Editors' Choice

GadgetMatch Awards: Best Video Games of 2018

The tough ten plus honorable mentions

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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…

Honorable Mentions

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

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!

Celeste

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!

Editors' Choice

GadgetMatch Awards: Best of MWC 2019

The latest and greatest in mobile tech

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Mobile World Congress has once again given us the best of the present and a glimpse of the future. It’s been an amazing show and we’ve never been this excited for what the mobile consumer world has in store for us.

To honor the best we’ve seen during the smartphone world’s most important show, we’re awarding the twelve best products that impressed us the most.

This year’s winners for GadgetMatch’s Best of MWC awards are:

Best in Show: Huawei Mate X

At MWC 2019, no product blew us away more than the Mate X. Just as foldable devices are forging a new category of their own, Huawei delivers what is surely the torchbearer. The Mate X is groundbreaking and revolutionary. More importantly, it was the foldable we actually got to touch and use. Whether or not foldable phones are the future, this marks the beginning of a new smartphone era, and we’ll always remember Huawei as the pioneer.

Best smartphone: Xiaomi Mi 9

Leave it to Xiaomi to create a smartphone that offers best in class smartphone experience at an affordable price point. The Mi 9 is the latest in Xiaomi’s excellent line of flagship smartphones, providing the best-possible features, from its chipset and cameras to the under-display fingerprint scanner and wireless charging capabilities. No smartphone currently comes close to its price-to-performance offering.

Best value for money smartphone: Nokia 4.2

Nokia is back with yet another budget-friendly smartphone that punches way above its weight. The Nokia 4.2 easily stands out as the best value for money smartphone of MWC 2019 with its sleek glass design and complete feature set from the inside out. Pick it up, or take it for a spin, and the experience defies its sub-$200 price point. We especially love its Pink Sand color!

Best innovation in smartphone photography: Nokia 9 PureView

The legendary PureView tech is back and it’s better than ever! The Nokia 9 PureView is redefining smartphone photography as we know it, combining five rear cameras, Zeiss lenses, a dedicated Light lux capacitor, a fully maxed out Snapdragon DSP, and computational photography for a completely different smartphone photography experience. The Nokia 9 PureView produces photos at an incredible 12.4 stops of dynamic range for realistic output similar to a professional camera’s. This is easily the best application of smartphone photography from the entire show.

Best smartphone display technology: Sony Xperia 1

Sony brings its expertise in the realm of high-quality displays to its latest flagship smartphone, the Xperia 1. If you’re looking for the most advanced display on a smartphone, its 6.5-inch 4K OLED panel, innovative 21:9 CinemaWide aspect ratio, and HDR capabilities make it the ultimate mobile device for watching movies and cinematic videos on the go. 

Best consumer laptop: Huawei MateBook X Pro (2019)

2018’s best Windows laptop has just gotten better. The 2019 edition of the MateBook X Pro, Huawei’s latest flagship notebook, is now faster and more powerful, but still sleek and solidly built. New features like Huawei Share for quick and easy file transfers from your smartphone bring Huawei’s vision of seamless connectivity alive. Other mainstays include a pop-up web camera and a near-borderless display, solidifying the new MateBook X Pro as the best of its class at MWC 2019.

Best business laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X390 Yoga

If you need a business laptop that’s built to impress, look no further than the ThinkPad X390. With decades of experience under its belt, Lenovo created this machine with the tireless worker in mind. Tough, powerful, and more secure than ever — the ThinkPad X390 Yoga is just as practical as it is attractive, making this a standout product at MWC 2019.

Best mobile accessory: Lenovo ThinkVision M14

No mobile accessory from MWC 2019 comes close to the usefulness of Lenovo’s ThinkVision M14. This sleek and portable USB-C monitor is not only easy to carry around but incredibly handy when used as a secondary display for your laptop, as well. It doesn’t even need to be charged or plugged into an outlet, giving us the peace of mind we always desire out of our gadgets.

