All posts by Rich Berry

I've been gaming for longer than I care to remember and spent four years writing for another XCN website leading a 10 strong team. Now I'm in charge of TiX alongside Dave Moran – I hope you enjoy what we do!

Geometry Wars 3 Dimensions review

The hyper neon, fast-paced twin stick shooter is back for a third time and it’s locked and loaded for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. It’s hard to think that Geometry Wars was originally only a mini game for Project Gotham Racing 2, quickly becoming a cult classic that eventually got it’s own game.

At its heart, Geometry Wars is a modern take on the arcade classic Asteroids, instead of shooting down floating pieces of rock you have to destroy a variety of enemies that are targeting your small geometric ship – throw in some funky beats, flashy neon lights and some power-ups and you end up with an addictive game that demands that you play “just one more game”.

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Geometry Wars has come a long way since its PGR days, you’re no longer refined to a two-dimensional plane. As the name suggests, the arenas are three-dimensional and there’s now an Adventure mode complete with boss battles to challenge your reflexes. To progress through each of the 50 levels you will need to collect stars, three may be earnt from each level but they aren’t easy to come by – GW3 is one tough cookie to crack!

As the levels tilt and twist in their three-dimensional space, they will twist your depth perception and when you throw in numerous enemies, you’ll have quite the challenge on your hands. The trick to being successful is to learn how each enemy attacks – do they float aimlessly about or do they beeline straight for your ship? Knowing this will give you an idea on which enemy you should eradicate first, although nothing can prepare you for coming face to face with a bunch of enemies as you navigate around an object. It’s these situations that demand fast reflexes, something the series is renowned for.

The visuals may only be simple geometric shapes wrapped in bright neon lights, but the three-dimensional neon displays created by enemies and your gunfire skirting across each of the arena shapes is particularly enjoyable to watch, just don’t become too distracted!

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Another addition to the series is the inclusion of drones. These can be unlocked by defeating each of the bosses in the Adventure mode. Once unlocked, you can select a drone to fight by your side and also add a super weapon to it, which can be unlocked by collecting stars. These ‘buffs’ can then be upgraded to be more effective in combat. It’s this combination of drone and super weapon that will allow you to better your score in previous levels, nab all three stars and trump your friends on the online leaderboard.

Outside of the adventure mode there’s classic mode, which takes place in the classic Geometry Wars place space. There’s a variety of modes to play, from king of the hill to pacifist. There is also a co-op Adventure but it’s only available in local play, there is competitive multiplayer but I never found anyone to play with.

Geometry Wars 3 Dimensions brings a new twist to the series while retaining that same addictive gameplay from the original game. Although the studio isn’t around anymore, I’m sure the guys and gals at Bizarre Creations would have been proud of what Lucid Games has done with the game.

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Defense Grid 2 review

When it comes to tower defense games you should certainly know the drill by now, defend a position against waves of enemies that increase in difficulty. There’s nothing glitzy or clever about Defense Grid 2, it’s pure tower defense fun with a rough story laced over the top of the campaign in an attempt to give the game some grounding – it doesn’t work and I barely took any notice of the rather annoying one-liner companions that you get paired with.

There are five chapters to get through totalling twenty missions plus a prologue. DG2 also comes with multiplayer for when you’ve had your fill of the campaign, but if you only have eyes for the single player campaign, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a whole host of content available in each campaign – you can opt for a straight up story mode or take on a more challenging wave of enemies by playing with buffs or limiters to your arsenal, each level may then be taken on at easy, normal, hard or elite mode.

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When placing towers, the trick is to manage your resources carefully, which tower do you place or do you upgrade your existing towers – whichever you decide your main goal is to stop the aliens from stealing your power cores and to maximise your chances of destroying them you can place towers along their route to make the path to their goal longer, you can even direct enemies right the way around your tower groups making them spend as much time as possible in your tower’s area of attack.

Once you get through several levels, modifiers are available to your towers and can be applied before you start a level. This affects their behaviour towards enemies and can prove vital to your existence if your strongest cannon tower is focusing its firepower on the toughest enemy on the playing field.

