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Lego Dimensions breaks the rules of the building block

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Ster-Kinekor Entertainment, Warner Bros, The LEGO Group and TT Games has announced LEGO Dimensions, a new entertainment experience that breaks the rules of traditional gaming to merge physical LEGO brick building with interactive console gameplay.

It will launch in South Africa on 26 August 2016. The game will fuse many fan-favourite universes together, including DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings, The LEGO Movie, LEGO Ninjago, The Wizard of Oz, Back to the Future, and many more.

LEGO Dimensions, developed by TT Games and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, will be available for Xbox One, the all-in one games and entertainment system and the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems.

For the first time in any LEGO videogame, characters from iconic entertainment franchises join forces and battle in worlds outside of their own. In addition to the game, the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack will include two LEGO Toy Pads, which allows players to transport special LEGO minifigures and other LEGO objects into the game, bricks to build the LEGO Gateway, three LEGO Minifigures, including LEGO Batman from DC Comics, LEGO Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and Wyldstyle from The LEGO Movie, plus the LEGO Batmobile.

“When kids play with LEGO bricks, they build beyond the singular brands, intermixing all of their favorite universes and characters, and we have come up with a way for players to experience that in games,” said Tom Stone, Founder and Creative Director, TT Games. “Now for the first time in a videogame, LEGO fans can play in the virtual world and in the real world – combining everything without restrictions. Imagine putting LEGO Gollum from The Lord of the Rings behind the wheel of the LEGO Delorean in New Ninjago City – the creative play is endless.”

“Building on TT Games’ track record for exceptionally popular, engaging games, LEGO Dimensions expands our LEGO videogame franchise with a breakthrough, immersive interactive entertainment experience that will redefine the toys to life games category,” said Jeff Junge, Senior Vice President, LEGO Franchise and TT Games, Warner Bros. Entertainment.  “LEGO Dimensions will bring fans innovative and joyful gameplay with an amazing mash-up of huge brands in both the physical and digital worlds.”

“LEGO Dimensions is unlike anything that we have ever done. It further extends the LEGO play experience into the digital world with all of the characters, humour and action of LEGO videogames now combined with the amazing fun of LEGO minifigure and model building,” said Niels Jørgensen, Vice President, Digital Games for the LEGO Group. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with TT Games to explore ways in which physical and digital LEGO play can merge in meaningful ways for children.”

In addition to the four minifigure heroes used to start the experience, LEGO Dimensions will allow gamers to customize their experience with additional expansion packs.  Highly collectible Level Packs, Team Packs and Funny Packs will provide new buildable characters, vehicles, tools, pets and gadgets, as well as compelling game content with new mission-based levels and unique in-game abilities.  All expansion packs will feature well-known properties and provide gamers the opportunity to use everything interchangeably, anywhere throughout the game – with no limitations.

LEGO Dimensions not only offers a bridge between digital and physical LEGO play, but also introduces a digital system of play with great long-term value for LEGO gaming.  One LEGO Toy Pad, LEGO Gateway and the videogame found in the initial Starter Pack will offer endless opportunities to customize a player’s experience for years to come.  Future expansion pack purchases will continue to work with the Starter Pack, no compatibility chart necessary.

“We are extremely proud and very excited to inform our local consumers that the highly anticipated LEGO Dimensions will be available from the 26th August 2016 in South Africa through major retailers,” said Mario Dos Santos, Chief Executive Officer, Ster-Kinekor Entertainment. “This eagerly awaited title will be available for PlayStation®4 and Xbox One for a recommended retail price of R1499.99 as well as PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360 for R1299.99; we will also be distributing the expansions packs, including Funny Packs at a RRP of R249, Team Packs at R399 and Level Packs at R449.”

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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