Payday 2: The Heist

Payday2_Tittle

As an avid player of first person shooters I believe the genre that unfortunately dominates gaming has grown mighty stale.  It would be challenging to muster up the enthusiasm for another cookie-cutter war-based storyline even if Activision programmed an unlockable Christina Hendricks sex tape into this fall’s Call of Duty: Every Single November.  Payday 2 intrigued the hell out of me however because its themes are mostly untapped in the realm of first person shooters, and honestly, who hasn’t dreamt about robbing a bank Point Break style?  Unfortunately what Overkill studios have given us is half a game here, which is a real shame because with a little more care this could have been an absolute masterpiece.

Payday 2

If you don’t plan on playing Payday 2 online with friends don’t even bother, the AI is so glaringly bad it’s a wonder that the title ever made it out of production.  Most of the missions inevitably involve your crew transporting some sort of cargo to an awaiting van, and your computer partners aren’t even able to accomplish the simple task of picking up an object and dropping it off in the correct location.  On a positive note the AI won’t completely muff up your perfectly planned stealth attempts on purpose, something I certainly can’t say for the majority of random players I encountered online.

Payday 2

The most enjoyable way to play Payday 2 is with three of your friends who actually use microphones.  When the missions are pulled off flawlessly you will feel extremely satiated as a player, but communication and precise planning are necessary, even on some of the easier and shorter selections.  One stupid mistake can cost you an entire run, and this will happen 99.9 percent of the time you even attempt, making robberies that don’t end up turning into the last act of Dog Day Afternoon both extremely rare and immensely rewarding.

Payday 2

There are only ten main missions, but the locations of goods, cameras, guards, and safes are always generated randomly.  This is the much-needed adrenaline shot of replay value that the game desperately needs, it would be far too easy to complete the levels if everything remained the same during every play through.  Picking missions can actually be a chore however, there’s no menu per say, just a map with jobs of varying difficulty appearing at random.  I understand what the developers were going for here, but after searching for a specific mission without success numerous times I was really longing for a traditional level selection system.

Payday 2

The character leveling is very addictive but also nothing original.  Four separate skill trees are selectable, and mixing and matching perks from each is encouraged, you’ll have plenty of flexibility by level 50, and that’s only the halfway point: Payday 2 is a long grind to 100.  Supposedly six DLC packs are on the way, this should alleviate the main ten missions growing stale even with the randomness factor figured in.

Despite its many egregious flaws I got tons of enjoyment out of Payday 2: The Heist when I was playing with a few of my buddies, alone however it was an absolute chore that frustrated me consistently.  If you have a steady crew you can recruit this is a must have game to scratch that criminal urge until Grand Theft Auto releases next month.

Retro Games Roundup: Nintendo Legend Reviews #1-5

Welcome to Retro Games Roundup, where we go back through Nintendo Legend’s library of NES reviews and go over them five games at a time, providing a summarized report of the titles and disseminating a lot of information into a more condensed, casual format.

1. Super Mario Bros.

Super-Mario-Brothers

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Blog: Here.
Review: There.

Commentary: The original, the killer app, the world-changer – given the max score of five stars for its tight design, revolutionary vision, imaginative elements, and iconic brand. Could there have been any other choice for the first review? Maybe, but this starts things off right, with a game still enjoyed today, even in competitive arenas such as speed running.

2. Spot The Video Game

Spot_The_Video_Game!_NES_ScreenShot

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Blog: Here.
Review: There.
Let’s Play Video: Where.

Commentary: A quirky, distinctive board game video game that actually stars a licensed character: Spot, the old red-dot-with-shades mascot of the 7-Up beverage. Offers support for up to four human players and a surprising amount of tactical depth; but, ultimately, little else, best for niche fans of the genre or those looking for an offbeat challenge.

3. Captain Skyhawk

Captain Skyhawk

Rating: 3/5 Stars
Blog: Here.
Review: There.

Commentary: A sci-fi shoot-‘em-up with both isometric overhead missions and from-behind dogfights, offers a rich visual along with challenging gameplay as the stages progress. An invincibility code may be required to beat it, but ultimately stands as a decent, if not spectacular, foray into level-by-level scrolling shooters.

4. Racket Attack

Racket Attack

Rating: 2/5 Stars
Blog: Here.
Review: There.

