Issuu on Google+

Spotting nefarious spam

For the Picking

Is SA ready for the Internet boom?

In the Mail

R evie w s inc luding As us , Eps on, H P, Canon, L ogit ech, T rit t on and more. . .

Digital Toy Box

Free

Disney unleashes Infinity...

I S S U E 3 5 / Vo l . 3 September 2013

www.gladgetmag.com

Online Mag


Inside 6 From the Editor

8 Did You Know?

INteresting facts from the tech world

10 Tshabablabber

Anything you can do...

12 To Infinity and Beyond

Disney Infinity has arrived!

18 You’ve Got Mail

Identifying the bad mail

20 The Broadband Race

South Africa is ripe for the picking...

22 Lookng Back: 1955

Humble beginnings

24 Reviews

This Month’s Cover

Lots of tech and awesome goodies.

Disney has created a gaming monster in the form of Infinity. See our feature on page 12...

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Reviews

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Asus Maximus VI Formula Motherboard

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Adata DashDrive Elite HE720 500GB External HDD

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SteelSeries Siberia V2 Frost Blue Special Edition Headset

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MSI Slidebook

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Fujifilm FinePix XP200 Camera

Editor: Katia Taliadoros katia@1337-media.com

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Asus Maximus VI Impact Motherboard

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Logitech G100s Optical Gaming Mouse

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Tritton AX180 Performance Stereo Headset

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Canon PowerShot SX500 IS Camera

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GLADGET Volume 3 Issue 35 September 2013

Writers: Alex Scanlon Andy Taliadoros Charlie Fripp Iwan Pienaar Lein Baart Pippa Tshabalala Rob Edwards Suvesh Arumugam Walt Pretorius Letters: letters@gladgetmag.com Competition Entries: competitions@gladgetmag.com

Asus Maximus VI Gene Motherboard

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HP Officejet 7610 Wide Format All-in-One Printer

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Epson L550 4-in-1 Printer

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Saint’s Row IV (X360)

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Splinter Cell: Blacklist (X360)

Newsletter Subscriptions: www.gladgetmag.com Design & Photography: 1337 Media Marketing Contact: Katia Taliadoros katia@1337-media.com

technology. simply.

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Disney Infinity (X360)

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The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (X360)

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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Copyright Š 1337 Media CC 2009 - 2013

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FutureIsNow

by Katia Taliadoros

From the Editor

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here is so much to look forward to in regards to the exponential growth of our tech-society, but one only needs to do an internet search to realise that the future is already here. Projects, seemingly stimulated by science fiction, are being launched presently, revolutionizing the world. Exciting stuff! At the same time…what however are the repercussions of all these inventions, one might ask? We are looking at a world where pedometers are glorified socks, masks that monitor air pollution, wearable fashion that determines the condition of your health, tablets that track eye movement (slicing game characters with your eyes) and driverless cars. On the front of robotics we have a maid that can recognise people, turn home appliances on and off; it has already been developed by Samsung. ASIMO, created by Honda, PR2 (Personal Robot) developed by Willow Garage in California and Roomba, the autonomous vacuum cleaner, made and sold by the iRobot Corporation. These are all incredible inventions and I wouldn’t mind having one of each! My personal favourite is Actroid, a female android

with silicone rubber skin, engineered with a more human-like appearance, movement and behaviour. Creepy and cool, all at the same time… Korea’s goal is to have a domestic robot in every home by 2020. Who wouldn’t want a maid that doesn’t sleep, doesn’t eat, doesn’t have mood swings or cost you an arm and a leg to keep happy. As cool as this is, though, one may also stop to think that in South Africa alone the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) has found that we have over a million domestic workers in employment. What happens when these workers’ jobs are threatened by a cute Japanese robot? As far as the computer world is concerned the “Parallela” is a super computer for everyone. Imagine an energy- efficient computer, processing complex software tasks simultaneously, without any issue. This computer has a holographic heads-up display, speech recognition and realtime object tracking. Multinational Corporation Google is launching Google Glass. It displays information like a smartphone... Only this is a hands free, optical, head-mounted, wearable computer and communicates

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with the internet… all though voice commands. This device has the ability to take video at 720p. A touchpad is located on the side of the glass that swipes between commands. I won’t get into the specifications of this awesome device as my Ed’s Note doesn’t have the space and, unless this is a proper four page review or feature, it won’t justify how cool Google Glass is. This is stuff out of Sci-Fi and it makes your smartest smart phone look and feel more prehistoric by the minute. Technology is an exciting industry and as an editor of a consumer tech mag I find the research thrilling. These technological developments are simply fantastic! But I also still have to question the concept that, with technology advancing so exponentially, it is almost impossible to comprehend the long term effects that these tools may have on society as a whole. Within this global village we still have the additional human factor that constantly needs to catch up to advancement. Whether positive or negative, at this point do we really have any form of control over the unknown consequences, and do we really actually care?


Did You

Know? 1

…that Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer to retire at the end of the year? Long-standing CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer announced last month that he will be retiring from the company at the end of the year. He will actively be involved in finding a replacement, but he said that retiring from the company wasn’t an easy thing to do. “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company,” he said in a statement.

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…that gamers will be able to play as Niko Bellic’s children in GTA Online? With Grand Theft Auto Online releasing soon, games developer Rockstar announced that players of the title will be able to create their own character using Grand Theft Auto IV’s Niko Bellic as its parent. Players will be able to select Nico as the father figure, and other parent in the character creators will include GTA3’s Claude and Misty. Once both parents have been selected, users will be able to alter exactly just how much their character to looks like each parent. It will sure make for interesting decisions, as players can choose if they want to follow in their parents’ footsteps, or change the family business.

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Regular

…that Samsung will release a Galaxy Tab 3 for kids? Electronics maker Samsung seems to develop solutions for almost any technological problem, and helping children learn is one of them. The Korean giant unveiled last months a Galaxy Tab 3 that has been specifically designed with children in mind. It’s a bright yellow with orange trim, and packs 1.2GHz dual processor, 1GB RAM, 3 megapixel front-facing camera and 1.3 megapixel rear-facing camera. The tablet also comes with pre-loaded with some of the most popular kids’ apps and a brand new Kid’s Store for discovering other educational apps.

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Departing big bosses, virtual grand kids and printing LPs... by Charlie Fripp

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…that Sony released an Azurite PlayStation3? While the PlayStation 4 will be launching around the world starting 15 November, and expected in South Africa on 6 December, Sony released a strikingly blue PlayStation 3. Unveiled at the 2013 GameStop Conference, the unit includes an Azurite Blue DualShock 3 wireless controller, a 250GB hard drive, a built in Blu-Ray player, and can hold over 1800 games, 140 movies, 99,000 songs, and 40,000 photos. If users don’t want to buy a PlayStation 4 but are in the market for a new gaming console, they will be able to pick this one up for $249.99 at all GameStop locations.

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…that YLG developed the world’s first Quad HD smartphone display? Users of smartphone can forget Full HD screens for their phone, as Asian technology maker LG unveiled the world’s first Quad HD display for smartphones. While the normal resolution of HD is 1,280 x 720, the Quad HD display is an impressive 2560 x 1440. Not only that, but the screen also boasts the highest Pixel per Inch rate yet, at a massive 538ppi. The screen developed by LG is suitable to mobile devices up to 5.5-inches and is only 1.21mm thick. While it is still impressive, it has to be noted that the resolution isn’t 4K, as that measures in at around 3840 pixels × 2160 lines.

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…that 3D printers can turn an MP3 into a vinyl record? The days of vinyl records may be long gone, but that hasn’t stopped music lovers from praising their quality. And with the advent of technology and 3D printers, users have figured out a way to recreate their favourite MP3 files in fully-functioning vinyl records. Inventor Amanda Ghassaei developed a way to transforms a digital audio sample into a physical plastic record that plays on a standard turntable. But users shouldn’t go rushing out to buy 3D printers, as Ghassaei concedes that the audio quality of her vinyls are slightly off. Would it still be technically correct to call them vinyls? g

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I could do your job Pippa Tshabalala

Tshabablabber

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ver the years I’ve had a variety of jobs, some full time, some part time, some of these all at the same time. Every time I begin a new job, even if it’s just something I do after hours, I learn new skills. Even if you work in the same industry, every publication or production house will have their own way of doing things, their own systems, their own deadlines. Being successful in your career is often about managing these things, figuring out how to apply your skills and knowledge to your new job in order to make what you do more manageable for you, and at the same time incorporating their systems into your knowledge base to make your employer feel comfortable that you know what you’re doing. For example, when I moved to my new job about a year ago, I had no experience in having to edit and balance my own sound, and suddenly I had to learn. Big projects were of course sent to a sound engineer, but the day to day stuff fell to me. I also learned that their way of delivering content to the

