OXCGN’s RONIN Review – Kill Bill in a Motorcycle Helmet


Ronin is a 2D turn based game in which you take the persona of a motorcycle helmet wearing samurai set on a course to kill five targets who you’ve got bad blood with. With the ability to play each level either stealthily or gung-ho, Ronin is a challenging yet very fun game!

Screenshot 2015-07-03 22.00.25

Gameplay

Out of combat with enemies, the game isn’t turn based, with the player being able to move freely around the level and also is given the ability to stealth kill bodyguards – as long as you’re unnoticed. That being said, when you are in combat that is where the magic occurs. As it is turn based combat every movement or strategy you execute can change within a turn, moving to different locations or killing/stunning different enemies.

Ronin _ g
The key to winning the battles you face is the jump arc. With the player given the ability to jump to an enemy and knock them down, thereby stunning them, this gives a new aspect to the game when dealing with multiple enemies. One feature that was really enjoyable about this aspect was how the environment around you interacts with your actions as well as the enemies. A good example of this is jumping at an enemy and they fly through a glass window and out to their death. By using little tricks like this as well as using one enemy to stun multiple enemies, it makes the game a little more ingenious, requiring thought for the best course of action every turn cycle.

Screenshot 2015-07-03 22.01.54

Another enjoyable aspect of the game is the skill points earned. With successful completion of all the objectives in a mission – civilians are alive, enemies are all dead and data is obtained/an enemy is killed, you obtain a skill point which are used for skills such as stunning multiple enemies or teleport attacks within game. These skills allow for more elaborate game play with your techniques in-game becoming more stealthy and complex.

Cons

At times whilst playing the game, it was a struggle to get the jump arc to correctly be followed, with the character not following the projected arc at times. Also the main point of the game is to not get hit, so if you get hit by one bullet, well then it’s game over.

TL;DR

Overall the game was highly enjoyable for what it is. I thoroughly enjoyed the mechanics as well as the little ‘hints’ put in-game such as “the jump arc isn’t really a jump arc” which did make for a laugh whilst playing.

7/10

OXCGN’s Project Cars Review


Project Cars is the ultimate racing-simulator for the current generation. It’s racing expectations hit you in the face from the moment you ‘press start’. And it is definitely not a game for everyone.

From the very beginning Project Cars feels like it assumes players come from an automotive background and would know their way around its complex menu’s. The lack of explanation provided in some areas can offer a confusing experience. I’m afraid that many people may form their own opinion on Slightly Mad Studios game before they have even pulled the right trigger to accelerate.

Take Career mode for example, players are immediately given access to the entire range of career modes on offer, from Go-Karting to Formula One, the freedom here is greatly appreciated.

However, many players will be completely lost as to where they want to begin, because Project Cars’ menus can explain things very poorly. The career modes offer no explanation besides a small logo/graphic of the type of race they will be involved in, so hopefully you can decipher them.

Once you think you have it right and press that A button – you’re locked into that Career type. No back button to change your mind.

But the good news is that you can run multiple careers at the same time. The downside is you’ll need to fill out your driver profile details for every time you want to investigate a new career mode. This may get quite tiring if you’re a naive car gamer just looking to find a race with a Nissan GTR.

Did I say Nissan GTR? Sorry, it doesn’t exist in the world of Project Cars. Nor do many other popular brands that you would imagine would exist in racing games of today. No Lamborghini, no Ferrari, no Subaru and no Nissan are just examples off the top of my head.

I feel this is a huge deal breaker for any car enthusiasts wanting to race in a similar car that they own in real life.

One great piece of news for Australia is the Bathurst track is featured here, but don’t expect any Australian cars. I image the latter part just caused you to slide your Forza disc back into your disc tray. By the time you make it into your first race hopefully you’ve left all your Forza knowledge locked up outside. Forget it all. Project Cars is a true test of skill, and by far it is the most unforgiving and raw racing experiences on the current generation consoles so far.

Project Cars is like learning to play an instrument, it’s a frustrating test of willpower until one day when you just pick it up and it just works. Along the way you will get penalised for touching the grass, love tapping other cars and just general loss of control. The game offers an insane level of customisation for your driver preference. From its difficulty, to tuning your car, to even the location of everything on your heads up display. For those true racing-sim fans – paradise. But everyone else, I must ask, how long do you want to be in menu’s compared to actually driving the cars?

There is so much driver preference customisation you may feel disadvantaged by just wanting to come home from a long days work and have a few quick races before dinner.

Forgetting Career mode, I found a much more enjoyable experience simply using the quick race feature found from the home screen. Simply pick any car and any track and off you go. I felt this was a great way to experience all that the game offered and was a much quicker learning process than from career mode.

In the brief time I’ve spent in multiplayer a large portion was waiting for matchmaking to work. Finding a specific game type with a similar class of car was a test of patience.  After waiting for 10+ minutes I finally was placed in a match that was already in progress and lasted 30 seconds before ending.

