PC Games to Look Forward to in 2017

2017 promises to be a great year for gaming, with PC releases from some of the major franchises hitting the shelves this spring. Here at Alberto Statti, we’re just itching to play them all, but here’s a selection of our most anticipated:

Tekken 7
Fans of the fighting games will be eagerly awaiting the release of Tekken 7 in early 2017. It’s been a long wait since its predecessor, Tekken 6, was released for the home console market back in 2009. The new instalment, subtitled “Fated Retribution”, features new game mechanics, gameplay changes and eight new characters. Favourites like Yoshimitsu, King and Nina return, and the story revolves around Heihachi, Kazuya and Jin, revealing mysteries like the Devil Gene.

Sniper Elite 4
Due for release on 14th February, Sniper Elite 4 promises improved AI, significantly larger maps and the introduction of climbing ability. The third-person stealth shooter is well known for its X-ray kill camera, which shows gruesome details of body parts being torn apart by the player’s bullet. This has now been extended to include other types of kill, such as melee and shrapnel. The story directly follows Sniper Elite 3 and is set in 1943, with protagonist, Karl Fairburne, assisting the Italian resistance.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Delayed from December 2016 to spring 2017, the second South Park game follows events in “The Stick of Truth”. As their alter ego superhero characters, the children of South Park cannot agree on a franchise plan so embark on a civil war with The Coon (Cartman) leading one side and Mysterion (Kenny) the other. Playing as the New Kid, the player must reunite the gang. Unlike the first game, players can choose to be a boy or a girl, leading to different dialogue.

Outlast 2
Horror aficionados will no doubt be keen for the release of Outlast 2 in early 2017, the survival horror sequel that uses a found footage approach to gameplay. This time round, the main character is a journalist investigating a murder in the Arizonan desert. Unfortunately, he encounters a village inhabited by a deranged cult. The plot is said to be based on the real-life Jonestown massacre of 1978.

Mass Effect: Andromeda
With a European release date of 23rd March confirmed, fans can at last get really excited about the fourth Mass Effect instalment. The sci-fi shooter is set in an open world for the first time with several planets to explore. Taking place six centuries after events of the initial trilogy, there is more of a feel of the original game in Andromeda.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands
The Tom Clancy series continues with the release of its fourteenth game and tenth main instalment, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, on 7th March. Taking a new approach that crosses GTA with Far Cry, Wildlands sets Ghost Recon players in an open world for the first time. The map is claimed by Ubisoft to be one of the most expansive they’ve published, and there’s a wide range of terrains. The return to a present-day environment coupled with the vast open world should exceed expectations.

Written by Alberto Statti

Final Fantasy 15 – Worth it?

Final Fantasy XV

Are you a new or returning player to the Final Fantasy universe? Then worry not. We can help get you started on your brand new or continuing journey!

First things first, no matter which type of player you are, to get a bit of background it is worth watching the new Final Fantasy Kingsglaive film which helps to get you acquainted with some of the other characters in the game that are occasionally referenced.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to watch the movie or the anime episodes(free on YouTube), they are just there as a sort of prequel (Kingsglaive happens between the first couple of missions in the game.)

Right now, the game is available to buy for Xbox One and PS4 and there is a possibility for it to be released on PC.

The game offers a bunch of new features that weren’t available on the other games:

  1. You now own a car which can be damaged and run out of petrol, you can fix it at a garage where you can also trick it out with custom paint jobs etc.
  2. Each character has their own abilities. Noctis can fish, Prompto takes pictures throughout your game, Ignis does the cooking for some very good buffs and Gladiolus allows access to survival missions which help gain a lot of XP and items.
  3. You can now take cover to gan HP and MP back!
  4. Warp points allow instant MP recovery
  5. First real-world open game play
  6. Only 1 load screen for the entire area but on Xbox One it is a big load time!
  7. Fast paced combat, not turn based.
  8. A sort of wait system where everything pauses so you can potion up and think of what to do next (only lasts for a limited time)

Pros of Final Fantasy XV

  • The combat system is either a love it or hate it, returning players that are used to turn based might hate it but players that enjoy fact action may love it
  • The characters themselves are very like-able especially when resting where you get to see the pictures taken by Prompto.
  • So far through my play through, the story seems to be pretty good, and from what other Final Fantasy’s are like, only get better.
  • Open world exploration is great and proves some very nice scenery which you can drive/run to.