Author’s photograph by Adrian Louw

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broadcaster was completely different to my previous job, and not only did I have to learn this new system, but I had to liaise with an international office and apologising to them about the fact that I was new. It’s funny how in the arts, people look at your job and think “I could do that.” People in arts, music, drama etc. might not be saving lives, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not good at what they do and they need a specific skill set to do it. I’ve learned that no job is as simple as you think it is from the outside. How many times have you looked at someone and thought, “I could do that, it’s so easy!” The launch of the new ANN7 channel on DSTV should be a prime example of this. Hire a model as a news reader? Pfft! It’s easy, anybody can read off an auto cue. As you may now have realised if you’ve watched this rather sad excuse for a news channel, that this is not actually the case, as the ability of many the news anchors to read or even understand the sentence they’re reading is obviously lacking. This has in fact been said about me

at times. “She knows nothing about games, all she does is read off an auto cue! They should hire me, I could do that!” Yeah perhaps you could read off an autocue, but could you have an earpiece in your ear listening to directors instructions at the same time. Oh, and again at the same time as you’re reading the script (that you wrote yourself a few hours beforehand) and listening to the directors instructions, you’re also talking to a guest that you have on camera, paying attention to what they say, asking them questions and waiting for the director to tell you to wrap it up because you’re running out of time. Live. With no retakes. But you’re right, of course any one could do it. The people who put together your magazines, diligently researching content and making sure the magazine is not only good to look at but delivered on time. The people who produce the TV shows you watch, and present those shows, they’re all incompetent idiots and should be fired because you could totally do it better. We’re hiring, can I see your portfolio? Oh you don’t have one? Back of the line please. g


Interview

Virtual Academy

To Infinity a Disney takes on collec

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and Beyond ctible toy gaming‌ by Walt Pretorius

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Interview

D

isney Infinity has arrived, bringing with is an awesome experience on virtually every gaming platform available. Be it PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, 3DS or mobile, gamers will be able to enjoy a title that explores everything Disney with this exciting new franchise. Disney Infinity goes beyond just being a game about a movie… it really is about having fun with all the characters and settings that Disney has thrilled us with over the years. With so much potential for content, as well as the collectible figurines that are at the core of the game, parents pockets will be straining to keep up with demands. But this is a game for the whole family, presenting a high quality title for everyone to enjoy. By combining the idea of collectible toys with a game that offers a massive amount of activities – and then making those toys work as save game devices that are compatible with any platform – developers Avalanche games have opened the floodgates on one of the most potentially lucrative video game ideas ever. It isn’t the first time we have seen this kind of idea – Activision’s Skylanders pioneered the basic principles – but the refinement that Avalanche have put into it shows. We had the opportunity to speak to Matt Soli, Associate Producer for Disney Infinity, and asked him about the game, making it and what we can expect in the future. So who is Matt Soli, you ask? Well, he started working in games almost a decade ago, kicking off his career at Activision in 2004. He worked with Treyarch on games like Spider-Man 3, Quantum of Solace and Call of Duty: World at War. In 2009 Matt joined Disney, where he was involved in Avalanche projects including Toy Story 3 and Cars 2, as well as titles line Tron: Evolution and Epic Mickey 2. He joined the Disney Infinity team in the summer of 2012.

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GM: What are the challenges inherent in creating a game that works like Disney Infinity does? In other words, a game that bridges the divide between platforms. MS:They’re immense. Basically Infinity will be available on every platform. It’s a daunting task. We have a staff of hundreds of people working on all different versions of the game, making it appropriate for all these different versions. It’s one of those games where there have been many different teams that have helped make the dream a reality. There are well over two hundred

people at Avalanche alone. Without a doubt this is one of the bigger games I have ever worked on, if not the biggest, just in terms of scope and scale. The game size that you’re looking at is like Skyrim; each play-set is like six or seven hours of story, plus all the collectables, that take a while to get. And then the toy box. There are six play-sets that we have announced, so that’s over forty hours of game play right there. And then you can download other people’s toy boxes as well… it’s virtually GM: With so many popular and valuable

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Interview

franchises in the Disney stable, how were the initial play-set chosen? MS: That’s a great question! We looked at three avenues; first of all, awareness. What are people looking at right now? And then gameplay – that’s the key thing. We can’t have some character running around unless it’s fun to play with them. And then our fanboy aspect… we all debated about which characters should be in Disney Infinity. That was amazing. We had a huge list of characters that we went through, wanting to find the best ones for game play aspects. So we

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whittled the list down and came up with the core characters. You may have noticed that we are very Pixarcentric with Infinity… part of the reason is that we have an amazing relationship with Pixar. The guys at Avalanche have worked with them before, and it was very exciting to take this idea to them and see them get excited about it, and to see Pixar boss John Lasseter get excited about it.. And we just keep adding more people and characters to it. The guys from feature animation were like “oh my gosh, you totally have to put

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Penelope von Sweet and Wreck It Ralph in there.” That was weight lifted off of my soul when we finally got that, because I have had like a billion questions about Wreck It Ralph… he has to be in the game, right, because he was in a movie about games, and this is a game from movies… I was so happy when we announced it, you have no idea! GM: Most of the announcements so far, like Pirates of the Caribbean and Cars and the Lone Ranger, appeal to a younger, modern audience. Are we going to see anything for the fans of classic Disney?

MS: Totally. We’re doing Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey, which is one of the most protected versions of Mickey Mouse. We’re extremely fortunate to have him in the game. But what’s really awesome about Disney Infinity is that it is a platform for everything Disney. We have a number of offerings, including the virtual toys that are unlocked in the toy box. What great about that is that we can represent different levels of the company on that scale. Not everything needs a play-set. But with the virtual toys we can get them in there, even if we can’t make a physical toy for

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Interview

them. That’s what’s awesome about the toy box – we can keep putting stuff in there. I mean, we have Condorman’s wings in there. That was lucky. GM:Will there be classic play-set and toys in the future? MS: Oh yeah. Like I said, this is a platform for everything Disney. Stuff we’re going to do in the future… I am not trying to dodge the question – I am trying to answer it in a way that won’t get me fired. We want to eventually include everything Disney in Infinity. That sort of answers it. GM: And we will be seeing Infinity on the next

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generation consoles? MS: We’ll talk about that stuff at a later date. For now we’re looking at PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, 3DS and mobile. Which is a ton of stuff. GM: What are your personal favourite aspects of Disney Infinity? MS: It’s sort of a funny story… it’s the toy box mode, because it surprised me so much. I have two nephews, one eight and one six. It’s very fun to watch them play it. My eight year old nephew plays a lot of Minecraft, and he got into it, building stuff and making things with the logic toys. His younger

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brother, in the meantime, throws down a new character and starts beating him up while he’s trying to build stuff. This massive mode has so many different aspects to it. GM: And this is being aimed at the entire family? MS: Like John Lasseter says, he doesn’t make movies for kids, he makes them for dads. That’s how we targeted it. We wanted to make a kids and family game, but that was still a triple A game. On par with playability, graphics… So that way when mom or dad (or Uncle Matt) sit down

and play with the kids, we don’t get bored. Because kids games aren’t that great for adults to play. We wanted to change that, and I think we hit it out of the park. I am really shocked and awed – and humbled – by the response we have been seeing from people in the industry. One of my good friends over at Naughty Dog sent me a message saying “you guys have done really well… Walt Disney would be proud.” We are sure that he would have been. For our impressions of Disney Infinity, be sure to check out the review in this issue. g

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by Iwan Pienaar Feature

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f you’ve been on the internet for any amount of time, you can certainly relate to receive an email stating that you have just become a millionaire overnight by winning a competition you never entered or a rich Nigerian oil baron has died and his relatives need to find a way to get money out of the country and will give you a percentage of it if they can use your bank account. Of course, these phishing attacks are not unique to the Web. In recent months, there has been an increase in phony text messages with similar subject matter to the above. Even phone calls from people claiming to be working for Microsoft wanting to help you improve the security on your computer but really guiding you on installing malicious software have been on the rise. One of the most persistent security issues for mobile and Web users is phishing. Fake links can be used to persuade you to part with credit card details, PIN numbers and passwords, and even your physical address. Sometimes,

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thieves are even more brazen, simply asking for your information out right. Phishing attacks are usually easy to spot. By looking at the originating email address one can often spot there’s something wrong. Reputable companies don’t use cloud addresses so if your ‘bank’ sends you an email from a Hotmail or Gmail account your best bet is to ignore it. You really shouldn’t be getting a message from your bank without the official bank email address having been used. Sometimes, the email itself looks questionable, but the email address could appear legitimate. It may originate from a domain with the bona fide company name used somewhere in the address. Or the email may appear to come from the company itself. This is called “spoofing”, a practice where the originating address of an email message is faked. Email spoofing has been around for a long time. Spoofers simply change the email address in the “From” field so that,

