Apps

Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is for fans with no time

A spoiler-free review

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I’ve owned the first three generations of the PlayStation, having only skipped the PS4 knowing that most of its games are also available on Windows. Well, emphasis on most since there were some great titles I missed out on that weren’t ported to PC.

For a while, one of those AAA games was Final Fantasy XV. Only recently had it been brought over to Windows — more than a year after the original release on consoles. This drought left me without my once consistent dose of Final Fantasy. (My last one was Final Fantasy XIII way back in 2009!)

But even with FFXV now installed on my beloved gaming rig, there’s another obstacle I have to deal with: finding time to actually play it. This installment in the series is an open-world role-playing game, meaning you get to play at your own pace by going on side quests and exploring vast plains outside of the main story, which also means this takes dozens of hours to complete.

So, how can I enjoy the rich story while still finding time for everything else in my life? There’s Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition for that.

If it isn’t obvious, this is the mobile version of the game, available on both Android and iOS. But don’t think for a second that this is some spin-off with mild references to the full-fledged title. You’re getting the full story on your smartphone — without all the extra fluff.

You could call this the abridged tale of FFXV. The main storyline — from main hero Noctis and his all-male crew riding in a fancy car to saving the world — is intact. You can finish the game and get the entire story like I did. You lose out on a lot of the fun side quests and open-world exploration of the original, but the developers managed to squeeze in as many mini-quests as they could to keep things interesting.

Playing the abridged version before the full game felt like a throwback to high school when I would read up on summaries of novels to save time for actually writing the book reports. It felt wrong during my entire playthrough, but it was either play the pocket edition or wait another ten years for the next FF to release.

FFXV: PE (let this be its name from here on) is divided into ten chapters; each one takes about an hour to finish. Since you’re stuck within the realm of the main plot progression, you’re at the mercy of the game’s own pace. Done with this area? Move on with the story. Want to check out another town? Tough luck.

The game still gives you access to maps, menus for equipping your characters with new gear, items to consume, and a grid for unlocking character-specific skills using Ability Points. All these, however, are parts of an illusion that make you think there’s more depth than there actually is.

You see, because you’re bound to a linear path, there aren’t many ways to play FFXV: PE (this abbreviation still feels too long). The items and equipment I end up with at the end of the game are likely to be near-identical to what you or a random friend of mine would have. Still, it’s nice to have some control than none at all. Acquiring a new weapon and seeing your stats go up is still as satisfying as on the original game.

The controls themselves are as simple as can be: tap or hold the spot you want to run to, swipe during battle to roll around, and choose from a selection of special attacks to end fights in style. The standard attacks are done automatically and your party members are on auto mode the whole time, so the play style here is to relax most of the time and enjoy the scenery.

Hold on… scenery? For a mobile game, the graphics are splendid. Having grown up with Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX on the first PlayStation, seeing this style of visuals is a welcome change of pace from the non-stop hyper-realism we’re forced to endure on practically all new AAA titles. With the exception of facial expressions being frozen in place, not once did I feel the graphics were unsatisfying.

You’re going to need a powerful handset, though. I tried FFXV: PE on a range of smartphones and it wasn’t smooth sailing for all. It was only on the Snapdragon 835- and 845-powered devices that I could max out graphics settings. To be specific, I could run the game on the highest settings with the Essential Phone, Samsung Galaxy S9, and Google Pixel 2. The game itself is well-optimized for all aspect ratios, no matter how wide or tall the screen happens to be.

In case you’re wondering: Yes, the original music and voice acting are all there, making this by far the best audio experience you can get out of a mobile title. Your merry crew will banter while running around fields, commands will be shouted during intense battles, and the beautiful musical score will play during cutscenes, inside menus, and while cruising around in their car, the Regalia.

It’s this audio-visual combination that makes FFXV: PE such a joy to play while alone and with headphones on. Even with the tiny screen of a smartphone, you’ll easily get lost in the world of Eos and all the lively characters that inhabit it. It’s only when the plot forces you into tight corridors and bland environments that you gradually lose interest. There were times when neither the new area nor story could sustain my attention.

Being an abridged version of a grand storyline, cuts had to be made. Even though I didn’t finish the original game on Windows yet, I could easily tell when conversations were cut short in order to progress the plot and transitions were hastened to maintain the mobile pace. Some were appreciated; others were not. A lot of drama and twists fell flat because there simply wasn’t enough build-up. When the credits started rolling, I kept wondering, What was the point of that character? and Did I accidentally miss a major plot point?

Asking those questions are ultimately my fault. FFXV: PE is meant to be played after completing the console or PC version first. It’s designed to retell the story of Noctis and his friends in a more casual manner, free from the grips of a couch or office chair. The only way everyone will be happy is if it launches for the Nintendo Switch. (Please?)

Unfortunately, for a mobile game, it’s quite expensive. Although the first chapter is free to play, you have to cough up US$ 20 for all ten chapters. Spending a little more during a sale can nab you the full game on Windows, Xbox One, or PS4 — and that would be loads better if you had the time to play it.

I’m now on the second chapter of Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition (FFXV: WE LOL) and I feel like I cheated on my book report. The progress so far follows what I already know, except the graphics are prettier and options are far more confusing. There are moments when I fondly look back at the simplicity of the mobile edition and wish I could go back to that.

Sometimes, cutting straight to the chase feels more rewarding.

Apps

Microsoft is ditching Edge for new Chromium-based browser for Windows

It’s time to let things go

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Are you one of the few users of the Edge browser? Since its debut on Windows 10 in 2015, the replacement for the once-popular Internet Explorer wasn’t able to become the go-to browser it was expected to be.