Commentary: A fairly bland sports genre title, left with the challenge of how to appeal to anyone but tennis fans; and, for the tennis fans, how to satisfy their standards. One interesting note, though, is the timing mechanic used to control shot placement, a scheme perfectly prescient of Wii Sports.

5. Demon Sword

Demon Sword

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Blog: Here.
Review: There.

Commentary: Legend Of Kage’s soulmate cartridge and one of those love-or-hate games that some people “get” and some, well, do not. Nintendo Legend seems to like it, emphasizing its high-flying action best expressed in the intensely gravity-defying leaps across the screen, the quick-reflex difficulty of oncoming enemies, and the solid stage progression throughout. Apt movie companion: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Bonus Review: Check out Questicle’s reverent, insightful take of the NES classic epic Castlevania.

Eric Bailey is a retro gamer on a crazy quest to write a quality review for every single American-released NES video game over at NintendoLegend.com.

Retro Love: Buy a Dreamcast

Sega Dreamcast Logo

It’s been quite some time since I’ve got my brand new, but also (and that’s quite an oxymoron) second hand, SEGA Dreamcast, and let me tell you, I am as happy a punter as one can be. I’m a 100% converted and a newborn SEGA fanboy (well, not a boy in the full sense, but you get the idea… at least I’m not in my thirties just yet). I’m also rather thankful to the Dreamcast Junkyard for fuelling my DC obsession.

All things considered I’m thankful to dear Mr. Elderly too, for providing this blog’s comments space with a healthy dose of Irish surrealism, but that’s definitely none of your business. All you should focus on is buying a Dreamcast (unless of course you already got one, in which case you should consider buying a second). Why? Well, because…

1) It’s a matter of price.

The Dreamcast is dead cheap. You should be able to buy a brand new one for less than 80$ (that’s 60 euros) over at Lik-Sang (try clicking on the banner at the end of the article to see for yourself), or follow my example and buy a second hand one, either at e-bay or at your local second-hand-store-bazaar-whatever for quite a bit less than 50$. And this is paying for a 100% current-gen console.
Sega Dreamcast Console
the Dreamcast (via)

2) It’s the bleeding hardware

It doesn’t only look smart, it is smart. SEGA’s Dreamcast is miles ahead from both the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation, even though it’s not as powerful as the PS2 or the GameCube. It sports a RISC 128bit CPU capable of 360 MIPS (N64 ~120 MIPS, PS1 ~30 MIPS), a special edition PowerVR2 graphics processor, that can cope with 10 times PS1’s polygons, 16MB of RAM, a 1 Giga “GD-ROM” (aka fancy, fast and easily pirated CD-ROM) drive, brilliant 64 channel audio and a modem. Yes. The first console modem ever. Oh, and European players will apparently enjoy full 60Hz PAL support.

Sega Dreamcast Motherboard

the insides of the beast (via)

3) It’s the brilliant (and admittedly very cheap) games

With more than 300 games, the Dreamcast has something for everyone, except perhaps for us poor football minded maniacs. Most used (and abused) games should be picked up at ridiculous prices of 5-10$ (less in euros, even less in pounds), while published titles include such brilliant gems as Soul Calibur, Rez, Sonic Adventure 2, Rayman 2, Phantasy Star Online, Quake 3 (you might even be able to track down Half-Life), Metropolis Street Racer, Shenmue, Ikaruga, Crazy Taxi 2, Jet Grind Radio and the quite legendary Samba de Amigo.

Soul Calibur - Sega Dreamcast Screenshot

Soul Calibur

 

I could actually go on and mention at least a dozen more distinctive and defining games, but I’d rather mention something else. Dreamcast games are still being produced! Have a look at the 2006 released Under Defeat or the forthcoming Last Hope shooter.

Under Defeat - Sega Dreamcast Screenshot

Under Defeat

4) It’s the innovation and the quirkyness

And I’m talking innovation, beside the Internet connection or the PAL ting. The Dreamcast controller featured a brilliant analog stick, the now-standard shaped triggers and interestingly the Virtual Memory Unit, or VMU. This VMU thingy was far more than a memory stick. It plugged into the controller and used its little LCD screen to display relevant game information or graphics and even was a wee version of Gameboy, as it also functioned as a completely separate portable handheld gaming device (from hell). VMU games can be found right here, but searching and googling around will lead you to quite a few more cyber-stashes.