You’d be forgiven in thinking this all sounds simple, while the concept is rather old hat with many games adopting wave based mechanics, DG2 puts up a challenge right off the bat. Placing towers haphazardly won’t help you in protecting your power cores and while there’s a fine line between a challenge and frustration at not being able to pass a level, DG2 balances this perfectly and will certainly offer gamers a great place to be challenged.

Looks wise DG2 is your standard arcade fare, you won’t be singing any praises about high class visuals! The cheesy one-liners are rather annoying and far from amusing, you might also want to turn down the SFX. In the heat of battle the blaze of gunfire is rather unpleasant on your ears and the soft Sci-fi sounds of the music score is far more pleasant than the chug chug of gunfire.

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Multiplayer offers up two modes, a straight up co-op battle or a versus fight which is like a tug of war. As one player defeats enemies, they are buffed up and teleported to the other player until one of you is overrun. It makes for some fun gaming often resulting in one or two hairy moments but neither mode is strong enough alone to sell this game.

If you’re into tower defense games and want a game that offers up a whole set of buffs and options that will challenge your tactical mind, then you needn’t look further than DG2 – fans of the series will be right at home while those wanting some new-gen magic may feel rather short changed.

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Grab an Xbox One and four games for under £300

The UK has certainly jumped on board America’s Black Friday sales, we’ve seen online retailers partake in this for the past few years but now our high streets are looking to get in on the action with GAME leading the way with a superb Xbox One bundle deal. 300 stores will be opening at midnight so if you definitely want a bargain then you might be in for a long evening!

The bundle, retailing at £299.99, comes with the console (minus Kinect) £5 in Xbox credit, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and Forza Motorsport 5.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on GAME’s website, they will be unveiling new deals every hour from 6pm!

The December Games with Gold is…

Xbox have lifted the lid on December’s Games with Gold. Xbox One owners will get a retail game in the shape of Worms battlegrounds – the sequel to the popular death dealing turn based game in which players attempt to blow up each other’s team of Worm commandos.

Xbox 360 get to take to the icy slopes of SSX, a return to the former glory of the franchise that had slipped somewhat since the days of tricky but first 360 owners will need to put on their thinking games to solve the mystery of The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief.

Again the program delivers a mixed bag of games but for a change I don’t own the games on offer so I’m pretty happy, after all, I pay for Gold to play online – any extra games is a bonus!

The Crew leaves the starting grid from Monday

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The Crew doesn’t officially launch until Dec 2 but Ubisoft will be switching on the servers to their brand new MMO racing game from Monday morning GMT. After taking to the European roads of Forza Horizon 2 with my friends, I’ve high hopes for The Crew to deliver the ultimate social driving experience.

Ubisoft have held review copies until the game world is fully populated – a bold move, although a sensible one, I hope it doesn’t damage any sales for this exciting new racer!

Boom Ball Kinect releases under ID@Xbox initiative

After unveiling that Kinect was integral to the Xbox One, there’s been a severe lack of Kinect enabled games for Microsoft’s new console. That hasn’t stopped Kung-Fu High Impact developer Virtual Air Guitar from producing a brand new Kinect game on Microsoft’s ID@Xbox initiative.

Mixing Tennis with Breakout, Boom Ball Kinect releases Nov 28 for NA while the rest of the world will have to wait until Dec 5.

Check out the trailer below.

SteelSeries H Wireless Gaming Headset Review

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The guys and gals over at SteelSeries have been busy crafting their latest creation, the brand new H Wireless Gaming Headset. Not only is it a beauty but it’s also rammed full of features. The headset itself is beautifully packaged with a circuit board effect adorning the box which is printed in a spot varnish for added beauty to those that appreciate graphic design. The unit is slightly more heavyweight than the 7XBs and the quality and build is far better (not that the 7XB wasn’t any good). The headset features the same super comfy ear cups and retractable mic although this time round SteelSeries have made the cups fully rotate so you can rest them around your neck – handy for when you take a break from gaming and the mic is slightly longer and sits closer to your mouth. It always felt a bit strange with how the 7XB’s mic sat so far away.