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YOU’VE GOT MAIL Identifying those evil messages

with a cursory look, a message might appear to originate from somewhere else. Though some email clients flag this up, not all do - and most mail servers don’t stop this behaviour. It’s fairly easy to spot if you suspect an email isn’t quite as it seems. If you look at the full header of a message, you should see the real origination point in the “Received” section. In the smartphone age, one also need to continuously keep in mind text message spoofing. Like emails, text messages are sent with extra information called a “header” that tells the network where to deliver the message, where it came from and where to send the reply to. It’s this “Sender ID” field that can be most vulnerable as some services treat it as the origin point. Spoofed SMS messages can, in turn, exploit vulnerabilities in any service that allows you to send updates to it via text message. For example, Twitter recently updated SMS

authentication in response to this discovery, but some users may still be vulnerable. If your Twitter account has SMS enabled you should check your user settings and make sure you have the PIN code setting enabled - or that you disable SMS services with Twitter altogether. When it comes to these mobile devices, people tend to adopt a more relaxed approach to security. It seems that the general sentiment is that phones and tablets are safer than desktop computers and laptop. If anything, these devices need to be kept more secure as we save all our information on them and if they were to get lost or stolen, the consequences would be significant. In a survey last year, a security software company discovered that the Google Play store contained around 200 applications capable of spoofing SMS headers, with millions of combined downloads. So bear that it mind next time you click on a link or try and download something from your favourite app store. g

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U

Feature

ntil a few years ago the South African broadband market has always been something of a two horse race. While Telkom have always claimed the lion’s share of the market, which is easy for them to do by being the only national fixed telecoms operator, Mweb use their massive budgets and tie-ins from other Naspers subsidiaries like DSTv and MNet to create attractive bundles to capture large sections of the market. The rest have traditionally shared out what was left of the market, with companies like Internet Solutions creating opportunities for resellers like OpenWeb, Afrihost and Web Africa fighting for the remaining customer base on fixed ADSL lines. Cellular operators selling data had been a traditional business luxury up until a few short years ago. When Alan Knott-Craig, former Vodacom CEO, joined Cell C as their new commander-in-chief in April 2012 he had a plan to shake up mobile data prices. Aside from introducing cheaper call packages, he cut mobile data prices almost in half, signalling a free fall in data pricing with Cell C’s competitors, MTN and Vodacom, who had to bend to public demand despite controlling more than 80% of the market between them. Even though they were quick to react, the price war marked a comeback for Cell C, strengthening their customer base and their share value. This was probably a huge contributing factor in the final swing towards the public finally warming to cellular data as a viable means to access the Internet. Since 2009, mobile users outnumber DSL broadband users by far. With over 8 million South Africans using broadband, only around 850,000 use DSL broadband, meaning that the balance is heavily in favour of cellular data access. This is probably is no small way related to Blackberry’s dominance of the phone market (prior to Samsung’s current reign), offering affordable Internet for R59 per month. However, real change in any market usually happens when a new player shakes up the status quo, as only an outside new player can. Afrihost did this once

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before, by entering the ADSL market aggressively at R29 per GB, when the existing market was still charging around R70 per GB. This caused a national price meltdown, and eventually forced Mweb to release Uncapped in early 2010, to stay competitive. Afrihost hit the news again recently by introducing Mobile Data, with the flagship 5GB product selling for R145 (an effective R29 per GB). Afrihost claimed in their official press release that they invested R22 million rand into subsidising prices (as well as free MiFi devices) as a courtesy to their clients, however industry insiders are calling it a very strategic move to quickly create a client base to maintain the volume to keep their prices competitive. The massive campaign, and the mystery R22 million rand, has already given rise to industry speculation that MTN might be aggressively acquiring the ISP. This comes in the wake of MTN’s recently released mid financial year results, which revealed that although the company had grown it’s user base, it is under severe pressure to boost it’s revenue streams. Another company that’s breaking their own mould is FNB. No-one ever thought a bank would be an Internet Service provider, but FNB launched free capped ADSL data accounts in 2009, ranging from 1 to 5GB. Maintaining the small connectivity capacity boosted FNB’s service reputation, but also set the stage for them to introduce more connectivity and internet based programmes, like their Web Essentials Hosting package for Businesses. FNB earlier this month made the final leap towards becoming a fully fledged ISP, by introducing Uncapped connectivity. While FNB clients get additional discounts, the packages are very competitively priced and FNB’s service culture and brand recognition are likely to draw many potential customers. With other major players like iBurst and Neotel’s failing fortunes serving as both an opportunity and a warning to broadband players, every day seems to bring news that turns the market on its head. Despite rumours of a bidding war to gladget3 25 4

acquire Neotel (including it’s fibre infrastructure) between Vodacom and MTN, Neotel launched it’s new LTE service to a luke-warm reception. iBurst on the other hand are rumoured to be close to closing their doors, following a massive loss of public trust after a botched ICASA takedown of their network and infrastructure in April this year. Insiders confirmed that iBurst and its parent company WBS are looking for buyers earlier this month. So who is really going to change the broadband landscape? While we all love the story of Afrihost and Cell C as underdogs breaking the backs of the big players, let’s take a moment to remember Gogga. We’re not talking about SA cricket player Paul Adams, but an ambitious ISP started in 2005 with a view to providing affordable broadband to the masses. Vodacom bought a 49% stake in the company through their investment division, whilst also supporting their broadband network. However, following a dispute in late 2010, Vodacom cut all data connections, effectively closing the company. Gogga CEO Eugene Beetge alleges that Vodacom then aggressively approached their client base to absorb them, rather than amicably buying them out, effectively crushing any possibility of the company’s future survival. While a prolonged court case finally cleared Vodacom of any wrong doing, it is clear that it doesn’t pay to get in the ring with the big dogs. With broadband rapidly changing, and Mobile broadband gaining more and more market share, it probably more likely that we’ll see smaller fixed line operators like Mweb and Telkom offering more aggressive bundles bolstered with Mobile Connectivity, and this will be nurtured and encouraged by Mobile Operators who will support their network needs. The real question is how long will these strange bedfellows remain on good relations, and how much freedom will mobile operators allow before they start fearing for their own bottom lines? Like the Chinese General once said, “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer”. g


The Broadband Race A market primed for massive growth gladget35

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1955 Humble Origins

By Lein Baart

Looking Back

1

t was a year in which the world, for once, was largely at peace. While never truly devoid of tragedy, most of the year passed by to the sounds of parents having fits over the music of the King and Billy Haley, egged on by the burgeoning civil rights movement in America. It was the year that saw Fish Fingers come on to the market, McDonalds open their original store and Coke sell for the first time in cans, all small moments that have become ingrained in modern living. 1955 was not without calamity however as this year saw North Vietnam invade its southern neighbour, an event that would escalate eventually to become the Vietnam War, one of the most brutal conflicts of modern history. The world of technology in many ways seemed to mirror events in the world around it, as it was a year which saw many small achievements in innovation that would shape the present day. The first of these was the completion of the StrĂśmsund Bridge designed by Franz Dischinger, the first cable-stayed bridge in modern history. While not a recent invention, with

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the first design dating backing to around 1595, the StrÜmsund Bridge was a significant landmark in engineering, as cable-stayed bridges share many of the advantages of suspension bridges without their prohibitive costs. 1955 was also the year that saw Velcro first patented in Switzerland by engineer George de Mestral. One of the greatest examples of bionics (technology inspired by biological designs found in nature), the idea for what would eventually become Velcro sprang from a study of the burrs, more specifically their tiny hooks, that clung to de Mestral’s clothing during a hunting trip with his dog. Through a long process of trial and error, he eventually settled on the then nascent nylon as the most suitable material for his invention, and eventually exhibited his product in 1957. Despite its humble appearances Velcro has and still does see extensive use, not only in clothing, but with NASA and the US Army. Another invention that has had far reaching ramifications was the construction of the first

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caesium-based atomic clock, which has since defined the exact definition of a second. Built by Louis Essen and Jack Parry at the National Physical Laboratory in London, England, the caesium-based atomic clock was not the first of its kind, but rather the first to consistently keep time to such a degree the modern clocks are accurate to about one second per million years. Functioning by measuring the oscillations of a neutron and the surrounding electrons of an atom, the atomic clock is integral to the workings of a huge array of systems, including GPS navigation, television broadcasts and even the internet. The Flash-Matic, the first wireless remote control in the world, was invented this year by Eugene Polly while working at Zenith. Today’s remote control has seen extensive application in a huge number of fields and has become sophisticated technology, however the original resembled nothing more than a snubnosed hairdryer that worked by beaming visible light onto one of four photoelectric cells located on the corners of the television set. While revolutionary

for its time, it was not without its hassles as direct sunlight on the TV could cause the cells to activate spontaneously, thus flipping channels or turning the set off. In contrast to the technology around it, 1955 was the end of a few staples in the world of computing science. ENIAC, the world’s first general purpose electronic computer, was finally powered down after running continuously for over eight years. It was a massive landmark in computer history when it was first constructed in 1946 for use in the US Army Ordnance Corps, but in the span of a decade it had been quickly eclipsed by a booming market and was rendered obsolete. This was also the year that saw A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates published by the RAND Corporation. It was one of the last of its kind, a book dedicated almost entirely to a sequence of random numbers, before computer generated pseudorandom numbers became feasible, and saw wide use in scientific experimentation and statistical analysis. g

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Reviews Highlights 28 Asus Maximus VI Formula Motherboard Armour plated! 36 Fujifilm FinePix XP200 Camera A real tough guy! 42 Tritton AX180 Performance Stereo Headset For every occasion! 44 Canon PowerShot SX500 IS Camera Little zoomer!