Sega Dreamcast VMU

the VMU (exposed)

 

As for quirkyness, one could mention the DC Keyboard, the Fishing Rod, the quite new-at-the-time Vibration Pack and above all Dreamcast’s Wii capabilities.

5) It’s the scene

By saying the scene I’m talking of the vibrant DC emulation, demo, homebrew and even amateur journalism community. On the Dreamcast you see, one can play anything from old arcade, to MegaDrive, Amiga, Atari, Gameboy, Playstation or NES games. There’s even a ScummVM port that makes those old Lucasarts adventures of yore DC compatible. Then again one can listen to MP3s, watch DivX videos, see the Dreamcast get pushed to its limits and play zillions of Tetris versions. All of these courtesy of the scene.

To start tasting sweet freeware offerings (you will need DiscJuggler to burn things on CD) try the following links: DCEvolution.net, Dreamcast Homebrew, IGN Dreamcast, Dreamcast @ pout.net.

6) There is no 6

Go on. Buy one! It’s cheap and powerful, but also quite the retro machine. Oh, and the Wii isn’t out yet.

Sweety Puzzle

Sweety Puzzle - Gameplay Screenshot
Non-gamers are Nintendo’s Wii little target, non-gamers were the people the PlayStation turned to gamers all those years ago and non-gamers are the market casual games are aiming for. But what are casual games (ask the masses in their booming and state-shattering voices)? Well, according to Wikipedia they are “a category of electronic or computer games targeted at the mass audience, which are peculiar for their simple rules, engaging game design, require no time commitment or special skills from an end user as well as comparatively low production and distribution costs from producer“.

 

Sweety Puzzle - Gameplay Screenshot

A wise and brief description, that so just happens to perfectly fit the subject of this quite modest review: Sweety Puzzle. A quirky, simple and extremely addictive indy-game that comes from Thailand. Yes, Thailand-Asia. A beautiful country you really should be visiting. But, as usual, I digress. Ahhh, yes, Sweety Puzzle. Haven’t played a game like this for years: elegant, fun, retro looking and with fine music playing in the background.

Sweety Puzzle - Gameplay Screenshot

The game feels like the mutant offspring of Go, Tetris and Columns. You place colored candies on a pink grid, rotate them, and apparently try to make them go pop! before you run out of time or space. It is actually one of those things that are better experienced, not described. So, just visit Sweety Puzzle’s homepage for a hefty demo; then come back here. I have not finished yet.

 

Sweety Puzzle has an excellent learning curve and a few very tiny glitches, mostly centered around its not-so-well Thai to English translation. It costs less than 7$ or 6 euros. Ok. Now, I’ve finished.

That’s an (eight) out of (ten).

For a downloadable or Java demo (or a purchase) of Sweety Puzzle click here. For an Independent Gaming Sweety Puzzle review, here.

Guillotine

Ladies and Gentlemen,

King Louis the XVI was neither the worst nor the dumbest of the rulers of France during the 17th and the 18th century. Although one could say that he lacked a certain determination – a fact that may be perceived as an indication of cowardice, he cannot be considered as particularly mean or nasty for his era (let us not forget that the competition in that domain was rather fierce…). On the other hand, the publicity given to some “saucy” details regarding the private life of his wife (the fabled Marie Antoinette), definitely affected Louis’ public image, but then again, no one can sanely claim that the scandals of a queen may be the sole cause of a revolution (unless we’re talking about some amazingly humongous, supergalactic, inter-species-erotic scandals)

This card game is not about the scandals of Marie Antoinette. After all, it is called “Guillotine”, not “Scandals”. On the contrary, it focuses on heads: Initially, as parts of the human anatomy; after a moment in time, as contents of baskets or spike ornaments.

Guillotine Card Game

The players (2 to 5) are given the privilege to impersonate for about 30 minutes (the duration of each game) the sensitive souls with the modest hats, those deeply political figures, without the help of which history would not have evolved as rapidly. At last, ‘Guillotine’ pays appropriate homage to the underestimated class of executioners, and portrays them in a time when there services were very much sought after: Revolutionary France.

Gaming purpose focuses on “collecting” the heads of the most famous of nobles, military officials and members of the clergy, or any other rotten supporter of the Ancien Régime. Of course, the value of each collected head is connected to the reputation of the deceased: The executioner who reaps the iconic head of the King is valued much more highly that another, who only manages to behead a puny piss boy, or a court guard.

