batteries. There are two variants. One is the typical AA battery size that replaces the standard batteries. The other is a Lithium Ion based battery that replaces the standard battery and the battery cover. The good thing about the L-ion battery is that is often comes with a charging dock so that you can be sure that every time you play, your controller is all charged up and ready to go. So the next time you find yourself with a little extra gaming budget. You might want to pass out on grabbing the latest game releases and instead, look for some worthwhile purchases that would enhance your gaming experience with your current library.

More for Wii: Using Your Console for More than Games Chances are, your Nintendo Wii is sitting quietly at the living room, the family den or the designated game room –one way or another, it is rare to have this very social gaming console to be sitting quietly inside one person’s room alone (but, yes, it does happen). If 11 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

your household is the type that has the motion gaming device strategically located for everyone’s best enjoyment, then you will certainly appreciate these little tips we have. Tracking Playtime The Nintendo Wii is the perfect parental helper when it comes to keeping track of your children’s gaming habits. The system will log in the title of the games being played and for how long. While it does not keep exact track of the time a game was played or who was the person who played it, doing so enables you to see if anyone has been sneaking in extra gaming hours at night. The Wii is more than just a sly tattle-tale however, this log is public and can be used by anyone (though it cannot be tampered with or edited). For gamers, this helps ease out time issues by allowing you to track your own gaming habits. If you have been having trouble balancing time for obligations and gaming, then a quick review of this log might help you properly organize your schedule.

Virtual Post Its Another great thing about this system is that it allows you to post virtual notes. If you need to step out for a bit and need to remind your buddy to clean up the sink before playing, a simple note on the system’s dashboard will often suffice. For messages are not meant for today, there’s a calendar that allows you to write important announcements and letters well ahead of time. Oftentimes, there are various users of the console (and each person has a Mii). You can write messages that are addressed to specific users for that personal touch –just remember that the content of the letter is still public. Occasionally, some Wii games will make use of this feature to post game highlights and achievements –a feature that we would certainly want to see in more titles. For the most part, the message system gets the heaviest flow of functionality from the users of the device. If you have not tried out this feature, now is a great time to do so and teach your family or roommates about it. Browsing the Web If you have downloaded the Internet Browser channel, all you need to do is to turn it on and get online. The browser makes use of a custom Opera-powered browser that allows you to view web content in a more TV-screen compatible output (larger fonts and all). There’s also a specialized YouTube channel for Wii users and support for Adobe Flash Player -which is more than what we can say for many Apple gadgets. For those who truly want to make full use of the web experience that the console can provide, it is a good idea to invest in a USB keyboard which you can hook up directly 12 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

into the Wii. This eases out the slower process of using the onscreen keyboard (which you control with the WiiMote) and makes typing a whole lot faster. The Wii is more than a just a game console, it has been designed to work for you and your family in plenty of useful ways. All you need to do is to poke around the console’s many features and settings to see what else it can do for you.

Channel Surfing on Your Nintendo Wii The Wii gives the game console experience with a whole new twist: turning your favorite Nintendo party machine into a multipurpose hub for the family with its add-on channels. First time users of the system will notice that the main screen of the system OS features a whole swath of empty channels. With the main game channel placed on the upper left corner and the Mii channel on the second slot, one wonders what else can be added. Here’s a quick list of all the great additional content that Nintendo has to offer for your Wii. First up is the official Nintendo Channel. From here, players can get the latest new on all things Nintendo and more. Previews, demos and video interviews regarding upcoming games and features are updated frequently on this channel. It also allows you to grab very exclusive sneak peeks at upcoming WiiWare titles as well. Another great channel to have is the Wii Shop channel. This is the place to go for all downloadable content. There are both WiiWare and Virtual Console games, as well as additional channels that can be purchased. From here, players can load up their account with Wii Points as well as send gifts to the people on their Wii friends list. Of course, once you have downloaded your favorite games, it is time to play them! The Virtual Console not a single channel but a multipurpose tool that emulates the Neo Geo, the old NES, SNES and N64 consoles, Sega’s Genesis and even the TurboGrafx 16 system. Each game for the various consoles will appear on the main screen as a separate channel. Going back to your Miis, there’s a great way to enjoy your personal avatar outside of the default Mii channel. Enter the Check Mii Out channel. This is the place to go to if you want to see other people’s creations, to compare avatar designs and to compete in special weekly challenges (usually a create-a-Mii with a theme). If you did not get to join the competition, you can still join the fun by becoming part of the judging system. 13 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

And while we are on the topic of socializing with other Nintendo users, the Everybody Votes channel is one interesting polling system. Here, various questions are asked of the population in general. It’s a great big giant survey machine for the Nintendo community and is a great way to see how far or similar your view is from the public opinion. The statistics are provided in a daily basis and there are new polls to answer each week. The great part about this is that if you have got questions of your own, you can also add them to the poll.

The Nintendo News channel is a great way to introduce your non-computer savvy folks (or roommates) to the power of RSS driven news content. There is local and international news coverage on a wide range of topics (politics, science, sports, entertainment and more). Most of the content is from Reuters so users can be assured of the accuracy of details. Be warned however, as most news is often bad news -so some parents might keep their children from this content until they reach a certain age of comprehension. Last on our list is the photo channel. From here, users can access image content stored on an SD card to view the content on the TV. This works best for system using component cables in order to achieve the best image quality. Also, the Wii will detect any MP3 music files on the card and play it as a background to your slideshow. If you have not added any of these amazing channels on your Wii, now is the perfect time to set up your WiFi connection and experience all the useful and fun functionalities that the console has to offer.

Nintendo Wii: Facing the Next Generation Wave At the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo, Japanese video game developer and console manufacturer Nintendo has confirmed that they will be unleashing a brand new home console system that will rival the power and capabilities of the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. While it sounds impressive, it is also a signature of Nintendo: hardware is not everything. Sure, the new system will be powerful –compared to the 360 and the PS3 which were released several years ago. The famous Nintendo motion gaming system, the Wii also faced a similar situation many years ago when it was first launched. The system came out ahead of its competitors at Microsoft and Sony and enjoyed plenty of sales. When the 360 and the PS3 came out months later, critics stated that the Wii’s lower spec graphics would be the downfall of the system. Now, many years later, the Wii is still performing strongly in the market. There is no doubt that the hardcore market has long moved on from the Wii -with the system often playing second fiddle to owners of the PS3 or the 360. But it is this market 14 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

position that makes the system so strong. Among casual gamers, the Wii is the number one system of choice. For hardcore gamers, the low price point and entertainment value of the Wii makes it an ideal secondary system to own. This meant that most PS3 owners had a Wii as a secondary console and the same applied to 360 owners. There were fewer gamers who bought an Xbox and a PS3 –let alone those who have all three systems. Sales and distribution are not the only things important to a game console. A system’s game library is always among the most important factors to consider for any person choosing to purchase a system. Right off the bat, it is pretty obvious that the Wii has a significantly younger target market. If you are planning to purchase a system for a preschooler or a grade-schooler, then the Wii should be the first choice on your list (and you might consider getting a DS as well). With plenty of games that focus on light tasks, bright colored visuals and simple storylines, the Wii makes for a perfect children’s console. For slightly older audiences, the Wii has some pretty good titles that should not be passed up. Dead Space, Mad World and No More Heroes are just a few of the hardcore titles in the Wii’s library. There are also some interesting ports of old games such as Obscure, Resident Evil 4 and Okami that have been brought to new life with the motion controls. It may not be a first choice for the discerning, hardcore players, but if you are looking for a secondary system, it is hard to go wrong with the Wii. In the end, the Wii has plenty to catch up on in terms of capabilities mostly due to its lower spec hardware as compared to later generation systems. But the Wii was never meant to take up the niche currently occupied by the PS3 (or the 360); instead, the Wii was developed to bring the joy of video games to a much broader audience –something that other systems would find difficult to achieve. See the top 3 gaming headsets reviewed on this page... Customer reviews reveal about everything you need to know! Get the best gaming headset at the best price!

15 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Xbox 360 Covering Your Gaming Needs with the Xbox 360 The home video game console market is currently dominated by two powerful giants: Sony’s high end Playstation 3 and of course, Microsoft’s Xbox 360. While some may argue that Nintendo’s Wii console is a third alternative, many often see the motion gaming system as a secondary platform designed mostly for casual players. On its end, Microsoft is taking all of the lessons they learned from the original Xbox system and bringing all the great things back for their new console –plus plenty of great innovations. One of the first massive improvements of the 360 is its size. The original Xbox is considerably one of the consoles of its time. Many complained about its robust size and the shelving space it occupied. Microsoft addressed this problem by creating a smaller system with the additional option of being able to decide whether you want it flat or standing upright (a feature that was first used in the original Playstation 2). The Xbox 360 also brought in new hardware that pushed the gaming capabilities of the home console well and beyond that of high end PCs. This helped usher in great games such as Mass Effect, Halo 3, Gotham Racing and many more as developers now had faster processors, better graphic cards and bigger storage space to work with. Speaking of storage space, the 360 makes use of the HD DVD media format. While this is much smaller than the Playstation 3’s Blu-Ray discs, it still provided a significant amount of freedom that standard DVDs could not afford. Beyond its lineup of great titles, the 360 itself is a gaming marvel fit to be in the center of your home entertainment system. The device hooks up to the internet through LAN or WiFi and allows players to connect to the Xbox Live network –a paid service which allows users to access Microsoft’s online gaming platform and various media services. The console also works as a media hub of sorts –able to playback varying types of image, music and video file formats. The 360’s wireless controllers are well made for fast paced gaming, with color-coded buttons which allows players to easily create a mental map of the layout. The only drawback is that it makes use of standard batteries. Microsoft does sell an official rechargeable battery pack kit (complete with specialized chargers) for those who love to have long gaming sessions.

16 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Microsoft has also launched a second version of the Xbox 360, the “S”. This new slim version has a lower energy consumption rate, built in Kinect support and more importantly, is rumored to be resilient to the issues that caused RRoD failures for the first batches of 360 systems. RRoD, or Red Ring of Death, is a nickname given to the indicator lights of the 360 that indicates a complete system failure. There are plenty of theories and hypothesis as to the varying causes of RRoD, though all conclude that once the system hits this stage, recovery is nearly impossible. This issue has caused demand for the Jasper edition of the unit to soar, as its lower voltage rates appears to make the system immune from the much dreaded Red Ring of Death. Being Microsoft’s second platform in the home gaming console, the 360 has shown how far the PC software developer has come in terms of being able to expand. In terms of gaming, Microsoft is now one of the biggest names in the gaming industry, with their high end console, impressive games and impressive online service, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 community continues to grow each day.

Your 360, Your Style: Special Editions of Microsoft’s Gaming Console The Xbox 360 is an extremely impressive gaming machine featuring high end video graphics hardware and a library of games that is sure to satisfy any hardcore gamer’s needs. But function is not there is to Microsoft’s very successful seventh generation video game console. The Xbox 360 also delivers plenty in terms of form. The new sleeker design (as compared to the original Xbox) of the original 360 and the highly stylized 360S bring to users a devices that will fit perfectly well in the center of your home theater. But if you have been looking for something more, something extra special, you might want to take a quick peek at these special edition versions of the Xbox 360. No list of Xbox 360 special editions can be complete without the Halo 3 special edition; this system is considered to be the top choice of Xbox fans for its specially designed colors –made to look like Master Chief’s armor. Even the pack-in controller, headset and charger has been designed in a similar fashion to fit with the overall look. Halo fans will love the slight contouring of the side plate to match the style of the Spartan armor. Final Fantasy fans have also been given a special console as well. The Final Fantasy XIII 360 special edition comes in a basic white color scheme with an imprinted design. Being white, it looks a lot like the standard 360 edition until closer inspection. The package also comes with free game related DLC and of course, the game itself. While we cannot exactly recommend this one for aesthetic functions (since it is still mostly white), hardcore fans of Square Enix would certainly want to have this in their playroom.

17 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

For those looking for a strikingly good color for the Xbox, a special Resident Evil 5 edition of the console has been released and this one comes in a solid red finish. In terms of overall design, there are no RE-specific designs on the console itself, making it a great alternative for those who simply want a red version of the console. As a special edition, this Xbox 360’s controller and headset accessories are also colored red. Really hardcore collectors might want to watch out for a few very limited edition versions of the Xbox 360. The special launch edition is a very exclusive version of the system that has only been given to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 launch team. These editions were never available commercially and can only be obtained from the Launch Team members themselves –in the unlikely event that they are willing to part with the console itself. According to reports, the launch edition is mostly white like the original but comes with a customized faceplate, a date engraving, and green highlights on the console (which is gray in the commercial release of the 360). Currently, only one launch team edition has been reported to have been sold by the original owner. Of course, buying a brand new special edition console is not the only way to get the style you want. There are plenty of custom faceplates and skins for the Xbox 360 available both from official sources and third party manufacturers. The designs also range from simple flat colors to well detailed art (gaming-related and otherwise). If the above special editions are way off your budget, you might want to invest in a skin instead.

Full Circle: Completing Your Xbox 360 Setup Microsoft’s Xbox is an impressive gaming system. It packs quite the punch in terms of hardware power, and provides players with an incredible amount of games to choose from. But simply owning the system and several games alone is not all that you need to get the most out of your Xbox 360. Here are a few useful tricks that we found for players to try out. Your Game, Your Music Now this is actually a documented feature: you can play MP3 files on your HDD through the console menu from within any game. Of course, you would have to check if your game allows you to turn off the music (usually found in a game’s sound/audio settings page). This is a pretty neat trick for games which do not rely so much on the in-game music to deliver a story (racing games, sports titles, etc). But do remember to use it with a little moderation, it would be odd playing Alan Wake to a Lady Gaga song. It Also Plays the iPod 18 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

If you own an Apple iPod, you can hook it up to your Xbox 360 and play the track straight from the iPod itself. This may seem a little strange; after all, Apple is one of Microsoft’s biggest competitors (basically, they are industry rivals). But yes, the option is available on the Marketplace. Once loaded on your console, you will be able to browse your media easily. This will also allow you to charge the device while plugged in. Create a Special Name Is the alphabet too limited for your Gamercard? Then fear not. While Microsoft has not allowed the use of special Ascii characters, they did actually use support for eastern languages. Simply switch over your input settings and you can choose from a wide range of unique characters. Remove Excess Data Much like the PC, the Xbox 360 is prone to storing random stuff in its memory. Indeed, there will come a time when your system will start slowing down a bit. If you think your 360 is being encumbered by a load of unneeded files, you might want to try this out. Select your HD from the user interface and press Y. From there, press X, X, L Bumper, R Bumper, X, X. This will allow you to clear the memory as well as some of the game system data –just be warned that you might need to re-download any important DLC content you lose in the process. Go Blogging Tired of telling your friends what you have been playing –or not have been playing? Then get a blog that will instantly update them on your gaming habits. Of course, it would be such a hassle to manually create blog posts each day, so the best thing to do is to have your Xbox 360 console do it for you. Sign up for an account at 360 Voice, and you will have access to a special service run by the folks at Gamer DNA. 360 Voice will create an automated blog for you that is updated by your 360. It will list down the stuff that your Xbox publishes on your Gamercard and post it online for you to share. Of course, you should set your Gamercard info to “public” instead of “private” for this service to work.

