Gaming

ASUS ROG Strix GL702VM Review: Portable gaming powerhouse

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ASUS’ ROG line of gaming laptops has an updated entry to the fast-growing gaming market. Let’s a take a look at the ROG Strix GL702VM with its NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics unit.

We recently reviewed the ROG Zephyrus, and it set the bar for a true portable gaming laptop. It doesn’t cut corners with its high-end specs, but it has a ridiculously high price tag at the same time. The laptop we have now wants to set the right balance.

At first glance, the laptop already shows its gaming characteristics. Let’s first have a tour of the laptop’s body.

It’s no doubt an ROG laptop with its design and colors

The lid lights up!

Like most gaming laptops, it has striking red accents

It’s gray overall with red accents

We have red backlit chiclet keys with a relatively small trackpad

No mechanical keys here

There is a plethora of I/O ports for your convenience

USB 3.0, USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, Ethernet, SD card reader, and DisplayPort

Even its bottom bestows its gaming characteristics

Modern patterns on the bottom plate

Great gaming performance on the go

The 17.3-inch display of the ROG Strix GL702VM doesn’t make it a portable PC, but by gaming laptop standards, its size packs in a lot of power. For one, the display is a 4K anti-glare panel which has great saturation levels and wide viewing angles. It makes all kinds of content pop, from high-resolution videos to colorful gaming titles. The processor inside is a quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ with 16GB of DDR4 memory. As for storage, it gets a combo drive: 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD.

To pump up its gaming prowess, ASUS put in an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 chip with 6GB memory as its dedicated graphics processing unit — the lightweight member of the NVIDIA 10-series graphics card. Both the latest and future titles will be playable on the laptop, plus it has support for virtual reality. During the course of our time with it, we were able to enjoy Grand Theft Auto V with smooth frame rates of around 80fps on high settings and 1080p resolution. Bumping things to 4K consumed a lot of power and memory, but it’s still manageable when you tone down some of the graphics settings like shadows and anti-aliasing.

It also doubles as an everyday multimedia laptop

Gaming aside, the laptop is a beast for everyday tasks. It would be overkill to turn it into an everyday work laptop, but it can handle processing really well, thanks to its compelling specs. Multimedia consumption is also something you can enjoy with its 4K display and powerful speakers.

Without mechanical keys, hitting the keyboard (whether for typing or gaming) didn’t feel as tactile as I’d want. ASUS promotes 1.6mm travel on the laptop, which I found a bit mushy during actual usage. What I enjoyed about the keyboard is the space between each key. The trackpad is a different story, as it’s kinda small but very responsive.

Not exactly super portable, but it’s not that bulky

The king of portable gaming laptops is still the ROG Zephyrus, but the ROG Strix GL702VM could be a good runner-up. It may not have the slim waistline of an Ultrabook (thin but definitely not for gaming) or the average size of an everyday 14-inch laptop, yet it has the power of a dedicated gaming machine. The term “laptop” is still applicable.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t have an optical disc drive. That shouldn’t pose a problem, since we download our games online nowadays. Too bad, though, since you’ll need to find a spare external DVD drive if you want to play the classic games you already purchased.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It won’t be an easy choice to go for a 17.3-inch laptop when you’re just looking for a laptop that can do more. The ROG Strix GL702VM is targeted at those who want a gaming laptop that isn’t ridiculously heavy. For wallets, however, it’s quite hefty.

This gaming machine retails in the Philippines for PhP 119,995 (US$ 2,335) with the configuration we reviewed. With this amount of cash, you can already build a good desktop rig with even more power, but it won’t give the portability a laptop like this can offer. The 4K display is also a good selling point; however, it’s not necessary for gaming, since we stick to 1080p most of the time.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ROG Zephyrus Review: So thin, so powerful

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Gaming

Xiaomi now has a curved gaming monitor

With FreeSync and all that gaming tech goodness

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It’s safe to say that there’s no device category that Xiaomi will never explore. This time around they have unveiled the Mi Curved Gaming Monitor 34”.

It sports a WQHD 3440×1440 high-resolution display and 1500R curvature for that in-your-face immersive viewing experience. Its 21:9 ultra- wide display expands the aspect ratio by 30% compared to normal 16:9 displays. It also has a 144Hz game-level refresh rate and flicker-free technology.

