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…
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 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!
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!
GadgetMatch Awards: Best of CES 2020
A peek into the future
Turning the page to a New Year always feels symbolic. It’s a new beginning, a chance to start fresh. What better way to kick things off than to get a sneak peek at what’s coming next? That’s exactly what CES 2020 gave us.
This year’s CES is by far one of the most well-rounded ones. Sure, we got our usual cool gaming things, some laptops here and there, and even new phones. But we also got a glimpse at living and traveling in the future could really look like.
Best Kitchen Appliance: LG InstaView ThinQ Oven with Air Fry
We’ve always loved how you could knock on LG InstaView refrigerators to get a peek at what’s inside, that way you save energy by not letting out cold air. This year, LG is bringing that same tech to their new InstaView ThinQ Range and it’s a match made in heaven. Imagine not having to open the oven to keep a close eye on the cake you’re baking, just knock on the oven door twice and the oven lights open. The oven is self cleaning too. Oh and did we tell you, it’s also got a built-in air fryer!
Best Urban Gardening Solution: LG Indoor Vegetable Cultivator
With studies pointing to how there soon won’t be enough land to feed the earth’s growing population, giving people the option to grow food in their own homes is a step in the right direction. While it’s not going to be an appliance you’ll think of buying first, LG Indoor Vegetable Cultivator is a good way to invest in the sustainability of your future. While it might look like a fridge, a cooler it isn’t. Instead it replicates all the right conditions needed to go produce outdoors. The indoor gardening machine can grow produce enough for a family of four.
Best Mobility Concept: LG Connected Car
If there’s no place like home, wouldn’t it be amazing if everywhere was home? That’s the thinking behind LG’s new seamless life initiative. Their connected car concept imagines a future where rides are shared but the experience is still personalized. From seats that adjust to feel like your favorite comfy seat, to continuing that movie from where you left off at home, to a virtual assistant that’s a voice command away — LG’s Connected Car gets us excited about the future of mobility.
Best PC: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold
While foldable smartphones are sexy, tablets that fold into laptop computers make even better sense and Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold is leading the charge. A concept device not too long ago became a reality at this year’s CES. Why do we love it? Because it’s one of the most versatile PCs ever. It’s both a desktop computer and a laptop. It’s an e-reader, digital notebook, tablet for watching videos or playing games.
Best Smart Home Device: Lenovo Smart Frame
If pictures can truly say a thousand words, then the Lenovo Smart Frame will let you say a million. It’s exactly what its name says it is. The Lenovo Smart Frame will let you display any album or collection on your Google Photos.
Don’t feel like showing off your personal shots? It comes with a free app with hundreds of art pieces to choose from. As far as wall decors go, this might just be one of the smartest at the moment.
Best Laptop: Lenovo Lavie Pro Mobile
Made of lightweight magnesium-lithium array through Japanese craftsmanship with a minimalist design. I don’t know about you, but that sounds sexy AF — and that’s not something one usually says about a laptop.
Every single inch of the the Lenovo Lavie Pro Mobile screams premium. Inside is Intel’s 8th gen chip with 8GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage. That’s not bad at all.
Best Chromebook: ASUS Chromebook Flip C436
One look and you wouldn’t think the C436 is a Chromebook. It’s like a regular premium laptop through and through. At 13.7mm and 1.1kg, this is the thinnest and lightest 14-inch Chromebook.
That tiny body packs a lot of punch though. Up to 10th Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD storage, Wi-Fi 6. Two USB-C ports, microSD card slot up to 2TB.
Then the fact that it’s a flip which means you get various modes like laptop, tablet, and tent mode. This is as versatile a Chromebook as it gets.
Best Gaming Laptop: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14
The very first thing you’ll notice about the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 is its LED dot-matrix lid. Similar to how you can customize RGB lighting on most other gaming laptops, you can make the Zephyrus G14 truly yours just like we did ours. Don’t lets its size fool you either, this gaming notebook packs a punch with NVIDIA RTX 2060 graphics card and 120Hz display for silky smooth gaming. Want!
Best Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Lite
Samsung Galaxy Note enjoys a cult following because of an experience and functionality that remains unmatched by any Android rival. Understandably this top-of-the-line phone comes with a premium price tag. Which is why we couldn’t be more than excited about the launch of the Galaxy Note 10 Lite. It’s got has everything you’d expect from a Galaxy Note: big display, huge battery, and of course the S Pen. It even offers something its big brother doesn’t — a headphone jack. Now everyone can own a Galaxy Note!
Best Lifestyle TV: Samsung The Sero
Remember the time when shooting vertical videos was laughed at? These days, we’ve embraced both portrait and landscape content, and it only makes sense that televisions can switch between the two — just like we do on our smartphones. While innovation in TV tech is defined by screen size, resolution and color, Samsung’s spinning The Sero, with its forward thinking approach to media consumption is THE ONE that caught our eyes at CES 2020.
