Features

7 quick play video games you should try now

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Video games can be great for dramatic storytelling and immersive hours-long experiences. But there are days when you just don’t have the time or the mental bandwidth to dig into a long RPG or gigantic open-world action adventure.

Sometimes, you just want to take off your thinking cap, rely on your lizard brain, pick up and play a game for 15 to 30 minutes, and have fun. Here are seven of the latest video games that let you do just that.

Puyo Puyo Tetris (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4)

It’s two classic puzzle games combined into one cute, clever, and colorful package! Match four of the same shaded blobs to pop them, as you do in Puyo Puyo. Place tetriminoes to fill out horizontal spaces and clear lines, as you do in Tetris. Play against AI or another human opponent. Multiple game modes allow you to choose one gameplay style or juggle both tasks for mind-bending chaotic fun. Throw in power-ups to mess with your opponents for more heated yet good-natured competition.

Injustice 2 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android)

Just saw Wonder Woman and feel the urge to fight as the powerful Amazon princess? Play as her or any of the other iconic DC heroes and villains in this super-sized, spectacular fighting game from the Mortal Kombat creators (kreators?). Clash and smash through destructible environments as Batman, Superman, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, and even Sub-Zero of MK fame. The new Gear System lets you customize your fighter in all sorts of souped-up combinations. Stick around for the story mode, too!

Dead Cells (Microsoft Windows)

Mix the upgrade system and difficulty of Dark Souls with the 2D platforming and level progression of Metroid into a randomized action dungeon crawler, and you get the superb Dead Cells. Hack and slash enemies with all kinds of crazy weapons like auto-targeting lightning whips and deployable buzzsaws and machine gun turrets. Blow up bosses with an assortment of magic spells. The fun is in improvising, since after getting the equipment blueprints and learning the skills, you won’t know exactly what weapons and powers you’ll have until you start a run.

Strafe (PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, macOS)

Miss the guns-blazing action of classic first-person shooters like Doom and Quake? Strafe can give you that old adrenaline fix you’ve been craving. Mow down waves of monsters with outrageous firearms in randomly generated labyrinthine levels. And as the title implies, you need to be moving left and right constantly to survive the onslaught. Relive 90s PC gaming and all its gory, polygonal glory in bite-sized chunks.

Gwent: The Witcher Card Game (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)

There’s a lot of things to get lost in when you play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but the biggest time sink for many fans has to be the in-universe card game Gwent. With its surface-level simplicity hiding complex systems underneath, it’s no surprise that it got turned into a standalone video game. Like other collectible card games, you build a deck to engage in tactical turn-based battles with other players. It’s free-to-play and in open beta right now, with a full-featured story mode promised for the 1.0 release.

Flinthook (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows. macOS)

Plunder the ill-gotten gains of space pirates in Flinthook. It’s a cartoony 2D action platformer where you swing into action with your trusty grappling hook. Weave your way through ever-changing pirate ships, dodging and dispatching goons in slow motion, so you can unlock treasure chests and new abilities. You’ll have to pick what skills you can use for every marauding mission, so choose wisely, especially when you take on the buccaneer bosses. Looting booty in bursts is fun in Flinthook!

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (Microsoft Windows)

Put your survival skills to the ultimate test in this Battle Royale-inspired massive multiplayer online shooter. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds packs 100 or so players into a plane and forces them to parachute onto a sprawling island littered with deadly weaponry and janky vehicles. The goal? Be the last person or team standing by any means necessary. The twist? A blue laser wall of death gradually constricts the play area, killing anyone who remains outside it. With regular airstrikes, loot drops, and randomized gear placement on the island, the unpredictability and forced engagements make for the tensest moments and the wildest stories.

SEE ALSO: 5 of the Best Free-to-Play Console Games

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Hands-On

Realme C1 Hands-on: Redefining entry-level devices

The new king of budget smartphones?

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No, this is not another OPPO hands-on, but we can’t blame you for thinking that it is. Realme, the offspring of OPPO, has just opened up to more Asian markets and they’re pushing their own entry-level device to penetrate the smartphone market.