After that test, I used the quick match option featured from the home screen. Which was not quick at all, but substantially shorter than the earlier 10 minute wait. The result was a race against a completely random collection cars and classes. Was it a race? not really, in fact it was more of a test of who could stay on the track for the longest.

Multiplayer is a testament to the difficulty of this game. Forget the battle to the podium simply trying to reach 1 lap with no major incident is hard, whether your fault or not someone will stack and crash into you. In fact in one match, I had a player stack their car right at the pit lane exit and every player crashed one after another.

If you’re the type of enthusiast who hears the title ‘Project Cars’ and thinks of Dad working on his rusty 69′ Camaro for years until it’s restored to glory. Think again. In fact there is really no vehicle customisation available in the game at all, the cars are all already at ‘race spec’. If that type of project is your thing then walk away right now.

Graphically the cars look fantastic and very realistic, the amount of different camera angles to choose from is appreciated and really suggests they have thought about exactly what this niche group of gamers would want. Slow the car’s down and look at the environments and perhaps they’re a bit blurry but who cares you’re supposed to be going fast!

TL;DR

Project Car’s is a raw racing-simulator experience. And expect just that. This game is for the niche that have been dying for a true  racing simulator. If you can overlook the lack of vehicle-customisation and lack of cars on offer there may be a home here to truly test your skills. If you have the patience and invest the time you will find a considerably strong racing-sim that I’m sure will grow stronger as the months go by.

Project Cars is available now on Xbox One, PS4, and coming soon to Wii U and PC.

Pros:

  • Ultra Realistic Racing
  • Realistic Physics
  • Graphics
  • Niche game many have been wanting

Cons:

  • Ultra Realistic Racing
  • Lack of cars to choose
  • Matchmaking needs improvement.

For the casual racing gamers:

6/10

For the racing simulator fans:

8.5/10

OXCGN’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Spoiler Free Review


The Witcher 3 is what I would happily call the near epitome of next gen gaming right now. A gorgeous look, indescribably in-depth storytelling, rigorously challenging combat (Both mentally and physically), minigames that could stand alone and make millions, and way too damn much content to cover in what short time I had with this game. Everything is not just a step, but a giant leap with a vaulting pole above the previous game. Geralt’s hair looks more like hair and less like a crust grey bedsheet, combat flows seamlessly from parry to strike to counter, and every character has a story to tell or be meddled with. To try and cover everything this game plates up in a single review would be a gross injustice.

As such, this review will cover gameplay specifics, including a final score. A review of the story, characters, and world lore will be upcoming shortly.

Witcher 3

From the remnants of a fallen Temeria to the sprawling cities of Novigrad, The Witcher 3 boasts a huge and densely populated world. Every crossroad carries an opportunity to flex your moral compass or rake in some gold, and every city is brimming with targets, contracts, missions, and story. The Witcher 3 is beautiful. Unlike previous titles that have personally looked a little odd to me, The Witcher 3 is bright, detailed, and colourful. Previous titles felt like they were overstepping the limits of technology; trying to look beautiful but using knock-off brand make-up to do it. They were dark, grungy, and the textures were, let’s face it, ugly.

The Witcher 3 accomplishes what 1 and 2 could not, and the result is a beautifully colourful world in both textures and character models. In this massive and colourful world, there is a lot of ground to cover. To remedy this, they’ve given us Roach, Geralt’s trusty steed. Horse mechanics are a godsend and a curse simultaneously. Sprinting along roads does not drain your horse’s stamina, and it will steer itself along the path… for the most part. It does a good job 70% of the time, but you will sometimes find him stuck on a cart or fence, or even just running straight off the road at a sharp turn. He also struggles to heed your call. Roach spawns too far away, and often has trouble finding his way to your side. It’s no major downfall, but it does show the teething problems of many a new feature. Probably one of the best improvements from games’ past: Geralt’s goddamn hair.

Every time I booted up The Witcher 2, I was reminded how grossly cringe worthy the hair animations were. His hair looked like a plastic bag of moldy kraft cheese singles. However, now his porcelain white locks flow in the breeze like silk drapes by an open window. In saying that, his longer hair style is still a little shaky, but a trip to the barber to get some shaved sides and a ponytail results in some beautiful witcher hair ready for battle. Unfortunately, NPCs suffer a little bit of… ‘bioware’ syndrome; many of the NPCs tend to look near identical due to their shared hairstyles, especially young girls. This becomes a problem come quests that feature these young girls, whose apparent doppelgangers start popping up everywhere.

Within The Witcher 3’s beautiful world resides many… many monsters. All ripe and ready to swing a sword at. Model animations are smooth and crisp, alongside the gloriously fluid combat system. Finally, Geralt is swinging around his silver blade like a true student of the Wolf should. Parrying, countering, striking heavy or hard, and casting signs all flow together perfectly. The Witcher is no strategy series, but the complexity of NPC’s in combat offers itself to needed some forethought.