Achievements, Gamerscore and Multiplayer - The Best of Xbox Live We all love our games, and we certainly love being able to talk about gaming experiences with our friends. Microsoft brings these two and many more great features together in a single online connectivity service, and this, is Xbox Live.

19 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Originally debuting back in 2002, a year after the launch of the original Xbox home gaming console, Xbox Live officially went online. Better known under the nickname, XBL, this Microsoft-run online feature brought together multiplayer features, social networking, online achievements, media downloads and so much more in a single location. Within days of its launch, gamers scrambled to log in, create their own Gamertags and become part of the quickly growing community. Today, XBL is mostly accessed by Xbox 360 users –which currently account for the largest portion of the XBL community. They are joined by users of the older Xbox system, PCs and new users of Windows Phone 7 mobile devices. All in all, the XBL community currently plays host to over 30 million users (as opposed to over 70 million for the PSN). This has made Microsoft’s online community a strong, self-sustaining, online industry for many developers and game publishers. One of the main functions that XBL provides is the Gamerscore count. This is basically a numerical tally of in-game achievements accomplished by players. While the Gamerscore count cannot be used or consumed in any manner, many players often use this as a basis of comparison of their skill and progress as compared to others on their friends list. In order to ensure that the Gamerscore is not tampered with, Microsoft employs several undisclosed tracking methods in order to seek out cheating players. When found, those caught manipulating Gamerscore data are stripped of points and are publicly labeled as cheaters. When it comes to skill comparison however, Microsoft has a much better tracking alternative: the TrueSkill match finder system. This little feature allows Xbox Live to keep track of a player’s in-game performance and ranks players according to their actual skill level. This allows the system to create match ups of players of similar skills levels in order to balance the game difficultly. While there are some known exploits in the system, many players often prefer TrueSkill’s ranked matches as a way to gauge their own playing levels. Aside from providing players with bragging rights, the XBL service also provides plenty of content for players to download. Netflix, Hulu and other media sites can instantly be accessed with the XBL account for video content (some media services are restricted depending on the region of the player). Other social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are also incorporated into the service as well. More importantly, the XBL service also provides additional game related media and content. Trailers, downloadable demo versions and expansion packs are all available on the XBL service (though some will require payment). With the Xbox Live service, Microsoft has been able to provide a comprehensive gaming experience for players on the Xbox 360, Windows PC and WP7 smart phone users with its great library of media channels, game add-ons and online community. If you own one 20 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

of the abovementioned systems and have yet to make your own account, you should create one immediately and catch up on all the great content that you have been missing out on.

Only 360: 5 of Our Favorite Microsoft Exclusives Nothing makes a console stand out more than its line-up of exclusive titles. While the Xbox 360 may be best known for its highly competitive multiplayer FPS titles, it also has its own share of hardcore games from other genres. Naturally, if you want to get the full experience of all the gaming goodness that this Microsoft gaming console has to offer, you need to try out its many different games. To help you get started, we compiled a list of our top five favorite exclusive titles for the 360. Alan Wake Intriguing, suspenseful and highly imaginative, Alan Wake is a great game that players should not pass up on. You take control of the titular lead character, Alan Wake, as he embarks on a strange quest to save his wife from a race of bizarre beings known as the Taken. The gameplay is a combination of exploration-investigation and horror-action; players seek out various clues to find Alan’s wife while trying to get past beings that are only vulnerable when exposed to light. Combat is combination of using in-game light sources and basic firearms –forcing players to include a lot of strategy into their playing style. Combined with lushly detailed environments, the creepy and haunting atmosphere of Bright Falls, a musical score designed to keep you on the edge of your seat and very lifelike voice acting this is a game that certainly ranks high in the immersive-meter. Gears of War 2 Despite the 360’s heavy reputation as a console for competitive players, it also has its share of great local coop games. And in this category, none stand out more than Gearbox’s Gears of War 2. This epic third person shooter game allows you and a buddy to team up and take down more of the invading alien horde known as the Locust. The combat is visually visceral, and keeps you glued on the screen. Much of the game’s atmosphere is similar to that of wartime film footage, complete with shaky-hand-cam effects, dirt splatters and of course, gore. Keeping you away from focusing entirely on these details is the action. Gears takes you (and optionally, a friend), into the heart of the Locusts new location underground, surrounded at all times and shooting your way towards the goal. A deep and well delivered story narrative provides players with a reprieve from the action-intensive gameplay. 21 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Halo 3 Master Chief is back with the third game in the main Halo trilogy and once again, players are back in the Chief’s iconic armored boots. The game brings players back in touch not only with the big MC, but also with other returning cast such as Cortana, the Arbiter and more. Speaking of the Arbiter, he and the Covenant are taking a big role twist in this game as players get to directly interfere with the politics of the alien race. Halo 3 also reveals more about the rings, the flood and more importantly, provides the groundwork for an even more epic undertaking for the next game. Much of Halo’s classic FPS gameplay is back, along with a few new extra weapons. There is also a bit of balance with the use of special thrown weapons and melee combat –giving players that much needed diversity that most first person shooters lack. Tales of Vesperia Nothing says video game more than a Japanese RPG, and Namco Bandai’s semiexclusive offering for Xbox 360 owners is the incredibly fun and intriguing Tales of Vesperia. The Japanese version of the game has been released for both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 (with the PS3 getting additional content). However, only the 360 was given an English version. The game takes you to the fictional planet of Terca Lumireis, a land where people rely on magic as much as technology. This magic is basically a unique kind of planetary energy stored in blastia -when the blastia start reacting to strange viral form of magic energy, the binding forces of the planet hit a terrible imbalance. Taking on the role of ex-knight Yuri Lowell, players embark on a journey that could very well spell the fate of the planet. JRPG veterans will know what to expect: funny voice acting, well written dialogue, a deep storyline with light delivery and of course, Namco’s Tales-series real time combat. Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation Once again, another title in the list comes from Namco Bandai. This is Project Ace’s special work for the Xbox 360, AC6: Fires of Liberation. Taking on the same story universe established in previous Ace Combat titles, players take flight and burn through the skies as the ace pilot, Talisman. Fighting to defend the fictional Republic of Emmeria from invading Estovakian forces, players are slowly introduced into the harsh repercussions of war as told from the perspective of civilians. The gameplay brings back more of that fast-paced and simplified dogfight controls that have made previous AC titles famous. Speaking of which, gigantic bosses and massive, epic dogfights dot out major points in the story –providing players with a unique kind of challenge not seen in other flight simulation titles. Overall, with its great game controls, action-oriented gameplay and stylish aircraft simulation, this is one dogfight game that will keep you happily playing for hours on end. 22 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Xbox 360: Surviving the Red Ring of Doom We have all heard the horror stories and for many owners of early generation Xbox 360 consoles, the Red Ring of Doom/Death (also known as RRoD) is the eternal boogeyman lurking in the shadows of the Microsoft console. What makes RRoD so ghastly for players is simple fact that it count compromise and destroy all your progress. But before we get into that, let us see what RRoD really is. The term “Red Ring” comes from the three quarter-circle red indicator lights that appear on the console once it experiences any form of general hardware failure. In short, RRoD is actually a visible symptom for a wide range of potentially dangerous issues with the console. In a few very rare cases (such as voltage spikes/power surges), fixing the RRoD simply require plugging the device from the power outlet and giving it time to cool down before resuming play. Most of the time, users will have to send the device back to Microsoft for replacement or take it to a third party to have the console fixed. Many players prefer to take the system to a third party developer. Despite the fact that Microsoft is manufacturer of the device (and is most suited to fix it) player tend to pass up on this service since they have a policy of completely wiping out all data on the console. This means that all game data, save files, media and more are completely removed from the system. With many games averaging at least 20 to 30 hours to finish, many gamers are not too happy with the prospect of having all their gaming hours be lost. So what do you do when you get hit by RRoD? The first thing that players should do is to check on all the quick troubleshooting steps. This usually involves letting the device rest, checking if the vents are blocked or if the power brick is heating up. If the console still does not turn on properly, it is time to take it to a professional. While there are plenty of online tutorials and how-to guides to take apart your Xbox 360, applying thermal paste and even installing a third party cooling system, these are not recommended. Not only do they void warranty, but unless you yourself are a professional in handling delicate electronics, attempting to do this on your own could lead to disastrous results. As always, an ounce of prevention is indeed better than a pound of cure. In the case of the Xbox 360, making sure that your system does not overheat is a key factor in maintaining a long life. First off, store the device in dust free area –if you can spare a small sheet to cover it with, do so. Keeping out the dust allows the system to cool itself better – 23 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

naturally, remove the cover when you need to play it. Next is to ensure that you run the system in a cool, well-ventilated area. This means that all the vents should have ample room to ‘breathe’. Do note that not only does the console need to be checked; the power brick also requires similar attention as well.

Online Games on Demand: Xbox Live Arcade Microsoft’s Xbox Live gaming service is one of the largest online game markets –along with the Playstation Store and Steam. Featuring a wide range of games that is constantly updated on an almost daily basis, XBLA provides players with a game library that is available almost every day, at any time. But what is good about downloadable games? After all, the common connotation about these (literally) smaller games is that they lack the depth and content that is available in many hardcore titles. This however, is not true. And here are a few of our top picks from the Xbox Live Arcade service. Marvel VS Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes Originally available in retail for the older Xbox system, MvC2 has been updated and upgraded for the XBLA and of course, HDTV gaming with the 360. The game now supports 720p graphics, online match support (for finding matches and even watching other fights) and more importantly, it fixes many of the bugs and slowdowns that plague the original version when used on the 360 (despite being a backwards compatible title, Marvel VS Capcom 2 suffers from plenty of performance issues when played on the 360). This fighting game brings back all of the air combos and chain commands of Capcom’s famous gameplay engine. With a full roster of 56 characters from both the Marvel and Capcom universes, players get to mix and match their favorite characters for the ultimate team combinations. Castlevania: Harmony of Despair In today’s age of high end video gaming, sprite based 2D games are often considered as primitive works or novelty items. But the same cannot be said of the Castlevania franchise. While there are already plenty of games in the series that feature 3D graphics and gameplay, the 2D titles pretty much stand well on their own. XBLA offers Harmony of Despair, a unique, semi-mission based Castlevania game that brings back characters from Portrait of Ruin, Symphony of the Night and more in a single game. Players (and a friend) get to choose from varying lead characters as they track down the various monsters and bosses that plague Dracula’s castle. Each character plays differently, using different types of equipment, skills and even their own leveling system 24 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

for increasing stats. Thanks to the optional cooperative game mode, this game is a definite must-have for Castlevania fans. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 Combining fast paced action, stylish retro graphics and a bullet-hell type of gameplay, Geometry Wars: RE2 proves that it has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with many other hardcore shooters such as Raiden, Gradius and more. Retro Evolved 2 brings back many of the core elements that has made the original game a hit: multidirectional movement and shooting, along with massive waves of enemies. New to the sequel is six new game modes varying from surviving waves, earning as much points within a time limit to surviving without firing a single bullet. Creatively fun, addictive and hard to put down, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 is certainly highly recommended for XBLA players.

Bring On the East: J-RPGs for the Xbox 360 One of the hardest challenges that Microsoft faced with the original Xbox home console was the fact that they had little Japanese game developer support. This affected the console’s sales performance slightly in western markets and strongly in Japan. With the Xbox 360, Microsoft is showing that they are learning from their mistakes. The next generation console now sports a vast number of JRPG titles, and even a few special exclusives for the US market. Here is a quick peek at some of these great games. Namco Bandai’s Tales of Vesperia The “Tales Of” series from Namco Bandai is one of the longest running RPG titles in Japan and Vesperia is one of the latest titles. While the Japanese version of the game is available in both the PS3 and the 360, only 360 owners will be able to enjoy the English version of this game. ToV follows the adventures of Yuri Lowell, a former knight out in search of a way to restore balance to the Blastia cores which govern magic energy. His adventure brings him back in touch with his long time friend, Flynn Scifo and together, they try to unravel the mysteries of magic and ether. Vesperia makes use of a semi-real time combat system known as the ATB which adds a degree of action to the battle sequences. Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII The latest in the famous Final Fantasy series originated by Squaresoft, FFXIII brings you the tale of Lightning, a soldier who takes on a system she once served in order to save her sister. While many of the older generation of FF fans find Square-Enix new RPG 25 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

formulas to be a little dry and unimaginative, it is hard to deny that the game developer truly pushes the limits of the video hardware in today’s consoles. Originally meant to be released only for the PS3 in Blu-Ray format, the game went through several cuts and edits in order to shrink down content for the HD-DVD. While many fans cried foul at losing content, 360 users in the US finally had their first taste of the FF series. Microsoft’s Lost Odyssey Taking the lack of actual Japanese support for the older system into consideration, Microsoft has teamed up with Mistwalker and independent game company headed by legendary Squaresoft icon, Hironobu Sakaguchi. Their product: the ambitious Lost Odyssey RPG for the Xbox 360. This game rings back many elements of the original FF series that has been lost in the newer titles. A simplified items and inventory system, an easy to follow turn based, menu driven combat engine and of course, a plotline filled with plenty of twists and turns. While critics have panned the heavily political undertones of the game, many have also recognized the brave step that Mistwalker and Feelplus are taking in order to re-shape the JRPG industry. This game will certainly be a fan favorite of Sakaguchi purists and oldergeneration RPG fans, though the deep storyline and slightly reverse-experimental feel of the game system might put off newer players.