Best Gaming Desktop: Razer Tomahawk
The most fun thing about building PCs is how you can easily change parts to upgrade. The Razer Tomahawk is a compact PC gaming solution that makes it easy to slot in upgradeable components without the need for a toolbox.
Utilizing Intel’s NUC 9 Extreme Compute Element — which is essentially a system-on-a-card that’s powered by 9th-gen Intel Core H-Series processors — the Razer Tomahawk N1 chassis can be opened from the rear, with a lock-and-slide mechanism allowing for easy access to the case’s internals.
Best Gaming Concept: Alienware Concept UFO Prototype
For many years now manufacturers have tried to find ways to make PC gaming more portable. But the more powerful gaming laptops get, the farther away from portable they become. As a result many gamers resort to buying or building desktop rigs with an insane amount of computing power.
Alienware wants to change that and Concept UFO might just be the ultimate portable PC gaming device. Imagine being able to take your entire Steam library and play whenever, wherever. Its big display and detachable controllers make it a perfect companion for those who want to game at home or on the go.
Best Midrange Smartphone: TCL Pro 10
TCL makes a splash in the smartphone space this year with its first self-branded smartphone lineup headlined by the TCL Pro 10. In its first attempt at a midrange smartphone, it delivers on what we so desperately need — a flagship experience for less. Leveraging the company’s experience expertise in TV display technology and a focus on a camera that can compete with the best, this phone has all the right ingredients to make you want to consider it.
Best Value for Money TV: TCL 6-Series TV (2020)
TCL has always been known for offering good products for less money, and its popular 6-series TV remains at the forefront of that. Not only is it moving on from Quantum dots to Mini LEDs, rumors suggest the 2020 version might be even cheaper than the 2019 models.
So you’re getting a better viewing experience for less. Hard to argue when you’re getting such great value.
Best Wireless Earphones: TCL ACTV200BT
There’s much more to TCL’s new wireless earphones, the ACTV200BT, than just providing the soundtrack to daily workout. It’s also equipped with a multi-sensor system that will accurately read and monitor your heart rate. The system is called ActivHearts and it works with the majority of sports apps. The device can last over 14 hours of playtime and six hours with the heart rate monitor on. It’s also capable of fast charging so you can get two hours of extra power when you charge it for fifteen minutes.
Best Audio Product: Vizio Elevate Soundbar
When Vizio set out to make their award winning sound bar even better, they decided to focus on ensuring that when you listen to music on it, it sounds just as good as audio from your favorite movie or video game. Because you deserve great sounding content regardless! The new Elevate Sound Bar comes with auto rotating speakers so you get more focused Dobly Atmos and DTS:X content.
Best Mobility Award: Audi AI:ME
Over the last few years we’ve seen CES becoming more and more important to cars, to the point where it almost felt like a car show. While there wasn’t a shortage of concept cars this year, there weren’t a lot that you could actually drive — which makes our ride on Audi’s AI:ME self-driving car one of our favorite moments from the show. This futuristic vehicle was unlike any other we’ve experienced with massive glass windows, luxurious interiors and a feeling of zen. Audi wants its car of the future to be empathic — using artificial intelligence to understand and adapt to our needs and preferences. It’s a refreshing approach from a car manufacturer. At CES Audi didn’t come to sell any particular car, but instead is using it as a platform to engage in conversations about the future of mobility.
Best Personal Care Device: Colgate Plaqless Pro Toothbrush
Smart toothbrushes aren’t new and there are many good ones in the market today. But, like any tool, the effectiveness of a smart toothbrush relies heavily on proper use. Colgate’s upcoming Plaqless Pro toothbrush hopes to address this, with optical sensors that identify plaque on each tooth as you brush and an indicator light that tells you when to move on to the next one. Now that’s smart brushing done right!
Sustainability Award: Food Solution: Impossible Pork
While red meat tastes so good, excessive consumption of it is not good for the planet. So if you’re looking at ways of reducing your carbon footprint, a plant-based diet can be one of the easiest steps to take. There are many meat substitutes in the market today but nothing comes close to the taste and texture of actual meat than those made by Impossible Foods. At this year’s CES, the food tech company best known for the Impossible Burger rolled out Impossible Pork. At the show we tried a Vietnamese banh mi made with Impossible Pork, and it was so good we think the company should just rebrand to Possible — because thanks to them a plant-based diet is.
