Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of programs, games, hardware and other gadgets…

DeLonghi AC230 Air Purifier review

This might be a bit unusual thing to be reviewed on my page, but in a way it is related. Every PC user knows dust is the seed of evil. Clogs filters, clogs coolers and fans and it’s just nasty and annoying. If you have a computer that runs almost 24/7, you know dust gathers like crazy inside it and around it. I also happen to sleep in the same room which makes it even worse. I’ve been thinking of getting air purifier for months, but couldn’t really decide. There are literally hundreds of them, mostly what I’d consider as no-name brands. There are also from well known vendors like Sharp, Philips and so on, but they cost a fortune and are ridiculously hard to buy, at least in my country. But in the end, based on several factors, I have decided for air purifier from a well known Italian appliances manufacturer DeLonghi. I have opted for the highest model AC230 because the price difference as well as dimensions of the unit weren’t particularly higher compared to their more basic AC100 and AC150 units. Plus I’ve heard filters for AC230 are significantly easier to obtain than for other two units. Have been using AC230 for several months now, with review being mostly written in the Draft folder, here is my final experience…

DeLonghi AC230

Construction and design

AC230_Unit.jpg

The unit is very sturdy and has no rattling elements. Maybe the rear case plastic is a bit cheap on touch, but the front one you’ll see most of the time is very high quality. The front plastic cover imitates shiny sandblasted metal which also looks very nice. This front panel is locked in place with magnets which make it really easy and durable. No hinges or mechanisms, just strong magnets. Certainly a good and durable design decision. Only bad design choice I’ve noticed so far is the cable storage compartment on the bottom of the unit. Its cover is attached with screws which point out of the case almost as much as the rubber feet. I can see this as a potential problem for delicate floor if you drag the unit around, it might scratch it. Especially over time as rubber feet will wear or compress because of weight and time. I’ve removed all 4 screws on the bottom just to be sure.

Filtration

It has a 5 stage filtration. Washable pre-filter for larger particles, HEPA filter rated to filter particles larger than 0.3 microns, active carbon filter to absorb toxic fumes and odors, Nano Silver filter with anti-bacterial effect and lastly a TiO2+UV photo-catalytic filter. UV light by itself kills viruses and bacteria by disrupting their cell structure with UV radiation. And with usage of TiO2 (titanium dioxide) mesh, it further enhances this action.

Filter is rated at 720 hours which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I think I know the reason why they rate it at such low number of operating hours. HEPA filter itself may last a lot longer. I’m speculating 6-12 months actually, depending on usage and amount of dust. It’s the active carbon filter that wears out so quickly. So, if you mostly care about dust filtering, you can just ignore the 720 hours recommended replacement cycle. I would still recommend filter replacement at least once a year.

Be aware that HEPA and Active Carbon filter are bonded together. To replace one, you automatically replace both.

I did find another flaw, a green/grey mesh “filter” covering UV bulb started dissolving, I’m guessing it’s because of UV bulb. After removing it, location where it was pressing against UV bulb was just crumbling into dust. I don’t think it was meant to be like this, so I removed it to avoid potential dispersion of these particles into the air. UV bulb is still covered with plastic case mesh for protection.

Make sure to regularly clean pre-filter. I also clean HEPA here and there using vacuum cleaner furniture brush at lowest vacuum cleaner speed and gently go across entire filter surface from the dust receiving side (white one, not the carbon granules side).

Control panel

AC230_Controls.jpg

From left to right…

  • FILTER light which warns you to replace filter (time based, 720 hours of operation)
  • RESET button below it to reset the status after replacement of the HEPA filter
  • AQS control for the front red/orange/blue lighting
  • IONIZER button to toggle ionizer on/off
  • 3 manual fan speeds (Low, Medium and High)
  • AUTO button for automatic fan speed based on AQS air quality sensor
  • Off timer with 1, 2, 4, 8 hours settings
  • ON/OFF button

Buttons are full touch operated and they glow brightly, but they go into dim mode after few seconds. They emit some light to the room, but it’s not annoying even during night. Every touch of any button creates a beeping sound as a feedback for changed settings.