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he Festive Season is creeping up on us slowly but surely, and as we get closer to that crazy spending time, we are seeing some really great new technology arriving. In fact, it’s difficult not to get excited about the fact that we live in a time when science-fiction is fast becoming fact. How awesome technology is. g

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A

Armou

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Review

Asus Maximus VI Formula Motherboard

sus have jumped all over the opportunity to deliver new motherboards compatible with Intel’s Haswell processors, and the Maximus range of high-end boards is a prime example of what they have on offer. In the past we saw one of the Maximus VI boards – around two issues ago – but now we have been treated to a flood of these excellent products. And the top of the pile is the monstrous Maximus VI Formula. It is, without wanting to sound all gushy, a remarkable board, and its looks follow the same idea. There are few boards that can claim to actually be good looking, but the Formula really is a motherboard that is kind to the eye. Perfect for those who like clear side panels built into their PC cases, the Formula’s aesthetic is governed by double sided ROG Armor. This casing, that covers both sides of the motherboard, does add a degree of protection, yes, but it also helps to keep things cooler for the Formula, which is a massively more important function. Speaking of cooling, the Formula also comes with the rather nifty CrossChill system. This is an enhanced cooling system that hybridises air and water cooling. It works best with water, but still adds a significant effect even with just air. In addition, all the expected bells and whistles are included in terms of components, like BlackWing chokes and other things that keep the whole operation of the board stable, cool and quiet.There are also a few added extras which help the Formula stand out even more, like the inclusion of Asus, WiFi Go system and a host of overclocking tools and other enhancements. These include the slightly controversial Sonic Radar that helps gamers find enemies based on sound… although people who have Asus boards using the system don’t seem to be complaining. The board also offers surround sound, S?PDIF, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, and a total of 16 supported USB ports, even divided between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. It is very easy to highly recommend a board like the Formula, because it really is an excellent product. The performance is great in every required area. That said, you’re not going to get one for a song. Asus are not known to be the cheapest, and the Formula is no exception. Still, good quality shows. The effects of a great motherboard are not always immediately apparent, but those who know what to look for and what to monitor will certainly see that the Formula is no slouch, and well worth the investment. If it is a little too rich for your pocket, there are other Maximus VI boards to consider, too. But if you can get this big gun, you won’t be sorry! g

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gladget35


by Walt Pretorius

ur Looks cool, runs cool… Summary

Tech Specs:

It may be a costly board, but everything about the Formula is about extreme performance...

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget35

Great features Perfect for tweaking Looks awesome

Z87 Express chipse 8 USB 2.0 ports 8 USB 3.0 ports CrossChill technology ROG Armor Wi-Fi Go! Sonic Radar

A sus Pinna c le A fric a www.pinna c le.c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Expensive

Score

96 29


Sm all , fa

Adata DashDrive Elite HE720 500GB External HDD

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by Rob Edwards

Sleek Storage

T Review

T

he need for a decent, roomy external hard drive is becoming more and more prominent, whether for legitimate reasons like backups and data storage, or more nefarious ones (like all those series you have downloaded over the years). Whatever the case may be, reliable external storage is becoming a vital part of modern living. So a device like the Adata DashDrive Elite HE720 is always welcome. This sturdy yet slim external drive offers the user 500GB of storage in a very compact package. Enclosed in brushed metal, the device looks as good as it is tough, and USB3.0 compatibility means that it is blazing fast when copying data – even when connected to older standard USB ports. Fast, tough and small – exactly what an external HD needs to be! g

30

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Summary

Tech Specs:

Well built, fast and small... exactly what we want in an external HDD

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

Small Fast Tough

USB 3.0 500GB Auto-backup 164g

A da ta Pinna c le A fric a www.pinna c le.c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • •

Cons • • • • •

500GB is getting to be too small...

Score

92


SteelSeries Siberia V2 Frost Blue Special Edition Headset

32

lent audio f or y ou rP

gladget35

C by Walt Pretorius

Review

el c x E


Cool

H H

eadphones are, as we have said many times before, very important things, and not just for gamers. They open up so much in terms of entertainment and communication that having a good set of headphones is, quite frankly, almost vital. The real question is which headphones to get in a market that is very, very crowded. There are tons of options out there, with all manner of bells, whistles, blinking lights and whirligigs attached to attract the consumer’s eye and hopefully tap their pocket. Digging through all the fancy stuff can be quite daunting. So, what the consumer needs to do is dig down to what they really need. And, if you get all brutally honest with yourself, you will come to see that all you really, truly need is great stereo audio. Sure, surround sound is all good and well, but it’s like 3D visuals… a little bit of overload to create an effect that is, when you really get down to it, unnecessary. Stereo is what is important, most of all. So, if you don’t want to spend all of your cash on a headset that delivers sound from every direction (although, remember, that this surround sound is actually virtual) getting the best stereo headset your money can buy is a great idea. I know, I know, there are folks out there who will argue with this, but it really is my honest opinion that you don’t need more. And so SteelSeries’ Siberia V2 is a really good deal, thanks to its generous 50mm drivers. They produce great sound, which is one of the most important aspects of headphones. Comfort is also up there in the importance list, and the V2 uses a unique and extremely comfortable suspension system for the headband. This, combined with well-padded over-ear cups, makes the Siberia comfortable, even after long use. This particular special edition comes with some features that the ‘normal’ Siberia doesn’t have. First of all, it requires a USB connection, and has an integrated USB sound card. While this is great for PC based users, it does restrict the devices that the headset can be used with. On the upside, this allows for programmable profiles to be available to the user. And it also comes with programmable illumination on the ear cups. It looks awesome, but shouldn’t be the deciding factor in making a purchasing decision here. Other than that, features like the retractable noisecancelling mic and previously mentioned suspension headband system are the same as other Sibera headsets. That’s not a bad thing, because they really are great. And if you’re going to be using them with a PC only, this limited edition is a comfortable, effective and stylish option. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

This special edition Siberia headset is great for those who want to use it with a PC only.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget35

Funky looks Great sound

50mm drivers USB interface USB soundcard Retractable mic Suspension system

SteelSeries M eg a rom www.meg a rom.c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

USB only

Score

86 33


e tyl ls Al er ov ta

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MSI Slidebook

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T Review

T

he best ideas are always ones that get copied and emulated. Take, for example, the hybridisation of ultrabooks and tablets. The result is a wide variety of touch-sensitive tablet-style screens complete with keyboards, larger storage and a host of other features that make them a bit more than the average tablet. While there are those who are quick to criticise the “stealing” of ideas that this kind of copying seems to imply, the truth is that nothing could be better for the consumer. Setting aside silly brand-loyalty ideas and looking at how these activities stimulate a competitive market (which is ultimately favourable for consumers in terms of technology and pricing) will let some real gems shine through. Like the MSI Slidebook. Here is a device that isn’t riding the crest of the new technology wave so much

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as following a safer distance behind… from where it is fully capable of implementing some really great ideas without taking too many risks. The 11.6 inch screen slides up to reveal the keyboard – hence the product’s name. But this action isn’t as easy as one would like – the slide feels a little stiff. Still, that’s good for keeping it from accidentally opening. Once open, the screen can be positioned in a number of different angles, making the Slidebook fairly versatile. The keyboard is necessarily compact, and the device has no track pad, or any other pointing control. Still, it does use Windows 8, which means that the screen fills in for that. Under the hood, this rather handy tablet hybrid sports a 1.8GHz CPU, supported by 4GB of RAM. Storage is taken care of by a 64GB SSD, which really is far too small to compete as an Ultrabook, but is fairly chunky for a tablet.

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The thing is, it isn’t a tablet, because it doesn’t use accepted tablet ideas like 3G connectivity. It leans more towards the Ultrabook side of things in functionality, and there it loses a lot of appeal. It possesses a funky feel and a lot of good looks, but those simply aren’t enough to make the Slidebook stand out in any terms other than aesthetics. Not that it doesn’t work. If the specification and form factor of this device meet your needs (which nears the realms of netbook, more than anything else) the Slidebook can be a great companion. But those who want a little more power out of a PC may want to look elsewhere (and arguably not at other tablets or Ultrabooks). It does provide a great battery life, and it looks really cool, but the Slidebook is not a heavyweight contender. MSI do better with their impressive high end notebooks. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

It looks great and is rather funky, but the Slidebook is not a heavyweight contender.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget35

Looks great Funky idea

11.6 inch screen 64GB SSD 1.8GHz CPU 4GB RAM Multitouch screen Windows 8

M SI Pinna c le A fric a www.pinna c le.c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Needs a more to be truly impressive

Score

69 35


Fujifilm FinePix XP200 Camera

Tough

M Review

M

ore and more people are starting to do crazy stuff to get their kicks. And the crazy stuff just gets crazier all the time. A big part of that kind of lifestyle is capturing the moment‌ whether to prove to everyone just how extreme you are, or to submit with insurance claims later. Whatever the reason, the need for recording the insanity has resulted in a wide variety of cameras becoming available for that specific purpose. These fall into two rough categories; the kind you strap to yourself, for that first-person feel, or the more sedate kind that are tough, but need someone else to take the pics. The Fujifilm FinePix XP200 falls into the latter category. It certainly looks the part. The XP200 looks extremely rugged and tough, almost more like advanced mountaineering gear in appearance than

