Reviews

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Halo: The Master Chief Collection – Xbox One review

Videogame re-releases are not an uncommon thing, especially early in a new console's life cycle. They help boost a fledgling system's software library and make older games available to new players. That last bit is important, because most game systems are not backwards compatible. Re-releases preserve games and keep them alive for existing fans and new generations of players.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection goes a step beyond most re-releases by compiling the four numbered Halo games into a single Xbox One release. No longer do players need to drag out their original Xbox consoles to enjoy Halo CE and especially Halo 2, nor do they need an Xbox 360 for Halo 3 and 4. Master Chief Collection packs them all in one bundle with plenty of new features. Don't miss our detailed review, featuring our best ever video review for a console game!

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This is the week of the HTC One M8 for Windows, now that it is available on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. In order to help jumpstart you one your way to using yours, we are reviewing cases like mad.

Today we take a look at the Incipio NGP Impact Resistant Case for the HTC One M8 for Windows. NGP stands for "next generation polymer," a mix between plastic and silicon. The balance of flexibility and sturdiness gives the Incipio NGP case a uniqueness all its own.

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Someline is an enjoyable Windows Phone puzzle game where you are tasked with linking colors squares by tracing a path between the two. The challenge comes into play in that your lines cannot share the same path.

The puzzle game has eight worlds with 120 levels of play with the first two worlds included in the free version. The additional levels are available in two packs (3 levels each) that are available through in-app purchase ($.99 each pack).

Someline is available for low-memory devices and isn't a bad time waster of a game. The only downside is that the first two levels do not last long and you'll be faced with the decision to pick up the add-on packs.

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Camera360 is one of the more popular Windows Phone camera apps on Store shelves and the developers have launched a sequel of sorts that they hope will have similar success - Camera360Pro.

Camera360Pro is billed as a more advanced, premium version of the original but at first glance, many will scratch their heads at such a notion. Most of Camera360Pro features remain hidden, giving the app a clean appearance. Swiping up, down or tap/hold on the screen will reveal a host of features that give Camera360Pro its premium tag. There is a slight learning curve with Camera360Pro but overall, it is a nice addition to the Windows Phone photography app library. It definitely makes choosing a photography app a little more difficult.

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Amazing Ninja is a Windows Phone game that has a minimalistic design and feel but is not without challenge. The story line behind Amazing Ninja has you playing the role of a young ninja warrior whose girlfriend has been captured by an evil witch.

Game play with Amazing Ninja is a little less dramatic. You jump your ninja through a maze of passages to eventually reach your girlfriend. The game is available for low-memory devices, Amazing Ninja does not have many bells and whistles and can be a rather frustrating game at times. While some may find Amazing Ninja to be a fun time waster, others will be turned off by the overbearing ads that appear throughout the game.

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Nova Bacon is an arcade styled Windows Phone game where you are in charge of supplying the pork products (a.k.a. pigs) for an outer space fly-thru restaurant. You'll snatch up wayward pigs as they roam the earth and protect them from attempts by humans to save them from slaughter as you haul them to your restaurant in outer space.

Available for low-memory devices, Nova Bacon is another Microsoft Garage project and isn't a terrible game to pass the time with. It could use a little fine-tuning as game play does feel a little drawn out.

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Balls in Line Lite is a Windows Phone game that is described as a remake of the classic game Color Lines that has been fine-tuned to meet today's gamers needs. I'm not exactly sure what "today's gamers needs" means but Balls in Line Lite seems to have more of a board game feel and slightly better graphics than it's predecessors .

Available for low memory devices, Balls in Line Lite has two gaming modes where you are tasked with creating lines of at least five or 2x2 squares of the same colored balls. The game takes on a bit of a casual pace with no timer to race and has its fair share of challenges. At first glance, Balls in Line Lite comes across as a good title to have handy in your Windows Phone gaming library when you are in the mood for a casual puzzle game.

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Reachme is a Windows Phone app that offers a simple means of sharing your location with others. The app is a Microsoft Garage project and lets you send your location, along with turn-by-turn directions to get to that location. While sharing your location with Reachme is presented in simple fashion, to share your location the recipient will need a Microsoft Account, be listed in your contacts and have Reachme installed on their Windows Phone.

