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Vizio 54
Review by: Sean Cahill
Vizio continues to expand their home theater line with the new 54" 3.0 Home Theater Soundbar. READ FULL REVIEW...
Our favorite games of 2013
Article by: The GN Staff
Find out which games the Gaming Nexus staff loved playing in 2014. READ FULL ARTICLE...
Amphitheater BT2
Review by: Dan Keener
Dan checks out Kicker’s Amphitheater BT2 wireless audio system to see how well it works in today’s ever-increasing mobile world… READ FULL REVIEW...

News Roundup - 10/23/2013

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News Roundup - 10/22/2013

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Kicker amping up audio for mobile devices with Amphitheater BT2

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As mobile devices continue to dominate the landscape, the one thing that they need help with is delivering quality audio. The folks at Kicker, long known for car-fi subwoofers, have announced that their Amphitheater BT2 system announced at the 2013 International CES is now available for sale.  It connects to your device via Bluetooth and offers a 50 watts amp to power the 5” Drivers, 3/4 “ tweeters and of course there is the 6” square reflex subwoofer found on the back.

We have tested several tabletop audio systems in the past for mobile gaming and entertainment, and the BT2 looks like it will be one of the best at delivering those hidden audio components that most mobile apps contain, but cannot be heard due to limitations of headphones or built-in speakers. Taking a look at the video, it looks like the BT2 should deliver quality audio and with the sub on the back, deep bass. It is rated with a frequency response of 24hz – 20K Hz, which offers a much broader range of audio than most table-top systems, especially at the $250 price point. Speaking of which, if interested, you can pick up the Amphitheater BT2 directly from Kicker on their website.


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News Roundup - 10/21/2013

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News Roundup - 10/17/2013

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News Roundup - 10/16/2013

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News Roundup - 10/15/2013

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News Roundup - 10/14/2013

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News Roundup - 10/10/2013

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The Mad Catz M.O.J.O. gets priced and a release date

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Back at E3, I saw a pretty cool micro-console at Mad Catz booth. The Android console allowed for Google Play access, unlike the OUYA. At the time, no specs were announced, by the folks at Mad Catz said they were going to come out with the best specs possible when it's ready for release.

Well, they are almost ready and it's finally spec'ed out along with the pricing. The Mad Catz M.O.J.O. will be $249.99. It's going to be powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 4 running at 1.8GHz with 16GB of storage and 2GB of ram. As for OS, it won't run the latest Android version as it's 4.2.2, but hopefully we can see a quick turn around to KitKat. 

The M.O.J.O. will come with the C.T.R.LR., which is a Bluetooth 4.0 controller. The C.T.R.L.R. can also be used in mouse mode for those games that are only touchscreen based. With Bluetooth 4.0, you should get some great battery life, but the real test will come from how good the latency is. 

I was pretty excited to see it at E3 and yes, this does seem a little expensive for an Android device, but I can see some great potential here. At least it's got access to the Play Store so if you are already an Android user, you'll have all your games and apps available on the M.O.J.O.

December 10th will be the availability date, but it's going to be limited so if you're thinking of getting one, get your orders in quick before the holiday season.


Rap Genius decides who wins these classic video game rivalries

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Rap music is pop culture. And, for better or worse, rappers tend to have their fingers on the pulse of pop culture at the same time. It's a vicious/benign cycle, depending on your take.

Rap Genius is a site dedicated to the annotation and interpretation of rap lyrics. It runs on user-generated content, operating on a format not completely unlike Wikipedia. Rap Genius just recently added Rap Stats, a tool that plots words appearing in rap songs from 1988 through the present day.

So we took a look at our favorite pastime -- video games, duh -- to see who's "winning," via how frequently rap artists mention them. You can do your own searches over at rapgenius.com/rapstats. Don't feel limited by the subject matter either. Well, to a certain extent. I found absolutely zero references to "volume conversion constants," "Ruth Bader Ginsburg," or the "floor is lava!" So, temper your research, armed with that knowledge.
 
Nintendo vs. PlayStation vs. Xbox



Mario vs. Luigi



Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat



Forza vs. Gran Turismo



Red vs. Blue (Pokemon)

Amazon and EA bringing you the ultimate exclusive for Madden NFL 25

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Chances are, if you are a fan of the Madden NFL series of games from EA, you are also a huge football fan.  If you are like me, and happen to live outside your home teams market, then you are usually limited in being able to watch the team play unless you have the NFL Sunday Ticket.  Well, considering the ticket is usually $199 or $299 (with the Max option that allows the service on mobile devices) then EA and Amazon have a deal for you.  If you pre-order Madden NFL 25 Anniversary Edition, they are giving you the Sunday ticket for the 2013-2014 season for free.  The deal depends on what type of service you already have with DirecTV, and you do end up paying $99 for the edition.  So in essence, it costs you $40 to get the Sunday ticket streaming on mobile devices or free on DirecTV if you don’t already have it.
 
