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

Gaming

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Soundtrack adds 37 new tracks

Get hyped for the remaster as you listen to this diverse set of tracks

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Activision has an exciting addition to its anticipated remaster of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 for new and longtime fans. Even though just a simple release trailer would’ve been great, they decided to take it one step further. In a 14-minute YouTube virtual concert, the developers showcased what is essentially the music behind the remastered classic.

The Noisey YouTube channel hosted this virtual concert, which featured a stellar list of rap, punk, and indie artists. These artists are behind a whopping 37 new tracks added to the remaster’s official soundtrack. Coupled with some of the classic tunes from the original, this soundtrack echoes the sounds of skateboarding. During the concert, artists like CHAII, Merkules, and Machine Gun Kelly even gave us a taste of the new music.

Apart from these, the concert also showcased previews of gameplay from the remaster itself. In between performances, you will just see clips of players doing all sorts of skateboarding tricks across the park. Also, some of the footage even features real-life skaters — or, at least character models of them.

If you want to watch the whole concert, you can watch it here.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 arrives on September 4, 2020 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Enterprise

Smart unveils first 5G gaming hub, speed peaks at 1Gbps

Ready for cloud gaming!

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Smart Communications has unveiled its first 5G-powered gaming hub in the Philippines. Situated at Gariath Concepts sports venue in Quezon City, the deployed 5G connection’s speed peaks at 1Gbps.

An important milestone

To test its speed, Smart hosted the country’s first crossplay match via cloud gaming and gathered esports athletes to partake in the competition.

PLDT-Smart Omega armed its players with 5G-certified handsets and competed with Team LuponWxC playing through their gaming PCs. The athletes played a DoTA 2 match via cloud gaming, where PLDT-Smart Omega was victorious with a score of 34-6.

Cloud Gaming

In Europe and America, Cloud gaming is becoming popular. Cloud gaming streams a game through cloud services letting you play a multitude of gaming titles no matter what device you’re on.

People can play their favorite games even with just a smartphone, as long as they’re using a fast and stable internet connection. No more relying on a gaming console or desktop computers.

Google’s Stadia, Microsoft’s XCloud, and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now are prime examples of game streaming services that offer cloud gaming.

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Gaming

ROG Phone 3, ROG Phone 3 Strix Edition coming to the Philippines

Official announcement is in Mid-August

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If the ASUS ROG Phone 3 announcement made your jaw hit the floor, you’ll be happy to know that the phone, along with the ROG Phone 3 Strix Edition, is coming to the Philippines.

ASUS ROG will make the official announcement on August 15, 2020 at 8PM. Pricing and availability will be revealed that day. You can tune in to the ROG Philippines social media pages to keep yourself updated.

ROG Phone 3

It was earlier announced that the phone will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus. It’s currently Qualcomm’s best and has an array feature geared towards “elite gaming.”

Elsewhere on the phone, it’s all about delivering the best. Naturally, the specs have been maxed out. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • 6.44-inch OLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate
  • Up to 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM
  • Up to 512GB of UFS 3.1 Storage
  • 6000mAh battery with a bundled 30W HyperCharge Adapter
  • Air Triggers with Enhanced Touch Gestures
  • Dual Front Facing Speakers

In terms of look, they toned the ASUS ROG Phone 3 down even more, getting rid of the cutouts that mimic the look of certain ROG laptops. The copper cooling vent has been replaced with a single sheet of glass with a transparent window to show off the AeroDynamic Cooling System.

Armory Crate, Game Genie

Also making an expected return are the gaming-related software baked into the phone. These are the Armory Crate and Game Genie.

With it you can customize how much power each core uses for certain tasks. You can also modify things like RGB lighthing, fan speed, as well as game controls.

Game Genie is like your mobile gaming assistant. Fire it up and it sends you into this interface where you can toggle all the games you have installed. It’s like having a console interface right on your phone.

One of the new accessories coming to the ROG Phone 3 is one that will let you connect your phone to any existing game controller you have lying round. It can be the Xbox Controller, DualShock 4 (PS4), or the Google Stadia controller — all will work with the phone with this new accessory.

Watch our ROG Phone 3 review for more.

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