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The Great GKick Gaming Headset Review

We understand that, as gamers, and as likely PC gamers, you enjoy quality sound when you play. Anyone who knows will tell you that good sound can make or break a gaming experience and when you finally get the chance to upgrade from your dinky store-brand or office-style headset to an actual, high-dollar gaming headset, you want to get your money’s worth.

Well, that’s what we’re here for.

Throughout the upcoming days and weeks, we’ll be reviewing a wide variety of gaming headsets. This may take a bit of time, but don’t you fret because we’ll eventually get to the one you’re curious about. Want us to check out a specific headset? Let us know and we’ll see if we can work it in.

First, to clarify. Why do we want to run these tests on just gaming headsets and not high-quality audiophile type headsets? Well, we’re testing at around an approximate budget of $150 max, and most top-end headsets are going to exceed that. Of course, there are some exceptions, and we’ll work in what we can, but those really top-tier headsets are going to be a bit much. But for now, let me give you a rundown of exactly how our review process will work.

As a gamer, we also know that many people use their headsets for more than just gaming. What about voice chat? Watching movies? Listening to music? Recording podcasts or other audio? Yes, it’s all very important and we want to cover ALL your bases.

GAMING:
First off, the most important aspect of your gaming headset is how well it does in GAMES (shocking, right?). Because of this, we’ll begin by putting a few sample games to the test:

- World of Warcraft: The MMO of choice will allow us to see how well the headsets detect the small audio triggers, how big they make battle feel, and how well-rounded the music and audio experience is.
- Just Cause 2: A big explosive shooting game that lets us really get into an action-packed experience and see how much we can pull out of it.
- Dear Esther: A very mild yet audio-intensive experience, we chose this game because of the nature of the audio experience.
- FIFA 12: A sports game that we chose mainly because of the blend of live commentary, on-field action, and ambient arena sound. From cheers, boos and crowd chants, FIFA made an ideal choice.

Between those four games, we feel we can deliver a well-rounded experience that will help determine how well a headset feels in a gaming environment. But that isn’t all.

MUSIC:
People like to listen to music on their computer, obviously. While a gaming headset isn’t exactly tailored to be an audiophiles dream, they should at least deliver clear, well-rounded sound, right? Here’s the sample tracks we’ll be using.

- Skrillex, “Bangarang”: Dubstep may not be everyone’s flavor of choice, nor may Skrillex be every dubstep fan’s flavor of choice, but we feel the variety of audio samples we’ll have thrown at us will provide a nice sample of the range and clarity of a low bass paired with high treble audio.
- Bach, “Mass in B Minor, ‘Angus Dei’”: A sample of Bach’s piece will be used to help test how the headsets handle orchestral music as well as high-pitched vocals. While not a standard choice for orchestral music, I felt it would be suitable for these tests.
- Metallica, “One”: A suitable hard rock track that starts soft and escalates to a very intense finish I felt would make a great choice. Being that it’s light on vocals yet strong on music, it would really put the headsets to the test.
- Eminem, “Lose Yourself”: A good, versatile rap track provides a nice amount of highs and lows for fans of hiphop. Maybe a little light on bass, but still a good option.
- Benny Benassi, “Inside of Me”: This Electro House track adds a few vocals to a really pounding track that suits the testing of headphones to a T.

With this handful of tracks, we can get a pretty solid idea of what kind of range the headsets have. Again, if you’re a big MUSIC fan, a gaming headset might not be the best option, but at least you’ll expect good bang for your buck with an everyday headset.

MOVIES:
Whether it’s movies or TV shows, lots of people want to be able to watch their favorite entertainment on their computer and have a great headset to go with it. In this case, we’ve taken a small sampling of a few sound-centric video clips to see just how nicely it plays out.

- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones: Naturally, we wanted a sci-fi movie to test this out with, and what better than a movie with sound handled by one of the most prolific sound studios out there? Some folks may not like the movie, but it does a good job at providing adequate effects and music and dialogue for testing.
- Doctor Who: Season 1, Episode 10 – The Doctor Dances: Another sci-fi show, but this one has a bit more natural effects including gunfire and explosions along with some high-pitched audio that helps put some headsets to the test. Plus, it’s a great show, but that has no bearing on our tests.
- Casablanca: A classic film but a good way to see how the headsets handle audio that isn’t necessarily “HD”. Is it still clear if it comes from a quality source, or does it get muddled or distorted? We use a bit of Casablanca footage to put it to the test.|
- WWE Raw 9/3/12: A recent episode of this pro wrestling show should help provide a “live venue” style approach along with music performance, arena chatter, crowd reactions, and other effects that may occur in the ring itself for a nice, well-rounded soundscape.

With this variety of movies and TV shows, we should be able to provide a smooth profile for folks who want high quality audio for their entertainment value.

MISC:
After that, we’re going to run these headsets through the gamut of some miscellaneous tests. These should give us a complete profile of the headsets available. Here’s the final battery of tests we’ll apply.

- Live Streaming: A few different TwitchTV streams should give us a nice mix of gameplay action with accompanying commentary or similar features.
- Voice Chat: I know, NOW we get to the recording aspect of these things, but yes. We’ll take the headset to a test over Mumble and Skype to see how clear and effective the headset is during regular chatter.
- Podcast Recording: We’ll record a full episode of a high-quality podcast to see how the mic holds up compared to other episodes and lesser quality microphones.
- Eminent Technology Multimedia Speaker Test: This test runs a few different wave tests through the speakers just to see how well the range is and what the headset can support. As well as how clear they all come through.

With all that, the headsets should have a thorough review profile to compare to other headsets with and hopefully provide you with enough information to drop a bit of money on a decent pair. We’ll be kicking this review session off shortly, so stay tuned!

The Global Pet Battle League Website Has Launched!

As announced on this week’s episode of the GKick podcast, GKick Network is proud to announce the first-ever competitive World of Warcraft Pet Battle tournament, the Global Pet Battle League!

Starting soon, players with at least 3 Level 20 pets will be able to register for GPBL Season 1 and compete starting next year for bragging rights, glory, and maybe even a prize or two. The link above will take you to the GPBL site where more information is available. Season 1 registration begins on December 1st, Pre-Registration will begin in a few weeks!

If you have any questions, visit the Contact link at the GPBL site. You can also follow the league for more updates on Twitter at @PetBattleLeague and also on Facebook! See you on the battlefield!

Mists of Pandaria Release Date Announced; Pre-Sales are Live!

That’s right! Defenders of Azeroth prepare to set off on a new exploration to the long lost continent of Pandaria on September 25th!

Announced this morning by Blizzard PR, the wait is now over and fans and enthusiasts of the game can now expect the newest expansion coming their way in roughly two months. With a new level cap soon to set from 85 to 90, a new playable race in the Pandaren and a new Monk class soon to be implemented as well as player-to-player pet battles and so much more Mists of Pandaria has raised the bar in variety in comparison to expansions past. Included in the press release CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, Mike Morhaime, states:

 “Mists of Pandaria contains the biggest variety of new content we’ve ever created for a World of Warcraft expansion, with features that will appeal to new players, veterans, and everyone in between. We’ve received a lot of great feedback from players during our most extensive beta test yet, and we hope they enjoy exploring everything Pandaria has to offer when the expansion comes out in September.”

So we know what features we’ll soon get to play to our hearts content and now we know when, but how much? Well as stated on the splash page of the main World of Warcraft website, a standard edition physical copy of the game will be available for $39.95 at local retailers. Additionally, fans of all things digital can pre-purchase a digital deluxe edition of Mists of Pandaria for $59.95. Included in the digital deluxe edition will include:

-          World of Warcraft In-Game Mount: Take to the skies of Azeroth astride the mystical Imperial Quilen flying mount.
-          World of Warcraft In-Game Pet: Journey across Pandaria with the Lucky Quilen Cub at your side.
-          StarCraft® II Battle.net® Portraits: Bring the Horde and Alliance rivalry to the far reaches of the Koprulu sector with exclusive Infested Orc and Night Elf Templar Battle.net portraits.
-          Diablo® III Banner Sigil and Accent: Display your status as a hero of Pandaria with the iconic markings of World of Warcraft’s newest playable race, the pandaren.