Here are the exclusive Offer details From DirecTV:

  • For fans who are not currently DirecTV subscribers but are able to receive DirecTV service, they will receive a promo code entitling them to $10 off per month for their first year of service and one year of NFL Sunday Ticket Max at no additional charge.
  • For fans who are already DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket Max subscribers, you can access NFL Sunday Ticket on your computer, tablet, and mobile devices using your current DirecTV username and password.
  • For fans unable to receive DirecTV service, each Madden NFL 25 Anniversary Edition will include a unique code to access the 2013 regular season (17 weeks) of NFL Sunday Ticket on computers, tablets, and mobile devices- including access to the award-winning Red Zone Channel.

 
The Anniversary edition and promo code are limited, so head over to Amazon to pre-order it today.  If you still have questions (such as if you can stream the Sunday Ticket on your PS3 (hint, the answer is NO), then you can hit up the FAQ.


Sony and DirecTV pull plug on Sunday Ticket app for PS3

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The folks over at IGN have the scoop that the Sunday Ticket app will not be back for a third season on the Playstation 3.  While the service was initially launched with some issues, it did stabilize and was a great option for those that didn't, or couldn't get the satellite service.  I know I am a bit disappointed, as I used it frequently while reviewing projectors.

Personally, I think IGNs speculation that Microsoft's impending NFL Content partnership on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One might have something to do with this.  Having both consoles, I don't care either way, but I hope that one of them pick the service back up so I can have an alternate option to view games instead of my lone satellite receiver.

We're hiring!

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Are you passionate about gaming? Do you enjoy writing about it too? Well, we're looking for two new folks to join the staff at Gaming Nexus! While we don't pay, we can get you some great games to review and perhaps an opportunity to meet some great folks in the industry. You have to be 18 and over to apply and we just ask you send along a sample of your work as well as what you are interested in in terms of genres and systems you can review for.

If you're interested, you can email John, Chuck or Jeremy.

E3 2013: Tom Clancy's The Division (Impressions)

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Tom Clancy's The Division completely blindsided me just as Watch Dogs did at last year's E3. After drooling at the trailer during Ubisoft's press conference, I got another opportunity to see a developer commentary walkthrough of the trailer in addition to footage of the companion tablet application. The game places players in the roles of survivor groups that are tasked with restoring order and attempting to save what remains of New York City after a virus outbreak during Black Friday. The game was built from the ground up as both an online role-playing and open world experience. As easily seen in the trailer, the game's level of detail is astounding thanks to the in-house built Snowdrop engine.
 

The game is built around primary concepts of exploration and customization as players will be able to choose which missions to partake and skills to upgrade. Since the game's skill system isn't based around any specific classes, players can switch around their skills for solo and group play. Missions that are completed by players will have an actual impact on the city as different possibilities might be available in later scenarios. The choices seem endless as the developers described the game as containing an extensive loot and progression system, as well as the notion that everyone can be a threat in the city.
 
After providing commentary for the E3 trailer, the developers showcased a live demo of the companion experience on a tablet. The tablet player controlled a drone over Brooklyn rooftops as his teammates were engaged in a gun battle with enemies. The player controlling the drone was able to mark enemies for his teammates in addition to a range of abilities from providing skill boosts to launching missile strikes. The tablet view of the game played in real-time and was synchronized alongside players on the console version.

Now, the wait begins for one of my most anticipated games from E3 as Tom Clancy's The Division will be available in the fourth quarter of 2014 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Neo Geo X Mega Pack out now

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I consider myself a moderately serious retrogamer and while I never owned the Neo Geo, I can appreciate the special place it holds for many nostalgic gamers. SNK Playmore is making the infamously expensive console and its even pricier library available again through the Neo Geo X handheld console. They just released Neo Geo X Mega Pack: Volume 1, which compiles all 15 titles previously released in volumes 1-5 of the Neo Geo Classics series. The Mega Pack comes in a collector's case with bonus stickers and a high speed charging cable. It will also include the latest firmware update for the handheld to address various performance and stability issues. Hit the jump for pictures of the collection and more details. [READ MORE]

E3 2013: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Impressions)

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from CD Projekt RED was one of my most anticipated games to see at this year's E3 and I'm glad to say that I wasn't disappointed in the slightest by the presentation. One of the first points emphasized during the presentation was that the narrative is considered the game's most important element. The Witcher 3 focuses on telling a more personal story about Geralt of Rivia, which has also been designed to not require knowledge of previous games in the series. Set in a massive open world, Geralt will be able to travel over both land and sea in search of the wild hunt and also to discover the mystery behind the emergence of an unknown dark force.

