News Bytes


Reviews
The Order: 1886

By Jorge Figueiredo - March 14th, 2015

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‎There seems to be a lot of grumbling about Ready at Dawn’s fantasy-laced, historically-set adventure, The Order: 1886 for the Playstation 4. I suspect that to many “hardcore” players, it’s not quite “gamey” enough; I, on the other hand, see it differently. To me, The Order: 1886 is a great blend of passive and active, mixing gorgeous sequences of storytelling with challenging game-play (that is scalable) to give players of all stripes a worthwhile experience, provided that expectations are set properly at the outset – and no, this is not about lowering one’s standards so much as it is about having an open mind as to what a game can be.

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Pro-Tech-Tive
Kiband
Keep Your Friends Close…

By Jorge Figueiredo - March 12th, 2015

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Photos courtesy of Kiband.

While I don’t personally subscribe to tracking devices for kids, there have occasionally been moments when I wondered about the benefits of having one (honestly, some of the stories on the news can be pretty scary) – but I have never really given it too much thought (I am a firm believer in trust and common sense). A few months ago, the Kiband was brought to my attention. It’s a neat solution that works in tandem with smartphones for people who want to be able to keep tabs on their kids – but set custom distances. Kiband also makes the interaction more active: it alerting the child when they are approaching the perimeter limit; it informs the parent when they leave the set limit or when they are immersed in water. While it may seem like overkill, it has enough flexibility to be used as a learning tool to help children learn about location awareness.

I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with Spencer Behrend, CEO of KiLife Tech, about this neat product (which had a successful Indiegogo run).

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Reviews
Asus Republic of Gamers
Gladius Gaming Mouse

By Jorge Figueiredo - March 6th, 2015

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‎It has been a while since we reviewed a mouse – but there are always new offerings to help gamers refine their gaming experience. ASUS has been pushing their Republic of Gamers (ROG) line over the last year (see our review of the G20), with their optical Gladius Gaming Mouse being a promising entry in the interface space. Aside from the testosterone-laden reference to warriors from ancient Rome, the Gladius is a solid contender with great performance and some neat features that enable a fair amount of customization.

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Announcement
Last Call

By Jorge Figueiredo - February 19th, 2015

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It was bound to happen: we have finally reached our limit. Toronto Thumbs will be closing, in a manner of speaking. In our zeal we have made too many friends in the worlds of gaming, technology, and entertainment. Sure, other sites post multiple articles a day and have a decent revenue stream – this is not the case with us.

Toronto Thumbs has always been a labour of love. All of the content-creation ninjas here have full-time jobs; whatever extra time we have is devoted to creating conversations about the things that we like (and sometimes don’t) – and the reasons why. However, the queue is so packed that we are in very real danger of letting articles slip past the point of being “fashionably late”.

Sure, we could attempt to bring on new writers, but I am picky, and ‎have not been all that impressed with recent applicants. Toronto Thumbs could also scale back; but choosing what gets reviewed is not really fair to anyone, as everything deserves a fair shake. We could also consider crowd-sourced funding – but at just over 350K in page impressions (per month), we are not really going to be able to justify getting people (who will most likely be friends – let’s not kid ourselves here) to give us their hard-earned dollars. Finally (and personally), I am also being selfish; I write the lion’s share of the articles, but I also have a full-time job and a family – eventually I am going to just burn out (and frankly, I have been neglecting other personal goals).

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Drink of the site all ye can, folks!

So we will work our way through the last part of the queue (20-30 articles) and then call it a day. The site will stay up so that those searching for honest, unbiased, and (mostly) constructive‎ reviews have someplace to go; once the hits start to dwindle, we will shutter the site for good.

So yes. Last call. This title may be a bit melodramatic, since it will take a few months to work through the remaining content (I’m not going to be killing myself with daily posts), but I felt that all of you Thumbs-readers out there should know seeing as you have been supportive for so long. So stay tuned and keep reading until the very end – there may be a surprise or two along the way (and possibly still some contests to enter).


Reviews
Master & Dynamic
ME03 Headphones

By Jorge Figueiredo - January 29th, 2015

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There are really two choices when considering the purchase of headphones: go big or go home. This may not sound like the most sage advice, seeing as most of us are not fabulously wealthy; but it does carry some merit. Skimping usually results in headphones that break too easily, usually due to cheap build quality‎ – it also tends to mean robbing yourself of a better audio experience. Now, if you are super-careful and you don’t really care about audio quality, then there probably is no lower limit to your headphone budget. However, if you are someone who doesn’t mind spending more to get more, then you might want to consider a pair of ME03 in-ear headphones. Once again, New York’s Master & Dynamic (makers of the MH40) have merged form and function to create something truly special.

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Reviews
The Crew

By Jorge Figueiredo - January 28th, 2015

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With the release of both Forza Horizon 2 and Driveclub at the end of last year, one would think that everyone’s racing needs were met – but this is not the case. While both of those proved themselves to be great videogames, one would be remiss if they did not try out Ubisoft’s The Crew. While perhaps not as pretty as Forza or as technical as Driveclub, The Crew brings new meaning to the term “open world”. Sure, it’s not perfect; the game occasionally suffers from repetition and a silly story – but if you love arcade driving games it is probably one of the most fun titles out there in the genre – and the social aspect makes for some really great experiences.

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New Year’s Resolutions
Shape Up
Review

By Jorge Figueiredo - January 7th, 2015

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‎Years ago, Ubisoft ushered in a videogame fitness revolution with their Your Shape series on the Nintendo Wii. It wasn’t a surprise when the Kinect came out for the Xbox 360 that Ubisoft was on top of the situation with a Your Shape game specific to that platform. Of course, other developers ended up populating the space with superior products. Ubisoft’s Your Shape series was decent on its own, but in comparison with other fitness games, it didn’t deliver enough benefits relative to its serious tone, and would become less engaging as time went on. Now, Ubisoft has changed gears, releasing Shape Up for the Xbox One. This Kinect-exclusive fitness title puts more of am emphasis on the “game” aspect in an attempt to get players to exercise more. Honestly, this game is a lot more fun than any other game in the Your Shape series, thanks to a great exercise list and hilarious presentation.

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