Enemies will not wait around for you to hit first, they will come at you hard and fast, they will block, and they will gang up on you in high numbers. Timing Quen signs with parries, finding an opening for a counter and follow up attack, knowing when to roll out and reset with an Axii… I’ve not had so much fun ending countless, incessant bandits every single time. Monsters are rather varied from species to species, but some creatures like wyverns and bears tend to have rather similar combat mechanics. It is not the case with many monsters, but alas some, though visually and stunningly unique, share similar strategies: stay away from the claws. Boss monsters are another beast all together (get it?)… they range from terrifyingly fast alpha werewolves to giant mutant deer ready to gouge Geralt clean through.

They all have a strategy, but sometimes they learn. While fighting a griffin early on, after dealing some hard hits with my silver sword, it quickly took flight and refused to land until I’d punctured it with a few crossbow bolts. Alongside this, every creature has a bestiary entry worth reading; it details their explicit weaknesses to particular sword oils, bombs, or signs, as well as describing their habits in a completely lore friendly, almost textbook excerpt. To close: read the damn bestiary.

Character progression and enhancing is a clear step above The Witcher 2. No Witcher of the Wolf should have yet to learn how to parry and counter, that’s basic swordplay, and also my biggest gripe with the previous game. Now, Geralt starts with all the skills needed to protect the innocent and slay the grotesque. Leveling up and spending skill points is more about developing and improving Geralt’s currently existing skills. Gaining the ability to deflect arrows, improving stamina regen and attack power are all the bonuses you will be striving for. Alongside his swordplay skills, Geralt can also improve the effectiveness and additional affects of his signs. The Quen (shield) sign can explode when it breaks, and Axii (repel) can slam your opponents into the ground ready to be deftly finished. In conjunction, there are ‘alternate signs’ that can be unlocked. These include turning Igni (fire) into a searing beam rather than a flamethrower. The alternate signs, when equipped, offer a whole new layer to the magic gameplay and increase the depth of combat further than it already has delved.

Mutagens have also hit an upgrade; now, of the abilities you have equipped, you can apply mutagens to groups of three skills: the more of those three skills of the same colour as the mutagen, the better the effect of the mutagen. This creates a strategic requirement on what skills you take in to battle, to get the most out of Geralt’s powers. Potions are also, in my opinion, much better this time around. Rather than making individual concoctions and then mulling over your life choices for a few hours while drinking power ups, you collect the ingredients and create a poultice once. From that point on, through meditation you can replenish a stock of 3 of each potion. Each potion still carries a toxicity, but now rather than lasting 15 minutes, each potion will last between 15 and 30 seconds. It’s a welcome take on the unnecessarily complex potion system of the Witcher 2. Overall, the progression and enhancement systems have been satisfyingly enhanced and even remade; all for the better.

Let’s talk meta. Within the gorgeous and dangerous world of The Witcher 3 lies a deceivingly simple card game called Gwent. A curious bar-goer teaches you the basics early on and you get a starter deck to begin with. You will quickly want to set out on improving your decks, and you will quickly become addicted. The concept is simple enough; take turns placing cards and building strength, at the end of a round: highest strength wins. It’s when you take into account weather cards, double strength cards, heroes, special abilities, and the fact that you only have 10 cards (excluding extra draws from abilities) per game. That is up to 3 rounds on only 10 cards. It’s a deceptively simple game, and your first few matches should go rather smoothly. The best part of Gwent, is that it allows for the development of a personal playing style, there’s no particular “best” way to play.

Certain factions (Northern Realms, Novigrad, Scoi’atel, and Monsters) have certain strengths and weaknesses, and different card combinations within those factions also have pros and cons against one another. I personally found the monsters deck the hardest to defeat… I’ll let you figure out why. Unfortunately, I often felt helpless in some games. You need to defeat the best to get the best cards, but you need the best cards to defeat the best. Hey look, it’s good enough to get it’s own paragraph in the review, no?

The_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt_clowns_i_hate_clowns

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is ridiculously complex in so many ways. It is most certainly a positive complexity. It hearkens back to the moments we spend describing our perfect RPG: “It needs to have this, and this, and I want that too, but if that’s there we need this.” For those that ask for everything and are often left disappointed, the Witcher 3 takes a damn good shot at answering all your desires. In saying this; it is too damn massive. To reiterate; assuming to cover all content in this single review would be an injustice. As above, this review covers most of the gameplay aspects. Later on, OXCGN will be posting a Story, Character, and Lore review to follow up on this massive title. As for now, the score given to The Witcher 3 is an accurate representation of what it deserved, we merely need some time to collaborate the massive content load.

TL;DR

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is gorgeous, dark, brutal, and goddamn massive. In a beautifully rendered world that stretches beyond and conceivable size is an immensely enjoyable experience the likes of which the gaming world has not yet seen. Combat is ridiculously fluid and deceptively complex, and Geralt’s progression and enhancements have been drastically improved since their last iterations. Gwent, the in-game card game is complex enough that it could stand on its own; it starts off simple, and quickly becomes almost too engaging. Despite it’s grandeur, a game so complex and downright colossal has a few teething problems that are enough to notice, but not enough to kill the experience.