36

a piece of photographic equipment. And the toughness carries on into the design as well. The camera is waterproof up to 15m, and can handle drops from up to 2m. Oddly, though, there is no built-in lens cap (no lens cap at all, in fact). In addition, the generous LCD screen on the back does seem a bit vulnerable, and one wonders how it would stand up to the knocks that a camera like this potentially faces. The design is, other than that, very well thought out. The controls are well spaced and easy to get to. The flash is sensibly placed away from finger-interference. And all the sensitive bits (card slot, battery, USB port and HDMI port) are tucked away behind a single, chunky, weather-proof door. That does mean that you need to open the door when you want to charge up the camera, or replace SD cards, but the security provided trumps convenience.

gladget35


A camera that can take a beating…

by Walt Pretorius

The XP200 captures images in 16 megapixels, which is none too shabby. It also offers a 5x zoom, which is a bit lightweight. It also offers full HD video recording at 60fps, which is rather impressive. That means crystal clarity when recording all the antics and mishaps. In fact, the camera is surprisingly feature rich in terms of settings and the like. It can, for example, shoot in HDR, and has a wide variety of preset shooting options available. These include underwater and underwater macro, as well as a 3D shooting mode and panorama image creation. And it all fits into a relative small package. We’ve seen smaller, yes, but not as tough as this guy. If you’re after a versatile camera for almost any kind of activity, the XP200 is a good option. It might not be the most versatile camera around, but it serves the purpose it was built for beautifully. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

Built for all kinds of conditions, the XP200 is a great extreme and outdoor photographic companion

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget35

Very tough Feature rich

16 megapixel 5x zoom 15m waterproof 2m shock proof Full HD video

Fujifilm Fujifilm www.fujifilm.c om

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Lens protection? Shallow zoom

Score

85 37


Big Impact

ETiny motherboard…

Asus Maximus VI Impact Motherboard

by Rob Edwards

T Review

T

he fashion to create smaller gaming cases using Mini-ITX form factor motherboards is gaining some traction locally. That is partly due to the fact that viable components of smaller sizes are now available. In fact, Asus has a Mini-ITX solution as part of their Z87 Express chipset Maximus VI motherboard range. Aside from being a lot smaller, this board is very similar in features to any of the other Maximus VI products. It features elements like Sonic Radar (to dominate those that don’t have it in games), GameFirst II networking and all the other things that make the Maximus boards stand out. It might have fewer USB ports than its bigger brothers, but as a Mini-ITX board for gaming, there are really no problems with the Impact. It is powerful effective and very capable, and should prove to be the perfect solution for those wanting a small form factor gaming rig.. g

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Summary

Tech Specs:

As small form factor boards go, this packs a massive gaming punch.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

Very small Very powerful

Z87 Express chipset 6 USB 2.0 ports 6 USB 3.0 ports Gamefirst II technology SupremeFX Impact sound Sonic Radar

A sus Pinna c le A fric a www.pinna c le.c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Good if you’re into small form factor PCs

Score

88


A Logitech G100s Optical Gaming Mouse

Smoke and mirrors from Logitech

No

W Review

W

hen you’re trying to stay competitive in a very full market, almost anything goes. And Logitech, despite the fact that they are a PC peripheral stalwart that has been around for many, many years, are facing a number of very impressive newcomers. Brands like Razer and Mad Catz and SteelSeries (and others) all produce products that place themselves in a very strong position to take on what was once an almost unassailable dominance of the high end peripheral market that Logitech enjoyed. So with their new line of gaming products, Logitech are attempting to forge ahead, and retain their strong position… even regain some of the ground that was lost to extremely innovative competitors. The thing is, though, that products like the G100s are not going to make that impression, because this particular mouse

40

is decidedly middle of the road. When you read the packaging, you find terms like “exclusive delta zero sensor”. What does that even mean? Sure, they claim high accuracy in tracking, but the jargon is just a little too much, particularly when considering that this mouse has a maximum sensitivity resolution of 2500 dpi. Hardly a world beater. In fact, it seems that the biggest claim the G100s is making is that it has advanced surface materials. These are a hydrophobic palm surface and fingerprint resistant button coatings. While not getting a sweaty palm is great, it really isn’t the top of most gamers’ lists when they are looking for a new mouse. Not that the G100s is a bad mouse. It can go toe-totoe with other devices in its category. But as a three button (including the scroll wheel) ambidextrous mouse, that category is really, really small. The main issue

gladget35


by Walt Pretorius

ow?

here is that this device is being touted as a gaming mouse, when it simply isn’t offering enough to make those claims. It is a good mouse, yes. It is sensitive and effective and one can play games on it, no problem. But you can do the same on any number of mouse devices that aren’t flying the gaming flag. Perhaps this shows a detachment with their public. Logitech have produced fantastic gaming oriented products in the past, but slapping the gaming category on the G100s feels a little like snake-oil selling. If you’re looking for a great mouse that has funky looks, is ambidextrous and comfortable, here it is. If you want an effective pointing device that will hold its own for a variety of functions, once again, here it is. If you are looking for a high end gaming mouse… this is not one. It simply is not enough to attract most gamers, leaving only the uninformed to possibly be swept along

Summary

Tech Specs:

It’s a good mouse, but even as a low end gaming option, it doesn’t match up to the competition.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget35

Effective for a variety of uses

3 button mouse USB 2500 dpi Advanced surfaces

Log itec h Log itec h www.log itec h.c om

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Not really a gaming grade mouse...

Score

65 41


42

All

Review

Option!

Tritton AX180 Performance Stereo Headset

Convenient connection all round

gladget35


by Walt Pretorius

O O

ne of the most painful things about headsets designed for multiple systems is that, when you get off of the PC and onto the console systems, you are more than likely going to have to make use of component cables. Actually, that’s only partly true. The PS3 will allow you to use a combination of HDMI and component outputs, thereby allowing image and audio delivery to screen and headset effectively. But the Xbox 360 is another matter, because the component plug that plugs into the back of the console blocks the HMDI port. Thanks, Microsoft. Really, thanks. But wait, there are determined people out there, and some of them obviously work for headset manufacturer Tritton. If you use the Tritton AX 180 stereo headset, you can use it with PC, PS3 and Xbox 360…using HDMI! That’s because the thoughtful people at Tritton included a special plug that slots into the 360’s component port without blocking the HDMI port. That, alone, makes for a lot of praise going the way of this headset. But wait, there’s more! The AX 180s manage to deliver really great stereo sound, by way of 40mm drivers. Personally, I always wonder whether smaller drivers can perform, but of late this size had generally been taking me by surprise… and these are no different. The highs are crisp, and the bass notes are rich and full. To connect to a PC, the user has the option of USB of standard 3.5mm jacks. That’s an eitheror. The user can decide which to use… once again, that’s pretty cool. In fact, this is possibly the most versatile headset we have ever seen. They can be used with virtually anything that has a form of headphone interface, and that makes them truly excellent for people who love their toys and gadgets. The well-padded ear-cups are over-ear style, but only just. In fact, folks with big ears may find that they will probably be on-ear. Still, they are comfortable, and the fully padded headband help keep these rather lightweight headphones feeling good. There is a rather complex in-line control that is fitted to the AX 180’s cable. It allows for separate voice volume and audio volume control, as well as independent muting. It also allows for input selection. The mic arm can be disconnected from the headset for convenience sake. It is fully positionable, too. In short, the Tritton AX180 is a fantastic stereo wired headset. The audio quality is great, and the fact that you can use it with pretty much anything is a big bonus. It features a generous cable, too, and is quick and easy to set up with any system. Tritton has a real winner here. g

Summary

Tech Specs:

This headset will work with any device that could conceivably be connected to a headset, and will deliver great audio to boot

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget35

Works with everything Great audio comfortable

PC / Mac PS3 Xbox 360 Removable mic Independent volume controls

Tritton Comet Computing www.c ometc omputing .c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Ear cups a little small

Score

90 43


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Canon PowerShot SX500 IS Camera

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Review

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44

gladget35


G G

etting a camera that can provide a lot of zoom is a great thing, because it really makes life a lot easier… particularly under the right kind of conditions. Taking a great wildlife pic – or even a photo of animals at the zoo – will always benefit from being able to get up close and personal. And zoom is one of the bragging rights that even the most uninformed camera user will throw out in a conversation. Well, the Canon PowerShot SX500 IS offers a lot of zoom. In fact, looking at the size of the camera, which looks like a scaled down version of the very popular ‘prosumer’ cameras that were doing the rounds a few years back, it is quite surprising that it packs a 30x optical zoom. Add in the assisted ZoomPlus function, and you end up with 60x, which really is rather mammoth in such a small device. However, that will be digital zoom, and no matter how good the technology behind digital zoom is, there is always degradation of quality involved. The SX500 is a capable little camera indeed. It shoots images at a rather nice 16 megapixels, and allows for full HD video recording as well. One might want to call it a pocket camera but it really wouldn’t fit into a pocket. Kit’s not as sleek as some of the other quick cameras we’ve seen from Canon, thanks to the rather bulky lens housing. Still, it’s smaller than many, and light enough so that carrying it doesn’t become a chore. As can be expected, it comes with a host of features and built in bells and whistles. These include things like advanced subject detection, 32 Smart Auto scenes, improved low light shooting and much more. In that sense, it feels a lot like any other PowerShot camera that you might come across. The larger size means that the controls are a little better spaced, and the back sports a rather generous 3 inch LCD screen. But the larger size is also the SX500 IS’ downfall, because it makes the camera that much less convenient. And if you consider the market that it is chiefly aimed at, convenience is rather important. The SX500 IS is bulky, yet not big enough to look particularly impressive. It is quick on the draw and very capable, but those that will appreciate it for what it can do may be a much smaller group of people than Canon may have anticipated. Still, it’s a decent camera, and if you can forgo the convenience, it provides a degree of zoom that similar class products simply cannot. And it’s image quality is great, too. g

by Walt Pretorius

Summary

Tech Specs:

It’s not the most convenient of the small cameras, but man, what a zoom...

