Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Able Planet PS400B, JOURNEY and Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends

Able Planet PS400B headphones
Cost: $99
Available: Now

Creating a killer headphone isn’t hard. A few rules of thumb - make the headset affordable, comfortable on the ears and seal in the music. Make the listener forget there’s a down economy, the dog is barking and they are trapped in a dead-end job. Sadly, most headphone makers don’t come close to making a quality product that offers any of the features listed earlier.

Enter Able Planet, stage left. The company, known for their $349 noise-canceling Clear Harmony headsets, has lower-end models for consumers on a tighter budget. The new PS400B headset at $99 offers a great mix of sound reproduction without the need for batteries.

The headset is lightweight and fits over your ears comfortably. While the headset isn’t as sturdy as the Clear Harmony headset, it’s still sturdy enough to take damage if it has to. The headset is light enough that you’ll forget you’re wearing them.

The sound reproduction is superb. From the deep bass of hip hop, to the high notes in classical songs, the PS400B can give your ears a good treat for a fraction of the cost of the Clear Harmony headset. While the PS400Bs lack noise cancelation, the headset does do a really good job of blocking out most noises.

The PS400B also offers in-line volume control so you can reach for your cable to adjust the volume.

My recommendation? BUY. If you are looking for good headphones that won’t break your bank, you can’t go wrong with Able Planet’s PS400B headphones at $99.

“Journey” is a video game that plays like a movie

Developed by: Thatgamecompany
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available: NOW
Available on: Sony PlayStation 3 exclusive
Price: $15 on the PSN Store. If you wait, you can buy all three thatgamecompany games - fl0w, flower and JOURNEY - on one disc.

Most games are entertainment. Most games offer you a quick escape into deep space, a trip to the jungles of Africa to find an ancient artifact or put you into the middle of a combat situation. “Journey” does something very unique. “Journey” puts you into the role of a being, in the middle of a desert. You don’t know your way until you see a distant light on the horizon.

Developed by thatgamecompany and published on the PlayStation Network by Sony, “JOURNEY” is a video game that plays out like a movie. During a conference call with the game’s director, Jenova Chen, he said the game would be engaging and would even draw nongamers into it. He said it would play out like a movie.

Here are a few things to know about this game. First, it’s only available for the Sony PlayStation 3. Second, it’s only 2 to 3 hours long. If you take your time, expect 3 hours max - about the same length as a feature film. Third, it’s $15. That price may seem high to get a maximum 3 hours of fun out of the title, but after finishing the game, you’ll consider it an awesome investment.

As stated earlier, you are this hooded being that must make its way through deserts, snow-covered mountains and even water on your journey.

Your character doesn’t talk - you do use your voice to sing and capture red tickets that you can use to soar. Depending on how long your cloak is, you can soar for up to a minute. Chen said he wanted to create a story where language wasn’t important - he wanted the player - and bystanders - to be engaged in the story, instead of the dialogue.

Throughout your journey, if you are online, you can team with other players on their journey. While I was reviewing it, a couple players from Australia and Poland came online.

As I got to the end of the game, everything started making sense. And that’s the beauty of the game.

Nongamers will find themselves gazing on the beautiful game, engaged in the story and into the game more than the player is.
The soundtrack is just as moving as the action and the story. The game is flawless and a work of art. Controls can be a tad confusing at times, but overall, you will be moved by this game.

My recommendation? BUY. This is the first game nongamers actually watched and felt attached to. You start rooting for the hooded character, longing to see the end of the journey.

“Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends” takes new path

Developed by: Slightly Mad Studios
Published by: Atari
Available: NOW
Available on: PC, Sony PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Price: $49.99

“If it ain’t broke ...”

You have heard that phrase forever. You don’t mess with a winning formula. I liken it to a successful franchise - Call of Duty - tweaking it’s winning formula and start making a cooking game. Yes, people would buy it, but it’s not what it’s known for. The franchise is known for first-person shooting games that break entertainment sales.

With that said, I can’t tell you what Atari was thinking when it let Slightly Mad Studios make a new “Test Drive” drive. The thing that makes the “Test Drive” franchise awesome is the ability to drive around a couple large islands at your own pace. You don’t want to race? Fine. You want to cruise around the island of Ibiza or Oahu in free-roam mode? Check. That’s what “Test Drive” and the earlier offerings - “Test Drive Unlimited” and “Test Drive Unlimited 2” - you can drive at your own pace. “Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends” breaks away from the pack with this installment. You literally hit the ground running - and watch as the difficulty in later levels gets amped up.

The awesome thing about the game is the Ferraris. You will get behind the wheels of the most beautiful - exotic and some extinct - Italian whips. You have your choice of the old - the not-so-old and new Ferraris to drive. You are dumped into scenarios that you must win to advance and unlock more cars and tracks. You can always rerace tracks you’ve unlocked.

As much potential this game has - utilizing the Ferrari license for in-game cars - and the uber slick graphics - the game fails to get past second gear. There are enough racing clones out there - why not release the cars as DLC OR realize a free-roam island to drive around? Yes, I’m talking about going back to the basics with this game.

The concept is cool - but honestly, if you are going to depart from a winning formula, at least give gamers the option of staying close to home. Give them these single-player modes as an option, not the main drive.

My recommendation? RENT. As much as I love Ferraris, it got dull quickly racing around tracks, meeting certain criteria to get more bonuses - more cars, more tracks. Sorry, but I’d much rather zip around an island in a Mini Cooper instead of tracks.


Twitter: @M4dski11z

No comments: