Rugby 15 review

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This is a golden age of sports games. Electronic Arts and 2K, among others, churn out iterative titles every summer, make a quick buck and can get away with it because these titles are really rather good.

Rugby union doesn’t tend to get the same treatment. Since 2007, many fans have been clinging on to EA’s last title, Rugby 08, which was itself no more than a re-skinned Rugby 06. It wasn’t exceptional by any means, but ‘fans’ grew to love its glitches, disrespect for the rules and overpowered Irish centres.

HB Studios, EA’s contracted studio, brought the sport to the next generation in 2011, cashing in on the World Cup hype with, you guessed it, a shinier Rugby 08. Sidhe had a crack with a pair of Rugby Challenge titles which proved scarce and new players found it difficult to adapt to the perplexing controls, yet I found it far superior once you adapted. Still far from perfect, but closer than beforehand.

When news broke early last year that HB would be bringing a new Bigben-published title, Rugby 15, to market, I was tentatively excited. Yes, it would likely be Rugby 06 for the fourth time, but licensed sides and blanket release on major consoles would surely make up for it.

I became highly suspicious the month of release came and, with nary a gameplay video, the game was delayed in the UK (until its release on these shores today). So, like any rational person, I splashed out €45 to get it imported from France a few months ago. All in the name of journalism, of course, my dear reader. I would do anything for you. Even this.

Sadly for my wallet, it’s atrocious. Playing my first game against a longtime nemesis and worthy competitor at rugby games old and new, we both unleashed fits of laughter when the game kicked off.

Animations are deranged and woefully few. Controls are deranged, with the right trigger responsible for passes in all directions. Even the licenses have been mangled, with Irish lynchpin Jonny Sexton carrying a lower overall rating than unknown Harlequins benchwarmers.

Rugby 15’s defining moment came in a clash between Toulon and Clermont Auvergne. Whilst pitying my opponent and clinging onto what little desire I maintained to survive, I crossed the try line and intentionally flicked the ball wide to winger Julien Malzieu, standing off the pitch, who then leapt back across the line, grounding the ball at my command. Correctly, the game awarded Toulon a 22 metre dropout, but not before awarding Malzieu’s Clermont the 5 most invalid points they’ll ever collect, virtual or not.

If you care for the sport of rugby or its video game realisations one iota, please avoid this game. Just pick up a copy of Rugby Challenge 2 and get to grips with its quirks. For now, I’m stuck trying to figure out how to recoup my Euros.

Rugby 15 is released today in the UK. It is awful.

Digixav Podcast 019: 2014 Awards Spectacular – January 2nd 2015

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If the Digixav Podcast were Futurama, Bender’s exclamations of return would have grown old and decrepit. That won’t stop us, though, as Henry and Xavier return exactly a year after their last outing to deliberate this year’s award winners. And, being our venerable podcasters, they spend most of the time talking about Taylor Swift sheet music, Threes addiction and will.i.am’s latest attempts at becoming a technology mogul.

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If you have any feedback, questions or comments, tweet us or send us an email to podcast@digixav.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Apple unveils Watch and iPhones, big and bigger, at San Francisco keynote

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“Can’t innovate any more, my ass,” joked Apple’s Phil Schiller last year as he unveiled the latest generation Mac Pro. After accusations of the company stagnating and failing to put out a revolutionary product since 2010’s iPad sparked the post-PC revolution, Apple’s share price tumbled despite record sales figures.

Though targeted at the likes of video professionals rather than you or I, the ‘trash can’ Mac Pro was a sign of bright things to come. With a unique construction designed to save power, space and noise, the desktop workhorse (and Schiller’s comment) appeared to perfectly represent Tim Cook’s all-new Apple. They were going to innovate. They wouldn’t be afraid to have some fun. They were going to strike back.

Along came September 9th and Cook graced the stage at San Francisco’s Flint Center, bringing with him a pair of new iPhones and the long-awaited Apple Watch. All are clear responses to the likes of Samsung and Motorola, though is the catch-up effort enough to restore Apple to the head of the pack? Continue reading

Apple does thing that everyone expected Apple to do, just like always

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You know how Apple has an event every September in which they announce iPhones and other assorted technology devices and everyone freaks out about 2 weeks before when an invite lands in the inboxes of all the big tech blogs and has an Apple logo and a few words that don’t reveal anything useful and gets deconstructed to hell by Apple bloggers everywhere clamouring for a piece of the news that Re/code broke the day before?

