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I S S U E 6 6 / Vo l . 6 December 2014

w w w. g a m e c c a m ag . c o m

Far Cry 4 Assassin’s Creed Unity Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare LittleBigPlanet 3 LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Dragon Age: Inquisition and more...

Seeking Truth

We interrogate Dragon Age: Inquisition

Where the Air is Clear Far Cry 4 explored

Funny, Man We interview SA’s favourite geek-comedian

Tytanic!

Asus’ ROG G30 reviewed

Mad Dash! The Crew makes the car your character...

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H OW O

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Gold Award

Given to games and hardware that score above 90

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Silver Award

Given to games and hardware that score above 85

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Bronze Award

Given to games and hardware that score above 80

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Ed’s Choice

Given to products that stand out for various reasons. This award is not dependent on score.


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nd so the final year of 2014 has begun, and everyone is gearing up for a welldeserved rest – and presumably some good gaming. It certainly is on my list; there are so many great games out there that I have barely managed to properly look at this year, and I intend to do a lot of catching up. It’s something that happens when you do what I do. There is no way that I could get through all the games released in a year. Reviewing games is a little different from playing them (although playing them is obviously part of the reviewing process, but I am not going to go into that right now). In addition, we need to spread things around. The Gamecca Crew also reviews titles (as much as I would love to hog them all for myself). So, at the end of each year, I have a list of games to get through during the quieter period. I seldom get through all of them, because the months I would need to do so simply aren’t available. But I do get through my top-of-thelist titles, and it serves as a wonderful recharging session for remembering how much I love games (one can forget that when games become work, even though I am sure I can’t convince too many of you of that). It also serves as a reminder of what I look for in a game.

From the Editor

ForFun by Walt Pretorius

During the reviewing process, one tends to pick apart varied aspects of each game and look at them individually, and then how they tie into the whole. But when I simply play games, there really is only one factor that is important to me… fun. Am I having fun? If the answer is yes, then I carry on, regardless of the aforementioned individual aspects. It is the magical element that ties everything together, and really is what games are meant to be. Fun. Maybe it stems from the fact that I have been a gamer for more than three decades now. The first games I played needed to deliver tons of fun, because they didn’t have the graphics, high end hardware, complex narratives and all the other stuff that make modern video games virtual miracles. Then again, it might just be because I need to relax, and unplug the critic circuit for a while. Whatever it is, I have a lot of gaming (for fun) to get to this month. I cannot wait. Before I get to that, though, I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Gamecca Crew, to wish you and your loved ones a safe and truly awesome Festive Season. Take it easy, relax, recharge and enjoy all the gaming! Right, time for you to get to reading this full issue… and for me to get to the fun. g

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THIS MONTH’S COVER

uBISOFT TAKES TO THE ROAD WITH tHE cREW...

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Regular: Did you know mORE FACTOIDS FROM THE GAMING INDUSTRY

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Feature: rACING rEDEFINED The Crew turns your car into a character

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Reviews: Games 15 games under the microscope

Publisher / Editor: Walt Pretorius walt@1337-media.com

Publisher / Art Director Katia Taliadoros Katia@1337-media.com

Writers: Alex Scanlon Charlie Fripp Lein Baart Nthato Morakabi Rob Edwards Suvesh Arumugam Walt Pretorius

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Regular: Legacy Why Monkey Island mattered...

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Column: Ramjet’s Rantality A little forgiveness goes a long way

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Feature: Sci-Fi Now 2014’s tech marvels

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reviews: Hardware Three awesome items

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Marketing Contact:

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Regular: Internet The new customer protests...

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Regular: Security WiFi travelling woes

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Column: Technically Speaking Any good?

Copyright © 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2014

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Taking fun seriously! All rights reserved. No content may be reproduced, copied or transmitted without the express permission of the publishers. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the editors and publishers. All Trademarks and Registered Trademarks are the sole property of the respective owners.

GAMECCA is published by 1337 MEDIA

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Interview: Funny, Man... Chatting to Vittorio Leonardi

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COOL STUFF Three board games to explore

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Column: The Time Betwixt Do scores really matter?

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Gadgets Five gadgets full of cool

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COOL STUFF Four Comics to look out for

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Far Cry 4

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LittleBigPlanet 3

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Gamecca Vol. 6 Issue 66 dECEMBER 2014

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Assassin’s Creed: Unity

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“Far Cry 4 is a game that every video game fan should play. It truly is exceptional, and is – without a doubt – one of the finest games we have seen since the release of the current generation of consoles.”


Features 14

Racing Redefined

Reviews 18 24 30 36 40 46 48 54 56 60 64 68 70 74 78

Assassin’s Creed: Unity Dragon Age: Inquisition Far Cry 4 Halo: Master Chief Collection Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Volgarr the Viking LittleBigPlanet 3 Rugby 15 Assassin’s Creed: Rogue WWE 2K15 LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Steamworld Dig Skylanders: Trap Team Grand Theft Auto V Farming Simulator 15

RegularS 10 80

Did you know Legacy

COLUMN 84

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Ramjet’s Rantality

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1…

that gamers will get the first Assassin’s Creed Unity DLC for free? Assassin’s Creed Unity was one of the most anticipated games of the year, and while it lived up to expectations in some form or manner, it had its fair share of problems. The biggest issues that people experienced was clipping through the floor and framerates. For that Ubisoft issued an apology, and said that the game’s first DLC, Dead Kings, will be made available to everyone for free.

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that you can download Worms Battleground for free? Microsoft’s Games with Gold initiative is an excellent way for gamers to supplement their gaming library with some monthly free titles. While the games in the past have been a bit shaky, Xbox One players will this month receive the really cool Worms Battleground for free. Xbox 360 users will be given the opportunity to download The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief from 1st December until the 15th, which will then be replaced by the snowboarding title SSX from the 16th.

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that Activision doesn’t like it if you exploit a game? We have seen this in many games: you find a loophole and you exploit it for all that its worth so that you get money faster or you level your character up at a blistering pace. Well, while Bungie jumped on the patching wagon for Destiny, Activision has followed suit for the latest Call of Duty game. A number of videos have popped up on YouTube detailing how to make use of exploits, and Activision swifty asked the service to remove those. The studio has been issuing copyright notices on videos showing Call of Duty glitches.

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Did You

Know?

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DID YOU KNOW

Unity, Advanced Warfare, Dark Souls and worms...

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that GTA V is the best-selling game in the UK ever? Its wasn’t really a surprise when the latest GTA game hit the selves last year, but what is somewhat surprising is the fact that the crime shooter has raced its way up the charts. To say that the game is hugelypopular is a bit of an understatement, but by selling £94m upon its original launch last year in the first week, it is now officially the best-selling game in the UK ever.

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that (unsurprisingly) there is a new Need for Speed title on its way? Next to the Xbox-only Forza franchise, Need for Speed is probably one of the biggest racing franchises that spans multiple consoles. The series seems to be adding a new title every year, and next year is going to be no different – but with a twist. EA has announced Need for Speed: No Limits, but the game is not coming to consoles or PC, but will rather launch on iPhones, iPads and Android devices. No solid release date has been given other than 2015, and is being developed by Firemonkeys.

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that Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin is coming to Xbox One? Dark Souls is one of those games that are notoriously difficult to play. But yet, gamers love to put themselves in harm’s way, over and over again. To further torture gamers, Bandai Namco has announced that Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin will be coming to current generation consoles. The game will include the original game, the three Dark Souls 2 DLC adventures dubbed the Lost Crown Trilogy, plus a number of new features and enhancements.... g

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E

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Ubisoft treads new ground with The C

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RACING REDEFINED

Redefined

Crew

by Lein Baart

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he latest generation of consoles have brought about some startling changes in game development, and first and foremost multiplayer appears to be the “in thing” in the industry at the moment. Although online gaming has been in existence since before the days of the 56k modem, recent times have seen an ever-growing shift in the direction of melded gameplay, in which single-player and multiplayer no longer exist as separate entities. The MMO approach to online is slowly becoming the norm, and with everything from shooters to action-adventures rushing to remould their genre by including seamless multiplayer, it’s no surprise that racing games are hot on their heels. While we’ve already seen the likes of DriveClub this year, which featured a more traditional multiplayer

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component, Ivory Tower’s debut title The Crew has been garnering a lot of attention since its showing at E3 2013, promising to bring the genre into the new age of gaming. In what Ivory Tower and Ubisoft are calling a MMOarcade racer, The Crew is set to be a persistent openworld racing title which will see players travel the entire length and breadth of the United States of America, taking part in races, challenges and events either by themselves or with their crew. This might seem like a massive undertaking for a first-time developer, but the French-based Ivory Tower is composed of a sizable portion of former Eden Games developers, the studio responsible for revolutionary Test Drive Unlimited. Released in 2006, TDU was a title that “layered” the online component over the single-player game,

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RACING REDEFINED

allowing players to form clubs to race in all the events of the game as well as compete in races and playerset challenges. Wanting to do more than just a sequel though (which Test Drive Unlimited did eventually get), the founders of Ivory Tower broke away shortly after the release of the original and immediately set their sights on creating a game that would not only build upon the foundations that TDU laid, but present something completely new to the genre. It wasn’t until Ubisoft came on board however that The Crew really began to take shape, and with the input of Ubisoft Reflections, the studio behind the Driver franchise, the publisher greenlit the project in 2009. The result is a title that looks to be hugely ambitious in every way. While The Crew will actually feature a single-player campaign (inspired by narrative

heavyweights such as Fast and Furious and Point Break), like most MMO’s this will serve only as an excuse to allow players to jump into the game’s online offerings. In fact, this isn’t the only element that The Crew is lifting from usual MMORPG formula. Players will gain levels through competing in events, form parties known as crews, loot will come in the form of car customisations and each car will have a different spec (read class) that can be changed on the fly, allowing players to drastically alter the way the car drives as the situation demands. To call the game a full RPG is perhaps stretching the truth a little too far, but there is definitely some credibility to creative director Julian Gerighty’s statement that the game is a “MMORPG where your character is the car.” The game will also be entirely open-world, and gamers will be free

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to explore the whole of the US from border to border, though it will only take players roughly an hour to travel from the east coast to the west coast. More than just racing, The Crew will offer gamers a variety of mission types including takedowns and getaways, along with various challenges such as reaching a point without taking any damage. In all honesty, none of these events look to be particularly original by themselves, however given the online nature of the game you can expect everything to take a radically different approach when compared previous racers. Beyond the novelty of an MMO-racer however lies the world in which all the action will take place, and it is here the that The Crew truly impresses. With roughly 5000km2 of territory to play in, along with six major cities and countless smaller towns, there

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should be no shortage of new sights to explore. New York City alone will be nearly equal to the size of GTA 4’s Liberty City, and that makes up only a fraction of the world. If this wasn’t extraordinary enough, the game promises terrains varying from snow covered mountains to dusty deserts, and each city will have its own distinct look and style. To top it off The Crew boasts no loading times whatsoever, so you can switch from Las Vegas to Detroit to Miami at a moment’s notice at any point in the game, as from the get go no sections of the map will be locked off. While blending MMO and open-world racing might be the selling point of the game, the true test of any racing title will lie in the cars it has on offer and the mechanics that power them. The exact number of cars that The Crew will feature have been difficult

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to pin down, with Gerighty having stated that it will be “extremely similar to a ‘Need for Speed’ game”, and all the vehicles will be fully licenced, so expect to see Lamborghinis, Chevrolets and Ferraris tearing up dirt and tarmac next to you. Ubisoft have also promised additional cars will be released via content updates, so chances are the number will swell fairly rapidly post-launch. This is even before individual customisation comes into the picture however, and with six specs per car each containing 20 different parts to chop and change, variety on the road is not going to be a problem. More than just aesthetically pleasing though, customisation will form a key part of the gameplay, as there will be plenty of off-roading on offer, with specs designed to adapt the handling and feel of a car for each environment. Don’t anticipate

calamity should you not tinker under the hood every five seconds however, as The Crew will fit firmly in the arcade racer category, so worries such as damage affecting performance and engine blowouts need not be entertained. Simply put, The Crew is aspiring to redefine the racing genre, to fundamentally change what we think a racing title should be. There is staggering amount of content on offer in the game, and if Ivory Tower and Ubisoft’s promises hold true, this will be a title that will see you lose days of your life in high-octane, pixelated glory. There will be a lot that The Crew needs to carefully balance in order for its potential to truly be reached, but as it stands, there should be more than enough for anyone even casually interested in racing to get excited about. g

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Assassin’s C Unity GAMING

One wrong step…

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Assassin’s Creed: Unity

Creed:

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am going to get this out of the way: if you haven’t heard all about the bugs in Assassin’s Creed: Unity yet, you’re probably living under a rock. The Internet has, in gaming circles, been aflame with complaints and criticism aimed at Ubisoft for releasing a game that is plagued by numerous glitches and serious errors. Perhaps the vehement vitriol comes from a different place, though – releasing a title in a buggy state is not like Ubisoft at all. But the truth is that these bugs can be almost ruinous from time to time. Spending time painstakingly sneaking past guards and stealthing towards a goal can be wasted when the game decides to have you fall through the world or get hung up inside a wall. And they can crop up without warning, making for a potentially extremely frustrating experience. Bugs and glitches, however, can be fixed, and it is perhaps prudent to take a look at how Unity works, when it does work (based on the fact that Ubisoft are feverishly working on solving every problem in one of their biggest releases this year). Unity presents that player with a massive playground. Revolutionary Paris is massive, and it comes with personality. Several, in fact – traversing the city will show the nature of the different areas beautifully, from gilded palaces to back-street slums. The transitions between the areas aren’t jarring, either, creating a believable urban flow. Moving through the city has its ups and downs, quite literally. The player’s character (and the new AC lead) Arno is adept at movement, thanks to a new traversal system that Ubisoft have worked into Unity. The player can select either up or downward movement (which makes getting down from high places without a leap of faith a much simpler, safer prospect) but this also

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means that the player will have to get used to some new control ideas. In addition, sticking to the rooftops as much as possible is often the best bet for speedy travel, because the Paris of Unity is really crowded. There are more NPCs on the ground than you could shake a stick at. It creates a beautifully vibrant setting, but they can get in the way during a mad dash. And the old movement problem of the character hooking up on the wrong thing or climbing when you don’t want him too is back… well, actually, it never left. This can lead to frustration, particularly when precision movement is required. This playground is rich with activities, providing the player a ton of stuff to get up to besides the main story plot. And that’s a good thing, because the main plot is a little lacklustre. It’s a revenge tale, by and large, and it seems much less grand and sweeping than the tale told by the likes of Assassin’s Creed 2. Arno, as well, feels flat when compared to characters like Ezio or Black Flag’s Edward Kenway (although he beats AC3’s Connor hands down). He isn’t particularly likeable, and the player’s investment in him becomes a matter of time spent upgrading the character, rather than giving a damn about his motivations. Yes, that’s right, Unity has an upgrading system, complete with unlockable skills and tons of upgradable equipment. New equipment is bought with cash, which is earned in various ways, while upgrades are bought with experience earned for doing Assassin type stuff, like disappearing from sight, aerial assassinations and using inventive traversal methods. While it is unlikely that you’ll get hold of every piece of equipment, finding the right bits for your play style and upgrading them shouldn’t prove too taxing. gamecca66


Assassin’s Creed: Unity

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Assassin’s Creed: Unity

GENRE PLATFORMS

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

18+ ACCESSIBILITY Hard-Core Medium Casual

Score

79

AT A GLANCE

PARENTAL ADVISORY

REVIEWED ON

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

by Walt Pretorius

Despite numerous glitches and bugs, as well as a few older problems cropping up again, Unity can provide many hours of enjoyment.

