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Lego Movie game a spoiler, but adds depth

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The Lego Movie is possibly one of the greatest animated films ever made, and although the same can’t be said for The Lego Movie Videogame which takes the plot directly from the movie, GEOFFREY TIM still believes it is worth a try.

The Lego Movie was certainly a surprise. What could have easily been a silly, mindless kids’ movie has ended up as perhaps one of the greatest animated films ever made, perfectly capturing the slapdash, mix-and-match wonder of a child playing with Lego, infused with charm and genuine comedy.

If you were expecting the same sort of surprise from the movie’s inevitable, incredibly meta tie-in, then you’re set for disappointment I’m afraid. That doesn’t mean that it’s bad.

What it is, is a tad uninspired. It sticks to the same tried and tested formula – so if you’ve played any other Lego games you know precisely what to expect. Its plot is taken directly from the film and this is where this Lego game takes a step backwards. Instead of the classic Lego game cut-scenes that humorously thief bits from their celluloid counterparts, this steals them wholesale, ripping them out and pasting them in where applicable.

Most of the charm of the Lego games comes in taking a scene from a film and giving it a Lego makeover, and that’s just not the case here‚Ķthough it’s necessary, for obvious reasons.

And though it doesn’t include everything from the film, playing through this will spoil the entirety of the main plot, so it’s really recommended you watch before playing. The film, thankfully does translate in to gameplay quite well and seldom fails to be at least mildly enjoyable. The game features just about all of the film’s main characters including the protagonist, and follows Emmet, the construction worker who’s thrust out of an ordered world to discover that there is another world, un-manipulated and outside of the one he knows. On top of that, he could be the prophesied Super: the most important person in the whole universe. Yes, on the surface it bears more than a passing resemblance to The Matrix – but there’s a grander cast of characters and much more imaginative worlds in this particular blockbuster.

While the plot is directly taken from the film, what the game does is reuse many of the film’s action sequences and fluffs them out, stretching them into lengthy sequences with interesting and imaginative objectives, adding depth to on-screen sequences that were just seconds long.

The Lego Movie: The Videogame lets you play as various Lego characters from the film as they make their way through 15 diverse and colourful chapters, doing exactly the sort of things you’ve been doing in Lego games for years: collecting little studs that serve as currency, solving puzzles and smashing just about everything into pieces.

Because there are different character archetypes, you’ll need to switch between characters and use their unique abilities to get certain jobs done: Emmet’s good for drilling away cracked bricks, the agile Wyldstyle is perfect for high-risk jumps and Batman and his grappling hook are just the ticket when it comes to pulling things down. Minigames, like a Pac-Man-esque hacking game and a dancing game keep things from becoming too repetitive too quickly, something that’s aided by the fact that each of the game’s 15 chapters feels different from the last. Each set of levels is based around a small, but unique hub world, offering puzzles and collectibles outside of the main game.

As much as everything is the same, there are a few noticeable changes. For one, absolutely everything is made from Lego, including the scenery, water, smoke and explosions. It gives the whole game the feeling that it’s really all playing out within a child’s head. Another little change is the class of builders: usually anyone is capable of building things from the bits of bouncing Lego lying about, but here only master builders can make things, willy-nilly. Everyone else has to rely on instructions to build anything.

The game isn’t particularly long, taking just 7 hours to complete, but as with all Lego games that’s where he fun really starts. Replaying levels in Free Play with characters who shouldn’t be there opens up whole new sections of levels in your quest for completionism – and it’s where I had most fun with the game. Compared to other Lego games though, there’s just not all that much content. It’s shorter and less feature-packed than the recent Lego Marvel Super Heroes and not nearly as inspired or engaging as the excellent Lego City Undercover.

On top of that, the game’s a bit on the buggy side. A few times I had trigger events fail to happen, forcing me to replay whole sections, while on a separate occasion the game’s save points just stopped working, before crashing out, making me lose an hour’s worth of progress. That’s on top of the usual Lego game bugs of characters getting stuck in areas they shouldn’t have entered.

Despite those issues and the overall lack of scope, this is still a pretty good film tie-in, taking some of the best ideas and elements from the entire series and packaging them in a neat, charming and fun family friendly bundle. In fact, it really comes alive when you play it co-operatively, as I did this weekend with my kids. While it doesn’t give players the creative freedom of a world-builder like Minecraft it does allow for the creation of a great deal of chaos, which is really where most of its fun lies.

* Article courtesy of Lazygamer.net. Follow Geoffrey Tim on Twitter on @WobblyOnion

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Nokia 9 PureView pioneers new camera tech

Nokia packed five camera-lenses into its latest high-end flagship, but does more lenses mean better pictures? BRYAN TURNER took it for a test run.

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Nokia is not new to the high-end mobile photography market. In 2012, it led Mobile World Congress (MWC) with its 41MP Nokia 808 PureView. This year, Nokia returned to MWC with its next PureView handset: the Nokia 9 PureView.

Instead of pushing megapixels, the mobile device maker chose to focus on intelligent exposure and sharp focus quality. It achieved this with a set of five cameras on the rear of the device – the most ever on the back of a handset. All of the lenses are 12MP f/1.8 lenses, and three of them are monochrome. The five lenses work in tandem to blend the best parts of a captured image. This is achieved through software image blending, which has been trained to know what’s good and bad about the image. 