Cons of Final Fantasy XV

  • Sometimes the combat system can be buggy where you block and just get knocked down for 3+ seconds getting hit over and over.
  • Magic seems to be very lackluster. You spend a lot of time gather magic power just to use it within 1 minute of combat.
  • Being unable to save while in certain places certainly makes it very annoying if you die.
  • The camera not only in combat but in general is terrible. It doesn’t follow your character sometimes and other times it will just fly past your character while in combat at super speed causing you to start attacking in the opposite direction

Conclusion

Overall, the game is definitely something with potential and definitely overall a great game to play. Most of the problems in the cons section are bugs which will be ironed out so best avoided til then. If story and immersion is what you want, then this is the game for you. I would recommend that you watch the anime and the film if you want to get to know the characters a little better.

by Alberto Statti

Top 5 Wireless Headsets 2017

Buying wireless headphones these days is like learning another language. There are so many wireless headphones from so many different manufacturers that in the end, they all do the same thing, just a little bit differently for a big premium! In the end though, this is competition which is very good for us, the consumer. It means we get the best prices those manufacturers are willing to drop their prices to in order to compete.

I will start off by going onto the lower end prices of the “high-end” wireless headphones and work my way up to the most costly.

Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones

Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones

The Bose is a great set of headphones, but really should be called earphones because they go into your ears. If you are the type of person who also listens to podcasts in bed then these would be perfect as they wont get in the way and feel clunky on your head while its on the cushion.

They have a great battery which lasts up to 6 hours per charge. They also have quick charge so if you forgot to charge them, plugging them in for 15 minutes will get you 1 hours worth of listening time.

There is a little clip on the cable that connect the earphones which you can connect to your t-shirt or coat so that if they fall out of your ears during a run, they wont fall onto the floor.

The cable also has controls attached so you can change volume, skip tracks, take calls and initiate voice commands.

These earphones come in at £129.99 with prime from Amazon

Plantronics Backbeat Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones with Mic

plantronics-backbeat-pro-wireless-noise-cancelling-headphones-with-mic

Of all the headphones on this list, these are my favourite looking are my pick for value too.

Features:

  • These headphones provide up to 24 hours continuous wireless streaming which is far more than anyone will need unless you are on a plane to Australia or do 24 hour streaming sessions on Twitch.
  • If you take a lot of breaks and listen to music, this headset has automatic music play/pause when headphones are put on/removed (can be disabled)
  • The headset has a DeepSleep mode which can put your headphones into hibernation, when away from device, extending battery life up to 6 months
  • If you have a class 1 Bluetooth receiver, the range of the headset is up to a staggering 100 meters range from Class 1 Bluetooth device
  • The headset On-demand Active Noise Cancelling (ANC)
  • There are status alerts for things such as battery level etc
  • You have the option to have the headset as wired or wireless.

The price is very reasonable at £150.77 from Amazon

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones

bose-quietcomfort-35-wireless-headphones

This headphone undoubtedly is extremely comfy, just looking at it puts me into a state of comfort.

Features:

  • Noise cancellation
  • EQ based o nthe your volume for more balanced audio
  • Wireless with easy Bluetooth and NFC pairing aided by voice prompts
  • 20 hours battery life when wireless and 40 hours in wired mode per charge
  • Noise-cancelling with dual-microphone system, allowing for clearer calls especially in very windy weather
  • The weight is only 235g which is insane considering the quality of the headset

The price comes in at £279 from Amazon which is on the expensive side considering its differences to the Plantronics which is basically looks and placement of controls which is all personal preference.

Sony MDR-1000X

sony-mdr-1000x

We are now moving into the next price bracket of headphones.

It features:

  • Exceptional noise cancelling with reduced ambient noise for perfect silence
  • Comfortable around ear fitting with 20 hour battery life
  • Smart technologies – Ambient sound mode, Touch Sensor operation, Quick Attention mode
  • First ever DSEE HX headphones upscaling your existing music to near High-Resolution Audio quality
  • Carrying case included

Okay, some notable improvements over the lower bracket of pricing:

  • Placing a hand on a headphone will reduce music so you can hear whats going on around you
  • Noise cancelling has its own button and looks to be improved over the other cheaper headphones as it has a microphone inside the headset and outside so it can ensure no sound is getting in.
  • The DSEE HX works by increasing depth of sound, clarity and vividness for all sounds played through the headset.
  • Touch sensor operation for changing tracks and volume by swiping in the appropriate direction

Pricing as you can expect, is higher than the previous  headset but has few added extras so you decide if the cost outweights the benefit. £329 at Amazon with prime

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Around Ear Wireless Headset

sennheiser-momentum-2-0-around-ear-wireless-headset

Now we are moving onto the elite of headphones. With great hardware, come a great cost.

Its main features consist of:

  • Comes in on-ear and around ear configurations
  • Very small package considering its wireless
  • Very sturdy design considering size
  • Has NFC connectivity
  • Wired and Wireless mode
  • 22 hours battery life
  • Connect to 2 devices separately

What separates these headphones from the rest to me would be the minimalist design while retaining that battery life, the metal makes it look great and the buttons are in a convenient location.