It also has a 121% sRGB wide color gamut: Vivid colors are complemented by up to 300 nits of adjustable brightness and a 3000:1 contrast ratio for life-like picture quality.

Lastly, it has AMD FreeSync Premium technology. The monitor seamlessly synchronizes the graphics with the monitor refresh rate when there is a high frame rate output for smoother gameplay.

Global recommended retail price is EUR 399. Pricing in other markets will be announced once the product becomes available.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi adds Electric Scooter Pro 2, Smart Band 5, TV stick to IoT lineup

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Gaming

Riot Games SEA partners with the Youth Esports Program

Preparing the younger generation of players for competitve esports

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Mineski Philippines created the Youth Esports Program (YEP) in partnership with the Philippine Collegiate Champions League. This new initiative aims to bring together students from all over the country with a passion for competitive Esports.

Particularly, the partnership aims to train and develop future Esports talents, while also providing career opportunities. One such opportunity was the World University Cyber League 2020.

Now, the youth program lands another massive partnership with a global game developer and publisher in Riot Games! This partnership with Riot brings additional resources for students to learn more about the industry and the competitive Esports scene.

Furthermore, Riot also brings some of its own initiatives and tournaments for its popular deck-building title, Legends of Runeterra.

Another effect is the formal entry of their rising team-based shooter in the competitive Esports scene. YEP’s national cross-campus Esports league will now host an official Valorant tournament, along with several other Esports titles. This will be on top of other Valorant-related initiatives, such as content contests.

Schools and student organizations interested in partnering with the Youth Esports Program may email them at [email protected] or message them on Facebook.

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Gaming

Ghost of Tsushima review: Making of a legend

A samurai’s journey

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Vengeful Samurai
Rids his land of invaders
Haunting. Like a ghost

Ghost of Tsushima is the last major PlayStation 4 exclusive before the PlayStation 5 hits the shelves. It has the unenviable task of closing a chapter in gaming, and it does so with a lot of heart and subtle flair.

You play as Jin Sakai — a samurai who survived the first confrontation against the Mongols. Among the samurais in the battlefield, it was only you and your uncle Lord Shimura who survived the attack, with many believing you had also fallen in battle.

KOMODO BEACH. Samurais clash against Mongols early in the game.

Your mission is to take the island back by any means necessary. Sometimes, that means going against the way of the samurai which you had dedicated your life to.

The story has several beats but the dilemma between tradition and progression is a constant theme. Many tales along the way reveal that people haven’t always stayed true to tradition, and how that’s not always necessarily a bad thing.

Fight like a samurai

Combat takes a lot of patience, discipline and precision. Especially during the early stages of the game where you’ll really have to rely on your skills to get through enemies.

I thought I had already learned to take my time in combat with a few previous games I played. However, my general lack of patience worked against me. Timing your parries can be hard even with visual cues from your opponents. Either that or my timing is just plain terrible.

Once you get the hang of combat, you’ll develop a thirst for battle. This is because the game does a good job of rewarding you with every successful execution.

You gain resolve with each kill. Resolve is what you use to replenish your health. So if you’re low on health and resolve, you’re actually encouraged to go into battle so you can live to fight another day.

You’ll also encounter different types of enemies. Each one can be dealt with more easily by using a certain sword stance.

You’ll acquire all four stances as you progress to the game, but you will definitely encounter foes you don’t have the exact stance for. This is where your parrying and dodging skills will really be put to test.

Stone, Water, Wind, and Moon – these are your fighting stances

There’s also a stand-off mode where you call out an opponent and you face each other head on. It’s pretty easy at first but, again, timing gets complicated when your opponent starts adding feints to throw you off.

Lastly, there are duels. It’s mostly reserved for key story moments or when acquiring certain mythic items. In terms of combat execution, it’s pretty much the same except your opponent won’t go down after a few thrusts and slashes.

Haunt like a ghost

You don’t always have to face your enemies head-on. You are, after all, trying to take down an entire invasion. Certain tales or missions require that you strike from the shadows. This is where your ghost skills and tools come in.

Much like the sword stances, it will take progressing through the game to unlock all the ghost skills and tools. Skills like focused hearing alter your surroundings so you can tell where each target is at. You move slowly at first but you earn skill points as you build your legend to unlock more skills.

