Farewell George

George a few days after I got him

George a few days after I got him

Fair Warning – If you happen across this post you may want to skip it as it has nothing to do with my normal game or tech related stuff – I just felt I needed to somehow mark the passing of one of my favourite pet compantions so I’ve dedicated this post on my blog to him.

Today it is with much sadness that I’ve had to say goodbye to my little furry companion, George, who passed away peacefully in his sleep this afternoon.

George was a handsome Syrian ‘Teddy Bear’ hamster that I got from a rescue centre back in December of 2011. He’d been discarded in a bag of old clothes in a charity shop and (fortunately) passed on to the rescue centre. My wife and I couldn’t resist – the last time I had a hamster was back in the 70’s as a child. I never really knew exactly how old he was when I got him – the rescue centre reckoned he was at least 6 months old. He was with me for nearly 2 years so I suppose he had a good innings for a hamster.

George was fearless, inquisitive and very, very friendly. He loved climbing (often where he shouldn’t), racing around in his ball, coming out to play in his playpen and cardboard castle and especially being brushed. He was also very cheeky and knew exactly how to look especially cute to get treats. His cage was right next to the sofa so he was a constant companion no matter what I was up to.

I’m really sad to see him go but I can take comfort from knowing he had a good life right up to the end.

Rest in Peace George you will be greatly missed.

George enjoying a treat

George enjoying a treat

George a few days after I got him

George a few days after I got him

George looking cute

George looking cute

George in his castle

George in his castle

'Senior' George

‘Senior’ George

Moga Pro Review – PS Vita killer?

Moga Pro Box

Moga Pro Box

Today I finally received my Moga Pro pre-order from Game and I’m very happy to say it was worth the wait!

Just in case you’re not aware of what one is – it’s a bluetooth hardware gamepad that works with Android phones and tablets to give you a more ‘console like’ experience and overcome the problems of using touch screens to play.

Moga Pro Box (flap open)

Moga Pro Box (flap open)

The devices retails for £40 and comes in a very attractive retail box with a fold out magnetic front flap that shows the device in action with phones, tablets and even a TV. Inside the box you get the pad itself, a plastic tablet stand, USB charging cable, instruction booklet, quick-start guide, QR code to download the driver for your device and a code to download a free copy of N.O.V.A. 3 from the Gameloft’s own store.

Moga Pro Box (back)

Moga Pro Box (back)

First thing you need to do is charge the pad up as it is powered by an internal rechargeable battery. An LED flashes yellow to indicate the unit is charging and extinguishes when fully charged. While the pad is charging you can scan the QR code with your phone which will take you straight to the MOGA Pivot app which you need to install on your phone or tablet.

Moga Pro Gamepad

Moga Pro Gamepad

Once the gamepad is fully charged you can move onto the next stage which just involves running the Pivot app and following the simple on-screen instructions to pair the pad with your phone. It will also give you an opportunity to get a free copy of Pacman*, redeem your Nova 3* game code and register for updates.  I received an email a few minutes after registering with instruction on how to actually get the game. The whole process couldn’t be simpler and my pad paired and worked first time with no issues at all. As well as letting you setup your pad the Pivot app also acts as a central hub where you can see all of your installed Moga Pro compatible games and also browse and download new ones.

*In order to install both of these games you have to allow installs from Unknown sources on your phone. The option can be found in Settings>Security>Unknown sources. This is because the apps are being downloaded from outside the Google Play store.

Moga Pro Box Contents

Moga Pro Box Contents

The build quality seems to be first-rate and the design has clearly been based on the XBox 360 pad as the dimensions, stick layouts, triggers and buttons are all virtually identical, even the XYAB letters on the buttons are same! This is fine by me – the 360 pad is by far the best I’ve ever used on any system and the Moga Pro is just as comfortable and precise to use. Where it differs from the 360 pad is that it incorporates a flip out spring-loaded arm which holds your phone in place securely while you game. The arm dimensions are extremely generous so don’t worry about your phone fitting – I have a Galaxy Note 2 and it fitted comfortably even with the phone in a Spigen case! It feels perfectly balanced once the phone is in place and very little effort is required to hold the whole thing steady. It could easily have been top-heavy and tiring to hold but it’s obvious a fair bit of thought gone in to the placement of the arm and it works well.