Beyond 360: Add More to Your Xbox So, you have finally bought an Xbox 360, hooked it up to your HDTV and bought some of the best titles available. The question is: what would you need to further enhance your gaming experience? Here is a quick lineup of our much recommended additional purchases to help you make the most out of the Microsoft gaming system. First off, buy an Xbox Live subscription card. These little things can be found in most gaming outlets and convenience stores –making them incredibly accessible. The big picture here is that players get to sign up for an Xbox Live account, take part in multiplayer games and of course, be part of the of the XBL community. With a majority of the 360’s best games featuring multiplayer functionality, this is a much needed feature. Of course, you will have to have a decent internet connection, and preferably, a good WiFi router. Another advantage of buying a card is that you will not need to input your credit card data online. Gaming with batteries is hard, and anyone who has had a Nintendo Gameboy or a Sega Gamegear will tell you, those batteries will run out –sooner than you think. So what is a good plan for your wireless controllers when you tend to clock in several hours of 26 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

gaming each day? Get rechargeable batteries. This is made easy by Microsoft, who sells official rechargeable battery packs that allow you to charge whether your controllers are in standby or in use. This means that you get to enjoy a more seamless gaming experience -and at the same time, save the environment since you will not be throwing batteries in the trash bin every two or three days. Of course, it will take more than a fully charged controller to enjoy a session of online gaming – after all, communication is a the key to having a good time. Try to find a good Xbox 360 compatible headset in order to make full use of the system’s voice chat functionality. While you might have to bear with a few obscenities every now and then (well, a lot more often than we would prefer actually), this allows you to instantly communicate with your team mates in order to formulate strategies, cheer for your squad, or simply talk about how nice the weather has been while you are stalking out a target on your scope. Speaking of chat (pun intended), you might not be too fond of a direct conversational approach. In this case, the Xbox 360 controller keyboard is a great add on. This chat-pad or “Messenger Kit” sticks directly between the controller grips and provides players with a fully functional QWERTY keyboard to make use of while you are gaming and cannot afford to put down the controller. While it does take a while to get used to, being able to instantly type out letters is significantly faster than having to use an onscreen keyboard. Lastly, to add even more value to your Xbox 360 accessories (outside of gaming on the console itself) you might want to consider purchasing the Wireless Gaming Receiver. This is a great add-on, but only for those who love to play on the PC. This little USB receiver comes with Windows drivers that allow players to use various Xbox 360 accessories on the PC. Of course, you will still need to do a little joypad mapping in order to make full use of your controller, but it certainly is a lot better than having to shell out even more just to buy a separate joypad for your desktop system.

Legends Face Off: Xbox 360 vs Playstation 3 When Microsoft first entered the home console gaming arena with the original Xbox, many felt as if the world famous software developer has lost its marbles. The Xbox was big and bulky. Despite its obviously powerful hardware capabilities, many gamers used to Nintendo and Sony’s consoles felt that the cumbersome device was nothing more than a watered down gaming PC. Within weeks of its launch, the Xbox showed that it had tremendous potential as a dedicated gaming system, and what followed was history. Now, Microsoft is considered to be one of the three main companies of the gaming console industry (along with competitors Sony and Nintendo), and Microsoft’s most recent system, the Xbox 360 is considered to be one of the most powerful gaming devices 27 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

ever launched. It, along with the Sony Playstation 3, is expected to be main systems for this generation of gamers and it is said that they hold that post for years to come. So how good is the Xbox 360 compared to the Playstation 3? There are several factors to consider, and first up is the hardware and cost. Without a doubt, Sony’s use of GPU technology, accessibility features and more ergonomic controller gives it an edge over the 360’s much simpler system. This little advantage however, comes with a price –literally. The 360 console itself is significantly cheaper than the PS3 (though many argue that with the additional charger packs or batteries, XBL subscription, etc, the 360 has a higher overhead and long term cost) and is a great choice for those who want to set aside budget for more games. Still, this does leave the 360 a little lacking in terms of full potential. Take the case of its use of HD-DVDs; this media storage has a lower capacity than a Blu-Ray disc, making some games impossible to port to the 360 without using multiple discs. Of course, judging a console simply because of its hardware is not the way to go. After all, it is the games that truly matter at the end of the day. And for the Xbox 360, despite facing off against a system with a more powerful hardware configuration, they have been able to make a pretty even stand because of the game selections. In terms of multiplatform games, the Xbox 360 plenty of edge thanks to the fact that the system is easier to develop for. In most cases, there are fewer bugs in the Xbox 360 version of a game when compared to its PS3 counterpart. Also, Microsoft’s close relations with developers give them a slight advantage in terms of patch availabilities. The Xbox 360 has several exclusive titles of its own. Bungie’s Halo and Gearbox’s Gears of War series are among the top favorite titles for the system. Several made for Windows titles and series have also been brought over, such as the original Mass Effect from Bioware (the first game was an exclusive since it was co-produced by Microsoft, the sequel was created, developed and published entirely by Bioware and EA, allowing the title to be available on multiple platforms). Online, the XBL service takes a bit of a hit for being a paid service –unlike Sony’s free to use PSN. But after the events of the massive PSN hacking attack during late April of 2011, Microsoft’s online service was put in a better light. Since the features on both networks are quite similar (achievements and trophies, friends lists and private messages), the two are often compared to each other. All in all, the 360 is a much preferred and recommended system for players who love to go online and compete with others. Most of the 360’s best exclusive titles tend to be first person shooters with a strong online multiplayer component. Also, a vast majority of existing players in the community share a similar passion. This highly competitive 28 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

environment allows players to find varying challenge levels that single player titles are unable to provide. See the top 3 gaming headsets reviewed on this page... Customer reviews reveal about everything you need to know! Get the best gaming headset at the best price!

Playstation 3 The Top Five Console Defining Exclusives for the Playstation 3 A gaming console’s most defining point is not the brand, price, maker, hardware or any other feature –no matter how impressive any of these may be. The true way to understand and experience the value of a game console is through its exclusive games. In this day and age, exclusive titles are not as common as one would think. With literally hundreds of game developers out there, having a game exclusively made for a single system would mean having a game that is played best on that one specific console. For the Playstation 3, these are the top five exclusives that will truly show you the value of Sony’s latest generation hardware. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots This is the largest game in existence (sans downloadable content) and makes use of the Dual Layer Blu-Ray disc to its full potential. Creator Hideo Kojima is rumored to have said that he had to cut down on content in order to fit the game into the limitations of what is currently the largest read-only commercial media available. And once you see the game, it is easy to understand what he meant; MGS4 is full of amazing content, rich graphics and fluid animations. With its immersive gameplay, deep storyline and epic movie-like delivery, this game is a worthy medium for Solid Snake’s final chapter. Heavy Rain Drama, intrigue, and suspense –these are a great mix of flavors for a movie, and for the first time, executed so well in a video game. Heavy Rain takes storytelling in the game genre to a whole new level, placing you in control of four completely different characters as their lives all converge in a single storyline. Chase after the Origami Killer to save a child in a gameplay that is a combination of mild exploration with heavy focus on quick time events. Heavy Rain features cinematic camerawork, emotionally moving voiceacting and a story pace that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Little Big Planet (Series) 29 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

UK game developer Media Molecule has made a great formula: an ever lovable mascot, a cute platforming system and granting players the ability to create anything they want. Little Big Planet’s main game lets you take control of Sackboy as you jump and grab your way through several pre-programmed levels. But the core of the game is with the ability to create your own stages and share them with others. The sequel, LBP2, brings back everything from the original game and further extends the amount of things you can create and expands the level of interactivity that players can have. Infamous (Series) If there is one thing that the seventh generation of consoles should be known for, it is in completely redefining the concept of an open world. In Infamous, the level of freedom in gameplay and exploration is taken apart and rebuilt into something completely unreal. Players take control of Cole, who is granted with unique electricity based powers that augments his physical abilities, aside from allowing players the ever-cool power of shooting lightning bolts from their hands. You can run, climb and glide to almost anywhere in the game and getting players moving along is a powerful storyline that makes you feel like you are reading a comic (and the panel style delivery certainly helps). Uncharted (Series) 3-D platformers are a dime a dozen on the video game world, but only a few truly manage to stand out. For the Playstation 3, Naughty Dog’s “Uncharted” series is a trilogy you would not want to miss. So far, two of the games have already been released and there is plenty of excitement for the third. And that is not a surprise. Protagonist Nathan Drake certainly knows how to play a crowd and the gameplay will keep players constantly on the move and in action. Be it jumping around cliffs or engaging in gunfights, Uncharted is a game series that knows how to keep a great pace -not to mention the fact that the graphics look amazingly good. Of course, to say that these five titles alone define the PS3 would be misleading. They are simply the cream of the crop. There are plenty of other great titles that can bump this list into a top ten or even a top twenty, including, but not limited to: Gran Turismo 5, Demon Souls, Valkyria Chronicles, Yakuza, Killzone, Resistance and so much more. The Playstation 3 is truly an impressive console with an even more impressive game library, and all you need to do is to start exploring these amazing games.

Gearing Up Your Playstation 3 Sony and many third party developers are offering a full lineup of excellent gadgets and add-ons for the Playstation 3 home console and we are here to give you a quick view on the must-haves for any hardcore gamer. 30 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

First up is the updated Six Axis controller, the Dualshock 3. Now, for those who have bought the later releases of the PS3, this controller would already have been packed into the unit. For those who bought the early launches however, this force feedback controller will provide you with that extra level of immersive fun. A vast majority of the PS3’s games support the rumble feature. Most provide the usual fare of light to heavy shaking synched with onscreen explosions and vibrations, but some game provide an even deeper level of interactivity –providing tactile cues for players that is not provided visually. Metal Gear Solid 4 makes use of this feature by vibrating the controller lightly as a quick alert to players that there are enemies nearby. The Playstation Move is Sony’s foray into the motion control industry and for their first device to use the technology, the Move is very promising. The main Move controller is a wireless, camera and motion tracked device; its accompaniment, the navigation controller, is an optional tool that proves to be quite useful in many Move-compatible games. There are plenty of games that make use of the new technology: Resident Evil 5 Gold gives the game a more action-oriented feel, puzzle-platformer Echochrome 2 makes use of the Move as a flashlight to alter the shadows in-game and in Little Big Planet, Move allows players to have better control over content creation. Namco’s GunCon 3 is a top notch addition to the existing gun-controller lineup from the Japanese game developer. The GunCon itself feels pretty well balanced and weight just right when supported with two hands. While the Move does provide players with excellent gun-play controls, nothing makes a shooter game more immersive than actually holding a device that feels like the real thing. Some players may be put off by the need to set up the infra-red nodes, but once you are done, you can hook up a second GunCon without any problems. The only real problem with the controller is the fact that aside from Time Crisis 3, only a few other games support it. Music fans will certainly not want to pass up on the impressive Rock Band 3 controller set. While this may seem to be quite a massive investment, any gamer would agree that the new wireless music controllers are well worth it. The guitar now supports a wide variety of features, and it looks quite grand –and the fact that Fender designed some of these Guitars certainly factors in. The drum pads are responsive and easy to use. While we could have used a little more flexibility in terms of pad arrangement, the current setup (which players can add cymbals to) is not that hard to get used to. While there are plenty more peripherals and add-ons for the PS3 that we would have liked to add to this list, few are as surprisingly useful as this last entry: the PS3 remote control. Aside from being an amazing video game system, the Sony HDMI powerhouse also acts as a Blu-Ray player (Playstation 3 games are hosted on Blu-Ray discs after all). While you can use the standard controller with the system, nothing completes the home theater experience by having a device that has all the playback functions you would ever need. 31 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

The Playstation 3 Really is Everything No hardcore gamer’s home setup will be complete without the powerful Playstation 3. Sporting a large library of amazing exclusive game titles, the most ergonomic and responsive controllers, a powerful hardware setup that makes it a cost effective alternative to computers and a multitude of side functions that can make it the central hub of your entertainment center. In size, the Playstation 3 is massive. It takes up plenty of shelf space. While a new slimmer version of the original has been launched, both will still require some ample territory. Fortunately, the console can be made to stand upright –which is a great bonus of those living in tight quarters. But all that size is not without purpose, beneath that shiny exterior (or cool matte finish if you’re using a slim), is hardware that brings plenty of high end computers to shame even several years after its launch. The system makes use of Blu-Ray media –which is heavily supported by Sony. This new form of disc storage packs in a massive amount of data: up to 25 GB for standard, 50 GB for dual layer and over a hundred GB for the BDXL types. So far, the largest game for the PS3 is Kojima Production’s Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots which make use of the dual layer disc –which makes the game impossible to port to other consoles. This means that games made specifically for the PS3 can be larger and bigger than ever before as developers now have more space to add content. And to read that content, the PS3 has the hardware to match; a high speed 3.2 GHz CPU runs the whole device –which is part of a more elaborate system that makes use of eight Synergistic Processing Elements which help out with the various load requirements. NVIDIA and SCEI have worked together for the graphics processor, the RSX reality Synthesizer which enables the PS3 to handle games for output in true 1080p HD video. Of course, only developers truly get to enjoy these stats. Numbers and specs aside, what makes the Playstation 3 shine for players is not the excellent hardware, but the features and games. First off, the PS3’s Six Axis controller is so well made that no other controller fits the grip of the hand so well. Making use of a directional pad, two shoulder buttons, two shoulder triggers, 4 buttons and two analog sticks, the device looks like it will take a contortionist to manipulate. But once you try it yourself, you will realize how natural it feels and how intuitive the manipulation of the controls can be. Using the PS3 is a breeze thanks to the cross media browser, better known as the XMB. This custom UI has been designed by Sony to make content a lot easier to access –and it complements the use of the controller. This OS may seem simple, but it has a lot of many 32 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

useful features from media playback to web browsing to system data and save-file management. Periodic updates to the OS allow Sony to add more features and fix any security issues that may arise. The PS3 also makes use of the Playstation Network, a free online service that allows Sony to provide system updates, mini-social networking, online games, multiplayer sessions and various downloadable content (such as game add-ons and media). Recently, SCE has launched the Playstation Network Plus program, a paid subscription service that provides PSN+ users with exclusive content, freebies and discounted rates for paid content. A supplement to the PSN network is the Playstation Home. This is a free and optional game that allows a player to create a character and interact with other players using the software and also to obtain various Playstation Home exclusives. Overall, the PS3 is a system designed primarily with gamers in mind. Many of its games concentrate on single player modes and focus more on delivering deep storylines as opposed to catering to those who prefer multi-player gaming sessions. While there are plenty of PS3 titles that offer offline and online multiplayer features, the system’s game lineup is a testament to its value for real gamers. If you have a passion for gaming and prefer high quality games that deliver in story, graphics and gameplay, then the Playstation 3 is your best bet.

