Gaming

Marvel’s Spider-Man is the open-world superhero game we’ve been waiting for

A spoiler-free hands-on look

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I can only imagine the excitement the team of developers at Insomniac must have felt when they were given the chance to create Spider-Man’s next adventure. It must have been as much as, if not greater than, the thrill fans experienced when seeing the game’s very first trailer.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is a culmination of three and a half years’ worth of coming up with a whole new universe and building solid gameplay around it. Any hardcore fan can agree that a Spider-Man game’s story has to be handled as well as its web-swinging mechanics — which Insomniac wholeheartedly understands.

I was fortunate enough to play the first three hours of the latest Spider-Man, which is exclusive to the PS4, in an invite-only demo session last month. It was barely enough to fully immerse myself into the newly formed world built by legit Spidey fans, but from what I was able to gather, early impressions are mostly positive.

BOOM! That’s exactly how the game starts. You, the player, are instantly thrust into Spider-Man’s world, filled with action, romance, and constant multitasking. This being an open-world title, there’s so much happening at once, but not without a proper introduction.

Web swinging

Your very first task as the neighborhood’s friendly red-and-blue superhero is to swing all the way to a crime scene using — you guessed it — web. Insomniac made it a point to dedicate so much effort into making web swinging feel like you’re truly in Spidey’s suit. I must say, they pretty much nailed it.

All it takes is some timing on the R2 button, and you’re off. It can be a little clumsy at first (I often swung into buildings and unintentionally landed on taxis), but the game will never make you look stupid. Spider-Man himself makes every flight and landing feel graceful, no matter how noobish you are. The animations are as fluid as the graphics itself, and I’d say web swinging is the early favorite for the game’s best gameplay mechanic.

Like how you’d try to climb every mountain and tree in Breath of the Wild because you can, you’ll potentially spend hours roaming the streets of New York City using only your web and desire to be your childhood hero. Even better: There’s no fast travel to checkpoints in this open world. This encourages you to swing from one building to another and absorb what the lively city has to offer.

But as much fun as this travel mechanic is, the real action starts once you get into battle mode, which is a joy in itself.

Not an origin story

The Peter Parker you control isn’t a newbie superhero; this version of the classic character is already a seasoned veteran, and has the skills on top of all the gizmos he’s blessed with. In other words: No Uncle Ben dying on you and doing the “With great power…” rant in the beginning. You go straight to punching baddies and bringing them to justice in the very first act.

To be totally honest, this was the aspect of the game I was most worried about. Spider-Man games have traditionally been weak in the fighting department, often relying on style over substance. Marvel’s Spider-Man is somewhere in the middle in this regard, but at least for the first three hours of gameplay, there’s enough depth to keep you coming back for more.

It’s pretty simple: You press square to punch or kick, triangle to control opponents with your web, circle to dodge, and R1 to activate one of your gadget’s special skills. Stringing combos together adds to your Focus bar, which in turn provides you with useful abilities such as healing. However, even if regenerating health is at your disposal, you’re better off dodging the hell out of every enemy attack.

Spidey doesn’t have a ton of health to work with, at least at the start. The game has a Bayonetta or DMC vibe wherein you’re rewarded more for pulling off perfect dodges and counter-attacking than kicking ass straight up. Spider senses are around to give you visual cues when to dodge, then it’s up to you how to capitalize on the opening.

A couple of hours in, I thoroughly enjoyed the combat system. It’s straightforward and doesn’t require you to analyze much; at the same time, there’s enough variety to make each fight scene feel unique. But again, this is in the early game, and I can imagine it getting stale midway through the plot unless more gimmicks turn up.

The complexity of Spider-Man

After an hour of going through what feels like a long, story-driven tutorial session, you get thrown into Marvel’s interpretation of New York City. Even though the developers call this an open-world game, don’t mistake this for a GTA or Witcher clone. NPC interaction is shallow; you can only say hi, and if you accidentally attack bystanders, they’ll barely flinch.

That’s not a bad thing, though, because the game delivers a bunch of other things to find and do. On top of the side missions that are mildly related to the main storyline, you can collect items needed to upgrade your arsenal and save citizens from low-level baddies. All these allow you to level up — yes, like in an RPG — to learn new abilities through a skill tree (just like in an RPG).