Sustainability Award: Use of AI in Agriculture: John Deere R4038 Sprayer
There were many sexy vehicles at CES, but we found the story of agriculture equipment company John Deere equally sexy. Using artificial intelligence and deep learning the company is building tractors, harvesters and other agricultural vehicles with a focus on sustainability and reducing farming’s impact on the environment. Take for example the R4038 Sprayer. Let’s put it this way, not every square foot of land have the same needs, this machine is smart enough to know which parts need extra care. And with its ExactApply nozzle control system, they’ve been able to make tasks like spraying pesticide an extremely precise operation. John Deere’s innovative tech solutions allow this behemoth of a farming machine spray just what’s needed to only where it is needed.
Best of 2019: Our favorite cars
Different rides for different lifestyles
Here at GadgetMatch we always try to find the right match for you whether it be the latest smartphones, gaming laptops, and even vehicles. This is why for this article, we’ll be listing down our favorite car models that we’ve personally tried and are great options for everyone’s different lifestyles.
2019 Chevrolet Spark 1.4 CVT Premier
2019 MG ZS
2019 Honda Civic RS Turbo
2019 Nissan Leaf EV
2019 Suzuki Jimny
2019 Ford Ranger Raptor
2019 Toyota RAV4 LTD
A video on the Toyota RAV4 is yet to come out so be sure to check back for it!
2020 Range Rover Evoque
And when the situation calls for it, the Evoque could tough it out and go off-roading.
2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Mazda MX-5 RF Club Edition
For those not afraid of attention, roll down that hardtop and enjoy the feeling of freedom this sleek machine has to offer.
Foldable phones arrived in 2019 but do we really need them?
Or is it just a gimmick?
2019 has definitely been an exciting year thanks to the numerous advances we’ve made in mobile technology. We’re one step closer to the 5G revolution, the number of camera lenses on a phone has drastically increased, and affordable phones offer more features than ever.
However, this year witnessed a major milestone. Samsung has been working on foldable displays for years. Their AMOLED display technology is unchallenged and the brand wanted to leverage it for other futuristic projects like a bendable phone.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold was unveiled and was supposed to go on sale soon. But, the initial units were found to be extremely delicate and journalists ended up with broken display within no time. Samsung was quick to acknowledge the fault and delayed the commercial launch by a few months. In the end, the Fold was available commercially and despite its hefty price tag, the response has been positive.
Though, everyone who bought the phone knew what they’re getting — first-generation technology. This means the product still has a lot of room for improvement due to future advancements and this is just the stepping stone. Samsung has been confident that it’ll be able to carve out a new market for foldable phones and recent reports have also suggested a low-cost foldable phone could be in the works.
But why do we need a foldable phone?
Ideally, a foldable phone has a lot of use case scenarios. A phone can be easily converted into a tablet for a bigger display (Fold’s implementation) or we could just fold a phone and make it smaller (Motorola razr’s setup). The technology offers more room for designers to play around with.
Following the footsteps of Samsung, Huawei too unveiled the Mate X this year, but there’s no word on its commercial launch due to the ongoing US ban. Ultimately, every phone maker is keen on getting on board this trend because everyone is talking about it.
Why foldable phones are still a niche?
Practically though, it’s a risky bet to actually replace your conventional phone with a foldable one. Firstly, the body of the phone is often considered sensitive and cannot handle drops like a usual phone. A single crack on the screen could render it useless and fixing a bendable screen isn’t going to be a pocket-friendly affair.
Secondly, the industry is yet to accept foldable phones as a mainstream offering. A decade back, the developer industry was scrambling to make their apps work on a 16:9 screen of a smartphone. Similarly, foldable phones have a unique set of challenges in the user interface that need to be addressed individually. Samsung has implemented a pretty smooth UI, but not all apps are actually scaling or transitioning smoothly.
Adding to this, foldable phones lack a standardized size. The modern standard for a mobile’s screen is anywhere between 16:9 and 20:9. The Fold has an aspect ratio of 21:9, while the smaller display is extremely tall. On the other hand, the Motorola razr gets a different size, increasing the complexity.
Obviously, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen sensitive phones or weird display sizes. The Mi MIX series looks stunning with an edge-to-edge screen but is also extremely delicate. BlackBerry has launched a few phones that have a square display and a physical keyboard.
But these phones don’t cost as much as a foldable phone. And that’s exactly why a customer would think twice before getting one. Is the folding property enough to convince a potential customer?
Foldables vs 5G
While we’re discussing foldable phones, another technology is maturing fast and ready to take over the world. Qualcomm recently held its 5G Summit and announced two new chipsets — Snapdragon 765 and 865.
Both of them support 5G network and the flagship 865 chipset only supports 5G. There’s no extension available to support 4G. In the coming year, the two most trending keywords shall be “foldable” and “5G”. What will you prioritize?
There’s no doubt that foldable phones are the future. But with so many brands trying to make a mark in a short span of time, it just feels a little early to join the party. Especially because a lot of brands lack long-term goal and are simply trying to milk the current trend.
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