RageQuit show off Strike Vector EX

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There are a few things in life that I can really appreciate. Any jet-propelled, agile combat craft is usually one of those things.

RageQuit Corporation like this kind of aircraft too. They’ve been busy working on a console version of the PC hit, Strike Vector EX.

They’re about ready for launch and to emphasise that fact, they’ve released a new gameplay trailer, highlighting the key features of the title.

Strike Vector EX promises to deliver dizzying dogfights, customisable mech-inspired ships, a single-player campaign mode and fast-paced multiplayer madness.

Strike Vector EX will be heading to cause carnage on the Xbox One soon.

Neverwinter: Rise of Tiamat available later today

Neverwinter Rise of Tiamat

Later on the today during the 7AM PDT maintenance window (3PM GMT), Perfect World Entertainment & Cryptic Studios have announced that Neverwinter: Rise of Tiamat will be available on Xbox One. The content update will be released alongside an update that aim to improve player experience across the board. These include an onscreen mini-map, performance upgrades, adjustments to queuing and more.

Neverwinter players may now explore the all-new Well of Dragons adventure zone while battling the harbingers of Tiamat, queen of the dragons, in the first of five free expansions Xbox One players can expect in 2015 at no additional cost.

Neverwinter: Rise of Tiamat follows the events of Neverwinter: Tyranny of Dragons campaign and the recent Siege of Neverwinter event. Along with new quests and heroic encounters on the path to completing the final chapters of the Tyranny of Dragons campaign, players can anticipate the upcoming 25-player battle with five-headed draconic goddess Tiamat.

With Neverwinter being one of the first MMORPGs to come to the Xbox One, we wanted to ensure that our game lives up to the idea of a living world.  Rise of Tiamat is just the beginning of our continued support for our game on consoles as we look to deliver more dungeons, dragons and game optimizations that our players want.

said Rob Overmeyer, executive producer of Neverwinter. You can read our full interview with Rob Overmeyer here.

Check out the trailer and new screenshots below.

 

 

A game of Cat and Wolf – brand new The Witcher 3 DLC

This week’s free DLC offering for The Witcher 3 is a new quest called “Where the Cat and Wolf play”. We all know who the ‘wolf’ is, but who might be the cat?

In previous weeks we have seen CD Projekt RED offer two new pieces of content, so is this week’s single quest larger than those before it? Keep an eye on the Xbox Store and download it to find out!

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Quantum Rush Champions review

The demand for futuristic combat racers is alive and well. Sadly, with Nintendo remaining tight-lipped on the prospect of another F-Zero after an eleven year hiatus and the closure of Wipeout developer Studio Liverpool (Psygnosis), the prospect of a future racer is decidedly unlikely.

It is into this arena of fallen and disused giants that GameArt Studio stride with a singular purpose.

Quantum Rush Champions is GameArt’s less than tentative foray into the world of high-octane, futuristic combat racing. Packed with features, weapons, power ups and a faux techno soundtrack, they have aimed to not only live up to the legacy of its predecessors, but to expand upon it.

First up is the conventional career mode. Selecting from one of the three manufacturers on offer, each with their own benefits and drawbacks; one has faster speed and greater boost but can overload if overused, one has greater defensive capability but reduced speed, and the third has greater control but reduced defence and acceleration.

Once you have chosen, you are presented with a series of challenges for each of seven classes, with varying levels of difficulty and rewards. Completing these challenges to an adequate degree unlocks customisation parts for that class of ship, which made sufficient difference to performance to improve your potential in other challenges. These range from the expected time trial, single race, and demolition modes to the more outlandish Courier mode; where you must compete to pick up packages littered around the track, and boss mode, which along with being more combat focused, is also essential to unlock the next tier.

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Arcade mode gives you the opportunity to play any of the missions from the tiers you have unlocked, and as such, allows you to practice the challenges you have yet to face or change the options, allowing you to set specific key targets and parameters that are locked down in the career mode such as AI difficulty, track, direction or even spawn chances.

Quantum Rush successfully hits a lot of key notes with its gameplay. The control of the ships is comparable to its predecessors, and there is a tangible feeling of break neck speed to each and every race, though some benefit more from this than others. The aforementioned Courier mode and Damage Control; where your speed is increased the longer you manage to avoid collision damage, both benefit greatly from more reserved acceleration.

It is these variations that, for the majority of the time, keep the game interesting.