AQS (Air Quality System)

DeLonghi AC230 comes with sensors which detect various particles from fumes, smoke, gases etc and activates the higher ventilation speed depending on severity of the detected impurities to accelerate air cleaning. AQS system is always active, but you can decide not to obey it by manually selecting a desired ventilation speed. To use AQS system, you have to press AUTO button on the control panel. When using manual speed settings, AQS will still show the state of air quality, but will not modify fan speed even if air quality changes.

Pressing AQS button on control panel only enables or disables air quality status lighting, which is useful for night operation, so it’s not too distracting.

AC230_AQS_States.jpg

Orange is very bad air quality, green means acceptable and blue is for excellent air quality.

There is general misconception that AC230 units have a hardware bug which makes them stuck in certain AQS colored mode. Based on my observations, sometimes air becomes so bad, AC230 is not able to improve it. Opening door or window of the room for few seconds made the unit cycle back to green and later to blue mode. I have also noticed removal of the small green/grey mesh in front of UV bulb improved things a lot and the unit is now able to maintain blue state much easier for some reason.

Ionizer

Like many air purifiers, this one comes with ionizer which is using high voltage needles with ionizing tips to generate negative ions. It’s actually an useful feature sometimes, because it can neutralize bad smells and force dust to fall on surfaces instead of floating around, but can also be annoying if you cannot turn it off. Ionizers create ozone (O3) which is an irritating oxidizing gas and can cause problems with some users. Luckily, AC230 unit has a dedicated ION button to turn it on or off at any time. It’s a simple thing, but you will often not find this even on units 5 times more expensive!

Night usage and noise

As I’ve said before, top control panel emits some light, but gets dimmer when nothing is pressed for few seconds. AQS air quality lights can also be turned off. In terms of emitted light footprint, it’s pretty good and isn’t annoying. Would be nice if there was also option to fully disable even control panel lights entirely. I’m sure some users would appreciate it.

Noise levels are very subjective thing, but if you have the AC230 unit running at Low speed, it’s reasonably quiet. If there are any other noises like quiet music, TV being turned on or having a conversation, you won’t even hear it. At Medium and High speeds however it is quite noticeable. I only use these modes when I’m not around and I want to accelerate filtration.

Sleeping with this unit nearby is possible, but if you’re not used to constant static noises nearby, you’ll want to disable it for the duration of the night.

My room has high temperature changes from very cold to very hot sometimes and I’ve noticed fan noise does change depending on temperature. Most of the time it has an uniform, even noise, but sometimes it goes into a bit more annoying oscillating noise. Imagine having a fan that is not balanced perfectly. It sounds like that here and there and that is in fact more annoying. This also changes depending on distance and angle from the unit.

In general, I think noise levels are very good.

Specifications and comparison with smaller models

AC230_Specs.gif

Power consumption

Measured with Voltcraft Energy Check 3000 consumption monitoring device on European 230V wall socket.

Consumption at given fan speed:

  • Low: ~41 W
  • Medium: ~47 W
  • High: ~60 W

Additional consumption for optional features:

  • Ionizer: 0.4 W
  • AQS LED status lights: 0.6 W

My usage and results

All observations are based on me having AC230 unit only 1m (~3.3ft) away from my head during day and around 3m during night. Unit is running pretty much 24/7 and is placed on a piece of furniture, 110cm above the ground which is less than ideal, but only option for me. Recommended placement is on the floor.

It did not eliminate dust problems entirely, to achieve that you have to run the air purifier at maximum speed at all times in order to catch more dust particles while they are floating in air and even then, some would still fall on surfaces. But I can sense being a lot less irritated by dust and I also noticed there is a lot less dust being accumulated on surfaces and also inside my computer. Indication of its efficiency is also the amount of dust caught on the pre-filter. It was a moderate amount during a year, but rather large amount during winter time because the heating makes dust particles circulate around the room a lot more. DeLonghi AC230 unit is clearly catching dust in its filtration system.

Verdict

All in all, a very good all around air purifier. Is well made despite few silly design flaws, has good noise levels, has settings not found even on most expensive units and it’s simply doing its job rather well. There is really nothing that bothers me very much and for the price, it was a very good purchase. I’m still using the first HEPA filter, so I can’t comment on parts availability, but we do have official DeLonghi service chain in my country and filters aren’t that expensive based on prices found in online stores like Amazon. If you’re looking for a good and affordable air purifier, DeLonghi AC230 is an excellent choice for sure.