This is the Realme C1, the identical twin of OPPO A3s. Side by side, it’s hard to tell them apart aside from the brand logos. Is the Realme C1 any different? Let’s find out.

It has a 6.2-inch HD+ display

It’s got a notch, too

The power/lock button is on the right side

It’s unresponsive at times

The volume buttons are on the left…

They get the job done

… along with the triple-card slot

Put in your microSD and SIM cards at the same time

The bottom is packed with the micro-USB and audio ports

As well as the loudspeaker and microphone

The phone’s back is pretty boring

Even the blue variant doesn’t stand out

There’s nothing special about it

To be honest, the Realme C1 felt plain when I first saw it in its box. It’s probably because I got spoiled by all the special patterns and gradients on other phones. The unit I mainly used is the blue one, but I’d suggest the black model more because of its understated look. The black bezels kind of ruin the blue hue for me.

Since the display just has an HD+ resolution, it’s not as sharp as other pricier phones. Good thing the panel is bright enough to be used outdoors; it also produces lively colors and has Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. The notch on top is unnecessarily wider than usual, but no one should expect a sexy phone in this segment.

What I find to be so-so is the phone’s loudspeaker. It sounds tinny and doesn’t get loud even when I’m alone in a small room.

Overall, the phone looks and feels pretty basic, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With all the attractive phones coming out, it’s nice to have a no-frills budget option. That being said, there’s nothing much to write home about the Realme C1’s design aside from that it has a shiny plastic exterior.

Limited memory is a bottleneck

The big question about budget phones is how well they perform. With a Snapdragon 450 processor at the helm, the Realme C1 is able to run the latest apps. The loading times are a bit slower than I’m used to, but there are no general performance issues.

It can’t keep apps always running in the background, though. The phone only has 2GB of memory which is already a minimal amount for Android. The 16GB internal storage gets filled up easily too, so be sure to put in a microSD card.

Of course, ColorOS 5.2 still mimics the look and feel of iOS even though it’s just based on Android Oreo. Personally, I have some issues with ColorOS’ tweaks mainly in the notification system. It takes away the good elements of Android instead of improving it, which is what others are doing.

Gaming-wise, the Realme C1 is capable of running any game I play, but not in their best graphics settings. Asphalt 9: Legends, for example, runs okay but its visual quality is toned down. PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang are definitely playable, albeit in low to medium settings.

Decent photos for a budget phone

When buying a cheap phone, one shouldn’t expect its cameras to excel. Well, the Realme C1’s shooters are not great, but they are surprisingly okay. Equipped with a 13-megapixel f/2.2 rear camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor, this phone can take decent pictures in daylight. It also has a 5-megapixel selfie camera with an AI beautification feature.

Check out these samples:

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I can’t say that it has the best camera in its class, but the quality of the photos taken by the Realme C1 are worthy enough to be used for your social accounts. You can always enhance them using popular photo editing apps from the Play Store.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Realme C1 is not a perfect smartphone. It’s not meant to compete with the best of the bunch, but it’s made to entice people looking for a cheap phone. Also, this is basically an OPPO A3s offered at an even cheaper price.

For someone who is looking to upgrade from a feature phone or in need of a secondary device for work-related use, the Realme C1 is a great choice. It practically sits next to the Xiaomi Redmi 5A as the best budget phone around.

The Realme C1 is currently available in select markets in Asia for around US$ 110 when converted. You can get it in India for INR 8,990, PhP 5,990 in the Philippines, IDR 1,499,000 in Indonesia, THB 3,990 in Thailand, VND 2,490,000 in Vietnam, and MYR 449 in Malaysia.

Realme is new to the market and they’re pretty aggressive in offering discounts through their official online channels, so you might even get it cheaper during sale events.

SEE ALSO: Here’s why OPPO created a new brand called Realme

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Features

Honor 8X vs Xiaomi Mi A2: Head-to-head comparison

Let’s compare the two!

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We recently compared the Honor 8X to other midrange and budget-friendly phones, namely the Vivo V11the OPPO F9, and the Moto E5 Plus. This time around, we’re pitting it against a phone from Xiaomi — the Mi A2.

In this head-to-head comparison, we’re going to take a look at the specs, camera performance, and battery life of the two smartphones.