One of its greatest drawbacks though, and quite a considerable one, is the combat mechanics. With a wide variation of defensive and offensive pick ups available, and on ship cannons that use the same energy pool as your boost, there is plenty of firepower to eliminate your opponents but this in itself is also a weakness as well as a boon. Holding three of the large array of buffs allows you to utilise abilities that benefit you most; do you go for the close range area attack, draw on the reserve battery for an extra few barrages of cannon fire or boost, or do you use your ranged missiles to needle the opponents.

Sadly, despite all this choice by the time you decide, it is normally too late to use them optimally unless they are more indirectly beneficial. This is especially true in the “Boss” levels, where you face off against specific pilots with the aim of destroying them within a specific time/lap limit. This is mainly due to the culmination of speed and accuracy not exactly marrying up.

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While traversing the level at a sufficient speed to maintain a firing solution on the boss, I found that numerous shots were going astray, but slowing to take aim leaves you in the enemies dust. This duality never truly feels balanced and as such combat in all levels feels like a crap shoot with the exclusion of Defeat the Enemy where the AI seems to be willing itself to be shot.

Overall, Quantum Rush Champions shot for the stars but fell short. The fast paced racing is sufficient in its own right, but the reliance on combat to progress beyond your current tier is the stumbling block for this title that ranks alongside its single player only limitations.

If you are having withdrawals for a good futuristic racer, this will satisfy that need, but there may be some frustration to be contended with in order to get the most out of the title.

Thanks to Xbox and GameArt Studio for supporting TiX

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Take a vote on Deus Ex’s Collector’s Edition content

Square Enix and Eidos would like to know your thoughts on their proposed content for the Collector’s Edition of Deus Ex Mankind Divided.

There are ten options to choose from – like a lunchbox, similar to the Fallout 3 Collector’s Edition, or a material tattoo sleeve so you too can have a bionic arm. You can select the three that you like the most (in order of preference) then wait to see which ones make the final cut!

Tales from the Borderlands Ep.3 review

After the fairly mediocre Episode 2 I was hoping the story would begin to pick up its pace and leave me wanting more, thankfully Telltale have done the job.

It seems fairly standard from Telltale to have a mid-season dip where they try not to give too much away storywise and try to develop the characters, as you play through the third episode you appreciate a bit more what the second episode was trying to do.

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At the end of the second episode you were left with a choice, and the third episode starts off just after that point, and it’s not long before the action begins. I had more fun in this episode, there were plenty of QTEs and for the first time some caught me off guard resulting me actually seeing the ‘game over’ screen a few times.

New characters enter the fold again and it really helps open up the story, different relationships are explored which I really enjoyed taking part in. The humour also felt more natural, which is good because the game felt like it was constantly trying to prove that Borderlands was funny, we all know the series is but it felt like they were trying to throw the laughs down our throats.

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Tales from the Borderlands has always been a great looking game and episode three actually looks even better, there are some beautiful scenes with some wonderful use of colour. This was the first episode I remember that didn’t suffer from any freezing too.

I’ll admit that when I first started playing tales I wasn’t expecting too much from it, but after this episode I’ve realised just how good it is. This episode alone is probably one of my favourite from all of the Telltale Games, which is saying something as I never thought some of the final episodes of the Walking Dead could ever be bettered.

Telltale have set the bar now for the rest of this season, the snippet of episode four looks excellent, so hopefully they dont make us way too long to play again.

TiX purchased Tales from the Borderlands to review

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TiX E3 awards

We’ve had quite a busy couple of weeks at TiX towers, E3 is always a busy time of year but now the dust has settled and we have had time to reflect, we thought it was time to dish out some awards to the games, trailers and stand-out moments from last week. The TiX team got together and here are our results…

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Fallout 4

Not a huge surprise really, we really can’t wait for November!

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Gears of War 4

We all knew something Gears related was coming but we were not expecting this! We have a while to wait for its release, but we are really looking forward to seeing what The Coalition come up with.

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Backwards Compatibility for Xbox One

It was predicted on the TiX Podcast, but it didn’t stop us squealing with delight when Phil Spencer announced the news. *Runs off to play Mass Effect again*

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Halo 5

We’re huge Halo fans at TiX so it’s no surprise that Halo 5 featured in our list, the gameplay demo looked awesome and we’re all intrigued by Warzone.

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Fallout 4

Well d’uh, we’re still excited!

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Unravel

Despite the EA conference doing its absolute best to put us to sleep, Unravel came along to charm us for 10 minutes. It grabbed everyone’s attention including ours and I’m sure there will be a fight as to who gets to review it!

