Gaming

NBA 2K18 review: Not a swish, but still a made basket

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The NBA season is right around the corner but for those of us who can’t wait, the next best thing is already here. We got our hands on NBA 2K18 for PS4 and we’ll share with you which changes we think are hits, and which ones are misses.

Shot Meter

One of the first things you’ll notice when you dive right into the game is the shot meter. Previously, it was a circle at the bottom of the player. In 2K18, the shot meter appears right around the shooting arm area when you’re taking a jump shot. 2K says it’s a more natural area for the shot meter to be at and we tend to agree.

Now, the shooting itself takes some getting used to. Other than the shot meter, 2K also shows you the status of the shot. In NBA 2K17 it used to only say if your release is too early, good, excellent, or too late. This time around, it adds if the player you’re shooting with is wide open, lightly contested, or heavily contested. Your timing, the player’s shooting ability, as well as the aforementioned factors, affect the accuracy of the shot.

It seems like it’s a lot to take in but after a few games, you’ll slowly get a feel for how the release works. It’s worth noting too that 2K really did take time to make sure the release of each player is as accurate as possible. If you follow your favorite player closely, chances are the timing and manner by which he takes shots in real life are accurately replicated in the game.

Gameplay

Basketball is a team sport, so for the rest of this piece, I decided to pull in fellow hoop junkies Nico Baguio and Toby Pavon who have had more time playing some of the game modes we’re about to tackle.

The game starts you off at Pro level difficulty (the second to the lowest), and if you’re an NBA 2K veteran, you’ll soon find yourself dominating the AI. Slide up to Superstar or even Hall of Fame and you’ll immediately feel the difference. The opposing team will learn your tendencies and you won’t be able to keep running the same plays to score. You’ll need to make adjustments, just like in a real basketball game.

Prior to the game’s actual release, early reviewers mentioned a noticeable difference in how you can link dribble moves together. You’ll certainly feel this with players that are known ball handlers. Cover athlete Kyrie Irving is an absolute joy to use in isolation situations.

According to Toby, the pick and roll and driving mechanics are a bit more punishing than before but more rewarding when done right. I’m not going to lie: The pick and roll is my go-to play and I have had a harder time executing it, but it does feel more rewarding when you do it right.

That said, it’s not all smooth at the moment. Toby says players seem to phase in and out of having upper-body hit detection, resulting in scenarios where players don’t collide when they’re supposed to. This might be the result of footwork emphasizing design, but it creates a mechanical disconnect in trying to be a simulation game. There are also some forced animations that sometimes break the flow.

We experienced this early on too, but one thing 2K is really good at are the updates. Of course, we would all like the game to feel more complete at launch, but 2K’s history suggests they will be able to iron out these few hiccups here and there.

MyCareer, The Neighborhood

Here we go. This is the game mode that keeps evolving year after year and in 2K18, 2K Sports made some significant changes that have so far gotten mixed reviews.

This year, 2K introduced The Neighborhood, effectively merging the MyCareer and MyPark experiences and putting them in a Massive Multiplayer Online-esque environment. You can tell that’s the direction they’re headed, especially with the growth of eSports — but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The biggest issue most players have with 2K18‘s version of my career are the micro transactions. The amount of in-game purchases through the game’s money called VC or virtual currency is insane.

For instance, getting a haircut feels a little too much like real life. Each time you feel like changing your look, you have to pay. And you can’t even preview the look so you’re not sure if you’re getting your VC’s worth. Now we know that’s how it works in real life, but this is still a video game. 2K has to let the players live a little.

The grind can get challenging too. You start off at 60 and have to work your way up to 99, thus the “Road to 99 tag.” If you’re not willing to spend, it might take a while before you actually reach that level. For instance, if I focus on upgrading a single skill for my player, I’ll need around 30,000 VC just to get him from 60 to 61. Wild.

Toby pointed something out that was a surprise to Nico. Games now give out a minimum of 500 VCs which help make the initial grind go faster until you reach the point where your player is getting decent minutes. Another thing: The difficulty multiplier is no more. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Pro or Hall of Fame, you will get 500 VC. That’s Toby dropping some pro tip right there.

Go around the neighborhood, and you’ll see some mini-games you can play. There’s a three-point shot half court as well as a slam dunk half court. Watch my player struggle in the slam dunk court (P.S. I didn’t start off with the athletic type. Mine’s a three-and-D guy)

 

MyGM, MyTeam

MyGM and MyTeam pretty much follow the same formula from previous iterations. However, there are a few changes in MyGM that rubbed Nico the wrong way.

2K decided to add some backstory to MyGM. In 2K18, you’re a former NBA star who suffered a career-ending injury which is why you were forced to transition into being a GM. Neat, right? Except really early on it feels too much like role-playing games (RPG) from way back. There are too many cut scenes with no audio and you’re forced to read through tons of dialogue.