The Edge browser was built from the ground up with a new rendering engine called EdgeHTML. It was designed to be lightweight, fast, and secure. The browser had a rocky start and was not favored by both users and web developers. That’s why Microsoft is pulling the plug soon.

According to Windows Central‘s insider, the Redmond company is putting all these efforts aside and will create a new web browser powered by Chromium codenamed “Anaheim.” It’ll be similar to Google’s Chrome browser and will take advantage of the popular rendering engine Blink.

After all the pushy and in-your-face prompts to make Edge more popular among Windows 10 devices, this new browser will replace Edge as the default browser. It’s still unknown if Anaheim will use the Edge brand and user interface, but the inside report confirms EdgeHTML’s demise.

What’s in store for users when Microsoft goes full blast with Chromium? Websites will behave how they should, especially those that work best on Google Chrome.

It’s worth noting that the Edge browser app on iOS and Android are already using rendering engines native to their platforms, so the shift to Chromium will be more beneficial to Windows 10 users. We could see Anaheim come to life by 2019.

SEE ALSO: Windows 10 will soon go full white with a light theme

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Apps

These are Apple’s top apps and games for 2018

Did your favorite app make the list?

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Apple likes to keep track of the apps you download and games you play on their devices. They like it so much that they now have a list of the top apps and games for 2018. The list features all categories in the App Store globally and locally.

From a global perspective, self-care apps became a revelation in the App Store. Apps such as Fabulous, Headspace, and 10% Happier made self-care and wellness more accessible to anyone. For gaming apps, battle royale-style games like PUBG Mobile and Fortnite took over. Both games feature fast-paced, last-man-standing action, with Fortnite even adding bases to the mix.

However, editorial picks reflect something different. Across the iPhone and iPad, editors picked education and creativity apps like Procreate Pocket and Froggipedia as their top choices. Procreate Pocket is a creativity app for artists to draw, sketch, and paint on the go. Froggipedia, on the other hand, is an interactive education app for children to teach them about frogs and their life cycles.

For gaming, the same theme follows as the editors picked Donut County and Gorogoa. Donut County is an education game that mixes puzzles with concepts in physics, while Gorogoa introduces hand-drawn stories to the puzzle genre. The selection goes against the findings of dominance across battle royale games globally.

Within Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore, photography and video streaming apps became the talk of the town. For iPhones, photography apps like kirakira+ and TouchRetouch topped the list, as users can play around with filters for their pictures and videos. Streaming apps like TikTok and Viu opened the door for people to share their videos on a global platform.

Battle royale and multiplayer games, such as PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, dominated the App Store in Singapore. Despite the success of these games, people also took notice of locally produced games. Cat Quest, an action role-playing game, became part of the top paid games for the iPhone for 2018. 

To know more about the lists, you can check them out in the App Store through the Today tab.

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Accessories

Gift ideas for the important people in your life

Make a list and check it twice

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Making Christmas lists can be daunting. One minute you think you already thought of the perfect gift for the people on your nice list, but next thing you know, they already have it or you doubt they’ll ever use it. So, you drop the idea and go back to square one. Other times, you come up with the most generic lists just so you have something to give: belt for dad, purse for mom, a pair of socks for the brother, a scarf for the best friend.

Sometimes, all you need are fresh ideas. Here are some to jump-start your holiday shopping this year!

1. For the one who travels for work

Productivity and portability rarely go hand in hand, but there are devices and accessories that help maximize remote work for anyone whose jobs allow it. Creatives could use a stylus, while writers and entrepreneurs could use a keyboard case. You can even get a nice backpack or sleeve to house it all in!

2. For the one who embraces a minimalist lifestyle

There are those who dream of having a walk-in closet, and those who try to keep their belongings to a minimum. That said, minimalist people are probably the toughest to buy material things for, but that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a thoughtful gift. If you know that they have something that needs replacing, help them find out if they can have it recycled or traded in for a new one. Apps for mindfulness and meditation, learning a new language, or even an Audible subscription would also be great!

3. For the one who works out a lot

Gym rats almost always have everything they already need for their workouts, yet some of them haven’t invested in a smartwatch or a fitness band. If they have, you can give them new straps or cases so they can sport their wearables outside the gym and continue tracking their activities. Subscriptions to coaching, music streaming, or meal planning apps are also something they’d appreciate.

4. For the one who needs a pop of color

We all have that one person in our lives who wears neutral colors all the time or have had a pretty lackluster year — at least I know I do. Whether a guy or girl, everyone could use something bold once in a while: a pair of shoes in red, a wool coat in yellow, or even a phone in coral. More than making a statement, colors have the power to change moods and brighten up one’s day.

5. For the one who dresses to kill

She’s all about making an impression and takes dressing up seriously. She’s the woman in your life who takes a little bit longer to get ready in the morning putting an outfit together. A daring red lipstick, a pair of sexy pumps, jewelry, or a designer watch are all great options. Even better: a smartwatch in a bold color that is a statement on its own.

While they don’t always have to be material things, there’s something to be said for getting gifts for family and friends, no matter how small or cheap. Gift giving during the holidays is a way to give back to the important people who made your year merrier. The more thought and effort you put into it, the more meaningful and fitting it is for the person you’re getting it for. There’s no better feeling than knowing you made a difference in someone’s life through a gift — whether that’s in making them more efficient with their work, in their road to fitness, or in simply making them feel good about themselves.

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