Best enterprise innovation: Microsoft HoloLens 2

The original HoloLens was revolutionary for its time; now the HoloLens 2 is set to take mixed reality to the next level. It offers a wider field of vision and greater integration for enterprise applications — all in a package that’s far more affordable than its predecessor. We’ve only yet seen the beginning of a revolution. The possibilities for this MR headset are endless!

Best wearable concept: Nubia Alpha

Is it a foldable phone or is it a next-generation wearable? The Nubia Alpha caught everyone’s attention at MWC 2019 with its unique take on a smartwatch. The watch is both display that wraps around your hand and almost a smartphone with features. They’re calling it a new era of communication.

Most exciting 5G smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

5G smartphones are coming out left and right, but none spark more excitement than the Galaxy S10 5G. Not only does it own the next generation of mobile connectivity, but it’s also the most powerful smartphone Samsung has ever made. We love its curvy design, hole punch display, and its amazing cameras. If this is the standard for premium smartphones moving forward, we’re all in!

Powering the 5G revolution award: Qualcomm

Behind every innovative mobile device is a chipset that powers its features. When it comes to the 5G revolution, no other player has made as big an impact as Qualcomm. During MWC 2019, we saw Qualcomm inside the 5G devices of tomorrow, ushering in a new world of possibility that will fuel the next generation of mobility. Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon too was an ever-present figure of the entire event, and evangelist championing the 5G cause. This is only the beginning; 5G is here, and we can’t wait to see what happens next!

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CES 2019

GadgetMatch Awards: Best of CES 2019

From lifestyle to gaming and smart homes!

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We’ve just witnessed, by far, the best Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in years. Never have we seen this many incredible showstoppers out of the Las Vegas tech convention in recent memory.

To celebrate all that we’ve seen and experienced — and to recognize the best of the best — we’ve rounded up the 15 most significant products and innovations of CES 2019.

Here they are in no particular order.

Best in Show: LG OLED TV R

If money were no object, we’d take home LG’s rollable television, the OLED TV R in a heartbeat. Seeing this flexible, wallpaper-thin television roll in and out of its box is a scene straight from a sci-fi flick, but it’s actually tech you can buy today. And for a show that’s known as the stage for previewing what tomorrow’s tech will look like, it’s quite refreshing that LG’s futuristic TV is not just a concept device. While many flexible displays are either gimmicky or still in the prototype stage, LG has got it all figured out. This ultra high-end TV, while the talk of the town, is also practical. And it’s our choice, hands down, for the best tech of CES 2019.

Best Technology Showcase: LG Massive Curve of Nature

If you have time to see only one thing at CES 2019, you must check out LG’s “Massive Curve of Nature” exhibit. Made up of 260 curved OLED TVs, this work of art is a testament to LG’s undisputed leadership in the world of display technology. From flowing streams, to floating lanterns, to galaxies that explode into a universe of colors, the two-minute show is spectacular and makes the trip to CES worthwhile.

Best Value for Money TV: HiSense H8F 4K HDR ULED TV

If you’re looking for a great TV that doesn’t break the bank, there’s no better option than the H8F 4K HDR ULED TV from HiSense. Their 50-inch model retails for just under US$ 400 and is an absolute steal. This TV’s got everything we look for in a television but doesn’t bore a hole in the pocket: a bright display with great colors and contrast, Android TV, Google Assistant and Alexa built in, and Dolby Vision support. If Roku is more your thing, get the R8F instead; it’s the same good TV, but running Roku instead of Android.

Best Virtual Assistant Device: Lenovo Smart Tab

For many years Lenovo has constantly pushed boundaries and redefined what tablets can do. This year’s Android-powered offering is no different. The Smart Tab is an important piece of tech that bridges the world of virtual personal assistants and consumer gadgets because of its flexibility. At just under two hundred dollars, users are introduced to the world of virtual assistants and smart displays while also getting a powerful Android tablet and speaker dock.