All of which does give Reachme a rather restrictive feel that will likely tarnish any appeal the app has to offer. The app has potential and I can see it coming in handy, but Reachme needs a option of sharing your location without the need for the recipient to have a Microsoft account and Reachme installed.

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Review: Urban Armor Gear for the Surface Pro 3

When I think of heavy duty protection for smartphones and tablets, I conjure up the image of a bulky, rubberized monstrosity that resembles more of a fat suit than a case. Sure, it will protect your device from nearly any threat, but it also makes it look like a swollen tick with bad fashion sense.

Urban Armor Gear must have had a similar image in mind when designing their tough case for the Surface Pro 3 because it avoids those very pitfalls. Rather than being a tough and ugly movie monster, the Urban Armor Gear for the Surface Pro 3 is the rugged, handsome action star.

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Andromeda Blue RL is a sci-fi styled combat game available in the Windows Phone Store that has you battling your opponent for control of a group of floating islands.

You can compete online against other Andromeda players or take on the computer in a single player game. The graphics and animations are nicely drawn up and overall, Andromeda Blue RL is a fun game to spend a little time with. Available for low-memory devices, the game does need a little fine-tuning, which should be taken care of in the near future.

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Classic arcade games, more often than not, involved defending the earth or another planet from alien invaders and other extraterrestrial threats. Missile Command, Galaga, and many more games took that simple concept and branched out into unique gameplay directions.

Nowadays we have a trend of producing retro-style games for modern gaming platforms. That was Throwback Entertainment's goal with Deflector Mobile (also simply called Deflector). The game purports to be a classic arcade-style game in which players have to protect the earth from aliens and asteroids alike. Deflector has potential, but a number of UI issues keep it from having much-staying power. At least it's free!

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There are plenty of Windows Phone games available in the Store to help you pass short bits of time. These games are not overly complicated but challenging nonetheless. Toilet Time is one such Windows Phone game that is a collection of quick, mini-games designed to help you pass the time from the lavatory or anywhere else for that matter.

Available for low-memory devices, Toilet Time does have a bit of appeal. Games generally test your skills at speed and concentration. It may not be your first choice of games to occupy your private time but if you are looking for a game that is a change of pace, Toilet Time is worth trying.

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Quicky is an interesting Windows Phone app that creates app shortcuts for your Windows Phone Notifications Center in slightly roundabout way. You essentially send yourself notifications that, with the help of a little bit of coding, serve as shortcuts to launch particular apps or games.

The app is the product of 16 year old Windows Phone developer Han Swinkels and while the concept may not appeal to everyone, Quicky is a well presented Windows Phone title. I did run into a few bugs that need ironing out, but overall the app comes across as a creative way to access your Windows Phone apps and games.

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Top Rated Fishing Games for your Windows Phone

Fishing is a fantastic way to spend the day but with the Seasons changing and temperatures dropping, the opportunity to spend an afternoon on the lake may not still be available for many. For those who are itching to try their hand at hooking the catch of the day during the colder months (or at least pretending to), there is a small collection of Windows Phone games available in the Store.

We've pulled four of the top rated fishing games from the Windows Phone Store for this week's roundup and while some of the titles approach fishing from a non-traditional approach, all are decent games to pass the time with.

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If you are in search of a simple, challenging, addictive game for your Windows Phone - you will want to try Night Chopper.

Night Chopper is inspired by the Timberman games but approaches being a lumberjack from a slightly different angle. The viewpoint of chopping down the tree is from the bottom up. That is you are looking up the center of the tree. The different perspective does take a little time to get used to and can drive you nuts (in a good way that is).

Available for low-memory devices, the developer has done a good job delivering a rather nice gaming title to our Windows Phone.

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Diamond Blitz is an online puzzle game where you play against others to see who can create the most matches (or diamonds) from multi-colored tiles. Game play is similar to other online games available such as Wordament; you just try to play with colored tiles instead of letters.

Diamond Blitz is available for low-memory Windows Phones as well as Windows 8 devices. The game comes across as maybe more of an acquired taste than one with across the board appeal but isn't without challenge, testing your skills at speed and recognition. While it may not end up being everyone's cup of tea, Diamond Blitz is a gaming title worth trying and might even surprise a few.

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Late last night, Microsoft in a surprise move announced the Band, a new health and fitness wearable that includes a heart rate monitor, UV sensor, Cortana integration and a gorgeous color touch display.

Perhaps even more impressive, the $199 is available today from Microsoft Stores and online. Stock is limited and, unfortunately, the Band is U.S. only for now as Microsoft tests out the waters.

I managed to pick one up this morning. Here is a full unboxing, tour, and how the Band interacts with Windows Phone.

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Last year when the Xbox One launched, you could get it in any color you wanted – as long as it was black. But select Microsoft staff members received a white console with the words " I made this" emblazoned on both the system and the controller. The gamers among us who aren't fixated on black electronics (boring!) looked on with much envy.

This week, white Xbox One consoles finally became available to the masses (sans Kinect) as part of the limited edition Sunset Overdrive bundle. Ringing up at $400 ($350 next week), the bundle includes a white console and controller, black headset, and a download code for the Day One Edition of Sunset Overdrive. I anxiously waited outside of my local BestBuy so that I could snag a white console the minute the store opened. Read on for our impossibly detailed review and unboxing video of the highly sought after Xbox One bundle!

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Monster Buster: World Invasion is a Windows Phone game where you wage one on one battles with fantasy monsters. The game calls on you to search your neighborhood using your Windows Phone location services for a wide variety of monsters, battle them and once defeated they become available for your personal collection of monsters. In many respects Monster Buster: World Invasion reminds me of the Pokémon, just without the Pokeballs.

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Review: Nokia Lumia 635

It's not the cheapest Windows Phone you can buy, but it might just be our favorite in the affordable category. Here's why.

The Lumia 630 and Lumia 635 were announced by Nokia during the Microsoft Build 2014 keynote. These two smartphones were among the first in the world to come with Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Cyan firmware out of the box. In the Lumia lineup, the 63X series sits above the Lumia 530 and potentially represents a tremendous smartphone value. In the United States, you can get the Lumia 635 for anywhere from $100 to $140 off-contract. That's a killer price.

We recently reviewed the Lumia 530, a Windows Phone you can get for just $70. While it makes a handful of compromises, you can't ignore how cheap it is. Is it worth spending a little bit more and getting the Lumia 635? Let's find out.

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Glass Crush is a challenging puzzle game for Windows Phone that offers a slight twist on the match three concept. You are given a collection of cubes of assorted colors and have to crush them by creating matches of three or more.

The challenge comes into play in that you have a limited number of moves to crush all the cubes. Available for low-memory devices, Glass Crush isn't an overly complicated game but the simple design gives way to some challenging puzzles. The game has been available for some time and after a handful of tips to check the game out, we found Glass Crush to be a decent time waster of a game.

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Review: Nokia Lumia 530

Is the Lumia 530 the best Windows Phone you can buy on a budget? Let's find out.

The Lumia 520 is the best-selling Windows Phone of all time. Announced during Mobile World Congress 2013 by Nokia, as of a few months ago the Lumia 520 has over 12 million activations. The Lumia 520 represented tremendous value when it launched, and it is still the most popular Windows Phone in the majority of markets. This reason is why its successor, the Lumia 530, has a high bar to reach.

At launch, you'll find the Lumia 530 for well under $100 in the United States and in Europe for about €85. This price-point makes it the cheapest Lumia to date and one of the most affordable Windows Phones in general. However, in 2014, does the Lumia 530 live up to the Lumia 520?

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Lightomania is a lively Windows Phone puzzle game that has you bouncing and shooting fuzzy little creatures where they can gobble up a hanging light. You'll bounce the fuzzy creatures off each other and navigate around an assortment of obstacles and dangers to get to the light bulb.

Available for low-memory devices, Lightomania is full of colorful animations and challenging puzzles to conquer. The game has seen a fair amount of success on other platforms and in playing Lightomania over the past few days; I can see that success carrying over to the Windows Phone version.

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Sunset Overdrive from Insomniac Games is the Xbox One's newest exclusive IP. These guys have worked exclusively with Sony on PlayStation for almost 20 years. However, Insomniac studios decided it was time for something new and Microsoft was willing to take a chance on them. Thus Sunset Overdrive was born.

Insomniac takes a radiant apocalyptic world, adds some unique over-the-top game play elements, and a touch of great writing and creates the tour-de-force that is Sunset Overdrive. The game is in no way, shape, or form afraid to go all out. Xbox One gamers are in for a special experience with this one.

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