ROCCAT Studios, a German maker of gaming peripherals, has invaded the American market.
Recently, I had the chance to try the Kone+ customizable gaming mouse and the Isku keyboard. Both proved to be stylish, comfortable and packed with configuration options.
And both offer Easy Shift +, which allows users to assign two functions to any mouse button and many keyboard keys. To switch functions, users simply hit the Easy Shift +.
The requirements for both include Windows XP, Vista or 7; a 2.0 USB port and an Internet connection to download the drivers. Downloading the drivers installs the configuration software for the mouse and keyboard as well.
Among the features of the Kone+ are a four LED multicolor light system, 22 mouse functions through its Easy Shift + button (two functions per button) and the ability to set up five game profiles through 576 KB of onboard memory.
The Kone+ also comes with four five-gram weights that can be installed in the bottom of the mouse to suit your preference.
The ability to program buttons and create macro command sequences gives the Kone+ great flexibility.
And, while it has nothing to do with performance, the ability to change the color of the mouse's four LED lights is a feature that adds to the Kone+'s coolness quotient.
The Kone+ also allows on-the-fly changes in DPI (dots per inch), profiles, sensitivity and volume. These changes can be announced by a voice, or the voice feature can be disabled.
As for the numbers, the Kone+ features a 6000 DPI pro-aim laser sensor, 10.5 megapixel resolution and 1000 Hz polling rate. It sells for $79.99.
The Isku is a fairly large and sturdy, illuminated keyboard.
Among its many features are: 123 keys, advanced anti-ghosting capability, three programmable thumbster keys, five programmable macro keys, 20 additional macro keys, five illuminated status LEDs and a two-meter USB cable.
Easy Shift +, which gives a key two possible functions, applies to a total of 28 keys, including the three thumbster keys that are located below the space bar on the keyboard.
It also comes with a Macro Manager to create command sequences.
Besides being a great-looking keyboard with a plethora of customization options, the Isku allows players to quickly switch between five game profiles.
There is an in-game macro recording feature. Its sound feedback feature can talk users through the process.
When used together, the Kone+ and Isku can benefit from Roccat Talk technology, which allows the keyboard and mouse to communicate with each other.
An example of how this works is Easy Aim. By pressing a key on the keyboard, the mouse will automatically optimize its DPI setting in order to improve sniping accuracy.
I am sure there are other applications for Roccat Talk waiting for users to discover and adapt to their particular gaming needs.
The Isku retails for about $90.
While overall, I am impressed with the performance, feel and looks of the Kone+ and Isku there is one feature I would like to see improved.
The instructions, and manual, seem to be geared toward people who are familiar with high-end customizable peripherals.
The configuration seems simple enough, but I would have found an actual manual walking me through the process extremely helpful.
The Isku keyboard and Kone+ mouse from Roccat Studios can help you take your gaming to a higher level.
February 2012 Archives
ROCCAT Studios, a German maker of gaming peripherals, has invaded the American market.
Xotic, if nothing else, offers an exotic mix of gameplay elements set in an appealing and colorful alien environment.
The title from a small developer, WXP Games, features elements of a first-person shooter, puzzler, platformer and racing game.
The background story involves an alien planet that has been infested by a mysterious orb. Your character, which features definite insect characteristics, has been created to destroy the orb and its offshoots.
Xotic proves to be a deceptively simple arcade style game.
In each level, players seek to destroy enemies, set off chain reactions and collect items. To start a chain reaction, destroy a scab plant. It will then destroy nearby scab plants. When a chain reaction is completed, players have five seconds to start another one and keep the chain reaction going.
At the end of a level, players get to see their score and the number of stars they have earned (one to five). Your star rating is based on score, time taken, combos achieved, accuracy and objectives completed.
If you are unhappy with your score, you can go back and retry the level.
Usually, it does take a trip or two through each level to get your bearings.
Completing levels also earns a player points that can be spent on upgrading the game's eight weapons or four skills (health, energy well, barkskin and absorption).
There are six types of power-ups to be found. They include regenerate, flight, energize, double damage, speed shot and double/triple points.
Weapons are the spineshot, crusher, virus, slayer, scorch, bombug, volt and rocket flies.
The weapons are clever. However, it did find that only through trial and error did it begin to become clear which weapon was best to use in a particular situation.
Would like to have seen this explained better.
A level's enemies (monster, turret and enemy spawner) and their numbers are depicted in the HUD display. Your mouse pointer also is highlighted in red to indicate the direction of the nearest enemy.
Despite the ability to use a cover mechanic, those enemies often proved more deadly than one might expect given the arcade nature of Xotic.
A clever feature of the platforming element is the ability to create solid holograms.
Players can jump into the air then press the Tab key to erect a hologram beneath them. Using this technique players can gain access to pretty much all area on a level.
Xotic delivers charming and challenging gameplay.
The game is available for $9.99 through digital download at WXP Games. It requires Windows XP, Vista or 7; a 1.7 GHz dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM and a 512 MB video card.