Tackling Common Playstation 3 Issues The Sony Playstation 3 is a powerful home console, and its hardware it still among the best that technology can offer despite the fact that it has been out for at least two years. And as one would expect from a system this powerful and complicated, issues and problems are bound to happen. While some are easy to figure out, some will require you to do a little more researching and tweaking. At worst, you might have to send the unit to an authorized repair center. But before you hit the panic button when things are not working as they should be, here are a few things you might want to try out. If HDMI feed does not work and the video is reset to standard definition, simply hold down the power button until it shuts off. Then, turn it on by holding down the power button for about 5 seconds (a beep will be heard). The great thing about this is that it allows the device to auto-detect the HDMI cable once it boots up again –just be sure that the cables are connected snugly. For games that freeze and hang up, there is no need to panic or worry. While this is definitely a symptom of something else entirely, the freezing itself with either self-restore (the console will sometimes automatically reboot) or you can do a manual reset. To know the difference, try pressing the PS button on your controller. If the system does not 33 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

respond and all you see is the frozen game screen, then it is likely that the console will shut itself off. If the XMB appears, it is unlikely that the system will reboot and you will have to hold down the power button until the console shuts off. Playing your PS2 games; this is not really a problem and is more of a hardware issue since backwards compatibility is not present in all Playstation 3 units. As such, you simply have to check the hardware specs on your device. Also, remember that even if you have backwards compatibility, PS2 games have region coding. Unlike the Blu-Ray PS3 titles (which can be played on any region PS3), you will not be able to play UK PS2 games on your US console –which means that hardcore players will still need to import a PS2 to play OZ. One major issue that the PS3 currently has is with the system updates. While Sony does bring in plenty of new features with every update, there are many reports of systems that are locking up or freezing due to the OS changes. The problems are more common for users who have swapped out their hard drives for higher capacity ones, which means that if your unit has not been changed at all, you are less likely to have any problems. Naturally, users who have tried to hack their PS3 are most likely to be affected by the new updates. In most cases, this will require users to bring their console to a nearby Sony Center -at which point, it is likely that all files and savegames may be lost. Of course, it is highly recommended that players back up their data periodically (especially before making a software update). Use the “entire system backup” function to get everything in one sweep. Trophy data cannot be stored on an external drive so be sure to always update your PSN account. If you are a Playstation Plus member and have the 3.60 version update, the cloud storage feature will allow you to individually store locked save files.

Rare Finds: A Look at Limited Edition Games for the PS3 There are games, and there are ‘the’ games. While most video game fans would be more than happy to get a regular copy of their favorite titles, die-hard collectors will certainly want to get their hands on some of the more impressive and proportionally pricier limited editions. These special versions are named in a wide variety: limited editions, collector’s edition, director’s cut, gold edition, game of the year edition. Each release has its own extras and freebies –uniquely chosen by the publisher and developer of the game. To get a better understanding of what these freebies are and what the terms mean, here’s a quick reference guide that will get you started. Game of the Year: now this is a label that you will see pretty often. These are not limited versions of the game. Instead, they are special re-release versions of an existing game that 34 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

often includes plenty of valuable extras. DLC such as expansions, in-game items, extra characters, are often packed into the GotY versions of a game. But be wary, some versions are better than others. By default, games with the extra content included within the Blu-Ray disc (such as the Fallout 3 GotY) are more valuable than a GotY edition that comes with a special voucher for downloads (such as the Borderlands GotY edition). Do note that not all games use the GotY tag, some games use their own unique names; such as Dragon Age which uses the term Ultimate Edition. Collector’s Edition, Limited Edition, Special Edition - now these are all used by various publishers, but they usually mean only one thing: it comes with plenty of extras. These specials usually include a bonus disc which contains an in-game soundtrack or additional media (such as a behind-the-scenes or developer interviews), an art book, posters, cards, and in many instances, very special items. These items can range from vinyl discs (Bioshock 2), to digital Pip-Boy clocks (Fallout 3: Special Edition Amazon bonus), to spiffy looking USB flash drives (Force Unleashed 2). Speaking of which, there are “DLCs” and “Pre-Order Bonuses”. Now these are not always made part of special editions, but they do add some collectible extras for real fans. As in the example mentioned, ordering from Amazon (and many other stores, such as Gamestop) will often net players some exclusive freebies –and yes, there are some gamers who would order from various stores just to get the exclusive extras. Some require more than just ordering from a specific store, some extras will need you to preorder (to sign up and pay for a game before it is launched). The most common form of store-exclusive extras would be DLC or downloadable content. These are software add-ons to games that provide players with additional ingame content as opposed to something you can display on your shelf. For the most part, store exclusives that are physical objects are given more value since some DLC content are only timed exclusives (they may become available for everyone, at a price, much later on), and there is a very active online community for the sale and trading of pre-order bonus PSN redemption codes. Steelbook editions are games that come in special cases. These metallic cases are manufactured by the Steelbook Company (which also creates special editions for movies, and other disc based media). These cases have a very solid feel and look quite impressive on a display shelf. However, PS3 owners should be aware that the inside clip that holds the manual on some games may be a little brittle, and Steelbook’s two-disc holder makes it hard for people to take the Blu-Ray discs out of the tray (so be wary when a special edition has multiple discs like Capcom’s Dead Rising 2: Zombrex Edition). Still, it is hard to deny that Steelbook editions of games are visually superior to regular releases. As one might expect, these editions are often priced higher than regular versions of the game, after all, you are going to be paying for so much extra content. The real question is: do you want it? The answer to this question differs a lot from person to person. Some extras are quite practical while some are simply eye-candy for hard core fans. Getting them also means having to line up early in a store or making sure to get a pre-order slot. 35 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

A good rule of thumb for an average gamer would be to stick only to special versions of your own favorite games, this makes all the effort, time and resources spent acquiring the game will be well spent.

Playstation 3 Specials: What’s in the Box? Special games come in all shapes and sizes. If you have been to a game store, it would be easy to spot these games. They come in big boxes with specially designed game art. They are a marked with tons of text and descriptions of the freebies they contain. The price tags are higher and just holding the box tells you that there is much, much more than a simple game inside. For many casual players, these editions do not really matter (since they really cost a whole lot more). But for those for whom gaming is a passion, these are rare treasures. Join us as we take a quick journey and open some of these curiously covetous boxes. Grand Theft Auto IV comes with a very impressive limited edition of the game: you get your own metallic, locked cash box. Right off the bat, this set is heavy; the tall box deceptively hides how much stuff has been crammed within. The cash-box (or mini-safe) is metallic, brush-painted black (as opposed to using a dark metal) and comes with two keys for opening the lock. The case itself has a bevel of the GTAIV logo. Aside from the slick looking mini-safe, the set also comes with a black duffel bag that sports Rockstar’s signature logo, a hardbound art book and a music CD (stored in a specially marked slip case). Killzone 3 has a special Helghast Edition box and this is definite must-have for fans of the Move-compatible shooter game. The bonus includes a large replica of a Helghast Helmet (the same one seen on the Box art), a posable figure of a Cloaking Marksman, a hardbound art book, and special DLC content. The DLC content for this game includes the in-game music, a dynamic theme for the XMB, as well as map-packs and limited special XP rates for the multiplayer mode. Sadly, this is one of those extras that often clash with the design of your indoor furnishings (unless you have got some dystopianmilitary-future theme going on that is). Little Big Planet 2 from Media Molecule gets its own special edition of the game. While the box is quite massive, the contents are actually a lot less than we had envisioned. Basically, the box contains four things: the game, a pair of book ends, a plush doll and a DLC voucher. While this may seem a little underwhelming, we are thoroughly impressive with the quality of design and detail for the Sackboy plush and the wooden bookends.

36 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Sackboy stands at a pretty nice 6 inches, though he really does not stand up on his own, you will have to prop him up on a display stand or simply have him sit down. The bookends are pretty amazing. They will support almost any kind of game storage (BluRay, Steelbook, PS2 Amaray cases), and of course, works well as regular book ends. You might want to have them displayed close to each other to get the full effect of the design. Now these are just three of the many limited editions of games that have been released for the Sony Playstation 3, there are a whole lot more and many of these are made very special because of the extra content they contain. Metal Gear Solid 4 comes with a special making-of Blu-Ray disc that contains hours of special footage, interviews and a rare behind the scenes look at Kojima Productions. Batman Arkham Asylum comes with a massive wooden replica of the Batarang (no, we have not tried to throw it). The set comes with a special stand for the projectile and everything is housed in an impressive Batman-logo shaped case. Fallout 3 comes with a specially designed tin lunch box, a bobble head and a digital clock made to look like the Pip Boy gadget. Indeed, there have been so many released and there are so many more coming, the only thing you should take note of is: which one would you want?

Local Coop: Twice the Fun with Your PS3 We all know how fun it is to play a video game, and thanks to the wonderful power of wireless communications and faster internet connections, we can play with many of our friends and even complete strangers online. But what about the times when friends come over? It is hardly fun to be one sitting down doing nothing aside from watching your friend play. This is where local multi-player games come in, while not that common in many games, there are some pretty outstanding titles that make use of the feature. While it is not much used, the Playstation 3 supports multiple players (up to 7). And so far, only one game can use the feature: the PSN-only X-Men: Arcade by Capcom. This old school side scrolling beat them up will feature the iconic Marvel Mutants in their early 80’s iterations as they take on the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. It is a simple game and is good for about two hours of button mashing action and laughable old-school antics. While it is easy enough to finish with a single player alone, it certainly makes for a decent activity small get-togethers. Resident Evil 5 is a game that tells you right off the bat that you are not alone. Protagonists Chris and Sheva accompany each other as they take on the Tricell’s Majini and more of Umbrella’s BOWs. On cooperative mode, the game uses a split screen setup that allows you and a friend to strategically take down hordes of zombies (in essence, as they are technically not zombies). You can pass ammunition, heal your partner or even help out when your ally gets tackled by an enemy. Our favorite part is how the two players can link their melee attacks for some devastating damage against certain boss 37 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

characters. On the highest difficulty of this game, we certainly recommend going at it with a human partner. Sadly, as much as we loved Capcom’s RE5 system, the same cannot be said about Lost Planet 2. The game beautiful, the gameplay is excellent and the story is quite well written. As much as we would love to enjoy this game with a friend, local coop splits the screen into two very small parts. The result is a screen so small that you would have to squint just to see the details. So unless you’ve got a massive 60 inch HDMI screen, don’t bother with the local coop here. But if you do, prepare for a massively epic adventure. Gearbox’s Borderlands is certainly ranking high on our multiplayer games list thanks to the fact that popping in and out of multiplayer mode is so easy. Also, the Diablo inspired random-drops system allows players to work together to hunt and trade for better weapons and equipment. While the game itself has a few bugs (particularly with the DLC content), it is a highly enjoyable system that is best experienced when working together with a friend. Besides, once you both get to ride in your own missile-launching desert rovers and start raining explosive death, you’ll be glad to have someone to high-five. There are plenty of other great FPS titles that support local coop such as Kane and Lynch, Army of Two (and their respective sequels), Lord of the Rings Conquest, Resistance (just the first, the sequel has no story coop), and many others. But split screen is not the only way to play in coop games locally. There are plenty of titles such as Trine, Sacred 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Little Big Planet and others that use single screen multiplayer modes. All you really need a good partner who loves to game as much as your do!

Live, Play and Get Connected on PSN Sony’s Playstation Network has been running for quite some time now and if you are a Playstation 3 or Playstation Portable owner who has yet to sign up –now is the time to do so. The Playstation Network, or PSN, hosts a wide array of features and services that many gamers should not be without. Of course, a decent internet connection will be needed. Seeing as the PS3 supports both LAN and WiFi connectivity (the PSP makes use of WiFi exclusively), this should not be much of an issue for a typical household. Aside from being accessible, it is also completely free. The first big feature of PSN is the Trophies. While many gamers may not admit it, there is a great and guilty pleasure about achieving your first trophy; then later, your first platinum; much later, competing with all of your friends for getting the highest trophy score in the group. So compulsively addicting is the hunt for more trophies that players are encouraged to go out of their comfort zone in genres to try out new ones –just to earn more trophies. It is a win-win situation: developers make more sales, and players learn to play new games. 38 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

While we did mention the trophies first, simply summing the use of PSN simply for that would be misleading. PSN is the complete and comprehensive online service for any Playstation owner. First off, the site offers the latest news and information hosted on the official Sony Playstation Blog. Since PSN allows users to create accounts for each local network (US, UK, Japan and Asia), players are able to access unique content to each region. Downloadable content (also known as DLC) is another major reason why players should access the PS Network. Simple content for the console such as themes, wallpapers, and music are readily available. Game add-ons on the other hand provide an expansion for many existing games. Some will provide users with a new character costume or an additional weapon or in-game item. Other DLC will completely enrich the game to a whole new level –some by literally adding a new level or stage and others by adding so much content that it is practically a game in itself. Not all DLC however, is free. Some of this content will require players to make an online purchase. While the additional cost may be a bother, most of the content offered is well worth the investment. Of course, social networking is a key feature for PSN users. Players can get connected to other PSN users through a friends list which allows them to send and receive messages to other players. This also helps facilitate online multiplayer game sessions among users. Once added to the friends list, a player may also check and compare their current trophies and latest games played. For those who have already started using the Playstation Network, this is one extra feature that Sony has recently enabled: the PSN Plus. This is a subscription based service that allows users to get more content from PSN. Paid users will be able to access exclusive PSN+ content and also, discounted rates for all paid DLC –some of the downloadable content are given out for free for Plus subscribers as well. Our recommendation to any PS3 owner is to make full use of PSN’s services. Even without subscribing to Plus, you will get plenty of important features and additional content. Also, connecting online is the only way to back up those hard earned trophies (choose the sync to server option). The recently opened cloud storage on the other hand is the only way to back up locked save games. With service access already built into the console, there really is no excuse to not sign up.