Game mechanics are wonderfully simple: the noble cards are arranged in a line, each player collecting the head of the noble at the front. Players can alter the arrangement of the line, by playing specific action cards (such as bribing the guards, rescuing a Noble etc.). The player with the most valuable collection of heads wins. It’s that easy. It’s luck you need in this game, not wits.

Still, this simplicity adds to the overall enjoyment. It is not only the hilarious artwork of Christopher Rush, Quinton Hoover and Mike Raabe; Guillotine exudes an aura of lightness (in a “let’s-all-chop-heads-and-sing-till-we-get-tired” kind of way). Chopping and singing. Or to put more eloquently: chopping as entertainment for the masses.

The game keeps a loose connection with historical events. Players can reap the heads of King Louis, Marie Antoinette, Rovespiere (whose decapitation historically marks the end of “la Grande Terreur”, which partially takes place in the game as well), while other action cards make reference to famous punch lines (‘let them eat cake’) or literary figures (the ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’).

Nice game: easy as pie; and funny. “Guaranteed to brake the ice at parties

Ugur Sener: Adventure Lantern

Adventure Lantern logo

The ten gnomish questions are, as most of you must have already gathered, the interviewing format I am now and will forever (and ever) be using. The format is perfect. It’s the questions I am worried about. I do hope that I will eventually manage to ask the most intriguing ones around this corner of the Net, but for the time being, I guess you’ll just have to put up with my (rather puny) journalistic skills.

Anyway. Ugur Sener, the founder and all-around chief/good-guy of my favorite video (+adventure) gaming e-zine Adventure Lantern, was unlucky enough to be the first person interviewed on my home site. Without further ado, let me present you with his answers (and unfortunately with my questions too):

Please state your name, age and favorite alcoholic drink

Ugur Sener. 23 (turning 24 on March 2nd). I am not much of a drinker, but let’s go with margaritas.

What are your gaming interests?

Video games are definitely my main interest. I have been playing them since I was 7 years old. I currently play games on my PC, PS2, and GameCube. Adventure is definitely my favorite genre, there’’s really no contest. I’’ve been hooked since a friend of mine showed me the first Monkey Island game many years ago. I also greatly enjoy RPG, strategy, and action-adventure games, but I’’ll give just about any video game a try.

I am also a big fan of pen and paper RPGs. I have been playing them for about 6 or 7 years. I ran my fair share of campaigns, participated in many others as a player, and have more character sheets than I care to count. Back in college I even started a club for role-playing games. My friends took over its administration after I graduated.

Finally, I am always partial to a good board game. My wife has a nice collection and we both love to play board games every time we find enough people to participate.

How would you describe Adventure Lantern?

Adventure Lantern is an electronic gaming magazine focused on adventure games. It is also a Web site that features the contents of the magazine and additional articles in HTML format.

AL is still a brand new site and our archives are humble at best. However, thanks to the efforts of the staff members, I believe we have a lot of potential for growth.

From a more personal point of view, AL has given me the opportunity to do something I truly enjoy and get more out of the games I play.

What is Adventure Lantern’’s history (so far)?

Despite the fact that the site has only been open for about two months, we have somewhat of an ‘“interesting’ history. AL actually started up as a partnership. Along with my occasional contributions to Just Adventure, I had started writing for a second small adventure gaming site. The owner and I eventually decided to start a partnership and opened Adventure Lantern.
Unfortunately, various differences of opinion eventually led to our separation. The co-owner and the staff that came from the older site decided to go in a different direction than AL. I believe this happened about a week before we were planning to release our first issue. However, the remaining staff members (Wendy, Neetie, Suz, and Berent) really came through to my aid. We were able to pull together the first issue at the very last minute and successfully publish it on January 1st.

During our second month, things ran much more smoothly. Our active staff doubled in size and we were able to post a number of articles throughout the month. I believe we were able to recover from our initial setback, and I am looking forward to our March issue.

What kind of games will Adventure Lantern cover?

Adventure Lantern will be focused on adventure games. Our main goal is to provide information about current adventure games while building up our archives with coverage on older titles. However, we are not fully dedicated to a single genre. We do occasionally extend our coverage to other types of games. This is mainly to broaden the site’’s scope.

