review

Pokemon Go Plus

The Pokémon GO Plus is an accessory now available to accompany your Pokémon GO gaming. The small bluetooth device is simple to use, featuring just one color-changing button on the face. It pairs up with an iPhone or Android phone and the Pokémon GO game. The Pokémon GO Plus can be clipped on or strapped to your wrist with the included adjustable wrist strap.

Pairing Pokémon GO Plus is done through Pokémon GO’s settings. Once you pair it, you will see the Pokémon GO Plus icon on the gameplay map. If a Pokémon is nearby, the Pokémon GO Plus button flashes green and the device vibrates. On screen, you see it point out to an estimated area where the Pokémon is with a red line. Click the button and it will start to pulse white, where you have a random chance to catch the Pokémon. If you’ve successfully caught it, the button will flash in different colors. If you miss catching the Pokémon, it will pulse red a moment and will let you know onscreen that the Pokémon got away. The Pokémon GO Plus will also light up in blue when a Pokéstop is nearby. Click it and it easily collects items at the Pokéstop. The other useful function, and phone battery saver, is having the Pokémon GO Plus count steps while your phone is in your pocket (good for your Pokémon buddy and egg hatching). That’s about all the interaction with the game and the Pokémon GO Plus device. So what are some advantages, and disadvantages, of using the Pókemon GO Plus?

Pokemon Go Plus

The Pokémon GO Plus is a quick and easy way to capture those pesky and repeated Rattata and Pidgey Pokémon. But don’t expect them to be dead giveaways. In fact, it seems the odds are against you in randomly being able to successfully catch them, versus you trying with your own Pókeball throw. You also lose the visibility of what’s happening on screen. When you click on the Pokémon GO Plus, you don’t see anything on screen change, other than a small notification that says whether you were successful or not in catching the Pokémon. There aren’t any animations or indication of experience points earned (but yes, you still do get experience points for catching Pokémon with the Pokémon GO Plus). At times, the Pokémon GO Plus did point out there was a Pokémon nearby before the Pokémon appeared on screen. Yet, at other times a Pokémon was on screen and the Pokémon GO Plus took a few seconds to acknowledge it. If you also attempt to catch a Pokémon the old school way (with a finger swipe), the Pokémon GO Plus will have to be paired again via the on screen Pokémon GO Plus icon and a button press on the device. When you click on the Pokémon GO Plus when it is blue, for a Pokéstop, it will show the items you got from it onscreen. Note that one regular Pokéball will be used per Pokémon encounter with the Pokémon GO Plus. You have that one random chance to catch it or not. There are some inconsistencies with what shows on screen, but that may not be a deal breaker, being that you probably have your phone tucked away when using the Pokémon GO Plus.

So the Pokémon GO Plus has it’s advantage in helping you save phone battery life by not having to access your device all the time, avoid the bother of a Pidgey or Rattata encounter, and sometimes helps to discover a nearby Pokémon quicker. There are inaccuracies sometimes in when it detects Pokémon and the catch rate feels lower than usual for common Pokémon. Having a Pokémon GO Plus doesn’t provide a surefire way to catch a Pokémon. I doubt you would want to take the risk of catching a rare Pokémon with a Pokémon GO Plus. The Pokémon GO Plus has a clip on the back or you can unscrew it to place a wrist strap backing on it. The wrist strap is a multi-colored cloth material and considerably thin – not a particularly cool design. The Pokémon GO Plus is powered by an included, replaceable battery (CR2032).

The Pokémon GO Plus has a $34.99 MSRP and was released on September 16, 2016. Initial inventory on Amazon (http://amzn.to/2cSxHn3) and GameStop seems to have sold through quickly. So demand was, unsurprisingly high at launch (and there is definitely eBay price gouging happening at launch). 

Pokemon Go Plus

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TRANSFORMERS: Devastation_20151025071510

Activision has put out a pretty consistent stream of Transformers games, each one getting progressively better in graphic detail and gameplay. After playing several of the last couple of Transformers games, how can the games continue to be outdone? The answer is take it back to Transformers G1 era with Transformers Devastation. Leave it to PlatinumGames to deliver a strikingly faithful throwback to the original Transformers cartoons. It doesn’t get better than this, playing the Transformers instead of just watching them on TV.

TRANSFORMERS: Devastation_20151025153948

For the plot line, I won’t spoil it for you but you can pretty much bet that it’s the usual nefarious ways of Megatron that are behind the incursion. Kick it off with the most well known Autobots, including Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Grimlock and more. Key Decepticons are here, ranging from favorites such Megatron, Starscream and Soundwave, all in faithful character with their personalities intact.