Pros:

  • Huge, beautiful, complex.
  • Combat is incredibly fluid and greatly enjoyable.
  • Gwent is a surprisingly complex and enjoyable attachment.
  • Progression and enhancement systems have been overhauled for the better.
  • Monsters are rightly terrifying, and offer fantastic challenge alongside your average bandit.
  • Geralt’s hair.

Cons:

  • Horse mechanics in particular have a few hitches.
  • Though few and far between, there are bugs, and they are noticeable.

9.7/10

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on PS4 was provided to OXCGN by Bandai Namco Australia for review.

OXCGN’s Mortal Kombat X Review


Mortal Kombat X… what can I say? You make me cringe. You make me scream. You make me want to throw up. You made me love you. The newest installment of Mortal Kombat deserved a lot more fanfare than it received. It is bloody, smooth and engaging combat that drags you in for hours before kicking your head off of your body in the most satisfying of ways. Alongside a complex and detailed combat system is more personality and story than you can soak with the brain juices of your enemies. Mortal Kombat X delivers on its promises and devours the face off your days, afternoons, and nights faster than you can scream “Mileena.”

MKX brings with it a roster of fighters both veteran and new. A literal next generation of characters including the children of Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, Jax, Kenshi: Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, and Takeda respectively. Also new to the lineup is Kung Lao’s cousin Kung Jin, “bug-lady” D’vorah, Kotal Khan, cowboy outlaw Erron Black and “symbiotes” Ferra and Torr. Other staple favourites return and many characters make cameos in the main story. MKX combat has a twist: Variations. Every fighter comes in three unique flavours that can drastically affect the fighter’s style and tactics. For example, Cassie Cage comes in the Hollywood, Brawler, and Spec Ops varieties. Hollywood gives her a similar feel to her father Johnny Cage; Brawler makes her fast and hard-hitting; Spec Ops gives her Special Forces related abilities. The differences may seem minor in text, but a fighter’s variation can drastically change how they play. Brawler Cassie is very close quarters and uses lots of long, chaining combos to achieve victory. Spec Ops Cassie has access to more long ranged, ‘keepaway’ attacks. Both play very differently.

The variation system is a very welcome addition; it just plain takes longer for each character to feel “used.” It also allows you to find an enjoyable aspect to every character… it makes you want to play across the whole roster, rather than sticking to a few favourites. No matter what move set your fighter has, it would mean less if the combat weren’t so damn smooth. There is rarely a moment of model jarring or awkward stillness; combat flows and it always feels like when you press a button, something happens. However, something I did notice is that this game is HARD. Even on easy mode, I found myself gasping for breath at the end of a round, and at first even lost a few times. I’m no master of fighting games, but normally I can pull off enough flawless victories on easy mode. The computer AI can also get into the habit of spamming a particular move. However, this was only really prevalent when versing Jacqui and Corrupted Shinnok. Why this happened, is because every character is so much more in depth, and each has a ton of basic combos. The game is harder, because with a little practice, every character is a much more comfortable play. You never feel completely helpless when playing as certain characters, something past games have been painfully guilty of.

I said it before; this game is bloody. Fatalities are brutal, and brutalities are fatally awesome. The flawless transition between the final blow and a violent end to your opponent via a brutality is endlessly satisfying. Playing with a friend for the first time, a brutality left him quickly confused; yet equally impressed. They’re quick, violent ends to matches that vary in difficulty from simply executing a particular move, to connecting a certain number of other attacks in order to make it possible. Fatalities are… gross. They’re ridiculous, Final Destination level finishers that should have the development team put into psychiatric care; especially the sound guys. The gurgling and frothing that comes from my TV sounds like the witches from Hocus Pocus brewing up a potion in my bedroom. It is unpleasant, yet it’s a fatality.

MKX has character. Each fighter has more personality than I’ve felt any other fighting game has presented. Each fight starts with a completely personal exchange between the two opponents that speak volumes of their story and personality in a few short words. It’s skip-able, and most people will probably do just that, but every line brings more character to the fighters and the world they’re in. Alongside the short exchanges that carry so much weight, is, for once, a damn enjoyable story. MK9 was okay. It wasn’t a bad story; it was a fighting game story. It understood that people came for the fights and not the chatter. MKX, however, gives you reason to sit back and listen. The characters are wholesome; they have background, personality, and relationships that resonate with the story and each other. It’s a story of comrades among chaos, and follows the next generation Special Forces unit: Cassie Cage, Takeda, Jacqui Briggs, and Kung Jin, as they set out to defend Earthrealm, and the Universe, from scorned Elder God Shinnok. It’s a short story, yes, but it is an engaging, emotional venture worth the attention.

