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Monday, February 28, 2011

Dragon Age 2 (Demo)

Since I was requested to review this game from a friend, here I go.

It’s really a wonder how time flies; we’re close to see the full pack of the game this March; but before it will be released comes the Demo.

                                As you can see how the character details has been upgraded 
                                And so as here. meanie dark spawns...

Bioware gave only limited details on the demo than I expected but it’s enough for us to give a glimpse of what we’ll be seeing once it hits the shelves.

For starter, the menu looks dark themed and a bit cheap in quality by giving a western animated drawing on the background. Maybe its just me but I didn’t like the main menu compared from the previous DA. None the less, the basic selections are there although since it’s a demo, you’ll have only limited access.

As you start the game, you will be able to choose only three classes on both genders but only using one race which is Human, for some fans of the game this will be a disappointment where on DA you can start at several different origins. But I think they’re concentrating on one race just to make focused on details of that champion. So basically you can also try them six times if you will. The classes are Mage, Warrior and Rogue. The story will talk about of a champion named Hawke, who survived the blight attack from a town called Lothering. It will begin when one of Hawke’s companions named Varric Tethras is questioned by a Chantry Seeker named Cassandra Pentaghast about how he/she became a Champion. That way, the player can shape the hero based on Varric stories. A great feature said that you can carry over your accomplishments from DA Origins and DA Awakening.

    From left to right, Mages, Warriors and Rogue (males and Females)

As I started the game I automatically notice the differences. Cinematic is improved and so as the character details and facial expressions that looks livelier than ever. Cloud movements in the skies are now visible than the previous still images that made me look like we’re shooting in a studio instead of walking in the wilds. However, landscapes and environments were only presented on two locations that made me feel the itch of seeing more.

                                Like i said, she's smokin hot

The combat system has been revamped so I think I’ll have to go in details about this. First off, everything will run fast as soon as you start a battle, according to Bioware that everything will run fast so that includes that everyone can also die. I guess the reason they did this is to attract gamers who use controllers. On the other hand, the pausing system is still there and back with almost similar orders for those who like to execute battles in a tactical perspective; in addition, you can also see that they added the quick Heal and Mana selection which is good rather than browsing the items which will take a bit more time to select. However, there’s another added selection which is ‘move to point”, I don’t know what use of this but personally it does not look like it’s important since that you can go to your point via controller. Executing abilities are an eye candy; they make you believe that a special ability gives different visual effects and never gets tiring to the eye; lets say that a mage’s ice attack can make a wall of ice blowing against multiple foes or a back stab attack from the rogue will make a short distance teleport to the back of a single foe and make almost an instant kill shattering their limbs and spreading blood all over the place (and yes it’s still bloody like the first one).

    Like DA, the menus are still there. with additional functions

Moving to the menu, also an intriguing part is the ability section. The ability selections are arranged like a thread where you can go on different areas of abilities to choose from and weather to pick a next ability to connect or stay there and level up the effect of that ability. This will be a very interesting feature, customizing your player’s abilities in a different manner. Other than that, the rest of the menus are the same.

    Now this is something new, the way to make new abilities and yeah, see the theme of the menu? dark!

    Each class has 6 job selections and each selection has threads to connect so there you go...

Dialogue section was so impressive when I noticed that they’re using a Mass Effect like conversational choices and choices which is simple; in addition that you can also watch as your player interacts with voice and expressions which also a livelier feature. However, it fell a bit short on the drama execution but I’ll see if this continues till the end (knowing that they also make one epic ending sequences i.e. Mass Effect series) of the full game but so far I’m interested.

    Still bloody

In the end, the demo was a little short on details but I’m sure it will be a promising sequel. A deep storyline, appealing graphics, new battle system to master, a new gameplay and a much livelier character details are among the few obvious features to look forward to.

    Yes and how will a DA be without a dragon? in this scene, there's a big spoiler for those who played the 1st DA...

Just to add a note, the default female player is smokin’ hot!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Astro Gaming A40 with wireless MixAmp 3.8 Review



Brought to you by: Aatro Gaming

“If I can describe Astro Gaming Products as a Car Company that would be luxury ones like Ferrari.”

