Gaming

ASUS ROG Strix G review: Power that’s just ice cool

Looks pretty damn good in Glacier Blue

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I normally get gaming laptops in some matte black finish. Something about that color screams “gamer” to me, especially with its subdued vibe. Getting it in any other color just draws too much attention, especially when you want to game in peace.

Then I turn to the ASUS ROG Strix G G531, and no the “G” does not stand for “Glacier Blue. It comes in two colors: the usual black finish and a special Glacier Blue variant — which I have. Let’s face it, underneath this icy cold Glacier Blue variant is one powerful machine from the hardware to a wide selection of ports.

But is this really all for show?

This particular unit comes in a special Glacier Blue finish

It comes with an NVIDIA RTX 2060 inside

It has an RGB-lit system, from the bottom to the keyboard panel

Connectivity, display and power input ports are placed at the back

Power beneath aesthetics

As expected, overall performance for the ASUS ROG Strix G is phenomenal. For working professionals like myself, 16GB of RAM is already a huge luxury to have. All that power enables greater productivity, especially when you need multiple applications opened all at once. It’s an excellent choice for productivity enthusiasts.

Coupled with a 512GB SSD storage plus 1TB of added storage further bolsters this machine. All that storage can handle applications for professionals, content creators, and gamers alike. Fast read times on the hard disk complements the 16GB RAM nicely. Basically, I get to open 30 tabs of Google Chrome, Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro, and the system is still fast enough to run.

Gaming with ice in your veins

It’s no surprise that an NVIDIA RTX 2060 is powerful. I don’t even have to go into detail just how great its power can be. On this device, however I have mixed feelings over it. First off, it plays your usual graphic-heavy games pretty well. Fortnite: Battle Royale records close to xx FPS set on Epic, while Apex Legends peaks at 57 FPS set close to maximum. 

Even on games with minimal graphical power required, the GPU performs above and beyond. Frames load smoothly especially during high leverage moments when you’re really into the game. My eyes kept up with what’s happening every time I get into some intense build battle with sweaty players online.

However, I felt that the RTX 2060 could do more with other hardware present. This laptop only comes with a 120Hz refresh rate, which is pretty decent. However, it literally caps a lot of your games to a threshold for your frame rate. ASUS actually has laptops similar in hardware to the ROG Strix G that offer displays with higher refresh rates. It would have been nice to offer a 144Hz refresh rate to this laptop instead of just to its 17-inch brother.

Properly cooled so you don’t accidentally burn yourself

With gaming laptops like the ROG Strix G, a great cooling system is a must. I’ve tested a lot of cooling systems for gaming laptops in the past, so I’m already expecting a hot mess. Except that, well the ROG Strix G actually proved me wrong.

The dual-fan cooling system blasts hot air at the back and at the right side (the side without any ports). The device heats up as expected when you’re going full on gamer mode or when you open heavy duty applications. What I found great about it is that the moment you stop using those applications, the device cools down relatively fast.

On most gaming laptops, I waited for an hour to an hour and 25 minutes before I wouldn’t accidentally burn myself a bit. With the ROG Strix G, it cools down in a matter of 30 to 45 minutes. Furthermore, only the top portion of the main chassis heats up, leaving your keyboard to remain cool. It stays as cool as its Glacier Blue color suggests, and to me it’s fantastic that ASUS designed it this way.

Other features that are either red hot or ice cool

For this device, anything cool is preferably how you want it. For example, I’m personally a fan of the way they integrated RGB into the laptop. From the keyboard to the three sides of the device, this device demands attention. Not everyone would like it, especially when you’re out in a Starbucks somewhere. You can dial the colors down — as long as you get the black one.

Another thing I liked about the ROG Strix G is its overall build. Putting all the display, power, and connectivity ports at the back of the device was a nice touch. To me, it keeps a lot of the wires out of the way on a normal desk setup. Also, I love the way they did the hinge for the lid and body.

But, there is one thing that proves to be red hot, it’s close to being a red flag — the laptop’s battery life. I only got around close to five hours for productive use, with that time cut in half when gaming. I literally need to bring the charger around if I want to work for longer hours. 

Putting it all together

At PhP 99,995, the ASUS ROG Strix G G531 in Glacier Blue fuses aesthetic and performance together. Performance-wise, this gaming laptop provides just the power you need for any task. Gaming on it full time is where it truly excels, all thanks to the NVIDIA RTX 2060 inside.