Rather than having minigame rounds of defeating grunt enemies or completely baseless test your might challenges, small sections of the story use quick-time events. The quick-time events sit on an odd precipice; I enjoyed them and they added to the story over taking away from it… yet they were used only a few times in the first half of the game, never to be seen again. It almost felt like they’d forgotten they were doing it halfway through. They feel tacked on; not in a “they don’t need to be here” way but rather a “they’re only kind of here” way. I wouldn’t ask for one in every cutscene, but there were a lot of moments where I expected one where there wasn’t.

Speaking of expectations, I’m not sure what ones I held for faction mode. It’s the one promise MKX falls a little behind on. They didn’t exactly give false hope, but it definitely doesn’t have the impact they seemed to expect it to. Beyond getting some ‘koinage’ should your faction win an invasion, and the faction kill fatalities… there’s not much else there. It also seems terribly balanced towards the Lin Kuei faction, who completely dominated the first invasion I experienced. Whether it was an oddity, or an issue they need to address with unbalanced faction numbers, it’s not quite the beast it was hyped up to be. Living towers, however, live up to their name. They are different towers that change periodically and have different goals, and in the future will supposedly allow one to try out a DLC fighter. They offer a consistently changing objective to work toward, something very few fighting games offer bar achievements.

One of the biggest surprises for me was the Krypt mode. I went in expecting to wander through a grid of graves, or corpses, or anything gruesome, and spent my accumulated Koins on alternate costumes, music, and concept art. What I got was a smaller game in itself. The area is huge, and broken up into a bunch of different themes, that are all somewhat of a puzzle. Certain areas are locked off via one of the fighter’s items such as Raiden’s staff or Kung Lao’s hat. Finding these items will allow you into the barred area where more unlockables await. There is also a passage of time in the Krypt, measured by a clock on the HUD. Different times coincide with different events, such as special golden chests appearing, which are significantly cheaper than normal grave unlocks. However, hidden items and golden chests aren’t the only surprises the krypt has hidden in it’s shadowy halls.

Pros:

  • Fighters are varied and as complex as they are welcoming.
  • The story is engaging and well worth the experience.
  • Variations offer a welcome twist to each fighter.
  • Living towers offer consistently fresh goals to achieve.
  • The Krypt is surprisingly in depth and exciting.

Cons:

  • Faction mode does not live up to its hype.
  • The game can feel slightly difficult on first play.
  • Some AI can get a little “spammy” at times.

TL;DR

Mortal Kombat X surprised me. Its characters are well thought out and its story is remarkably enjoyable. The combat is beautifully fluid, satisfyingly gory, and incredibly complex when mixing in the new variations and returning brutalities. Faction mode didn’t quite deliver on its hype, but the ever-evolving living towers bring new goals at least every hour. Mortal Kombat X was an unexpected gem in my personal 2015 games collection, but it’s sure to stick around for a while yet.

9.5/10

AMD’s Radeon R7 270X Graphics Card Review


AMD’s 270x, released on the 25th of September 2013, was aimed at gamers who wanted good 1080p gaming performance without busting the bank. So being in the just under $200 price range, this graphics card had gamers eagerly waiting to buy it. Comparatively it’s a one up from it’s predecessor, which was the AMD Radeon HD 7870. The main difference being the slightly higher core clock speed –  1,050MHz whereas the older model running at 1GHz. This is the second review in my graphics card series and will have comparison tables vs the 260x throughout the review. In order to test it during gameplay, I used a combination of FRAPS, GPU-Z and just for benchmarking scores, I used 3D Mark.

The system specifications that I was using the graphics card with, is as follows:

Hardware Specifications 
Processor i7-4790 @ 3.6GHz
Motherboard Asus z87I Pro
PSU Antec HCG-520
Hard drive Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSD
Software Windows 8.1
Ram 8GB Corsair Vengeance Pro
GPU Driver 14.501.1003.0
Catalyst Driver 14.12 AMD Catalyst Omega Software

In comparison to other reviews out on the market, it is good to note that the driver used for the graphics card is 14.501.1003.0. Which is obviously a newer driver so the review will be a little more up to date.

The games that were used tested were:

  • League of Legends
  • Shadow of Mordor

The Benchmarks

Using 3D Mark, the graphics card was put through each consecutive test given. The number crunching is as follows:

Test 1: Sky Diver (Used for gaming laptops and mid-range PCs)
3D Mark Score 17278
Graphics Score 19699
Physics Score 10051
Combined Score 20502
Graphics Test 1 84.32 fps
Graphics Test 2 96.4 fps
8 threads 182.61 fps
24 threads 107.19 fps
48 threads 61.34 fps
96 threads 33.78 fps
270x SkyDiver Test with graph from 3D Mark
270x SkyDiver Test with graph from 3D Mark
Test 2: Fire Strike (Used for high performance gaming PCs)
3D Mark Score 5404
Graphics Score 6005
Physics Score 10639
Combined Score 2173
Graphics Test 1 28.51 fps
Graphics Test 2 24.08 fps
Physics Test 33.77 fps
Combined Test 10.11 fps
270x Firestrike Test with graph from 3D Mark
270x Firestrike Test with graph from 3D Mark

The Comparison

So as we go along, we’ll be compiling a comparison table in order to show all the different scores and all the different cards tested next to each other. Based on 3D mark score we’ll arrange them from top to bottom using the combined test scores and then side by side with all the other scores next to each other and a quick explanation. So without further ado:

Test Used on 3D Mark 260x (combined score) 270x (combined Score)
Skydiver 16395 20502
Fire Strike 1495 2173

Gaming Tests

League of Legends

League of Legends again was my starting point for the test, being an avid League player and to appease the MMO fans. Using the R7-270x, the game ran smoothly on the highest settings with it never dropping below 60fps. This also stayed the same whilst recording gameplay.