Specs

Let’s start the comparison with their specifications. As an overview, here’s a table of the phones’ specs:

Honor 8X
Xiaomi Mi A2
Display 6.5-inch IPS LCD (1080 x 2340 pixels), 19.5:9 ratio 5.99-inch IPS LCD (1080 x 2160 pixels), 18:9 ratio
Processor HiSilicon Kirin 710 Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
Graphics Mali-G51 MP4 Adreno 512
Memory 4GB/6GB 4GB/6GB
Storage 64GB/128GB 32GB/64GB/128GB
Rear cameras 20MP f/1.8 + 2MP 12MP f/1.8 + 20MP f/1.8
Front camera 16MP f/2.0 20MP f/2.2
Battery 3750mAh (Non-removable) 3000mAh (Non-removable)
Other features Rear fingerprint scanner, Face unlock Rear fingerprint scanner
OS Android 8.1 Oreo w/ EMUI 8.2 Android 9 Pie (Android One)

 

Screen-wise, the Honor 8X has a slightly bigger display at 6.5 inches and a taller 19.5:9 aspect ratio. If you place them side-by-side, the difference between a 6.5- and 5.99-inch display is excusable. Both have the same resolution, but the Mi A2 doesn’t have a notch.

Powering the Honor 8X is Huawei’s very own Kirin 710 processor, while the Mi A2 has Qualcomm’s dated yet still powerful Snapdragon 660 processor. Since the Kirin 710 is newer, it’s manufactured using the latest 12nm process which makes it more efficient. That doesn’t mean the Snapdragon 660 is a slouch though. Qualcomm’s line of chipsets has been a long-time favorite Xiaomi fans because of its reliable performance and wider developer support.

To support the processors, both phones have a large amount of memory. The Honor 8X has 4GB of memory (with a 6GB option in select regions), while the Mi A2 can be purchased with up to 6GB in local Xiaomi stores. More memory means better multitasking performance, so be sure to get the highest-possible configuration. Also, both phones come with up to 128GB of internal storage for all the apps, games, and files you can download.

When it comes to security, both have rear-mounted fingerprint readers that are accurate and responsive. On top of the fingerprint scanner, the Honor 8X has a quick face unlock feature. The Mi A2 also has face unlock using Android’s built-in Smart Lock options, but it’s not as swift as the Honor 8X’s.

This leads us to the software versions of the phones. The Honor 8X is running Android Oreo with EMUI 8.2 on top. The skinned version of Android is not everyone’s favorite, but it does come with plenty of extra features that some might find useful. The Mi A2 is under the Android One program, so it’ll be ahead in terms of security updates. The Xiaomi phone already has Android 9 Pie available for download over the air, so that’s a major plus.

Camera

Both phones have dual rear cameras, but Xiaomi has an interesting setup that supposedly gives it an edge when it comes to low-light photography. Honor, on the other hand, focused on AI capabilities to give their phone a boost.

Check out these samples:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On paper, the Honor 8X has a 20-megapixel main shooter paired with a 2-megapixel sensor for bokeh effects, while the Mi A2 has a 12- and 20-megapixel combo, both of which have an aperture of f/1.8. The front-facing camera of the Honor 8X is a 16-megapixel sensor and the Mi A2 has a 20-megapixel selfie snapper.

Battery

The Honor 8X has a larger battery than the Mi A2’s — 3750mAh versus 3000mAh. The 750mAh advantage is no joke when it comes to longer battery life. Not only that, the Honor 8X has a more power-efficient processor which will benefit the phone further.

How did the two fare in our video loop test? The Honor 8X was able to last 16 hours and 40 minutes while the Mi A2 only lasted for eight hours and 17 minutes.

While the Mi A2 lags behind the Honor 8X’s longevity, it can charge much quicker since it supports Quick Charge 3.0 through its reversible USB-C port.

There you have it! So, which of the two phones is your GadgetMatch?


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Honor.

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Gaming

GadgetMatch Awards: Best Video Games of 2018

The tough ten plus honorable mentions

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2018 wasn’t a good year for anyone’s wallets, and here are thirteen reasons why! Yes, thirteen because we felt having only ten games wouldn’t be enough to encapsulate what a year 2018 has been. 