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Forza 6

The Forza series has a long way to go to win back its racing crown but from what we saw this year it’s heading in the right direction.

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FIFA 16

FIFA continues to improve year-on-year, with the introduction of the women’s game as well as a host of gameplay and graphical improvements, FIFA 16 is bound to impress football fans around the globe.

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Just Dance

Just Dance has taken the world by storm and now you won’t even need Kinect, just a smartphone! The year’s biggest tracks will be there as well some of the best dance moves around!

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Tomb Raider

Yet again, Tomb Raider has got our hearts racing. The game is looking stunning and if it plays as well as the last game we are surely in for a treat.

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Ghost Recon Wildlands

This trailer had us all guessing, “new Far Cry!” we thought at first, and as it went on it was clear none of the team had a clue until the title rolled… it was perfect, and well deserving of our final award.

We had an amazing E3, we hope you enjoyed our coverage as much as we enjoyed producing it, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Batman: Arkham Knight review

I’ve been hankering for an 18-rated Batman game for a long time. The last Batman title I played was LEGO Batman 3, which while fantastic, was more 60’s Batman than current Batman. I’ve made my position clear on how much I’d like an 18-rated movie. Will Batman: Arkham Knight fulfil my need for a more violent and edgy game?

Firstly, the game itself, if you opted for a digital copy, is a whopping 40-odd GB. It took an absolute age to download, even on my super-speedy up-to-152MB broadband. In the end, I altered the power settings on my hardware and left it overnight. It had finished by the time I’d had a damn good sleep.

It was with trepidation that I fired the game up – the wait had nearly bumped me off! The first thing that hits you is the visuals. They pound at the eyes like so many gossamer sledgehammers. They are simply sumptuous. I could wax lyrical about the batsuit, how it glistens in the rain, how the wind rush affects the cape as you take to the air in glide mode, how detailed the features are, how the environment is as dark as the mood of the City of Gotham as years of relative peace is shattered by a single act from the game’s main protagonist, The Scarecrow. I can’t though, I’ve only got a certain number of words to play with.

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As we all know though, visuals alone don’t make a game. It has to play well. Rocksteady has made noises about how this is the final chapter in the series for the Batman Arkham series. They’d have to top the likes of the maligned Arkham Origins and improve on the quirky combat elements that weren’t to everyone’s taste.

At first the sheer scale of the game is almost overwhelming. Rocksteady appears to have created a behemoth capable of swallowing an experienced gamer whole. All is not lost though, far from it. Small steps and some slight adjustments in the way your gaming synapses fire and you should be barreling through the dank, rain-swept streets of Gotham in your $1bn Batmobile-shaped tank in no time.

The story is fairly free-flowing, although the gameplay in sections doesn’t quite feel as polished as other titles, the scumbag-infested streets are ripe for Batman’s unique style of knuckled justice. There’s nothing quite like the sound of breaking bones. I was lost at first. I’m getting used to games leading me around by the nose. The introduction leads you into a particular scenario, Batman tells Commissioner Gordon that he’ll deal with it and then, POW! You’re left pretty much to get on with it. You’re almost pushed to think to yourself, ‘What would Batman do?’ It’s a refreshing change from the tried and tested ‘Go here, do this’ storylines that pass for games now. The bar has been raised, but the game is so much more than just a story.

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Behind the cowl of the main campaign lies multiple side-quests that will challenge not only your mental powers, but your dexterity and accuracy as well. The training missions are presented as optional portions of the game throughout, especially where new Waynetech is introduced. This could serve to distract from the main campaign, but as this is a free-roaming world, you’re pretty much free to visit these, almost as you’re passing, or take them on as they’re offered. The beauty is, it’s your choice. The Bat, he’d get on with the campaign I’m certain, and saving the innocent. The Fire-fighter quest is one such example. You’re given the location of one of the brave GCFD personnel to save and the rest, well, that’s up to you.

The size and scope of the game will simply blow you away. It’s immense. If it took a walk around itself, it would come back with souvenirs. There’s a reason it’s 40-odd GB. Gotham City is presented in all of its dirty glory. The game manages to make the localised areas seem accessible yet huge at the same time, and you’re never sure what’s coming around the next corner as you speed to whatever waypoint you’ve set in the game-map as your next mission. Batman’s equipment stash is at your disposal to deal with these. Stalwarts like the Explosive Gel make a welcome return, but you get some new toys to play with, like the previously mentioned Batmobile.