Using FRAPS with all setting on ultra high, the outcomes of the test are shown below:

Frames Time (ms) Min (FPS) Max (Fps) Avg (Fps)
1561 55109 0 62 28.326

It’s worth noting that for the above test, I used a custom game in which the champion was standing still, so there wasn’t much movement at all, which kinda impacted the test a little in comparison to the 260x scores.

League of Legends in-game screencap
League of Legends in-game screencap

Shadow of Mordor

Being a more recently released game, Shadow of Mordor was perfect to test and is going to be a prime example of how this graphics card will do with newer games in 2015. The awesome thing about this game is that within the advanced settings, there is actually a benchmark option. So that made life a lot easier when using a benchmark to test, as well as more consistent as we can use the same benchmark video used with our other tests.

Results using the in-game benchmark and all settings on ultra are as follows:

Min (FPS) Max (Fps) Avg (Fps)
16.46 69.69 39.33

Settings changed to high using in-game benchmark:

Min (FPS) Max (Fps) Avg (Fps)
40.26 79.19 59.18

Whilst using the graphics card to play through Shadow of Mordor, the GPU kept up quite easily as expected even when in ultra high mode. The only instance where it lagged for a second was when there were above 30 enemies on screen and that is partially a CPU + GPU issue, not entirely GPU based, so no love for the GPU lost there.

Shadow of Mordor in-game Ultra High screencap

Final Thoughts

All in all, after using the 270x it was a great all round graphics card that easily pumped out 1080p games without stuttering or tearing in the slightest. I was happy with the GPU in my computer and am seriously considering buying it myself due to the stress I was putting on the card and how easy it kept up. It’s exciting to see how powerful the graphics cards that AMD are producing have become and how much more detail is being put into games.

Note: The R7 270X that we received was a review unit from AMD Radeon

OXCGN’s Resident Evil Remaster Review – It’s Still Scary-Awesome.


Thanks, Nintendo.

Before starting this review I must thank Nintendo for playing host to one of the greatest remakes on their Gamecube system 13 years ago.

Resident Evil was simply jaw dropping — its visuals melted your eyes and brought players a sense of realism that had not been experienced before. And even by today’s standards Resident Evil can keep up with the graphic powerhouse games of 2015.

Capcom is to thank for this; by implementing pre-rendered backgrounds they brought a sense of realism that could not otherwise be attained at the time.

Resident Evil subsequently Resident Evil 0 (also on the Gamecube) were some of the last games to truly embrace this graphical style.

A concequence of pre-rendered backgrounds that I am sure Square-Enix is also running into is their tendency to distort when ported to new systems. To combat this the 2015 remaster offers players both the original 4:3 and a stretched 16:9 aspect ratio to choose from.

The latter definitely provides sharper visuals but I think most will stick with 16:9.

RE Remaster 1

The game stays very true to the original with the only major change being to the controls. Capcom have developed a workaround to make the controls more akin to today’s standards. The new control scheme is simple: move the joystick in any direction you want and Jill or Chris will go. It’s a very unusual experience for anyone familiar with the original Resident Evil titles.

The controls work well, however during scene changes players may often frustratingly jerk the character in the wrong direction by accident. Without a doubt the new scheme is welcoming enough for newbies to pick up and play, but the original scheme (if you’re used to it) will always be the superior experience.

The horror experience has definitely mellowed with age; I believe games such as the Dead Space series may have desensitised players to classic horror games like Resident Evil, which offer a slower paced style of horror. Scripted moments throughout the game do offer many scares but I feel that most will come as no surprise to modern gamers.

Resident Evil’s greatest success comes from its ability to build atmosphere. It forgoes fantastical settings for more familiar and personal locations where it can establish a pervading sense of dread. As you venture through the vast Spencer Mansion there is a sense of authenticity, this could be a real place owned by a mysterious billionaire.

Incumbent in any Resident Evil experience are the puzzles and there is a tangible thrill associated with solving puzzles and unveiling the secrets of the mansion.

This game pioneered the survival horror genre so the game often becomes intense, the mixture of limited supplies with restrictions of saves forces players to adopt a survivalist mentality from the very start of the game. This pervasive sense of dread, of pressure, combined with the brooding atmosphere of the mansion is where the fear comes from and it is only heightened at the higher difficulty levels.

RE Remaster 2

I would recommend anyone new to the franchise to have a go exploring the mansion without using your smartphone and an IGN game guide. Resident Evil rewards players for exploration and players who follow the most direct route will miss extra cut scenes and bonus opportunities; not to mention the satisfaction of solving the puzzles. That said if you are finding it too frustrating looking up a solution is forgivable because this is a game worth playing through to its end.

It is worth noting that some key items have had their names changed to a more suggestible title. For example the ‘Herbicide’ is now called ‘Chemical for plants’. Returning players will understand.

Above all Resident Evil offers plenty of gaming goodness for anyone. By offering gamers the choice of multiple characters and difficulties to play through veterans have an incentive to play through the main story again. This is in conjunction with the many bonuses that can be earned if you complete the game under different criteria. All of which now come backed up with a set of achievements to show off as well! (good luck completing the game in under 3 hours).

Resident Evil Remake was a revolutionary remake of a revolutionary game and while this remake of the remake doesn’t break any new ground. It sure as hell cements it as one of the best (and best looking) 13 year old games ever made.

This is a must-play for anyone, particularly those who appreciate a classic game, and classic horror.

This is how we grew up kids.

Pros:

+ Amazing pre-rendered backgrounds.

+ Believable yet scary atmosphere.

+ Rewards for exploring and not following a guide.

Cons:

– Newcomers may not like the difficulty (no hint system in here).

– The ‘door’ loading screens still exists.

– May not be as scary as it once was.

9.5/10

AMD’s Radeon R7 260X Graphics Card Review


After AMD released the 260x on the 8th of October 2013, many gaming enthusiasts were eager to try the graphics card as it was priced in the mid $100’s as well as having the highest clock speed of any graphics card at the time straight out of the box. So being a bit of a gamer (just a little bit :P) myself, I decided that I’d start my graphics card review series with the R7-260x. In order to test it during gameplay, I used a combination of FRAPS, GPU-Z and just for benchmarking scores, I used 3D Mark.

The system specifications that I was using the graphics card with, is as follows:

Hardware Specifications 
Processor i7-4790 @ 3.6GHz
Motherboard Asus z87I Pro
PSU Antec HCG-520
Hard drive Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSD
Software Windows 8.1
Ram 16GB Corsair Vengeance Pro
GPU Driver 13.231.9001.1001

In comparison to other reviews out on the market, it is good to note that the driver used for the graphics card is 13.231.9001.1001. Which is obviously a newer driver so the review will be a little more up to date.

The games that were used tested were:

  • League of Legends
  • Shadow of Mordor

The Benchmarks

Using 3D Mark, the graphics card was put through each consecutive test given. The number crunching is as follows:

Test 1: Sky Diver (Used for gaming laptops and mid-range PCs)
3D Mark Score 13855
Graphics Score 14527
Physics Score 10384
Combined Score 16395
Graphics Test 1 64.63fps
Graphics Test 2 68.13fps
8 threads 206.93fps
24 threads 114.81fps
48 threads 65.01fps
96 threads 34.9fps

 

Test 2: Fire Strike (Used for high performance gaming PCs)
3D Mark Score 3834
Graphics Score 4168
Physics Score 10769
Combined Score 1495
Graphics Test 1 20.45fps
Graphics Test 2 16.27fps
Physics Test 34.14fps
Combined Test 6.96fps
Screencap of Firestrike Benchmark test in 3D Mark

Gaming Tests

League of Legends

Obviously, League of Legends was definitely my starting point for the test, being an avid League player and to appease the MMO fans. So using the R7-260x, it was easy enough to run the game on the highest settings (very high for all video options) whilst having a consistent 60fps. This also stayed the same whilst recording gameplay.

Using FRAPS with all setting on ultra high, the outcomes of the test are shown below:

Frames Time (ms) Min (FPS) Max (Fps) Avg (Fps)
630 14329 0 61 43.967
Screencap of Pantheon on ultra whilst testing League of Legends – Close up of very high Panth

Shadow of Mordor

Being a more recently released game, Shadow of Mordor was perfect to test and is going to be a prime example of how this graphics card will do with newer games in 2015. The awesome thing about this game is that within the advanced settings, there is actually a benchmark option. So that made life a lot easier when using a benchmark to test as well as more consistent as we can use the same benchmark video used with our other tests. Obviously that wasn’t the only test we did, using FRAPS also to benchmark.

Results using the in-game benchmark and all settings on ultra are as follows:

Min (FPS) Max (Fps) Avg (Fps)
17.5 43.76 32.38

Using FRAPS on ultra:

Frames Time (ms) Min (FPS) Max (Fps) Avg (Fps)
1221 37813 24 44 32.29

Settings changed to high using in-game benchmark:

Min (FPS) Max (Fps) Avg (Fps)
33.68 56.9 44.91

Using FRAPS on high:

Frames Time (ms) Min (FPS) Max (Fps) Avg (Fps)
1924 43969 34 55 43.758

Whilst using the graphics card throughout playing the entire Shadow of Mordor game myself, I found that it kept up quite easily with the demands of the game as well as making the whole entirety a joyful experience. There was no tearing or stuttering and the game was very smooth, set on high and in big fights with multiple enemies ( > 10) running around the screen.

som ultra

Final Thoughts

After using the R7-260x for about 2 weeks or so, I found it to be a really well made and great bang for your buck graphics card. It really is able to keep up with the higher workloads of today’s games and is surprisingly stable in doing so. I’m very excited to see what this graphics card will do with games like Far Cry 4 and hopefully a new Crysis (If there is a new one coming out!).

