Let me tell you about one of the best gaming moments of last year.
Razer's eSports suite comprises three products — the $119.95 DeathAdder Elite mouse, the $50.95 Gigantus mousemat, and the $169.95 Kraken 7.1 V2 headset. That $340.85 investment — count those pennies — promises to make you git gud at eSports. It didn't do that for me, but that doesn't change the fact that Razer has made some really nice peripherals.
Infinite Warfare might be the best Call of Duty in years, and it will doubtless outsell all other 2016 shooters by virtue of the series' heritage alone, but playing it immediately after Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 shows Activision's cash-cow is not the bleeding edge of cinematic thrills it once was.
There's a moment playing Infamous First Light, as the heroine made of light climbs up a wall in pitch black darkness, that I fully appreciate the hype around the PS4 Pro. The woman is a multicolored bundle of light particles and thanks to HDR, I can make out each particle and note the way they each cast their own vibrant glow on on the red brick wall. Normally, she'd be a big blob of light, but high dynamic range gives you details in moments of extreme brightness and extreme darkness. I'm watching the next big step in video games, and it is extraordinary.
Nothing shaped my childhood more than Nintendo. Like millions of other little kids, I got a Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas in 1988. It changed my life. At the age of six, the Nintendo was my first real "gadget," and it was love at first sight. I don't know if I would do what I do today without it.
Gaming headsets have spent the last few years in a vicious race to the bottom. It seems like each new product is bigger, pricier, and flashier than the last. The companies that make these headsets have seemed more obsessed with bright lights and bizarre eye-catching shapes than they have with making genuinely good headsets that you can wear all day without looking and feeling like a toolbag. Steelseries' new line of Arctis headphones fights that trend with great sound, a top notch microphone, and looks that won't leave you feeling like a 2008 cliche of a gamer.
I was slotting my grappling gun back into place on my belt when it became clear to me that Playstation VR isn't just really good VR. Playstation VR is the first virtual reality any regular person should bother with. More than the fantastic gaming experience you get with Sony's new system, I was floored by how easy it was for me to go from watching a TV show to popping on the headset and turning on Batman Arkham: VR. Playstation VR is VR for people who don't care about having the best system in the world — they just want to have a good damn experience. It's actually fun, which despite the lofty ideas spouted by technologists is what playing games is all about.
From huge, recognisable set-pieces like Apostles Beach to small touches like the red- and yellow-topped bins out the front of stilted houses, Forza Horizon 3 nails its Australian setting. The driving game's huge map acts as a kind of mix tape of our country's nicest landscapes, building large, evocative regions out of Byron Bay, the Yarra Valley, the rainforest, the outback and more, and linking them with wide freeways and country trails. Filled with fine details — the little reflectors by the highway, the colours of the unmistakably Australian sky — the terrain is also littered with opportunities to race, test your skills or hunt for hidden goodies.
If you've still got your childhood Super Nintendo hooked up and on active duty you've probably discovered that while the console is going strong, its original controllers have long since died. But since it's 2016 and we've made so much progress on cutting cords, isn't it about time for your SNES to go wireless too?
One Christmas morning in 1989, I opened a big present, bigger than me. It was the Nintendo Entertainment System, complete with PowerPad and Zapper. Nearly three decades later, I unboxed a futuristic block of aluminium: an NES clone called the Analogue Nt. And I felt that childhood glee all over again.
My first gaming mouse completely changed PC gaming for me. I’d previously thought of such peripherals as luxuries only for hardcore gamers, those who entered tournaments and won, and I was but a lowly pub match scrub. I'm still a lowly pub match scrub, but now I consider my gaming mouse a necessity for my hours-long DOTA 2 sessions. As Razer’s new Naga Hex v2 claims to be the gaming mouse for MOBA fiends like me, I was eager to find out if it would help me to improve my K/D/A.
In the bitter war between console and PC gamers, there is one statement neither side can find contentious. It doesn't matter how much you adore your PS4 or your Xbox One or your Atari Jaguar, consoles suck when playing first person shooters. Man was not meant to frag one's enemies using two joysticks and some trigger buttons. The beauty of the Xim4 USB hub is that it lets you destroy shit-talking tweens as God intended: with a keyboard and mouse.
There's a reason that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have dominated living rooms around the world where the PC has languished (relatively un-loved) in the corner. Gaming consoles are small, easy to understand, easy to control with their bundled wireless controller pads. But with the (slow, somewhat abortive) rise of the Steam Machine, we've seen a few genuinely impressive small gaming PCs rise above the noise to challenge Microsoft and Sony's stranglehold on the big-screen TV. One of those is the Alienware Alpha, the second hardware refresh of which is one of the best small-form-factor, high-performance PCs you can buy.
There's no shortage of competition in the capture card market these days, whether you're looking to record footage on consoles or PC. And considering Razer already supplies peripherals for every other aspect of broadcasting — mice, mousepads, keyboards, headsets, microphones, even the Razer Blade laptop — it only makes sense for them to get into the capture card game, too.
Unfortunately, the Ripsaw costs a lot. And when you can get the same hardware and performance — almost literally, in fact — elsewhere for substantially less, it makes the Ripsaw a hard sell.
I’ve been waiting over twenty years for the Virtual Reality revolution to finally catch up to the lofty expectations Snow Crash gave me, and in that time barely a handful of overpriced, puke-inducing headsets have made their way into my test lab. Yet in the space of the last couple of weeks, I was able to go hands-on for an extended period of time with both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
The HTC Vive is the most advanced VR system ever sold. Its headset is ridiculously powerful, so you can look around in all directions without a hitch. Its wireless controllers make it easy to interact with objects in the virtual world. Even cooler than all that, the Vive lets you walk around in the game — which sets it apart from every other VR headset ever made.
After pulling off the final version of the Oculus Rift during a recent session, I realised I had been playing for more than an hour. It was dark out, and all my coworkers had gone home. I'd been lost in the moment, trying to collect all 25 hidden red coins in a level of Lucky's Tale, one of the 30 games launching alongside the Oculus today.
If you're gaming on a console or PC, chances are you'll have come across an advertisement for a gaming headset at some stage. There's plenty of choice for every gamer and every budget. Pure headphones. Cheap headphones. Headphones with a detachable microphone. Headphones with separate mixers. Modular headsets. Headsets with detachable cables. So who is ROCCAT hoping to appeal to with the RENGA?
Back in February, I got unreasonably excited about a dart gun: the BOOMco Spinsanity 3X. Firing 30 rounds of flying rubber up to 70 feet away, it looked like it could beat Nerf at its own game.