How has the gaming community reacted towards the e-zine?

I can only answer this based on the feedback I received or saw on other sites and forums across the Web. Overall, I have seen a good deal of positive feedback. Some readers were excited to see another site talking about adventure games. It’’s been especially great to see random posts on forums talking about the launch of Adventure Lantern.

However, some readers did complain about the inclusion of non-adventure games in the magazine. A couple of members of the Just Adventure forum also informed me that some of our reviews gave them the impression that we picked our favorite games for the first issue.

Of course I am always open to any kind of comments about the site. There is no way we can create a magazine that will please every single gamer, but we can certainly try to make improvements in many areas.

Why did you choose to run an Adventure Lantern site parallel to the e-zine?

The idea is to make the site more accessible. Our February issue ended up being around 120 pages. Even after compressing the images and zipping up the magazine, it is still a 5 MB download. I want to make sure the readers who do not have fast Internet connections have a way of getting to our articles.

I also hope that making the articles accessible in HTML format will help locate them when we have a number of issues of the magazine. I wouldn’t want anybody to have to download a number of issues trying to find a specific article.

What are the future plans for Adventure Lantern?

There are a lot of things I would like to do with Adventure Lantern. The first objective is to start offering more current content to our readers. I would like Adventure Lantern to be providing coverage on new games as soon as they are released.

Another objective is to strengthen our archives throughout 2006. I would like to see us host at least a hundred reviews before the site is six months old. I would also like to improve the site UI and include more dynamic functionality. Unfortunately, a lot of that has to wait until I can purchase personal copies of Web site development tools I use at my day job.

In the long run, I do have plans to offer Adventure Lantern in multiple languages. I think it would also be interesting to feature at least small sections on other types of gaming such as pen and paper RPGs or board games. I also have pipe dreams like offering Adventure Lantern as an actual printed magazine someday, but we’Â’ll see how that one goes.

Tell us a bit about your journalistic and reviewing work for Just Adventure+

I have been an avid reader of Just Adventure since 2001. I originally joined the staff in 2003 to write about some older adventure games. I wanted to be involved in making the Just Adventure archives more complete. Then I stayed on as an occasional contributor.

I am not exactly the most active member of the Just Adventure staff, but the experience has been really wonderful. The site owner and editor Randy Sluganski has always been kind and supportive towards me. I think Just Adventure is a truly great source of information for any adventure gamer.

How would you describe the current state of the adventure gaming scene?

I am very enthusiastic about adventure games in 2006. There are a number of titles nearing completion, not to mention a host of others that have been recently announced. This could be a truly great year for adventure gamers with a multitude of titles to keep us busy. I am personally excited to see the evolution of our genre and all the games coming our way.

Thanks a lot mate. And good luck.

 

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars review

 

Alex Kidd title screen
Alex Kidd title screen

Let’s be frank. Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars is a very weird and very frustrating platformer from the early ages of the 8-bit era. It was one of my first Sega Master System games, and one of the only ones that I could manage to beat. The levels were colorful, the enemies bizarre, and to this day, I’m still not really sure what the hell the story was about. I think it has something to do with collecting the signs of the zodiac. “Find the Miracle Ball,”says the disembodied digitized voice. This is almost all of the storyline you have to go on aside from the blurb on the back of the box.

Its predecessor, Alex Kidd In Miracle World, had a lot more going on for it: breakable blocks, purchasable items and power-ups, a varied terrain that seamlessly went from vertical to horizontal, and to top it all off: a freaking motorcycle. AKIMW is also one of the hardest things I’ve ever played and I don’t think I’ve even gotten past the second stage.

Alex Kidd babyheads
Alex Kidd babyheads

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars shares the same protagonist, but its gameplay is almost nothing alike. To me, it seems more like Wonder Boy crossed with a hallucinogen-fueled nightmare. The erstwhile Sega mascot can no longer deliver his trademark punch, and is left pretty much defenseless until he gets an “S” card power up which allows him to shoot some sort of energy wave. They’ve thankfully done away with the one-hit death system from Miracle World and have replaced it with a health bar that also serves as a timer. An unlimited amount of continues makes this decently kid-friendly; the disturbing sound clip of Alex Kidd screaming every time he dies, probably does not, however. And die you will. Often.