Yeah, that happened. See you Tuesday 9th.

Source Kurt Colbeck (Twitter)

Amazon Cart launches, allowing lazy shoppers to consumerise without leaving Twitter

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For all of us who find clicking on Amazon links and pressing buttons to add products to shopping carts mind-numbingly tedious, Amazon and Twitter’s new partnership promises to revolutionise how we shop in the most #social way ever. Enter #AmazonCart (or #AmazonBasket for my fellow Brits). Once you’ve linked your Amazon and Twitter accounts, you can add any product to your Amazon purchase queue by tweeting #AmazonCart in reply to a tweet that contains an Amazon product link. Of course what this doesn’t tell you is how much the product is, whether it is any good or if you can find a better deal elsewhere. Much of this can be solved by clicking on the link, but then what’s the point in this new scheme? Click on a link, take a peek and tap a button sounds a lot faster, simpler and consumer-savvy than seeing a tweet, pressing reply, typing out a response to (what is most likely) your brand of choice or a friend who couldn’t actually care any less about your chronic purchasing habits, scribbling #AmazonCart at the end and then tweeting your response.

But #hashtags, right?

First Look: A cooler/desk hybrid that makes laptop use practical again

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Despite the name, it’s pretty well known that laptops just aren’t suitable for lap use. Whether due to the instability that the thighs (as a surface) produce or due the heat that is generated as we send the devices into overdrive, it’s generally preferable (and recommended by the manufacturers) to just stick the damn thing on a desk and get on with it. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that the long-term heat exposure that stems from laptop use can cause Toasted Skin Syndrome. As such, some people invest in impractical coolers, either active or passive, to provide some additional ventilation, but these don’t tend to cater for the lap users.

That’s where an unusual innovation that recently passed through DX Towers comes into play.

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Designed and built by Luke Hansford, a sixth form student at Christ’s Hospital School, the as-yet unnamed device converges a laptop cooler, standing and sitting desk and a desk tidy into one package. The unit, which I tested in early prototype form, is constructed from metal, wood and plastic, but it’s not exactly the sleekest solution I’ve seen – this is not going to fit in your bag for the commute. Nevertheless, it’s a great setup. The contoured acrylic base allows for a fantastic chair-centred work experience that combines the convenience of being able to sit anywhere with a functional and spacious working surface. Contrarily, when placed on a standard desk, you create a quick and convenient standing desk solution thanks to the added elevation.

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In terms of cooling, a yellow wire coming out of the rear with a thermistor on the end leads to a circuit and an active fan system underneath the isometric metal surface. Theoretically, the thermistor will kick the fan (powered by a pair of 9V batteries) into action, although trying to secure the thermistor to the warmest points of the laptop was impossible without some Blu-Tack. At this point, running Kerbal Space Program, The Walking Dead and Bioshock Infinite simultaneously not only generated enough fun to power the circuit, but also sent my laptop fan into overdrive and awoke the circuit below.

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As this is only an early prototype, modifications and refinements are afoot. Currently, he upper metal layer is vulnerable to a bit of flex when heavier machines adorn it and rotating wooden desk tidy element, while splendid for stashing away pens and other assorted desk ornaments, can dig into those among us with rounder figures. The temperamental thermistor, too, may also be adjusted to ensure more consistent action, although the perforated metal sheet does provide ample ventilation and increased airflow while remaining aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps the 9V batteries could also be phased out in favour of USB power draw, which would reduce the running costs yet further, while the thermistor system will also surely become more discrete as the prototype evolves.

Though no wide production run has yet been confirmed, it is estimated that, upon an eventual launch, the contraption would cost around £50. Make sure to follow Hansford on Twitter for updates as the project develops.

Nokia announces Lumia 930, its new Windows Phone 8.1 flagship

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At Microsoft’s Build developer summit today, future subsidiary Nokia has unveiled its new Windows Phone flagship device, the Lumia 930. Serving as true successor to the Lumia 920 (because the 925, 928, 1020 and 1520 just don’t cut it) which debuted in September 2012, the 930 is effectively Verizon’s recent Lumia Icon for a global market, with the relatively uninspired design being improved tremendously by the addition of chromatic rears, including black, white, green and, finally, orange. Continue reading