Ubisoft Ubisoft Megarom

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Action adventure

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Arno dispatch an enemy rather swiftly, as long as the player keeps their timing good and maintains their wits. It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed in Unity – much more so than the previous two titles. But after a few upgrades and equipment purchases, Arno becomes a real bad ass. Assassin’s Creed: Unity might easily have been the best Assassin’s Creed game to date. It has all the elements that are required: a massive, intriguing setting, tons to do, great traversal systems, free assassination mission, character upgrading and a well-reworked control scheme. But it also has a less-than-stellar plot, an uninspiring main character, the same movement issues and, of course, a truckload of bugs and glitches. This last problem can (and undoubtedly will) be fixed by Ubisoft before too long. But some of the other issues are becoming solidified in the series, and the developers need to address them before They become too damaging to the franchise. Still, when it works, Assassin’s Creed: Unity is a very enjoyable game to mess about with, and it will keep more forgiving players going for a good long time – particularly if they take advantage of the new multiplayer ideas. But you will need to be prepared for a lot of sizeable patches in the near future as Ubisoft try to undo the damage that has already been done by all the bad press the game has been getting. Knowing them, the next Assassin’s Creed title will be a massive improvement. Let’s just hope that the franchise hasn’t been marred too deeply, and that this unusual faux pas on Ubisoft’s part remains the exception rather than the rule. g

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And that’s a sweet aspect of Unity. It lets the player play to their strengths. While the game occasionally shoe-horns the player into a particular play style – generally a stealthy one – it does open up the main assassination missions which complete every memory sequence rather nicely. That’s been a niggle for a while, but Unity addresses it well. The player can, for example, decide on a stealthy approach, based on options available in each particular mission, or can decide on a riskier fullfrontal assault. Or anything in-between, really. It is this freedom in main missions that is one of the better aspects of Unity. Combined with a rich setting and side-quests that range from Parisian urban legends through toi murder investigations, there really is a lot to get on with. Added to all of this is a set of co-op missions that are great fun to play, and require a good level of player co-operation to get right (because if just one party member dies, the mission is a failure). There are also co-op heists which can pad the character’s bank account nicely, but they too require players working closely together. Visually, the game is breath-taking. While initially it doesn’t look quite nextgen, closer inspection reveals that the game’s visual style is what’s behind it’s softer look, rather than poor coding or system incapability. It features massive views of the setting when synchronising, and the detail that goes in on ground level is so fine that you can almost smell the stench of the city. The controls offer a new take on things too, with the player being less able to rely on the counter-kill system that cropped up in AC3. That said, a welltimed counter can see

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Dragon Age: Inquisition

GAMING

Back to the dragon’s lair

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Dragon Age: Inquisition

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Dragon Age: Inquisition, as there were many rumours that the third game would be returning to its original roots. Given my experience of the two, I wasn’t exactly thrilled – until I played Inquisition. You take up arms as a user-created character that has the power to close dangerous rifts in the world. Theses rifts spawn incredible demons that terrorise the countryside, and it will be up to you and a band of merry men to save the land. Well, they might be merry now, but when they first discover you they are rather hostile. See, you were the only survivor of a rift battle in which hundreds of others died. So naturally in the time of lore and magic, it is your fault that they died. As mentioned, just as with the previous Dragon Age title, you have the ability to create your own character,

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have to admit that I never really got into the first Dragon Age title. Actually, I never knew about the franchise until Dragon Age 2 came around. I kind of did the same thing I did with Assassin’s Creed: played the second game first upon release, and then played the first game after that. The same was my approach with Dragon Age – I really got into, and enjoyed, the second game, and afterwards decided to play the first Origins title. But with that said, I never really got anywhere with the original DA. I’m not entirely sure why, but a lot of people told me that there is a huge difference in the way the two games handled dynamics aspects. It could have been this difference that put me off the first one. With that in mind, I was somewhat sceptical to play

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Dragon Age: Inquisition

changing and modifying almost every aspect of his or her facial appearance. You can also choose whether you want to be a human, elf, Dwarf or Quinari. But just a word of warning: the graphics in the character creator mode are somewhat different to that of the cut scenes. I found myself painstakingly creating a character for almost 30 minute, get to a cut scene and I go “Ugh, that is my character?” I decided to start a new game and design a new character, only to realise in the same cut scene that I forgot to change her eyebrows from Wildman bushy to neatly maintained. But starting over for a third time was actually a blessing in disguise. When you log on to EA’s DragonAgeKeep. com, you can import your original Dragon Age and Dragon Age 2 plot choices into Inquisition’s World State. But the choices only come into effect when you

start a new game – so there was that. I have to admit that when I ran through the choice that I made in DA2, I couldn’t remember much of the title, let alone the plot. Sure, some of the characters and place names did sound familiar, and I do remember finishing the last boss twice (to make different decisions and to see the alternate ending) but that is about as far as it went. So in terms of the gameplay, it all seemed about the same to me, regardless for the fact that the developers said that they would be going back to the game’s original fighting mechanics and gameplay. It’s all very basic, really. On the console version, all you have to do to attack someone (or something) with your main weapon of choice is to pull the right trigger – that is it. It’s all like Diablo 3 really, just that it is not the X

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But don’t expect to be doing a lot of damage in the beginning of the game. I think it’s actually one of the main reasons why I struggled to get into Inquisition initially, as I felt that I wasn’t doing enough damage to really make an impact. You travel the world with three other party members, and I felt more like an observer than a truly fearsome fighter. If you have played Dragon Age 2, you will see some familiar faces in the party and in the plot lines every now and again – which is a nice treat. Speaking of the world, just as with the previous one, you have the opportunity to explore the countryside while not on a mission. Well, you can do it during a mission, but to me it felt like I wasn’t focussed enough on the mission at hand. During exploration, you can come across many different

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button. To execute a special power, heavy attack or to use some extra fire power, all you need to do is press the corresponding face button. As the game progresses, you will unlock more abilities which will spill over to another selection menu. To access that in battle, you need to pull the left trigger and then press the corresponding button. True to any RPG game, you have certain skill trees that you can flesh out to give you added powers and special abilities in battle. From here, you luckily aren’t limited to one tree at a time, as you can distribute your skill points across four trees as you see fit. Trees are made up of passive abilities, which remain activated and cost no mana, and active abilities that need to be manually engaged and cost mana to cast.

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it should be. The only problem that I had with it was that I just struggled to truly get into the swing of things, but once you get better powers, weapons and abilities, it means serious business. That, and that your character takes a bit too long to come out of its combat stance once something is engaged. Sometime you might want to retreat a little, and if they are still in combat mode, they shuffle along rather slowly. If you have played a previous Dragon Age, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t get the game. The combat system easy to handle, everything is thoroughly explained and it ties in with the previous games. In comparison to the rest of the franchise, it fits in there perfectly. g

AT A GLANCE GENRE

RPG Adventure

REVIEWED ON

x0

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

BioWare EA EA South Africa

PARENTAL ADVISORY

16+ gamecca66

PLATFORMS

It’s more of the same, and it’s pretty good.

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

ACCESSIBILITY

Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

88 29

by Charlie Fripp

types of enemies and a true plethora of things to do. It might actually be one of the downsides of the huge world, as there are so many side quests to entertain that you might not know if you are Arthur, Martha or Dave. With that said, prepare for a long sitting. Dragon Age Inquisition isn’t one of those title that you sit through over a weekend. It’s incredibly long with a main-mission only game time of around 60 hours. That is incredible value for money in a game development era where more often than not titles last around 10 to 12 hours. It’s not the prettiest of game, although there are recent titles that look far worse, but Dragon Age Inquisition is a great title for those who are into fantasy, RGP or just enjoy really long plot lines. There is a ton of things to do and the battles are difficult but rewarding - just the way


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Far Cry 4

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Climbing to new heights

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Far Cry 4

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A

player’s playground. Myriad wild beasts roam the landscape, from docile deer and mountain goats through to ravenous tigers and bears… even Asian elephants call this digital reality their home. But Kyrat has problem, even if it sounds like a paradise (which, in gaming terms, it is). It is embroiled in a long civil war, with freedom fighters calling themselves the Golden Path battling desperately to unseat the self-proclaimed, despotic king fog Kyrat, Pagan Min. Into this situation strides the player’s alterego, Ajay Ghale, returning to Kyrat for the first time since he was three years old. His mother fled for the United States with him on her hip, but her dying wish was to have her ashes returned to the country of her birth. From the word go, the faeces hits the fan, to quote one of the titles lines of dialogue. Ajay is thrust into the struggle between the government and the Golden Path,

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crisp breeze from the towering peaks of the Himalayas wafts across the wooded grasslands, mixing the sharp chill with fragrant perfumes that remind you of exotic dreams. The sun peaks over the elevated horizon, playing across the tranquil waters of a lake, while in its golden beams an eagle wheels languidly overhead. In the distance, the sounds of conversations mingle with the chatter of birds and the calls of wildlife. It’s a beautiful scene, reminding one that life is a precious thing. But, right now, none of that matters… because you’re being chased by a pissed-off rhinoceros. Far Cry 4 transports the player to the land of Kyrat, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. It is wild, vertiginous country, full of cliffs and forests clinging to the hills and valleys that make up the

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the members of whom revere him because his parents were the movement’s founders. And as the action kicks in, the freedom and chaos that is Far Cry 4 swings into full effect. The true joy of this game stems directly from its massive setting. Kyrat is a big playground, full of rich details and discoverable nooks and crannies. While the underpinning narrative is that of the struggle for freedom, there are numerous sub and side plots doing the rounds, too. These include the hunt for a mask obsessed serial killer, and Ajay’s quest to help Kyrat’s top (only, probably) fashion designer prepare his collection. Aside from subplots, there are a ton of quests to perform, ranging from hunting related (collecting food or eradicating problematic animals) to hostage rescues and assassinations. More flippant quests, like racing, also abound, and the player

will often stumble across chance encounters that will earn him Karma, one of the game’s methods of character progression. Populating this land are a cast of very memorable characters, and none is more so than Pagan Min. Superbly voiced by Troy Baker, Min is one of the most entertaining aspects of the game. It’s sad that we don’t get to see more of this sociopathic, sadistic despot, because Pagan’s dialogue is one of Far Cry 4’s true gems. Other characters are also beautifully handled, and people like the pirate radio station Rabi “Ray” Rana provide immense amounts of entertainment. By comparison, Ajay seems flat and dull, and there is little reason for the player to truly invest in the character, save for the fact that they are in control of his life altering journey (one of the franchise’s mainstay aspects). Still, it doesn’t really

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approaches to combat, but has also ramped up some ideas from Far Cry 3. New enemy types, like the Hunter, will have the player guessing. Using bait to attract wild animals into an enemy encampment works pretty well, but the Hunter can charm those animals, creating new problems for the player. It is all about freedom, once again, and the player is given more than enough rope here. Speaking of rope, traversing Kyrat is part of the fun. The hilly and mountainous terrain can make getting about challenging, even in a vehicle (which, by the way, now includes driving and shooting at the same time, at last). The player gets access to a grappling hook, though, which makes scaling cliffs easier, as well as a gyrocopter, which gets them about via the air rather nicely. And then there’s the wing suit, which is handy for getting around and

GAMING

matter. There is so much fun to be had in Kyrat that even a cardboard cut-out would have sufficed. A massive aspect of Far Cry 4 is, obviously, combat, and there is plenty of it to be found. Whether it’s a chance encounter with Royal Army troops by the roadside, or an assault on a stronghold, Far Cry 4 offers action in spades. There are a host of weapons to choose from, including stealthy options and guns-blazing alternatives. Most can be modified, too, if you have the cash. The combat can get truly chaotic. A firefight is already tricky, thanks to a pretty decent AI, but when, for example, a rhino suddenly shows up and starts tossing bodies left and right in th e middle of a pitched battle, things can get truly crazy. The game allows the player to take on numerous

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creator, for those that are feeling particularly creative. With all the big name titles that Ubisoft brought out this year, Far Cry 4 is the pinnacle. It is a truly great game, resplendent visually and well balanced in terms of dynamics. The real joy here, though, is the absolute freedom that the player is given to make their Far Cry 4 experience exactly what they want it to be, either solo or with friends. That’s gold. Far Cry 4 is a game that every FPS fan – make that every video game fan – should play. It truly is exceptional, and is – without a doubt – one of the finest games we have seen since the release of the current generation of consoles. It shows hard work and dedication on the part of the developers, and will reward everyone who plays it with a huge amount of quality entertainment. g

AT A GLANCE GENRE

First-person Shooter

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Ubisoft Ubisoft Megarom

PARENTAL ADVISORY

18+ gamecca66

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

x360 PLATFORMS

This game is all kinds of crazy fun – without a doubt, one of the best releases in 2014.

REVIEWED ON

ACCESSIBILITY

Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

95 35

by Walt Pretorius

rescuing yourself after big falls – that said, most cliffs in Kyrat can be slid down, so there aren’t too many altitude related cheap deaths. And, in all of that awesomeness, there is character progression. The player earns Karma, as stated before, which gives “goodwill” advantages like discounts. There are experience points, which can be used to acquire new skills. And there is crafting, to increase carrying capacities of weapons and ammo. There is so very much that could be said about this game, but the truth is that the journey of discovery isn’t just Ajay’s – the player has so much to find and accomplish in Far Cry 4 that the experience becomes extremely gratifying. And that’s just single player. It also offers an extremely fun and robust co-op system, as well as extremely competent multiplayer. And it has a map


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Halo Master Chief Collect GAMING

Halo? Is it me you have been lookin

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Halo Master Chief Collection

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its remastered glory with some new multiplayer modes added for pure fun and games. I guess there is no real need to run through all the games individually, but just for a bit of background, the Halo Master Chief Collection is all the Halo games that made the franchise popular, sans the fifth one in the series, which is due to be released at a later stage. So for the price of one game, you actually get four games. Without being evasive about the different titles, if you really want to know what the plots of all four games entail, you should set about 30 minutes aside and jump onto Wikipedia for that. But for the benefit of newcomers I’ll get you the shortest possible account: you play a character called Master Chief, you are the best soldier developed for battle. You have a specialised suit that can do all sorts of things and it is up to you to

GAMING

et’s get one thing out of the way right from the beginning: I have never really been a fan of the Halo franchise. That’s right, get your pitchforks and torches ready, but I never understood the appeal of the series. To set the record straight, I have tried on many occasions to get into the Master Chief swing of things, but couldn’t. The franchise is so popular with many people that it was (and still is) kind of hard to avoid a gaming session with someone suggesting that we play some Halo. So I tried my best to accommodate my fellow Haloinians (did I just make up a word?), but “unfortunately” I don’t own any of the titles any more. So you can just imagine the excitement when Bungie announced that there will be a special pack of all four Halo games crammed into one disc, all in

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a bit of tweaking. The levels are all still the same, but the environment has been giving a real kick in the nether regions and it pops to life. Coming from a person that has never invested more than about two hours into any Halo game before the release of Halo Master Chief Collection, I can honestly say that if you are a fan of the franchise you should definitely get your hands on this one. If you are in two minds on whether you want to sit through four Halo games again, if you have to, get it for the ability to swap between the original graphics and the newly-reworked ones. Oh, and don’t worry about the controls – those have been updated as well to reflect modern shooters, although the original control scheme is still available. g

AT A GLANCE GENRE

First-Person Shooter

REVIEWED ON

x0

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Bungie Microsoft Studio Microsoft

PARENTAL ADVISORY

16+ gamecca66

PLATFORMS

It’s all the Halo games rolled into one.

