Gaming

Marvel’s Spider-Man Review: Spidey in all his glory

‘Face it, Tiger. You just hit the jackpot.’

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As one of the most beloved superheroes of all time, there’s a significant amount of pressure in creating anything about Spider-Man and video games are no exception. In Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4, the folks over at Insomniac Games captured exactly what it means to be the wall-crawling hero in red and blue tights.

This game has everything: quips, great action and gameplay, quips, a masterful recreation of New York, quips, a story that’s original but feels familiar and stays faithful to its source material — oh, and did I mention quips?


Spidey's not shy about taking selfies

Spidey’s not shy about taking selfies

Web Slinger, Defender, and Innovator

A critical part of the game that Insomniac had to nail is web swinging and nail it they did. It’s the perfect balance of simple but not negligible, and it ends up being really enjoyable. While R2 is the main button for web swinging, there are other buttons you’ll end up using if you want to up your style.

In fact, part of the game’s skill tree is all about improving your traversal or web slinging skills. There are upgrades that let you do tricks mid-air, increase your speed while swinging, and while there’s a superhero landing that we’ve seen countless times in movies, another badass skill you can get is the superhero hero takeoff which is essentially a stylish high leap from the ground that adds flare to how you move.

The other two primary skills mainly have to do with combat. The Defender and Innovator skills consist of clever ways in which you can maneuver Spidey and his webs against foes. While the combat buttons feel basic enough — press square to punch or kick, triangle to use your web against baddies, circle to dodge, X to jump, and L1 and R1 to choose and use one of your gadgets — the combinations feel endless. The relatively simple controls together with the absolutely kinetic pace, fantastic action sequences, and the ability to use your surroundings ensure that the combat never feels stale.

You don’t always have to come out swinging, though. One of my favorite parts of the game is taking down thugs stealthily. The Innovator skill set comes into play here. Sneaking around an enemy base and using your web to immobilize henchmen is extremely satisfying.

New York is up for exploring

I haven’t had the chance to explore the game’s open-world as much as I would want to but when you get the game, you definitely should. You don’t have to worry about missing the sights, as part of the game is making sure you do explore the most remarkable landmarks The Big Apple has to offer. Peter Parker the photographer is also tapped into during the game. Part of the tokens you’ll need to unlock skills, suits, and other power-ups include taking photos of certain landmarks. A bonus for Marvel fans, the landmarks aren’t limited to ones we know of in real life. 😉

As seen in trailers, you’ll find various backpacks around the city. Collecting the backpacks leads to unlocking power-ups and suits so there’s a real incentive to hunting them all down. How is Peter, who is behind on his rent, able to afford all those backpacks? That question will be answered cleverly as you collect more of them. Inside the backpacks are memorabilia and is an interesting way of telling the eight-year history of this particular Spider-Man.

A funny bit about exploring: If you ever get tired of swinging across town (and after a while, you will), there’s a fast travel option that will let you use New York’s subway not as Peter but as Spider-Man. If you don’t crack a smile at some of the subway cut scenes, you need to re-evaluate your life.

Peter Parker: Nephew, ex-boyfriend, brilliant lab assistant, superhero

Without sharing too much detail about the story, what this game truly gets right is how Peter Parker balances his life as both Peter and Spider-Man. In various scenes you’ll see him talking to Aunt May on the phone while dealing with villains. In this story, his main love interest is Mary Jane Watson (MJ for short) and they had been broken up for six months. Their paths cross again as MJ, who works as an investigative reporter for the Daily Bugle, follows the same crime that Spidey is trying to solve.

In this game, you’re not just Spider-Man, you’re also Peter Parker

The dynamic between Peter and MJ struck me the most. As a guy who also attempted to get back together with his ex, the game captured that back-and-forth perfectly and while it’s not the most gripping thing about the game, it’s a testament to how Insomniac didn’t put anything in the backseat and chose the right moments to highlight the various things that make Peter the hero that he is.

MJ also happens to be a playable character, and in what I believe is one of the better missions in this game, you primarily control her while working together with Spider-Man all while discussing how their relationship has gone. It’s truly a very Spider-Man mission and I am glad this game has it.

The game also captures the brilliant mind of Peter Parker — something that’s not always evident in the movies. Working as a lab assistant to a brilliant scientist we’re all familiar with, this is one of the relationships in the game that will truly hammer home how tough it is living a double-life if you didn’t inherit a billion-dollar company from your parents.

Easter Eggs

Long-time Spidey fans will have a field day on this game early on. There are plenty of callbacks to scenes present in both the comics and the films. One of the most iconic Spidey panels of all time from The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #33 — the one where he musters all his strength to get himself out of being buried in a rubble — is paid homage to in the early stage of the game.

