A week in reviews: 25 - 29 November
As the month of November draws to a close it can mean only one thing: PlayStation 4 time.
Well, two things, really: the 10th annual Pocket-lint Gadget Awards have drawn to a close, the winners announced across 12 categories loaded with top tech picks. The public, media, and Pocket-lint team all had a hand in picking out the winners, so it's a truly representative set of results.
Before we push forward into gaming land, though, it's been a mad week of other highs and, um, higher highs. After spending a week in the Caribbean to shoot with a host of Sony cameras - including the A7 reviewed in full this week - we've also passed judgement on the latest Apple iPad mini with Retina display. And, as if that wasn't enough, the Nokia Lumia 2520 Windows RT 8.1 tablet has been put through its paces too.
Otherwise it's well and truly gaming week. With both Xbox One and PS4 now on sale - if you can get hold of either - we've been through the key launch titles. Killzone, Resogun, Ryse, Need For Speed, Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed - it's all here. So don that gaming hat and read on to see what you should consider buying for that next-gen beast nestled under the telly.
PlayStation 4 review
Quick review: There is no doubting that the PS4 is a powerful machine that has masses of potential. The graphics on the day one games we've played are a definite cut above - but we're sure there's a lot more to come. The biggest problem this side of Christmas is that the PS4 just lacks those must-have games. Give it until next spring or this time next year and it will most likely be the console to own though.
Pros: Fast, powerful, small, masses of potential, Remote Play via PS Vita is fun.
Cons: Lacklustre launch line-up, no 3D Blu-ray playback, no media streaming.
Full article: PS4 review
iPad mini with Retina display review
Quick review: The iPad mini with Retina display bests the efforts of the original mini in virtually every department - and where it doesn't offer an outright improvement it sticks with what worked before. It's one of the best tablets on the market, if not the best tablet on the market. Fantastic portability, amazing battery life, a great screen, a huge array of apps, and all the processing power to keep delivering great experiences day in day out. You won't be disappointed.
Pros: Portable, powerful, great screen, as a tablet should be
Cons: No Touch ID, not 802.11ac, no microSD
Price: from £319
Full article: iPad mini Retina review
Sony Alpha A7 review
Quick review: The Sony Alpha A7 is a mini marvel with a big point of interest: that full-frame sensor. At £1,299 for the body only, this is as affordable as large-sensor snapping can get, and it could open up a whole new set of interest from more casual photographers, as well as pros looking to obtain a smaller system to work with. It delivers one thing that's the same as any other system worth its salt: glorious full-frame pictures.
Pros: Affordable, small size, full-frame image quality is great with prime lens attached, excellent electronic viewfinder quality, tilt-angle LCD, button customisation, focus peaking for manual focus
Cons: Poor battery life, 28-70mm kit lens not great, full FE lens system yet to materialise, AF-C not comparable to DSLR, no pinpoint AF can mean questionable accuracy
Price: £1,299 (body only)
Full article: Sony A7 review
Nokia Lumia 2520 review
Quick review: The Lumia 2520 is probably the best thing on the market for people looking to buy a tablet that doubles as a laptop. Be warned: you'll still need the Power Keyboard, and even then it's still not the perfect solution for hopeful hybrid users. That's largely because of Window's app ecosystem, but there's enough in there for the core stuff to get you by and we think casual business users will find it worthy too.
Pros: Built-in LTE, snappy performance, bright display with great viewing angles, excellent battery life, charges fast
Cons: Not ideal for reading in portrait, no built-in kickstand, needs a keyboard for laptop experience, lacks app ecosystem of rivals
Full article: Nokia 2520 review
Peugeot 2008 Allure e-HDi 92 review
Quick review: The 2008 genuinely makes lots of sense as a crossover vehicle. It's not fashionable like a Mini Countryman but it is more practical. The brilliant diesel engine is enough to have it justify your consideration alone, but its high levels of specification, good value list price and practical qualities make it even easier to recommend.
Pros: Great diesel engine, well equipped, pleasant and spacious interior, very practical
Cons: Infotainment system feels dated already, probably won’t please the fashionable crowd, odd boot load cover
Price: £17,740 (as tested)
Full article: Peugeot 2008 review
Killzone: Shadow Fall review - PS4 exclusive
Quick review: Killzone: Shadow Fall is not quite the game we all wanted it to be. That’s not to say it’s bad - far from it. You’ll appreciate the journey through the game, and be impressed by the story-telling and even the voice acting, but you might not remember it much further down the line. Shadow Fall is PS4 eye-candy that doesn't taste quite as sweet as it looks.