SecureAgePlus Multi-Engine Antivirus Review

SecureAgePlus Introduction

This antivirus has actually been around for quite a while, but it hasn’t really interested me because the old interface was a bit clumsy and the scanning reliability was rather poor.

But that has changed quite dramatically with version 4.4 (I’m reviewing 4.4.1). The interface is now incredibly pleasant to use, has a logical layout and most importantly, they seem to have resolved scanning reliability as well. Universal AV is fast and reliable now and they have also replaced VirusTotal multi-engine online scanning service with Jotti, which is an older service with a bit less scanners, but it seems to be a lot faster and reliable. I do hope VirusTotal will one day return to assist Jotti scanner, but it’s still very good as it is right now.

SecureAgePlus_GUI.png
Main SecureAgePlus Interface
SecureAgePlus_GUI_Settings.png
SecureAgePlus Settings panel with few of Universal AV engines listed

Universal AV

This antivirus is a bit special. It uses local antivirus of your choice or you can also use integrated one (ClamAV, very basic, but it works), but its special sauce lays or shall I say floats in the cloud in form of two services. One is Universal AV which depends on several antivirus engines running on SecureAPlus servers, placing ZERO load on your system. All is done through intelligent fingerprinting, you only have to submit whole EXE to their server for analysis if no fingerprint is found on their server to match the potential malware on your system. After few seconds, results are returned to you and you can decide what to do if found to be potentially malicious.

SecureAgePlus_GUI_Detection.png

Second line of defense from the cloud is Jotti’s service, again with multi-engine scan service which at the moment boasts 19 different antivirus scan engines.

SecureAgePlus_GUI_Detection2.png

In theory, not even two such services can deliver absolute 100% protection, but with so many engines, chances of malware evading all of them becomes very slim. And given you don’t experience any slowdowns on your system, the more engines there is, the better.

Multi-layered Protection

Another good thing about it is that you can use it along with your favorite existing antivirus. I personally don’t trust ClamAV all that much, so I’m using avast! instead of ClamAV. They can run both together without problems. I had to exclude avast! main folder in SecureAgePlus because it was asking about one avast! file, but after I’ve done that, it seems to work fine.

Whitelisting

To even further extend the security, SecureAgePlus also relies on whitelisting and certificates to lower false positives as well as give you more clues whether you should trust a file or not. Unfortunately it is not possible to disable whitelist, which makes it tiny bit annoying if one wants to only use it as a pure second opinion antivirus and nothing else.

SecureAgePlus_GUI_Whitelisting.png
SecureAgePlus Whitelisting Panel

Licensing model

SecureAge is using an interesting Freemium licensing model. In a nutshell, it’s free for initial 1 year and it can be free beyond that if you’re willing to invest some time into promoting it. Either by posting about it on social media, writing testimony, review (like this one) and simply spread a word about it. If you’re not willing to do all this, you can also decide to support it directly with a Premium license. If you want to give it a try, make sure to use my referral link below and help me out receiving points so I can extend my Freemium license.

My referral link: Download here and receive 15 months free license

Like I’ve said, on install you get 1 year free and fully functional antivirus, so you don’t have anything to lose really and you help me out at the same time. Give it a try and see for yourself how it works and how effective it is.

Few minor dislikes…

After all the praising, there always comes that “but”. Luckily, it’s nothing major really. Only things that are a bit annoying is that you can’t install ClamAV directly from within SecureAgePlus interface if you’ve deselected it during initial installation. You have to run installer again and check it there. Would be a lot more convenient if there was an option for that already inside interface. Next thing I don’t like it a bit is the fact that you can’t disable Application Whitelisting service entirely and use SecureAgePlus only as a second opinion scanner, you can only adjust it to be more permissive. You always have to deal with whitelisting dialogs if some new app isn’t yet whitelisted. Can be a bit annoying sometimes. there is also no On-Demand scan option within main interface, other than Full System scan. You have to use Explorer context menu to scan individual folders. And lastly, initial scan takes VERY long even on top of the line system with very fast SSD as it’s main and only drive. I’m guessing it has to hash all files on the drive for Whitelisting to work, so be prepared to leave system on for SecureAgePlus to finish this first scan. After that is done, all consecutive Full System scans are done in few seconds.