This iconic panel has been recreated in various Spider-Man adaptations

There’s also a reference to the very famous upside-down kissing scene in the first Spider-Man movie featuring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. The train scene in the sequel of the aforementioned film was also alluded to in a critical scene.

Other Easter eggs are placed elsewhere in the game, particularly in the landmarks that you’ll need to take photos of.

This game, while a standalone story, is incredibly self-aware and does a lot of well-placed fan service that will please both comic book and movie fans. To a certain extent, it has a Marvel Cinematic Universe feel to it. Which means you have to see it through until the end.

“Face it, Tiger. You just hit the jackpot.”

Marvel’s Spider-Man is amazing, spectacular, and the ultimate video game experience for any fan of the friendly neighborhood wall crawler.

I cannot say this enough: Insomniac Games captured the very essence of Spider-Man and turned it into a video game that’s aware of the character’s history across all forms of media.

This is a masterpiece and will no doubt be referenced as one of the most faithful adaptations of one of the most iconic superheroes ever.

Gaming

Days Gone Review: Finding the truth through survival

To know the truth, you must survive against all odds!

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Bend Studio wanted to bring something new to the table for its latest release. They needed a familiar concept, a dramatic story line, a pinch of survival instincts, and a complete rethinking of the term “zombie.” The result, simply, became Days Gone.

I came into the early preview event for the game two months ago with the expectation of something different. Initially, what I got was something that just felt different in concept — but I wanted to believe that it could be different. Now that I finally got to play the game in full, here’s my complete analysis of Days Gone.


Redefining the plot for zombie games

My initial reaction to Days Gone went something like, “It’s just another game with zombies and guns in it.” Most zombie games often end up focusing on survival and combat, without really putting too much attention on the narratives behind the characters. Days Gone, in my opinion, went for the bold approach.

The entire game takes place two years into a global pandemic that shook Oregon to the core. Deacon St. John, an outlaw turned Drifter, must deal with his ever-changing world filled with zombies called Freakers while attending to the people he holds near and dear — all while he’s trying to find out the root cause of the pandemic, and ultimately what happened to his wife, Sarah.

If anything, I feel this is what differentiates Days Gone from most titles leaning towards survival in a zombie-laden world. It gives off a whole new dimension to the approach on developing quality games with an equally good story to supplement the experience. The plot drives a lot of the activities that take place within the game, and provides ample time for you to accomplish them.

Survival through scarcity and stealth

At the heart of Days Gone is survival, which is heavily understated by the number of things you have to deal with. It’s you against the massive horde of Freakers that are out to devour you. If that’s not enough, you also have to deal with all sorts of Freakers — yes, even animals can become zombies!

If you’re still unfazed, you have to deal with the rest of humanity that’s fighting for survival, as well. From enemy Marauders to cultist Rippers, the enemies just didn’t stop coming for me from all sides. And, to make matters extremely difficult, you have to face all of them with relatively limited supplies and a maximum of four weapons.

Obviously if you can’t fight them, you could just run or get on your motorcycle and flee. The motorcycle does stay with you all throughout, especially for traveling across the vast environment of northwestern Oregon! You can recover your motorcycle if you get into trouble, which I found helpful when it got stuck in the river.

But, if you want to be smart, the stealth mechanic works wonders! If you’re someone who just loves to go on the offensive all the time, you’re at an obvious disadvantage in this game. I felt that this game heavily maximized this feature all the way. This was more evident with the NERO missions to discover what really happened to Sarah.

Never running out of things to do

This game, for the life of me, just keeps you busy every time. Along the way, you’ll discover survival camps, each with their own set of main and side missions to accomplish. Accomplishing them gives you credits that unlock upgrades for your motorcycle or weapons. Evidently, a lot of the missions contribute to the main story line, as well.

I loved that there were so many missions to complete, and you’re not kept idle. Missions keep coming in left and right, allowing you to get things going right off the bat. When one mission ends, one to three more open up for you to do, and you can take your sweet time navigating which one you would want to do first.

Some side missions do get in the way of your progression of a main story mission, though. They’re optional in that they hardly contribute to the main plot, but they show up on the map as if they’re that important for you to check out. Also, there are certain missions that you can only do at certain times of the day, and the game just immediately forwards the time into that. I feel that time moves relatively fast in this game, but I could give it a pass.

I didn’t like the lack of free roam in this game. With so many things happening all at once, it feels like you’re not really given the option to freely roam the entire map. Of course, blocked paths are a given — especially if it’s a part that you will only touch on at a later time. Still, you have to deal with Freakers left and right, Marauders/Rippers with snipers and traps in hand, scarce resources, and the rigorous day-night cycle when trying to explore northwest Oregon.