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

ACCESSIBILITY

Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

75 39

by Charlie Fripp

handle a number of tricky situations in the FPS. While all four games have been bundled into one disc, the best thing about the game is the remastered versions of the older games. Looking back at the original Halo, it is very hard to imagine that anybody would have been pleased with the graphics - but at the time it was pretty decent. What developer Bungie did for the old game is redevelop them to better reflect the capabilities of today, obviously with some limitations. The games are rendered in the current HD resolution, but by hitting the Back button on the controller, you can jump between the original graphics and the remastered ones, on the fly. It truly is eye-opening to see what the original graphics look like, and what the team has done with


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Call of Duty Advanced Wa GAMING

Exploring new heights

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series a much-needed facelift, without compromising the pace and high-degree of action that the series has become known for. In fact, their facelift manages to enhance those areas, turning this game into a Call of Duty title reminiscent of the franchise’s true heyday (around the time that Modern Warfare first hit the shelves). At the core of it all is Sledgehammer’s very clever usage of the game’s biggest star: the exo suit. Set in a future when private military corporations become superpowers in their own right, soldiers in this game are enhanced by wearing an external suit that enables their natural abilities to be amplified, as well as adding a number of other really awesome advantages as well. Armed with an exo suit, the player in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare can jump higher, run faster and hit harder than the

GAMING

he biggest problem with the Call of Duty franchise – as happens with many games that get shoe-horned into a yearly iteration cycle – is that it was starting to feel flat, and attempts made to revitalise the franchise merely weren’t solid enough to make any real impact. The term “copy and paste shooter” was being applied to the series far too often. What it needed was new blood, and it got a very healthy dose of just that in the form of Sledgehammer Games, the new development team behind Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Historically, any development changes to this franchise have been met with grumbling (at the very least) from a dedicated community that has been afraid of sweeping changes. But what Sledgehammer managed to do here was bring in sufficient changes to give the

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average human. Each type of exo suit gives the player three different abilities at a time. These vary between a portable shield, jump boosting, grappling hooks, sonic crowd suppression and more. Each mission will provide the player with the suit that is best suited for the scenario, although it would have been really nice to have some input on that decision – this would have allowed a more variable experience in the single player campaign, and may have warranted a few more play-throughs. In addition to the exo suit, which is upgradable, too, the player gets to use a number of other cool bits of tech. These run the gamut from guns and grenades through to drones and specialised mines. Grenades, for example, come in two varieties. Combat grenades can be adjusted to be frag grenades, smart grenades and more, while utility grenades provide enemy detection, EMP blasts,

flash suppression and that kind of thing. They can be cycled fairly quickly, and once you’re used to the system, they can act as an exceptionally effective set of tools. Weapons, too, come in a variety of flavours, ranging from high cyclic rate SMGs through to energy weapons. Even the various sights and other additions made to these weapons can provide a very different feel but, once again, the player running through the single player campaign won’t have much control over what they get to use, save for what they find on the battlefield. The biggest shortcoming of this title’s single player experience is its plot. While the acting is superb, thanks to the likes of Kevin Spacey, Gideon Emery and Troy Baker. With excellent graphics (there are a few times when you may swear blind that you’re watching live action cut scenes) and great talent behind it, one would

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pivotal to the game’s plot. Hopefully Sledgehammer will take a leaf out of the very first two COD games’ books in that regard for their next outing. Still, it does little to take away from the fact that Sledgehammer managed to create a game here that is fast paced, chaotic and extremely enjoyable, not to mention challenging. And this goes even more so for the multiplayer portion of the game, which is what the majority of players are probably after. The exo suit features strongly here once again, changing up an already generally enjoyable experience. It really brings a solid, new approach to multiplayer, with abilities granted the player that not only makes them tougher to deal with, but also injects a level of unpredictability – chaos, even – into the fray. Where an enemy may have tried to escape you in the past

GAMING

hope for a plot that manages to bring something special to the table. But Advanced Warfare managed to tread on every tested trail along its single player campaign, so much so that it is almost beyond predictable. And that’s a pretty sad state of affairs, given the quality of acting that the cast delivers. Spacey is particularly convincing, but the “good-guyturned-evil-dictator” thing has just been done far too many times. The plot addresses some important issues, but it never does so in a particularly original way. Another niggle is one that is a becoming a constant for the series: linearity. Most of the levels are pretty much A to B, and most of the time that old “follow me” bugbear is in full force. The player, when they’re running around following an NPC, never feels all that

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And for those that find multiplayer intimidating, the game has a very accessible “introductory” mode for newcomers, which is strictly controlled. Get too many kills, and you’re onto the main servers, which is pretty fair. It allows players to get used to the experience without as much frustration. Advanced Warfare hasn’t revolutionised Call of Duty. But it has provided the series with a number of longoverdue fresh elements and approaches that make one hopeful for the future of the franchise. As long as Sledgehammer keep building great ideas into their upcoming COD titles, they may well be able to change the reputation of these popular FPS titles, and we may forget that we ever applied the term “copy and paste” to the series. Here’s hoping that the fresh blood stays fresh. g

AT A GLANCE First-person shooter

A great step in the right direction for a franchise that was dangerously close to becoming stale.

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Sledgehammer Activision Megarom

PARENTAL ADVISORY

18+ gamecca66

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

ACCESSIBILITY

Hard-Core Medium Casual

REVIEWED ON

x360 PLATFORMS

GENRE

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

88 45

by Walt Pretorius

by simply running away, now he could do that (faster than normal), or perform a boost jump to try and get the better of you, or even use a grappling hook to zoom out of harm’s way. It’s brought an amplified level of verticality to things, to mention one factor, that freshens the experience considerably across all the game modes. And the game is pretty generous with gear, too, allowing the player to really customise the way they want to experience the title. All the new tech has a massive impact on the multiplayer experience. What good is camping behind cover if your enemy can throw out a detection grenade and then shoot you through the wall? It’s that kind of thinking, and that kind of freshness, that gives this title a much needed shot in the arm as far as the franchise goes.


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If you like 16-bit platfomers, get this one

Platformer

XO

PLATFORMS

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Crazy Viking Studios Microsoft Microsoft

PARENTAL ADVISORY

6+ gamecca66

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

ACCESSIBILITY Hard-Core Medium Casual

Score

REVIEWED ON

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

GENRE

AT A GLANCE

GAMING Bound of flame

Not as vulgar as it sounds…

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by Charlie Fripp

Volgarr the Viking

f you grew up in the ‘80s and (maybe) in the ‘90s, you might remember the coin-operated arcade machines that seemed to fill almost every shop. As the years went by, the arcade games migrated from the corner café into dedicated shops in malls, filled to the rafters with the flashing lights and whizzing sounds of perceived joy. But the arcade games hid a dark secret: they were notoriously difficult to master. If you think about it, they weren’t really there for your enjoyment, but rather to make the operator of the establishment money. Yet, we kept on feeding the machines our precious coins in the hope that we can beat our last high score. Where is all the going? Well, November’s free Xbox Live game is Volgarr the Viking, and as soon you fire it up on the Xbox One, you might have flash back to the nightmarish times of staring an almost impossible game in the face. You play as the titular Viking character and you are on a quest (there always has to be a quest) of some kind. The thing that makes this one great, is that it has been design in the same style as those arcade game in their 16-bit glory. The game is also very challenging if you haven’t put a finger on an arcade knob in years – which will lead to a lot of frustration. Don’t get us wrong, the game is enjoyable (even if it is just for nostalgic reasons), but at some point it just seems impossible to get anywhere. It’s one of those games where if you get hit one you flicker, get struck again and you die. For a free game, it’s well worth picking up as it is only around 400 or 500 MB big, but don’t expect it to be a walk in the park. If you long for the days of hanging around a grimy game box in the comfort of your own lounge, grab this one. g

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LittleBigPlan GAMING

Getting even more creative‌ 48

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hen the original LittleBigPlanet launched back in 2008 (which is a pretty long time in video game terms) it came to market with a huge rush of top notch titles surrounding it. But Media Molecule’s apparently unassuming platformer brought with it a whole new approach – two, in fact. Firstly, it took physics, and material physics in particular, very seriously. Secondly, it came at a time when user generated content was a watch-word in several industries. But while many UGC driven ideas have fallen by the wayside, LittleBigPlanet has grown up into a smart, sometimes even sophisticated title in the form of LittleBigPlanet 3. The biggest change here – and there are a few – is that the series originator, Media Molecule, was not behind this title. Rather developer Sumo Digital had the daunting task of taking on a title that is part of a franchise sporting many rabid followers, One misstep here could have spelled doom for the series, but Sumo digital have not only stuck to principles instilled by Media Molecule, they have managed to keep all the silly charm of the first two titles intact. Much of this comes from the often strange dialogue delivered by series stalwart Stephen Fry. He is joined by a talented voice cast, including his long time collaborator Hugh Laurie (who is more the Prince Regent from Blackadder than Gregory House in his portrayal of the antagonist, the light bulb-headed Newton). The cast of characters is as off-beat as one would expect from the series, and some of the humour that tey inject into the tale is priceless. But that’s all background –

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one of the biggest changes here is that instead of just one main protagonist, in the form of Sackboy, LittleBigPlanet 3 offers four playable character. In addition to the traditional hero, players will get to control Oddsock (the doglike, fast character who can bound off of walls), Toggle (who can change from very large to very small and back again at will) and Swoop (who flies). Each of these characters has unique strengths and weaknesses. But, strangely, Sum decided to give them very little screen time in the campaign, which lasts a rather paltry eight hours or so. Instead, the bulk of the action goes to Sackboy. Players can feel free to replay levels with any character, of course, which will help unlock all those goodies that are so useful in the level creator, but Sackboy is the real hero here. The game’s story is spread across three main areas, each of which served as a mini-hub within the game, with level, side quests and challenges unique to each one. Each also has a unique look and feel, although the overall design of the game (visually) tends to be more theatrical, more steam punk and much darker than before. The levels themselves feel much less like platform challenges and more like traversal puzzles this time around. It’s a nice change from the break-neck pace that characterised the first two LittleBigPlanet games, and makes this title no less challenging. To augment the puzzling, the player will gain access to a number of new pieces of equipment. These range from a gun that can blow or suck at elements of the levels, to a helmet that attaches to rails, to a pair of boots that provide limited hovering gamecca66


LittleBigPlanet 3

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GAMING

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LittleBigPlanet 3

GENRE

If you’re the creative type,

by Walt Pretorius

LittleBigPlanet 3 will be right up your alley... but don’t get it if you’re

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

7+ ACCESSIBILITY Hard-Core Medium Casual

Score

86

AT A GLANCE

PARENTAL ADVISORY

REVIEWED ON

PLATFORMS

only after a game.

Sumo Digital SCEE Ster Kinekor

gamecca66

Puzzle

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

LittleBigPlanet servers is already available for download, including the levels made by community members for the previous titles. While the single player campaign is a little on the short side and the game does bring a few bugs to the table, the real joy here is in this final aspect of the game. LittleBigPlanet 3 takes level creation to new heights, and even allows players to define elements that were previously set by developers. It is a work that doesn’t only allow creativity to flow freely through it’s intuitive and easy-to-use tool set, but it allows creators the world over to share that creativity with millions of community memebers as well. In short, Media Molecule managed to create something in the UGC space that worked, and worked well – and Sumo Digital have managed to take that formula and improve upon it, refining the ideas and processes to allow even higher levels of creativity to spring forth from users. As such, LittleBigPlanet 3 won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and while the easy-going traversal puzzle nature of the game might seem like a great idea for youngsters, it will be older users who are inclined to be creative who will get the most out of this title. LittleBigPlanet 3 is a creative platform first, and a game second, and those that invest in it for its game component really won’t be getting the biggest bang for their buck. But even those folks should give the addictive level creation system a try… they will likely be surprised and inspired by its power and versatility. And the community will benefit as a result. g

PS4

capabilities and more. These add immeasurably to the puzzling and pace of the levels, and the player will have to sport some pretty quick reactions from time to time to successfully complete the game’s challenges. This isn’t made easier by the controls, though, which feel a little loose. The problem is that sometimes LittleBigPlanet 3 demands very tight control, and the player may find some frustration in getting things just right via the controller. There are also a few bugs that plague the game, but they were fairly few and far between, and nothing that returning to a checkpoint couldn’t fix. LittleBigPlanet 3 is also pretty forgiving, with checkpoints liberally scattered about and numerous lives to keep the player going. The game also has a set of challenge levels. Which largely serve as tutorials for the game’s creation tools. These tools are much freer than before, and can even be used while the action is running to make adjustments to the environment. The challenge levels can prove to be extremely satisfying, too, and help the player get to grips with the new ways in which the level creation system works. And that’s where the real value of LittleBigPlanet 3 lies – the user created content. While it will likely be a smaller percentage of users that end up making levels, there is still a massive LittleBigPlanet UGC community out there. The new tools are powerful, and the player can now build levels with a whopping 16 layers (compared to the three available in LittleBigPlanet 2). In addition, a massive amount of content already uploaded to

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Rugby 15 GAMING

Forgetting the basics

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GENRE

A disappointing

by Lein Baart

title, Rugby 15 is not likely to please even the most

PARENTAL ADVISORY

3+

HB Studios Big Ben Interactive Apex Interactive

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

ACCESSIBILITY Hard-Core Medium Casual

Score

55

AT A GLANCE

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

REVIEWED ON

PLATFORMS

forgiving of fans

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

gamecca66

Sport

PS4

the game features the ability to pass to a specific player, as well as new rucking, kicking and lineout mechanics, but ultimately the disappointing A.I., both for your team and your opponents, frustrates matters. Your teammates will often tear off on odd tangents at unexpected moments, and should you try anything the game doesn’t expect, gaps as wide as Kobus Wiese magically appear, making Rugby 15 a very easy game. Rucks, which require you to wrangle your right analogue to find the perfect angle, are absolute walk-overs even on hard, and you’ll rarely find yourself on defence. Attacking can be frustrating however, as fundamental skills such as running onto the ball, quick throw-ins and fast ball at the breakdown are just plain absent. All this is compounded by the controls, which tend to be both unresponsive and ill-though out. While the game features the ability to perform manoeuvres such as spinning out of tackles and hand-offs, rarely do you feel like you actually were responsible for them. There is a ridiculous amount of functions mapped to the right trigger and analogue, and frequently you’ll find the game confusing your intended action with something plainly moronic. Coupled with the rather poor graphics and audio (the game only features one stadium and the commentary can be laughably wrong), mechanically Rugby 15 is just not up to scratch. To be fair, playing against another person makes the game far more enjoyable and challenging, though the game features no network support and is thus strictly local. There are some genuinely good ideas on offer, in particular the new passing and rucking systems, but ultimately Rugby 15 has a long way to go before it be considered even average. g

Rugby 15

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hen it comes to sports games, rugby titles have fared poorly when compared to their more popular brethren. Releases have been sporadic and mostly average, always lagging behind the likes of FIFA and Madden, and as a result we have yet to see a title that truly encapsulates the greatness of the sport. It’s been two years since Sidhe’s Rugby Championship 2 was launched to polite applause, and now HB Studios, the developers behind Rugby 08 and Rugby World Cup 2011, have decided to once again enter the ring with their latest offering, Rugby 15. To begin with, Rugby 15 certainly looks to have potential (especially if you’re a fan of northern hemisphere teams), as the game is fully licenced for the Pro D2, Top 14, Aviva Premiership and Pro12 competitions, right down the players that make up the squads. This sadly isn’t the case for the southern hemisphere, so if you’re looking to play as the Sharks in the Super 15, you’re going to end up playing as Durban in the Southern 15 competition. National sides do make an appearance, but player names are fictional, though you can choose to customise or create a squad if you’re so inclined. The game doesn’t feature a career mode, but right from the bat you can hop into any competition or friendly, and the main menu does a decent job of getting you into a game quickly. Unfortunately, things go south rapidly once you actually start playing. Rugby is a complicated and intricate sport, and any attempt to capture the various skills and strategies required to play the game is going to be fraught with difficulties, but Rugby 15 fails to get even some of the basics right. HB Studios have tried to improve since their previous offerings, and

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Assassin’s C Rogue GAMING

Out in the cold

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Creed:

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Atlantic, and it is here that its thought-provoking drama unfolds. This isn’t a tale of a good-guy-gone-bad. Instead, it is a careful, nuanced narrative that will raise numerous questions within the minds of those that love the story behind this franchise. It makes it plain that things aren’t quite as black-and-white as other titles would have us believe. Are the Templars really evil? Are the Assassins really a group of heroes operating from the shadows? These questions and more are pointedly addressed by Rogue, and the end of the story will have players feeling a little less certain about their previously held convictions… always a good thing in a franchise that is certainly in need of narrative growth. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the most important tales that Assassin’s Creed has ever told, at least in terms of the series.

