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

You can now play Xbox games on an iPhone

Only for Xbox Series X and Xbox One

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Earlier this year, Samsung announced a blockbuster partnership with Microsoft. Starting with the Note 20 series, Samsung users can start streaming Xbox games from the cloud right on their phone. The partnership marks a landmark move for the future of cloud gaming. Now, you can now play Xbox games on an iPhone and an iPad.

As part of its ongoing cloud gaming initiatives, Microsoft launched a new Xbox app for the App Store. The new app comes with a remote play feature, reminiscent of the PlayStation’s own take on the functionality. With the feature, you can play your Xbox games on an iPhone and an iPad.

Of note, however, the feature does not connect directly to Microsoft’s xCloud project. Meaning, you can only link to games that you own on your Xbox One or Xbox Series X. That said, you can stream games from the aforementioned Xbox models, not any from Microsoft’s older models.

With the new app, you can also control your Xbox remotely from your phone. Again, it’s much like what Sony already offers.

The new app comes right in time for the upcoming Xbox Series X and Series S. With the app, Microsoft is expanding their gaming ecosystem extensively. Amidst the rise of next-generation gaming, cloud gaming is making a compelling case for the future.

SEE ALSO: Xbox Series X confirms a November launch date

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Deals

Razer opens flagship store on Lazada

Discounted products are available for a limited time

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For a long time, Filipino gamers have been waiting for Razer to bring its products to the Philippine shore. The long wait is over, as Razer opens its flagship store on Lazada.

Right now, the brand only offers a handful of products. These include its own face mask, mouse mats, game controllers, keyboard switches, headsets, microphones, and more. Also, the prices of these products are slashed for a limited time.

Some discounted Razer products include:

More products are available on Razer Lazada store.

Unfortunately, the brand hasn’t brought its popular gaming laptops to the country — yet. Still, it’s only a matter of time before Razer brings its laptops considering the demand among Filipino gamers.

Mobile Legends tournament

To celebrate the launch of its store, Razer will host a Mobile Legends tournament this October 23. Two teams composed of pro athletes and gaming streamers will compete in the said competition. Everyone can watch the tournament here.

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Features

Sony PlayStation 5: A complete rundown

The company’s next generation console launches worldwide on November 19

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PlayStation 5

On November 19, the rest of the world will witness the arrival of the PlayStation 5. Sony’s next generation console plans to bring a new gaming experience, fit with the latest hardware. With the release nearing, here’s what you need to know about it:

AMD decking out the internals

The PlayStation 5 rocks an x86-x64 AMD Ryzen CPU following the Zen 2 architecture. For its GPU, it comes with an AMD Radeon RDNA graphics engine that supports active ray tracing. Essentially, what these provide are incredible game quality at higher frame rates.

Speaking of internals, this next-gen console comes with an expandable storage slot that supports M.2 SSDs. It already comes with up to 825GB of SSD storage, with a good portion of it to the operating system. With the SSD in place, expect your games to load pretty fast upon boot.

Supports almost all PS4 titles released prior

The PlayStation will have native support for most PlayStation 4 games

Several sources confirmed that indeed, the PlayStation 5 comes with backward compatibility features. This means that you don’t have to dispose any of your old PlayStation 4 games just yet. As for older PlayStation systems, Sony has yet to confirm compatibility for these yet.

Not only will the PS5 support these titles, but you can even upgrade some of your PS4 games to a digital PS5 version. Sony laid out instructions on how to do this through their support page, so you best keep your PS4 library. However, take note that this upgrade could come for free or with a cost.

The hardware and software integration

PlayStation 5

Just recently, Sony showed off the PlayStation 5’s new UI, complete with integration with their new hardware. Features like the Control Center and Activities all work seamlessly, especially with their new DualSense controller. With these features, you can continue playing your game while checking on what you missed out on.

Apart from the DualSense controller, Sony also unveiled its lineup of optional accessories that will come with the PS5. This includes its PULSE 3D Wireless Headset, the Media Remote, a 1080p PlayStation Camera, and the DualSense charging station.

Physical or digital, the choice is yours

Upon launch, you have a choice between the Blu-ray physical edition or the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. The key difference between the two is, well the latter does not come with a Blu-ray disc reader inside. The Digital Edition comes in at US$ 399.99, while the Blu-ray Edition comes in at US$ 499.99.

PlayStation 5

Along with the PS5, several game developers plan to launch their games alongside it. Titles like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles MoralesAssassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and Gran Turismo 7 are just some on the list. Also, several current-gen titles will get their own PS5 digital versions like NBA 2K21.


We’ll update this space should there be more information about the PS5.

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