Best Value for Money Laptop: Huawei MateBook 13

Less than a year after Huawei rocked our world with its impressive MateBook X Pro laptop (one of the best PC laptops of 2018), they’re back with an even more affordable option. The MateBook 13 is a high-end laptop without a high-end price, offering features like a dedicated graphics card, long battery life, fast charging, and a 2K display with slim bezels. What more could you ask for?

Best Laptop Design: ASUS ZenBook S13

ASUS has always prided itself as a company of engineers, but recently, they’ve made major strides in design as well. Its new ZenBook S13 is one great example. This laptop is one of the best-looking PC notebooks we’ve seen in a long time offering a well balanced mix of form and function. From its near borderless display that’s 97 percent all screen, to its innovating ErgoLift hinge that makes typing more comfortable and the laptop cooler, to a new reverse-notch that keeps the front camera in the right place without sacrificing its ultra-slim bezels — design-wise, the ZenBook S13 is a winner from every angle.

Best in Automotive Tech: Audi Aicon

Each year we see many concept cars at CES, including the Audi Aicon which first made an appearance in 2017. On its return visit to CES Audi’s car of the future comes with delivery date, 2021! The Aicon is a level five autonomous vehicle, and can get you to your destination without any human help. Sans any need to drive, passengers can lounge in the car’s luxurious interiors or gaze into the stars through its patterned sky roof. The future hasn’t looked this good.

Best Smartphone: Honor View 20

While the Honor View 20 doesn’t officially launch outside of China till later this month, Honor gave us a sneak peak at CES. We’ve only used the phone for a few days, but 2019’s first major phone is already setting the stage for what looks to be another exciting year in smartphones. The View 20 is headlined by the largest sensor ever seen on a smartphone camera, 48 megapixels, a 3D sensing time-of-flight camera, and a notch-less, edge-to-edge display except for a small punch hole for the selfie camera. Expected to be priced at just under US$ 450, the Honor View 20, with its top-of-the-line specs sheet and innovative offerings is shaping up to be one of the best value smartphones you can buy today.

Best Creative Tool: Lenovo Yoga A940

Attention to detail is one trait all creatives share and the Lenovo Yoga A940 is a device engineered to make meticulous, creative work more efficient, without breaking the bank. The combination of a rotating hinge that tilts the 27-inch 4K display up to 25 degrees and the Precision Dial that lets users tweak settings make inputs from the bundled pen more precise.

Best Gaming Laptop: Alienware Area-51m

Alienware’s Area-51m gaming laptop is so powerful, it’s out of this world. Not only does it have the best specs you could find on any mobile gamer-centric machine to date, it’s also upgradeable like a desktop PC — from its CPU and GPU, to RAM and storage. No gaming laptop at CES 2019 comes close to the awesomeness the Area-51m offers.

Best Innovation in Gaming: ASUS ROG Mothership

Breaking barriers of innovation sometimes entails creating a whole new form factor that allows you to deliver everything you want. Case in point, the ROG Mothership from ASUS is unlike anything we’ve seen before. It’s neither laptop nor desktop PC, but has the advantages of both. Yes, it’s portable enough to carry around, yet has the high-end specs of a gaming desktop — Core i9 CPU, RTX 2080 GPU, 144Hz refresh rate, and more — and wireless keyboard to boot!

Best Display Solution: Samsung’s 75-inch MicroLED 4K TV (Modular TV)

In a feat that could’ve only been imagined a year ago, Samsung was able to pull off a modular TV design that looks as great as it is functional. The new MicroLED TV reimagines the whole TV experience with modular pieces and screens you can cater to every space and user need. Samsung shows us the future and it’s filled with moving parts and MicroLED screens.

Best Wearable for Kids: Dyno Smartwatch by Coolpad

The Dyno Smartwatch is a wearable that both kids and parents will love. This is what happens when a company fully understands the market they’re entering: A device that’s well thought-out with features catered to a user’s every need. The Dyno Smartwatch considers the special demographic the watch appeals to and ensures not only a fun experience for kids, but also peace of mind for every parent.