Pros: Absolutely gorgeous visuals - the best looking game on the PS4 at launch by far, multiplayer is great fun, a good variety of gameplay styles
Cons: Pedestrian single-player campaign that is good but not spectacular, over-use of lens flare effects to criminal levels
Full article: Killzone PS4 review
Ryse: Son of Rome review - Xbox One exclusive
Quick review: Ryse: Son of Rome is a sumptuous hackathon through Ancient Rome in truly next-gen style. The visuals are impressive, as is the smoothness of the animation, especially once you get into those big fights and executions. It's a great game to be a spectator on, even if gameplay itself gets repetitive, the levels are a little linear and loading can be on the slow side. We've found Ryse to be fun for our tastes and think casual gamers will agree. But it's not quite the epic and varied a battle game that we'd hoped for.
Pros: Nicely animated, some variety in scenes and location, lovely visuals, some great executions, multiplayer is fun
Cons: Gameplay gets repetitive, lacks replayability, some slow loading times
Full article: Ryse review
Resogun review - PS4 exclusive
Quick review: If you’re from the era that loved side-scrolling shooters then be prepared to be blown away by Resogun. This modern day reimagining of a shooter is visually stunning, stylised, engaging and choc-full of attractive special effects that shout next-gen. You’ll be back again and again just to prove that you can beat the game.
Pros: Looks great, hard to master - will keep you coming back for more, budget buy, reignites the side-scrolling genre in true next-gen fashion
Cons: Repetitive, limited levels and ships, it's difficult - bosses further add to the difficulty, not sure what's going on sometimes
Price: £12.79 (free for PS Plus users)
Full article: Resogun review
Need For Speed: Rivals review
Quick review: What Rivals delivers is a fun ride with the added bonus of taking down bad guys or evading the cops depending on what your slant is. Get bored with one and you can easily switch between cop and racer, so there's added variety. It's not the greatest of racing simulators for those that want a track experience. But that's okay, because the driving is fast and frenetic - and that's what makes it fun.
Pros: Fun, fast and furious, great graphics, plenty to keep you entertained
Cons: Focus can feel off, vastness can feel empty, not for accurate racing simulator fans
Full article: Need For Speed Rivals review
FIFA 14 (PS4 & Xbox One) review
Quick review: FIFA 14 PS4 and Xbox One is the most realistic football game we've ever played. It's incredible. Some of the new features might sound like minor tweaks over the PS3 and 360 version, but they do make a difference to the gameplay, ensuring that veteran players can get something truly new out of the game.
Pros: Superb reactive crowd model, ball physics seem even more realistic, improvement in player control makes it a new experience even for veteran players, you can score some spectacular goals
Cons: Not a huge step-up from the current-gen versions, some of the game modes found on Xbox 360 and PS3 are missing, the occasional graphical glitch here or there
Full article: FIFA 14 review
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag review
Quick review: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a deep, enjoyable game that does a fine job of combining the tenets of the series with the golden age of piracy. The world is meticulously crafted, and there’s loads to explore, which is ideal if you’re a fan of open-world games. Although the format the open world takes can feel like a slight departure from the stealth-tinged, parkour-tastic acrobatics of the earlier games.
Pros: Pirate theme fits Assassin's Creed well, naval exploration makes up a good chunk of the game, new game lab lets you create your own multiplayer modes
Cons: The game lacks any revolutionary new features, combat and exploration are either too easy or too cumbersome, the main character isn’t particularly memorable
Full article: Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag review
Call of Duty: Ghosts review
Quick review: Call of Duty: Ghosts is a nonsense of storytelling that also happens to be a blast. A dumb blast, mind, but it’s fun nonetheless - even if you’re not typically a first person shooting fan. You won’t care what your character’s name is, nor why anything really matters - you’ll just want to delight in the visual set pieces and well crafted shooting sequences in the single player campaign mode. But the real life lies in the multiplayer, that's where we see "the billion dollar effect" in full swing, despite Ghosts offering a subtle upgrade compared to its predecessor.
Pros: Wonderful set-pieces, mix of semi-stealth and gung-ho shoot outs, looks great for the most, multiplayer will appease a huge chunk of prospective players, there’s a dog - everyone likes dogs right?
Cons: It’s all a bit the same isn’t it?, that juddery "caught behind comrade" irk, one or two frame rate drops, storyline is bonkers
Full article: Call of Duty: Ghosts review
Manfrotto Klyp case for iPhone review
Quick review: If you are serious about getting more from your iPhone for stills and video then the Manfrotto Klyp and the tripod and light accessories are certainly the way to do it. We especially like the the multiple options available to build the perfect set-up for your needs - although the light and tripod will come at added cost, and it quickly adds up - and the fact that the additional kit outside of the Klyp case needn't just be used for the iPhone.
Pros: Easy to use, well built, plenty of options
Cons: Adds bulk, light and tripod add to price
Price: from £25
Full article: Manfrotto Klyp review