Alex Kidd bowwow
Alex Kidd bowwow

The seven levels in Lost Stars consist of Toyland, a robot assembly line, some sort of Halloween crap-forest, an underwater escapade, some dinosaur crap, the inside of a body, and a low-gravity outer-spaced themed area simply known as Ziggurat. The action is solely limited to “run from the left side of the stage to the right” while jumping over pitfalls and dodging enemies. The game features angled surfaces, swinging ropes, and a few different types of platforms that will drop, raise, dissolve, or launch you into the air, but nothing really breaks the monotony of left-to-right. In place of end bosses, the final screen of the level has some sort of hazard to navigate to get to the Exit sign. Most of these you can run right through without much of a problem, but others will snag you in a flurry of overlapping projectiles that will make you lose precious time and take you back to the start of that screen.

Alex Kidd Halloween
Alex Kidd Halloween

The enemies in this game are something else. Some of them fit right in with their themed levels, such as a puppy that spits a rainbow of colored letters in Toyland or the falling anchors and octopuses of the undersea level. Others, such as the outer-space penguins of Ziggurat, the rolling baby heads in the esophagus area of the body stage, and the naked men that shoot skulls out of their asses from the Halloween area,  left me scratching my head. Certain previously encountered enemies will act completely different later in the same level (oh, now they jump!), which furthers the frustration level. I’m unsure whether to haul ass to the edge of the screen or take my time, as things will drop down on you from the top of the screen pretty much either way.

Alex Kidd skullass
Alex Kidd skullass

Power ups are haphazardly scattered around the levels and many are invisible until you’ve come within a certain distance, which means you will probably be jumping around like an amphetamine-crazed pogo enthusiast for much of your playing time. Most of the items don’t have any obvious use aside from the “J” card that doubles your jump height, the “SC” card that will partially replenish your health bar, and the aforementioned “S” that gives you a limited number of projectiles. What does a mirror or a clown head do? Beats me. There is a score system in place but you can’t see any numbers until after clearing a stage, so I’m never sure if the point items are worth the risk.

Alex Kidd snorkel
Alex Kidd snorkel

The game features one of the most maddeningly asinine second halves I’ve ever seen. Here’s how I think this went down. The developers come up with six or seven wildly imaginative levels pushing the boundaries of the Master System’s graphic capabilities and nearly taking up all of the cartridge space. It goes into play-testing and they realize that the game is simply too short. They don’t have room for many more assets, so some genius gets the idea to simply re-use the levels again in the same order, without so much as a palette swap. There are a few more enemies and the power ups are harder to come by, but the player is simply left to trudge through the whole game a second time to find the other six signs of the zodiac. It could be the original NG+, except for the fact that you didn’t even really beat the game yet.

Alex Kidd still had about five years left as Sega’s mascot but they were already starting to give him the raw deal with this title. It has since been released on the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console, so you don’t have to scout flea markets and garage sales for this whimsical piece of trash. I can’t say it offers much replay value, as you’re already sick of it by the time you get to the first stage your second time. I had to force myself to complete it and I was not terribly surprised by the lack of a satisfying ending. Fun for masochists of all ages!

The Obsolete Gamer Show 3

Alienware Breed logo
Alienware Breed logo

You ever watch a tv pilot and the set, the lighting and everything else just doesn’t seem network ready? Then next week comes and the show looks completely finished as if polished and shined to look better. Well that is what we are doing with The Obsolete Gamer Show.

For podcast number three I was finally able to get Ignacio/honorabili to join me and if that wasn’t cool enough we are now recording from a radio station. I always wanted to be a radio broadcaster and after the show I realized I still have a lot to learn.

However, it was a still a good show overall starting with Ignacio explaining how Obsolete gamer came to be and from there we moved on to discussing how our Gamer Profiles feature has grown leaps and bounds in just a few months. We covered our Facebook question that asked if anyone had ever said anything game related during sex which somehow led into a conversation about Lindsay Lohan’s gamer profile.

Ignacio informed us of the reason he has not posted much on Obsolete Gamer. He has had a good time playing games like, Global Agenda, Need for Speed World and Battleforge. We also had a take on young kids coming up playing games such as Pokemon.

After a time it was back to business and we were able to have a conversation with Yusney (Jay) Garay who created the Breed campaign for Alienware and his opening of a new creative studio in Miami.