GAMING

hile owners of next generation consoles got treated to Assassin’s Creed: Unity (although many would argue the use of the word “treated”) those that are still playing on Xbox 360 and PS3 also have a new fix in the fast expanding AC universe. It comes in the form of Rogue, and it serves to finish the story told in the North American series, which is comprised of Assassin’s Creed 3 and Black Flag. Set between those two games, Rogue tells the story of Shay Cormac, an Irishman who, through the course of the tale, turns his back on the Assassins and joins the Templar order. He eventually hunts the very people who trained him to do so, calling former comrades enemies. And this is where the beauty of Rogue lies – in the story. Rogue takes us to the icy waters of the North

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settlements and making life better for the North American colonists (see, a Templar doing nice stuff). The game also features the naval campaign idea from Black Flag, but mercifully lets the player enjoy it while offline for a change. But neither of these are extremely engaging… if you played Black Flag through, it feels like you’re doing the same (or similar stuff again). With all that said, Rogue is still great fun, and Cormac is, at very least, an interesting character who’s motivations go beyond revenge or greed. His voice may be annoying, but his tale is well crafted and rather important. Those that opted for Unity over Rogue may well want to dust off their old console and take a step backwards in graphic fidelity (even though the game does look good) to experience it. It’s more of the same, but the same is still good. g

AT A GLANCE Action Adventure

While it feels like a reworking of Black Flag, Rogue tells a well-crafted and contextually important tale – a must for fans of the narrative. Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Ubisoft Ubisoft Megarom

PARENTAL ADVISORY

18+ gamecca66

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

ACCESSIBILITY

Hard-Core Medium Casual

REVIEWED ON

x360 PLATFORMS

GENRE

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

79 59

by Walt Pretorius

And that is a good thing because, quite frankly, it is the only freshness that Rogue has to offer. It feels, at times, like a reworking of Black Flag. Same systems, same ideas, same mechanics – it works exactly the same way in which its predecessor did. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because Black Flag was great fun. But the setting feels less rich than that in AC4, and the need for hunting and crafting, as well as naval combat and ship upgrading, seems less urgent. In fact, those that have mastered the counter-kill system from the previous games could finish the 14-odd hour campaign without too much upgrading at all. That removes the need to explore the map to its fullest. And even if you decide to do so from a completionist standpoint, the map feels emptier than it should. The economic system is based on upgrading


E M W A IE G EV R

WWE 2K15 GAMING

A franchise built on pain, glory and

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WWE 2K15

d decades of legends.

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WWE fighters in impressive quality with clean, crisp detail. Fans are dynamic and not too generic, with little things such as signs for the selected fighters showing up to finish the atmosphere and feel of a WWE televised match. Movement is fluid, attacks are realistic and the fights capture what the WWE is all about. A return of the reversal system improves the match dynamics and tactics, however it requires perfect timing and intense anticipation for that right moment while waiting to escape what could be a match ending grapple. The fighting system has been improved, with the continued use of the targeting system, allowing you to hit certain parts of the opponent such as head, neck, legs and body, getting serious damage the more you target it and characters respond accordingly to it. 2K Showcase is the Single Player game mode focussing

GAMING

he tension begins to rise, the crowds chant ecstatically with each passing moment as the fighters engage in the middle of the ring. Fatigue lines their faces, sweat drops glisten with each flashing light, illuminating what must surely be the match of the century. Legends and newcomers face off against one another in an effort to establish their names in the WWE history books, right alongside names like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Brock Lesnar. An entire roster of memorable moments, memorable characters and heart wrenching upsets that have kept World Wrestling Entertainment going for decades and WWE 2K15 captures it all for you. WW2K15 brings to life all the WWE fighters as seen on screen at the moment, as well as Legends past, with a new lighting system and new character models capturing the

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The upcoming wrestling stars of the WWE make their videogame debut in the exclusive Who got NXT game mode. Fighters such as Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, Rusev, Corey Graves and Bo Dallas, get to fight other NXT fighters in gruelling matches, all in an effort to rise from rookie to NXT champion to WWE Superstar. Many more game modes are playable such as the WWE Universe as seen in previous titles in which Rivalries, Stories and Alliances can be created to make your own WWE Universe. Looking past the somewhat lacking graphics seen especially in the cinematic, the repetitive commentators and their old jokes repeated over the decades, WWE 2K15 is perfect for wrestling fans who have enjoyed and still enjoy the thrill of watching their favourite WWE Super Star tackle on the wide roster of fighters both past, current and upcoming. g

AT A GLANCE Fighting – Wrestling

Feel the thrill, emotion, energy and drama of the WWE with the wide roster of fighters, iconic fights between Super Stars and memorable WWE moments. Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Yukes 2K Megarom

PARENTAL ADVISORY

16+ gamecca66

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

ACCESSIBILITY

Hard-Core Medium Casual

REVIEWED ON

x360 PLATFORMS

GENRE

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

75 63

by Nthato Morakabi

on iconic moments in current WWE history. Following the storyline of C.M Punks dramatic fight against John Cena for the WWE title, going against Vince MacMahon for yet another historic moment in the WWE legacy and the enduring fights following as per the televised events. 2K Showcase also features the Historic moment as D-Generation X team member Triple H decides to break from the Tag Team with an attack on Shawn Michaels, and the dramatic scenes and fights between the two icons. Part of the 2K Showcase, is the memorable moments in each of the fights, recreated so you are part of the action. Button prompts activate on the screen when you have triggered an objective and an interactive cinematic displays as part of the fight. Playing through these fights unlocks the video replays from the battles as well as the in-game cinematic from the fights.


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LEGO Batman Beyond Goth GAMING

LEGO in space

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pretty impressive, but the weight of the cast manages to draw the focus of the game away from the titular character often. It should have been called LEGO: Justice League, because that’s what it feels like. With tons of DC characters in the mix, Batman feels like a bit-part player at times. That doesn’t ruin the game, of course, but it does seem odd that the guy who’s name is in the title gets comparatively little screen time. The big change that Beyond Gotham brings to the table comes in the form of suit changes. Heroes have several suits to choose from, each of which change the abilities of the character. Batman, for example, has a detective suit that helps him investigate areas, as well as turn invisible. Robin has a hazard suit that lets him traverse dangerous areas. There are several options for each character, and a large part of solving the traversal puzzles (which are the

GAMING

he stable of LEGO games from Traveller’s Tales just keeps growing. It has visited many well-loved licenses in the past, and it returns to those that prove most popular regularly. And every now and then the developers make a big switch up or massive tweak that changes the way we play LEGO games. But they also stick to certain series stalwarts, so LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham has no shortage of object smashing, building and character swapping. But this isn’t one of the revolutionary LEGO titles. While Beyond Gotham introduces a new idea or two, it doesn’t do anything super-fresh. It is ambitious, though, sporting the largest unlockable character roster of any LEGO game to date. With the rich DC universe to pick and choose from, Traveller’s Tales worked over 150 characters into the game. That’s

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a little too unforgiving in those terms, even though the overall design and challenge of the game takes on the expected LEGO light-heartedness. Aside from the fairly lengthy campaign, there is a lot to do in Beyond Gotham. It offers two large hubs (the Bat Cave and the Watchtower) from where the player can explore, find side quests and generally do all the things you would expect in a LEGO game. And that is, depending on your perspective, another potential problem. Beyond Gotham lacks the freshness that it needs. Aside from the varied suits, it doesn’t bring much new to the table. Considering that the last few LEGO games have been innovative, it is a little disappointing (even though it ties into the ebb and flow of Traveller’s Tales development style). It’s still a lot of fun, though, and is a great choice for the whole family. g

AT A GLANCE RPG Adventure

It has a huge character roster and offers tons to do, but it isn’t really high on the freshness stakes...

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Traveller’s Tales Warner Bros Ster Kinekor

PARENTAL ADVISORY

7+ gamecca66

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

ACCESSIBILITY

Hard-Core Medium Casual

REVIEWED ON

PS3 PLATFORMS

GENRE

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

78 67

by Walt Pretorius

meat and bones of the title) comes down to using the right suit for the job. They’re easy to switch, too, and it makes it feel as though there are even more characters in the game. Beyond Gotham is not without its problems, however. The worst one is that the AI is not all that smart. Supporting characters often get stuck on geometry or act ineffectually overall. That is mitigated by multiplayer, and that is where the true joy in this game lies – co-operative play. Like its predecessors, Beyond Gotham is best when enjoyed with a friend. Another niggle stems from the fact that the game is more finicky than usual for the activation of button prompts. If you need to hit a specific button to do something, you had better be in just the right spot for it. Otherwise you need to move away, and try again. It’s


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Steamworld GAMING

Can you dig it?

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Steamworld Dig

by Rob Edwards

AT A GLANCE GENRE

Platform

REVIEWED ON

A highly addictive and surprisingly freeform platform adventure.

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Image & Form Image & Form Online

PARENTAL ADVISORY

7+ gamecca66

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

PS4 PLATFORMS

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ith a steampunk inspiration and a Wild West flavour, Steamworld Dig is the answer for those who wanted an addictive platformer, but found Spelunky a tad too unforgiving or frustrating. The player assumes the role of Rusty, a robot who inherits his uncle’s mine. The mine is crammed with minerals to be harvested, as well as secrets that help unlock new powers and abilities for Rusty. The joy of Steamworld Dig is that it allows the player to pretty much determine their own path. The levels are mostly solid at the start, and the player need to literally dig their own routes. This freedom of play is great, as it can be tactically employed to the player’s advantage. Harvested resources allow the upgrading of gear, too, including Rusty’s pickaxe and lantern. The game is pretty forgiving, too – death results in the loss of some resources, but it doesn’t have the rogue-like savagery of Spelunky. The levels are perpetual, too, and don’t reset with a player’s demise. Light, however, can make things difficult and, with an un-upgraded lantern and small inventory size in the beginning, the player will be making frequent, sometimes annoying trips to the surface. In fact, these mandatory trips are the worst part of the game, but they’re hardly extremely irritating. As the player progresses they will discover new areas and new enemies, and the free play style will allow them to take on both these elements in the way that best suits their style, whether frontal assaults or sneakier tactics. It’s almost like a do-it-yourself platformer, and proves to be incredibly addictive. Steamworld Dig is full of charm and humour, and it is really worth the download to experience this often unique and rather clever platform adventure. g

ACCESSIBILITY

Hard-Core Medium Casual

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

85 69


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Skylanders: Trap Team GAMING

Gotta catch them all! 70

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iterations that came before. Every character from Spyro’s Adventure, Giants and Swap Force can be used with Trap Team, meaning that all the money already spent on the Skylanders obsession hasn’t been thrown down a bottomless pit. That said, Trap Team doesn’t bring anything new to the table for characters from previous games. Skill upgrades for older characters simply don’t exist. Added to that is the fact that Trap Team is particularly generous with loot, so upgrading characters is pretty quick. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly when youngsters are playing, but older players may find the progression of characters a touch too quick. In addition to a whole new adventure and new characters, Trap Team brings a new idea to the table that can be extremely satisfying (and can expand the list of playable

GAMING

ith the Festive Season in full swing (a trip to any mall since the end of October resulted in tons of Christmas decorations on display already) it is hardly surprising that Activision are positioning their milking stool next to their biggest cash-cow once again. But that’s not always a bad thing, particularly if the product that is being “exploited” is one that brings a lot of joy to its target market. Sure, Skylanders may result in lighter wallets for parents around the globe, but the easy-going nature of the title, as well as the family friendly plot, characters and overall dynamics, make it a quick win for keeping the kids happy and out of your hair. And while the release of Skylanders: Trap Team brings a whole new bunch of collectible figurines to store shelves (as well as a new portal) it also provides a new lease on life for the characters from the three major

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with it. And then, of course, there is lots of exploring to do, as well as areas specific to certain character elements and the like. In addition, the Skystones mini-game has made a welcome return, and has been revamped. All in all, it’s a good addition to the franchise. Aside from straining budgets, Skylanders is a great option for kids, and the cross compatibility of figures makes it an awesome option for youngsters who want a more social gaming experience. Overall, despite a few niggles here and there, Skylanders: Trap Team is a fantastic title for kids of all ages, and although the difficulty level is aimed at younger players, it can be an extremely enjoyable distraction for the whole family. The new elements aren’t revolutionary, but they do add fun new twists and turns to the game, and make this into a worthwhile addition to the library for Skylanders fans. g

AT A GLANCE RPG Adventure

The new additions and ideas in Skylanders: Trap Team make it a worthwhile addition to any family gaming library... and a wallet’s worst nightmare. Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Toys for Bob Activision Megarom

PARENTAL ADVISORY

7+ gamecca66

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

ACCESSIBILITY

Hard-Core Medium Casual

REVIEWED ON

PS4 PLATFORMS

GENRE

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

80 73

by Walt Pretorius

characters without needing to buy a whole lot of figurines. The traps that give the game its name allow the player to capture bad guys and use them within the game. These characters cannot be upgraded, but each has a contrition mission that is unique to them. Some are great, but others feel a little lacklustre. What’s great about them is that the player can switch between their main, figurine character and active trapped character instantly, and all trapped characters are stored so that traps can be preloaded with the player’s favourites. You need specific traps for specific bad guys, though, so there is some expenditure involved (the starter kit comes with traps for two of the game’s numerous character-governing elements). The game also provides a wave-style survival challenge, which carries a slight, element based tower defence idea


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Grand Theft GAMING

Relive the life of crime‌

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Grand Theft Auto V

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pulled it off. And now, with more power backing it up, we have a much better experience waiting for us, thanks to a whole bunch of added elements. Top of the list, naturally, is the improved graphics performance of the game. It still isn’t quite on par with some titles that we have seen for the new consoles, but it certainly is an improvement on what we experienced in the previous version of the game. Los Santos feels so much more alive now, with details that simply weren’t there before now to be found everywhere. And, of course, let’s not forget about the addition of the first-person viewpoint. This new camera angle makes the game much more visceral than before. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – I personally prefer the third person view that is more traditional to the Grand Theft Auto series – but this viewpoint certainly brings a new immersion to the title, a

GAMING

hen Grand Theft Auto V was first released in 2013, it did what the franchise always seems to manage: it took the gaming world by storm. With its irreverent world view and wonderfully realised setting – not to mention three dynamic, interesting playable characters, GTA V was the talk of the town. And perhaps it stands testament to the overall awesome design and ideas behind the game that it has once again sprung to the forefront… but this time on a whole new generation of hardware. The rerelease of Grand Theft Auto V for PS4 and Xbox One is hardly an unusual thing – in this hardware generation we have seen more rereleases of games, tweaked up and improved, than ever before. But what makes Grand Theft Auto V stand out from this pack is the effortless way in which it seems the developers

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Grand Theft Auto V

Auto V is completely irreverent and hugely entertaining, filled with story and side quests that will alternate between making you cringe and having you cry with laughter. The three characters represent three very different experiences; the wannabe gangster who wants more from life, the disgruntled ‘retired’ mobster who yearns for the old days and the unpredictable sociopath who recognises no order but his own. Together, these three characters combine to create a thoroughly entertaining tale, one that is a true feather in the cap of the developers. And let’s not forget the exceptionally enjoyable multiplayer experience that Grand Theft Auto V offers. The improved infrastructure that came with the new consoles makes it a joy, and players can get up to all kinds of crazy mischief, either on their own or with friends. Grand Theft Auto V is a very welcome addition to the next gen stable. g

AT A GLANCE Action Adventure

This most welcome rerelease will take players back to the streets of Los Santos, all tweaked and improved...

Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Rockstar Rockstar Megarom

PARENTAL ADVISORY

18+ gamecca66

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

ACCESSIBILITY

Hard-Core Medium Casual

REVIEWED ON

PS4 PLATFORMS

GENRE

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

Score

95 77

by Walt Pretorius

stronger connection to the three main characters. Grand Theft Auto V on PS4 and Xbox One doesn’t bring much new to the table in terms of plot, but that really doesn’t matter too much; this game is vast in its original incarnation, and the added capabilities of the new platforms means that it might be something of a rerun, but everything is bigger, crisper, smoother and generally hugely improved. Here’s a rerelease that makes a lot of sense, because Grand Theft Auto V is a game with massive amount of longevity and replayability. If you haven’t played Grand Theft Auto V before, this is the version to get. And in case you managed to miss all the noise surrounding it when it first released, it is an open-world game that tells the tale of three ‘business’ associates that go on a massive crime spree through an immense landscape. Like any Rockstar title, Grand Theft


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Farming Simulator 15 GAMING

Digging in the dirt

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Farming Simulator 15

GENRE

While not everyone will want to dig

by Alex Scanlon

into this title, it provides a surprising amount of satisfaction to

PARENTAL ADVISORY Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

3+ ACCESSIBILITY Hard-Core Medium Casual

Score

77

AT A GLANCE

PC X360 X0 PS3 PS4 Wii U PSV 3DS AND iOS

REVIEWED ON

PLATFORMS

those who do.

Giants Software Focus Apex Interactive

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player hires workers to do the ploughing, planting and harvesting, they still need to manually sell whatever they grow. The biggest win in this iteration is the inclusion of multiplayer. A group of players can get together to build a farm as a group effort (although finding enough players to create a bustling enterprise may be a bit of a challenge). This makes for a fairly enjoyable experience, removing some of the more time consuming tasks – or, at least, spreading them around. In terms of equipment, Farming Simulator 15 offers a wide array of agricultural implements to choose from. The more expensive stuff, naturally, tends to be more efficient, but it will take many hours to get to the point at which you can afford to equip a farm to perfection. In addition, maintenance costs cut into profits, so the player will need to make sure that they balance things fairly well in order to succeed. Farming Simulator 15 is, like its predecessor, surprisingly enjoyable. The game runs smoothly, and looks decent enough, although the graphics aren’t going to blow your mind. The controls on PC are simple enough, with ever present prompts helping the player along. But the real drawcard here is the fact that the game is massively addictive, and even when you’re curing at driving your tractor down to the grain silo for the umpteenth time, the idea that every bit of effort will help build you towards your self-imposed goals keeps you going. It certainly isn’t for everyone; its slower pace and attention to detail may well frustrate some, and the repetitive nature of farming might put others off. But those that give it a chance may well be surprised by the fact that they enjoy it. g

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ot every game is about racking up kill counts or dominating enemies with massive armies. Sometimes you need a break from all the shooting. OK, maybe not need – but at times a change of pace is a good idea. Management games fill that gap well, as do simulators. Enter Farming Simulator 15. Many people raise their eyebrows at the idea of running a virtual farm and, quite frankly, the market that this game would appeal to is certainly one that could be described as niche. But the market and the appeal is there, so developers Giants Software have put in the effort to bring the game up to date, with the latest and greatest in farming equipment on offer to the eager virtual agriculturalist. In Farming Simulator 15 the player gets to choose between two sprawling maps, one in Europe and one in the USA. The States map is a familiar one – it was featured in the previous version of the game – while the European map is entirely new. Each pose unique challenges, particularly in terms of the size of areas that can be cultivated. In the US, the fields are large, for example, while the European fields are smaller. By planting crops, tending animals and harvesting produce, the player earns money, which in turn can be spent on more fields and better equipment. In this way, Farming Simulator 15 is a management title, although the management model (while solid) isn’t particularly deep. And, in keeping with the title, there is a lot of micromanagement going on, because the player needs to play the game as a simulator. That means ploughing fields, harvesting crops, and driving produce to the grain silo, among other things. This adds a pedantic nature to the game – even if the

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The Monkey 80

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Pinnacle of Point-And-Click

acle of nd-Click Island Series By Lein Baart

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hen it comes to gaming, few can argue that one of the golden eras for the PC lay with the point-and-click titles that were massively popular during the ‘90s. There are many, many games that players remember fondly from this period, and the fanbase for what is now something of a niche genre still remains incredibly solid, though decidedly mature in its demographics. Of all the worthwhile titles however there is one series that still manages to provoke an almost universal reaction, as older gamers’ eyes mist over in a nostalgia-induced haze while their mouths pull into lopsided grins. For many, the Monkey Island games represent the pinnacle of adventure titles, and to this day remain as charming and as brilliant as they were upon release.

GAMING

Why were they created? The Monkey Island series began life with Ron Gilbert, one of the most influential game designers in history. Inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyworld and the novel On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Gilbert’s initial pitch to the now defunct Lucasfilm Games was successful, though the game was put on hold until the development of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure was complete. By mid-1989 though Gilbert had returned his full attention to what was then known as Mutiny on Monkey Island, and along with Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman (likewise two enormously important men in game development) Gilbert set to work designing the world and characters, while Schafer and Grossman wrote about two thirds of the dialogue. The resulting game, The Secret of Monkey Island, was an almost immediate success, and captured the hearts and minds of critics and gamers alike. Followed shortly after by the equally brilliant Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (which would be the last game Monkey Island game that Gilbert and Schafer actively worked on), the

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series soon cemented itself as the standard to which all other adventure games aspired to. It would be six years until the release of Curse of Monkey Island and further three years until Escape from Monkey Island, but at the time the series had supposedly drawn to a close Monkey Island had etched itself as an icon in gaming history, so much so that the when Telltale Games revived it in the form Tales of Monkey Island, it was an almost instant success.

Why do we care? The Monkey Island games represent a culmination of the most critical aspects of adventure games, namely plot, puzzles and world. The puzzles were clever and witty without requiring bizarre and illogical solutions, and this made every game genuinely fun to play through. The series also distinguished itself as the one of the first adventure games where the player could not wind up in a dead-end situation through previous decisions, and likewise it was nearly impossible to kill the main character. It was a design that lent itself to opening the world up to be enjoyed rather than agonising over every choice, and this led to the defining aspect of the franchise: charm. Above all else the games were immensely humorous, and it was easy to fall in love with the bumbling and inept pirate Guybrush and his sharp-tongued love Elaine. From insult swordfighting, which saw players trade slurs rather than blows, to sly references to pop culture, at almost every turn Monkey Island gave players something to laugh uproariously at. The plots, while sometimes convoluted, were well told and smartly paced, while the pseudoCaribbean island setting was brought to life through fantastic art design. It all combined to present a series of games in which gamers could lose themselves in, and over two decades later the series still has the power to captivate and enchant.. g

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Ramjet’s rantality

t’s pretty amazing the way people react. You can do a whole lot of good for ages. Then do one bad thing, and everyone forgets about the good, and focusses on the bad… even if the very next thing you do is awesome. Our society is based on negativity, which is fuelled by self-importance and selfentitlement. I am talking, in case you hadn’t figured it out, about Ubisoft. Here is a company that pretty much consistently has delivered good gaming experiences. OK, let’s make that better-than-average for all you negative nitwits out there, for who nothing is ever good enough. And it’s almost everyone, mind you. Anyway, back to the point. Ubisoft has produced some pretty awesome title over the years that, despite the inevitable grumbling of gamers (who want perfection but steadfastly seem unwilling to accept the fact that they need to toe the line and pay for it). And then Assassin’s Creed: Unity came along. And I admit, the game was full of problems, which more than likely were the result of an uneasy combination of over-ambition, too little time and having

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many pots on the boil. It’s a big year for Ubisoft, after all, with numerous massive titles being released during this festive season. A new Far Cry, a brand new IP in the form of the crew (which also presents new ground for the publisher) and not one, but two Assassin’s Creed games. So, admittedly, they messed up with Unity. The game certainly wasn’t of the quality it should have been, and the “release now, patch later” approach really isn’t acceptable. But here’s the thing: the very next release that the publisher made was the remarkable Far Cry 4. The game is solid, it’s severs are stable, and it has maybe three bugs, which you may never encounter. The damage, though, was done with Unity. See, the more vocal parts of the gaming community – the empty vessels that make the most noise, as it were – have played judge and jury, and cannot wait to see the execution. Ubisoft has become the devil, and they will rabidly expound this opinion at every given opportunity. There is no seeing a bigger picture, no admitting that things can sometimes go wrong. It’s a

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BY rAMJET

So What...

game, and it had better be friggin’ perfect from the word go. Space exploration rocket explodes on take-off? Oh, well, the engineers probably made a mistake. Unity has bugs? The world will end! Unity has become the Kim Kardashian’s ass of the video game industry… everyone is complaining about it, but it really is a storm in a tea-cup. The game will inevitably be patched, and hopefully all the problems will be ironed out. Yes, it is annoying to get hold of a broken game, but this is a risk that we take every time we buy a game the second it hits shelves. And publishers who care – and Ubisoft is one of those – will sort the problems out, because they know the value of happy consumers. Please, for the love of Pete, don’t let the Unity release tarnish your view of Ubisoft as a whole. Not with their track record. One bad game (with the bad parts being patchable, mind you) doesn’t make a company the devil, neither does it spell the Apocalypse. Wait for the patches, and sort out your priorities. And stop your whining, because it makes you look even more self-enititled. g


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or many people out there, 2014 was a year of extremes. But in the world of technology, the juggernaut rolled inexorably forward, dragging us unsuspecting humans along with it. 2014 showed some remarkable technological achievements. Mankind even managed to land a probe on a comet, a pretty remarkable achievement if you consider even a fraction of the logistics involved. For those of us with our feet still firmly planted on the ground, though, there has been a massive amount of advancement through the course of this year, even though we may not be aware of all of it. While we obsess about our consoles and PCs and smartphones, scientists and technologists are preparing to make our world better, easier and more exciting in the years to come. Many of the technologies that researchers worked with in 2014 were extremely practical, including faster WiFi, faster processing speeds and improved batteries. But 2014 also saw scientists plumbing the depths of what was previously considered sciencefiction. For example, in the early part of 2014, Google announced that it will be creating a new device to aid diabetes sufferers. With an estimated 285 million people suffering from diabetes, and with cases predicted to have doubled by 2030, the need for accurate monitoring of glucose levels is becoming critical. While diabetes sufferers routinely check their levels by taking small blood samples, a new contact lens, developed by Google, will measure the glucose levels in the user’s tears. If they drop below a prescribed threshold, the embedded chip will issue the user a warning via an LED light. Google are still working on the project, but the potential to make the lives of millions of people easier is certainly there. For those interested in the 3D printing sphere, Statasys announced the Objet500 Connex3 early in 2014. This printer is a full colour 3D printer (no more painting required) that can work with three

different materials simultaneously. While it will undoubtedly prove to be a costly endeavour, the system will revolutionise prototyping immeasurably. Mobile users got some good news in February, when SanDisk revealed their first MicroSD card to achieve a 128GB capacity. While this card had been in development for some time, production problems relating to the massive storage crammed into the tiny card delayed its release by two years. Another extremely exciting product announced in March 2014, which will hopefully be launched by 2016, is a portable micro PC worn in the user’s ear. Controlled by facial expressions, the PC will have multiple functions, including monitoring the user’s health and opening apps. It will have integrated GPS, compass and gyro-sensors, as well as a speaker and microphone… a bit like a super advanced Bluetooth headset. Although information about the Occulus Rift has been around for a while, and we are expecting a release next year, big news for this particular device was the acquisition of Occulus VR by Facebook in March. This VR device has got a lot of people talking, and if the release stays on track, it will result in a lot of excitement next year. Another early year announcement was the unveiling of StoreDot’s prototype ultra-fast charging battery. This took place at Microsoft’s Think Next symposium, which took place in Tel Aviv in April. The new battery will enable users to fully charge a smartphone or similar device in under 30 seconds. The battery is based on bio-organic technology, and employs chemically synthesised short amino-acid chains to deliver faster charging and better battery life. The company hopes to have products on shelf by 2017. Nanotechnology has often been a great theme for science fiction, but a breakthrough in single-atom magnetics will not only revolutionise things like hard drives, MRAM and molecular magnets, it will advance the ideas of bringing microscopic computers gamecca66

“...new batte users to ful smartphone o in under 30 ultra-fast c battery...”

“...Portable M PC worn in the user’s ear and controlled by f expressions...”