This armoured monster is, at first, an absolute beast to control, especially for anyone who is used to piloting the Warthog in Halo. There is a battle mode on theBatmobile that is initiated by the left trigger. Initially I spent the time I should have been braking, transforming into battle mode. This was all part of the learning curve though and you soon get used to the controls. After visiting theGCPD detention centre, you get the option to change these controls in the settings. Quite why it’s not available until after this segment is anyone’s guess, unless it’s to give them a fair crack of the criminal’s jawbone. The battle mode gives you access to the weapons system and allows for greater maneuverability of the vehicle and I found myself using this more and more. There are other aspects to the Batmobile though, like the ability to control it remotely or to call it in to you location to provide support in the form of a winch or to provide generated electrical power.

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I don’t want to give too much of the story away, however, but I’m aware that I’ve only touched on this lightly. There are plot twists by the bucketful and the mechanics of this feature blend brilliantly well. You’ll just have to play it to see why – let’s just say that once the penny drops it makes for a stunning mechanic to Batman’s mental stability. The plain fact of the matter is, that this Batman storyline would quite easily fill several seasons of graphic novel. There’s twists, turns, surprises and deductions that I’ve made about the future plot. The future plot? Yes, I’ve not nearly got to the end yet – there’s just so much to see and do!

And there’s also so much more in the game that I’ve barely touched on, like the co-op takedowns. These are great fun, but do feel a bit like an afterthought, a gimmick in a game that really doesn’t need any more rammed into it. The graphics are absolutely amazing, there’s not quite as much variation in the combat, and there’s a slight over-reliance on the Batmobile-cum-tank sequences, but the storyline should be more than enough to sway fans and non-fans alike. I wondered if Batman: Arkham Knight would satisfy my bat-based violent desires, despite the brutality involved. The Bat famously tries not to kill his opponents, preferring to render them a threat no longer, minus a few teeth. I do draw the line at ploughing through the crowds in the Batmobile. Happily, though, it doesn’t really detract from the rest of the game and quite simply, Batman: Arkham Knight is the game you must own this year so far.

Thanks to Xbox for their support

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ASTRO Gaming A50 wireless (Gen 2) Xbox One headset review

A few months ago I put ASTRO Gaming’s A40 + M80 MixAmp Xbox One edition to the test, and boy was I impressed. Now it’s the turn of their prized headset, the ASTRO A50, but will the 7.1 Dolby Pro Logic IIx headset live up to its £250 price tag?

Like the A40, the A50 comes exquisitely packaged in a high quality gloss box that is clasped shut by magnets and wrapped with a cover sleeve. Within the box the contents are proudly displayed in molded plastic, but like the A40, there’s no hard case included, however, the A50 does come with a neat stand that, although tricky to assemble, looks great, proudly displays your A50 and houses the Tx MixAmp neatly beneath it.

The headset is of the same quality build and style of the A40, with soft touch plastic, shaped cushioned earpads and unidirectional swivel meaning the headset can be adjusted for maximum comfort, giving my ears that same feeling of being “hugged”.

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The non-removable mic boom is attached to the left ear and when in the upright position, the mic is muted. The left side is also where the charge and audio cables connect; unfortunately the A50 isn’t completely wire free. A micro USB (that’s included) can be connected to charge the non-removable lithium-Ion battery, although the cable is rather short, perfect in length for charging when stowed but not so good should you run out of power mid-game – during which time I used my Xbox One controller play and charge cable. When low on power, the headset will give you several warning beeps before cutting out, with the battery life at around 8-10 hours – considerably less than the awesome battery life of ASTRO’s A38.

For voice chat, you need to plug the audio cable into the left earcup and connect the mic puck to your controller. Like the A40, the wire connecting to the back of the puck is at a slight angle and should it need replacing, you can swap it with the official Microsoft adaptor. The connection into the headset is well positioned and unlike the A40, it doesn’t catch against my shoulder when I turn my head.

The mic fidelity is double that of the A40, and at 48MHz you would expect it to perform far better, and it does, although I did find that I needed to position it closer to my month to be heard more loudly. The clarity of the mic is superb, with no static surrounding my voice and very little background noise coming through – my friends could tell when I was using the A50. The moment I stop talking, the mic cuts straight out, whereas with some mics there is a pause of white noise. My only criticism is that if you are in a party chatting with a friend with no audio playing, the headset won’t recognise there is any audio and turn off to save power.

