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Tom Standage

A Game, a Gadget and an App

Your chance to be a Lego policeman, a better photographer or a portable DJ

Tom Standage | July/August 2013

A GAME Legocity Undercover
Like "The Simpsons", this is entertainment that works on two levels. To adults, it’s a loving parody of cheesy thrillers, TV cop shows and "Grand Theft Auto". To kids, it’s another epic Lego game. You play Chase McCain, a wisecracking policeman charged with saving LegoCity from a crime wave orchestrated by a supervillain. The game is a sister of previous Lego titles, but set in its own world with original characters, not based on a film franchise. It’s also exclusive to the Wii U and makes novel use of its motion-sensitive GamePad controller, which can scan the environment for valuable items. As in "GTA", the gameplay consists of a series of missions in and around a city. Instead of carjacking vehicles though, McCain commandeers them with a cry of "Sorry, police business". It turns out that the goofy humour of Lego games is undimmed by the lack of familiar characters; if anything, it liberates the writers to be sillier. The Wii U is Nintendo’s first high-definition console, and the city looks stunning; it’s fun just roaming around it, and it’s always easy to pick up the plot again. The only flaws are the lack of a two-player option (a fixture on previous Lego titles) and the painfully slow loading, a strange anachronism in 2013. Though the Wii U, launched last autumn, has yet to find its feet, this enjoyable romp is a good introduction to it and the equal of any Lego game.
LegoCity Undercover for Wii U: around £40

A GADGET Fujifilm X100S
The X100S looks like an old-style rangefinder camera. But it packs some nifty technology into its retro-looking shell, notably a hybrid viewfinder that can switch instantly between optical and electronic modes. In an era when viewfinders seem to have gone out of fashion in compact digital cameras, this trick won its predecessor, the X100, a cult following. The X100S adds a number of refinements, including much faster autofocus, an improved sensor and quicker start-up. True, it’s expensive compared with compact cameras and digital SLRs, and lacks the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. But the more relevant comparison is with the eye-wateringly expensive Leica M series. The X100S handles very similarly, at a fraction of the price. Me Leica.
Fujifilm X100S: £999

AN APP Traktor DJ for iPhone
Given the right app, smartphones can stand in for many pieces of kit: cameras, satnavs, calendars, voice recorders, games consoles, alarm clocks, newsstands and so on. To this list, we can now add DJ turntables, thanks to Traktor DJ, an amazingly powerful app that lets you manipulate and mix tracks on an iPhone. The automatic beatmatching is little short of miraculous, and it’s a doddle to add loops, filters and delays. If you’ve ever enjoyed messing around with turntables, or even if you haven’t, it’s well worth a spin.
Traktor DJ for iPhone: £2.99

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