1. Logitech G7 Mouse ($80)
Microsoft has successfully challenged and overtaken its competitors in
every market it has focused on ranging from operating systems to web
browsers. Even the Xbox 360 looks like it will be providing Sony with fiercer competition than anyone could have predicted 5 years ago. Still, there is one market where Microsoft has never been able to win – the computer mouse. Since 1981, Logitech has been producing the best mice on the planet. Logitech continues to outsell Microsoft and as most gamers can confirm, Logitech mice are virtually bullet proof. I have a Logitech mouse myself that's over 10 years old and is still running strong. Logitech's new G7 mouse is the best product to come out of Logitech's design team for some time.
A few months ago, I described building the Ultimate Gaming Rig. If you recall, I recommended finding a discontinued MX700 over the new MX1000 due to size and balance. Well, it seems like Logitech's design team had the same ideas as I did because the G7 has returned to the MX700 ergonomics, and brought back some of the proven ergonomics of the MouseMan+ such as the single thumb button. The distinctive feature of the G7 is the 2000 dpi Laser sensor and "gaming grade" modifications such as the extra-large Teflon feet which provide a smoother glide. The mouse also features two buttons which allow you to alter the sensitivity of the mouse without having to enter a control panel. This means that you can keep the mouse in the default mode for day to day Windows use, then decrease your precision when you're working in Photoshop and finally increase your precision when playing games. This happens in hardware and on the fly without needing to go into the mouse control panel. Before using the G7, I would have called this feature a gimmick but after using the G7 as my primary mouse for an extended period of time, I now realize that this is one of the best features of the product.
With the MX700, users were expected to charge their mouse in the cradle each evening. This became a problem and I ended up using my own high capacity 2200 mAh NiMH batteries and a 15 minute charger to deal with the power-thirsty mouse. With the G7, Logitech includes two battery packs where the second battery back is always charged so that it's possible to swap a used battery for a new one in a matter of seconds. Depending on your use, the G7 batteries last anywhere from 2 to 4 days
Ever since the original bear-claw design, Logitech has always a popular mouse of choice for gamers. Over the years, Logitech has made evolutionary changes and the G7 represents the best mouse from Logitech I've seen since the MX700. The balance is spot on and so there's no need for counter weights, and the wireless signal works with the same fluidity that you expect from a wired mouse. (It samples at 500Hz) The attention to detail that Logitech has put into the G7 is even seen through small touches such as the way the mouse shows you the current sensitivity whenever the mouse is moved and fades to the current battery level when the mouse isn't moving.
I can think of no other product I've reviewed in the last 7 years that has impressed me so much. A few years ago, I gave the MX700 a 97% score and an Editor's Choice Award. The G7? It's a 99% Editor's Choice product. As you know, FiringSquad is typically tougher when it comes to handing out scores – the 99% means that the G7 is truly that impressive. There are no gimmicks – just pure performance. If the G7 was a bit lower in price, it would probably be the second product in FiringSquad history to receive a perfect score. Of course, I'm assuming that you're not left-handed.
I spent the most time detailing the Logitech G7 and Monster Music SuperDisc because they're truly the best of the bunch. In fact, I would be just as happy in my Holiday Buyer's Guide talking about just those two products. There is no right-handed PC enthusiast who wouldn't enjoy using the Logitech G7 and no audiophile (who enjoys Christmas music) who wouldn't want to own "40 Years, A Charlie Brown Christmas."
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
Looking forward to those new Ivy Bridge CPUs? In anticipation of their release later this month, Intel has already unveiled the new Series 7 chipsets designed especially to take advantage of what will be the 3rd-generation of Core processors. In today's article, we take a look at the architecture of the enthusiast variant, the Z77, and how it's used in the Intel Desktop Extreme DZ77GA-70K motherboard. Even if you're not particularly interested in the motherboard itself, you'll probably want to see some of the new features that come along with it, so read on!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!