Konami Codes on Your Playstation 3 Any hardcore gamer knows the ever-famous “Konami Code.” This series of button presses, when entered in the right sequence at a certain point in a game will unlock a 39 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

myriad of freebies. Originally used in the first Gradius game in Japan and later, made famous in the US version of Contra. This button sequence has made its appearance on a wide variety of platforms, including HTML, and the next generation Playstation 3 is no exception. Here’s a quick list of some the currently known uses of it. Also, for those not familiar with the code: it is up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, triangle, circle. For Castlevania - Lords of Shadow: Kojima Productions has made it a point to insert the code in the game. Do the sequence in any loading screen and players get to unlock a complete cheats menu. However, doing this will prevent you from saving the game or earning trophies, so only use it if you want to goof around without fear or dying; more practical players will use this to explore a little more, then reload an uncheated save. If you are a little tired and weary of the announcers in MLB 10: the Show, then you might want to try out these three code variations. Enter the sequence mentioned above, but replace the triangle-circle with either Up, Right or Left. Doing so will mute out the voice of Dave Campbell (up), Mat Vasgersian (right) or Rex Hudler (left). For those of you seeking out a slightly more powerful weapon in Mercenaries 2, bring out the PDA and type in the button sequence. Doing so will unlock the slightly imbalanced Nuclear Bunker Buster. This is particularly useful early on in the game. US users of the PS3 will discover that the Netflix application on the console will require players to use the code as part of the service deactivation sequence. In Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes of the Ring, will enable players to enter the minis sub-game mode of the game. The code should be entered at the player selection screen (this will also unlock a trophy as well!). In order to get the Old School trophy in the Saw II: Flesh and Blood, players will have to enter the Konami code (which will have to be done while holding down a trigger button). This can be done as early in the game as the start screen. Silent Hill: Homecoming will allow players to unlock a younger version of Alex in the game (this is the same character model that appears in the game’s flashback sequences). While it does not change the story in any way, it certainly feels a little scarier when he’s a lot younger. The Beastie Boys are actually unlockable characters in the new NBA Jam 2010 game. Do get them, enter the Konami code at the start screen, also, note that the code here will use circle-cross instead of triangle-circle. Players needing a quick health refill in Orange Box (for Half-Life 2, Episode One and Episode Two), enter the code and a 25 point health restoring medkit will spawn right in front of you. 40 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Last on our list, a quick additional costume for Resonance of Fate; at any point during or after the fifth chapter, go to Leanne’s closet. While browsing the closet (while the text shows), enter the Konami code. This unlocks an additional shirt called the 8-Bit Girl. Aside from these, there are plenty more uses of the Konami code. We can certainly expect to see this iconic button sequence popping up in more Playstation 3 games and console features in the near future.

Gaming Throwdown: Sony’s PS3 takes on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 There are already plenty of arguments and theories all over the web comparing the PS3 with the 360 and each viewpoint and idea has its own merits. This however, is a more specialized look at comparing the two systems: from the point of view of a player to game relationship. And we’ll throw in the spoiler here as well: the PS3 wins this match hands down. As for how and why, here is a quick breakdown of top three categories considered. There are many ways to define hardcore gaming –particularly for many who are quite competitive. But that is where the differentiation begins. For the sake of this argument, a hardcore gamer is not a player that focuses on competing with other players. It is the player that focuses entirely on the game. Indeed, the Xbox 360 is not short of single player titles such as JRPGs and the like, but in this regard, the 360 has very few exclusives and the releases of the multi-console ones would always have a superior PS3 version in terms of having more content or better performance. Heavy Rain has been lauded as a more cinematic game than Alan Wake. Meanwhile, the Uncharted series and Konami’s Metal Gear Solid 4 have no equivalents on the Microsoft system. The 360 costs a lot more to run than the PS3; sure, in terms of price, Sony’s console has a heftier tag. But the 360’s online service is subscription based and the controller requires batteries. In the long run, you will spend more on the 360. Now, this may not seem like a gaming concern, but in truth, it is. The more money you spend on maintaining a system, the less you spend buying more games. Also, the 360’s history with freezing up and getting corrupted is a major turn-off for single players. The threat of possibly losing all your save files (which is basically several hundred hours of effort) due to the Red Ring of Death, or Red Dot of Death for 41 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

the new slim 360, will keep you on your toes each time you boot up the device. Microsoft will offer to help fix your system –or offer you a refurbished console. Neither of these solutions will restore your files, and both will still require you to shell out some cash. Sony’s PS3 may have had its fair share of problems, but never on the same level as the RRoD. Having a more stable system to play in provides that priceless feeling of security for any hard core gamer. Developers are discovering the power of Blu-Ray. The two systems use different media for games; PS3 titles are stored in Blu-Ray discs which have higher capacities than the HD-DVD that Microsoft uses. This means that as games get bigger and bigger, developers are able to store more content on the PS3 disc, and eventually, they will fill it to the brim. At which point, Xbox games will have to resort to using multiple discs. This may not be an issue for some titles, but in certain genres, such as open world games, this will mean that the gameplay experience will no longer be seamless (if the earlier areas are in the first disc, going back to them later in the game might require players to exchange discs). At the moment, this is not yet the status quo and only one game currently falls under this category: the abovementioned MGS4. And somehow, that one single exclusive is more than enough proof for this point. Of course, there is no such thing as a better system overall. While we do appreciate many of the positive features of the PS3, there is no console that will manage to satisfy the needs of every single unique gamer out there. In the end, the choice of selecting a console depends heavily on the needs of the player; and ultimately, all video game fans would simply want to have both. See the top 3 gaming headsets reviewed on this page... Customer reviews reveal about everything you need to know! Get the best gaming headset at the best price!

42 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Playstation Portable The Playstation Network Goes Portable Sony’s Playstation Network is considered by many to be superior to its only competitor, Xbox Live. The free service, availability of plenty of content and the sheer fact that it transcends the base console (the Playstation 3) are all major reasons to support it. Speaking of transcending, the PSN is accessible to the PS3 as well as through regular web browsers and of course, the Playstation Portable. At this point, a little clarification is needed. Since the introduction of the PSP’s web browser (starting with version 2.0 of the PSP firmware), there has already been access for the PSP on Sony’s official network. This was launched in 2005. The service known as the Playstation Network would be launched a full year later –at which point, going to the Sony official page through the PSP would link directly to the PSN. By 2008, the 5.00 firmware update would provide PSP owners with a new PSN XMB icon which allowed them to get online on the network instantly. This same update also allowed users to register Playstation accounts for the device itself. For the most part, most of PSN’s regular services are available for the PSP. This includes obtaining the latest news from the official Playstation blog, being able to check the latest trailers and gameplay videos for upcoming games, get new themes and wallpapers for the PSP and of course, access downloadable content such as PSP Minis, full PS games and add-ons for existing titles. The big thing missing from the PSP’s PSN network is the ability to keep track of trophies –which is more due to the fact that PSP games do not come with trophies (it has been confirmed that the upcoming NGP will have trophy support ), and also, being able to track PSN friends. Unlike the PS3 version of the PSN, the PSP does not have a feature similar to the PS Home. Originally, a 3D avatar-based software for the PSP was being developed under the name of PSP Room (which used the infinity symbol for the double “o”). This project got past the initial development stages and reached up to beta testing. However, due to issues that Sony has chosen to keep secret, the game was canceled. Recently, Sony has opened up Playstation Plus options for users who want to get a little extra value from the PSN Store. Subscription based special access privileges are granted to users who pay an extra monthly fee. These include free content such PSP Minis, PSone Classics and expansion packs for existing games. Aside from all the free stuff, players 43 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

also get special discounted rates on many items as well as access to exclusive content (media, wallpapers and in some rare cases, Plus-only DLC content for certain first party titles). For the average PSP gamer, having access to the PSN is a godsend. It provides plenty of great content at no cost, and delivers information and free stuff right at your fingertips; making it the perfect way to catch up with all things Sony, gaming and portable.

Gear to Go: A Quick Look at Sony’s Playstation Portable A little over 5 years ago, Sony Computer Entertainment launched the Playstation Portable. This tiny little machine fitted nicely in a small bag, had a battery that lasted for hours on end and promised to deliver a massive library of games that would fulfill any gamer’s heart. While that last bit of promise took a bit of time, Sony came through for hardcore video game players around the world, and provided us all with ports of some of the PS1 and PS2’s best titles and also having a few innovative titles of its own. With this new handheld system, Sony also introduced the Universal Media Disc (UMD), a new form of disc based storage media. Basically, this was a super-mini DVD that came with its own protective plastic cartridge. The UMD is able to store over a gig and a half of data and provided game developers with plenty of ROM space for games. The media was also used for movies that are meant to be played on the handheld. The Playstation Portable, better known as the PSP, comes in several forms. Its’ very first incarnation, the PSP-1000 was launched in the US back in 2005 (it was launched at the end of 2004 in Japan). In 2007, the PSP-2000 Slim and Lite version reintroduced the device in all markets (Japan, US and UK) with a device that weighed much lighter, had a longer battery life, had a microphone input and video output port (for component cables) as well as better brightness settings. The third version, PSP-3000, arrived just a year later and introduced a built in microphone and enhanced the performance even more. A fourth device, the PSP Go! deserves a little special mentioning as well. This device does not use UMDs and instead, makes use of the built in storage for games. It is smaller than the regular PSP and packs mostly similar specs to the PSP-3000. Mostly shied away from by the hardcore market (due to its download-only nature), the device served more of a purpose as a portable media device than a gaming machine. The PSP is considered to be one of the most versatile devices of its time. Featuring its own operating system and user interface, the PSP is able to handle a wide variety of media for people on the go. The built in image, music and movie player allowed users to view JPG, BMP and PNG files, play MP3s and AAC audio content, and also supported UMD movies and MP4 videos as well (it should be noted that while UMD games are not 44 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

region locked, the UMD movies are restricted by a region code similar to conventional movie DVDs). The built in WLAN and web browser keeps the device online and also allows players to access the Playstation Network Store –logging in using the PSP will automatically take users to the portable portal of the site. For storing game saves, media files and DLC content, the PSP makes us of Sony’s Memory Stick Duo. And when connected to a computer, the device can also serve as a basic USB storage alternative. Gaming fans will want to have this system in their arsenal –whether they are on the go or not. The gaming library hosts a wide range of must play titles for a wide range of game genres (featuring exclusives such as Monster Hunter Portable, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Patapon, Loco Roco and many more). For those who are simply looking for a good media player with web capabilities, the PSP Go or the PSP-3000 is most recommended as they are the smallest and lightest of the group.

Portable Packing: What You Need When You Bring Your PSP The point of having a portable handheld gaming machine is so that you can move around with it. Bring it out during those long hours of waiting, and be able to send it back to your bag instantly without having to worry. This also means being able to bring your favorite games with you without having to carry a bag full of boxes, in this and many other concerns, the PSP is a great system to have. And here is a quick list of things you will want to have when you travel. First off, a protective casing; manufacturer Capdase has a large library of solid and soft cases for the PSP’s many variants. The best ones come with their own carry cases as well. Look for a carry case that suits your style (for those with special colored PSP units, a transparent case works best), and ensures that the screen is well protected. Speaking of screens, invest in a good screen protector. These days, this is as easy as buying a screen protector for an iPhone 4 or an iPad, simply reduce the size with a cutter and a ruler so that it fits your PSP screen. The best thing about these screen protectors is that they are meant for touch screen devices which mean that they are fingerprint resistant. Since this goes directly on top of your screen, it works as a permanent protective layer. A good microfiber cloth is always recommended. These are small and easy to store so having them around will not be an issue. Best of all, you can easily wipe the screen without worrying about making the typical scratches that from rough cloth and other fabrics.

45 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Speakers are a definite must have, especially if you will be out in noisy locations. The official PSP speakers are simple comfortable earphones with excellent sound quality so there is no need to buy a new one if you are short on budget. But if you really want to get geared up, try some Sennheiser or Audio Technica branded ones for impressive audio quality. For those who want to go for style, Skullcandy has a host of impressive looks to choose from. Sony also has earphone -attached control dock for music fans which is a must-have for those who will be using the PSP as a music player (it also serves as a mini extension cable as well). For those who spend a lot of time outside (or play games that are heavy battery users), a second battery is definitely recommended. The default PSP battery is small and lightweight to having a second one in your bag should not be a hassle. For those who really spend a lot of time away from home, bring along your charger as well. It should be noted that owners of the PSP-2000 and later models have the option of charging through a mini-USB cable too. There is an official car charger that is available for gamers with access to a vehicle. Gamers will definitely want to bring their games and thankfully, UMDs are designed to be carried around. Thanks to the non-removable casing, there is very little risk of scratching UMDs; just be sure to avoid touching the exposed area of the disc. Those with plenty of downloaded PSN games (or lots of media) will want to invest in a second memory stick to help make file management a lot easier. Lastly, bring a small bag! Lugging around the PSP openly could potentially damage the device’s screen if it gets bumped around a lot. A small secure bag with protective padding should do well for handling your PSP and any accessories and games you decide to bring along.

Sony’s PSP Bringing New Life to Cooperative Gaming We all know the fact that the Monster Hunter series is making waves all over the world thanks to the fact that the PSP has got some pretty sweet WiFi Ad hoc gaming capabilities. But does the multiplayer adventure really stop there? After all, with the deluge of the 3D hack and slash adventure genre, it seems pretty hard to fathom that other types of games would also be available –but they are. And here are three of the most unique cooperative play experiences you can get on the PSP. Patapon 2 Patapon has made plenty of waves with its unique beat system controls. Now, the supercute army simulation game takes you and a friend in control of special, customized heroes that will dish out attacks that matches that of a full squad. As a team, players can 46 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

link up with up to four friends as they march towards various goals in order to hatch an egg. Succeed and the egg hatches into a special item awarded to the host player –with a few side items awarded to everyone. In order to encourage more cooperative play, players will take turns changing the designated hosts. It may sound simple, but between lugging around a giant egg and facing off massively gigantic creatures, you and your team will have your work cut out for you. This game rewards timing and cooperation: do not hesitate to call out what needs to be done (attack, dodge, charge, etc) and keep your rhythm up to reach your hero’s fever induced super mode. Ace Combat X2: Joint Assault While the single player for ACX2 has been a bit of a letdown for many hard core fans of the incredibly popular dogfight simulation series, the cooperative move is undoubtedly one of the most innovative ever made for a game. Up to a total of four human players can link up for this game and depending on each player’s choices and performance, many of the stage events can change. On a regular mission, players all fly together in a single map in order to reach a certain goal (reach a location, destroy certain targets, etc). On special missions, players are divided into two teams, each with their own map and specific goal. By doing this, players can affect what happens in the adjacent missions. Something similar to stopping enemies from lifting off –effectively prevents what would have been a third wave or reinforcements for the other players. Of course, there are also competitive missions that you and your friends can play –but with the game’s offering of a full campaign cooperative play, why pass up on such an experience? Lego Star Wars There is more than one to choose from and all of the Lego SW games are known for their impressive multiplayer gameplay experience. In this series, two players can link up to control various characters in the famous science fiction storyline. While most of the events follow what is considered to be Star Wars canon, the delivery has been changed to suit the Lego universe a lot better. Most noticeable is the less serious atmosphere and the many humorous scenes that have been inserted in the game. And yes, it is eternally amusing to watch Darth Vader using the force to combine a bunch of Lego bricks to form a bridge. The gameplay follows your typical 3D action platformer –with an added twist: you are using Lego! Combining the power of the force and the fact that the entire universe is made of bricks, players can switch in and out various characters, build objects, and even break apart obstacles much like you with the actual toys. Each character is designated 47 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

with one of several ‘classes’ (with a few abilities transgressing each) that helps players get past the many obstacles in the game. Fun, easy to learn and even better when it is played with a friend, Lego Star Wars has become one of our most cherished multiplayer games of all time.

