iPad or Mac Mini... I just can't decide

So currently I have a MacBook Aluminium 13" and it is really serving me well. However, it is living a triple life. One of it's jobs is for my mobile computing, internet, e-mail and music. Another is as a hub for my other devices, iTunes, synching and what-not, and it's third role is as a media streamer, hooked up to my TV and running Plex to stream my TV and movies from my server. 
 
Anyway, it is becoming a pain to have to keep plugging it in and out all the time, while also meaning I don't have access to the internet and e-mail when watching TV/Films. 
 
So I need a new device... 
 
Option 1: I buy a Mac Mini to live under my TV, sync my devices and stream my media, freeing up my MacBook for internet and e-mail. 
 
Option 2: I buy an iPad, leave my MacBook static (most of the time) and use my iPad to get on the net, do e-mail, listen to music etc etc. 
 
What does everyone think? I was considering getting both, but that's just overkill... 

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Rez HD is driving me mad

Okay so I have been going back to some of my old XBLA games to pick up some achievements, and dear god Rez HD is hard. 
 
I just can't seem to complete Level 5. I can get as far as the Bosses, but inevitably get beaten by the time I reach the final form...  
 
It's really frustrating, as I completely love Rez HD, and feel wrong having not completed it... Anyway, I shall endeavour to do it by the end of the week. Wish me luck, and any tips are much appreciated! 

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Blur Beta Thoughts

So I have now spent a few hours with the Blur open beta and I thought it was about time to weigh in on it. 
 
First off let me say that I have always enjoyed racing games, even though I'm not that good at them. In fact "realistic" racing games have only really become fun for me since the introduction of rewind features in games like GRID and Forza 3. The ability to jump back to make up that one mistake that slipped you from 1st to 8th makes those types of games much more fun for someone who isn't the most technical of drivers... 
 
That said, Blur is in no way a realistic racing game. The handling feels good, though not accurate, and obviously the addition of power-ups moves this game squarely into the realms of fiction. Some have likened it to the Wipeout series of games, but I have always felt that they lacked the damage and crashing feel of on-wheels games. Others have looked towards the Mario Kart games for a reference point, but the cartoony style again means that there is no sense of damage. In fact, for me, this game feel a lot like my favourite series of racing games of all time, Rollcage
 
The beta really does well in getting you into the action and the available "tracks" are varied enough to get a feel for the game in general. The one thing that really makes the beta enjoyable is the addition of Call of Duty 4 style perks and ranks. This customisation gives the game just enough persistence to make the quick and frantic races seem worth-while, even if you are coming in at the bottom end of the leader-board. 
 
I do wonder how fun the single player experience will be, as I am not sure that some of the mechanics will translate as well over from multiplayer. That being said, the combination of fast paced gameplay and online persistence makes this game a purchase for me, and I look forward to seeing what the full version of the game brings to the table.

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The Atomic Edge is no more

Okay so I have stopped updating my site www.theatomicedge.com because I wasn't getting enough traffic. So from now on, all my blog posts will be here, on GiantBomb.com!

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Fanboys; A Rant

Giant Bomb is one of the top computer game news and reviews sites on the net, and I make sure to check the news daily to keep up to date, perhaps this is sad, but what can I say, I enjoy my hobby greatly. The news articles are fair and balanced, and the reviews are most often very accurate and not willing to follow hype and review trends that other sites fall prey too. However there is a blight on this shrine of computer games, a dark fissure widening to encompass every news post and every review. While the very utterance of their name brings a chill to my spine, I will put aside my personal discomfort and say it but once; Fan boys.

Why anyone would forbid themselves good games because of the platform they appear on is a mystery to me. I can only assume that this strange need to ally themselves with one console manufacturer over all others comes from a simple lack of funds. When I was younger, I had a SNES and loved it to bits, I also wanted a Mega Drive (Genesis for any American readers) but there was no way that my mother would buy me two games consoles, so I convinced myself that I had the superior platform and engaged in friendly banter with my Mega Drive owning friends. However I never pretended that I didn’t want a Mega Drive, and that is where me and the un-named ones differ.

Now before I continue I would like to say that I don’t own a PS3. This is mainly due to the fact that at the moment, there are not really enough games that interest me on the platform, and so I can’t justify the cost to myself. However I fully intend to own a PS3 at some point in this cycle of consoles, and I look forward to both Metal Gear Solid 4 and some of the unique features that the console itself provides. I feel that I needed this to be known before I started talking examples, as some of them look at the PS3 in a negative light, and I would hate to be lumped in with those who may not be named.

Recently, two games have been getting much attention from the “intense” PS3 fan-base, Heavenly Sword and Lair. Both games have been very highly hyped, and some have even labeled Heavenly Sword as a “Killer App” for the PS3, a term which is a very lofty role for any game, and something that very few games ever live up too. Examples of killer apps in the past include the first Halo for the Xbox and Brain Training for the Nintendo DS games which, as suggested have greatly boosted the sales of their platforms. However it turns out, that Heavenly Sword has not lived up to expectations, getting a metacritic.com score of 80, with Lair being even more widely disliked with a score of 55. But rather than accepting that the games are actually not all that good, the troops start marching to battle. Suddenly every website which gives an honest, but bad review is called biased, and the drums of war start beating.