Pros:

  • multi-engine scanning
  • very high detection rate
  • very small performance footprint despite multiple engines
  • very nice and logical interface
  • functional with other security software with minimal effort
  • Free for 1 year plus option for free extension

Cons:

  • very long initial scan even on top end system
  • a bit clumsy later installation of optional local ClamAV scan engine
  • no On-Demand scan options other than context menu scan and Full System scan
  • cannot disable Whitelisting part entirely and only use it as second opinion AV only
  • still giving user a final word whether to trust or block a file despite scan verdicts (may be risky with some users who don’t understand scan results)

Verdict

All in all, it’s a very interesting and effective security software. It’s not flawless, but the flaws it has are very minor despite making a “Cons” list rather long. I’m pretty sure they’ll fix or improve most of these in the future. And even if they don’t, I can safely assume most people wouldn’t mind if these remain as they are just things I personally disliked a bit. They probably won’t even bother most users. Give it a try and decide for yourself. I really like it now and I think I’ll keep it as second line of defense next to avast!. 🙂

Links

SecureAge Official webpage

Download (with referral link)

Bongiovi Acoustics DPS Audio Enhancer Free

I was searching for an audio enhancer like SRS Audio Sandbox or DFX Audio Enhancer. The sort of enhancer that sits between your soundcard and Windows OS and processes all audio sources, be it music, movies or games. And today, I found one by mistake.

To be honest, I’ve never heard of this company (Bongiovi Acoustics) before, but after some Googling, it was founded by Tony Bongiovi, an audio producer and engineer. And if that doesn’t convince you, he worked with Bon Jovi, Jimi Hendrix and Aerosmith among many others. They also work with Honda, Toyota and Hyundai for their audio systems using hardware implementations of Bongiovi DPS system to enhance listening experience in cars as well as several other fields like medical applications and other consumer electronics like TV’s.

Bongiovi Acoustics DPS

BongioviDPS_1.png

BongioviDPS_2.png

BongioviDPS_3.png

I’m using this variation of interface skin, but there are few more to choose from.

It provides specially tailored profiles for headphones, internal speakers and external speakers with specially crafted audio profiles for each. They look like equalizer presets, but they aren’t named “Rock” or “Dance”, they are named by cities. Miami Speakers, New York Speakers, Paris Speakers etc.

Audio quality

I had very little expectations if I’m honest, which is why I was blown away even more. I’ve tried many enhancers in my life, from those limited to music players only, to some like DFX and SRS that worked on the same system level, but none of them came even close to Bongiovi DPS.

I personally prefer the Mendoza Speakers preset because it delivers the most detail and punch which is what I want for my music and games. But there are few other profiles that focus on different sound dynamics (like mid range for vocals). The Stereo Expander also helps widening the channel separation. It’s a very subtle change, but if you listen carefully, you can sense it.

Biggest issue with most enhancers is that they work great with one thing and sound horrible with others. SRS Audio Sandbox had this problem and to smaller extent DFX. But with Bongiovi DPS, everything just sounds great. Tried few different songs, from game soundtracks from Deus Ex Human Revolution to Mechwarrior 2 soundtrack. It made my skin crawl, I kid you not. I also tried my standard benchmark song, Lily Was Here by Candy Dulfer. The guitar and saxophone sounded so real it felt like someone is playing it live in the room. Mind blowingly amazing. What’s also interesting is that at least Mendoza profile increases the volume quite significantly and adds tons of details, but is still easy on ears. It’s not harsh and that’s also interesting. Usually these enhancers just make audio so harsh you can actually hear crackling in the background and that’s very bad and makes ears hurt after few seconds of listening.