Tweaking Your PSP: Stuff You Can Do Without Modifying Your System The PSP is a great portable gaming device, and considering its large library of impressive games, there is plenty of reason to have fun with it. However, there are times when a little tweaking is needed to make your gaming life a little easier, and here are a few things you can do with your device without voiding your warranty. Make use of the quick hibernate function Instead of turning off your system fully, just quickly slide up the power tab to set it to into quick hibernate. This is perfect when you are playing a game that does not allow you to pause during a certain sequence or event and you have to really put the device down (you either have to stand up from the waiting lobby and meet your appointment or simply need to check the computer for the latest FAQs about the game you are playing). This also lets you continue your game progress without worrying about the battery life so much –speaking of which, when you see the battery light blinking and you might not make it to the power outlet and charger in time, going into hibernate can buy you that extra amount of time. Switch out the memory stick for single-auto-save games The great thing about games that the real world does not have: save points -which basically allow you to redo any wrong decision or action you take. But what about games that have auto-save functions? This is where having a second memory stick comes in. Simply copy your original save file into a new stick, and then switch back and forth depending on your needs. Of course, you will need a computer and to carefully back up and rewrite the save files. Keeping tabs of your save backups will also help a lot here. For classic PSP-1000 owners, watch the battery While not exactly a trick and more of a maintenance issue, those using the older PSP1000 models might notice that their batteries may no longer be charging when using WiFi despite being plugged in. This is due to the old battery not being able to keep up with the device needs. Sadly, the only way to solve this is to buy a new one. Speaking of the battery, set the PSP to save consumption If you are out on the road and you want to maximize your battery, here are few things you can do. First off, lower the brightness settings. Those little buttons to the left of 48 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

“select” allow you to tweak audio and screen brightness settings. Even on lowest, the PSP screen is still easy to see so do not hesitate to lower this. As for audio, strap on earphones (they use less power than headphones and the PSP speakers) and set the volume to a manageable level. Lastly, if you are using your PSP as a music device as opposed to gaming, be sure to set the screen settings to shut off after a few minutes. Lastly, use the lock! A lot of PSP owners are not aware that there is a key lock function on the device. Simply slide down the power tab and the PSP will not accept input commands. This is actually great if you are watching a cut scene and do not want to accidentally skip it by pressing a button and for those on MP3 mode. Aside from swapping out the memory stick, most of these tips are in some ways, semidocumented on the PSP’s manual. All you need to do is to read carefully and you might even find out more useful and practical ways to use the various features of this powerful Sony handheld gaming console.

Portable Gaming Redefined: The Top 5 Signature PSP Games The Playstation Portable is a truly impressive system, with hardware that easily matches that of the PS2 (which was one of the top ranking systems during the time of the PSP’s launch), many hardcore gamers feel that its extensive library of games are a must have for any real gaming collector. Of course, the PSP has had its share of critics and one of the most often raised points against the system is that it relies on ports of major console titles. We beg to differ. In fact, here are several exclusive made for PSP-only titles that games should look out for. Patapon Visually deceptive, this cutesy looking title is actually one of the most original games ever to be developed. By combining music-beats with adventure and RPG elements, Sony’s army drumming game has introduced an all original way to play. In Patapon, players take on the role of the Mighty One, a powerful deity that commands the Patapon army across forests, marshes and deserts. To do this, players must use four drum beats to command their armies to charge, attack, block and retreat. Special drum beats will also allow one to access special deity powers such as manipulating the weather. In between stages, players are able to micro manage their armies by defining the job specialties of the various “-Pon” units and what equipments they will use. The story is simple, yet intriguing, placing players on top of a bizarre mythos worshipped by oddly amusing eyeball creatures. As players advance through the game, they learn 49 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

more of the history of the Patapons, their journey to the ‘Promised Land’ and the many obstacles they face.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Gaming legend Hideo Kojima brings the epic saga of Metal Gear Solid to the Playstation Portable in this amazing prequel story to the first Metal Gear game. Following Big Boss’ trail after the events of Snake Eater and Portable Ops, the legendary soldier finally finds a place to call his own and provides a home to soldiers from all backgrounds. However, earning a base comes with its own strings. In exchange for the high tech facilities, Snake takes on the needs of small war-torn country and their plight from what seems to be an invasion. As the story unfolds, players learn that the invasion is merely a front and that a new Metal Gear project is underway. With nuclear threat on the horizon, the Boss gears up once again to bring down his foes. And this time, it will no longer be a solo mission. Players now get a chance to link up with friends (thanks to the PSP’s built in WiFi ad-hoc capabilities) and in-game allies to take on this new chapter in MGS. Also, managing the home base will require players to set aside soldiers to manage research, medicine and even prepare some hearty dishes in the mess hall. Echochrome Puzzle games are a dime a dozen and very few games in this genre could ever stand out – let alone be defining for a gaming system. But such is the legacy of Echochrome. Story wise, there really isn’t anything here. You control a doll like figure (similar to the ones by artists for posing references) through a series of platforms, stairs and holes as you move from point of origin to the goal. This is made challenging by the fact that many holes lead to bottomless drops, and the stairs and passageways lead to either open air or dead ends. To get by these players must manipulate the game’s camera to change the way they view the stage. By altering the angle of view, the scene changes; stairs are given an illusion of being connected to an open ended path. And this illusion is more than enough to the game to consider as reality, players are able to walk safely across. The puzzles are original and the solutions are applaud-able, Echochrome and its many challenges certainly deserve all the praise it gets. The game’s simple black and white 3D graphics allows players to concentrate on the game’s puzzle aspects and the soundtrack is often quiet and thought provoking. With its impressive gameplay, excellent delivery and hundreds of stages, expect to this game pick at your brain for many enjoyable hours on end. 50 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core Square Enix is taking a new approach to the FF7 franchise by re-introducing the real EXSOLDIER, Zack. This legendary side character played a bit part in the original series by serving as lead character Cloud’s ideal (he was delusional to the point of claiming Zack’s actions as his own) and through the in-game narrative, we learned that it was Zack who rescued Cloud from the Shinra Mansion at Nibelheim. But what really happened? Crisis Core answers this question and so much more. Other major FF7 characters are given notice and appear in game as well such as Sephiroth, Yuffie, Aeris and Tifa. Side characters such as Tseng, Rufus, Reno and Rude also make varying appearance and Cid Highwind also gets mentioned in game. For fans of the original game, this is massively nostalgia-inducing game to play. There is more to Crisis Core than relying on the fandom of the first game however. The game makes use of a unique active combat system that blurs the lines between a hackand-slash and menu driven RPGs. Players get full, real time control of Zack in combat, and is able to access his entire array of physical attacks and materia skills. As one would expect, SE has provided this game with some of the most amazing graphics seen on the PSP, smoothly combining real-time models with pre-rendered content. Loco Roco As much as we love hardcore titles, there are some truly innovative casual games that manage to charm our hearts to unimaginable degrees. Such is Loco Roco. The game is simple, use the L and R shoulder buttons to shake, shift, and tilt the world as your Loco Rocos roll, slide and bounce their way to the goal. As much as we would like to expand more, that is really all there is to this game, and yet it manages to be so good to play. Aside from its impressive simple yet addictive gameplay, the game features some of the best music to be featured in a game with styles varying from lounge to rock to pop. The stylized graphics provides players with a visual delight as the oohs and aahs of the Loco Roco further endear them to players. As we said, this is a casual game, but it is still something that hardcore players should not pass up. After all, it is in the innovative titles such as these that the groundwork for even greater games is based. Wrapping Up Of course, there are plenty more games for the PSP that are truly amazing to play: Radiant Mythology, GTA: Liberty City Stories, Dissidia Final Fantasy, Jeanne d Arc and so much more. The three games above are merely a sampling of the many great choices players have with Sony’s powerful handheld gaming system and the only real way you can know how great these games are is by trying them on your own. 51 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Ad Hoc Party: Multiplayer Adventures With Your PSP! There are plenty of reasons to love the Playstation Portable, and one of these is the fact that the device has its own built in WLAN feature. Just flip up the WiFi switch and you are ready to go online or connect with other players. While Sony has opted to not allow games to have multiplayer options via the PSN, the PSP does support ad-hoc connectivity –giving players all the more reason to meet up with their friends and play together. If you have been itching for some solid cooperative multiplayer gaming fun, here’s a quick list of our most recommended games to try out. Phantasy Star Portable Without a doubt, Sega’s Phantasy Star series is one of the most famous multiplayer games of all time. Even with its initial incarnations on the Dreamcast, the game has already been placing its multi-player feature on the forefront. On the PSP, players get to continue the story of the Phantasy Star universe after the events of the first couple of games, bringing a completely new cast of characters and locations. The game’s menu driven navigation lets you get around the usual array of shops and mission lists in a flash, with the system waiting only for the host player to confirm the commencement of a mission. Once started, players get to explore the mission maps in a full third person action mode. The ingame combat is easy to grasp and the lock on system feels very intuitive. Overall, this game makes for a perfect starter’s run on multiplayer. For those looking for a deeper gameplay, you might want to check out the next entry. Monster Hunter Portable Originating from the PS2, this strange dinosaur-monster hunting game has taken the world by surprise. Capcom has come up with a really good formula: a main town where the player has plenty to do such as cooking, mining, fishing and crafting items. Then top it off with specialized missions that place the player out in search of massive creatures through deserts, forests, ice capped mountains and more. The hunting theme is quite evident in game, from the concept of having to track down a target monster in a large map to the visual details of the town and character models. In multiplayer, the large variety of weapons and items allows players to join and compliment each other’s fighting styles. Currently considered as one of the most famous multiplayer games on the PSP, this is one game you cannot afford to pass up. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker 52 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Unlike our previous two series entries, Peace Walker is a standalone game. This epic prequel story to Metal Gear (and sequel to Snake Eater) brings back more of the stealth based action and cinematic storytelling that MGS is known for. But new to Peace Walker is the ability to link and team up with your friends to accomplish missions. While it is possible to complete story mode alone, the game is best played with a friend or three. As a team, players can utilize varying squad formations, make joint attacks and accomplish missions faster and more efficiently. As a bonus, creator Hideo Kojima has teamed up with Capcom to put in a few special Monster Hunter stages as well –placing Big Boss (and friends) up against some of the meanest enemies on the MH bestiary. Godz Eater Burst It may seem like an odd title, but this Namco Bandai game is currently the best cooperative game out there yet. The controls and combat are often cited to be very simplified and we certainly agree –but remember this is not necessarily a bad thing. With multiplayer games, it is quite often that you have to mind a lot of things in the intermission areas. While there is also some inventory management and crafting to be done in GE Burst, these functions are made simple to accomplish and understand. The result is a game that lets you focus on the fun part: hunting giant monsters. These monsters, or Aragami, are some of the most epic creature we have yet seen in a cooperative game (and we have seen the whole lot that MH has to offer). You, with a team of three will have to work together and take down these nasty beasts. Did we say beasts? Because we meant to, after all, there are plenty of missions in the game where you and your team will also have to face a squad of these titanic monsters. More often than not, players will have to split up and strategize properly to succeed. There is no doubt that there are plenty more amazing multiplayer genres available on the PSP, some allow for competitive gaming, and others are also cooperative. But there is a certain charm to the third person action hunting genre that makes it hard to resist. Be it the in depth character customization, or the many things you can do in game, or the fact that you can take on some of the most epic monster battles ever made in a game. Either way, you can expect to see of these types of games to appear in the future, and more reasons to stay connected with your friends.

Gaming Health: Taking Care of Your PSP The PSP is a great handheld device; it has lots of games, great controls and can do a lot of other things (browse the web, play music and videos, etc). But as with many electronic devices, the PSP has its own share of problems. And for those who want to be able to take care of their Sony gaming device, here are a few good tips on how to ensure that the Playstation Portable runs without any issues. 53 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

First off, use a screen protector! This may seem like a small thing, but it helps a lot. In the event that the external screen gets scratched, players have the option of purchasing a new PSP face plate, but this is expensive and requires you to take apart the device. A screen protector saves players from this trouble and also makes the screen a lot easier to clean. For those with plenty of dust inside the screen, it is possible to take out the faceplate. This is done by turning off the device, and removing the battery. From the back, players can access the screws that hold the front plate in place. Be sure to also clean the areas under the buttons and contact points as well. Be careful when placing the plate back as the positions of the control buttons and analog nub must be aligned with the contact points on the device (to ensure that the controls will stay responsive). In order to make sure that the software runs properly, it is important that players use official Magic Gate Memory Stick Pro Duos for the PSP. To check this, simply highlight the “memory stick” icon from the XMB and press triangle. This will bring out a menu that allows you to check the memory stick’s properties, check here if the Magic Gate settings show verified (as opposed to unknown). To ensure that the stick is original, it is best to purchase directly from an official Sony retail store. Speaking of the memory stick, players should often back up player data. This is quite easy as the PSP itself can be hooked up directly to a computer (thanks to the mini-USB port on top of the device). To enable the connection, go to the last menu on the left of the XMB and select USB connectivity. The “PSP/SAVEDATA/” folder is where all the game saves are stored so it is crucial that players back this up frequently. Use your computer’s safely remove USB device command prior to disabling USB connectivity from the PSP. Also, it is recommended to set the power button on lock status while transferring files. Overall, the PSP is hardly prone to any software issues. Sony provides constant firmware updates for the PSP to provide users with new features, better security and to remove any existing bugs in the system. When updating your firmware, be sure that your battery is at least 75% full and it is most recommended to update while connected to a wall outlet (to ensure that the system does not lose power during this critical process). So far, the updates do not seem to be region locked (using a US update on a Japanese unit does not interfere with performance), but it is still recommended that players use a firmware update designed specifically for the region of their device.

PSP Countdown: Things We will Miss When the NGP Arrives There is plenty of talk about the Next Generation Portable –basically, the PSP’s successor. As much as we all would want to call it the PSP2, Sony’s official name for the new device is the NGP. And so far, most of the hardware features are proving to be quite impressive and promising. Despite all things optimistic, it is hard to deny that there will 54 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

be a lot of changes, and most certainly, a lot of features will be missed. Here’s a quick list of some of the things we would wish were present for the NGP.