And those aren’t the only RPG-like elements. Opening the in-game menu reveals the city-wide map, your suits, gadgets, the aforementioned skill tree, missions, stuff you’ve collected, benchmarks for stats, characters you’ve met, and complete moves list. That’s a lot, and I didn’t even mention the sub-menus yet. But, perhaps the most interesting section to check out is Spider-Man’s suits. I’d rather not spoil which ones I earned, although I can say I unlocked five in the first three hours alone.

Is there enough to hang on to?

All that’s left to talk about based on my brief hands-on experience is the story, which I can’t delve too much into. As mentioned earlier, you get to enter the mind of a veteran Peter Parker who’s 23 years of age and has been doing this superhero thing for eight years already. Sounds like there’s a lot of established plot points early on, but that’s far from the truth.

The thing is, this isn’t based on any comic storyline or the Marvel Cinematic Universe — everything you see and play here is unique to this game alone. Because of that, finding out who’s involved in the plot and how they relate to Peter can potentially spoil some key points. What I can say is that Peter works in a lab, wherein you the player get to solve puzzles as part of Peter’s research, and Mary Jane is the primary love interest.

The trailers have already revealed tons of friends and foes, and I barely scratched the surface during my short time with the game. When I asked the team behind Marvel’s Spider-Man how they plan to cram so many characters in a single title and avoid the mistakes of past Spider-Man movies, they simply said the trick is in pacing.

It certainly looks like the developers know how to plan out a game as fast-paced as this. The early excitement and depth are there from the very start, and I could tell that there’s so much more in store for the remaining 90 percent of the game.

Is it good enough to sell consoles? Maybe, but critical and commercial success do seem to be on its horizon.

Gaming

realme 6 review: Perfect gaming phone for the lockdown?

Let’s play to cope

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realme is stepping up to the plate with a new gaming phone with the realme 6. Was anyone particularly surprised? I was. But, before we get into the review, there’s no point avoiding the giant invasive elephant in the room whenever we talk about new releases. COVID-19 has drastically shifted our lives and has ultimately changed how we interact with everyone. It’s dramatically changed how we navigate our day-to-day.

Painful reality

But, reality still. For the most part, everything is in one enclosed space now. There’s no spatial separation between work, school, home, and play. Honestly, time has also probably warped since this entire thing hit the fan for most of us. We’ve probably lost track of time more than once in the entire year and it’s still just May.

Strap up, boys and girls, 2020 is a wild one.

Which brings me to something I personally find helpful in an anxiety-inducing time: playing games. Now, now, a bunch of gatekeepers have kept to their high horse over the ancient PC or console debate but, I think phones have a large new place in the argument.

Games, like most other art forms, rooted itself as a form of entertainment, a pass-time. Granted, a large industry grew from building competitiveness within the ecosystem, the point still stands. Games are for fun. Play it however way you like. It is still for your enjoyment or entertainment.

What’s this got to do with anything?

Things don’t exist in their own fantastical bubble. Don’t we just all wish it did though? I’d previously referenced how video games have had a significantly positive impact on my mental health. In a time where anxiety, depression, and manic attacks are at an all-time high, I think I don’t just speak for myself when I say having something for cognitive distraction or a twinge of healthy escapism is helpful and welcome.

Here’s where I timely segue into how the realme 6 played a quiet role in calming the daunting storm stirring in my head in most days.

A “gaming phone” how?

Okay, this phone sat in my apartment since the lockdown began and I’m not going to lie, the timing was a little strange. This year didn’t just start a mess, it proceeded to get worse and worse. From volcanoes erupting, forest fires, Kobe, and locusts, you could say the universe heard everyone’s posts testing how it could get any worse and slapped big ol’ corona into the mix.

That aside, I lucked out a bit with the Realme 6 with me since the lockdown began. With a Helio G90T processor, 90Hz refresh rate display, 8GB RAM and 128 GB storage and fast-charging 4,300mAh battery, you can only imagine the reckless abandon I had when playing new offline games during the quarantine.

The phone measures 6.5 inches and optimizes it with FHD resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to make sure that beauty stays protected. The Realme 6 doesn’t really disappoint.

It delivers on all those specs and makes playing games look stunning. It’s so good that when you’re a little manic and need some cathartic kills, there’s honestly nothing wrong with hopping into a game and getting some frags.

Not just a gaming phone

Here, we talk about the things we didn’t ask for but, obviously things the phone delivers on without being asked of. The realme 6 is a pretty impressive phone. It delivers on all fronts relating to gaming and even the battery life can hold up to more than eight (8) hours of play and use.

But, that isn’t what makes the realme 6 a phone. We can call it a convenient handheld with everything so far but it has a decent set of cameras worth mentioning.

