TurtleBeach EarForce PX21 Review

Console gaming headsets are in a weird place. On one hand, they’re relatively cheap and plentiful. On the other hand, that low price point means the drivers inside aren’t great. Hardware manufacturers like to cover this up with bass response, the PX21 set is no exception.

Though I don’t think you can even find a headset for consoles that doesn’t color the output, it isn’t any excuse for making cheap junk.

The big downsides are often similar across manufactures and models, comfort for extended sessions and quality.

TurtleBeach’s PX21 headset looks fine on paper, it has a great mic that is super-flexible, and is the first headset from TurtleBeach to support the PS3. It also supports the 360 and PC gaming.

The immediate downside is simple.

There is a terrible hissing noise.

You can minimize it by swapping out the included red/white RCA bypass jacks for going straight to your TV or hi-fi tuner setup’s headphone audio out jack, and then adjusting that system’s volume up. Then you turn the volume down on the PX 21’s built-in amp.

But that still doesn’t eliminate the hiss, and it is extremely annoying during any part of a game that has quiet spots.

Games with quiet spots are why I own a PS3, I don’t play just shooters; I play games like Heavy Rain and I don’t want the quiet points in games to be marred by the ear-piercing whine these produce. Even the recent Red Dead Redemption sounds like crap and gives me a headache due to this headset’s hissing noise.

Of course to hook them up they need to be plugged into the PS3 (or other device) via USB for power. On the 360 you’ve got a special bypass cable to chat through the controller. On the PS3 the connection is simpler since the chat audio goes straight through the USB cable.

This means the headset is really mixing two inputs, the game connection over the RCA (or headphone jack)  input and the chat audio over the USB wire or the supplied 360 bypass cable.

This design of two mixed inputs is either brilliant or stupid. Brilliant because it works around every situation you might want to use it in, stupid because the hardware TurtleBeach has chosen is so cheap it can’t really give you a clean sound.

The PX21 headset is otherwise extremely lightweight & comfortable. It also covers the technical bases of supporting the PS3, 360, and PC gaming. I hope TurtleBeach will go back to the drawing board to design a headset that doesn’t hiss, even if it means raising the price slightly. Maybe in some magical laboratory somewhere these things don’t hiss, but other reviews corroborate my testimony. As it is I cannot recommend this headset unless you only play loud games that have little-to-no quiet points, like Modern Warfare 2.

Even then you should keep your receipt, I returned the PX21 headset to Best Buy after just 24 hours.

Falcon 4.0: Allied Force Review

Falcon 4.0: Allied Force is the definition of depth when it comes to the interactive experience of combat flight. All declassified features of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 are fully controllable and functional, you won’t turn anything off or on that doesn’t affect some function of your jet. Your responsibilities range from controlling the flow of your fuel supply to operating realistic air-to-air and air-to-ground radar.

The scope of Allied Force extends far beyond such desired elements, requiring air traffic control commands for takeoff, landing and identifying targets through AWACS before shooting them down. Even more lifelike is the fact that you have to check in and check out with AWACS to complete a mission successfully. You’ll feel the pressure of succeeding with friendly aircraft all around you that will be in line to land in sequence right behind and in front of you after a mission. There’s a full-scale war surrounding your every move, so you’ll hear real time chatter of pilots calmly landing as well as expressing acute fear when their lives are seriously threatened in battle. There are times when you’ll hear all of this in one fell swoop, before you ever taxi onto the runway for takeoff. Every aspect of a campaign is running in real time and that’s the real beauty of Faclon. This creates more interest than any storyline due to the variety it dictates. The same thing never happens twice in any mission, so you won’t be able to adjust your strategy based on where you were last shot down.

There isn’t a respawn in this game. If you get shot down and end the mission, you’ll be put in the cockpit of the jet that was second to you in formation and so on, should you continue the mission once back at the briefing screen. Your squadron loses a plane every time you get shot down, so if you’re in a flight of four, for instance, and get killed three times, you’ll be the only friendly left flying in the area.

There is often much left to be desired from the artificial intelligence of interactive software, but Falcon has just about every AI engine that I’ve seen beat dead to rights. This combat flight simulator features what seem to be real people whom you have to go up against, giving you good reason to choose your battles. Let’s say you’ve identified hostile aircraft and are willing to follow him to make sure he never comes back, but suddenly you notice three dots on your screen as you close for the kill. Those are his wingmen and you’re about to be engaged in a four to one aerial assault. You get a warning that a missile has been launched in your direction. There is a true to life technique for dodging both air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles. If you haven’t learned those techniques, you’re about to go blind (lose all radar and heads up display function of your jet) and either eject or be blown to bits.

Flying the F-16 in Allied Force can be frustrating, but it’s one interactive software application that will make you feel as if you’ve accomplished something constructive in the free time you spend with it. The best part of the sim, the depth, can be the most frustrating, but it’s also what makes the replay value of this game nearly infinite if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a fighter pilot, lacking only the desire to risk your actual life.

Continue reading “Falcon 4.0: Allied Force Review”

Battlefield 2 1.50 Beta Patch

The Olney group playing Battlefield 2

Finally, DICE and EA have released the 1.50 Beta Patch for Battlefield 2. It adds one new map (Blue Pearl) and includes the previously optional download of Highway Tampa. Here is the complete list of changes:

  • Additional support for Windows Vista.
  • Added Highway Tampa as a required map.
  • Added a new map called Operation Blue Pearl.
  • Added support for Widescreen resolutions
  • Added support for the Novint Falcon controller – www.novint.com
  • Changes made to both the J10 and F35B to make them more balanced. Please note that the J10 is a superior dogfighter to the F35B and as such these two aircraft will never be equally matched.
  • AA targeting tweaked to make it more effective.
  • Added checks to prevent “runway grieving”.
  • Various changes made to prevent cheating.
  • Tweaked the hit detection, hits will be more accurate to the model.
  • Increased the time to go prone after jumping from 0.3 seconds to 0.7 seconds
  • Fixed G36E HUD during sprinting to match other weapons.

The update comes in pretty huge at 1.26GB and requires the game to be updated to version 1.41 already.

Get it from AtomicGamer or FileShack.

Update on Call of Duty: World at War PC Patch/DLC

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While Call of Duty: World at War’s DLC on the 360 may have set new sales records and surpassed some ambiguous high water mark, it isn’t available yet on the PC. Why? JD_2020 explains on the CoD forums:

Hi all,

The Patch (and DLC) is not releasing for the PC this week. By now you’ve realized the patch did not come yesterday as the rumor claimed. I am not sure exactly where the rumor started, but as always if you didn’t hear it from me, and I am not confirming it, you should take it with a grain of salt.

We have not yet posted an ETA for the patch or the DLC – we are still working some things out behind-the-scenes and do not have further information at this time.

When we do have more information, I will be sure to provide it. There have been requests regarding which “Phase” of the patching process we’re at, but we are in a different process this time around where DLC is releasing hand-in-hand with Patch 1.4. As such, there are additional steps that are unique to this update and therefore override the standard delivery timelines. I will not respond to requests for specific dates — there are many factors outside of the control of the development team, and I can only speak to those parts of the process that are within the control of the development team.

Regards,
-JD

Basically what JD_2020 is saying is that it’ll be done when it is done and your tears will only cause his cold metal heart to rust and release the content slower. I’m not sure how we can complain as we’ll probably be getting it for free.