On top of all of that, it cools down faster after playing for a long time, something not a lot of gaming laptops possess. The overall build supplements proper cooling for the device so you don’t have to worry about things heating up unexpectedly.

Overall, this is one wonderful device to have for productive and gaming use. If you don’t mind adding a little style to your gaming habit, consider getting this cool Glacier Blue variant.

Gaming

Diablo II: Resurrected is now available on PC and consoles

Clearer, harder, more destructive and more available than ever before

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Back in the year 1997, Blizzard Entertainment had this rather unique idea for a hack-and-slash game for the PC in Diablo. In essence, it’s a medieval-themed action-RPG that puts the player face-to-face with the menacing Diablo himself. Three years later, they released the critically-acclaimed Diablo II, following the events of its prequel. 21 years later, this same critically-acclaimed title got a remaster in Diablo II: Resurrected.

Diablo II: Resurrected takes elements from the 2000 classic and gives it a completely modern touch. Apart from keeping the same gameplay mechanics, Blizzard improves on the overall visual and audio quality. For example, they re-shot all 27 minutes of the original cinematics in high fidelity color and surround sound. Also, the game stays true to the original in terms of game logic and game engine calculations.

Much like the original, players can choose between seven iconic character classes, including the two classes in the Druid and Assassin from Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Of course, this remaster also comes with some quality-of-life improvements — including controller support, colorblind modes, and extensive keybind options.

Diablo II: Resurrected is now available on PC (Battle.net), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and the Nintendo Switch.

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Gaming

Nintendo announces huge list of games for holidays

Titles like Kirby, Bayonetta, and a Nintendo Switch Online expansion

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The holiday season is here. Every year, the gaming industry gets a speed boost coming from annual holiday discounts, new games, and newly gifted consoles. Keeping with that trend, Nintendo has hosted a new Nintendo Direct in anticipation for the coming holiday season. Here are the biggest announcements from the event:

Nintendo 64, meet the Switch

Since the launch of the first wave of classic games, Nintendo Switch Online held the most promise for Switch owners. The subscription service offered games from decades past for free. Naturally, the growing catalog is working its way forwards, starting off with the NES and SNES generations.

In late October, the clock is moving even further. Nintendo is launching a massive booster pack, infusing the service with classic Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games. The launch lineup will include favorites like Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, and many others. Further along, it will also add games like Pokémon Snap and Majora’s Mask.

Kirby is coming

After years of smaller games, Kirby is finally getting a major platformer release for the Switch. Kirby and the Forgotten Land takes the eponymous blob to a new post-apocalyptic world. As always, the hero can swallow different characters and enemies to claim their powers. It even features familiar characters like Link – at least according to the trailer.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land will launch sometime in Spring 2022.

More Animal Crossing

It’s a trailer of a trailer, but it’s worth mentioning. The popular island simulator Animal Crossing: New Horizons is getting a major update this November. Though the announcement was scant with details, it looks like the game is finally getting a café inside the museum. Nintendo will announce more in October.

Final Fantasy but Mario Kart

What would a famous franchise be without its own racing game spinoff? The long-running Final Fantasy franchise is getting its own racing game called Chocobo GP. Though the title features the iconic creature, the game will also have familiar characters from the series. It will launch sometime next year.

And a host of others

Aside from the main announcements, Nintendo also previewed some new titles, upcoming expansions, and remakes for the console. Headlining this crew is Bayonetta 3 which is due to come out next year.

Monster Hunter Rise, the Switch-exclusive entry to the series, is getting an expansion pack called Sunbreak is coming summertime next year.

Creators of the quirky franchise Nier are making a new spinoff to their series. Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars is card game coming to the Switch on October 28.

Finally, the classic Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic is now on the Switch. It’s not a remake, too. It’s the original game, and it’s out already.

SEE ALSO: Nintendo Switch gets Bluetooth audio compatibility

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Gaming

Death Stranding Director’s Cut: Best game I don’t enjoy

Brilliant but tough to power through

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Death Stranding Director's Cut

Maybe it was already my mindset heading into this review. But I’d like to think I really gave it a chance. Despite that, every time I launched Death Stranding Director’s Cut on PS5, I felt burdened instead of excited.