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget35

Awesome zoom Good image quality

16 megapixel 30x optical zoom 60x ZoomPlus 3 inch screen Full manual mode HD Video

Ca non Ca non www.c a non.c om

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Bulky, even though it is small

Score

80 45


In the Middle Maximus has something for everyone!

Asus Maximus VI Gene Motherboard

by Rob Edwards

A Review

A

sus really have covered all bases with their Maximus VI range of Z87 chipset Haswell motherboards. From the high end Formula right through to the miniature Impact, every kind of taste has been catered for. Those who want a mini ATX board also have an option, in the form of the Gene. It comes with all the features one would expect from the Maximus VI range, including high grade components, GameFirst II network technology and Sonic Radar (which opponents will hate you for.) In fact, the Gene is very close to the Formula in specs, although it lacks the ROG Armor and watercooling compatibility. Other than those two, there really isn’t that much difference between the two. The Maximus range really does cater for every need, and reliability and performance are excellent across the board The Gene is no different, and those that select this particular motherboard will not be disappointed.g

46

gladget35

Summary

Tech Specs:

Another version of the Maximus VI range, this time for those who want a mATX form factor.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

Very reliable Great performer

Z87 Express chipse 8 USB 2.0 ports 8 USB 3.0 ports GameFirst II technology RAMDisk technology Sonic Radar

A sus Pinna c le A fric a www.pinna c le.c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Middle of the road

Score

90


HP Officejet 7610 Wide Format All-in-One Printer

Wide Wide Taking on the big jobs

M Review

M

any people never really need a printer. Among those that do, chances are that an A4 capable printer would do perfectly well. However, there will be those out there who will need something more, and it is for those people that HP have devices like the Officejet 7610 Wide Format solution. This is an all-in-one printer, really just like any other all-in-one printer… except for the fact that it handles paper sized up to A3.If that doesn’t get you excited, then you don’t need this printer. If it does, it’s a great solution for you. Realistically, this is a business machine. And it follows a business oriented trend that other printer manufacturers have also taken on; offering bulk inkjet printers as an alternative to laser printers. See, the technology in inkjet printing has advanced to a point where the difference between a ink or laser print

48

will only be discernible to the most trained of eyes. So it makes sense for business users to make a move to inkjet, which can deliver per page printing savings of up to around 50%. The large format of this printer does not just count for printing, though. It extends into scanning, too, with a scan bed that can also handle documents of up to A3. That, once again, is extremely handy for those that would need it. It’s a pretty specific device, when you get right down to it, but it does offer the end user a more economical wide format solution. It could, however, have been even better. See, the 7610 uses a two cartridge system: one for black, and one for cyan, magenta and yellow combined. That will work for some, but others may find that they need to replace the colour cartridge often. And with this solution, that means potential for ink wastage. A much better solution

gladget35


would have been a four cartridge system; that would have allowed HP to crow even more about economic operation for the 7610. Not that it’s that bad, and as a bulk business printer the ink cartridges actually handle quite a lot of work before running dry. And with a 250 sheet input tray, paper doesn’t need to be changed every five minutes either. Aside from printing and scanning, this device allows for copying (presumably also at A3) and faxing (doubtfully at A3). All control functions not taken care of by its Ethernet networking capabilities are made available to the user by way of a clear, 2.65 inch touch screen. So no, not a printer that everyone will get excited about… but it certainly does meet the needs of many, particularly in business, and offers a great alternative to laser. g

by Walt Pretorius

Load!

Summary

Tech Specs:

If you need a wide format printer and want a more economical alternative to laser... here it is!

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget35

Big jobs handled beautifully

Printer Scanner Copier Fax Up to A3 2 cartridge system

HP HP www.hp.c o.za

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

A four cartridge ink system would have been better

Score

85 49


C C

Review

Epson L550 4-in-1 Printer

onsumers have managed to turn things in their favour over the years, particularly where certain industries have been concerned. Thanks to a more informed end-user, as well as the current economic situation, which is affecting the entire globe, companies are having to rethink the way they do things, and some traditionally dictatorial industries have needed to find new ways to capture consumer spend. Whether the printer industry was dictatorial or not can be debated, but the fact is that consumers were held over a barrel when it came to the price of inks. Some used to joke that it was cheaper to buy a new printer than to replace ink cartridges; it wasn’t a joke in many instances. But over the last few years, printer manufacturers have had to reassess the way that they moved their products, in order to scratch out a corner in that all-important consumable market. Epson (who have not historically been renowned for providing reasonably priced inks) have followed an interesting idea. In fact, this is the second printer we are seeing that uses it, although the last one was a monochrome affair. Where other brands have gone with more economical inks, which cost less and yield more, Epson are moving (to some degree, and with certain products) away from the idea of cartridges entirely. The Epson L550 is a four-in-one home printing solution that offers printing, scanning, faxing and copying… all supported by Epson’s integrated ink tank technology. This means that ink is refilled with bottles of ink, rather than by replacing cartridges. That keeps the cost of potentially expensive cartridge manufacture out of the picture entirely, but the theory that you can fill up as an when you need is only partly accurate. Yes, you can just refill the colours you require in the four colour ink system, but not with partial refills. The whole bottle needs to be used. Realistically, that’s just as economical as a four cartridge system, but the refills do last a long time, and they are cheaper than cartridges… so all good in terms of economy. The L550 does its job well, delivering good quality prints, scans and so forth with a minimum of hassle. It is Ethernet capable, too, which is handy, and the controls on the face of the printer are simple, but effective. In fact, the L550 offers a very good solution for a home user who needs to make use of its functions. It would be great to call it a no fuss, no mess solution, but the ink replacement system does have the potential for a messy disaster. A little care should prevent that, though, meaning lots of easy, economic printing with this Epson alternative. g

50

Get

gladget35


But in a really good way…

by Walt Pretorius

Summary

Tech Specs:

Epson’s economic ink solution makes for a great home all-in-one device.

M a nufa c turer Distributer: O nline:

gladget35

Very economical Simple to use

Printer Scanner Fax Copier Ink tank system

Epson Epson www.epson.c om

Pros • • • • •

• • • • • •

Cons • • • • •

Be careful with those refills!

Score

88 51


I S S U E 5 1 / Vo l . 5 September 2013

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

Saint’s Row IV Splinter Cell: Blacklist Disney Infinity The Bureau: Xcom Declassified and more...

Crazy Days Saint’s Row IV loses its mind

Kill Shot

Splinter Cell: Blacklist hits the mark

No Limits?

Disney Infinity is crammed with possibilities

Bad to the Bone Get ready for Grand Theft Auto V...

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Taking fun seriously!

