Gaming

Final Fantasy VII Remake review: A fresh experience of a timeless tale

Nostalgic and new at the same time

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Easily one of the most hyped and anticipated video games over the last five years, Final Fantasy VII Remake has arrived and it is everything I hoped it would be.

It manages to preserve the spirit of the original game while modernizing it in every way imaginable. It feels so close to the Final Fantasy games I grew up playing — those being VII, VIII, IX, and X — while also definitely being a game for 2020. Nostalgic and new at the same time.

Before we proceed, some important declarations: GadgetMatch received an official copy of the game specifically for the purpose of this review. This article will have no spoilers — just a general overview and assessment of the Final Fantasy VII Remake experience.

The devil is in the details

One of the more obvious differences is how the game looks. In 1997, Final Fantasy VII, was a visual breakthrough. It was the first time for a Final Fantasy game of this scale to switch from 2D to 3D.

Being preceded by games like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End just to name a few, the Remake won’t have the same kind of video game graphics impact. But make no mistake, it serves up a visual experience that is utterly breathtaking.

LADIES’ MAN. Cloud is pretty popular with the ladies. A true visual 😉

It starts with the little things. The way the game treats light when you go indoors or outdoors is reminiscent of how your eyes would behave when doing the same. It takes a second before your eyes fully adjust to your surroundings. And this treatment of light is consistent throughout the game.

The cinematography is also a masterclass in visual storytelling. There’s a sequence during the beginning of the game where Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockhart (two of the main characters) were interacting and the way they were positioned in relation to each other and to the environment tells you a lot about the current standing of their relationship.

SOCIAL DISTANCING? Cloud and Tifa meet again after 5 years

It’s a classic show-don’t-tell technique and it works wonders. It’s also pretty consistent throughout the game. The shots used for each scene were carefully and meticulously thought out. It adds not only to the cinematic flair, but also to the emotion of the game.

Midgar feels alive 

This level of attention to detail is present all over Midgar — the place where most of the game will take place. The way the camera zooms in and out of the city during certain scenes gives you a good grasp of the life and status of Midgar and its people.

The class divide between those living in the upper levels versus those relegated to the slums is very evident in one of the earlier missions. Not just with how the levels are designed, but also with the dialogue of the NPCs (non-playable characters).

There’s a stark contrast between how people from the upper level reacted to the bombing of the first Mako reactor to how the people in the slums reacted. People in the upper levels mostly support the authoritarian Shinra — the city’s ruling organization. They also happen to be direct benefactors of Shinra’s exploits.

Meanwhile, the people in the slums are a mixed bag — some are indifferent, only caring about how they will get through the next day. Some are rightfully afraid of how they will be affected by the ensuing conflict.

By the way, for the uninitiated, the story basically kicks-off with a radical group called Avalanche carrying out the first of a series of bombing missions. The group believes Shinra is syphonying off the planet’s life through the Mako reactors. Mako is the planet’s lifestream. If it runs out, the planet will most likely wither away.

Action-RPG combat with turn-based feel is extremely satisfying

One of the biggest points of discussion is how the Remake will handle combat. The original game — in true JRPG fashion — was turn-based. That was 23 years ago, and outside of Persona 5, the turn-based style hasn’t really attracted plenty of gamers.

What Final Fantasy VII Remake did is fuse that turn-base feel to the more popular Action-RPG type. Something that a lot of gamers today prefer. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but it’s pretty darn close.

Here’s how it works: When you go into battle, you have direct control over moving around as well as the character’s physical attacks. Dealing physical damage raises your ATB meter. Your ATB meter then gives you access to using Abilities, Spells, Items, and whenever they become available — Summons and Limit Breaks.

When you trigger the use of your ATB meter the game goes into this slo-mo mode. It sort of reminds me of “bullet time” from Max Payne or that brief slo-mo in Marvel’s Spider-Man that gives you enough time to plan your next move. Except in Final Fantasy VII Remake, that slo-mo is longer, giving you ample time to issue commands for every character in your party.

The whole combat system might also remind you of Kingdom Hearts III, but unlike that game, there’s no way you can just charge in and button mash to win fights. Each enemy has to be dealt with differently and you’ll have to be very careful and tactical in your approach to win battles.

A great way to jump into Final Fantasy

Another thing that Final Fantasy VII Remake masterfully does is not overwhelm you with all the Final Fantasy things you need to know. It slowly introduces you to the story and the franchise’s concepts throughout the game.

VR MISSIONS. New summon materia can be acquired through this method

The Final Fantasy franchise is full of lore. While each game is a stand alone story, some items, summons, skills, and magic are consistent across all the games.

If you have zero knowledge going in, you’ll feel right at home. The franchise’s lore is carefully integrated into the main story. If you’re a Final Fantasy veteran, the introduction of these concepts flow well enough that they’re not at all boring.

It perfectly walks the tightrope of keeping franchise fans happy without alienating any potential newcomers.

A fantastic remake

It was the Final Fantasy franchise that first had me dreaming what it would be like when in-game graphics would finally match cutscenes. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children — the computer-animated film that served as the follow-up to FF7’s story — sparked that dream further.

Final Fantasy VII Remake made that dream come true. The way it transitions from free-roaming to battle to cutscene is seamless. It literally feels like you’re playing a computer-animated film.

While we’ve seen this play out in other games, just the fact that it’s an iconic game with iconic characters given new life by modern technology makes it extra special. Playing it made me feel like a kid again. It’s exactly the jolt that my jaded adult version needed more than anything.