In situations such as this, reason is of no use. If someone is dead set on liking a game, they will often convince themselves that it is good. I have no doubt that there are people out there forcing themselves to enjoy Lair, and telling themselves that a game that takes 5 hours from start to finish like Heavenly Sword is fine. However if the games were on the opposite platform, they would be the first to laugh at them. The most confusing part of the “Console War” is when a game goes from exclusive to multi platform. You could almost hear the PS3 troops interest in GTA:IV drop when it was announced it would launch on the 360 on the same day. I have subjected myself of baffling posts where people have said Sony has “betrayed their fans by letting [Devil May Cry 4] be released on the 360″. Now when it comes to posts like that, it is all to easy to spot the zealotry at work, and I often wonder if the people posting these things truly believe what they are saying or if it is simply a game they are playing to wind up others. Either way, I have decided to avoid such things all together and instead stick to reading only news posts and reviews, and then scrolling down no further, it is the only way to stop my sanity from shattering.

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5 New Console Features I Couldn't Live Without.

There have been a lot of new features appear in this generation of consoles, and I was thinking about just how many of them I already take for granted. I have put together a list of features from the current generation of console that I would really miss

1. An Online Marketplace

Since the release of the Xbox 360, I have really enjoyed playing some games that up until the current generation, I would never have looked at. I am talking about the Xbox live Arcade games that these days, we take for granted, but before wouldn’t have found their way to a main console, or if they had wouldn’t have sold well. Not only are there new games experiences like Geometry Wars, Alien Hominid HD and Catan, but also re-releases like Lumines, Puzzle Quest and Rez.

I would never have brought any of these games in a traditional boxed format, but I have probably spent as much time playing them as I have some of the big blockbuster games like Bioshock and Halo 3. So without an online marketplace, I would have got much less out of my console than I would have done.

2. Ability to be patched

In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be an issue, but sadly even the big budget games need a tweak now and again and these days there is no reason why a game can’t be patched. The 360 and the PS3 obviously already have this and even the Wii does (this needs checking), however it is really frustrating finding a bug on a PSP or DS game and knowing that it will never be fixed.

3. Constant Online Presence

The 360 has this, and 99% of the time the PS3 does as well, but the Wii doesn’t and this annoys me.

4. Easy Social Networking

The 360 does this really well, the PS3 does this badly and the biggest criminal is the Wii. I don’t want to have to hand out a new friend code every time I get a new game. Come on Nintendo!

5. Roaming Settings and Unlockables

When I log into a friends console with my GamerTag/PSN name, I should be able to get access to all the things I have unlocked on a game at home. Now the 360 has this to an extent, where some game unlocks (like the Halo 3 Armor) are tied to the GamerTag but again, the Wii is awful at this, where even purchased VC games are tied to the console and not a log in account. Perhaps in the future you will be able to upload your saves to an online space, or have a chance to syncronise your console to online servers. I am sure that all of my game saves ever come to less than 1gb in size, I can get much more online storage than that with a free hosting company or even a free e-mail account, why can’t this be included with, for example, my Gold XBL subscription?

The 360 shows a glimmer of this idea with a few of the things they have done, but I really hope that in the next generation, my saves and unlocks will truly roam with me.

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My thoughts on GTA:IV

I have heard this question going about for a little while now, and I thought I would weigh in on the subject. Is Grand Theft Auto IV the greatest game ever made?

There is a lot in favor of it, that’s for sure. The idea of an open world has never been so well realized, and Liberty City truly feels alive, the ability to go on dates (and man-dates) may sound pointless, but it is actually a fun diversion that makes it feel as though you are living in the city and effecting things around you.

The story telling is also fantastic, delivering a clever plot and with good voice acting and fantastic motion capture.

The game play itself is solid, and though a lot of people have criticized the driving, I think that is feels pretty realistic and once you have a bit of experience, you can certainly feel in control. The cover system is also pretty solid, and is a great addition to the series, but other than the occasional rushing goon with a shotgun, it has a tenancy to make the fire fights a bit easy.

There are also some subtle touches that really polish the game off nicely. For example, driving to a mission can have one set of dialogue, then if you fail, the next time you get a different set of dialogue and if you fail again the NPC you are riding with just puts the radio on and you can listen to music. This is a minor thing, but it shows that rockstar really thought about the design of the game to a much higher level than most developers.

There are certainly some problems with the game. For example, the vehicle spawning is very odd, sometimes not putting any cars on the road at all until you move into the next area and money seems to get pointless pretty fast and there is nothing big to buy later in the game (like property in previous GTA games). Also IV’s version of the hidden package system from previous games seems to have taken the curious turn of making you get all 200 pigeons (packages) before getting any rewards, making it purely from the OCD completionists of the world.

I am yet to complete GTA yet, and I’m not rushing to get to the end point, so this isn’t really a review. Even if I were to review the game I wouldn’t be saying anything that 1000 other reviewers haven’t already said so there doesn’t seem much point. This game would definitely get a Ten from me, but that should be of no surprise to anyone I’m sure.

However is GTA IV the greatest game ever made? Well if it isn’t then I would like to know what is.

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