An overall verdict

Days Gone presents a similar concept with a bold twist. At best, it showcases the very same zombie-game mechanic and survival mentality players must possess. At its core, it hinges on survival instincts and resourcefulness, especially in an environment ravaged by overwhelming threats.

However, what really drives Days Gone home is its bold approach to the plot and character development of Deacon. I felt that if anything was going to differentiate this game from all the others, it boiled down to its plot. Most of your actions and missions all throughout make sense in the grander scheme of the game’s storyline. Couple that with almost realistic gameplay, and I honestly believe that the game has delivered on its promise.

Days Gone will be available exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on April 26.

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ASUS has new ROG Zephyrus laptops with GTX Turing, 9th-gen Core i7

More new gaming laptops from ASUS

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ASUS ROG Zephyrus M | GadgetMatch

Aside from the new Strix notebooks, ASUS‘ popular ROG line of gaming notebooks also has new Zephyrus models. Complete with the latest GTX Turing graphics and 9th-gen Intel Core processors, you have three powerful laptops to choose from.

First is the ROG Zephyrus G which is one of the subtle gaming laptops in the ROG family. How so? This ROG notebook lets go of the flashy RGB backlighting and only has a simple white backlit keyboard. Also, it’s overall design is more subdued than other gaming laptops in the market.


Don’t mistake it to be a run-of-the-mill gaming laptop though; the Zephyrus G sports the new AMD Ryzen 7-3750H processor and NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti graphics. It also has a 15-inch 120Hz IPS display with narrow bezels. The notebook can support up to 24GB DDR4 memory and up to 512GB SSD. ASUS promises seven hours of battery life; that is if you’re just browsing the web.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G | Image credit: ASUS

Next in line are the updated ROG Zephyrus S and ROG Zephyrus M models. Both ROG notebooks practically share the same chassis with 15-inch displays, but with minor differences in specs.

The top-of-the-line Zephyrus S comes with the latest 9th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA RTX 2070 graphics, plus it has ROG Boost for better performance. It even comes with a GPU switch to save battery life when G-Sync is not needed. Speaking of the display, it features a Pantone Validated panel with an insanely fast 240Hz refresh rate and 3ms response time.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S | Image credit: ASUS

The Zephyrus M, on the other hand, is a toned-down version with NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti graphics. Since this one doesn’t need much power to supply its internals, it can be charged through USB-C when needed. It’ll also come with a new 9th-gen Intel Core i7 processor with dual M.2 NVMe SSD slots.

Unfortunately, ASUS has yet to disclose the official prices of these notebooks. They’ll be available where ROG notebooks are distributed soon.

SEE ALSO: ASUS unleashes new ROG Strix with GTX Turing graphics, enhanced RGB lighting

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Gaming

ASUS unleashes new ROG Strix with GTX Turing, enhanced RGB lighting

RGB lighting is truly a thing

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ASUS ROG Strix G | GadgetMatch

ASUS is making it rain with newly announced gaming laptops sporting the new processors and graphics from Intel and NVIDIA.

Two of the newest ROG laptops are the Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III. Like their predecessors, both flagship ROG Strix models are nearly identical in design and specs.


What’s new on the Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III are the faster 240Hz/3ms display for the 15-inch variant and 144Hz/3ms display for the 17-inch model. This easily meets the requirements for professional-grade esports gaming.

Not only that, the new 9th-gen Intel processors paired with NVIDIA GTX graphics will be able to give the power gamers need. The redesigned chassis also helps in the cooling system with increased airflow, plus they now have a wrap-around RGB light. Gamers will be able to display their AuraSync lights to the surrounding environment.

ASUS ROG Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III | Image credit: ASUS

To make the Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III unique in the sea of gaming laptops, ASUS is introducing what they call the Keystone. The Keystone is pretty much like a USB key that saves your gaming profiles with preset light and audio effects. Also, it’s a key for unlocking another new feature called Shadow Drive, an encrypted hidden partition for personal file storage.

If the Strix Scar III and Strix Hero III models are too much, you could choose to have the newest member of the ROG family: the Strix G. ASUS is promoting the newest model in the Strix lineup to be streamlined design with a focus on performance and only the essentials.

ASUS ROG Strix G | GadgetMatch

That doesn’t mean the Strix G will be a boring gaming laptop though, as it also comes with the new wrap-around RGB bar that extends to the sides.

Of course, the Strix G is not just about RGB. It’s powered by the latest Intel 9th-gen processors with the new GTX Turing graphics from NVIDIA. Users can choose between a GTX 1650 or GTX 1660 Ti, and 15.6- or 17.3-inch panels with up to a 120Hz refresh rate.

Pricing and availability details of the new ROG Strix gaming laptops are yet to be disclosed by ASUS.

SEE ALSO: ASUS PA34V is a curved monitor for professionals

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