Why monochrome? 

Lighting is dramatically improved with a monochrome sensor. About 2.9x more light can be captured with a monochrome sensor when compared to a conventional sensor. Huawei showed off the advantages of integrating a monochrome camera with the P9. 

Why three monochrome lenses? 

Detail can be captured at three different lighting settings, one to absorb a lot of light, one to absorb a little less light, and one to absorb very little light. These photos can then be blended into one great photo, without the user having to worry about setting the camera’s exposure manually.

The monochrome mode captures photos in crisp detail, while giving an authentic dramatic monochrome photography feel.

Only five lenses have been mentioned so far but the back of the device sports seven holes. The sixth hole is for the flash and the seventh is for the depth sensor. This sensor captures the depth of an image, so autofocus can be a little sharper and focus depth on bokeh images can be adjusted after the picture is taken. This adjustment feature is especially useful when a subject’s hair has been “bokeh’d out”.

Click here to read about the other features of the Nokia 9 PureView.

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Bose Portable: quality at a price

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The Bose SoundDock Portable looks great and performs well, but SEAN BACHER finds the price doesn’t justify the better sound quality.

Since its inception in 1964, American-based audio specialist, Bose, has built a name synonymous with quality. Along with that, it has built a reputation of being more expensive than many of its competitors, but not deterring many from making the expensive investment. The mini sound speakers are quite often used in boardrooms, bars and restaurants around the world and offer crystal-clear sound that rivals most speakers twice their size.

Testament to the Bose sound quality is that it is used as the standard audio system in luxury cars like Audi, BMW and Mercedes, and according to Wikipedia, Bose products can be found in many military and NASA applications.

It is therefore not surprising to find Bose accessories compatible with smartphones. One example is the Bose SoundDock Portable. A portable docking station for iPhones and iPods that works off rechargeable batteries.

We put the Bose SoundDock Portable through the Gadget Five Question User.

1. Ease of use (including set-up)

Although the Bose SoundDock Portable, comes with instructions, they are not needed and in most cases, it will be ready to operate the minute it is removed from the box and an iPhone or iPod is plugged into it.

If the batteries on either the phone or docking station are flat though, the charger needs to be plugged into it before it can be used. You don’t need to wait for the batteries to charge fully before using it.

Bose has taken the minimalist approach with the SoundDock as on the right are two touch-sensitive Volume buttons and that’s it. No Power or other controls. The included remote is also very easy to use. It uses standard Play, Pause, Volume and Skip buttons, all well labelled.

The front of the docking station is made up of a silver grill, below which is the retractable iPhone dock. Although the casing around the connector is designed to accommodate an iPhone’s protective skin, it was not big enough to for the bumper I had on my phone, which meant I had to take the phone out of the case every time I wanted to plug it in.

On the plus side though, unlike many other portable docking stations, the Bose will charge a docked phone even if it is just running off battery power.

The Bose SoundDock Portable’s ease of use along with its elegant design cannot be faulted. But its dock connector counts against it.

Score: 18/20

2. General performance

The two front facing speakers offer crisp sounds and when the volume is cranked up all the way the SoundDock does not distort at all and is deafeningly loud.

At the rear is 3.5mm jack, allowing you to connect non-Apple phones, MP3 players and other audio equipment.

According to Bose, the 1 900mAh rechargeable battery pack will offer up to three hours of music at a maximum volume a different approach to rating battery life as most other vendors rate operating times at ‚”typical listening volumes‚”. I have been using the SoundDock on and off and not at full tilt for the past week without having to plug the mains adapter in yet.

This is however a good thing. Although the Bose SoundDock Portable is elegant and well made, Bose didn’t pay to much attention to the adaptor. It is a bit bigger than two cellphone chargers placed next to each other. It monopolises all the other electrical outlets, when plugged into the wall, meaning you need a dedicated plug for when you want to charge the battery.

The Bose SoundDock Portable provides a beautiful sound, its battery life is great, but the giant-sized charger is a complete let down.

Score: 12/20

3. Does it add value to your life?

Unlike many docking stations that are designed for bedside listening, the Bose SoundDock Portable is powerful enough to offer good sound in an average sized dining room or lounge.

Weighing in at just under three kilograms, it is not the lightest of them all, but the rear, recessed-handle makes carrying it fairly easy. (A carry bag is available as an optional extra.) Overall, it is a nice addition for a picnic or where an electrical outlet is not available.

18/20

4. Innovation

Sound docks have been around for years, and although the SoundDock offers superior sound, it offers nothing in the way of innovation. In fact, the lack of Bluetooth or any wireless connectivity for that matter is limiting.

13/20

5. Value for money

Much like the die-hard Apple Mac fans that will spend more on a product that performs much the same as cheaper alternatives, you get the same in the audio/visual world.

This becomes especially clear when reading the various reviews posted on the Internet. Reviewers either dislike the Bose SoundDock Portable due to it price, while others like it, saying the sound quality justifies the price.

But at R5 000 for a docking station I would have to agree with the former reviewers. R5 000 is ridiculously overpriced, even though it offers superior sound.

10/20

Conclusion

There is no faulting the Bose SoundDock Portable in terms of elegance and sound, but its clunky charger and high price are complete turnoffs.

Total score: 71%

* Follow Sean on Twitter on @seanbacher

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