Even with the in-game video shown to us was considered alpha, it looked simply stunning. The game's visual style shares a lot in common with The Lord of the Rings films and Game of Thrones television series. There have been numerous improvements made to the graphics engine ranging from realistic fur on animals to 50 bones of articulation in faces for more believable delivery of dialogue. One of the other features touted as being important for The Witcher 3 is the open world that is 35 times larger than the previous game. The presentation provided a glimpse of the game's living world as citizens go about daily activities independent of Geralt's involvement. Random encounters will also be a new feature in addition to the normal set of quests.

The world of The Witcher 3 is being designed around points of interest that function as starting points for additional adventures. From a day and night cycle to the dynamic weather system, the game's world looks as it will be easy to lose hours to just exploring its vast lands. The improved battle system was also showcased in which the developers described it as more refined and less complex to use, in addition to the removal of quick time events. The developers made sure to clarify that the game doesn't include any boss battles, but what are referred to as simply tougher enemies. Geralt's skill of tracking and learning how to kill monsters is also receiving more attention in which even now the time of day plays an important role in deciding when to confront them.

Currently set for release in 2014 for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looks to again set a new standard for role-playing games.
 

E3 2013: AiRace Speed & AiRace 2 (Impressions)

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     Among the hustle and bustle of a busy E3 show floor, I got a chance to meet with the CEO of QubicGames, Jakub Pieczykolan for a quick meet up to check out some early footage of the company's latest 3DS titles, AiRace Speed and AiRace 2. Both AiRace Speed and AiRace 2 fills a kind of overlooked gap in the 3DS library, and that's classic arcade style racing. The PSP and Vita got games like WipeOut and Ridge Racer, but the 3DS has been sorely lacking in this regard, leaving gamers to settle with games like Cars, and Asphalt 3D. Sure there's Mario Kart, but sometimes you just want something a little different and these games aim to scratch that itch.

     AiRace Speed is a twitch style arcade game that tasks players with simply surviving some of the most challenging stages in an arcade styled racer. Fast aircraft, tricky tunnels, obstacles and more will challenge players through eighteen levels. The short video gave me the impression that this game is going to be fast, and hopefully the 3DS will be able to run this game at a high frame-rate because this looks like one of those games where a split second can mean failure or survival. AiRace Speed will be available later this year for the 3DS.

    AiRace 2 is a proper racing title and follow up to the company's first DSi game, AiRace. This game will feature an improved roster of planes and contain races in seven huge levels that take players through tight passages and wide open spaces with dynamic weather conditions. Outside of the standard arcade style racing there will also be combat elements for up to six players via WiFi multiplayer. AiRace 2 has some development time in front of it, and QubicGames hopes to release in 2014.

AiRace Speed is nearly complete and should be out later this summer  AiRace 2 is in early stages of development but what Jakub showed me had a lot of promise. The 3DS is sorely lacking in a good racing game and while Mario Kart 7 is great it'd be nice to give something new a try.

E3 2013: South Park: The Stick of Truth (Impressions)

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With a change of publisher to Ubisoft, developer Obsidian showcased its upcoming South Park: The Stick of Truth at E3 with some actual gameplay footage. The game's narrative has players creating their own South Park-style character and embarking on a live action role-playing game adventure alongside all of the iconic characters from Cartman to Butters. The game's visual style matches the show exactly making it seem that the player is actually participating in an episode.

Exploration of the environment has players moving through various 2D planes, which then switch to a Final Fantasy-type battle encounter mode when directly confronting enemies. Aside from the battle encounter mode, players move a cursor around the screen which provides the ability to solve puzzles, trigger environmental traps, and directly attack enemies with powerful magic such as fart blasts. Following in the tradition of past games from Obsidian, players will be able to choose from various decisions during dialogue sequences that will decide their allies and enemies.