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Saint’s Row IV

Super-Crazy! The point is pointlessness…

by Walt Pretorius

T

with destruction and mayhem than before. And now, with the fourth instalment, things may have got out of hand… this Saint’s Row may prove to be too much for some, because it is completely insane. A little back story. After saving the world from nuclear disaster, the leader of the Saints (the player’s character) becomes President of the USA, complete with all the debauchery that a Saint in that position would bring. But then the world is invaded by aliens, and it is up to the President to put a stop to their nefarious plans. However, these aliens are smart, and they trap humans in simulations… kind of like the Matrix. The only real way to fight back is to mess with the system. And this is done by getting crazy inside the simulation. See where this is going? The simulation chosen for the player character is

Review

he Saints really have come a long way since their humble beginnings as a street gang. They became cultural icons and heroes and now, lo and behold, their leader is the President of the United States. And if that sounds ridiculous, you ain’t seen nothing yet… But let’s go back a bit and investigate why the Saint’s Row franchise has reached this point. When the first Saint’s Row game came out, it was pretty much immediately accused of being a Grand Theft Auto clone. Whether this was true or not really is no longer relevant; the developers knew that for the franchise to survive, it had to develop its own identity. And so, from the second game onwards, Saint’s Row got crazy. Each game allowed the player to do crazier stuff, to go bigger

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an almost exact copy of the Steelport maps from Saint’s Row III. There are a few changes here and there (like the unmistakeable alien presence) but those familiar with the previous game will recognise the areas easily. But things start getting out of hand within this playground before long. See, there is more Matrix homage (or making fun of) in this game. Using the help of some of the President’s crew, the player character learns how to use the simulation to their advantage. In short, they develop super powers. Initially, they do remind one of the Matrix and Neo’s abilities, but they soon get more extreme, with the player becoming more of a superhero with each passing mission. And that’s where the problem that people may have with Saint’s Row IV crops up. Why have the ability

to spawn vehicles when the character can sprint faster than a car? Why have a variety of upgradeable weapons when the character can blast foes with fireballs? Why have challenging missions in which the player has to climb to the top of a tall structure when you can just spawn an attack chopper, fly up there, and be done with it? That’s just the point with this game, really… there is no reason to do anything in any particular way. It as though developers Volition simply gave the player a massive toy box and a large setting, and are sitting back with clipboards to see what happens. People who call the game pointless have missed the point that game is not meant to have a point… sort of. Why use a car when you can sprint really fast? Why not? Why use guns instead of fire balls? Once again,

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Row IV is no longer challenging. And it can get very repetitive. The structure of difficulty curves and rolling out new ideas is almost completely absent here. The fun you will have with this game is in the messing around, doing crazy stuff almost purely because you can. Saint’s Row IV does roll out new things from time to time, including specialised weapons that serve as rewards for certain missions. These range in scope, from the awesome Abduction Gun to the utterly useless, but very funny, Dubstep Gun. Which brings us to the missions. Saint’s Row IV does have them, and they do advance the plot. And they’re free enough that the player can complete them in basically any way that fits into the broader paradigm of the mission itself. There are also lots of side

Review

why not? If you love free-form sand-box style gaming, you simply are not going to get any more free than Saint’s Row IV. That certainly doesn’t suit everyone. See, some people like their gaming to be a bit more structured, and the craziness that Saint’s Row IV presents can get over the top rather quickly. Even character customisation allows for a mad amount of variation, like previous games in the franchise. But it gets overwhelming for some, and even repetitive and boring for others. When your character is almost invincible, can leap over buildings in a single bound and run faster than anything on the road, where does the challenge come from? Well, the answer is a little complicated, because the truth is that after a point, Saint’s

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quests and activities to take on, too. In that way, this game feels a lot like its predecessor. In fact, it really is a case of Saint’s Row III with super powers and a new (rather shallow) plot. And that statement almost completely sums up Saint’s Row IV. It’s shallow. It has no deeper meaning, or underlying anything. And it’s not meant to. It is mindless violence, crazy antics and free fun. If you go into it looking for depth, structure, subtext or anything else that would make it more meaningful than random acts of video gaming insanity, you’re going to be disappointed. All of this is OK, though, because Saint’s Row IV never claims to be anything that it isn’t. It is an irreverent, all-out title that provides the player with endless opportunities for mischief; mischief that the

player themselves devise and execute to their heart’s content. It really is what you make of it, and if you’re willing to just have fun with it, it will provide many, many rewarding (if totally mindless) hours of fun. Where the Saint’s Row franchise is headed after this… well, I cannot imagine if getting more over the top. Perhaps this is the last game we will see in the series. If that is the case, it’s going out on a massively crazy note, which seems fitting. This game certainly isn’t for everyone, and many people won’t be able to deal with the idea that they’re just meant to have fun with it. The lack of strict guidance and stricter rules won’t sit well with them. But those that can accept the fact that the point is the pointlessness… they’re going to have a whale of a time in the Steelport simulation. g

AT A GLANCE: Action adventure

Reviewed on:

Not all games are works of art... some are just meant to be pointless, mindless, crazy fun. Similar to: MaxPlayers Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

GTA, Saint’s Row III Local

1

Network

Online

2

Volition Deep Silver Apex Interactive

Parental Advisory

18+ gladget35

2

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

Genre:

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

Score

80 57


Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Back in Action The best yet?

by Charlie Fripp

T

The Engineers vow to attack American assets which they have placed on what they call The Blacklist, and will attack each target according to a timed schedule set out by themselves. It will be up to Fisher and the newly-created Fourth Echelon to get behind the deadly attacks and stop The Engineers before they cause an international war. Fisher has been made the chief of Fourth Echelon, and the rest of his team consists of Anna Grímsdóttir, an old friend who serves as missions co-ordinator; Isaac Briggs, who sometimes accompanies Fisher on missions; and tech expert Charlie Cole, who is responsible for developing new technology and hacking into anything that has a circuit board. Blacklist’s main base is a large, technologically-advanced aeroplane from which the team plans and executes all their missions. The environment is free for Fisher to walk around in, and players will be able to talk to the individual team

Review

he sixth instalment of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series had stealth enthusiasts eagerly awaiting its arrival, as it promised to deliver a complete new playing experience – and Splinter Cell: Blacklist hasn’t disappointed. Players of the previous title, Splinter Cell: Conviction, will remember that protagonist Sam Fisher was going after Andriy Kobin, the person who supposedly killed his daughter, and Third Echelon. Blacklist takes place directly after the events from the previous title, and has to stop a deadly war from breaking out between the USA and Iran. Naturally things are slightly more complicated than they appear, and at the beginning of the title players learn of a terrorist group call The Engineers who demand that the USA remove their troops from foreign countries and send them back home.

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members to learn more about missions, the technology or to upgrade anything from the weapons to the plane itself. Players interact with the SMI, a large table in the middle of the Ops Centre, where Fisher will be able to see which missions need to be completed, and which ones are optional. From here, players can also access the multiplayer and co-op modes, which will take them to a separate menu. Everything in Blacklist has been packed together rather neatly, and the SMI serves as a central point from which all operations can be conducted – be it multiplayer, co-op or single player. Even weapon and Op Suit upgrades can be done through the SMI HUD. The title is fantastically integrated between multiplayer elements and the single player campaign, but the bulk of the experience is understandably from the main missions. At the start of the game, players will have to traverse the foreign

countries with the utmost of care, as not many weapons have been made available. As the levels progress and players take down more enemies, the more in-game currency they will acquire. This currency can then be used to buy new and better weapons, as well as upgrades to their existing arsenal. It’s advisable that players upgrade their goggles first, as tracking an enemy is just as important as taking them out. While not set in stone, players can opt to play in one of three styles, namely Stealth, Panther and Assault. At the end of each level, players will be scored according to their play style, and be awarded points for each. For Stealth, knocking out enemies, leaving the undisturbed and generally being as quiet as possible will score maximum points, while for Assault players can enter a level guns blazing. No matter which play style they opt to use, the will still be awarded accordingly.

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contribute currency to the game. But probably the most entertaining section of the multiplayer is the Co-Op section. In this mode, players can team up with one other person to complete missions. While the missions aren’t compulsory, there are element, aspects and characters that pull through to the single player campaign. The Co-Op missions can also be attempted solo, but will be incredibly difficult to pull off. However, there are a number of missions which are Co-Op only, and players will have to complete it with someone else. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a highly addictive title, and while the single player campaign can be very tough in certain parts, players will find themselves pushing on unto they complete the next step to drive the story along. The controls are simple enough, as most actions are

Review

Splinter Cell has built up a reputation as being a social game, and in terms of multiplayer, players can enter the Spies vs Mercs section in the SMI, which will take them to an online lobby. From there, they are free to create a game between friends, or to join a running game in progress. The game mode builds upon the same mode from Conviction, as is essentially Team Deathmatch between players taking on the role of spies, and others assuming the role of mercs. Each has its own merits, as spies are silent and operate from the shadows, while the mercs make use of brute force and heavy armour. Currency that players acquire in the single player campaign can also be used to buy weapons and gadget upgrades for the Spies vs Mercs mode. But players won’t have to keep on going back to the single player to earn currency, as taking out enemies in multiplayer also

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directed through the Action Wheel, which also slows time down a bit – giving players a few extra seconds to select the right gadget to use from a distance. In terms of graphics, Blacklist has spared no expense in bringing gamers closer to the action in a highly detailed world seen from a third-person perspective. Attention to detail draws the player into the fight, and the anticipation builds during tough missions with backtrack worthy of any Hollywood production. If criticism has to be levelled against the two-disc (on Xbox 360) title, it’s that it can take very long to load during transitions from the SMI to being boots on the ground. While it is understandable that there are a number of factors that needs to load, it takes longer than the average. There were also a number on instances where the subtitles didn’t match up with the spoken words, or where characters

disappeared from the cutscenes, onto to reappear a few moments later. Other than that, it plays pretty smooth. While enemies can seem linear in the easier game setting, they do become more intelligent as the player scales up the difficulty. Some missions are actually rather hard, even on normal – and players need to keep in mind to take it slow and steady. Lovers of the franchise will most certainly not be disappointed with Blacklist, as it provides for many actionpacked hours, as well as an extensive multiplayer aspect. Newcomers can also benefit from picking it up first, as it’s really a testament as to just how far the franchise has progressed. This could very well be the best Splinter Cell title released, and although series veteran Michael Ironside no longer voices Fisher, actor Eric Johnson does a fantastic job of carrying on the torch. g