The first-person shooter Syndicate (see screenshot) now is in stores.
Syndicate comes from Electronic Arts and Starbreeze Studios. The game is described as a reimagining of EA's 1993 classic, Syndicate.
The game depicts a "brutal cypberpunk world where business is war."
Besides the FPS action, Syndicate will feature a chip breach gameplay mechanic. Through bio-chip technology implanted in their heads, players can dilate time, see through walls and breach the digital world and enemies around them, EA says.
The game is set in 2069, where corporations, not national governments, vie for control. Anything will be fair game.
Syndicate is available for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
In other news:
- Capcom announced Asura's Wrath now is available for the Xbox 360 and PS3. The game tells the story of a deity who seeks revenge some 12,000 years after being betrayed by those around him.
- Gods & Kings, an expansion pack for Sid Meier's Civilization V, is in development, 2K Games announced. G&K promises to add a variety of new quests and play elements.
- Little Orbit announced a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the Young Justice: Legacy video game based on the DC Comics franchise and animated television series. The title is expected early next year.
- The Splatters, a physics-driven puzzler, will arrive on Xbox Live Arcade, indie developer SpikySnail Games reports.
- Coming June 26 for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC will be Spec Ops: The Line from 2K Games. In the action game, players will traverse a Dubai devastated by sandstorms to search for Col. John Konrad and his missing battalion, The Damned 33rd.
A demo for Binary Domain, a third-person, squad shooter from Sega of America, is out now for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Binary Domain (screenshot above) puts players in the role of Dan Marshall, who with his squadmates will battle robotic enemies. The game comes from the creators of the Yazuka series.
It also will feature the Consequence System, in which your actions will affect the behavior of others in your squad. Binary Domanin also will use voice recognition in combat and non-combat situations.
The complete game is set to be available Feb. 28.
In other news:
- Jagged Alliance: Back in Action, a reboot of the classic squad-based tactical series, is in stores now, Kalypso Media announced.
- Killing Floor from Tripwire Interactive has topped more than 1 million sales on the PC. For a short time, the game will be available at a discount on Steam.
- In Warp, players take control of Zero, a little, but lethal alien, who seeks to escape from a secret laboratory. The game from Trapdoor and EA Partners is available through Xbox Live Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points.
- A PC version of Alan Wake from Remedy Entertainment now is available through Steam. The normal edition retails for $29.99 and the limited collector's edition for $34.99.
- Biart Company announced Deep Black: Reloaded will be available March 1 through various digital download ports. The game involves the struggle for a biological weapon in a future rife with global terrorism and espionage.
Taking a cue from an automotive part, id America created its Spark in-ear headphones.
These little beauties reportedly were inspired by the look of an automobile spark plug. Whatever the inspiration, I found they really brought a spark of life to music from my MP3 player. They simply sound great.
The Spark in-ear headphones produced some of the best-sounding music I have experienced. And all from a tidy, little package.
Everything about these in-ear headphones speaks of quality.
The Spark comes with its own all-leather carrying case. The ear pieces are composed of both matte and chrome finished aluminum. The ear flanges are soft and supple.
Even the 1.2 meter cord seems to me more flexible than those found on other ear bud sets.
The Spark comes with an integrated microphone and remote control that lets you play/pause music, fast forward/rewind, or answer a phone call.
The parts include a matte finish aluminum black casing, chrome finish aluminum inner casing, high-performance 8mm driver, high-definition acoustic filter, matte finish aluminum front casing and 3.5 mm plug. The Spark comes with three sizes of ear flanges.
The Spark is available in a variety of colors.
For more information on these comfortable, and great-sounding in-ear headphones, check out id America's website at www.idamericany.com. The Spark sells for $59.95.
The DiRT 3 Complete Edition will be available in March for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, Codemasters announced.
The racing game will feature 12 new routes across two locations, a host of new cars and more.
DiRT 3 (screenshot above) brings the thrilling world of off-road racing to the console and computer.
In other news:
- Paramount Pictures and Namco Bandai Games America have signed a deal for Namco Bandai to co-publish and distribute the Star Trek video game early in 2013. The game is set to release prior to the May 17, 2013, opening of the next Star Trek installment from director/producer J.J. Abrams.
- A game of the year edition of Men of War: Assault Squad was released by 1C Company. The edition will include the original game, MP Supply Packs Alpha, Bravo and Charlie, Skirmish Pack and Skirmish Pack 2.
- The mystery/horror title Corrosion: Cold Winter Waiting now is available from Tri Synergy and Viperante Creative Media. Players will try and determine what evil doings went on beneath the bucolic Cold Winter Farm. For more, visit www.trisynergy.com.
- The adventure game Adam's Venture 3: Revelations will arrive ahead of schedule on March 9, Iceberg Interactive and Vertigo Games announced. The Adam's series features non-violent gameplay in stirring adventures set in the early 20th century.
- For a sneak peek at the upcoming browser game Forge of Empires, see screenshot below. The strategy game from InnoGames allows players to create a city and develop it from the Stone Age through modern times.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has arrived.