The ghost tools are unlocked after certain points in the story. Some of them aid you in assassinations but some can be also used in direct combats. One especially useful tool is the smoke bomb.

You will inevitably face a horde of Mongols at certain points with a bunch of them attacking you almost simultaneously. Dropping a smoke bomb confuses your opponents and leaves them open to one slash or one thrust kills.

If you’ve played older Assassin’s Creed titles, raiding strongholds and assassinations will feel familiar in Ghost of Tsushima. Approaching from high ground, creating distractions to misdirect attention, all in the service of that slit-throat kill — all these come into play when attacking stealthily.

Every tale adds to your legend 

Ghost of Tsushima probably has the best side-quests in games released from the last two years. Everything you do in the island is interconnected and is aided by environmental cues.

To get to certain shrines you follow either a fox or a yellow bird. The fox only really guides you to the Inari shrines which help open up charm slots to aid you in battle.

Meanwhile, the bird guides you to mostly every other objective — be it an item you can retrieve, a spot to reflect and write a haiku, or the next tale to tackle to continue Jin’s journey.

The game offers a style of play where you rely solely on these things to progress. For an open-world game done as well as Ghost of Tsushima, that’s a perfect way to get lost in its world.

The island of Tsushima is divided into three main areas. The main story will have you progressing towards the north of the island to ultimately rid the place of Mongol forces. But progressing through the story is only half the fun.

The island is teeming with stories that range from gut-wrenching to light-hearted moments to help balance the general grief everyone in the island feels.

Ghost of Tsushima_20200708233214

The side quests do not seem like side quests at all. Each one feels like a small chapter in the bigger story that is being told. Tales from villagers will have you facing off against bandits or taking down Mongol strongholds.

There are also tales corresponding to key characters — allies in your battle to liberate Tsushima. All of which reveal an unexpected truth with each character. The way of the samurai is held in such high regard, but some of the tales will show how even those devoted to that path can stray from it.

Slay in subtle style

Everything about Ghost of Tsushima’s style and visuals is just absolutely stunning to me. Persona 5 was lauded for being a very loud and stylish depiction of modern Japan, this game should be lauded about style but for a different reason.

First, the environment. I’ve seen people talk about grass mechanics. Honestly, it’s not one of the things I usually look at when playing, but rest assured this game does it right just as well as the best ones.

It is, after all, built upon the idea that you can explore the island with a minimal game hub. This is so you can take in Tsushima in all its glory and explore every nook and cranny of the island to your heart’s desire.

The color palette of the game’s menu screen is also extremely satisfying. It’s mostly neutral colors highlighted with red or yellow/gold. It certainly took a minimalistic approach — a characteristic that most associate with Japan.

The Mythic Tales are also done exquisitely. These tales net you key items or techniques — all born from the legendary stories told amongst Tsushima’s inhabitants. In this case, you search the island for musicians who will tell the tale.

Each tale is told with the visual aid of Sumi-e or Japanese Ink Painting. Every tale feels epic as it is being told, and each item or technique learned in the pursuit of each tale proves incredibly useful in battle.

Everything flows seamlessly

Every single element in Ghost of Tsushima flows seamlessly. From combat to exploration, absolutely nothing feels out of place. It all makes sense within the confines of the story.

There are no mindless fetch quests or fighting for no reason. You roam different parts of the island with the ultimate goal of freeing it from the Mongols’ control. This, while also dealing with bandits and traitors — which also goes to show how not even a single, formidable enemy can unite a people.

You will deal with many emotions as you progress through the game. The constant tug of war between the traditional ways of the samurai and the necessity to fight in the shadows is reflected in many different tales of the story. It’s the theme that, at its facade, feels old and tired, but is given new life and deeper meaning in the story.

Being the sole surviving samurai following the initial Mongol siege, you turn into the de facto hero. Jin, naturally, was reluctant at first. But as his legend grows, so does the hope of the people that they can indeed fight back and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

This hope is forged through your countless exploits around Tsushima. Freeing one area after another, taking down strongholds, and using both all you learned as a samurai and the ghost methods you’re forced into by necessity — all of it adds to one grand legend. The legend that is the Ghost of Tsushima.


Ghost of Tsushima will launch on the PS4 on July 17, 2020

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