The UMD The universal media disc has its fair share of detractors, limitations and issues. But the bottom line here is that disc based media has always been a key element for the PSP. While modern flash based storage can easily match discs in terms of storage size, there is a certain charm to the UMD that will be lost. Also, there are plenty of reports that the NGP will be hosting save files on the new game media itself. The only good thing here is that Sony will still be selling physical games –as opposed to the PSP Go style of having only download content. The XMB Sony’s Cross Media Bar has been lauded to be an award winning user interface design – and after using it, we can clearly see why. Used in the PSP, the PSX and many Bravia models, the XMB provides users with an easy to use interface for accessing a wide variety of features and controls for Sony systems. Now, a new UI has been introduced for the NGP and it will be making the most of the touch screen input. While impressive, it certainly looks a lot more cluttered and less composed when compared to the more dignified approach of the XMB. For PSP owners, the XMB has been a major factor for making the device easy to use. Since it is based on the control pad’s directions (up, down, left and right), moving across one set of options to another takes only one tap of a button. Viewing media, managing save files, changing settings have all been made easy with the XMB. Also, a large choice of PSP themes allows players to change the look of the XMB icons and background. Without a doubt, this UI will certainly be missed. Removable Battery It may not seem like a big deal for many users, but a removable battery is a great convenience for those us who love to travel. Playing with your favorite games while on the road is a treat that many gamers cannot do without. But sadly, as impressive as any battery capacity may be, games that use plenty of processing power and WiFi connectivity will certainly take a serious drain on your charge. When you are in a location without a decent wall outlet or access to car charger, the only hope you have for gaming is to pack along a second fully charged battery or two. Those of you who love to play ad hoc games will certainly be familiar with how much value a removable battery gives.

55 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

In the end, despite all the little drawbacks on the side, there is no doubt that the NGP will still be much looked forward to. After all, with such powerful hardware and a promise of great launch titles, who would not be excited? But the PSP is far from obsolete. With most of the PSP’s major titles just being released, we can expect to see more enjoyable hardcore gaming on this classic Sony handheld before it finally waves goodbye.

Sony’s Playstation Portable Takes on the Nintendo DS For the most part, the handheld console market has been heavily divided between the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS. Together, these two devices literally controlled the industry, and despite the advent of app gaming for smart phones, game developers know that if they wanted to produce big games, it would be on either one of these two. Of course, there is a distinct difference between the two devices and while the ideal is to have both (and have access to both gaming libraries), one simply cannot help but compare. So here it is: the PSP vs DS showdown. Model to Model One of the biggest arguments that DS owners make is that the later versions of the DS matches that of the PSP. However, on a side by side comparison, the only DS to get a leg up is the DS XL –which offers a larger screen (there is no PSP version with a screen larger or smaller than the original). However, even this is not that big a deal, the PSP’s screen size is still packing a higher resolution. Other features such as the DSi’s browser, media player and camera have all been available since the first PSP device –though the camera is an external attachment that hooks up on top of the PSP. To match the DS’s microphone, the PSP introduced a mic jack for the PSP-2000 model and a built in mic for the PSP-3000. Input Controls Sony’s PSP brings to players a directional pad, an analog nub, four buttons and two shoulder buttons. The Nintendo DS makes use of a resistive touch screen instead of a nub. While the DS has an advantage of a second screen, the fact is that most games hardly utilize the secondary screen for any worthwhile purpose (nothing that a pop-out menu on a single screen layout could not change). And even titles that seemed reliant on the touch screen (GTA: Chinatown Wars, Knights in the Nightmare), eventually were ported to the PSP without any control issues. The big drawback for the DS is that they did not make use of a capacitive touch screen (in fairness, the technology was not common back then). Since players would need to hold a stylus with one hand, supporting the entire device with the other hand became slightly difficult. This was especially the case for the first edition of the NDS which was particularly heavy for just one hand. 56 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Portability Right off the bat, the PSP’s better with its’ quick hibernate mode and simple controls. As with any device that makes use of a stylus, DS players have to be mindful of where they place their sticks. The quick hibernate mode gets a special mention since you never know at what point in the game you will be when your train reaches your stop. While placing down the lid of the DS sets the game into sleep mode, the battery drain is strong. The PSP allows players to quickly press up the power button and send the entire device into hibernation. This lets you head off the train, get to work/class and return to your game at the exact point where you left off later in the evening. With the DS, you’ll be praying the whole time that the battery does not run out. Hardcore Games There is no lack of casual gaming titles for both devices. But with established hardcore titles, the PSP has a much larger library. So far, Nintendo has been doing great with many of its big-name first party developed games such as the Pokemon series, Metroid and innumerable Zelda and Mario games. With third party developers however, Sony has more to offer. Capcom’s Monster Hunter series pushes the PSP’s connectivity features to the forefront by emphasizing multiplayer gaming (other such games include Namco Bandai’s Ace Combat X2 and Godz Eater Burst, Sega’s Phantasy Star Portable series, Square Enix’ Lord of Arcana, and Konami’s MGS: Peace Walker). Other major franchises such as the “City Stories” for Grand Theft Auto also appear on the PSP as full games as opposed to the sprite based mini-games that appear on the NDS. While this may seem one-sided, the NDS is not without its good points. But for the most part, there is very little that the Nintendo device has to offer for the hardcore gaming market. As we mentioned above, a gamer’s true ideal still lies in being able to get both systems and play all the great games available!

See the top 3 gaming headsets reviewed on this page... Customer reviews reveal about everything you need to know! Get the best gaming headset at the best price!

57 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Nintendo DS Clash of the Handhelds: NDS vs the PSP Nintendo has been the king of the hill when it comes to handheld gaming. Starting with the launch of the original Game and Watch devices, the company started small, focusing only delivering simple gaming enjoyment to players worldwide. With the launch of the Gameboy, the Japanese game company opened up a whole new industry with the very first handheld gaming console. The rest has been history, with the launch of several other devices, Nintendo has knocked out competitors such as Sega’s GameGear, the Wonderswan, and the Nokia N-Gage (among others). With the launch of the DS, it seemed that nothing could ever come close to Nintendo’s throne. Until Sony launched the PSP; featuring a wide screen display, graphics that surpassed the original Playstation One and support from a wide range of game developers, many knew that the two systems would clash against each other for market share. And they did. The PSP won over many gamers for its very hardcore choices of game titles, its multimedia playback features and its WiFi capabilities. The DS on the other hand took on a much larger market, targeting both hardcore gamers and casual players at the same time –taking in crowds that the PSP could not cater with its lack of casual titles. In terms of market performance, the NDS dominated the handheld gaming industry –leading the sales against the PSP with a difference of millions. Of course, the DS lacked many of the side features that the PSP offered. But this helped give the DS an edge: a lesser price tag. Even with the more sophisticated DSi, it was still a lot less tech-heavy than Sony handheld. And with the introduction of smart phones with WiFi browsing and media playback, less people saw the need for having a more expensive gaming device that is over-laden with features that their phones can do. Naturally, many gamers own both devices –as the number of exclusive titles for each device is quite extensive, there are plenty of reasons to own both. The PSP concentrated heavily on time-consuming hardcore titles as well as some very addictive multiplayer games. The DS on the other hand, was perfect for quick gaming sessions with its lighter game content and less competitive titles. It also helped that the DS had access to a wide range of Nintendo exclusive IPs such as Mario, Animal Crossing, Pokemon and more. 58 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

In terms of hardware, the PSP is obviously much stronger of the two. While the DS did have two screens, it had very low 3D graphics capabilities and could only render screens at a limited resolution. The PSP on the other hand, could easily handle PS games without so much as a single slowdown and has an even faster loading speed than the original console. Because of this, many of the games on the DS tended to be sprite based while the PSP enjoyed a bigger abundance of 3D polygon titles. So who won the war? The DS obviously made a lot more money for Nintendo than what the PSP did for Sony. But the PSP is also the first handheld –while Nintendo has had plenty of experience in the industry and is obviously far more established. With the recent launch of the 3DS and the upcoming NGP, the two game companies are going to go at it again. Either company could very well take the lead, but one thing is for sure, we gamers will have plenty to look forward to.

Meet, Connect, Play: The Best Multiplayer Games on the NDS Nintendo’s DS gives you the freedom to enjoy your games on the move. You can be on the road, sitting in a lobby, taking a ride in the subway and you can still enjoy your favorite game titles. And with this freedom of movement, you have all the chances to meet up with all your favorite gaming buddies. So what’s a group of gamers to do? Here’s a quick roundup of the best multiplayer experiences you can have with the DS. Lego Star Wars This here is actually two different games, there is the Complete Saga of the Lego Star Wars which covers the events of the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy movies. And there is also the Clone Wars which covers the events told in the animated shorts and the CG movie and series. All in all, you can expect more than 40 hours of cooperative campaign gameplay as well as plenty of replay value with the free play option –which is a requirement for anyone planning to complete all the in-game collectibles. This game supports up to two players so for those of you meeting with larger groups will certainly want to buddy up when playing this game. In terms of difficulty, this game presents little more than the usual platforming challenge, but mostly, Lego Star Wars is highly recommended for its fun gameplay and even funnier delivery of a story that we all know and love. Contra 4 59 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Contra is one of the oldest game series that we have ever played and come to love. The game places you in control of one of the two gung-ho super action-star heroes as they face hordes of bad guys, dodge screen-fulls of enemy bullets and take on the most gigantic sprite based bosses a side scrolling game has ever seen. With Contra 4, much of that classic gameplay is kept intact for you and your bestest bud to enjoy. The premise is simple, if it moves, shoot it. Grab power ups along the way, dodge any enemy and be sure to jump over any obstacle. Between the frantic action, a little change of pace is delivered through changes in game perspective (there are side scrolling and top down stages). In terms of storyline, it is as simple as it gets: giant evil alien horde is coming, and you have to stop them by blowing up everything that stands in your way. Simple, fun and easy to play, the best type of gaming experience that you and your friends could ever want. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time For those looking for a game with a deeper gameplay, a bit of focus on inventory management and a much deeper storyline, no need to go further. FFCC: Echoes of Time has it all for you. Do not let the childlike appearances of the lead characters fool you, this is a full on J-RPG by the great minds behind Square Enix. An epic storyline, a solid combat system (think Vandal Hearts meets Zelda), amazing visuals for an NDS and this game will leave you with almost nothing else to wish for. Also, the game lets you connect to a Wii playing Crystal Chronicles as well.

Bringing Out the GBA on Your Nintendo DS The Gameboy Advance was one of Nintendo’s best handheld game systems. As a precursor to the DS, the GBA brought forward a new era of handheld, color-screen gaming. Before the advent of mobile phones with VGA screens, the GBA was the first system that delivered SNES quality gaming to millions of players on the road. Now, more than a decade into the future, some of the GBA’s best titles are still among the most well played classics of today. If you have been wondering what that large cartridge slot on the bottom of your DS is, it is actually a GBA cart slot. Yes, not only can the DS play its many special touch screen based games, it can also be used as a GBA. Here are some of those classic titles that you might want to get back into. Super Robot Wars OG 1 & 2 Banpresto’s Super Robot Wars series is one of the largest gaming franchises in Japan, and the OG set is the only one that has ever been translated into English. Thanks to the fine folks at Atlus USA, the Original Generations of SRW are getting a full English language treatment, from the text heavy dialogues to the complex menus. This game is a 60 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

strategy based combat simulation that features hundreds of giant robots, an epic storyline and some of the heartwarming characters to ever pilot a 5 ton hunk of steel. If you are a big fan of the Japanese imports of the other SRW games, supporting this title just might encourage Atlus to localize the others as well. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance The second strategy combat game in our list, FFT Advance brings to you another take on the world of Ivalice. Unlike the first FFT game on the Playstation 1, Advance brings you to an alternate version of the medieval fantasy world. Here, players join a guild that goes out to accomplish various missions to money and reputation. Each combat stage is ruled by judges, who special laws could be a bane or a boon depending on the situation. Laws are basically random, so players are encouraged to save before each combat –if the laws you get are extremely unfavorable, it is recommended to reset the game and pray that better ones pop out. Summon Night – A Swordcraft Story Japanese RPGs are plenty on the GBA, but Summon Night gets a special mention thanks to its unique battle system. The real time side scrolling combat elements coupled with weapon crafting makes for a very dynamic gameplay experience. Also, players are encouraged to use various types of weapons throughout the game –which makes the battles less repetitive since each weapon has its own set of moves. Player take control of a young man learning to a master blacksmith, and in this world, these craftsmen are more than just artisans, they are also masters of the very weapons they build. A giant tournament is being held to determine the top crafting students and between each major match, players are able to explore a deep subterranean dungeon in order to find new materials for crafting. As the story progresses, more areas of the map and the dungeon can be explored. There is plenty of inventory management here, especially when handling the weapon crafting. But once you are able to make that high leveled elemental drill and use it to bring that boss down, it will be all worth the effort.