I’ve also briefly tested it in a game Killing Floor 2. It was the same amazing punchy audio in the game intro videos and it didn’t disappoint in the actual game either. When time slows down with Zed Time, whole room shakes up in bass, but it wasn’t distorted or anything. When Scrakes and Flesh Pounds were announced via in-game roaring voice of those two monsters, it was so majestic I can’t even describe it. And exactly the same applies to the weapons. The Vermint rifle which sounds like a fart gun without Bongiovi DPS now actually has a proper kick and punch to it when you fire it. Incredible. I just realized I have to test this in latest Need for Speed. I’m already sure the car engine will sound amazing 🙂

I was testing all this using Sound Blaster Z and Altec Lansing MX5021 2.1 speakers. Your experience may vary based on hardware you have. Mine is quite capable, don’t expect too much from generic plastic 2.0 speakers with on-board audio…

If my words alone haven’t convinced you yet, give it a try. Bongiovi DPS is a free program. Only limitations are locked Bass and Treble controls from what I can see. Those two settings are restricted to Pro version which can be bought for a fee I guess (can’t seem to find more info about it at the moment). For some reason, they still work though 🙂

Bongiovi webpage:
http://bongioviacoustics.com

Read more about Bongiovi DPS:
http://bongioviacoustics.com/dps/

Bongiovi DPS Free Download:
http://bongiovidps.com

Iobit Driver Booster, driver updater that actually works

I’ve always been skeptical about these things, because from my past experience, they always screwed something up. But apparently as time progressed, companies got it right.

I was forced to use this tool when I’ve reinstalled Windows 10 clean on my ACER Iconia W4 Windows tablet and bunch of controllers weren’t detected and half of the stuff just wasn’t working. I’ve installed some drivers using Driver Talent, but it failed to recognize bunch of stuff. I had no audio and none of content like movies would play. Plus, Driver talent was super clumsy in free version because you have to manually download and install all found drivers.

But after firing up Iobit’s Driver Booster, it found them all and tablet is working like new. And even in free version, it’s super easy to use, automated and it just works. I was so impressed I now have it on all my systems. It didn’t do anything wild with the drivers and you can even opt to only install WHQL certified ones.

Plus, it can keep a lot of other stuff up to date for you, like Microsoft Visual C++ redistributables, Adobe Flash, OpenAL and PhysX along with many other things needed for problem free gaming. And you really have full control over it. Paid version offers fully automated updating and few other goodies, but free conveniently doesn’t do that by default. Most people don’t like that anyway. I know I prefer vetting installation of every driver myself. You avoid a lot of problems this way….

It also has bunch of safety features like driver backup and System restore points prior driver updating so there is really minimal chance of things going wrong.

IobitDriverBooster.png

I really like it and if you’re having problems finding specific drivers for your PC, laptop or Windows tablet, that only show us a very cryptic entry in Device Manager give it a try. It certainly (pleasantly) surprised me.

DOWNLOAD:
http://www.iobit.com/en/driver-booster.php

Welcome back to Mars. Doom 2016 review!

Doom_2016.jpg

I wasn’t really following the progress of new Doom since its announcement months and years ago. I’ve heard about it and how id Software is planning on making Doom 4, but I was like OK. I’ve never been that die hard fan of Doom franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played it a lot because it was just so satisfying to gun down monsters, but I’ve never been a hardcore fan. Spotted a release date that was just few days away and thought, fuck it, I’ll just buy it. It was one of those impulsive purchases and man I’m glad I’ve done it…

Lets break it down how I usually do it, starting with…

Graphics

This has always been the strongest point of Doom and it doesn’t disappoint this time around either. It looks absolutely spectacular, there are no compromises or trickery used to cut corners and make things run faster. And it’s a lot brighter than Doom 3 which is probably the reason why it’s more pleasing to the eye. Models, weapons and world are incredibly detailed, textures are sharp, lighting and post processing is beautiful and it just gives the impression it will age well. Not many engines can brag with this, but new Doom certainly is giving that kind of vibe. And best of all, it runs insanely fast. We are too used to brand new games running like crap on everything but the most ridiculous high end systems running dual GPU setups. But not this one. If you have a decent quad core CPU and at least GTX 970, you can expect the game to run at around 100fps at 1080p using Ultra settings. It’s almost unheard of for a brand new game running on a mid-high end graphic card from last year this well. I’ve been playing it on a very capable overclocked hexa core with 32GB RAM and single GTX 980 at 1080 and it was absolutely flawless from start to end. I’ve even tried it using 4K DSR and it was surprisingly playable. Not up to my standards where I want silky smooth V-Synced 144 fps, but it was playable. On a single freaking overclocked GTX 980. And it’s not even running Vulkan as it was originally suggested. This is plain ol’ OpenGL! Imagine how fast it’ll be with Vulkan 🙂 I don’t know if Carmack was involved in development of this engine, but I have to say, incredible job id software!