Moga Pro with Galaxy Note 2

Moga Pro with Galaxy Note 2

I tested the game with a copy of Gameloft’s Modern Warfare Combat 4: Zero Hour. This is a Moga Pro enhanced game which basically means it fully supports all the features of the Gamepad. The Modern Combat games have always looked and sounded the part but been seriously let down in the control department with the virtual sticks and touch screen controls being awkward at best and a downright hindrance at worst. Not to mention that you’ve got your thumbs obscuring a good chunk of the screen. The Moga Pro was a revelation – before I knew it an hour had passed and I was really enjoying myself. The sticks are really responsive, dead-zones almost non-existent  and lining up head shots quickly became second nature. Familiar Call of Duty console button configurations also helped too, with bumpers launching grenades, X to reload, Y to switch weapons and so on.

Moga Pro phone holder arm

Moga Pro phone holder arm

I have a Playstation Vita which is a really great handheld system, the best I have ever owned in fact. However having experienced the Moga Pro coupled with my Galaxy Note 2 I’d have to say it’s a better gaming experience than the Vita. The screen is bigger, the whole thing is easier and much more comfortable to hold and the full-size pad and analogue sticks really are of console quality. The final kicker is that at just £4.99 the Gameloft COD clone is a darn sight cheaper than Black Ops DeClassified too!

Some more images…

Moga Pro with Galaxy Note 2 - close-up of phone holding grip

Moga Pro with Galaxy Note 2 – close-up of phone holding grip

Moga Pivot app - viewing installed games

Moga Pivot app – viewing installed games

Moga Pivot app - Congratulations!

Moga Pivot app – Congratulations!

Moga Pro & XBox 360 Gamepad Comparison

Moga Pro & XBox 360 Gamepad Comparison

Moga Pivot app - browsing for new games

Moga Pivot app – browsing for new games

Moga Pro - Modern Combat Control Layout

Moga Pro – Modern Combat Control Layout

RC Nitro Hummer H1

Hummer H1

Hummer H1

Couldn’t resist subscribing to this one when I heard about it. It’s a monthly partwork that will eventually build an RC Nitro powered Hummer H1. I’ve built a few Radio Controlled models before but they’ve all been powered by electric motors, this will be my first Nitro model so I’m pretty excited to get started! The partwork is spread over 16 months with a set of parts delivered each month.

 

I’ll be posting updates each month following my build with photo’s showing how it’s progressing. For now here’s a photo of what the finished model will look like. If you’d like to read more info about the model you can take a look at the official DeAgostini website.

Defiance: 2 More Pursuits Completed

Finished getting an SMG up to level 5 to get my “Going Commando 2” pursuit done today. Also completed my 5th Scrapper Arkfall to tick off the “Ark Hunting as a Way of Life 2” pursuit. I had previously been avoiding the scrapper events as they were causing my Arkfall kill total to get reset to zero all the time!

Unfortunately a lot of the remaining weapon pursuits are going to involve using weapons that I really don’t like such as the infector, pistols and BMG. Will probably go back to using my Assault Rifles for now as I only need 2 more levels to reach 20 and hopefully complete another pursuit and get that achievement too.

Going Commando 2

Going Commando 2

Ark Hunting as a Way of Life 2

Ark Hunting as a Way of Life 2

 

Defiance: Nerfed cars – not cool Trion

Was trying to get my gold medal in the new Dodge High-Speed Challenge race in Madera when a Monarch spawned in front of me. I didn’t even hit it but I was close enough for my car to explode in a ball of flame. This never used to happen and I can only assume it’s because of the recent nerf Trion have made to vehicle hit-points. This isn’t an isolated occurrence either, I ran into (literally) a hellbug emergency – normally you can mow down the warriors no problem – but not now, my car was destroyed after running into a couple of these guys.

I really love this game but stuff like this is starting to really irk me – one of the simplest pleasures in the game was driving through a bunch of bugs in the road and squashing them and now I can’t even do that. They need to put the car stats back the way they were and find another solution to the arkfall drivers if that’s really what this is all about.

Anyway, here’s the video of my car exploding in a ball of flame without me even touching the Monarch.