And of course for the collectors in us all, there indeed will be a Collector’s Edition. In tow with a copy of the full length release and all the bonus additions from the digital deluxe package, you can also expect the following bonus exclusives:

-          Behind-the-Scenes DVD and Blu-Ray: Learn about the creation of Pandaria with this two-disc set featuring over an hour of commentary, insider interviews, and developer roundtables.
-          Collector’s Edition Soundtrack CD: Experience 20 orchestral pieces from Mists of Pandaria.
-          The Art of Mists of Pandaria Book: Explore this 208-page hardcover tome featuring never-before-seen pieces from the expansion, from early concepts to final 3D renderings.
-          Chen Stormstout Mouse Pad: Equip your desk with this special-edition mouse pad featuring the legendary pandaren brewmaster.

As of this time, I have not seen details on costs of the collector’s edition pre-order but when announced, this post will be updated.

Until then, we’ve got a few weeks to tie any loose ends before pandas attack! I for one have a digital deluxe pre-order on the way. A Night Elf Templar portrait for Starcraft II? That was a dealbreaker. What are you looking forward to in the weeks ahead? Leave a comment below and let us know!

The MadCast Open Tournament LIVE Streaming on Observer ESports

That’s right! The GKick Netowrk’s sister site, Oberserver eSports, has joined alongside our good friends in MadCast Gaming to provide you today with live streams and casting of this month’s Open Tournament from the MadCast Gaming crew as well as the good folks over at The Killing Blow! Head on over now to Observer eSports and follow the streams for your fill of all things League of Legends!

SteelSeries Goes “Pink” For a Great Cause

SteelSeries, a leading manufacturer in gaming and entertainment peripherals announced today that one of its popular gaming headsets, the Siberia v2, is now available in the color pink in a limited edition run. Coupled with the The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF), in which 10% of all purchases of the new SteelSeries Siberia v2 Headset Pink Edition that are made on SteelSeries’ Web Shop, will be donated to the non-profit organization.

“We’re proud to be working with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and are thrilled to be giving our customers a chance to purchase a premium-quality gaming and entertainment headset that will also benefit a cause that is recognized and important to so many,” said Bruce Hawver, SteelSeries CEO. “It is our goal to reach, and hopefully exceed, a donation amount of $10,000 between now and October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for BCRF from this campaign.”

Available now on the SteelSeries website, you can purchase your own for the retail value of $89.99 USD or €89.99 MSRP. Note as well that all customers purchasing the product are also offered the option to include an additional cash value donation of their choice to the BCRF. If you’d like to show your support, don’t hesitate to pick up your own headset now.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®, founded by Evelyn H. Lauder in 1993, is an independent not-for-profit organization committed to funding scientific research to achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime. In October 2011, BCRF awarded $36.5 million to 187 scientists across the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and China.  With over 90 cents of every dollar donated currently being directed to breast cancer research and awareness programs, BCRF continues to remain one of the most fiscally responsible charities in the country.  BCRF holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, its tenth such designation since 2002.  Additionally, BCRF is the only cancer organization designated as “A+” by CharityWatch. For more information about BCRF, visit www.bcrfcure.org.

Win PAX-Exclusive League of Legends Champions/Skins from Observer Casting!

To celebrate the launch of GKick Network’s latest site, Observer Casting, we’re giving away two rare League of Legends champion skins. Of course, if you don’t already own these champions, you’ll unlock them WITH their special skins for free!

What are we giving away? PAX Sivir and Riot Nasus, and we have two of EACH!