The RPG comes from EA, 38 Studios and Big Huge Games. It also comes with a fine pedigree, being spawned by such luminaries as Ken Rolston, R.A. Salvatore, Todd McFarlane and Curt Schilling.
In truth, I have just started playing Kingdoms. So far, I am quite impressed. A full review will be coming soon.
The one thing I can say is that the game and its mechanics seem much more accessible then many RPGs I have played.
Kingdoms is available for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
In other news:
- 2K Games reports that The Darkness II now is available in North America for the PC, PS3 and 360. The game continues the exploits of crime boss Jackie Estacado, who wields supernatural forces.
- The 2D brawler Shank 2 from EA is available on the PlayStation Network and for the PC. Soon, the game also can be found on Xbox Live Arcade.
- Reverb Publishing partnered up with Coffee Stain Studios to publish the PC, Xbox Live and PlayStation Network version of Sanctum 2. The game is a follow-up to Sanctum, which meshed elements of the first-person shooter with tower defense.
- On a lighter note, PopCap Games will launch Solitaire Blitz, a social game, on the Facebook platform. Look for beta testing to start in March.
- Rise of Dragonian Era, a free-to-play MMORPG from Mgame USA, will host its second and final closed beta Feb. 11-12. In the game, players pledge allegiance to a dragon lord and join the battle against the forces of chaos.
- Birthright, the latest expansion for the real-time strategy MMO Terra Militaris will arrive in March, the free-to-play portal www.gPotato.eu announced. Included will be a new friend system, new dungeon, new items and a premium Nobility feature.
- Set for release in the second half of 2012 is Sleeping Dogs from Square Enix. The game follows the exploits of an undercover cop taking on Hong Kong's feared Triads.
- Cannon Fodder 3 (screenshot below) will be coming this month from Codemasters. Players will face down a terrorist threat around the world and in space.
Kalypso Media released new screenshots (above and at right) of its upcoming space simulation Legends of Pegasus.
The game will feature exploration, empire building, resource exploitation and conflict.
The action will be a mix of real-time and turn-based strategy.
On tap for Legends of Pegasus, which is set for a June PC release, are both a single-player campaign and multiplayer. For the ambitious, it will offer a variety of modding options.
In other news:
- TERA, an action MMO for the PC, now is available for pre-order from En Masse Entertainment. For details on the various editions, visit store.enmasse.com. To register for the beta testing, visit TERA-online.com.
- In just six weeks, Star Wars: The Old Republic has sold more than 2 million copies and has more than 1.7 million active subscribers. The online MMO is proving to be a big hit for BioWare and Electronic Arts.
- Hi-Rez Studios announced an update including class customization, more free classes a new user interface for its upcoming free-to-play Tribes; Ascend. The action game is now in beta; visit www.tribesascend.com.
- The free-to-play military shooter Cross Fire boasts a new Hero Mode X, G4Box announced. The new mode puts players in the control of either the electricity-equipped alien "Xeno," or the dual kukri-wielding Commando.
- New heroes for Marvel: Avengers Alliance were announced by Playdom. They are Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Colossus, Cyclops, Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Phoenix and Storm. They join the already announced Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Thor and Wolverine.
- The WWII armor free-for-all, the free-to-play World of Tanks, is getting another update, Wargaming.net announced. Included will be two new maps: Live Oaks, set in North America, and Campania, depicting the Italian countryside.
- A new screenshot (below) can be seen for Game of Thrones, coming for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC from Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide Studio. The game is based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and the recent HBO adaptation.
Applicants are being sought for closed beta testing for Seven Souls Online, a combat MMORPG coming from Neowiz Games.
According to the developers, Seven Souls Online (screenshot above) will merge elements of East, West and science fiction.
Features will include Rage Mode, which transforms the player's character briefly into a monster; an anti-bot system, and more.
For a look at the free-to-play game, or to sign up for the closed beta, visit www.sevensoulsonline.com.
In other news:
- GamesCampus.com announced a Feb. 23 start for the closed beta of Carte, an online trading card game. Gameplay will feature armies, heroes, signature weapons and more in conflicts playing out on the continent of Arcadia.
- On Feb. 15, the biggest expansion for the free-to-play Allods Online is due to land. The expansion, Game of Gods, gPotato.com announced, will offer the support-class Bard archetype, a PvP arena that pits teams of 12 against each other, and the Dead City Raid.
- Another free-to-play game, Dungeons & Dragons Online, will be getting an update, Turbine announced. In the near future, look for Update 13: Web of Chaos.
- Konami announced the release of NeverDead, a third-person shooter, for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Hero Bryce Bolzmann, as an agent for the National Anti-Demon Agency, seeks to exterminate modern-day demonic forces.
- DLC through Steam will be available for Trendy Entertainment's Dungeon Defenders. Offered are the Assault Mission Pack and a new barbarian character class.
- Gateways (screenshot below) is a retro 2D platformer from Smudged Cat Games. It will be available soon for the PC and Xbox.