That said, the best parts are still there. The same trade restrictions apply if you choose to play that way, but you also have the option to turn them off if you just want to build a super team.

Look and style

2K18 is the best-looking 2K game yet. Of course, it has to be. While the current teams and players were well thought out and designed, we can’t say the same for the classic and all-time teams.

Our very own Marvin Velasco and Alven Villavicencio had issues with how 03-04 Shaq didn’t look as big as they thought he’d be.

The general look of some of the players aren’t that good, either. While this is also true for 2K17, we hope future iterations of the classic teams are designed better.

It’s also worth pointing out that some classic teams don’t have full rosters. At least not of actual players. You get about seven to eight rotation players that were actually part of those teams and then the rest of the bench is filled with what seems like randomly generated players all sporting head bands and arm sleeves.

Shoot or pass?

NBA 2K18 is still hands down one of the best sports simulation games out there. It has some competition this year with NBA Live 18 coming out, but the EA Sports franchise dropped the ball last year and are still in catch-up mode.

If you’re a huge NBA fan, chances are you already have this game or are planning to buy it come holiday season. You’ll find that some of the things you love from 2K17, and previous versions of the game, are still present with a few improvements here and there.

2K is experimenting with the story-telling part for some of the game modes, and while there are growing pains, it’s good to see that they are trying.

SEE ALSO: 8 PS4 multimedia features you must try out

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Gaming

League of Legends launches an apparel line with Louis Vuitton

Costs up to US$ 5,650

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Image source: Louis Vuitton

How far will you go for League of Legends loot? Most gamers usually settle for in-game loot — cosmetic goodies to outfit your favorite characters. Some, however, buy into real-world merch — shirts, hoodies, stickers. Of course, both types of merchandise are legitimate ways to support the game. Regardless, there is always a way to go overboard.

Here’s your new way to splurge on the latest League of Legends merch! The iconic MOBA game has recently partnered up with luxury lifestyle brand Louis Vuitton. The newfound partnership has spawned a small line of League of Legends-themed apparel. As you might expect, the Louis Vuitton x League of Legends collection costs an arm and a leg.

For starters, the collection offers a minimalist black shirt with League of Legends character Qiyana. This particular item will cost you US$ 670. Again, this is just for starters. A similar t-shirt dress with the same character will cost you US$ 2,010.

Going towards the opposite side of the affordability spectrum, the collection also offers a hooded parka with blue and white accents for US$ 4,450. The most expensive item in the collection, a shimmering leather biker jacket, will cost US$ 5,650.

Outside of clothes, the partnership also has a set of accessories for sale. A Qiyana keychain/bag charm will cost US$ 515. A gold and white bucket hat will cost US$ 730. Finally, Louis Vuitton is offering a similarly designed Tambour Horizon smartwatch for US$ 3,050.

Before this extravagant partnership, both League of Legends and Louis Vuitton have partnered with complementary brands in the past. For one, Riot Games has recently partnered with OPPO for gaming content. Likewise, the luxury brand recently melded technology and lifestyle through AMOLED-paneled bags.

SEE ALSO: AMD announces faster 12-core Ryzen chips

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Gaming

PH team bags first Mobile Legends gold in SEA Games 2019

Defeats Indonesia in best-of-5 match

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Image from fb.com/SIBOLesports

The Philippines is enjoying a fruitful year at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. At the time of this writing, the country has 114 gold medals, breaking its former record of 112 gold medals from the 2005 event. Among the current accolades, however, one victory stands out — the Mobile Legends crown.

In a classic underdog tale, the Philippine team, Sibol Mobile Legends, defeated the Indonesian team by a narrow 3-2 victory.

Coached by Changrok Im, the Philippine team is composed of Kenneth Jiane “Kenji” Villa, Karl Gabriel “KarlTzy” Nepomuceno, Carlito “Ribo” Ribo, Jeniel “Haze” Bata-anon, Angelo Kyle “Pheww” Arcangel, Allan Sancio “Lusty” Castromayor, and Jason Rafael “Jay” Torculas. On the other side, the Indonesia team is filled by medaled champions from Southeast Asian and global tournaments — a veritable dream team.

Of note, the Philippines ended up in a lower bracket in the preliminary group stages, finishing only second to rivalling Indonesia in Group B.

The best-of-five match-up started with an emphatic win from Sibol, headlined by a flank play from Villa. From the onset, Sibol had the momentum going forward.

However, the next two games belonged to Indonesia, including an emphatic game 2 win and a comeback game 3 nail-biter. The rivaling team seemingly regained its champion form.

Unfortunately for the visitors, Sibol blew the game wide open, stealing a crucial game 4 to setup a decider in game 5. In that fourth outing, Indonesia surprisingly allowed the Philippine team to run Esmeralda, Nepomuceno’s ace hero. Naturally, Nepomuceno wreaked havoc, taking kill after kill.

After failing to complete the beating, Indonesia collapsed in the fifth and final frame, granting the Philippines the dominant win and the first esports medal for the country in the 2019 SEA Games.