The right earcup is home to the A50’s audio controls, with a nifty rocker switch built into the earcup plate that allows you to adjust your sound in favour of game or voice – there’s a helpful audible beep when you hit 100% game or voice volume, or the optimum 50/50 split. The right earcup also has a small dial that allows you to control the master volume, and a switch that can be set to one of the three EQ settings – Media, Core or Pro.

Like the A40, I ended up favouring the Pro EQ setting, which boosts high frequencies – ideal for hearing someone sneaking up behind you. I also favoured this setting more than the others because the A50 is rather heavy on the bass, switching off the Dolby Digital sorts this, but you lose all of the enhanced depth that the Pro Logic IIx gives. With this in mind, and having used a similar headset from a rival brand, I must admit to being slightly disappointed that there isn’t an option to customise your own unique EQ – what a feature that would make if you could use the ASTRO app to control each EQ level!

I also found switching between EQ settings rather tricky, particularly as the switch is so close to the headset’s power button. The rest of the audio controls however are perfect – particularly the ability to mute the mic just by flicking up the boom, but by having the audio balance control as part of the right ear plate and a non-removable mic on the left, it does mean that the A50 isn’t compatible with ASTRO’s speaker tag system, which is a real shame, but there are several colour combinations to choose from, all of which look really smart, particularly the Halo 117 edition!

Tx MixAmp

The audio magic happens within the A50’s tiny MixAmp – the Tx. The USB powered box connects to the Xbox One via an optical cable and can also be used on a PC via USB. The unit itself simply has two buttons – one for power and one to turn the Dolby Digital on/off. Unfortunately the unit doesn’t power down/up automatically when you turn the Xbox off/on and I would have liked the option to control Dolby Digital as part of the headset – not all games sound great in glorious 7.1 virtual surround sound. Telltale’s Game of Thrones was one such game that sounded better in stereo, you just need to get off your backside to see whether you prefer stereo or surround sound for each game you play.

As with the A40, the stereo sound is incredible but once you hit that Dolby Pro Logic… wow… the depth to the sound is incredible – audio swirls around your head – when switching to stereo you can certainly hear how the sound changes to be more direct, coming in straight to your ears rather than sounding like you’re engulfed in it. The clarity that the A40 introduced me to suddenly opened up, giving my audio a depth to the space it filled, immersing me even more in the sound. Rather than being able to point at enemies left or right, the sound that the A50 pumps out gives greater accuracy to directional sound and it works superbly well. My audio was alive, it felt real – living in its own space, almost like I could reach out and touch it.

A50 stowed

The A50 has given me a whole new experience to my audio, everything from menu selection sound effects to how a gun sounds as you unload a clip into an enemy, ambient noises in the world of Tamaria to the hustle and bustle of a busy Los Santos street corner. I’ll be honest, some sounds actually made me jump because I wasn’t used to hearing them behind me, hats off to ASTRO and the virtual 7.1 surround sound because it works a treat!

I’ve even begun to play my music through Dolby Digital, which gives it a nice spatial depth, making the stereo option almost sound flat in comparison – both options are of course great, with a crispness and presence to the sound.

If you are after quality and an audio experience that you won’t be disappointed with, then I highly recommend you look at ASTRO Gaming’s range of headsets – but which one should you go for? The A40 or the A50? It’s difficult to recommend one pair over the other because they are both such great headsets, it really comes down to personal preference – do you want the depth of Dolby Digital, the bass of explosions and to be able to pinpoint sounds to a higher degree of accuracy or do you just want a high quality stereo headset – I would be happy with either!

So what’s next for ASTRO? On my ‘would like’ list would be the option to create my own EQ settings, and after using the A38, I’d love to get the noise cancelling technology into my gaming headset for the ultimate immersive audio experience.

Thanks to ASTRO Gaming for their support and supplying TiX with a review unit

Predator coming to Mortal Kombat X

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Series creator Ed Boon, renowed for teasing us with announcements on Twitter, tweeted this week saying

Recreate the Predator Movie (Komplete with Carl Weathers Jax) in Mortal Kombat X. Koming Soon…

This was accompanied by the screenshot below, clearly showing Predator and Jax squaring off against one another.

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Predator will become the third DLC character to be released sometime in July following Jason Vorhees and Tanya. All three characters along with Tremor were previously confirmed to be a part of the Kombat Pack DLC, the pack can be purchased via the Xbox store here. If however you don’t want to purchase the pack or the individual character DLC then you will just have to be patient as all new DLC characters may be playable in the future in the game’s Challenge Tower event.