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and other nanotech forward by many years. May saw some more sciencefiction becoming reality when, at the Code Conference held in California, Microsoft demonstrated their Skype translator. This technology will allow multilingual conversations to be held in real time, with each participant’s language translated on-the-fly according to the needs of others. This “nearly impossible task” has been in the works for around 15 years, and will undoubtedly revolutionise communications in the very near future. But June of this year saw the biggest sci-fi breakthrough yet. The idea of teleportation is one that some sci-fi tales have used quite liberally, and while the idea of transporting physical objects from one point to another virtually instantly is still the realms of fiction, researchers at Holland’s Delft University of Technology managed to transfer data a distance of three meters with no errors. Using quantum technology, this breakthrough will allow – in theory – the development of ultra-fast communication between quantum computers. Not only would such a “quantum internet” be faster than we could possibly conceive with current technology, but it would also be completely secure… eavesdropping on this kind of communication would be impossible at a fundamental level. Also in June, it appeared that the first ever pass of the Turing Test was achieved. This test, created by Alan Turing in 1950, is seen as a benchmark for determining true artificial intelligence. Although the test is often criticised, it is still used for measuring AI potential. This year, an AI named Eugene fooled 33% of the judges into believing that it was a 13 year old boy from the Ukraine. Whether or not this marks Eugene as a true AI is up for debate, but advances in AI and AI-like systems are happening constantly. Mcirosoft’s Project Adam is a deep learning system that is modelled on the human brain, similar to Google’s Brain project. The goal of Project Adam is to allow visual recognition of virtually any object by software. Already scientist in Bangladesh have devised a system

for a computer program that recognises 87% of human emotions, based on keystroke dynamics and text-pattern analysis. Researchers at Google and Stanford have also developed a new program that can recognise objects in photo and video footage at near-human levels, and can generate descriptions based on scenic alanysis. “The system can analyse an unknown image and explain it in words and phrases that make sense,” says Fei-Fei Li, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab. “This is an important milestone. It’s the first time we’ve had a computer vision system that could tell a basic story about an unknown image by identifying discrete objects and also putting them into some context.” Staying in contact with others may become even easier in the future, thanks to research performed by an international team of scientists. The experiment allowed direct brain-tobrain communication between two individuals, 5000 miles apart. “We wanted to find out if one could communicate directly between two people by reading out the brain activity from one person and injecting brain activity into the second person, and do so across great physical distances by leveraging existing communication pathways,” explains co-author Alvaro Pascual-Leone, PhD, Director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. “One such pathway is, of course, the Internet, so our question became, ‘Could we develop an experiment that would bypass the talking or typing part of Internet and establish direct brain-to-brain communication between subjects located far away from each other in India and France?’” Two words were transmitted successfully between the test subjects, demonstrating the viability of this technology. With all these, and many more advances made in 2014, there is little doubt that the future is extremely exciting, and that we are certain to see even more incredible tech surface in 2015. g gamecca66

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Asus ROG Tytan G30 Gaming PC

G30

Gaming PC

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by Walt Pretorius

sus have always been a manufacturer that have listened to the needs and wants of gamers. With their various lines, they have managed to carve out a very solid position in the PC gaming market. And now, with their new series of prebuilt gaming PCs, they’re sure to get people’s attention yet again. In all fairness, this isn’t the first ROG Tytan that we’ve seen. Several months ago we got to see the flagship of the range, complete with side panels that opened up when the overclocking feature was enabled and a brutish power that left us quite giddy. This particular Tytan, the G30AK, is the smaller brother of that machine… but times have moved on, and the specs of the updated Tytans are impressive. In fact, the G30 outstrips the last Tytan we saw quite significantly. The general problem with prebuilt machines is that the spec isn’t always what you’re after. That isn’t the case here… the G30’s spec list reads almost like a wish list. At its core, the G30AK has either an i5 or i7 CPU, and can handle up to 32GB of RAM (see, options). The model we tested ran smoothly with 16GB of RAM, and showed of its performance via a GeForce GTX760 with 3GB of VRAM. Storage came by way of a 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD. As far as ports go, you couldn’t wish for more… a total of six USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports, as well as 8 channel audio, a multi-card reader and much more is on offer in this impressive and stylish package. But what’s most impressive here is the way that everything works together. Asus have designed this machine to be a real performer, and for those that want that extra bit of punch, they’ve added a hassle-free, safe overclocking feature that is as easy as pressing one button. Literally. With a press of the “speed” button, the cool blue accent lights turn a blazing red, and the CPU is jacked up to deliver a maximum of 4.5GHz. That’s pretty impressive, when all is said and done. The real beauty, of course, is that the overclocking system was designed by people who know what they’re doing. So while the strain on the machine might be increased (you don’t want to run in this mode constantly, of course) it is done so in a way that isn’t going to have your Tytan explode. Rather, it shows a demonstrable boost in performance, which is a big win. Even the chassis (a good looking box overall) has been specifically designed to meet the needs of this system. In short, it’s a perfectly tuned PC, right out of the box. While the thought of a prebuilt PC may be anathema to you, there are many reasons why the G30 is a fantastic way to go. It’s performance overall really is top notch. g

AT A GLANCE: Summary

An absolutely awesome pre-built PC, the G30’s specs read like a wish list.

Ma nuf a c t ure r D i s t ri but e r: Onl i ne :

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Tech Specs: • • • • • • •

i5 / i7 CPU Up to 32GB RAM GeForce GTX760 GPU 1TB HDD 128GB SSD Overclocking mode

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Acer

H C EW E T VI E R

K335

Everywhere you go…

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TECHNOLOGY

projector is an extremely cool thing to use for home entertainment and even gaming, provided you get the right one. And generally they’re going to end up being set up in a permanent position, as part of a home entertainment solution (or, of course, in an office, but that’s not for here). That’s thanks to the fact that most capable projectors are, in a word, massive. They’re big and clunky and unwieldy, making them something that only gets carried around in the most dire of circumstances. The move towards smaller, portable projectors is, however, gaining a lot of traction. A great example of a projector that can easily be moved about – partially thanks to the included, handy carrier bag, is Acer’s K335 LED projector. It’s not the smallest we’ve seen, but it certainly gets the job done – and is fitted into a package that is easy to set up, and easy to transport. It, naturally, features all the expected inputs, including HDMI and VGA. But it also has an integrated cars reader and USB ports, and supports numerous multimedia file formats (including MPEG 1, 2 and four, MP3, WMA and, naturally, JPG). That immediately adds a value to the whole idea, thanks to this projector not necessarily needing connection to a media device or computer. With a native resolution of

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1280 x 800 and a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080 (Full HD, in other words) it provides images that are crisp and clear. It’s LED lamp offers a contrast ration of 10 000:1, which is pretty decent, and it’s ease of control makes using it a breeze. The only real downside to this device (as with many projectors) is its audio capabilities. It features a 3W speaker (yes, one) that produces mono audio. It’s not terrible sound, but those that want to make use of better audio will need to get an additional solution. This will be helped along by the 3.5mm audio input and output jacks built into the device. The real win here is the portability of the device. Whether it be for business, or for entertainment purposes while out and about, the K335 needs a power source and a projection surface, and could even be a decent companion for gamers who can’t stay away from their addiction while out of town. It’s an usual solution for those that want a way to transport their console gaming, but it does make more sense than taking a screen with you, simply because it is so portable. The clear image is really great quality, and this device (with a little help on the audio side of things) will make a great visual companion for any number of purposes. And versatility is always a good thing, which the K335 has (in projector terms) in spades. g

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Acer K335 LED Projector

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AT A GLANCE: Summary

by Walt Pretorius

A highly portable, great quality projector that even has integrated playback.

Tech Specs: • • • • • • •

10 000:1 contrast ratio 1920 x 1080 max resolution SD card reader HDMI input 3D ready 3W mono speaker

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Asus

H C EW E T VI E R

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PC

The tiny barebones solution

TECHNOLOGY

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rguably the hottest trend in PC use these days is going small. The big, impressive, deskcracking rigs that people used to proudly show off (and break their backs transporting) are soon going to be a thing of the past. Desk space is premium these days, and portability is not far behind. And so we are seeing a host of mini PC products hit the shelves, for a variety of price points. One pocket-friendly option is Asus’ new VivoMini. Measuring a scant 4.9 x 4.9 x 1.7 inches, it really is a small box, and will fit easily onto the back of a monitor or screen thanks to VESA mount compatibility. However, there is a catch – the price is simply too nice for there not to be. Like Intel’s NUC range, the VivoMini is a barebones system. That means it comes with some components built in, but the user will have to purchase and populate others. In the case of the VivoMini, we’re talking storage, memory and a wireless network card (although it does have a LAN port if you’re looking at a wired connection). That adds a pretty penny to the price, of course, but it does allow the user to make use of its versatility. For example, the user will be able to decide on their RAM amount, up to 16GB, which interfaces with the VivoMini via 2 SODIMM ports. AT entry level, the VivoMini is fited with an Intel Celeron 2957U Haswell CPU, which clocks in at around 1.4GHz.

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Asus have announced they there will be i3 and i5 varieties available in the future, too. Port-wise, the VivoMini is well apportioned. It features four USB 3.0 ports, as well as HDMI and DisplayPort outputs for screen connections. It has a LAN port and well as a multi-card reader, and a single stereo 3.5mm audio output. It also has internal half and full sized PCIe slots, and m.SATA connections for storage and wireless cards. One thing that the VivoMini won’t do – or any of the current crop of mini PCs out there, for that matter – is play the latest games. It simply doesn’t have the needed power and, aside from that – lacks the 3D acceleration provided by a bigger GPU. However, some older titles may still manage to get along fine on this miniscule PC. And with products like the relatively small G20 (which we reviewed last month) and the even smaller G8 forming part of Asus’ gaming oriented ROG line, we’re pretty sure that there will be gaming capable solutions of this size before long. In the meantime, the VivoMini fills many gaps, from a small household computer through to a very capable media player. It shows great ideas, and even if it needs to be populated with certain components, it’s a solid bet for those that are in need for a PC that can fit into a handbag. g gamecca66


Asus VivoMini PC

Summary It needs some extra components, but the VivoMini is a sensible choice for those wanting a tiny PC.

Tech Specs: • • • • • • •

4 ink cartridge system Wireless function Print, scan, copy Double sided printing ePrinting Web connected

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by Walt Pretorius

AT A GLANCE:


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Going to great lengths…

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by Suvesh Arumugam

Public Humiliation

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wrote a column last month about trolls who take not-so guilty pleasure in the public humiliation of persons or companies using social media and the internet. While writing this column, I had an interesting chat with a colleague about whether there is a significant difference between a troll and a disgruntled customer ranting on a public forum. My opinion at the time was that there was very little difference, but my colleague felt differently. “A troll takes pleasure in tormenting people and then sitting back and watching the mayhem they create, but they don’t really care about the outcome. A disgruntled customer on the other hand is invested in the outcome. You’ve pissed them off and whether they are justified or not is of no consequence. They have not made you the focus of their attention and they won’t stop until they are satisfied.” Although we agreed to disagree at the time, recent events have started to make me think my colleague was on the right track. The example that he cited was that of Jaco van der Merwe, who purchased a 4x4 bakkie from a Delta dealership back in 2001. When the chassis broke while on holiday, van der Merwe approached the dealership to repair the damage as a defect in the construction. The vehicle was only a year old at the time. The dealership claimed that he had tampered with the vehicle or otherwise abused it, and therefore did not honour the warranty. This obviously did not sit well with this particular outdoor enthusiast. Van der Merwe laid criminal charges against the dealership, the national production manager and the engineer whose report voided his warranty. He also further created chain mails and eventually fitted his vehicle with a trailer and had it branded as “the worst 4X4Xfar”, and presented his vehicle at motor shows and events around the country to vent his frustration. Although the dealership made several legal applications to prevent him from doing so, he High Court and Supreme Court found that the actions were not defamatory and were van der Merwe’s own opinions. Fast forward to this year, when George Prokas spent an estimated R61,000 to erect a banner outside a shopping centre saying “Cell C is the most useless provider in South Africa” and further naming a franchise manager whom he claimed would not help him and publishing his personal contact number. The

argument allegedly arose out of a billing dispute, where Prokas claimed his phone was sent in and never returned and was billed in excess of R5,000 for someone else’s usage, which the provider claims is incorrect. Rather than pay the bill, Prokas elected to pay more than 10 times that amount to erect the banner. Cell C also pursued legal means to have the banner removed, but the court similarly found that the banner constituted Prokas’ personal opinion and should not be removed. Cell C’s application cited abuse and threats (some violent) received by the staff member concerned, and felt the High Court had not addressed this aspect of the application. This is starting to become uncharted territory for companies and brands. Many companies now employ social media teams, or outsource to agencies, to ensure that negative sentiment is dealt with. Preferably most would like to turn an unhappy client into a fan, but if a client pushes too hard or crosses the line between frustration and abuse, they can be ignored, banned or taken offline to be asked to leave or appeased somehow. But the brands or social media managers are generally in control of the environment and can decide whether the person can have a platform to raise their grievance. After all, if you can post your complaint on an established brand page with thousands of followers rather than starting a campaign gathering followers 1 by 1, it’s definitely discouraging to have that voice taken away if you don’t play nice enough. But in this digital age, is anyone prepared for the truly dedicated detractor? Someone who will show up with an angry mob outside your offices or stage a hunger strike inside your store until their demands are met? Even worse, what if they don’t have demands and their only desire is to cause the maximum amount of damage to your brand? I posed the question to the colleague I mentioned, “So what if they do get it right and the company loses money or goes out of business - do they take responsibility for the loss of jobs or impact this has on the personal dignity of the employees of the companies they target?” At this point, another colleague, who it turns out feels that van der Merwe and Prokas are Robin Hood-like heroes, said “of course not, and why should they? The employees of the company will just go and work for the company that does provide good service”. Whether this is true or not,

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it seems to foster the same kind of disregard and irresponsible behaviour that the companies are accused of. If companies must be responsible and be answerable to the community at large, should individuals not be held to the same standard? I can’t speak for everyone, but reading about these stories gives me that slight knot in my stomach that I get when my gut is telling me that a situation will escalate and there is no possible outcome from here that will benefit anyone. Certainly in these cases, there’s been no real winner. While people on either side may comment that it’s either a victory for consumer rights or mark a tightening up of contractual terms to prevent companies from liability (at the expense of open engagement), it’s clear that neither the complainants or companies lives are any better off right now. Where does it go from here? First National Bank has already seen a billboard erected accusing them of lies and fraud. Nico Niemand claimed that FNB cheated him out of R550 000 in a land deal gone sour. Niemand registered the domain rottenbank. co.za and directs people to his site from the billboard. Analysts say that this is a sign that consumers are prepared to go further than ever to vent their frustration and get companies to take responsibility. However, it seems that in all the cases I’ve cited here, it’s not quite so clear cut and it’s really more about a customer being the right kind of person, in the right conditions with the right motivation - and the situation escalates in ways that no-one expects. To me that means that consumers go on the offensive, companies clam up and hide behind T’s & C’s and honest, sincere engagement between the public and service providers suffer, not to mention overall confidence in business (which is also pretty bad for everyone). It’s a cliché, but I still believe there’s nothing wrong with voting with your wallet. You don’t like a company, don’t give them your money. You get treated poorly, by all means tell your friends and family, but find a company that treats you right and move on with your life. Letting these things become the focus of your life is a lose-lose scenario, but you can lose small or you can lose big and the only place you want to be the biggest loser is on reality TV. g

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The holdin are a bu

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Public Humiliation

five people ng this banner unch of idiots!

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by Iwan Pienaar

he holiday season is upon us and heading out of town is as traditional as hearing Boney M in your friendly neighbourhood shopping centre. Of course, those travelling by plane will not be looking forward to all the craziness that the airport typically entails. Given the growth in smartphones in sunny SA, thousands of travellers will be using the public Wi-Fi systems available at airports across the country. With your handheld device, your laptop, or your tablet computer, you’ll be checking on your flights, sending out email, or maybe even working on that report that you promised your boss by January 3rd. But how safe is the airport’s wireless security? How do you protect yourself, and your private information, from such delightful things as identity theft, fraud, and other cybercrimes? Airports are high on the list of having “rampant phony Wi-Fi hot spots” created by phishers and other criminals, according to a recent study. This means that when you’re travelling and using the internet at an airport, your personal information (including user names, passwords, and credit card numbers) are passing through the air unprotected and is perfect prey for cyber-crooks. Experts cite a number of reasons for this serious breach, including the cost of securing a public area as large as an airport. Airports are therefore the perfect breeding ground for professional and amateur jerks trying to rip you off in some way. There are a few things you can do in advance and at the airport to minimise your risk. Here are some tips to help you keep your holiday travel safe and secure:

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Before you go

Secure your laptop or mobile device. There’s no better way to protect your data from hackers, viruses, spyware, and spam then to make sure you’re using a strong personal firewall. Anti-virus and security software will not only prevent strangers from using it if it gets lost or stolen, but a good programme will detect and eliminate mobile threats, block unwanted calls and texts, and provide top-notch anti-phishing Web protection at airports and other public Wi-Fi areas where risks are high. Also be sure to set any Bluetooth devices to “hidden”, not “discoverable”. If you don’t use the Bluetooth function, make sure you turn it off altogether. Also, disable geo-tracking on your mobile devices. Consider resetting your passwords. Use strong passwords on your mobile device, laptops, and tablets. Make sure everyone in the family does the same. In addition, it’s a good idea to learn your phone’s ESN. This is the electronic serial number that will come in handy if your device is lost or stolen. Also, change your network configuration to manually select each wireless network it joins, rather than any automatic selection. Don’t advertise your trip. As much fun as it is to share your plans with friends and family, it is unwise to advertise the dates, places, and times you’ll be out of town. Criminals look for all kinds of hints on how to steal from you, and if you’re letting everyone know that you won’t be home between certain dates, how difficult is it for bad guys to find out where you live?