Here they are in no particular order, starting with…

Honorable Mentions

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Fortnite: Battle Royale made huge waves in 2018, both as a game and cultural phenomenon. The game’s popularity skyrocketed through its use of familiar dance crazes, character skins, and creative challenges and features. Apart from intense build battles and storm-chasing fun, Epic Games has done an incredible job of bringing the game into mainstream media. Who else remembers that one time you could play as Thanos and score a Victory Royale?

Spyro: Reignited Trilogy

The latest PlayStation classic to receive a remaster took a while to arrive due to added fine tuning. Nonetheless, Spyro: Reignited Trilogy featured the lovable purple dragon and his adventures through the Dragon Worlds in HD perfection. From charging at enemies to completing speedway levels and collecting gems, it is a great introduction to the basics of video game platforming. You even have a chance to play Spyro’s friends in Spyro: Year of the Dragon for more head-bashing action. The game is slated for a Nintendo Switch release some time next year, so be sure to watch out for that.

Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!

The Pokémon gaming franchise finally got a Switch game, and it’s taken the world by storm. Whichever game you pick gives you the same enhanced experience in the Kanto region, from catching your first Pokémon to beating Team Rocket. A lot of the game’s mechanics are totally different from the past games, like simpler catching and leveling up systems, plus two-versus-one Pokémon battles. Add its integration with Pokémon GO into the mix, and completing your Pokédex doesn’t get any easier.

The Tough Ten

Detroit: Become Human

Detroit: Become Human goes for the old-school third-person adventure aesthetic, but allows you to control the narrative. Quantum Dream’s most successful game features three robot characters, each with their own set of challenges and decisions that ultimately control the story. It puts you in the center of all the storytelling, heightening the level of emotional instability with each decision you make. While you can finish the whole game in about 10 hours, it will lengthen or shorten depending on how much you want to explore.

Although, the game doesn’t come without its own shortcomings. Some storylines get pretty boring or have less action than others, plus dialogues tend to break the whole “show, don’t tell” aspect. Despite some plot holes and bland dialogues, the game still achieves the heart-wrenching emotion it wants to evoke.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

To some degree, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey serves as a good historical look into ancient Greece. Set during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, it brings together the elements of warfare and fantastic Greek scenery that immediately descend into chaos. Gameplay is pegged as a decent mix of good and bad, although some things just made the game a little less enjoyable.

Combat is more of the same compared to previous titles, but the addition of naval battles is a welcomed change. Moreso, getting through the main story is an enjoyable task, even if there were times when things just felt painstakingly long. Overall, it’s a great open-world game hinging on rich graphical work.

Monster Hunter: World

Capcom made the interesting move of shifting its latest title, Monster Hunter: World to more powerful consoles, and it paid off well. The game feels so different visually, while retaining the structure of familiar gameplay that fans enjoyed over the years. Through these changes, it made itself more accessible to a wider audience — particularly, newcomers to the franchise.

The storyline in itself feels a bit lacking, but the game more than makes up for it through the series of endless challenges and upgrades along the way. Because mechanics are simplified, getting through it all doesn’t feel like a total drag. And with more side quests to finish, it simply keeps you coming back and playing them all.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

If you have a list of the top fighting games ever, this game would be there, if not the top one. An easy to learn control system matched with some intense graphics highlight key upsides for Dragon Ball FighterZ. Add 24 of the Dragon Ball series’ unique fighters, each with their own easy-to-learn move sets, and you have a recipe for success.

Of course, the game also received some fair criticism towards several game features — particularly online gameplay. Even queuing up for online gameplay seems to be a literal slug-fest at times. Not to mention, there are moments when players are mismatched with higher-level, more skilled players instead of their equal. For what it’s worth, it’s a great fighting experience from start to finish, and a good fighting game for beginners.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Marvel’s Spider-Man wasn’t intended to reflect any of the plots you knew as a kid, and that’s a good thing. A superhero game that provides new insights into the character of Peter Parker is always a delight to have. Yet, what most people rave about is the fact that you get to be Spider-Man; one that allows you to swing from building to building effortlessly. It’s that element of kiddie-nostalgia that makes the game great.