Audio

New Doom is a lot less about scary moments like in Doom 3 so, sound doesn’t play such a huge role, but it’s still something worth mentioning. The music score is really good, from somewhat depressing and dark menu music to punchy and energetic gameplay music that doesn’t really stand out in any way but does blend amazingly with the gameplay itself. It can enhance the atmosphere when nothing is happening or just pump adrenaline in your blood during combat. Which is good. That’s the point of music. It shouldn’t ever take away the focus from the game, instead it should always be a supporting component. And as such it’s used perfectly.

Ambient noises and effects are also really good and they compliment graphics well into creating a believable world on Mars. No complaints here.

Can’t complain over sound effects of monsters either. As I’ve said, this isn’t Doom 3, so it’s using monsters sound a lot less to build up the tension and scary atmosphere, but they just blend in nicely with the entire game. I do have tiny complaints over certain weapon sounds. While some are incredibly satisfying like the incredibly deep and punchy faster and faster sound of the chaingun as it spins up and massive noise on railgun discharge, I kinda miss a bit more punchy double barrel shotgun sound as well as more empowering noise from the iconic BFG gun. I miss that tension as it powers up and discharges, you know, like it was in Quake 2… I miss that. That longer weeeeeeeeeee BEEEEEEWWWWWW and everything just gets obliterated from the screen. It is there, but not in such scale. It’s just not as satisfying as it should be. Too bad.

Gameplay

With around 26 hours of total gameplay (probably some counted as I sometimes left the game in main menu or paused) playing it on Nightmare difficulty, which is the highest possible on first run, it was very satisfying. Incredibly challenging as monsters kill you very quickly, but still very satisfying. I did take time to poke my nose everywhere and even restarted one huge chunk of the game because I thought I missed one huge secret (a Rune challenge). Turns out I haven’t missed it. 😀

We often hear things like “going back to roots” but most games just fail to deliver. I’m happy to report that’s not the case with new Doom which is an actual reboot. While there are some changes to the location, monsters and so on, it’s full on back to roots Doom and Doom 2 and exact opposite of Doom 3. Doom 3 was more focused on terrifying atmosphere and stronger individual monsters in tight and dark areas where new Doom throws you into big “arenas” with tons of monsters attacking all at once. It demands constant motion and smart usage of correct weapons at given situation. Not all weapons are good to counter all monsters so you do have to switch them quite a lot.

And here is the interesting part… Weapons have several upgrades and fire modes. One might say such thing has no place in a game like Doom, but you’d be wrong. Weapon modes aren’t fiddly, they are easy to use and give you choice to create your own gameplay style. You can go with brute force and be more up close and personal or you can have weapon modes more suitable for long distance combat, keeping enemies at distance. And the way things upgrade and progress, it’s very hard to mess it up so far that you’d have to start the game all over. Around half way through the game I already had all the upgrades I’ve wanted. So I’ve started experimenting with the rest of them. I did find nearly all secrets though. Which brings me to the next interesting part…

I’ve always been a bit meh for hidden secrets in games. Especially the ones with Doom first person shooter style. I did poke my nose into every tiny hole in games like Deus Ex or System Shock 2 where it’s expected to do this kind of stuff, but not in games like Doom. But here, you’re double rewarded for finding secrets, so you’ll happily spend . You find the secrets, obviously, but doing so, you also earn weapon upgrade points which further encourages you to look for them. You also unlock viewable 3D models of weapons and monsters by looking for miniature Preator toys (basically cartoonish big headed toys of your own Preator suit). You can then zoom and view all the models up close in main menu without having to fight them. It’s a tiny but cool detail. I’ve checked all of the models and they are made really well.

