Gaming

God of War: A must-play for 2018

Like Kratos, this game has grown like fine wine

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I’ll try my best not to overhype this, but God of War is an easy, early entry for 2018’s game of the year.

Okay, I may have failed that hyping part, but that’s exactly how you’ll feel too after getting your ass kicked by the first semi-boss battle thinking this is the same game you conquered years back. After trying, and failing, to hack-and-slash your way through that battle, you’ll quickly realize how much more depth this game has compared to the God of War games that came before it.

The first thing that jumps out at you is the series-lead Kratos. He’s now bearded, looks older, and definitely acts wiser. Going through the first hour or so of the game, you’ll see that this is not the same vengeance-seeking beast that unleashed a vicious assault for one Greek god after another.

Kratos is now more measured. Retribution is no longer his single driving force. It’s more a sense of duty — duty to fulfill a promise to his wife who had passed and a duty to raise their son Atreus, who’s a key part both in the story and the gameplay.

Atreus is the man

The idea of a vengeful Spartan warrior fueled by rampage having a son seemed unimaginable at first, but bringing Atreus into the fold proved to be the perfect way to expand God of War. The passing of his wife leaves Atreus in his care; Atreus adds depth to Kratos.

At the beginning of the game, he teaches the child how to hunt. You can hear the frustration in his voice as the boy fails in his first attempt. Instead of going ballistic, he reigns himself in before providing stern and sound advice.

The interplay between father and son is present nearly the entire duration of the game. Their dialogue goes on not only in cinematic scenes but even as you go through the game whether you’re searching for clues, solving puzzles, or just trying to figure out where to go next.

Atreus aids you in battle. His arrow can stun opponents or take their attention off of you, and his proficiency and power grow as the game progresses. However, that’s not the only area where Atreus proves helpful. The boy is able to read ancient writings that provide clues on how you can solve puzzles or move on from a certain point.

One shot is all it takes

One of the biggest technical accomplishments of the game is how it’s a one-shot story, which means there’s absolutely zero loading screens. That’s a challenge both in game production and storytelling. From the get-go, it puts you right in the heart of the action being in the shoes of the central figures of the story. It makes for an ultra-immersive experience that will leave you invested in how their relationship develops.

It doesn’t feel like a straight-up tutorial, but the game uses the first 8 to 10 hours to show you the ropes. From attacking, using Atreus, upgrading your equipment, and many others. After that, it opens up to a slew of side quests that can be as satisfying as pushing the story forward. While it is by no means a true open-world game, it’s wide enough that it lets you explore, but not too wide that you feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities.

It’s still about Kratos

With all of that said, this is still a God of War game, meaning Kratos is still at the heart of it. In many ways, this new Kratos mirrors the game’s growth. In the previous era wherein he unapologetically laid waste to the Greek gods, Kratos seemed more one-dimensional. He had one goal and that was to exact revenge and the games’ hack-and-slash approach reflected that.

This older Kratos appears to have grown as he is forced into a situation where he has to care for his child. Fatherhood puts the Spartan warrior in an unfamiliar place. While there is still rage within him, he appears more subdued. At times he struggles with how to speak with Atreus and it’s that very struggle that shows a side of Kratos we likely have never seen before: a tenderness that’s somehow out of character.

Don’t let that fool you, though. There’s still plenty of raging Kratos here. What this game has masterfully done is retain the identity and history of the previous God of War games while infusing it with learnings from the games that have come during the franchise’s hiatus.

The easiest comparison you’ll see is how it’s a more casual-gamer-friendly version of Dark Souls. And while I did think that, the approach feels more derivative rather than a direct recreation.

Nothing communicates that experience better than Kratos’ new weapon: the Leviathan axe. Gone are the chain blades that devastated draugrs and gods alike. Kratos’ axe is infused with ice magic, able to stun opponents. One of the most badass parts of the game is how you can throw the axe and summon it right back. But don’t think for a second that Kratos will be helpless without the axe. You still have his shield and his bare hands, and that’s sometimes required to defeat certain foes.

The battle system still feels as satisfying as ever. It requires more thinking than straight-up slashing which should be a welcome challenge whether you’re a veteran of the franchise or you’re being introduced to it through this game.