Despite the fluid gameplay the game possesses, it serves up a decent plot for both Parker and his Spider-Man persona. The stories in between shape up at the right pace, giving much more attention to how Parker relates with the different villains. Although, it really doesn’t help much that side quests stemming from them get repetitive. Nonetheless, it brings forth an original experience of Spider-Man, especially for the young-at-heart.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

2018 became the year battle royale games took things over the top. But outside PUBG and Fortnite, your options for consoles are very limited. Enter Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, or at least their version of battle royale in Blackout. It retains the core of the battle royale mechanic, using the franchise’s set of weaponry and Specialists at your disposal.

Don’t let a battle royale mode stop you from exploring every other multiplayer mode in the game, however. Multiplayer and Zombies offer the same hard-hitting, gunslinging action the series has been known for. The removal of key features such as automatic health regeneration made the game a little more challenging than before. Some people rip the game for the lack of a solo campaign, but it still incorporated its essence through tutorials. With limited selections for maps yet a wide range of characters and weapons, Black Ops 4 shows its versatility at the core.

God of War

I’m sorry, but the old Kratos can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Because the people over at the Santa Monica Studios resurrected him anew in a reimagined God of War. It’s set in a whole new world even with Kratos as the main guy driving the plot. Of course, shades of red will always appear when he is around, but the focus of the game isn’t so much on Kratos as an almighty being.

This game brings forth a new dimension in Kratos’ character arc: that of a father figure. Not only that, throughout the journey he has to deal with a son that feels estranged to him. We all know just how bloodthirsty he can get, but this game reveals a deeper side to an otherwise violent figure. It’s the kind of tension that breeds emotion, along with incredible music and a camera that sticks to Kratos 24/7. It’s a whole new flavor for a legacy title in video games!

Celeste

Independent game developer Matt Makes Games struck gold with Celeste. The quick-action platformer provides an inspiring plot, while orchestrating great audio and visual presentations. Playing as Madeline, a young woman battling depression and anxiety by climbing the Celeste Mountain, you are taken to worlds filled with challenges, secrets, obstacles, and supernatural events.

Beneath all of these elements lies the real challenge of timely jumps and insane platforming through each level. Every stage adds a fair spike of difficulty, and also comes with more elements to aid the player in accomplishing them. With enough patience and practice, these levels are doable at best.

Through simple controls and a rich yet emotional storyline, Celeste makes 8-bit-themed games feel like a sight to behold. Rightfully so, for the Best Independent Game by The Game Awards 2018.

Far Cry 5

The real secret to a great video game franchise is to keep things in an open world. Far Cry 5 was able to achieve that, while keeping itself entertaining and full of details to explore. There’s even several game features that make you carve out your own adventure, separate from the storyline. Add onto that an intense first-person shooter angle and cooperative play to complement the open world, and chaos ensues.

The strongest aspect of Far Cry 5 goes for the more political and religious route. Players often come across cultist leaders and personalities of a backwash Montana. Although the game doesn’t necessarily push any strong political ideologies, it still manages to show how backwash a society can get under a blind following. But, it doesn’t fully put the game over the top.

It deserves recognition for its use of the open-world setup, and a decent story with a powerful ending. But, it leaves you wondering if there’s a tad bit more that could have been done.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 simply takes us back into a fictional America with a real-life Westernized movement. Picture the time of policemen as outlaws, seeking criminal gangs in the Old West despite devastating losses on their end. A 60-hour narrative of on-the-run bandits turn the open world into a chaotic scene of Cops and Robbers. This time, however, you’re the cop in a world filled with desperate robbers.

Rockstar Games presented a beautiful visual masterpiece, all down to the very last detail. From the high mountains to the lowly swamps, the game allows you to explore the entire open world even while a story is going on — and with good reason, too (mostly for side quests here and there). The game doesn’t even require you to finish it in a quick manner, which is all you need to take in the gorgeous visuals.

For what it’s truly worth, RDR2 gives back the fun in going through a slow adventure within the storyline. Take the time to relax and enjoy the view, before heading back to the stressful realities ahead!

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