The cost comes in at £379.95

Conclusion

In my opinion, any headset over the cost of the Plantronics headset is only for people looking for design over anything else. All thse headphones do 99% of the same stuff, with the main differences being how they do it. The other 1% is looks. If you want to spend an extra just for design then go ahead, that’s your choice. Either way, these headphones listed are the best ones in their price range.

Let me know your opinions and what you bought in the comments below.

 

Best Wall Mountable PC Speakers

Wall Mounted Speakers

Last Updated: 24th October 2016

Buying speakers for your computer is a relatively simple process, determine your budget, find speakers in that budget then narrow them down based on features and preference. In 2016, you would expect Googleing wall mounted speakers for your computer would give a nice up to date list of speakers systems for you to match against your budget and preference. That is not the case. The first thing on the search is a direct link to Ebays own sales in the “wall mounted speakers” section.

Fear not, we have a …..solution. Not only will this solution prove to be perfect, it allows you to use any speaker systems! First things first, follow our best speaker brand guide to find the brand for you. Next determine your budget and required features.

Now that we have gotten the list of potential speakers down to at least 3 or 4, we will be needing a more in depth look at the speakers themselves. We will be mounting them using Wall Mounting brackets or Universal Speaker Brackets if they fit right so go through your speakers and see if the cheaper options work for any of the speaker systems you chose. Using the first link, the most cost effective ones are the Btech BT332 which screw to the wall and into the speaker system. This type of wall mount will require a speaker system that either has a hole to screw into or at the very least a speaker that is square and wooden. (Imagine wall mounting this with screws)

Alberto Statti
Logitech X230

If you speaker is square but is made of plastic and you aren’t particularly interest in screwing holes into your speakers, Velcro to the rescue! I will assume you know what Velcro is and how to use it. You best course of action is to use quite a bit of Velcro as you don’t want it loosening over time then suddenly dropping off the wall.

Velcro
Velcro

Now, I know that speakers that aren’t designed to be wall mounted wont have long enough wires, that is why we will now look at extension wires. The ones linked are extremely long so you could probably measure the extra you need and go to a local store and pick some up for cheaper. If you want the extra wire and ease of purchase provided by amazon, go for that one.

So you have your speakers, they are mounted on the walls using extension wires, now what? Cable trunking! Cabling is always a problem so the trunking can be used not only on your PC speakers but on your other component cables. In my case, I bought the smallest ones for the PC speakers, then bought the thickest one and attached it  to the back of my desk which custom drilled holes for cables to go into it and to my PC.

cabling - Alberto Statti
Cable management

Written by Alberto Statti

What are the best audio speaker brands?

The Best Speaker Brand For You

by Alberto Statti

Last Updated: 24th October 2016

Purchasing speakers for your computer isn’t just a simple “click and pay” anymore not only because there are now a huge variation of brands but there are also a huge variation of models within those brands. Thorough research needs to be done because if you are like me, you will want to be using these speakers for as long as possible (my current speakers have lasted 10 years and are so old I cant find a picture of them on Google).

First things first, lets create a list of all the noteworthy brands currently out there:

  • Bose
  • Corsair
  • Creative
  • Edifier
  • Genius
  • Logitech
  • Microlab
  • Altec Lansing
  • Philips

There are many many more brands out there but these are the best of the bunch when considering 99% of the population with speakers will have one of the brand above.

What determines a good brand?

Hearing about certain brands is good for them but not many people talk about why they are good or the best. This question can be simplified into four main reasons:

  1. The brand has great products
  2. The brands products perform better than their counterparts
  3. The brand has a great pricing scheme in place
  4. The brand has great warranty just in case you are the unlucky 0.01%

So which to choose?

All of the above brands have products that fall within those four reasons, but what determines the best brand is the one that offers the most cost effective product in your price range if all else is equal.

I can’t pick one brand and say its the best overall because not only could you live in a different part of the world which would skew the pricing, but the warranty each brand offers can be vastly different in each area of the world.

Here is how to decide which brand to choose:

  • Determine your price bracket and the max amount you are willing to spend.
  • Look at each manufacturers warranty for where you live.
  • Go to your favourite computer accessories website and sort all speakers by your price bracket and brands with the best warranty.
  • Determine which of the speakers listed fit what you need (2.1, 5.1, Bluetooth, wireless etc)
  • Once you have narrowed your list down to 2 or 3 speaker systems, check the reviews for each one.
  • Now that you know which speakers you want, double check other websites in case it is cheaper elsewhere.
  • Buy
  • Enjoy

Now what?

That’s it. Set up your system when it arrives and enjoy your new speakers. Revel in the fact that you made the most informed decision you could and it anything goes wrong, you chose the best brand with the best warranty.

Personally, Logitech have always been my brand of choice not only for the warranty but I just like their speaker systems more. Especially the ones with the small dial for the volume/bass etc.

Next up I will be writing about which are the best speakers to mount on your wall, these will be especially great if you have double or triple monitors so you can mount them above the monitors.