Your protective suit also comes with upgrades just like weapons which are earned by picking up upgrade modules from corpses of Elite soldiers scattered all over UAC Mars base. They aren’t offensive as much as the weapons upgrades, but they focus more on location awareness and faster movement.

And if you’d think this is is as far as upgrading goes, there are also Runes. You have to complete Rune challenges which are again found on various locations and they provide you with runes, special upgrades that can further enhance you or your weapons. You can pick up to 3 Runes at once from selection of like a dozen of them.

Oh and there were some changes to the equipment as well. It was a bit confusing at first, but equipment is unlimited. You can’t run out of it no matter how often you use it. But equipment needs time to recharge and that’s what prevents you from spamming it like crazy. Again, with Preator suit upgrades, you can pump it up to 2 pieces of equipment and faster recharging which makes it an incredibly useful asset.

Snap, I’ve almost forgotten one crucial change. Killing enemies using Glory kills (basically a quick time event) replenishes you health. Which at least on Nightmare is hard to come by and goes down very fast, so you have to balance your gameplay as well. You can either be super careful and gun down everything from a distance or engage close combat Glory kills to risk getting killed or replenish your health. It’s an interesting concept that gives you choice and makes everything a lot more dynamic. Shoudl I look for health pack or should I do that risky Glory kill and get health that way. Decisions, decisions… 😀

One would think all these upgrades just mess it all up, but to my surprise, they don’t. Somehow id Software managed to combine old school mass shooter with modern elements that give game some depth and interesting stuff to fiddle with. Sure opinions will clash on this one, but they made such an excellent blend of fiddly things and shooting it makes a really badass experience.

Monsters

A lot of them returned from originals, some from Doom 3, but they are a lot more dynamic now and they want to poke you out. Including your guts. Original Doom was rarely up close and personal, this one is very often. Not by your choice, but because most monsters just want to hunt you down and slaughter you. And most have some sort of high distance jumping skills or ranged attacks as well as things like invisibility or teleportation. This also includes boss fights which are pretty badass. Very hard on Nightmare, but really cool. And you need to use some brain to defeat them. Just filling them with lead is not enough 🙂

The Story

Story? It’s a Doom game lol. You wake up on Mars and you frag some monsters. Yeah, story is nothing to write home about, but this is Doom. It’s pure fragging pornography. That’s like expecting deep story and character development in a porn movie lol. But in the end, all the data you collect via Data Vaults and stuff you can read in your logs section of the “inventory”, it explains background story of monsters, weapons, different map sections and people. It’s quite nice.

Extras

Sorry, I’m not going to review multiplayer as I don’t think I’ll even try it, but I did try SnapMap feature. Basically a map editor for people who can’t be bothered with over the top complex level editors. Here, you have tons of predefined world elements, objects, monsters, sounds and triggers and you, just like the name suggests (SnapMap) just snap them together. It’s really easy and they even provide live tutorials. Controls are a bit clumsy, but I’ll certainly spend some more time experimenting with it, maybe even creating a campaign or a multiplayer map. By modifying existing elements and creating complex script chains, you can create more than just a generic map. You can create complex maps where you have to do things in order to unlock doors and progress. Really interesting and certainly a big extra value with the base game.

Verdict

I could go on and on about it. Damn, just look at the “Gameplay” segment of the review which exploded from 2 paragraphs into 9 haha. This game is certainly one of those that will be written in history just like original Doom games. I honestly can’t complain about anything specific. It looks amazing, runs amazing has tons of cool and badass weapons, challenging monsters, beautiful environments and best of all, it’s super fun from start to end. And that’s the whole point of games. They need to be fun. And new Doom most certainly is!

It is a properly good game and id Software really outdone themselves. If you’re a Doom fan or just someone who likes to poke things with virtual guns, you have to play it. It’s really good and I can easily say one of the best games this year, hands down.

Doom, the initial impressions

I’m not going to write a full review just yet so I thought, why not drop a brief post about initial impressions with the new game. Full review will most likely follow when I finish it…

It’s funny how I find people on forums who complain how new Doom is nothing like the original Doom from the 90’s, where in reality, it’s in fact the closest thing. Doom 3 was a bit of an odd one. It had really dark and gritty graphics with scary atmosphere and individual monsters attacking you. I can’t remember a time you were really surrounded by monsters like you quite often was in original Doom. It was always scary moments and 1-3 monsters in Doom 3.