I had fallen in love with SteelSeries after reviewing the Spectrum 7XB and even though it was only a stereo headset that connected to the Xbox via a 3.5mm jack and RCA splitter, the comfort and sound it created was exquisite. All the controls were located on the ear cups meaning you had to remember what all the different beeps and tones meant when selecting the correct EQ setting – now that’s a thing of the past.

The H Wireless’ transmitter has an OLED display that tells you exactly what menu you are in or EQ setting you have selected. The menus can be controlled with a spin wheel which is located on the ear cup, you can then tweak the currently selected menu item and cycle through menus by depressing the wheel. If you press the headset’s power button you can mute the mic (depress it for a few seconds to power on/off) when muted, a handy red light illuminates on the mic letting you know you are in mute mode.

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The decoder box that makes all the magic happen isn’t too dissimilar in style to apple TV and it’s packed with inputs so you can easily integrate the H Wireless into all your audio systems whether they’re optical or analogue. It’s all very well having lots of options but what if you don’t have all the wires to make full use of the kit? Well, the H Wireless comes complete with a whole host of wires, even an optical cable – you won’t be left wanting for anything extra. The kit even includes multiple power adapters meaning you can take this bad boy abroad and still be good to go right out of the box.

The headset is powered by a slim lithium battery and the kit comes with two packs so one can sit charging inside the decoder while you happily game away with the other. The folks at SteelSeries really have thought of everything – well, most things. The menus and options may well be controllable via the headset but there are several menus that are only accessible from the decoder itself including the standby option which is hidden away in several menus.

My favourite feature of the H Wireless is the EQ settings, literally they are music to your ears. You can select an EQ setting from several presets or create your own,  what’s more is that you can even create profiles for each member of your house, each genre of game or even for each device that you connect to the decoder. LiveMix returns with the ability to tweak the ChatMix and if you hold the mic close enough to your mouth and speak loudly you can hear your own voice through the headset but not well enough for it to be a feature worth praising, the headset instructions do mention that to work effectively the game and chat audio must be connected via two different inputs but whether this allows your own voice to be heard better through the headset is one for SteelSeries to confirm because I couldn’t get anything worth while from my optical setup.

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The mic still needs to be connected via a wire to your control pad (I assume Xbox One support will follow) and there’s also a second input on the headset so you can connect an mp3 device straight into it or share your game audio with a second headset. I’m sure there will be several audiophile fanatics out there that would point out issues with the highs and lows to the audio, but I feel that’s like someone pointing holes in a beautiful HD picture – unless you have over sensitive ears or just fussy enough to pick holes in a brilliant system then you’ll find the H Wireless a brilliant piece of kit. The sound is so clear that everything around you in-game sounds far more vibrant than it did previously, it’s like you’re hearing the sound in HD. Going back and playing games that I had poured tens of hours into I found that the audio sounded new as my ears picked up on several effects and instruments that had previously remained masked or drowned out.

I must admit it took me a while to adjust to the virtual 7.1 surround sound but wow was it invigorating to be able to place direction to the various sounds with a far greater degree of accuracy. While playing Gears 3, my mate held a revved chainsaw and walked around me in a circle. The resulting sound was not just beautiful but I could close my eyes and be able to say exactly where he was. For a virtual surround sound system to be this good is something that SteelSeries should be very proud of.

I’ve also used the headset to listen to music directly on my iPhone and boy does it impress. Infinitely better than my earbuds, I can happily sit for hours listening to music through them although I can’t say I’ll be stepping out into the street wearing them!

The H Wireless is a truly stunning piece of kit that builds upon the impressive 7XB and gives the full Dolby experience. It’s easy to use and offers that same level of comfort that I’ve become accustomed to. The icing on the cake is the ability to tweak and save your own EQ settings but at around £250 the H Wireless may be on the expensive side for some gamers. It’s worth noting that there were no hoops to jump through when setting them up and even though some people may point out that you could invest in a pair of Astros, I’ve never really got on with them and heard of several people who have had complications in getting them set up properly.

If you have the need for a headset that is the perfect cross-platform solution then look no further than the H Wireless Gaming Headset. SteelSeries were testing my resolve by teasing me away from Tritton with the Spectrum 7XB and with their latest effort I’ve now packed up the Trittons and given them to my brother – SteelSeries is the only headset for me.

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