Friday, July 25, 2014

The Last Night

Got 5 minutes, like Cyberpunk and want to play something amazing right now?

Check out The Last Night at

It's the best 5 minutes you'll spend today. Looking forward to the Kickstarter ;-)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Surface Pro 3 - first impressions

The Surface Pro 3 is not "the tablet that can replace your laptop"and if that's what you are looking for then stop looking. That mythical all-in-one convergence device simply doesn't exist yet.
What the Surface Pro 3 is however is a powerful productivity device that while not what you were looking for might be exactly what you need.

The Surface in question here is a middle of the road Core i5 with 256GB of storage. Adding the type cover, Office 365 Personal and a perhaps redundant 13" Incipio Ronin sleeve my grand total came to $ 1.598,- which is frankly a lot of money, twice as much as my iPad Air 4g 64GB for example. On that note, if you are in the market for a tablet, get the iPad and stop reading this piece as the rest of it is totally irrelevant.

Still here?

The reason for that rather blunt statement is that as a pure tablet the Surface Pro 3 is simply a failure. Way too heavy to comfortably hold in either orientation for longer than a minute or two and too large to balance on an uneven surface. The legacy of windows gives most apps a exceptionally poor touch interface and the majority simply don't support portrait mode. Also the kickstand is absolutely useless as the slightest touch of the Surface while propped up on it sends it sliding all over the place on any kind of smooth surface like... a table or a desk. Making the device unsuitable for anything other than passive content consumption. A tablet you can't use as a tablet is completely redundant.

But, with the type cover connected, that awkward device becomes an amazing ultra portable, powerful and convenient Win 8.1 laptop. For one, the keyboard instantly stops the surface from sliding all over your desk and gives you all the keys you need to be productive in the included applications. You'll quickly learn how to move between the keyboard and the touchscreen to get things done in the most efficient manner and even the most die hard Windows 7 hold-out might finally get what Microsoft was aiming for with Windows 8. The included pen was great for making quick notes but personally, unless you're an artist, I think the pen is a hold-over from a bygone era and not really that useful anymore for those of us with mouse/trackpad and typing skills. The trackpad itself is actually the only downside to the type cover as it's not as responsive as I'm used to from other notebooks.

So as a first impression, it's probably one of the worst tablets I've ever used and at the same time one of the best ultraportables. At this price however it's still very hard to recommend this over a MacBook Air unless you just absolutely need Windows.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Divinity Original Sin Review

Now I must admit, I wasn't part of the original Kickstarter on this one. As it was launched around the time I was suffering from a now common affliction called Kickstarter fatigue. 

In hindsight, that was a mistake. 

I'm about 12 hours in and enjoying myself immensely. The game is a breath of fresh air in a genre that seems to be obsessed with chasing wide open world and often forgetting to put anything interesting in them. In Divinity every part of the gameplay map servers some kind of purpose. From providing place to find a secret to an interesting spot for one of the games tactical turn based encounters.

And it are these encounters that are the highlight of the game for me. Taking the rich tactical options of games like Baldurs Gate and more recently the original Dragon Age and putting them in a X-Com like framework with actions costing a set number of points. Unspent points carry over to the next round adding an even deeper level of strategy where some spells and abilities require you to save some points from the previous turn. That's on top of an already very varied menu of tactical options.

I'm playing as a Ranger and Cleric. Which gives me access to a number of archery abilities, tens of special arrow heads from standard exploding and poisoning to steam and smoke screens. On the Cleric I get healing, buffs and the ability to cast a number of offensive spells. You're never at a loss for options.

Apart from the two "main" characters you can swap additional characters in and out of your party. Supplementing your two mains. Just for the combat, Divinity: Original Sin is worth the price of admission.

That doesn't mean other areas are underdeveloped, graphically the game looks better than most most higher budget commercial games and those graphics are backed up by some great sound effects, okay voice acting and the usual suite of fantasy music. Again, the battle music is the standout here which is good because some of the battles tend to last in the tens of minutes.

The story so far has been a bit slow going, taking me through a traditional murder investigation plot while funnelling me from area to area. While the game is essentially non-linear it's the enemies levels which in practice gate you from certain areas. There is simply no way your level 3 guys will be taking out that mob of level 5 Orcs without either a lot of luck or patience. Better try again when you've levelled up a bit. But the setup of the story is promising and I will certainly be playing more of it to see where it goes.

All in all, I recommend you pick this one up if you're a fan of classic RPG's and tactical battles. Those of you looking for an open world RPG or a more MMO like experience will not find what you're looking for here.