SEE ALSO: EVOS Legends wins first ever Mobile Legends World Championship

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Gaming

ASUS ROG Strix G review: Power that’s just ice cool

Looks pretty damn good in Glacier Blue

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I normally get gaming laptops in some matte black finish. Something about that color screams “gamer” to me, especially with its subdued vibe. Getting it in any other color just draws too much attention, especially when you want to game in peace.

Then I turn to the ASUS ROG Strix G G531, and no the “G” does not stand for “Glacier Blue. It comes in two colors: the usual black finish and a special Glacier Blue variant — which I have. Let’s face it, underneath this icy cold Glacier Blue variant is one powerful machine from the hardware to a wide selection of ports.

But is this really all for show?

This particular unit comes in a special Glacier Blue finish

It comes with an NVIDIA RTX 2060 inside

It has an RGB-lit system, from the bottom to the keyboard panel

Connectivity, display and power input ports are placed at the back

Power beneath aesthetics

As expected, overall performance for the ASUS ROG Strix G is phenomenal. For working professionals like myself, 16GB of RAM is already a huge luxury to have. All that power enables greater productivity, especially when you need multiple applications opened all at once. It’s an excellent choice for productivity enthusiasts.

Coupled with a 512GB SSD storage plus 1TB of added storage further bolsters this machine. All that storage can handle applications for professionals, content creators, and gamers alike. Fast read times on the hard disk complements the 16GB RAM nicely. Basically, I get to open 30 tabs of Google Chrome, Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro, and the system is still fast enough to run.

Gaming with ice in your veins

It’s no surprise that an NVIDIA RTX 2060 is powerful. I don’t even have to go into detail just how great its power can be. On this device, however I have mixed feelings over it. First off, it plays your usual graphic-heavy games pretty well. Fortnite: Battle Royale records close to xx FPS set on Epic, while Apex Legends peaks at 57 FPS set close to maximum. 

Even on games with minimal graphical power required, the GPU performs above and beyond. Frames load smoothly especially during high leverage moments when you’re really into the game. My eyes kept up with what’s happening every time I get into some intense build battle with sweaty players online.

However, I felt that the RTX 2060 could do more with other hardware present. This laptop only comes with a 120Hz refresh rate, which is pretty decent. However, it literally caps a lot of your games to a threshold for your frame rate. ASUS actually has laptops similar in hardware to the ROG Strix G that offer displays with higher refresh rates. It would have been nice to offer a 144Hz refresh rate to this laptop instead of just to its 17-inch brother.

Properly cooled so you don’t accidentally burn yourself

With gaming laptops like the ROG Strix G, a great cooling system is a must. I’ve tested a lot of cooling systems for gaming laptops in the past, so I’m already expecting a hot mess. Except that, well the ROG Strix G actually proved me wrong.

The dual-fan cooling system blasts hot air at the back and at the right side (the side without any ports). The device heats up as expected when you’re going full on gamer mode or when you open heavy duty applications. What I found great about it is that the moment you stop using those applications, the device cools down relatively fast.

On most gaming laptops, I waited for an hour to an hour and 25 minutes before I wouldn’t accidentally burn myself a bit. With the ROG Strix G, it cools down in a matter of 30 to 45 minutes. Furthermore, only the top portion of the main chassis heats up, leaving your keyboard to remain cool. It stays as cool as its Glacier Blue color suggests, and to me it’s fantastic that ASUS designed it this way.

Other features that are either red hot or ice cool

For this device, anything cool is preferably how you want it. For example, I’m personally a fan of the way they integrated RGB into the laptop. From the keyboard to the three sides of the device, this device demands attention. Not everyone would like it, especially when you’re out in a Starbucks somewhere. You can dial the colors down — as long as you get the black one.

Another thing I liked about the ROG Strix G is its overall build. Putting all the display, power, and connectivity ports at the back of the device was a nice touch. To me, it keeps a lot of the wires out of the way on a normal desk setup. Also, I love the way they did the hinge for the lid and body.

But, there is one thing that proves to be red hot, it’s close to being a red flag — the laptop’s battery life. I only got around close to five hours for productive use, with that time cut in half when gaming. I literally need to bring the charger around if I want to work for longer hours. 

Putting it all together

At PhP 99,995, the ASUS ROG Strix G G531 in Glacier Blue fuses aesthetic and performance together. Performance-wise, this gaming laptop provides just the power you need for any task. Gaming on it full time is where it truly excels, all thanks to the NVIDIA RTX 2060 inside.

On top of all of that, it cools down faster after playing for a long time, something not a lot of gaming laptops possess. The overall build supplements proper cooling for the device so you don’t have to worry about things heating up unexpectedly.

Overall, this is one wonderful device to have for productive and gaming use. If you don’t mind adding a little style to your gaming habit, consider getting this cool Glacier Blue variant.

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