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The voice acting is pretty spot-on to what the original cartoons were, because the original TV series voice actors are here. The faithful cartoon style throws you back to the simple, straight-up Generation 1 nostalgia where Transformers began. Growing up at the peak of the Transformers cartoon, it was joyful hearing those actors again and seeing the cartoon-like graphics. The rock/metal/synth-laden music captures the 80s era cartoon as well, thanks to Vince DeCola’s scoring of the game. What a treat. It took some time, but here is truly the Transformers game as how it was meant to be experienced.

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Transformers Devastation takes place in a fast-paced third-person perspective, putting you in the role of the Autobots. You are able to switch-up and decide whom you would like to use, making gameplay controls and weapon use varied. Speaking of weapons, there are plenty to find, upgrade and research – from blades, lasers, missiles and one of my favorites – Soundwave’s Loudspeaker blaster!  Abilities of your select Autobot can be upgraded as well.

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Missions take place on linear levels, although some offer some optional missions. There’s standard fodder Decepticon soldiers, mid-level Decepticon bosses and some huge boss battles (where multiple Decepticons combine into a larger Transformer such as Devastator). Switching to robot and vehicle form, or dinosaur form for Grimlock, happens at the press of the trigger. Expect several high speed pursuits or vehicle slamming special moves, each unique to the individual Autobot.

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In PlatinumGames’ style (such as in Vanquish) the gameplay perspective changes up, making for some arcade gameplay shooter levels and platform gaming. A fun change up to the primary third-person action view.

Transformers Devastation is a single-player game. You can choose how speedily or deep you want to digest this candy. Where the extended game life comes in is with the Challenge Missions, Autobot upgrades, weapon unlocks, in-game side missions, difficulty settings and unlocking concept art hidden throughout levels. The biggest joy and value that Transformers Devastation offers is in it being a very faithful and fun adaptation of the cartoon classic. Kudos to PlatinumGames for making such a fun and bold throwback to the original Transformers. If you were a fan of the Transformers cartoons that started it all, you do not want to miss out on Transformers Devastation. Roll out!

TRANSFORMERS: Devastation_20151025155356

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Transformers Devastation is available for the PlayStation 4 , Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360. This review was done on the PS4 platform. Disclosure: Activision provided GamingBits.com a review code for Transformers Devastation.

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The Witcher 3:Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the new gold-standard in action role-playing games. If you enjoy fantasy adventures or even just open world games with awesome storylines, The Witcher 3 is definitely worth owning. The game is vast in areas to explore, has some incredible graphic fidelity, entertains with great character acting and entrancing background music, is highly customizable and unique to each player, and… well, the list goes on and on as to why I highly recommend The Witcher 3. Too vast to capture on video, I decided to share my adventures through the screenshots I took during my complete playthrough of The Witcher 3. Click the link below to flip through over 100 screens and please read the brief captions for a little explanation and details on The Witcher 3. For those of you looking for a quick number, 5 out 5, 10 out of 10 – yes, yes, it is excellent and gaming perfection. Ok, so there are minor things you can point out in the game but the great far outweighs the minor things you may come across. The Witcher 3 is a true labor of love. Don’t let the “3” in the game turn you away either. There is plenty of story and back story to take in. No prior Witcher game experiences are required to enjoy the adventure. See and read more below for a review of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt!

Flip through the screen by screen review here (no spoilers!).

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is available for the PS4, Xbox One and PC. DO IT!

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HyperX Cloud II

Kingston Technology has recently released its latest headset with the multi-platform gamer in mind, the HyperX Cloud II. The headset boasts a USB audio control interface attachment with 7.1 virtual surround sound feature, detachable noise canceling mic and is available in accents of Gun Metal, Red, and a limited edition Pink design. I gave it a listen on a few select game systems, including the PS4, Mac and some iPhone music.

Out of the box, the HyperX Cloud II headset is a flexible headset allowing for connection through its USB interface or a 3.5mm stereo audio jack by removing the audio control interface. So you are well covered with whatever platform you may be gaming on – be it on platforms such as Xbox One, PS4 (note that the PS4 did work with USB and virtual surround), or PC/Mac. The metal-brushed accent on the headset is a nice, and solid feeling, touch. Instead of the designers going too far out there to show off what is on your head, which you won’t see anyway, the HyperX Cloud II lets you be selfish and enjoy an ultra comfortable feel. From all of the audio headsets I’ve used over the years, my experience with the HyperX Cloud II is the most comfortable. It is lightweight, fully and comfortably cupping your ears without feeling pressure on your head. The HyperX Cloud II comes equipped with leatherette ear cushions and an optional set of interchangeable velour cushions. It may look somewhat bulky, but it definitely doesn’t feel that. The thickly threaded cables are also notable. I’ve had issues with headsets that break loose at the connecting points. The HyperX Cloud II is thoughtfully constructed to keep your gaming audio cranking for many gameplay sessions to come.