Before I start reviewing this monster of a device, I’ll give a brief introduction about the company that brought it. Astro Gaming is a company that designs top of the line gaming headsets for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 device. In short period of time, it gained popularity back the states and is now the official gaming headset company for Major League Gaming (MLG) that holds game tournaments back in the USA. Shortly after, they are now invading the world competing against other gaming accessory companies such as Razer and Turtle Beach. Among all those companies, Astro Gaming gets a lot of favorable reviews.

I first heard of this company a couple of months back somewhere in mid 2010, by that time I started doing some research about Astro Gaming products along with other companies such as turtle beach.

I’ve checked a few reviews here and there, till I decided which I’ll invest my money on to. Currently the only shop that sells this product is “Computer House” where I bought my A40 headset with the wireless MixAmp 5.8 as a bundle.

And so here I am and ready to give my review.






A40 Headset

Technically, the first thing I noticed about the headset is its weight, its heavy for a headset, as I opened the black box, I found the headset protected in a hard travel case which in fact a very useful accessory whenever you take it out from the house. It’s a sturdy hard black case with an MLG zipper tag that gives you the feeling like you’re in the game.



MixAmp 5.8

This is my personal favorite; the box has a cover which is black just like the A40 black box but as a surface cover. However, as soon as I slid it off, I realized that the company has also invested their time on the design on the packaging. The box is folded into three separate sides and each sides has a protected plastic for every section which all of this are very impressive and will also allow the consumer to appreciate of the product in packaging. The TX and RX units are made of plastic and rubber at the most. However, the RX master volume control feels a little heavy which is good compare to a fast switch product, this way it will make you feel that the product wasn’t made easy or cheap.



What comes with package?



In the A40:

Travel Case

As I opened the case, there I found the headset well protected with built in foam in the case with extra care so that it won’t move a lot in the case, it also have a larger room for the Mixamp to fit in. Pretty neat for a headset case insuring that no harm will come to your A40 Headset.

The Headset

The headset is one of the main thing I pulled off from the case; it’s heavy with combination of metal and plastic parts at most, with 3 attached foams, the two are for the ears and one for the head, if you want to remove the headset, you can twist both earphones facing the back so what it can rest easy on your shoulders feeling the foams which I find pretty impressive provides a gamers’ fashion statement and comfort.


The microphone is detachable, whereas you can put it to your left or right ear for total comfort to those who wishes/prefers the other ear.

Extra Foam (1 only)

This is an optional item if you want to decrease the sound outside of the headphone. Therefore, it will help you hearing the voice chat with no outside distraction.

Speaker Tag

Basically you’ll find these in three pieces outside the case. The tag is nothing more than pimping your headphone with style. It comes with a basic design of the company’s logo however you can also go to their site and order online if you want certain tags or a customized one (and yes you can also put any pictures you want or even put your silly face in there and they won’t mind). It’s another fashion statement that’s going to make your friends jealous and differ yourself from other A40 users by using a customized speaker Tags. (Neat? I’d say it’s awesome!)

Standard Quick Disconnect (QD) Cable

This will allow your headphone to connect to a stereo device or MP3 Players with a simple stereo sound.

PC QD Cable

This will allow you to connect it to your PC with a standard digital sound.

Tip: if you have a nice sound card, help yourself to set that up to 5.1/7.1 surround sound and you’ll get the full A40 headset experience.

3.5mm to ¼” adaptor

This allows you to connect to stereo devices that only has ¼” audio jack.

In the wireless MixAmp 5.8:



TX Unit

A bridge device that connects PC/Console with the headphone connected with the RX Unit. It also acts as an audio mixer and a headphone amplifier that provides Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. The Front panel has the power/pairing button and Bass Expander. The Back panel will have the power socket where you plug the adaptor, Dual USB (for future accessories of the device), Optical in and out where you connect your TOSlink Optical cables (TV/Home Theater/PC/Console) and AUX in for the USB chat cable for PS3/PC (sold separately).