There’s a lot more to this game that can be discussed. So much more can be dissected. Everything from how each character is treated, how the story almost feels like a reflection of society today, the intricacies of its battle system, and many more. I’m excited to have these conversations with fellow gamers.

If you came here looking to find out if you should pick this game up, the answer is a resounding YES. If you pre-ordered (and have already preloaded) the game, let this be a primer for what you’re about to step into — a game that’s carefully crafted to give you a fresh experience of a timeless tale.

Gaming

Call of Duty: Warzone transforms to 1984

Warzone Crosses 100 Million Players

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Call of Duty: Warzone and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Season Three launches today with the most ambitious free content offering in Call of Duty history. 

Season Three marks a huge celebration for Call of DutyWarzone, which has crossed 100 million players since its launch last year. The free-to-play, free-for-everyone battle royale experience that fans know and love, receives its biggest transformation yet, travelling back to 1984 and the Cold War.

The new Warzone features massive changes, including new and reimagined locations, new gameplay options and deep optimizations across the entire map as nearly every building, surface and object has been touched to provide a more seamless gameplay experience.

Black Ops Cold War Season Three

Across Black Ops Cold War, throughout Season Three players will experience new multiplayer maps and modes, the next chapter of Call of Duty Zombies in Outbreak and a host of new gear to use in the battles ahead.  This is just the beginning with more content, events and surprises to come this season and beyond.

“The launch of Warzone has reinvented Call of Duty.  In just over a year, more than 100 million players around the world have jumped in to play Warzone together, and starting today we’re taking it to a new level,” said Rob Kostich, President, Activision.

“Season Three brings a massive amount of content and new updates – the most since launch – to Warzone as it transforms to 1984, while we’re also bringing a tremendous amount of new, free content to Black Ops Cold War.  Thank you to our fans everywhere, today is a celebration for our community. There’s so much more coming this season and beyond, get ready.”

Community events

The massive Season Three community celebration taking place today is the culmination of weeks of events inside Warzone that led to waves of Zombies overtaking Verdansk, its eventual nuclear detonation and ultimate transformation — and Call of Duty players were there for every part of it.

  • For weeks, players have fought-off Zombies throughout Warzone, while tracking their progress via Containment Protocols and Corruption Zones.
  • Yesterday, as the Zombies horde reached its tipping point, millions of players experienced an event in-game that triggered a nuclear blast decimating the entire Warzone map, as Verdansk went dark.
  • In its aftermath, Warzone players were transported to Rebirth Island, where a series of mysterious in-game clues and hidden messages helped players unlock the remaining secrets of the event and understand what really happened to Warzone, ultimately transporting everyone to Verdansk in the year 1984, and the highly anticipated launch of Season Three.
  • As the new Warzone experience officially launches today, the community celebration continues as players head online to play all the new Season Three content, including the new-look Verdansk 1984 Warzone map and a host of new Multiplayer and Zombies content across Black Ops Cold War.
  • Fans can follow the latest intel @CallofDuty on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or visit www.callofduty.com. Viewers can also head to Twitch.tv/callofduty for live action, including the Atlanta FaZe US$ 100,000 Gold Rush Tournament.

Call of Duty: Warzone is integrated with Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Call of Duty and its titles are published by Activision, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), and developed by studios (in alphabetical order) Activision Shanghai, Beenox, Demonware, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, Raven Software, Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games.


This is a press release from Activision

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Gaming

Genshin Impact developer talks about PS5 updates

What to expect for PS5 players

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Genshin Impact PS5

The biggest update yet to Genshin Impact is coming on April 28. One of the major developments include a version for the PlayStation 5 (PS5) that takes full advantage of the console’s SSD and DualSense controllers.

Naturally, there will also be some visual updates with the game running in native 4K. This effectively makes the world of Teyvat feel even more alive and immersive.

Watch the video.

Other updates

Included in the upcoming update are two new playable characters Eula and Yanfei. There will also be new enemies that will sure to keep you hooked, as well as a new customizable space in Serenitea Pot to be your home away from home. You can read more of the updates in detail here.

Genshin Impact is a free-to-play open-world action RPG that’s set in the world of Teyvat. You play as a traveler setting out looking for your lost sibling. Along the way, you uncover secrets, fight monsters, and encounter friends.

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Gaming

Black Shark 4: Price and availability in the Philippines

For mobile gamers

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Black Shark 4

The gaming-focused smartphone Black Shark 4 has found its way to the Philippines.

The Black Shark 4 has a 6.7-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate, 720Hz multi-finger touch sampling rate, and SGS eye protection-certified pressure-sensitive screen. Black Shark has boasted of 111 percent DCI-P3 color gamut and a peak brightness of 1300 nits.

It’s powered by a Snapdragon 870 processor with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage. Backing these internals is a 4500mAh battery with 120W fast charging. It’s got dual stereo speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a liquid cooling system, as well as two USB-C ports.

As for cameras, it has a 48MP main shooter, 8MP ultra-wide angle lens, 5MP macro lens, and a 20MP selfie shooter. The phone ships with JOYUI 12.5 based on Android 11 with plenty of gaming-centric features.

Price and availability

The Black Shark 4 will come in two colors: Mirror Black and Pale Grey. It will be available in these configurations: 8GB+128GB, 12GB+128GB, and 12GB+256GB.

The gaming smartphone will officially launch on April 28. You can watch here. Exact pricing will be released during launch day. Interested buyers can pre-order starting April 28 at Black Shark Philippines’ Shopee store. 

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