If there are any minor gripes in the accessories, it’s the travel case and the microphone port cover. The travel case mesh bag provides some lightweight padding, but doesn’t have the solid protective feel you may find with other headsets. I did cringe when I dropped it in the bag, but thankfully nothing happened to the headset. The bag gives a bulky-sack look, not particularly cool looking to carry. I almost prefer to carry the headset in the slick inner box package, which is well cushioned and neatly packs all the accessories. The mic is attached via a small, removable port cover. I nearly lost the mic cover, being so small and coming completely off when using the mic. I would have preferred it attached to the headset as a flap door. Losing it would definitely make the headset less cosmetically cool with the square and oval port exposed. Just some minor things, but they don’t take away from the highlights of the HyperX Cloud II – ultra comfort, compatibility and amazing audio.

I remember playing a session of Borderlands on the PS4, and taking off my headset because I heard a metal bang that I thought was in the room – a testament to the HyperX Cloud II headset’s virtual 7.1 surround sound feature. With the surround sound on, it tends to expand the sound dimension, at a little bit of a compromise to the heaviness of the bass. Yes, the HyperX Cloud II did get too real for me at times when I was in the gaming zone, so I went for the standard stereo bass effect in some games. The ear cushions do excellent at covering up ambient sound and getting you into your game. The sound is crisp and deep. I enjoyed using the HyperX Cloud II to experience clarity and comfort with my music as well.

The HyperX Cloud II is a very well equipped gaming headset that provides gamers with comfort, solid sound, and chatting capabilities. It helped keep me entrenched when I had longer than average gaming sessions – all while not disturbing others. Put some comfort into your boom with the HyperX Cloud II!

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The HyperX Cloud II  is available at a $99.99 MSRP from retailers such as Amazon.com and GameStop.com. For more information, visit the official website at kingston.com. Thanks to Kingston Technology for making this review possible.

Click on an image below to see more details of the HyperX Cloud II headset.

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While big budget AAA titles often get the most recognition in the gaming industry, games that offer classic gameplay with modern sensibilities have found a comfortable niche as downloadable titles. Choplifter HD, a spiritual sequel to the original 1981 Choplifter, is the most recent and one of the most satisfying downloads available today.

 

Choplifter HD is based on a simple premise. As a helicopter pilot you are tasked with flying into dangerous environments to rescue civilians and battle any enemies that cross your path. Controls are suitable for this style of gameplay offering a comfortable balance of responsive flight and the floaty feel of a helicopter. The right stick combined with the L2 and R2 buttons fire your weapons and the face buttons activate your boost. The real challenge from Choplifter HD comes from the proper use of the L1 and R1 buttons. The entire game takes place in a 2D environment, but enemies can appear in the foreground as well. The L1 and R1 buttons turn the chopper 90 degrees so a player can battle these foreground enemies and turn their chopper around after rescuing civilians. While early stages may seem relatively easy, battling groups of enemies firing RPG’s and homing rockets from the main stage and the foreground can get ruthlessly challenging. Fleeing is always an option in Choplifter HD, but earning 5 star rankings on each stage will only be achieved by players who can comfortably balance rescue and battle.

 

Rescuing civilians may sound like an easy task, but it is much more difficult than I ever expected. Most civilians are located in hot zones surrounded by dozens of enemies trying to destroy the players chopper. A few seconds of careful flying coupled with some well placed missiles are more than enough to clear out most hot zones, but one must be careful to not kill any civilians in the process. Once the battlefield is finally clear, a player has to carefully lad his chopper and wait for the civilians to board. Some civilians who require medical attention appear with a timer above them and must be brought back to base before the timer expires. Running into obstacles, getting hit with rockets, or even landing too hard will kill civilians who are seated in your chopper, so a bit of finesse is required to bring everyone home safely.

 

 

Some may be put off by the difficulty of balancing rescue and combat, but I felt the difficulty was fair. Most choppers can take a decent bit of damage but the fragility of the civilians I was trying to rescue always kept me on my toes. In combat I also had a bit of trouble aiming and firing my weapons while dodging missiles and bullets, but that was due to my rough flying skills as opposed to the difficulty of the game itself. One early level I kept coming back to had me battling hordes of zombies who thankfully had not learned to fire those pesky RPG’s. Let me say this again…..I was battling zombies from a helicopter. AWESOME!

 

For $15 there is plenty of fun to be had with Choplifter HD. Earning 5 stars on a level is challenging and satisfying. Choplifter HD will also support DLC with a pack of choppers being offered for free shortly after release. Choplifter HD is available for 1200 Microsoft points on Xbox Live or for $14.99 on PSN.

 

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

4 out of 5 Stars

 

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