The cameras

The Realme 6 has a 64MP Quad camera with a 16MP in-display selfie camera. It’s got Super Nightscape 2.0 for low-light shots, Ultra Image Stabilization, 120fps Slow-Mo Selfie, and Real-Time Bokeh Video.

I went out to test these features and they deliver. The photos below are pretty telling of my uneventful lockdown lifestyle so dial it down on dissing the silly still shots.

Selfie, ta-dah!

Nit-picking the little things

If there’s one silly downside though, the phone does struggle to focus on moving objects. And, if there’s one petty thing I personally am not a fan of, it’s notches and in-display selfie cameras.

No jabs at realme for that one though, that’s all me. Anything blocking even the tiniest part of any display just throws me off and reminds me of the Zima Blue episode in Love, Death, and Robots.

Sometimes, it’s not a design flaw; sometimes, it’s just a depressive lunatic associating a tiny round in-display camera to the void of her own existence.

Is the realme 6 your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for the perfect phone to play and keep yourself sane with progressive quality lockdown selfies and photos, this is the phone for you. It lets you play, keep sane, and gets through a full day of use quite easily.

If you’re looking for a phone that delivers on stunning gameplay, performance, and lots of storage while having uncompromised camera features, this is definitely the phone you’re looking for.

Real talk real quick though, I think the realme 6 was the perfect lockdown companion. There’s been many a time where I found myself stirring some random crap up and I needed a moment of just disconnecting to ironically come back more connected. Some paradox of an existence we all have, huh.

The realme 6 — a successor of the realme 5 Pro — is available in 4GB RAM + 128GB storage for PhP11,990 and in 8GB RAM + 128GB storage variant for PhP13,990. It can be purchased online on the official realme Lazada store.

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Gaming

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 review: A fun beat’em up

Relive the story without having to replay hundreds of episodes

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Have you ever wanted to play as your favorite One Piece character while mowing through mobs like a one-man army? Then One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is for you.

This game from Omega Force incorporates One Piece’s well-loved story and characters with gameplay from the Dynasty Warriors franchise — the property that the developer is most known for. This is the fourth installment in the series and is the follow-up from the 2015 One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3.

It adds more to the story, some game elements, and the most noticeable is the character roster that’s massive compared to previous entries. It’s available in Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows platforms.

Simple game modes

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 has three modes: Dramatic Log, Free Log, and Treasure Log. Dramatic Log is where all of One Piece’s story so far. It’s crammed into ten plus hours of chapters and episodes which is no easy feat especially for a long-running series like this one.

While the efforts are commendable, a casual fan who hasn’t closely followed the manga or anime would have more questions than answers. I can understand that this game is geared towards One Piece fans. Anyone who has read the manga up to the latest chapter or watched the latest episode of the anime should have no trouble keeping up.

Free Log is where you can go back to the episodes you’ve already cleared in Dramatic Log with any unlocked character. The last mode, the Treasure Log, is where you go through missions to gain materials for upgrades. Some characters can be unlocked by completing a certain number of missions in this mode.

One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 also has a multiplayer feature. You can play co-op with other players to aid you in your missions. Luckily for me, it didn’t have the connectivity issues that frustrated me in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. Unlike in that game, it’s easy to join other players’ sessions as long as they’re available.

Most characters can be unlocked by progressing through the Dramatic Log while some others by meeting certain conditions.

Unapologetically a beat’em up game

Pirate Warriors 4 is an action-adventure beat ‘em up game. That means you get to through hordes of pirate or navy lackeys like an absolute badass until the boss shows up. You go through main missions with mini objectives sprinkled here and there. These include eliminating certain characters or protecting allies from getting their HP reduced to zero.

Stronger enemies have armor gauges under the HP bars that are needed to be depleted in order for you to inflict damage. Controls are easy to get a grasp of: two buttons for attack, one for dashing/dodging and one for jumping.

I started the game mindlessly mashing the buttons until I found out my favorite button combinations through experimentation. I learned later that the moves list can be found in the menus with enough digging.

One thing I found challenging was controlling certain characters that are naturally airborne. It can be hard to hit grounded enemies when you can’t control your character’s elevation and have to wait until when you’re just hovering above ground.

This is one of the reasons why I shied away from using Luffy’s 4th gear form or Sanji unless I’m required to in Dramatic Log. Using the camera lock on stronger enemies like bosses alleviates this a bit but the controls still require a bit of a learning curve.