How do you enter? Just head to the link below, register on Observer Casting and post a comment with your Observer Casting username in the thread! If you win, you’ll be notified via private message on Observer Casting, so stay on that site!

Questions? Let us know! Otherwise, good luck and thanks for entering!

http://observer.gkick.net/2012/06/observer-gaming-launch-giveaway-league-of-legends-champion-skins/

Win a Baby Tauntaun In-Game Pet for Star Wars: The Old Republic!

UPDATE: Contest over! Our winners have been selected and emailed! If we don’t hear back from them within 7 days, we’ll choose NEW winners! To all the entrants, thanks for your participation and we’ll see you again for the next GKick.net giveaway!

Oh, you didn’t think we were done giving stuff away yet, did you? Oh heavens no. We have so, so much more. Starting today, you can enter for a chance to win one of two Tauntaun Fawn in-game pets for Star Wars: The Old Republic!

Baby Tauntauns!

For you!

For real!

Okay, not for real, but for real in-game!

How do you win? It’s quite simple. Just leave a comment below (be sure to reference an email or a Twitter account so we can contact you!) and tell us what your favorite Star Wars moment is! Whether from the movies, the books, the comics, or even the Life Day special, drop it in the comments below and you’ll have a chance to win one of these two adorable lil’ guys!

Here’s the details: You can enter between now and June 13th at 5pm EST. Once that time hits, we’ll draw our two winners and contact you with how to redeem the codes for the pet!

So hop to it! Comment below and WIN MORE STUFF from the folks at GKick.net!

The Winners of our Warlock: Master of the Arcane Giveaway!

After a ton of entries, we’ve randomly selected 5 winners who will each receive a Steam copy of Warlock: Master of the Arcane courtesy of Paradox Interactive! Here are our five winners and their respective entries:

WINNER: Maheshjr2000

Harry Dresden

WINNER: theboombar

Nikola Tesla, the electro-wizard!

WINNER: janizary

Quite simply there is one magic user who stands above them all - Tim from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

WINNER: Dale

Master Rahl guide us. Master Rahl teach us. Master Rahl protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. Our lives are yours.

And perhaps the finest entry we received…

WINNER: Double F

Most of us see mages as old dudes with sticks who shoot electric sparks. But not Alester Sarwyck. This badass only uses fire. Water? That’s for pu**ies who wouldn’t know an offensive spell if it hit them in the head. Earth? Who wants to fight with a pile of dung? Air? How the f**k is wind supposed to hurt you?

No, this motherf**ker relies on the light of R’hllor and his light only. Also he doesn’t use a pansy stick, book, orb, whatever mages use nowadays. He fights with real man weapons. Maces, swords, bows and arrows, you name it. Oh, but he can’t be a mage with those you say? GUESS AGAIN. He lights all of the above on fire. But that’s not it, when you’re screaming in pain due to his flames eating away at your flesh, he will f**king blow you up, piss on your corpse, and use the fires that killed you to heal himself. Also since a lot of mages are old, their eyesight is bound to wear down in time right? Not Alester’s. He uses fire to actually see better. How does that work? Who the fuck cares, this guy can track down that guy who made your sister pregnant, and then give him a painful death, all with a wave of his hand.

Now I know you’re smitten with his power and thinking “Holy sh*t when will this guy take over the world?” The answer is never. He could probably slap your sh*t all the way to Qarth, but he won’t. No matter how tough he is, he’s a nice guy. He just wants to restore peace to his hometown and rule over it as a rightful lord. Nothing more, nothing less.

Alester Sarwyck is the best magic user in all of Westeros. F**k, he’s the best magic user in ALL worlds. Prove me wrong.

Be sure to check your emails and reply in order to receive your code! Winners have 7 days to claim their code before we choose a NEW winner.

Enjoy your game and congratulations to all the winners!