AT A GLANCE: Shooter

Reviewed on:

This might just be the best Splinter Cell we have seen Similar to: MaxPlayers Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Splinter Cell: Conviction Local

2

Network

Online

8

Ubisoft Toronto Ubisoft Megarom

Parental Advisory

16+ gladget35

2

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

X360 Platforms

Genre:

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

Score

89 61


Disney Infinity

No Limits There’s gold in them there hills…

by Walt Pretorius

W

have Pirates of the Caribbean, Monster University, Incredibles, Cars and Lone Ranger play-sets available, and it ships with one character from the Pirates of the Caribbean, Monster University and Incredibles collections). Each play-set has an associated game that offers six or seven hours of play time, not counting finding all the collectibles. So, if you buy the starter pack, with its three characters (Jack Sparrow, Mr Incredible and Sully) you have already got around 20 hours of play time right there. Play-sets also have areas accessible by specific characters, for added replayability. But here’s where things get a bit more interesting. See, the pay-sets aren’t just rehashes of the same thing over and over again. Pirates offers the player a swashbuckling adventure. The Incredibles is a free-

Review

hen the word of Disney Infinity first started doing the rounds, the immediate reaction from the jaded and cynical was to leap up and down and proclaim is a Skylanders clone. And, on the surface, that’s what it is. But once you delve a little deeper, you will discover a game that is so much more than a knock-off of someone else’s ideas. Disney Infinity is a true gem. In simplest terms, Disney Infinity is a game that uses an interface device (called the Infinity Base). Collectable figurines are placed on this base and when they are, they appear on-screen in the game. That’s pretty much exactly the way that Skylanders works. But this base is a little different. It has two character slots, and a play-set slot. Each of the characters belongs to a play-set (initially Infinity will

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roaming action game. And Monster U in a stealth game. So, three genres as well as three games. Presumably, each successive play-set that is released will follow similar trends, offering not only a number of collectable figurines, but also varied gaming experiences. Figurines are specific to play-sets. You cannot, for example, use Jack Sparrow in the Incredibles game. That’s fair enough, and doesn’t interfere too much with the experience. The main reason for that is because Infinity offers yet another way to play… and this is the true gem behind the game: Toy Box mode. Any combination of characters can be used in the Toy Box. This mode provides the player with a sandbox in which they can build areas using parts unlocked and collected in play-sets, and in the Toy Box itself.

Toy Box creations can even include logic tools, which will allow players to create their own games within the game. These can be uploaded and shared using the various services available, depending on platform. That’s enormous, and elevates Disney Infinity from being a mere Skylanders clone (which in never really was, thanks to the way the characters and play-sets are structured) and elevates it to a hybrid between Skylanders, LittleBigPlanet and Minecraft. It really is a case of the sky is the limit here, with only the player’s imagination holding them back. Tools and parts can be unlocked in a variety of ways within Infinity. For example, characters get “spins” when they gain levels. Each spin allows you a chance to win a tool or object set in a randomised system… you’ll always get something, but getting exactly what

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has Wreck It Ralph, by the way, which is awesome. Each new Disney Movie is a potential play-set, whether animated or live action. That means that Disney Infinity’s scope is, well, almost infinite. It also means that parents are going to be feeling it where it really hurts… in the pocket. A discussion with another game journalist lead to him saying that he didn’t believe that infinity could pose a threat to the already well-established Skylanders, and that most people wouldn’t buy both products. He has no children. He doesn’t know the power of nagging, or how far parents will go to shut their kids up. Disney Infinity is, pretty much, a success just waiting to happen. Not that success isn’t well deserved. Here is a game that is of a better than expected quality (it certainly beats movie-based games hands-down) that will not

Review

you want might take a while. Using the toys and tools, the player can build virtually anything. The creations are limited in complexity, just like those in LittleBigPlanet, but there is still a lot of scope for what can be done. With the ability to upload and download Toy Box creations, the play time presented by Infinity becomes almost limitless. And we’re not talking about new play-sets either. Let’s be honest; Disney has a host of extremely valuable properties, and most of them would work extremely well in this game. Aside from the launch sets, we already know that characters from Nightmare Before Christmas and a special Toy Story is Space set are on their way, and Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey has been confirmed as well. So

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only teach children the principles of various gaming genres in accessible and kid-friendly ways, but will also stimulate their creativity with an extremely powerful set of tools and almost no limitations. And, just to top it off, it is enjoyable for older players, too, making Disney Infinity pretty much the perfect family game. And it can be used on virtually any platform available today. With the exception of the PS Vita, Infinity is everywhere. To facilitate the fact that kids will want to play with their friends, save-game information for each character is stored on a chip built into the character’s base. This info works with all platforms, so someone who uses a character with a PS3 can use that same character with a friend’s Wii U, for example. It adds to the social nature of the game and makes the toys even more valuable to their owners.

Speaking of the toys, they’re great quality; well produced and beautifully designed, there are probably going to be a number of grown up kids who want to collect them too. What Avalanche Studios have made with this game is nothing less than a virtually perpetual gold mine for Disney. But, at the same time, it is an almost endless source of entertainment for gamers and Disney fans, allowing players to not only enjoy the characters they love, but also to express themselves in an ever growing gaming universe. It is a master stroke… while Disney Infinity may not be the perfect game, its inherent variety and almost unlimited potential is ingenious, and it will doubtlessly entertain fans for many, many years to come. Parents, brace yourselves... g

AT A GLANCE: Collectible Toy Game

Reviewed on:

X360

Disney Infinity is perfectly named... this game has so much potential for growth that it is staggering. And it’s great, stimulating fun, too! Similar to: MaxPlayers Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Skylanders, LittleBigPlanet Local

2

Network

Online

4

Avalanche Studios Disney Interactive Prima Interactive

Parental Advisory

7+ gladget35

0

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Platforms

Genre:

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

Score

88 65


The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Back in ‘62 Who cares about continuity?

by Walt Pretorius

H

(aka the USA) takes place. Carter and his compatriots must fight off this first alien invasion, and thereby save the planet (aka the USA). The Bureau, unlike any other XCOM game, is a third person cover-based shooter with tactical elements. That’s a long winded way of saying it’s a lot like a hybrid between Mass Effect and the latter Brothers in Arms games. As Carter, the player will be in control of two other operative, who can be ordered to perform various (often very useful) combat tasks, like deploying turrets and healing comrades that are bleeding out. These squad mates, as well as Carter, will level up. With each level, they will gain new abilities that are never really explained; they’re just there. And this is another major problem with latching the XCOM title to this game –it doesn’t belong in the franchise.

Review

ere’s the thing with prequels: if you don’t have your story straight, big plot problems start cropping up. And that’s the main problem with The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Set in 1962, this game predates the XCOM: Enemy Unknown Reboot, and presents the player with the history of the XCOM organisation. Fair enough, but there are inconsistencies that simply don’t work – particularly not for XCOM fans. The biggest one is that, if XCOM already knew about aliens and had captured a bunch of alien technology back in ’62, why did they have to start again in Enemy Unknown? If The Bureau did not have XCOM in its title (or in its plot) things may have been a bit better. The plot sees the ever-surly Special Agent Carter summarily inducted into the fledgling XCOM when an alien invasion of earth

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See, in XCOM games, the player frantically fights for survival while trying to capture, research and utilise alien technology to improve chances of survival. All this in a turn-based isometric strategy game, mind you. In The Bureau, there is no research (that the player is involved in) and alien technology is simply just a progression of more powerful guns and backpacks which grant buffs. The player is simply swept along by missions, without ever feeling that sense of urgency that all the responsibility they had in the other XCOM games brought. Here, the player is little more than a talented grunt. It is, to be fair, a fairly competent action-strategy title, although it is not very challenging when all is said and done. The interface is simple yet effective, and the AI is not too bad. The levels are attractive, if a little uninspired in design.

What it all comes down to is a case of misrepresentation. The game is not an XCOM game, even though they try to make you believe it is. It doesn’t have the feel, the spirit or the quality of other XCOM titles. One cannot help but wonder if the XCOM franchise was used for an excuse to make a third-person shooter. And that’s abit sad, really, because it could have been a really great idea (although how they would explain away the plot holes and inconsistencies I still cannot fathom). The Bureau is competent, but unremarkable. Its campaign lasts around 17 hours, which is long for these days, but there are no real stand-out moments in this game. After a while it becomes a slog. It is a wasted opportunity, really; one would expect a lot more from 2K Marin, and a lot more from a game that is supposed to be part of the XCOM franchise. g

AT A GLANCE: Third-person action

Reviewed on:

X360

It’s a competent, if mediocre, third-person shooter. What it isn’t, is an XCOM game. Similar to: MaxPlayers Developer: Publisher: Distributer:

Mass Effect Local

1

Network

Online

0

2K Marin 2K Games Megarom

Parental Advisory

0+ gladget35

0

Violence Language Sex Drug Use Prejudice

Accessibility Hard-Core Medium Casual

Platforms

Genre:

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

Score

70 67


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Gladget Magazine September 2013