Best Innovation for Beauty and Wellness: L’Oréal My Skin Track pH

An innovation that will revolutionize skin care, L’Oréal’s My Skin Track pH is a small but impactful device. The concept is simple and the solution has been engineered by L’Oréal to be effective and affordable. My Skin Track pH is a wearable sticker that measures skin pH and diagnoses skin health. It’s the brilliant answer to a lot of questions we have regarding our skin.

Best Lifestyle Product: Adero Intelligent Organization System

Adero is something we all need in our lives. This organization system is an amazingly simple and effective way to make sure you never leave anything at home. It turns your bag into a smart bag with tags that will track all your essentials. With one look at your phone, you’ll know if you’ve left something important behind. Pretty soon, we’ll all be wondering how we ever survived life without Adero!

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Editors' Choice

GadgetMatch Awards: Best Smartphones of 2018

Handpicked by the GadgetMatch team

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Like it or not, there’s no best smartphone this year — or any year for that matter. Rather, there are great smartphones for different users and different needs.

In this set of GadgetMatch Awards, we look at the best of the best by category, from the most practical to the somewhat shallow. We’re sure you have your own winners, so let us know in the comments what you think.

Here we go:

Best Battery Life — Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Rarely do we think: When will this phone finally die? In fact, we often ask for more juice out of our smartphones, something that the Mate 20 Pro effortlessly delivers for us. On top of its class-leading performance and stellar looks, this smartphone can easily last for two days on a single charge — wow!

Best Selfies — Vivo NEX S

This pop-up camera is no gimmick; it takes awesome selfies, as well! From the moment it appears to the time it snaps our HDR-licious selfies, taking self portraits with the NEX S is both a spectacle and a pleasure.

Best Special Edition — Porsche Edition Huawei Mate 20 RS

How do you make an already-premium phone even more special? By slapping on some leather and the logo of a luxury automaker! Yes, the Porsche Edition Huawei Mate 20 RS is by far the hottest-looking smartphone of the year.

Best Design — OPPO Find X

There were tons of jaw-dropping smartphone designs in 2018, but none have wowed us as much as the OPPO Find X’s. The automatic sliding action continues to impress us to this day, and we can’t get enough of the borderless look in front.

Best Charging Technology — SuperVOOC

In terms of new technology, 2018 became the year of faster charging. That said, OPPO’s SuperVOOC tech stands above all with its insane speed. We can’t wait to see it in more smartphones come 2019!

Best Portrait Shooter — Apple iPhone XR

Portrait photography has become a standard feature across all smartphones, but the iPhone XR does it best with a single rear camera. We love how it cuts out the subject and applies the perfect amount of bokeh to our photos.

Best Beauty Mode — OPPO R17 Pro

OPPO has done it once again with a beauty mode we’re proud to use. The advanced post-shot customization and application of artificial intelligence have been taken to another level, and we love ’em!

Best Special Feature — Xiaomi Mi Mix 3

Slide up, slide down — rinse and repeat. No smartphone feature got us more pumped than the Mi Mix 3’s manual sliding form factor, which combines the best of nostalgia and practical application.

Best Display — ASUS ROG Phone

A 6-inch notch-less AMOLED display with a 90Hz refresh rate? We’re sold! The ROG Phone may be a gaming smartphone at its core, but it’s also a perfect multimedia companion thanks to its gorgeous screen.

Best Speakers — Razer Phone 2

Great speakers are such an underrated feature on smartphones these days. Fortunately, we have the Razer Phone 2 to remind us how it should be done. Two powerful speakers facing the user form the best combination we’ve seen all year.

Best Video Shooter — LG V40 ThinQ

LG has yet again brought professional-grade videography to the masses with the V40 ThinQ. While other manufacturers focus purely on photography, this little powerhouse offers a slew of video-recording features that we absolutely adore.

Best Productivity — BlackBerry KEY2

Let’s face it: As much as we’ve gotten used to touchscreen displays, nothing beats the no-look convenience a physical keyboard offers. BlackBerry executed this to perfection with the KEY2, and we’re so glad they did.

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