Defiance: Dodge High Speed Challenge Weekend

Another chance to pick up some of the rarer colour variations of the Dodge Challenger again this weekend. This time the race takes place in Madera and winning a Gold medal earns you reputation points that you need (in addition to script) to buy one of the three different Dodge’s on offer. The colour variants on offer are: Crazy Plum, White and Billet Metallic. Sadly for me I’ve already got all three but I’ll still enjoy the new race. 🙂

Defiance Dodge Challenge Madera

Defiance Dodge Challenge Madera

Defiance: 1.0.20 Patch is out now!

Defiance 1.020 Patch

Just discovered a new patch is out – this is a big one and will pave the way for a lot more new content, missions and DLC which is awesome.

Some  of the stuff fixed in this patch is long overdue and most welcome, such as finally adding back ‘Hotshot: Dam Defence” and ‘Freight Yard”. Some stuff is not so welcome such as reduced damage for certain weapons, reduced firing rate, smaller mag sizes and my personal worst change of all: ‘Fixed an issue that caused vehicles to bounce abnormally off some objects’ which I’m guessing will translate into no more launching my Nomad into the air at Muir Processing like this 😦

Anyway the servers are going to be down from 4pm – 8pm UK time and probably a bit more than that going by previous official downtime estimates.

You can see a full list of things the patch will affect here: Defiance 1.020 Buckshot (Stay on Target) Patch

XBOX ONE Announced

microsoft-xbox-one

So Microsoft have finally announced the 360’s successor and it’s to be the XBOX ONE. Here’s a few of my thoughts about it so far:

Design

XBox ONE Console

XBox ONE Console

I have to say I really like the looks of it, sleek and understated and will blend in well under the TV. I have never liked the funky design of the original 360 or the ‘George Forman’ style PS3 and have longed for something more along the lines of a Blu-ray player. Looks like I’ve finally go what I’ve been wishing for.

Have to say I’m not that interested in the Kinect 2.0 side of things for the time being. I have Kinect already and it only gets used occasionally when I’m in the mood.

Hard Drive

Given game installation is mandatory I would have expected a 1TB HDD as standard rather than 500GB – the difference in price is negligible.

Controller

XBox ONE Controller

XBox ONE Controller

The controller is staying largely the same which is fantastic news as it’s hands down the best designed controller I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. It now also offers some form of force feedback for the triggers which sounds really interesting – imagine the kick-back of a gun trigger or a brake pedal in Forza!

Achievements

They will carry across! I should bloody well think so too! Sadly the same can’t be said for your games…

Backwards Compatibility

Very disappointed. I know Sony has already said the PS4 won’t support BC but I had hoped Microsoft would, especially given the effort they put into supporting original XBox games when the 360 came out.  I have hundreds of games both physical and digital for the XBox and I’m not about to consign them to the bin! I guess I’m going to have to find room for yet another box under the TV.

Apparently you CAN bring across any films and music you’ve bought on 360 but as I have never bought anything, this is of little comfort. To me it is all about the games.

It also worries me that there is now a question mark hanging over my digital download games off the marketplace. How long will Microsoft support them? What if my HDD dies and I need to re-download them in a few years time? I want some re-assurances from Microsoft that they have this covered.

Always On & Second Hand Games

Info here is a bit thin on the ground. Microsoft have said that you do need an internet connection but it doesn’t need to be ‘always on’. They are also talking about a fee to install second-hand games… Doesn’t sound good but I’ll keep an open mind for now until I hear more.

DVR for Games

This looks cool, a built-in DVR facility for recording game footage. Can’t tell if it’ll give you full control or if it’s going to be limited to kicking in automatically to record key moments of your game. Hoping for the former but interesting all the same.

Games

There was a bit too much emphasis on TV for my liking though. Not really interested in Spielberg making a Halo series – it’s been a long time since he’s produced anything stellar anyway. Forza 5 footage looked genuinely amazing. The difference between COD:MW3 graphics and COD:Ghosts was also very impressive and I really do like the idea of having the dog on my team – so long as he doesn’t get shot! Quantum Break looked interesting although not amazing graphically yet. Had zero interest in any of the EA sports games so guess I’ll have to wait until E3 to find out what else is in store.

Will I get One?

This was never really in doubt, I’m a sucker for new tech and besides, Forza 5 has been confirmed as a launch game and I love this franchise. Count me in!