Tip: the TX unit can handle four RX units in range. (So the more the better and every four player s will have an epic sound blasting time)



RX Unit

A Device that connects with the TX unit wirelessly. The front panel includes a game voice balance where you balance chatting and game volume and the master volume. On the back panel will have the head phone slot where you plug in your headphone such as the A40, Xbox 360 Controller Cable where you plug in the 2.5mm-to-2.5mm Xbox live controller cable to use the voice chatting system and a mini USB slot for the USB-to-USB Mini power/charger cable. While opening the back panel, you will have three AAA battery slot where you either put three regular AAA batteries or rechargeable ones.

TX AC Power adaptor

This device is simply giving some “juice” on the TX unit.

TOSlink Optical Cable

This one will connect a sound source from PC/Console or TV or even a home theater to the TX unit.

2.5mm-to-2.5mm Xbox live controller cable

This will link your Xbox 360 controller to the RX Cable so that you can you use any Chatting Headphone rather than using the standard one ear head phone from Xbox 360.

USB-to-USB Mini ‘B’ Cable

This one will connect any USB source (PC or your Console) to the RX unit in order to provide power or charge the RX device if it has a rechargeable battery.


This will turn any 3rd party headset/earphones into one cable that will allow you to plug it on the MixAmp (so any headphones will work perfectly fine on the MixAmp).

Note: the A40 and A30 already has combine audio and microphone signals so no need to use this cable otherwise you’ll end up not hearing anything, trust me I already did that)

RX Belt clip

This is a very handy clip if you wish to go wireless with your RX unit. Just clip it with you and go play freely without worrying to step on any cables.

AAA Batteries

It comes in standard models that will allow you to use it in a couple of hours just to get the feeling wirelessly.

Note: Personally, MixAmp is the most important device of ASTRO GAMING; as long as you have MixAmp or MixAmp 5.8 it will give you the maximum audio experience and game chat advantage.

Note: The MixAmp devices can also operate any third party headsets so there’s no need to buy the Astro Gaming headsets. Tip: But if you want an epic sound experience, go buy their headsets.

The experience

I first tried only the headset; as I wore it, the foams were comfortable to the ears and so as the head, this helps me to have no troubles wearing it on long game sessions. First, I made it as a stereo headphone by trying it on my PSP and PC and I could say it delivers a loud sound within the headset without bothering the room and also improved the sound quality of a simple bitrates of 128 kbit/s MP3 songs. As soon as I tried it with the MixAmp on Dolby sound, I thought that I was in a totally different world whereas I thought that the room was so loud but in fact it wasn’t when I took off my headphone. Maybe it’s just me because I never had this experience before, but for a headphone, it’s an impressive experience by taking you in a different world using the A40 with MixAmp 5.8. Even though it runs as wireless, there are some plugs to put in but it’s nice to have great sound reception in a little further from my HD Monitor (where I used listen to a plugged headset) without disturbing the family in the house. So right now I wonder if I can play Dead Space 2 on this one but I’m sure it’ll scare my pants off.

Speaking of Dead Space 2, I used to play background music while playing the first one to lessen the element of surprise but as far as I currently know, I’m afraid I might not be able to do the same thing with this device as the feature was stripped off from the first MixAmp, so you can’t jack in your MP3 players while playing games (for now I hope). I’m not sure for now but I hope that in the future those two USB slots from the TX should do something useful. Another issue is, the chat cable from PC/PS3 to MixAmp is sold separately. So if you do multi tasking (like me, chatting while playing games) or a PC gamer, you should consider buying that product for about 10$ separately. However if those two issues will not stop your fun, I’m sure to guarantee the amount of fun you will get while using this baby.

The final verdict

Astro Gaming did a wonderful job making a top of the line gaming accessory. Despite of its imperfections and its hefty price tag, it gets the job done. The overall experience is a satisfactory in sound quality and gaming advantage that will take you for a ride to the edge of your seat.


  • Great sound reception. 
  • Wireless delight. 
  • Premium finishing in physical and sound quality. 
  • Providing comfort for long gaming session.
  • Chat cable is sold separately.
  • No MP3 jack. 
  • Pricy for a headphone.
  • Rechargeable batteries are sold separately.