But in new Doom, it feels like someone took the original and remade it into “HD” with new graphics adding it actual 3rd dimension and also new aspect to the gameplay by adding upgrades and the way how ammo and health is delivered to you. Original allowed you to gun down monsters from distance. In fact that was a preferred way of dealing damage. From far away because health was precious. Here, you have to balance out ranged and close combat in order to inflict damage, but also gather dropped health. And trust me, if you play on Nightmare like I do, you’ll gonna be doing that a lot. 2 blows from Imp and you’ll be dead. Armor feels like it’s not even there. It’s very unforgiving, but for some really weird reason, I absolutely love it regardless. It’s how it should be. Hellishly unforgiving.

Weapon, suit and additional upgrades give new dimension to gameplay. It allows you to adjust your gameplay more with different weapons mods. I know some will whine about it how it doesn’t belong into Doom game, but reality is, upgrades aren’t like those in System Shock or Dead Space. They are far less complex and more straight forward. They remind me more of Alien Rage – Unlimited than Dead Space. And they even did the same trick as devs of Alien Rage, they give you ability to upgrade the basic pistol, making it more relevant through entire game, opposed to other games where you stop using basic pistol the moment you pick up something stronger.

The game just feels really good as a whole. Even spawning of monsters, in Doom 3 they almost always spawned behind your back to scare you, here, most are already roaming the maps, just few spawn in, usually when you destroy their pods. I like this more than lazy spawn ins for everything.

We’ve seen many franchise reboots in the recent years and Doom is by far the closest thing to how franchise reboots should be done. I really can’t think of a single serious issue or complaint about this game. Looks great, sounds great, levels are interesting, combat is really engaging and demands you to move a lot while also forces you to explore maps to gather upgrades and hidden stuff so you can mow down monsters easier, nicely rounding up the whole experience.

I have yet to try multiplayer and the map editor, which is supposedly an easier version where you snap elements together like Lego, but I have yet to try it and see what kind of maps you can create. I hope you can make single player maps and not just multiplayer maps. I want to create outrageously hellish mini campaign, but can’t be bothered with ridiculously complicated map editors that usually come with the games. 😀

All in all, it’s a really good game and I think this will be one of better if not best games this year. Highly recommended!

Opera is becoming cool again with version 37

Granted, it is still far away from perfect, but if you are willing to make few compromises and do some of the things we already had before around corners, it’s shaping into a really fine browser…

Latest and greatest additions to Opera version 37 are 2 rather special features not found in any other browser by default.

Block Ads

OperaBlockAds.png

Are you tired of fiddling with silly AdBlock addons and extensions and you just want something that works, even if it doesn’t work on every single webpage to every last ad? And the benefit of being integrated is that it sorts out the garbage while rendering the page, meaning it’s the most efficient ad blocker available. It’s a very lite version with minimal settings, but it just works and I love it. You can exclude individual pages, but not individual elements. It’s also not possible to block elements yourself. But I’m fine with that as it works so well out o the box.

Video Pop Out

This one is a very innovative feature not seen in any other browser. It’s something I’ve been doing for ages with Media Player Classic (MPC HC), fired up a movie, set it to be always on top and moved it into bottom right corner. So I could browse the net while watching some movie or TV series. But you couldn’t do the same with, for example Youtube. You could move it to new tab, detach it and move and resize it, but you couldn’t set it “On top”. Now you can!

OperaVideoPopOut.jpg

When playing Youtube video, just click new arrow icon on the video and it’ll pop out of the webpage. Tab with the video needs to be open during playback, but doesn’t have to be in the front. If you look at the image above, I’m playing Youtube video in a “always on top” mode while doing something else in browser. It’s a tiny but really cool and useful feature. Pretty cool, right?

It is so cool that I’ve switched to Opera for a test trial. Been using opera when it was version 12.x but moved away after they wrecked it with Chrome core. But it looks like we’ve come to a point where it matured enough to be usable this moment and I can wait for few other things…