The game also allows for customization options. By earning the required materials and enough of the in-game currency, you will be able to upgrade your character’s stats, skills, and special moves.

There’s a common attribute and skill tree that can be used by all characters. Then there’s also character-specific ones that can be unlocked once that character reaches a certain level.

Thanks to my usual habit of hoarding in-game materials, I didn’t bother with this until later on in the story where I noticed that I’m not dealing enough damage and the missions are becoming more time-consuming. I breezed through the rest of the story after upgrading my offensive capabilities.

You can upgrade your attributes and even gain skills and specials. The Beginning Map applies to all characters while there are maps specific for characters.

A fun way to recap One Piece

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4  lets you relive the story without having to replay hundreds of episodes of the anime. Beating up hordes of enemy pirates as your favorite character from the series while feeling like a one-man army just feels great.

I found it time-consuming at first but once you’ve upgraded your stats, you can easily sneak in a round or two during your short breaks. The menu layout requires a bit of digging to find what you want or need (like reviewing the objectives or your moves list) and some controls can use a little improvement.

I enjoyed playing One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 and I’m sure a bonafide One Piece fan would feel at home. Now, it’s  time to pick up the manga so I can be filled in with the things I missed in the story.


This game was reviewed on a PS4 by Lance Aquino. He juggles multiple hobbies while working in the BPO industry. Outside of gaming, he mostly tries to learn how to draw and write short stories that are often inspired by the anime or manga that he watched or read.

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Gaming

ASUS TUF Gaming A15, A17 now official in the Philippines

New look, better specs, still TUF

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The newest iterations of ASUS’ TUF Gaming series come with improvements on the inside and on the outside. New to the lineup are the 15-inch ASUS TUF Gaming A15 and the 17-inch ASUS TUF Gaming A17.

Both laptops come with the latest 4th Gen AMD Ryzen processors and in the new Fortress Gray design. The TUF Gaming series are now in smaller but without any compromises as it adds more input ports like a USB 3.2 Type-C port for 4k display output.There’s also the DTS X: Ultra Audio speakers for audio improvement.

While some things changes, other stayed the same. The signature Military Grade Standard Durability that the TUF series has been known is still here.

Working in tandem with the Ryzen chips to deliver a powerful gaming experience is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU and up to a Ryzen 9 4900H CPU. Adding some smoothness is support for up to a 144Hz refresh rate display supported by Adaptive Sync Technology.

Pricing and availability

The first model for the ASUS TUF Gaming A15 will be the FX506IU-AL111T, equipped with the latest R7-4800H, GTX 1660Ti, with 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD + 512 SSD storage, topped off with the 15” FHD 144Hz IPS display.

The price is PhP 69,995.00 and will be available starting May 22, 2020.

Here are details for the rest of the models:

Series MODEL LCD LCD TYPE CPU RAM HDD VGA COLOR BUNDLE SRP ARRIVAL DATE
TUF GAMING A15 FX506IU-AL111T 15” FHD IPS 144HZ R7- 4800H 8G 1TB HDD + 512 PCIE2 GTX 1660ti

6GD6

Fortress Black TUF Backpack PHP 69,995 May 22, 2020
TUF GAMING A15 FX506IV-AL129T 15” FHD IPS 144HZ R9- 4900H 8G 1TB HDD + 512 PCIE2 RTX 2060 6GD6 Fortress Black TUF Backpack

TUF M5 Gaming Mouse

PHP 79,995 June 2020
TUF GAMING A15 FX506II-AL120T 15” FHD IPS 144HZ R7- 4800H 4Gx2 1TB HDD + 256G PCIE2 GTX 1650ti 4GD6 Fortress Black TUF Backpack PHP 61,995 June 2020
TUF GAMING A15 FX506II-AL049T 15” FHD IPS 144HZ R5- 4600H 4Gx2 512G PCIE2 GTX 1650ti 4GD6 Fortress Black TUF Backpack PHP 51,995 June 2020
TUF GAMING A17 FX706II-H7082T 17” FHD IPS 120HZ R7- 4800H 8G 1TB HDD + 512 PCIE2 GTX 1660ti 6GD6 Fortress Black TUF Backpack PHP 71,995 June 2020
TUF GAMING A17 FX706II-H7088T 17” FHD IPS 120HZ R7- 4800H 8G 1TB HDD + 256G PCIE2 GTX 1650ti 4GD6 Fortress Black TUF Backpack PHP 64,995 June 2020

 

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