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While you’re away

Avoid paying your bills and other financial transactions. Try getting all your financial chores done before you get to the airport. If you absolutely must pay that one bill you forgot to take care, go ahead and do it. But get your personal business done ahead of time so you can avoid entering user names and passwords on a busy, crowded, and unsecured airport internet. Always assume your Wi-Fi connection, particularly at the airport, is vulnerable. Limit email and IM to casual communication. Remind your kids about smart and safe internet use in a public place. Tell them to be wary of anyone sitting too close; make sure they never share their user names and passwords; and encourage offline games and videos instead of online activities, particularly while at the airport. Watch your back. “Shoulder surfers” are crooks that look for people so absorbed in online activity that they won’t notice someone taking note of passwords and other information getting typed in. These identity thieves are at the airport, a hotel lobby, a crowded bar or restaurant – anywhere where you might be mindlessly surfing the Internet. Be aware of your surroundings! Finally, don’t let airport and public hot spot “insecurity” ruin your trip! Be vigilant about your internet use while travelling. Stay smart, aware, and protected. Happy holidays and happy browsing. g

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Understanding WiFi Basics

Understanding WiFiBasics Airport Security...a whole new game

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BYcHARLIE Fripp

A Cynic’s

Game of the Year... A

Technically Speaking

h… can you hear that? Can you see what is on the horizon? Those, my gaming friends, are the sights and sounds of the end of another successful game-playing year behind us. The year has been filled with some really good titles, and with the Xbox One finally dropping on our South African shores about three months ago, I think we have had the biggest spread of games to date. But without being a Negative Nanny (although some might disagree), has it really been one of the best years in gaming? I had a long and hard think about it, and as many publications (including this one) will be publishing their Games of the Year in the coming weeks, I struggled to pin down my favourite title of 2014. It’s not because there were just so many to choose from or that the competition for the top spot was highly contented, but because I don’t think that even with the launch of Xbox One we had some great titles. Trust me, I’ve had to make up a Top 5 games of 2014 for a different publication, and the struggle to think of my game of the year really left me scratching my head. Not being able to

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name a single title that had my gleefully bashing my buttons, I had to resort to going through my rather extensive Xbox achievement list to see what I have played. I wonder why there were so many mediocre titles released this year? I do remember that there were rumblings in the industry last around the same topic, but you would think that game developers would put in some extra effort after such claims. You are more than welcome to correct me if I’m wrong by dropping us a letter (or on any subject, for that matter), but once you can’t name more than two games that raised your heart rate, there is a bit of a problem. I say two titles, as the ones that immediately came to mind when perusing my achievement list was Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition and Dead Rising 3. Looking at those two games, I realised something: I like to inflict a huge amount of pain on enemies and myself. You all by now should know Diablo 3 Ultimate Evil Edition: the console version of the hugely-successful Diablo series where you crawl through dungeons and corrupted lands looking for evil demons to slay. The powers you wield is

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immense, but playing on Torment III or IV is by no means easy – just the way I like it. Then we have the more serious of the Dead Rising games, with the third one taking on a bit of a darker tone than the rest. You play as a mechanic (don’t laugh) who needs to save a little town from hordes of zombies and a very naughty military. The ability to create devastating weapons and see the zombies explode almost brought a tear to my eye. Is that weird, or just me? Oh… back to the point. I don’t think that we saw the best in games that we could have. Yeah, there were some good titles out there, but for the most part I was really underwhelmed with the majority of them. And even the new IP’s like Sunset Overdrive didn’t manage to get me truly excited. The problem with having new console launching locally almost a year after the US release, is that we have a flood of remastered, recoded and redesigned titles available to us. For the most part it is exactly the same title, just on a different format. Am I right, were there nothing truly deserving as Game of the Year, or am I just starting to become a cynical old man? You know what, don’t answer that. g


FeatureS 110

Funny, Man...

COLUMN 122

The Time Inbetwixt

124 125 126 127 128

Gadget Reviews Acer Liquid Z5 Smartphone DOD VRH3 Car DVR J5 Create Boomerang Station Kanex Stereo AUX Flat Cable Sony Xperia M2 Aqua

Cool stuff 118 119 120 130 132 134 136

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Dominion Small World Ticket to Ride The Kitchen #1 Deathstroke #1 Superior Iron Man #1 Tooth & Claw #1

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favourite stand-up geek…

frica’s stand-up comedy circuit has been growing from strength to strength, ns of talent showing up at clubs around the country to make us laugh. And, of e, some of them poke fun at us geeks. But there are a few who are allowed to, use they are geeks themselves. nter, stage left, Vittorio Leonardi, top-notch funny guy and self-professed multigeek. We recently chatted to Vittorio about geeky comedy, his trip to represent South Africa in Los Angeles and why exactly he does this…

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VL: To paraphrase Bill Clinton, “I did not have relations with that career, stand-up comedy.” I never had any intention of being a comedian in any way, shape or form. My original plan was to become an actor... Because who needs food... Rent?... Rent is for the weak! Or monthly if that’s how your lease works. To pursue this dream, I enrolled at Pretoria Technikon - now Tshwane University of Technology - to study Drama, not knowing that I was playing right into Fate’s hands. While learning the art of the actor’s craft and how to stretch a jar of peanut butter into a three-course meal, I met Brendon Berg. He was a year ahead of me in the course but was also part of a comedy duo with Darren Maule named The Houseboys. On that friendship hinged my entire comedy career. I was always trying to make people laugh and had a knack, since childhood, of memorising the material of Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, and whatever other comic took my interest, and spewing it forth to whomever was listening. It never occurred to me to write my own stuff and follow in their footsteps. But it did to Brendon. He asked me if I’d like a five-minute spot at a local club. I said “Yes, of course!”

not knowing what I had just agreed to. Luckily, insanity prevailed and two weeks later, I reminded him of his offer and so, on Friday the 27th of August 1999 at The Funny Farm in The Randburg Waterfront, I did my first spot. Conveniently, I died on stage that night so at least I got that out of the way early. But 15 years later, the LoL goes on.

GM: You do a lot of stuff that relates to geek culture. How did this come about?

VL: I have always been a geek, I just didn’t know it, and growing up in the ‘80s there wasn’t a term for it yet. Star Wars is my earliest childhood memory. I remember sitting in a theatre at the age of about four and my most vivid memory was seeing Darth Vader unmasked. Star Wars is also what made me want to be a Jedi Knight and then, due to a lack of inter-galactic transportation to join the Rebellion, an actor. My first set to an entirely geek audience happened by accident and necessity. I was at ICON in 2004 and the award certificates were taking an age to dry. At this point, inspiration grabbed my friend Savvas and he uttered the following: “Well, the certificates are taking a while to dry, but we have a comedian to entertain you.” There was a cheer from the audience, I looked around, wondering who he

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Funny, Man...

GM: How did it all begin? What got you into comedy?

was talking about and then he introduced me. Yaaay! I thought as the filing clerk in my head scrambled to find some set. I had a ton of fun. Random thoughts and observations poured out of me and, to my great joy, it all worked out. The footage of that set can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=j0J1Df-00s0

GM: What is your favourite aspect of geek lifestyle to poke fun at?

VL: I tend to get on with all of the camps on Geek Island. I do find it amusing how there are battle lines in geekery. Roleplayers vs. Magic Players vs. Tabeltop gamers and so on. The comic book fans shouting their battle-cry of “That’s not canon!” at the geek movie fans. The reality is that from the outside, geeks are all about including people because we were usually the people on the fringe in childhood or high school, the weirdos, the outsiders. At the beginning, it’s always: “Come join our thing, let’s play this thing with the stuff.” But once you’re part of a group, the more rabidly frothing and foamy fans will always appear to ask deep and meaningful questions like “Kirk or Piccard; Alien or Predator; Hulk or Wolverine: Who wins in a fight? Well?!” The arguments have run for so long that the marketing monsters found a way to make movie and merchandising money off

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E YL iew T ES v lIF ter In of our madness. I love how seriously geeks take their interests, and a lot of the time, the comedy just writes itself. Be honest, all of us know a Sheldon Cooper. Enough said.

GM: Has the upswing in geek culture over the recent years – thanks to big blockbuster movies and the like – helped move things along? VL: Definitely, yes. Geek culture has become mainstream thanks to the Marvel movie juggernaut and Big Bang Theory and the like. The biggest example is the wave of Geek-themed TV shows out there now. Where there’s money to be made, cool can be bought. Also, it helped that at some point in the mid to late ‘90s, some girls figured out that geeks can make a lot of money. As shallow as that sounds, we all know that no one originally dated Mark Zuckerberg for his looks.

GM: Do you find that geek audiences differ greatly from “normal” people?

GM: So what kind of a geek are you, then?

VL: Let’s see... I’m a Roleplayer - Call of Cthulhu preferred. I’m a PC gamer although I remember when being a gamer just meant cartridge consoles Intellivision, Atari and Nintendo. There’s that diversity again. I love sci-fi, horror and I still pay homage at the altar of Rock, Alternative and Metal. I like weapons, both ballistic and the stabbystabby kind. Gadgets are a vice of mine and thanks to Scouts, MacGyver and Batman, I have a utility belt for all occasions. And I do believe that Skyrim - or offline, single-player WoW as I call it - is so large a game that it has its own banquet hall in the Castle of Geekdom.

GM: Doing geek comedy must take you off the beaten circuit path. What are some of the venues or events you have

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VL: Geek audiences tend to be more well-read and will be willing to go with you when you experiment with an idea. Even more so when it is relevant to their interests. However, that also depends on the age group and section of geek you’re dealing with. Across the board, there are fewer “readers” than there were

before. Younger geeks tend to be online more than they are reading and “Geek” has become a specialised, diversified animal. There are now dozens of different types of geeks. Having said that, geek or normal, funny is funny and comedy comes from a shared experience and/or a familiar frame of reference. Regardless of who they are, if you strike the right chord with your audience they will sing you the song of laughter.

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appeared at that may be considered a little unusual for a stand-up comedian?

VL: At the moment, I tend to only go full geek once a year at ICON - second weekend of July, tell your friends, beat the rush and those nights are truly special. I write sets just for that show. Any other show requires restraint and forethought. I’ll gauge how geek I can go with an audience before starting with the Marvel material or waxing lyrical about The Hobbit. Again, reference material is key. If they don’t know, then the material won’t flow. Los Angeles was great fun though. I did a set at The Laugh Factory and I’ve never gotten quite as big a reaction to the Big Bang Theory material as I did there, save for ICON audiences.

GM: What are your biggest sources for material?

VL: I’m an observational comic so whatever makes me tilt my head sideways and think “W.T.F.?” is usually fair game. One fallacy I’d like to dispel is that some people think that they should always be on their best behaviour around comedians because “he might put you into one of his skits.” Firstly, we don’t do skits, we do material or a set. Secondly, in my experience, for me to do set about a person the audience doesn’t know means telling them about


Funny, Man...

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You can learn more about Vittorio, well as his upcoming events, gigs, bu and peanut butter dinners Website: http://vittorio.sharp. https://www.youtube.com/user/GritPypeThin https://www.facebook.com/pages/ Vittorio-Leonardi/186936748045666

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https://twitter.com/ vittorioleo or Follow @VittorioLeo

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GM: Do you play video games? Is there room for comedy in that arena too?

VL: I think so, but again it comes back to frame of reference. I can’t talk about Call of Duty if the audience hasn’t played the fantastic gun-wank that is the Activision’s political, paintby-numbers bullerstorm. That said, there are online gamers that can take a joke and others that need to take a punch. Real world, not simulation.

GM: So, you went to LA…

VL: I went to represent South Africa in The Laugh Factory’s Funniest Person in The World competition. I made it to the final ten and proved that I could make those across the sea laugh. It’s something every comic wonders about, “Will the material work everywhere?” It does, so yaaay! Los Angeles is a special and strange place. Walking around Santa Monica, I soon learned that because everyone is trying to get discovered by Hollywood, everyone is good-looking... Ridiculously so. It’s like Cheerleader/Jock FunLand. For example, I stayed at a backpackers and apart from one really large Greek dude, I was the only normallooking person there. I’m sure we were on 12-hour

shifts in the hallways to scare the thin people into not eating. The gig, as I said earlier, was wonderful. The audience was up for the comedy show, something that’s paramount in making a comedy night work. One special moment was when one of the judges - a local comedian - said of my set that he wanted to hear more about me. Specifically, he wanted to hear material about being a white person in Apartheid South Africa. That’s right. He wanted funny material... Jokes... about our nation’s darkest time. To my credit, I didn’t say the first thing that sprang to mind. I didn’t say, “Okay, I’ll do funny material about Apartheid... And while I’m at it, shall I put a laugh track on ‘12 Years a Slave’? Because that’s what you’re asking of me.” But there were other experiences to be had: I got to eat at a Cheesecake Factory in Irvine; I interviewed Raymond E. Feist for the “Release The Geek” Podcast I co-host with my friend Les Allen and fulfilled a 30-year dream of going to Disneyland. That it was decked out for Halloween a la Nightmare Before Christmas was just a bonus. And I met Goofy... Huge fan.

GM: Why do you do it? Is it to make people laugh, or are you after fame, fortune and groupies?

VL: I do it because I enjoy it; because I get to call it my

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job and because anything else that’s this much fun is usually illegal. I got involved in this industry when it was still Show Business, and not the Business of Show. As soon as people hear there’s money to be made... It attracts the wrong type of person. I will forever be grateful for getting my start in the business when it was still a unique and different thing to be called a comic. Fame and fortune are truly lovely if you can get them, but if you start out doing this with that as your only goal, you’re missing the point. Passion should drive you, because how else do you create honest material? As to groupies... They happen... But uh... I did not have relations... And I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a tape or tapes of such an incident. Oh look, something large and distracting!

GM: What does the future hold for you?

VL: I’d like to go across the sea, visit strange and exotic lands and tell dick jokes there. America fascinates me and wherever there’s a club worldwide, I’m keen to gig. I’d like to see Release The Geek and Geek XP go from strength to strength. I like the idea of sending geeks off to the magical places they’ve always wanted to go to. Mostly, I’d like to see an open world, sandbox, survival PC game come along that isn’t Zombie-themed. Perhaps I’m aiming too high.g

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Funny, Man...

, as usks s at: .fm/

that person first, and that takes way too long. Thirdly, most people aren’t that interesting... Until they fall down. Hard. On TV.