All in all it was a good effort and we plan to bring you a weekly show with more interviews and less of us going off topic and on a tangent. For now have a listen, tell us what you think and stay tuned for more.

SteelSeries – Pro Gaming Laser Mouse & Pad

SteelSeries logo
SteelSeries logo

I’m going to change things up a bit. Everyone has a way of doing a review or talking about something they used or liked and though there is a formula for doing so I say the heck with that. I will just tell you what I got, how I used it and what I think, simple enough?

I got my hand on the Steelseries XAI laser mouse and the 9HD mouse pad or gaming surface. Now right off the bat I realized I liked the thin flat mouse pads better because I don’t feel as if my hand and wrist are any higher off the desk than it should be. Also for curved desks it can prevent you from being pinched by the mouse pad which for some reason has happened to me a bunch of times.

SteelSeries 9HD mousepad
SteelSeries 9HD mousepad

Even though the pad is very thin it is well constructed the hard plastic is smooth on the top and has great grip on the bottom. Now the 9HD has thousands of light reflecting points and what this does is insure that if you flail your mouse around like a child thrown into the pool for the first time you don’t lose your tracking on screen. Ever see some World of Warcraft plays spaz out while PVP’ing, this is why having that and a wide surface is important.

Now let’s talk about the mouse. First off like the mouse pad the XAI is constructed very well. The mouse has a good size and weight and feels like it can take a pounding. It has seven programmable buttons for you MMO and RTS gamers and you can even download profiles used by pro gamers so you can use their setup. The size is just about perfect so if you have large hands or small ones you can still use this mouse without issue and with its slip resistant covering you won’t have your mouse flying out of your hand in the middle of a battle.

Left or right handed it doesn’t matter thanks to the ambidextrous shape. It feels comfortable on the hand which is important for long gaming sessions. One of the really cool things is the LCD menu system on the bottom of the mouse. You can configure your XAI for aim, report rate, speed and even hardware acceleration. Right above the scroll wheel you can toggle between two customizable CPI settings for adjustments on the fly. Even the mouse cord is braded so it does not tangle and it’s long enough for those keeping their desktop under their desk.

Steelseries XAI laser mouse
Steelseries XAI laser mouse

In the real world, or at least in mine I found the XAI to work well be it surfing, FPS, RTS or MMO’s. I think the key is it functions well out of the box even if you don’t do any custom setting, but if you want to get specific it has the means to do so that makes it good for gamers of all sorts. I personally needed a mouse that moved fast and glided well across the pad and the XAI combined with the 9HD does just that. From twitch moves in first person shooters to click fests in W.O.W the combo worked well for me.

You can check out more on the XAI gaming mouse and 9HD mouse pad on the Steelseries website.

Here are the specs:

Specifications for SteelSeries Xai Laser:

– Frames per second: 12.000

– Inches per second: 150+

– Megapixels per second: 10.8

– Counts per inch: 100 – 5.001 (one CPI Steps)

– Max. Acceleration: 30 G

– Sensor data path: True 16 bit

– Lift distance: ~1mm (auto-adjusting)

– Buttons: 8

Steelseries XAI laser mouse
Steelseries XAI laser mouse

– Cord: 2 m / 6,5 ft (braided to improve durability)

– Polling: 125 – 1000 Hz (1Hz increments)

– Gold-plated USB connector

– Measurements: 125,5 x 68,3 x 38,7 mm / 4,94 x 2,69 x 1,52 in

– CPI high/low indicator

– SteelSeries FreeMove Technology

– SteelSeries ExactSens Technology

– SteelSeries ExactRate Technology

– SteelSeries ExactAim Technology

– On mouse acceleration Technology

– On mouse LCD display for tweaking above technologies thru menu system

– Large pressure points that reduce friction for optimized glide

– Driverless, plug-and-play feature for LAN gamers

– Built-in memory for 5 profiles

– Operating systems: Win 2000/XP/Vista/7 / Mac OSX

*Configuration software only available for Windows operating systems

Steelseries XAI laser mouse
Steelseries XAI laser mouse

– Material: Hard plastic

– Surface treatment: Heat

– Dimensions: 270 x 320 x 2 mm / 10,7 x 12,7 x 0,08 in

– Size: Medium

– Glide: Rough

– Compatibility: Optical, laser, ball