Note: The R7 260X that we received was a review unit from AMD Radeon

OXCGN’s HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset Review


It’s tough trying to find the perfect pair of headsets that you can use for gaming and long periods of transport. Some headsets with good quality audio can cost hundreds, whilst a good pair of PC headsets can have multiple cables just to get them to work. Luckily, Kingston have made a set of headsets aimed at the PC gamer market called the HyperX Cloud. These headsets don’t require any extra batteries nor a USB port to be powered.

Simply plug them in via the 3.5mm auxiliary, and you’re good to go.

The first thing that I noticed when wearing the HyperX Cloud, was that they were extremely comfortable. For a low cost pair of headsets they have a lot of comfort and aren’t heavy, so users can definitely wear them for prolonged periods of times without that heavy head feeling, which I know is the sole reason many tend to stay away from such bulky headsets.

photo-kingston-hyperx

From the image above, the all black with red stitching version house metallic ear-cups which are not interchangeable and leather coated foam ear cups. These are over the ear headsets, so your ear sits snug inside them. The HyperX Cloud does come in a White and Black version which is what we received for review that have the exact same build quality just a different colour scheme.

After prolonged periods of use, users may find the leather ear pads tend to get a little sweaty and warm but nothing too extreme, so using these in the summer may not be the best decision. Thankfully, Kingston have included a second pair of ear cups which aren’t covered in leather. The feel a bit firmer to the touch so they may not be as comfortable how ever they do not get as warm as the leather coated ear cups.

Users can easily switch between the two so it’s good to see Kingston have given us the flexibility for such a good price.

Kingston have also added other goodies inside the box which include, a boom mic for talking, an aeroplane adaptor so that you may use these on long or short flights, the non-detachable cable is braided which is better than the standard leather coating and at the end house 2 3.5mm jacks. An in-line microphone with must controls is included, as well as a play button for music and a single 3.5mm adaptor for mobile users.

The last accessory included is a 2 metre long cable for those that wish to use these with their gaming consoles. If that’s not all, there’s also a bag that allows you to place everything inside for travel.

Now despite including loads of value in the box, the main use of headsets are for listening to whatever content it’s plugged into. Despite not being high end in price and build, the HyperX Cloud’s provide some excellent audio even at higher volumes. Two 53mm drivers power deliver good clarity at louder volumes and some deep base with the help of an equaliser. The HyperX Cloud’s can handle a wide array of different soundscapes, from heavy metal to dance and trance music. Reproduced electronic beats have that hard hitting feel good euphoria whilst machine gun recoil and grenade explosions have that most needed explosive (Yes, pun intended) punch to them.

They may not be $479AUD Beats Studio 2.0, but they’re damn good for their price.

I can’t say I was disappointed with the HyperX Cloud, playing Far Cry 4 which these plugged in gave me quite the pleasure. I’m not big on headsets, so whilst audiophiles may not be as impressed the average gamer who is in the market for something affordable and good value for money don’t need to look any further. Like many headsets the music leakage with the HyperX Cloud is quite low, so users won’t be disturbing anyone on quiet train rides.

HyperX-Cloud-headset-_black_HyperX-Cloud-headset-_black_-_Cloud-headset-angle_hr_08_04_2014-23_11

TL;DR

The HyperX Cloud are a great alternative if you don’t want to break the bank. They are an excellent for various all around uses, which include gaming or travel. With the extra goodies that Kingston have packed in, there’s no way you can go wrong as they’re lightweight, have a great quality build and excellent sound at any level with any type of audio source. I don’t see myself changing headsets anytime soon now that I’ve had the chance to test these out, they just work in every scenario, especially with streaming on Twitch.

Pros:

+ Doesn’t require power via USB or batteries and works with PC, Mobiles, PS4, etc…

+ Lightweight and extremely comfortable for gaming or travel

+ Excellent build quality and sound for price

Cons:

– Default ear cups can get uncomfortable and sweaty during long use

– Bass may be too low for some without access to an equaliser

9.5/10

Bonus Review:

We also had the chance to try out the HyperX Skyn Mouse Pads which house a Control and Speed pad. They have an adhesive side that sticks to any flat surface that the mouse will be used on. They’re really thin and provide a large surface for you to use your mouse. It comes in a single colour which is all black so if you’re looking for a mouse pad that isn’t chunky or don’t have much room on your desk, definitely look at picking one of these up.

Note: The HyperX Cloud were a review unit sent to us by Kingston