Other elements from role-playing games were also showcased including the game's inventory and loot systems in which players can discover an array of wacky clothing and armor items for use in customizing their character. Another feature briefly shown was a Facebook-type menu page that listed the player's in-game friends such as Kyle and Stan, which seemed to follow in line with companion systems from traditional role-playing games. The best use of the role-playing genre was the South Park take on traditional turn-based role-playing combat, which included an excess amount of fart duels and other hilarious animations and voice work for both standard and special attacks.

From the brief presentation I saw at E3, I can say that fans of South Park should be excited for what's in store from the creative minds behind the game. It was clear that this wasn't another cash-in game on the television series, but a full-fledged effort at creating a worthy addition to the franchise. While a lot of details are still unsure regarding the game, the footage shown at E3 has replaced many of my worries for the game with utter delight.

South Park: The Stick of Truth will be available this holiday season for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows PC.

E3 2013: Reflexive Thinking: Hands-on with Takedown

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In the time it takes to empty a Halo assault rifle magazine into an enemy, you've already died five times in Takedown: Red Sabre.

Hearkening back to the tactical days of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, Rogue Spear and Black Arrow, developer Serellan wants to resurrect the skill-based shooter with Takedown. Communication and precision are paramount. Every corner is another test. Reloading is an eternity of anxiety –– unless your teammates are watching your back.

Takedown is largely a cooperative game, placing you, your team and a slew of enemies in realistic arenas. The AI will flank you if you're not careful and, contrary to most shooters on the market today, there is no room for mistakes.

"We're working as hard as we can to break what you'd expect to see on Xbox Live today," creative director Christian Allen said. "We're focusing on realism, teamwork and accurate weapon handling."

The realism and teamwork are apparent from the start of our hands-on demo, judging by the architecture and gear on the bodies of my teammates. Everything is functional, down to the very supports of the buildings.

"Some of our team have architecture backgrounds," senior producer James Mayo said. " The buildings are all viable structures, and the levels are realistic. We want everything to have an authentic feel."

When we drop into the fight, we're paired up with Mayo, while Allen spawns across the map with another player. As two fire teams, we sowly move through an open area in front of a glass cafeteria. A warning from Mayo snaps us out of our lull, and we quickly turn to see an enemy, dressed in a dinner jacket, pointing his weapon at us. Luckily for us, May isn't as soft from modern shooters as we are.

The third component of Alenn's goals, the accurate weapon handling, is evident when we turn a corner. Unlike many games, where guns either warp into walls or find a way to keep us from walking into them, Serellan designed the weapons to lower when we run into a surface. A sense of realism is further ingrained in Takedown, and necessitates forward thinking when rounding corners with a potential group of enemies on the other side.

"Tango sighted!" Allen yells from behind us. Before he can convey the enemy's location, we've already died. The rest of the match is a chance for us to watch the talented creators play, and the communication, cooperation and reflexes on display are enough of a marvel to not mind the no-respawn mechanic.

Takedown: Red Sabre is Serellan's love letter to Tom Clancy and Counterstrike. By returning to the past, they're creating something that feels fresh. Fun. Even new. When Takedown: Red Sabre releases for XBLA and Steam later this year, more polish and practice could take this title a long way.
 

E3 2013: Tek Recon blends toy guns and video games

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Even in my older age, I love a good Nerf battle, or any kind of toy dart gun for that matter. I can often be found running around my neighborhood with the kids blasting each other and waging virtual war without any sign of shame. Tek Recon is looking to take that experience to the next level with their new product that was shown off at E3 after debuting on Kickstarter last year.

Tek Recon is a GPS powered mobile application combined with a new line of toy guns that adds a new level of immersion to toy warfare. The guns have a mount for your mobile device which will give you and your friends access to things such as advanced weapon sites, GPS tracking of your friends and enemies, as well as technical monitoring of your ammunition reserves.

Harold Chizick of Tek Recon gave us a first hand demonstration of how the product works at E3 which you can find below:
 
 

E3 2013: Necessary Communication: Hands-on with Tiny Brains

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The E3 show floor is a chaotic atmosphere, bustling with strangers and friends alike, waiting and hoping to see as much as they can. It's rare when a game grabs your attention long enough to warrant conversation with someone just as eager to see the next thing as you are. So when we sat down to play Spearhead Games' Tiny Brains, it came as a surprise to find that we, along with three other strangers, did just the opposite.