God of War

Even though Kratos has aged, nothing about this game feels old. There’s still enough God of War oomph that endeared it to its long-time fans while adding elements that can easily be embraced by a newer generation of gamers looking to dig into the lore of the franchise.

This is by far the easiest single-player, story-driven game to recommend to anyone this year. If you have time to play only a handful of games on the PS4 this year, God of War should be on that list.

SEE ALSO: God of War: An older Kratos needs a wiser you

Gaming

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is now available

The first laptop with a whopping 300Hz refresh rate

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ASUS ROG continues to roll out more premium gaming devices, with the latest one coming from the Zephyrus lineup. The two new Zephyrus laptops now come with the highest refresh rate on any device along with powerful hardware.

Starting today, you can get your hands on the new ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701. The new  Zephyrus S comes with a 17.3-inch IPS FHD display with a whopping 300Hz refresh rate. To complement this high of a refresh rate, ASUS ROG even slapped in either an NVIDIA RTX 2070 or NVIDIA RTX 2080 inside. Along with the latest Intel Core i7 processor inside, the ROG Zephyrus S GX701 looks to be the ideal gaming laptop for the pros.

Depending on the unit you get, you also get up to 32 GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. All of these contribute to unparalleled performance for any task you throw at it, or any game you throw at it. Both units also come with Gigabit WiFi adapters for better wireless connectivity and Bluetooth 5.0. When you purchase the whole package, you also get a free ROG Backpack, Cerberus Gaming Headset, teh ROG Gladius II, and an ROG Eye webcam.

The ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701 is available in all ASUS and ASUS ROG Concept Stores. The 32GB RAM, RTX 2080 unit is priced at PhP 209,995, while the 16GB RAM, RTX 2070 unit comes in at PhP 169,995.

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Gaming

FFVII remake teasers now comes with behind the scenes footage

A look into the iconic theme song and squad

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A delay in release did not stop Square Enix from teasing Final Fantasy fans even more. This time, however, the company is  just giving us two things to prepare our minds and hearts for the remake.

The first one, as you’ve seen from the header image, an HD recreation of Cloud Strife and his trusty motorcycle. An entire cast literally joins him in the picture, including Aerith, Tifa, Barret, and even Red XIII. Looks like this is just feeding more details on character art, more than anything else.

The second one is actually a behind-the-scenes look into the end theme of the whole remake. Nobuo Uematsu guides us through the creative process behind the end theme, including the recording sessions for it. To see more of it, here’s the entire behind-the-scenes footage:

Square Enix’ remake of Final Fantasy VII will be released on April 10, 2020. It will only be available for the PlayStation 4, and pre-orders are still being accepted.

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Apps

NVIDIA’s GeForce Now is ready for gamers

Another cloud gaming competitor

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NVIDIA’s game streaming service, GeForce NOW, is ready for gamers looking for alternatives to Google’s Stadia and Microsoft XCloud. NVIDIA is looking at its support for more devices and compatibility with existing game stores as its edge against competitors.

Luring in gamers

NVIDIA GeForce NOW is now available for general audience after it entered beta last year. Starting today, gamers can opt for either of the two tiers: Free and Founders.

Gamers on Free tier have to contend with a one-hour gameplay limit. Plus, they maybe put on a wait list for a certain game if there is too much demand. Meanwhile, gamers on Founders tier have priority access to games, a six-hour gameplay limit, and support for RTX.

Unlike its competitors, NVIDIA’s game streaming service supports more devices. It is available now in Windows, macOS, Android and SHIELD TV platform, with Chromebook support coming in the future.

This game streaming service also works differently than Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s XCloud. It streams supported games from the Steam library, Epic Games Store, Battle.net, and Uplay.

There is no need to purchase a game as gamers can simply stream it if the service supports it. Smooth gameplay is guaranteed with support of up to 1080 at 60FPS.

Pricing and availability

GeForce NOW is available on all 30 countries across North America and Europe. Beta users are migrated automatically. For those planning to pay for the Founders tier, they will only have to shell out US$ 4.99 per month.

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