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OnBo

Dominion

ollectible card games are as popular as ever, with players spending tons of cash in the hopes of getting the best cards to carefully construct their decks. But Dominion isn’t a collectible card game, even though it uses cards to play. The main differences here are that players have the same pool of cards to “buy” new cards from and enhance their initially small decks. The other is that deck construction happens on the fly as the game progresses. In Dominion, players take on the role of monarchs vying for control of their ancestral lands. By purchasing cards and building up a deck, they build up their kingdom, enhance their castle, hire minions and earn victory points to

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win the game. There’s an entire kingdom up for grabs here, but sharing is not caring when it comes to achieving what the game’s title implies. The replay value of Dominion is immense. There are 500 cards to use in the game, as well as 25 Kingdom cards (of which only ten are used in a single game). The permutations are endless, and the game offers massive amounts of fun for those that try and do each other over during the course of a game. It might not be a board game in the strictest sense of the word, but Dominion is awesome amounts of fun. It takes a very different view of deck construction and management, which is a breath of fresh air when it comes to card gaming, and requires quick wits and strategy in equal measure.g

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oard

Small World

mall World is a unique, frantic game of domination, set in a fantasy world. Players can choose between 14 fantasy races and 20 unique special powers to help them gain domination of a world that is simply too small to allow everyone their equal share of space. There is no being nice in this game, as every move an opponent makes is to the detriment of yourself. So there are no holds barred in this crazy, often hilarious game, as each player tries to make the most coins before the final round. At the end of the game, it’s the money that counts – the player who has used their races to gain the most money wins. Coins are awarded at the end of each turn, with players earning

one coin per territory controlled. Small World is moderately easy to learn, but is deceptively strategic in the playing of it. It will get players pulling their hair out in frustration, or smirking annoyingly as their plans come to fruition. Either way, it’s a fun way to spend the time it takes to play, and the myriad combinations of races and powers means that almost every game will be different. And that’s really what one looks for in a board game – potential for variety. And, of course, the chance to mess with people, which Small World provides in spades. We’re not sure if any friendships or relationships will end over this one, but it does provide a high degree of “argument potential” as you scupper your opponents’ plans.g

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OnBoard

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Ticket to Ride

he story behind Ticket to Ride is quite simple… 28 years after Phileas Fogg embarked on his challenge to go around the world in 80 days, a new challenge has arisen: a group of old friends challenge each other to see who can visit the most US cities in just seven days. Ticket to Ride offers everything a great board game should. It is extremely easy to learn, making it a very popular “gateway” game for those who are not familiar with modern board games. In fact, you should have the rules down pat in around 15 minutes. Although this travel based game is simple in principle, all sorts of complexities arise once you get playing. Players are tasked with visiting

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as many cities in the US, by rail, as possible. It’s not difficult to get to grips with, but the strategies and decisions players need to make during play can lead to a very dynamic, enjoyable and even complex experience. It is small wonder that Ticket to Ride is a game that was awarded Germany’s best game for 2004, and that there is even a world championship for it. This game takes a measured, tactical approach, combined with well-timed risks, if a player is going to win. The large, clear board and the numerous playing pieces are beautifully put together, easy to understand and tons of fun to play with. Ticket to Ride is a definite winner for any board gamer, whether they are a veteran or a newcomer. g

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A

The Time Betwixt

s humans we seem to have an inescapable urge to categorise everything. We’re not happy until an object is neatly pigeonholed, no matter how awkward or useless the label becomes, until it’s become a point of reference for something else. Gaming, of course, is no exception, and the whole field is littered with these designations; Triple A, RTS, openworld, MMO-if you’ve read anything about the industry (which, if you’re reading this, I’m taking as a given), you’ll have encountered all of these and more. Some are valuable, giving us valuable insight into some aspect of a game, some (like the ever generic “actionadventure” descriptor) mean less than nothing, and still others are just plain unwieldy. Of all the ways that we weigh and measure games though, perhaps the most useless of them all is the one that

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people look to first: the score. Let me qualify that. The score a game receives isn’t useless so much as it is inappropriate. While there are some hard and fast measures that are almost universally agreed on, any review is ultimately the personal opinion of the reviewer, and one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. What I hate you may love, and vice versa, and while an ideal review should be as impartial as possible, bias is always going to sneak in. To put it in another (more douchey) way, we’re trying to tack on an objective qualification to a subjective experience. It’s arbitrary, a meaningless figure that’s meant to represent something that can’t be broken down into a single thought, and it can be seriously misleading. How exactly do you calculate how fun a game is, or its visual appeal? You could argue that sites like Metacritic mitigate these

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BY Lein Baart

Score? What for?

issues somewhat, but you’re still left dealing with inevitable problems such as score creep, and the only true way to get a feel for a game before you actually play it is to read the review. It’s why we write them in the first place. This begs the question of why we bother to score games at all, and the answer is simplewe have to. For the same reasons I gave in the beginning of this article, people expect and demand to see the final tally in a review, to be able to measure a title against its contemporaries. Since the first time I had to score a game I’ve recognised that whole act was ultimately futile, and yet, despite myself, when I look at a write-up (be it a movie, game or book), my eyes are inevitably drawn to the rating. I know that it’s pointless, but I’m only human, and until I can fit a game into a neat little box, I’m not happy. g


a Far Cry 4 Hamper! Courtesy of Ubisoft & Megarom TO ENTER: Send an email to competitions@gameccamag.com Tell us the name of the character played by Troy Baker. Insert “FC4” in the mail’s subject line Subscribe to www.gameccamag.com Become a fan on Gamecca’s Facebook Page

Competition closes 31 December2014. Gamecca subscribers only. South African residents only. Prizes may not be exchanged for cash. Competition closed to employees (& employee’s family) of 1337 Media CC, Megarom and Ubisoft. The judges’ decision is final. co mp e t i t i on • c o mp et it io n • c o mp et i ti on • com pe ti ti on • com pe ti ti on • com p etition •

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Acer An unexpected source.

Z5

A LIFESTYLE

cer aren’t necessarily known as a phone manufacturer, but with smartphones becoming more and more like PCs, it’s hardly surprising that they would enter this market. The Acer Liquid Z5 is one of their latest smartphone devices, and it serves to fill a gap left by all those high-end performers. It is a phone that, while not top of the spec list, certainly is capable in more ways than one. However, some of the specs may leave the modern user wanting just a little. Still, it’s a decent phone, even if it isn’t the fastest. g

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Acer Liquid Z5 Smartphone

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Car DVR Easy vehicle surveillance

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he usefulness of a dashboard camera is quite high. With a device like the DOD VRH3, you can capture, in full HD, driving related events that may need recording. Accidents are recorded automatically, thanks to motion sensing systems, and a parking surveillance mode will enable you to capture, at 30fps in HD, any nefarious dealing in or around your car. In a country where crime is always a concern, the VRH3 makes a lot of sense. And it is crammed with features, including optional GPS information, continuous loop recording, super low light mode and playback via an integrated LCD screen, to mention a few. g gamecca61

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DOD VRH3 Car DVR

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J5 Create Boomerang Station

J5Create

Station

A station for everyone…

A

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re there just not enough ports on your notebook? Of course there aren’t, and that’s why J5 Create have developed the aptly named Boomerang Station. It’s shaped exactly like the Aussie stick you can never get rid of, and it supplies your notebook (via one connection) with four USB 3.0 ports, a LAN port, VGA and HMDI outputs and dual 3.5mm audio ports (headphones and microphone. The most valuable addition it bring to the table are those extra USB ports (because no notebook ever has enough). It features a really funky look, and can be used with PC or Mac notebooks with the greatest of ease. Just plug it in and go.g

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Kanex Stereo AUX Flat Cable

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AUX Flat Cable A sensible necessity.

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cable is a cable, right? Well, no, not really. Kanex have created a range of stereo auxiliary cables (because you always need one of those). It will connect two 3.5mm jack devices, like connecting a phone to a sound system. Using gold plated 3.5mm jacks means that the audio quality is just that bit better. In addition, the cable is a generous 1.8m in length, so you don’t have to worry about placement too much. And in a stroke of extreme sensibility, Kanex made them flat cables, to avoid all those nasty tangles. And, to top it all off, they come in a variety of funky colours. g

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Sony

Aqua

M2

Out and about

S LIFESTYLE

ony’s wide array of Xperia smartphones means that there is something for every occasion and taste. While the M2 Aqua doesn’t tip the spec scales, even compared to other Xperia models, it’s 1.4GHz CPU and 1GB of RAM still do the trick. Even better, though, is that the device is water proof – up to 30 minutes of immersion at a depth of 1.5m is nothing to snigger at. With an 8 megapixel camera, this decidedly smaller Xperia is a great phone for outdoors enthusiasts. It’s 4.8 inch screen delivers a crisp display, with multitouch functionality for up to four fingers.g

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Sony Xperia M2 AQUA

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a LittleBigPlanet 3 Hamper! Courtesy of Ster Kinekor Entertainment TO ENTER: Send an email to competitions@gameccamag.com Tell us the name of one of the new characters in LBP3. Insert “LBP” in the mail’s subject line Subscribe to www.gameccamag.com Like Gamecca’s Facebook Page

Competition closes 31 December2014. Gamecca subscribers only. South African residents only. Prizes may not be exchanged for cash. Competition closed to employees (& employee’s family) of 1337 Media CC and Ster Kinekor Entertainment. The judges’ decision is final. co mp e t i t i on • c o mp et it io n • c o mp et i ti on • com pe ti ti on • com pe ti ti on • com p etition •

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THE KI

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ITCHEN Title: Writer: Artist: Publisher:

The Kitchen #1 Ollie Masters Ming Doyle Vertigo (DC Comics)

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by Clive Burmeister

It’s the 70’s in New York. A group of criminals get thrown in prison, leaving their wives in a difficult situation. Although their husbands were bringing in plenty of cash before, now there’s no-one to collect it, with all three of them off the street at the same time, the business is left to their goons, who really aren’t management material. Now these women must fill their husbands’ shoes, taking over the organized crime rackets which the men used to run, and keep everyone in line. But their husbands had kept them out of most of the business before, so it will be a sharp learning curve.

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DEATHST

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COOL STUFF

TROKE #1 Title:

Deathstroke #1

Writer:

Tony S Daniel

Artist:

Tony S Daniel

Publisher:

DC Comics

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by Clive Burmeister

Deathstroke is a character that has been around for a while, sometimes as a hero, sometimes as a villain, and sometimes somewhere in between. This new reboot series of Deathstroke sees him in the “somewhere in between” category; sure he’s an assassin and mass murderer, but deep down he’s not such a bad guy. Or is he? The comic is violent, action packed, fast paced, and fresh. There’s a bit of spy intrigue, there’s a shade of science-fiction, and a lot of butt-kicking. This new series looks to follow the concept of how Deathstroke got to be one of the world’s top assassins, his powers and capabilities, his secrets, his contacts, and all the while developing a new plot twist as the story unfolds.

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SUPERIOR IR

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Title: Writer: Artist: Publisher:

Superior Iron Man #1 Tom Taylor Yildiray Cinar Marvel

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by Clive Burmeister

The Red Skull’s last devastating attack on the world left many heroes and villains changed, altering their personalities to a darker (or lighter) side of themselves. Most were restored, but some remain changed. Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man is among the changed, and his old selfish personality starts to resurface. As he becomes less selfless, he starts drinking again, he plans his technology around making money rather than bettering people’s lives, and he doesn’t seem to care who he hurts or takes advantage of along the way. But there are times when a conscience can hinder a hero, where a good man can’t do a bad thing for the greater good and see the bigger picture. Will this new personality for Iron Man prove itself to be superior?

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RON MAN #1


TOOTH &

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& CLAW Title: Writer: Artist: Publisher:

Tooth & Claw #1 Kurt Busiek Benjamin Dewey Image

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by Clive Burmeister

This comic brings a fantastical world of possibilities and adventure to life. It is a rich fantasy setting, where talking animals of all shapes and sizes people the world. But in a world such as this, magic plays a pivotal role, so when magic begins to fail, the situation looks dire. As the story unfolds, we meet Dunstan, a youngster from the dog tribes, as he follows his routine on this special day. We also meet Gharta the Seeker, a magician with the insight to try to restore magic’s power. But as the wizards try a most complicated spell to bring back the Great Champion from the past, something goes wrong, leaving the town in tatters, and Dunstan and his friends in a very dangerous situation.

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109 Back Issues avail


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THE OBSERVER

hy do people take gaming so seriously? Activision released a press release in 2010 stating that Call of Duty – Black Ops has been played for more than 600 million hours that is 68 000 years, in the first month after release. Imagine that! For some people, gaming is a huge part of their day to day existence and life experience. Here is a billion dollar industry that is capable of not only getting in your head but in your heart too. Watching a great movie can affect anyone on a primal level, but a game… this is a whole different kettle of fish. Let’s face it; gaming is an emotionally driven industry that connects with the gamer on a very deep level. Oh and guess what, if you want to learn how to bend time, ask any gamer… it is the easiest phenomenon solved…simply play your favourite game and viola, six hours can be compressed into one. But it seems that it is much more than that. Doing some research on the matter, I came across a brain scientist by the name of Daphne Bavelier. Bavelier became interested in brain plasticity and learning, and received her Ph.D. at MIT in

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Brain and Cognitive Science. She has been studying the various aspects of cognition for over 25 years. Video games are a huge part of the experimental process on the effects of the brain and Bavelier, with her colleagues, found that fast-paced, action packed entertainment video games had an amazing impact, and positive effect, on the brain, benefiting several aspects of behaviour. After so much flack that gamers get about the socalled brain numbing effects of gaming, this is one doctor who every gamer would definitely call a friend. When a gamer connects to his favourite action video game, what exactly happens? Their whole body is connecting and responding to an interactive reality. Muscles react to the experience as their thoughts interplay with strategies and solutions. The brain’s responses are incredibly stimulating. According to Bavelier, the vision of action video gamers improves considerably, as the grey level recognition becomes clearer. Gamers with normal vision heightened their ability to detect contrast, see detail and make better sense of visual clutter. They have

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BY Katia Taliadoros

Video Brain... even found that, regardless of age and critical period of patients with amblyopia (lazy eye), studies were proving to be successful in improving acuity. Besides vision, visual learning especially in children is greater. When one is in control of the action that stimulates learning this builds stronger concentration as opposed to zoning out. Bavelier also found that action gamers were found to become better at multitasking and they actually resolve conflict faster while having a more acute ability to track objects, making them better drivers. So I ask again, why do people take gaming so seriously? Maybe they know they are getting smarter and realise everyone else is sabotaging their task to take over the world. With so much brain activity, it is no wonder that this form of stimulation is so personal to your average action video gamer. Perhaps their serious approach arises from their own brain demanding these benefits. Is brain chemistry being stimulated to the point of brain evolution? Either way, I am done with this column… Call of Duty, here I come... g


an Assassin’s Creed: Unity Hamper! Courtesy of Ubisoft & Megarom TO ENTER: Send an email to competitions@gameccamag.com Tell us the name of the main character in AC: Unity. Insert “ACU” in the mail’s subject line Subscribe to www.gameccamag.com Subscribe to www.gameccamag.com

Competition closes 31 December2014. Gamecca subscribers only. South African residents only. Prizes may not be exchanged for cash. Competition closed to employees (& employee’s family) of 1337 Media CC, Megarom and Ubisoft. The judges’ decision is final. co mp e t i t i on • c o mp et it io n • c o mp et i ti on • com pe ti ti on • com pe ti ti on • com p etition •

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Gamecca Magazine December 2014  

Gamecca Magazine December 2014 (Volume 6, Issue 66). We end the year with reviews of some of the biggest games of 2014, including Far Cry 4...

Gamecca Magazine December 2014  

Gamecca Magazine December 2014 (Volume 6, Issue 66). We end the year with reviews of some of the biggest games of 2014, including Far Cry 4...

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