Set in a series of scientific experiements under controlled conditions, Tiny Brains is a puzzle game that places you in the position of test subjects instead of scientist. The test subjects, or rodents, all have unique powers resulting from previous experiments. Our rodent, a blue creature with no discernible natural derivation, has the ability to form ice blocks in front of it. The other test subjects have the respective abilities of pushing objects, pulling objects, or swapping themselves with the object in question.

Most of the experiments, or puzzles, task us, as a team of four, with getting from point A to point B however we can. Like any respectable puzzle game, the tests seem easy at first, but slowly escalate to test our growing understanding of our combined thinking.

The first few puzzles present us with a simple objective: move a fuse box into its appropriate switch, and the door to the next room will admit entry. As the blue rodent, there isn;t much I need to do here, as the solution is only a matter of pushing or puling –– or swapping with, if we're feeling creative –– the fuse in order to land it in the switch.

The next room, however, presents more of a challenge. A gap separates us, and the new fuse, from the switch and door. So, after a few moments of pandering between myself and my partners, I conjure an ice cube and stand on it, and my partner with the power of "push" shoots me across the gab, ice cube under my feet and all. I step on a switch, extend a bridge, and the rest of my team and the fuse are safely across.

These puzzles escalated to the point of difficulty where our group was yelling directions, suggestions and congratulations back and forth to such a level of volume that the rest of the E3 show floor dissipated into quiet nothingness. We were in our own world, concentrating only on the puzzles, challenges and satisfaction of completing each one.

These challenges deviate from the classic "get from here to there" appeal of the main campaign. A specific objective is called into play, such as keeping a giant ball from falling off a precarious series of glass panes, or completing a puzzle as fast as we can. While the main campaign allowed us to take our time and learn our abilities, these challenges required mastery is we hoped to score higher than the previous E3 groups.

Tiny Brains accomplished something difficult: it made me forget I was at E3, the biggest video game convention of the year, surrounded by tens of thousands of writers, developers, publicists and fans. It made me focus on my small group of four people, and how to solve each new situation. When Tiny Brains releases on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 this fall, I can't wait to see how it will play in a quiet room.
 

E3 2013: DayZ (Impressions)

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After seeing the Arma 3 beta during my Bohemia Interactive appointment I was shown the in-development alpha of standalone DayZ. I was one of the victims of the DayZ craze that hit last year in which hours of my day were consumed by avoiding zombies and hunting other players for their weapons and equipment. While the pricing structure and public release time frame haven't yet been finalized, Bohemia did confirm that the alpha will be privately released for stress testing in the following weeks.

Even though the build of DayZ being shown at E3 was still early in development, an array of improvements were showcased from new zombie animations to a completely redesigned inventory system. The standalone version of DayZ still takes place on the island of Chernarus from the original mod, but nearly everything has been overhauled with a emphasis on building interiors. Players will have a great deal of more interiors to explore in addition to them receiving a visual upgrade with expanded furniture and item placement.

The inventory system has received a complete overhaul with a far more accessible interface that doesn't contain any of the unnecessary steps required in the original mod. As well, the inventory system displays gear that is in close proximity to the player, thus removing the hassle of selecting the item with the mouse cursor. The new crafting system was also showcased in which two fragments of a map were combined to create a complete, usable in-game map. Another example of the crafting system involved purifying a contaminated bottle of water. Even switching the equipped items on the character from their clothing to weapons is a simple drag and drop process.

A common phrase during the presentation of DayZ was that the game is being created around the concept of a "personal experience," in which every decision is ultimately up to the player. While the game might still look a bit rough in some places and it's unfortunate that it wont be using the Arma 3 engine, the standalone version of DayZ will be just as addicting and atmospheric as the original mod. Fans of the original mod can rest assured that the core of what makes DayZ such a unique and thrilling experience is still intact.

E3 2013: Wargaming.net interview

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Did you know that Wargaming.net has been at it for 15 years now? Neither did I, but they have and their expertise in the market of war simulation is finally showing through with the success of their World of Tanks franchise. We stopped by the company’s E3 booth and chatted with the company’s General Manager Jeremy Monroe about this milestone year and their plans for the future. The partnership between Wargaming and Microsoft was one of the biggest stories that came out of E3 and this interview gives us some insight on just how big the partnership and how much effort Wargaming is putting into making sure the Xbox 360 experience of the game is as good as it can be.
 
 

E3 2013: Snail Games demonstrations

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Mike gave us his impressions of Snail Games’ Age of Wushu and Black Gold, but now we want to give you a chance to see the games in action. Quality assurance manager John Lynch of Snail Games was kind enough to give us an extended demonstration of both titles at the show.
 
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