GKick Review: Diablo III

FACT SHEET:
Diablo III | Available Now
PC | Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment | Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

After nearly 12 years and a fairly shaky worldwide launch, Diablo III has finally been released and players across the globe have begun fighting back the armies of the Lords of Hell. As someone who first got their hands on Diablo III back in 2008 during BlizzCon and played a fair amount of the first two Diablos, I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Thankfully, Diablo III doesn’t disappoint even in the slightest.

You have the choice of playing as one of five different classes in the game: the Barbarian, a super strong melee-centric class; the Wizard, your glass-cannon ranged magic dealer; the Witch Doctor, a magic class which uses curses and pets at his disposal; the Demon Hunter, a ranged archer class that specializes in dual-crossbow based combat and trapping; and the Monk, a melee fighter that specializes in unarmed combat with a magic-infused martial arts style. These classes, while they can’t be visually customized at start, will get a lot more personalization in terms of gearing and skills along the way.

While the level of skill customization is certainly different due to the removal of a point-based skill system, the use of runes and variety of abilities and passive skills still allow you to personalize your character based off of how you like to play. As you level, you’ll gradually unlock active ability slots as well as Active abilities to fit those slots. These Abilities, in addition to your two core attacks, can be changed out as well as enhanced via a Rune system. You can swap Abilities and Runes on the fly depending on what you have unlocked, what weapon you have and just how you want to play. In addition, you’ll be able to unlock three passive slots where you can swap out different skills that will passively improve your character in different ways.

Beyond that, the game itself is great fun. When it comes down to it, combat is very simple using just your left and right mouse buttons as well as the 1-4 number keys. Combat can also get pretty intense, resulting in a lot of magic effects flying everywhere as well as blood and various carcasses, so it’s important to watch yourself in the midst of the chaos. However, not only is the combat visually impressive, it’s also viscerally exciting. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed in many spots, but never to a point where escape or victory is impossible.

Also, whether you play single-player or multiplayer, the game is just as exciting. Most of the time spent post-launch was in a 4-player campaign, and the beauty of it was just how smoothly it all ran. In addition to scaling the game’s enemies up to our party’s mass, being able to manage your own personal development is easy and can be done without interruption. For example, while adventuring out in the wilds, if one of us happened to fill up our inventory, we could take a quick port back to town, sell off our merchandise, clear out our bags and use the handy Banner system to teleport directly back to one of the people already out fighting. Personally, I found it a lot of fun to port back right in the midst of battle.

Speaking of loot, there is no shortage of it. In addition to massive amounts of various weapons, armor and magical items (and gold) that would drop, we’d find our trips to town coming much more frequently the deeper into various dungeons we went. However, a great feature in multiplayer is the player-exclusive loot system. Every individual has their own loot when a boss is killed, and nothing has to be shared amongst party members. This means that certain players may get gear that will benefit other members of the party and they can either trade it, sell it or have the Blacksmith break it down to raw materials for future crafting. This applies to nearly all drops in the game, except for health orbs which are actually shared amongst the entire party regardless of who picks them up, same with the large health wells in dungeons.

But, with all that in mind, it’s time to dig a little bit deeper into the game and talk about the individual elements that make up the world of Sanctuary.

GKick.net is Recruiting!

We’re on the hunt for some talented writers to help round out our team here at GKick.net. We’re looking for folks willing to find gaming news and post about it, as well as write reviews, previews, and other information that the gaming community may find valuable. Here are some key roles we’re looking to fill, but if you’re interested in writing for GKick.net AT ALL, please email me! Link is below!

- PC Platform News and Reviews
- Mobile Platform News and Reviews
- Tabletop News and Reviews
- PlayStation 3 News

Remember, we’re also just looking for general reporters as well. If you’re interested, please email us at pr@gkick.net with your info and any relevant experience. While this is not a paying gig, we are often able to provide writers with review product and access to major events. In fact, just this past April we were able to attend PAX East and are looking for folks who would be able to help us cover PAX Prime on the West Coast as well!

Remember, email all applications to pr@gkick.net and we’ll talk to ya!