That said, I don’t think this is a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. Full disclosure, due to the burdensome feeling I only managed to get to about 30-40 percent of the game. That, on top of other responsibilities for this publication.

So yeah, I think it’s a combination of things. The generally slow pace of the game, the premise of avoiding enemies you can’t see, and just the grind work of having to lug around packages — these all contributed to an experience that I cannot describe as fun.

You can say, that isn’t the point of the game. After all, it’s set in a post-apocalyptic America and you make your way around the open world wary of enemies you can’t see. But isn’t that something we’re already kind of going through. I guess I could just never wrap my head around my form of escape mirroring bleak real world situations a little too much.

Early game additions

Hard to see here, but the Support Skeleton is equipped

Death Stranding Director’s Cut goes out of its way to make sure players feel less strained. About five to seven hours into the game and you’ll gain access to two key additions: the Maser Gun and the Support Skeleton.

The Maser Gun is essentially a high-powered stun gun. It electrocutes MULEs (human enemies) you’ll encounter in deliveries. And immediately after acquiring it, you’ll also gain access to another addition in the Director’s Cut — the shooting range.

Death Stranding Director's Cut

At the shooting range, you’ll be faced with various challenges in taking down MULEs. Most importantly, you’ll be able to practice your aim while dealing with multiple MULEs.

Meanwhile, the Support Skeleton is as straightforward as it sounds. It’s equipped on your lower body to help with traversal. It’s an especially helpful tool early in the game when you don’t have access yet to vehicles and other support items.

Death Stranding Director's Cut

Oh and no more Monster Energy drink in this version

Overall good game design

Death Stranding pulls off many interesting ideas and presents them in ways that undeniably gives it the feel of a AAA (Triple-A) game. The character models and environments, as you may have seen on trailers, are brilliant and blockbuster-worthy.

In terms of gameplay, I was particularly impressed by how you can traverse every single element in the open world. Whether that’s a dirt road, grassy fields, and rocky terrain, the game doesn’t make any completely inaccessible.

Of course, sometimes you have to get creative. Crossing waterways and rock formations may require that you use ladders. You’ll also sometimes find yourself looking down on a cliff. Thankfully, you can also carry items that will let you rappel.

Social Strand System

But perhaps the most unique game mechanic is the Social Strand System. If you play online, this means you’ll gain access to ladders and other structures that other players have built. If any of these structures were particularly helpful for you, you can smash likes to show the other player your appreciation.

It’s such a creative way to include some form of community building in a single player game. It’s a fantastic idea and one I hope we see some iteration of in other games in the future.

In-game interface

If I had a bone to pick with the visual presentation, it would probably be the mail. The text is incredibly tiny, even if you choose the large option. It’s no fun having to read blocks of text and the game encourages you to read the emails as part of the story. I mean, I already read tons of emails daily. I don’t need that in games I play. I think this is another part of the game that really lowered the fun meter for me.

Other improvements

Death Stranding Director's Cut

Buddy Bot!

Death Stranding Director’s Cut also comes with plenty of the usual next-gen improvements on PS5 games. You get the usual upgrades in haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the DualSense controller. Although, I would argue that they could’ve been utilized better especially for sensing BTs (the ghost-life figures you have to avoid) nearby.

I’ve already gushed about the visuals but playing this in 4K 60fps was really a treat for the eyes. I personally am not a fan of the graphics setting that prioritizes refresh rate. I’m always after a more cinematic feel which I think is what this game suits best. So my recommendation is to play the game prioritizing resolution.

Other in-game additions include the Cargo Catapult and Buddy Bot. Both will help you complete deliveries and quests faster. They are helpful tools that improve the pace of the game.

Should you play Death Stranding Director’s Cut?

Firing up this game felt like work after I’ve already done my work for the day. That just isn’t the experience I long for in games. But maybe, that’s just me.

I think most gamers know exactly what they want to play. But if you’re only now dipping your toes into Death Stranding Director’s Cut because you missed the first launch and you’re a Hideo Kojima fan, it’s definitely worth picking up. But my recommendation is to get the physical copy so you can flip it for cash as soon as you find that it’s not for you.

Death Stranding Director’s Cut is brilliant. However, it’s not for everybody.

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