Classic Nintendo on the DS Nintendo is truly a remarkable system manufacturer. The DS, Wii and the 3DS currently hold one of the largest shares in the video game industry market. But beyond their console devices, Nintendo is also the company that brought to us some of the most iconic and well loved characters in the industry. And thanks to the DS, you can take these amazing characters on the road with you. Here are some of our favorite Nintendo originals for the touch screen handheld. 61 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Mario Kart DS When Mario Kart first came out on the Super Famicom (Super NES in North America), Nintendo showed us all that they had what it takes to deliver a top notch racing game engine and still deliver the fun and wackiness of the Super Mario IP. The DS version holds true to the reputation of the original kart racer. Mario Kart DS brings to you the entire cast, Mario, Wario, Bowser, Daisy, and a few new additions such as special karts, more power-ups and all new race tracks inspired by the many stages of the different Mario games released over the years. The biggest advantage of MKDS is that it supports multiplayer through the use of the DS’ direct link or through the internet with the Nintendo WiFi Connection. There is no doubt that the inclusion of online multiplayer has pushed the replay value of this racer a hundred fold. Star Fox Command Combining strategy with simulated vehicle combat, Star Fox Command changes all previous notions about Nintendo’s dog-fight sim. Fox McCloud and company now have to decide on how they are deployed on the field and what actions they must take to efficiently achieve missions goals with a set amount of time. The implementation of the strategy element may have turned off players hoping for a more straightforward, pick-up and play experience, but many appreciate the much deeper gameplay feel that the prebattle preparations now deliver. Animal Crossing Animal Crossing first came out for the Nintendo Gamecube. This life simulation game placed you in control of a citizen in a fictional town with various animal neighbors. The game’s “real”-time system encouraged players to play the game on the daily basis, as well as playing at different hours of the day in order to catch time-specific events. Players also managed their own home which could be decorated with a vast number of appliances and furniture. In order to earn money, players much fish, dig and take part in various activities. Players may also send items or money to other players as well –which important for those who wish to complete matching furniture sets. On the DS much of the gameplay remains the same –but with the added convenience of portability. Back then, players would have to miss out on in-game events due to obligations to work or family. Now it is easier to see events that you would have normally missed for school or work since you can bring the DS with you wherever you go. Just be sure to play the game on your break times of course! 62 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Nintendo DS: Gaming Device or Office Desk Novelty? The obvious answer is, of course, gaming device. But putting aside that logic and just looking at the interesting other features that the DS (and the DSi) actually deliver, one might actually think that they are tinkering around with some random gadget that is right at home at your office desk. So, have tried checking out what you can do with the DS aside from playing games? First off is the clock mode. Okay, for those wondering: it is a dedicated function or mode of the NDS and is readily available from the touch screen menu after you turn on the device (it is on the screen right after the initial warning advisory page). In this mode, the only thing that the device does is show you the time. Not really all that useful since you will be wasting batteries and there are plenty of other time-telling device that use energy in a much more eco-friendly manner. But yes, you can if you want to, and there is even an alarm function for users who simply feel like leaving the device plugged into the charger the whole night. Pictochat is a much more useful function –though its practicality still borders on sheer novelty and entertainment. This is basically a scribbling program that you can use to interact with other DS devices. The picture chat content makes full use of the touch screen for users to share their creations with each other. Sadly, there is no way to save the images you create so enjoy them while they are still there on your screen. Both Pictochat and the clock mode will require you to switch the DS off and back on in order to access another function (or the game cartridge). In late 2008, Nintendo launched the DSi, an upgraded version of the dual screen handheld. This new model sported several new side features that provided users with further functionality. Among the most noticeable is the addition of two VGA cameras, one inside and another on the outside. This allowed users to take photos of the people and things around them or if they wanted to, their own selves. The images could then be stored on the new SD card slot or uploaded to a Wii console. Speaking of the SD card slot, the DSi also allowed for the playback of several media file formats, such as MP4 and 3GP recordings (but it still lacks MP3 playback capabilities) And making full use of the DSi’s internal WiFi capabilities, support for access of the official Nintendo WiFi service has been added to the device. This allows players to link up online for multiplayer games or for downloading DSiWare software. These can either be small games or useful applications for the device. 63 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Overall, we are pretty happy with how the DS functions even without the game. While a little bit more of functionality in terms of file format compatibility or the option to store game saves on the SD card would have been nice, there’s already a lot being offered by the DS system on its own. All you need to do is tinker around and see for yourself.

On the Road with the Nintendo DS Whether you are planning to take a quick drive across town or planning a full weekend getaway, it is always a great idea to consider bringing your Nintendo DS along. The system offers great games, portability and a decent battery life that makes it well suited for gaming outside the house. But sometimes, just bringing along the device is not enough. Here are a few useful ideas you might want to consider when taking your DS along with you. Invest in a strap. A strap can easily hook into the side of the Nintendo DS (there’s a small provision for it) and will allow you to keep your DS on hand –literally. Why is this useful? Because you never know what might happen. You might be walking along the road or sitting near a ramp and when you least expect it, you get nudged and the device slips out of your hand. The strap will prevent your DS from heading straight into the floor. Get a extra styluses. The stylus in the back of your Nintendo DS is going to see plenty of use, after all, most games will require you to use the touch screen. However, being such as small device, the stylus can be easily misplaced, dropped and altogether, lost. You can choose to leave the original stylus behind at home and opt to invest in a cheap third party temporary replacement when you leave the house. In fact, bring two or three extras. So in the ever unfortunate event that you do end up losing the stylus, you can easily grab a uick replacement from your bag. Speaking of your bag, it would be a great idea to invest in a good carry case. There are plenty of third party carry cases for the DS as well as a few official Nintendo ones. Most of these have holders for the system, several game cartridges and pockets for your stylus. Bigger ones will also have space for your charger as well. These are great to have as they will keep your DS and your games safe and well organized (no more need to fish around your bag for that Nintendogs cartridge that you brought along). A screen protector will be a big help in keeping your DS screens scratch free. There are plenty of official ones that you can stick on straight to the two screens (be sure to clean the screens first before application) or you can choose to buy larger screen protectors (those for larger devices) and simply cut out a pair to match your DS screen.

64 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Battery power is always a big worry when travelling for long periods so it is always a nice idea to bring along the DS charger. Those with a bit of money or those who spend a lot of time on the road will want to buy a second charger (solely for travelling) and an adapter for the car. This will ensure that you will always have access to your games at any time. Just be sure to double check the voltage label on your device before plugging it into any outlet. With these simple accessories, you can easily enjoy a long trip with your Nintendo DS. And while there is always a great adventure to be had while gaming, do not forget to enjoy the actual trip itself.

Solving Mysteries on the NDS, One Touch at a Time The Nintendo DS plays host to a treasure trove of great games, and plenty of which fall under the mystery adventure genre. If you are a looking for a good point and click adventure that will keep you on your toes, here are our favorite mystery games for the NDS. Hotel Dusk With amazing visuals, a deep, intricate storyline and a unique way of playing on the DS, Hotel Dusk certainly has it all made. Players will have to flip their DS sideways (with options for left-handed users) and play with the screens in a vertical orientation. This provides the illusion of having a single screen –a visual effect that heavily influences the gameplay. In Hotel Dusk, players are in control of Kyle Hyde, a former NYPD officer in search of his old partner, Brian Bradley. His quest leads him to the mysterious Hotel Dusk, and there players will have to explore the various rooms, lobbies and passageways to seek out clues about what happened to Brian. The hotel is also occupied by various tenants and staff, talking with these people will reveal further information about the mystery of Brian’s whereabouts and the twisted past of Hotel Dusk itself. The story is very deep, involving a rich back story about art fraud, mysterious criminal organizations and false identities. Armchair detectives will certainly have a field day with this game. Time Hollow Time travel is one of the most difficult science fiction elements to make use of, and Konami’s Junko Kawano certainly made this one a solid work of art. The game places players in control of Ethan Kairos and together with the “hollow pen” players are able to create portals in time in order to observe or directly interfere with events of the past. With both of his parents suddenly disappearing, Ethan finds his world changed as if his parents had died a full five years ago. 65 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

With his own friends mysteriously dying one after another, Ethan must seek out clues about the past and chase after another mysterious individual who also uses a hollow pen. The story is well written and it paces along at a pretty good rate. Much of the narration provides plenty of concise bits of information that players need to understand the game world and the overall story. Depending on the player’s actions, one of several possible endings may be unlocked –and only by solving all the mysteries can a true alternate ending be found. Trace Memory When Ashley Robbins celebrated her 14th birthday, she certainly did not expect to receive a gift from her father –who was supposed to have died when she was just three years old. The gift, a device called the DTS is uniquely designed to work only for Ashley. Along with this strange contraption is an invitation from her father who tells her to go to “Blood Edward Island”. Thus starts the plot for Trace Memory, a deeply moving mystery solving game that places players in the heart of a mysterious island, accompanied only by a ghost with no memories and faced with puzzles every step of the way. The stylus controls both movement and puzzle solving so expect to be using the touch screen a lot. AS with all mystery games, Trace Memory’s intricate storyline will only reveal its greatest secrets to the most inquisitive of players.

Touch Gaming: Our Top Nintendo DS Touch Screen Titles The Nintendo DS’ biggest feature is the use of a touch screen along with a regular screen. This dual screen gaming handheld has opened up quite a lot of doors in terms of game development and its vast array of titles features some of the most innovative uses of the touch screen user input. Here are our top three favorite touch screen heavy games. Knights in the Nightmare Combine a deep storyline with amazing fairytale book artwork and an innovative gameplay approach to tactical RPGs and you have got Knights in the Nightmare. This Atlus made “strategy-shooter” is the first of its kind. Making use of the touch screen, players must navigate their cursor across a bullet-hell of magic bolts and energy wave attacks as they zip through the full menu and unleash their own powerful magics and attacks. Tactics, fast reflexes and quick wit will help players win through the toughest of battles. The story is pretty intensive –players take control of the soul of King Wilmgard, and together with Maria, mysterious Valkyrie, the two try to unravel the mysteries surrounding them. 66 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney The first of the Phoenix Wright series of games, Ace Attorney places players in control of Phoenix Wright, a young attorney who finds himself handling the oddest of cases. Much of the gameplay takes part in the touch screen menu. There, players much study various pieces of evidence in order to help solve crimes and win their cases in the court. The touch screen menu handles most of the dialogue selection and logic based puzzles that will progress players through the game. The story is well written and divided into several inter-linked chapters that build up into a single climactic final act. Those who fall in love with this game will be happy to know that there are also other titles in the Phoenix Wright series that offer a similar gameplay experience –with the exception of the Miles Edgeworth title that focuses more on the investigation part as opposed to the court case. Nintendogs Now this one is a no brainer. When you have got a several cute puppies on screen at the same time, it is nearly impossible to not try and touch them. This is where the power of the touch screen truly shines. With the stylus, players can pet, stroke and poke their virtual pet puppies to their hearts content. This is also how you manage feeding and grooming them as well. The use of the touch screen in the game is intensive with many of the tricks to be learned requiring you to give gentle nudges on the screen. Walking the dog also requires you to be attentive with the way you “hold the leash”. Overall, it is a very engaging experience. And whether you are tossing a Frisbee, guiding a dog through an obstacle or simply petting your pup for a job well done, it is hard to deny that much of Nintendog’s charm comes from the virtual interaction that you have with your pet.

A Last Look at Gaming on the Nintendo DS It will not be long before Japanese game giant Nintendo announces that the production of the NDS handheld game console will finally cease. Initial estimates are saying this could happen sometime around 2012, though some insist that the device will still be in production until 2013. Regardless, the Nintendo DS has taken hold of the handheld gaming industry ever since it first came out last 2004 and has never let go since. Naturally, a game system’s true strength lies in its games and the NDS’ game library caters to the whole palette of gamers from super casual to the almost deeply hardcore. Titles range from the as-expected Nintendo lineup of favorites such as Metroid, Super 67 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Mario and Star Fox, and a few new additions such as Animal Crossing. From third party developers, there are plenty of point and click adventures such as Trace Memory, Phoenix Wright, Professor Layton and several others. A new innovation is the touch-reliant gaming genre, which introduced titles such as The World Ends with You, Knights in the Nightmare and Rub Rabbits –titles whole gameplay factor relied heavily on the touch screen controls. Of course, the user input method was also encouraging for the development of many strategy games such as Advance Wars, FF Tactics Advance DS and many more. Between all these titles are a deluge of music games like Rock Band and Ouendan. As well as plenty of innovative and off-beat titles such as Brain Age, Love Plus, Hotel Dusk and so much more. Nintendo knew that with its unique dual-screen approach, they would start a new trend in the gaming industry –and they did. The choice to be innovative with the system came with the development of better resistive touch screen technology. Back in 2003 to 2004 (the development period for the DS), capacitive touch screens were pretty much unheard of, let alone multi touch capabilities. For its time, the DS’ stylus based gaming opened up plenty of doors for game makers. For some, it was Nintendo’s courage to double up the screen which made the DS truly shine. Aside from the touch screen between the cursor pad and the buttons, the flip lid has a regular screen –allowing games to display two completely different visuals at the same time. Some games used this feature minimally –using the secondary screen as a map or inventory window. Others use it as an integral part of the game, where players control aspects of the two screens at the same time. On its own the DS also served a few other purposes. The device can be used as a desk clock complete with its own alarm –not quite the best use for it, but you can if you want to. And the built in Pictochat feature allows you to communicate with drawn images with other DS users. It sounds silly, but you could lose a good couple of hours just having fun with it. Our personal favorite however, is the GBA backwards compatibility feature. You can simply plug in a GBA cart in the bottom of the device and the main system menu of the DS will offer you a choice of choosing which game to boot. The new 3DS is offering just as much as the NDS (except the backwards compatibility bit) and offers many new features. But with the NDS’ already established gaming library, and the fact that it is already in the hands of over 50 million gamers worldwide, means that it will be a long time before this Nintendo handheld legend fades away.

Moving on From Your DS to the 3DS 68 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

When it comes to gadgets and technology in general, upgrading is a part of life. That time when you move from one version to the next is simply a matter of when. But this does not necessarily entail that you purchase the latest piece of tech the moment it arrives on your store shelves. There are many important factors to consider before knowing it is time to move on, and when it comes to the Nintendo 3DS, you need to remember a few important things before finally retiring your older DS. The Nintendo DS is a very impressive piece of hardware; it dominated the handheld gaming industry for more than half a decade and has a vast library of games. What makes the 3DS so promising is the fact that besides its own lineup of 3D game titles and high end hardware specifications, it has complete backwards compatibility support for all DS game cartridges and a limited degree of support for DSiWare (which factors in region locking and the requirement of a GBA port). First factor: your GBA library. Simply put, even if you can play all your DS games on the 3DS, the same cannot be said for your GBA titles. If you have been a big fan of portable gaming for a long time, chances are, you would have a pretty decent sized library of GBA cartridges. Having the DS around will still allow you to access these classics. Some would argue that the 3DS has its own virtual console for emulating older GB titles – which is true, but this completely forgets the fact that your physical library of games will not be useable on the new system. Nor will you be able to port the game save files on your cartridges. Second: Portability. Now, we do not question the 3DS’ viability as a portable gaming system. It is light and easy to carry around. But when you do not plan on playing a 3DS game when you go out, then the original DS should be more than enough. Also, the inherent 3D factor of 3DS titles often require you to be sitting still to get the full effect – whereas you can easily play a DS game while strolling down a shopping aisle. Having the DS around will leave you with more gaming options to choose from. Lastly: Battery Life. A 3DS, on a full charge, will only last for about 8 hours at most when running a DS game and about 5 hours for a 3DS title. The oldest DS will give you a full 10 hours of game time while the newer DSi and DSi XL systems provide between 14 to 17 hours of playtime. While the 3DS would be good for a quick errand out, the DS fares far better for long road trip across state lines. But is there a reason to own both? Right now, unless there is already an existing 3DS game that you really want to play, then no. Owning a DS is more than sufficient. In the coming months, more 3DS titles will be launched which means there might be one or two titles you would find impossible to pass up. See the top 3 gaming headsets reviewed on this page... Customer reviews reveal about everything you need to know! Get the best gaming headset at the best price! 69 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

70 Review the best gaming headsets © All Rights Reserved – Neil Brooks

Top Gaming Systems - What You Need to Know to Make Gaming More Fun  

You'll learn simple fixes, tips, and see highly recommended games for gaming systems such as the Wii, Playstation 3, Playstation Portable, X...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you