Gaming

NBA 2K19: A complacent champion

Needs a legit challenger

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NBA 2K has absolutely dominated the NBA simulation video game space for the better part of the decade. It’s been the undisputed champion year after year and the same is true with its latest version — NBA 2K19. As is the case with any multi-year champ, it’s hard to keep the pedal to the metal when you know you’ve basically left your competitors biting your dust.

This is where the NBA 2K franchise is at. If it were an NBA team, it has been a champion for years. Let’s keep things a little interesting by breaking down different sections of the game as if they were players of a champion team.

Face Scan: Last year’s sixth man but fell out of the rotation

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, somewhere between 2K18 and 2K19, the face scan stopped working like it’s supposed to.

This was the result of my face scan back in 2K18, after just a few attempts.

This is my face scan in 2K19 after many, many attempts. And this was the best one.

Here’s me side-by-side with the face scan along with a player I created from scratch.

I think the images speak for themselves, but I’m just going to come out say I don’t know what on earth happened and face scan needs to go back to how it was in 2K18. I ultimately decided to forego face scan altogether and just create a character that looks like he’d fit the story in MyCareer.

MyCareer: X-Factor starter

NBA 2K invests heavily on this mode. It’s understandable because it’s safe to say that anyone who enjoys this game and the game of basketball in general has dreamed of being a star, carrying a team to the promised land, and hitting that game-winning shot.

MyCareer lets players experience all of this. It takes the player into some sort of hero’s journey as a young baller looking to prove that he belongs in the big league. It can get boring, so what 2K has done is to incorporate some kind of story. In 2K19, it looks like they went all out.

In a lot of ways, MyCareer in 2K19 is going back to its roots. In the previous two or three iterations of this game mode, the player was positioned as a star prospect. A good number of my friends who played the game weren’t too happy about it. They loved the idea of being someone unknown taking the league by storm.

This underdog story is flanked by a star-studded cast led by Anthony Mackie (recently appeared on film as Falcon in Avengers: Infinity War). This goes to show that 2K is going all in on the cinematic RPG route in this year’s version of MyCareer. The cutscenes can get pretty long, though. Adding a few more quick time events would have helped with the pacing.

So that’s essentially what MyCareer is to NBA 2K. You never really know what you’re gonna get. However, when it’s on point, it takes the game over the top and makes something good even better.

MyGM: Solid rotation guy

MyGM in 2K19 has also gone the storytelling route. It picks up where 2K18 left off. You’re a player who suffered a career-ending injury and now you’ve built your reputation as a headstrong general manager.

There are a fair number of people who would like to try their hand at running an NBA team’s front office. NBA Twitter talks about trade scenarios all the time and that’s a huge part of what makes this game mode appealing. Being able to build a roster according to your liking and taking it all the way to the championship; that’s a challenge people like taking on.

There aren’t a lot of new things on MyGM. The story has you working with a new team owner while also managing your relationship with the previous one you worked with.

The new story makes it mildly more interesting, but at its core, MyGM is what it has always been: a solid feature on a game that delivers the kind of experience players hope to get.

Gameplay: Star Player

This is what it all comes down to. This is the reason why NBA 2K has been the champ that it is. The gameplay is the undisputed star player of the game. It’s the reason why people continue to play it. It’s the reason why time and time again, people line up for the game.

In 2K19, the gameplay doesn’t feel that much different from 2K18. There’s a huge difference between how both games felt at launch. When 2K18 first came out, the gameplay still seemed a little weird, with players looking like they’re floating on the court as opposed to running on it. There’s none of that in 2K19.

What you’ll experience is a refinement of what was already a good product. Some animations and shots make more sense this time around. The way players transition from dribbling to a shot feel more real, and there are a few subtle improvements here and there that when combined, sum up to a basketball simulation experience that appears to still be ahead of its competition.

As long as NBA 2K keeps this type of gameplay on their side, they will continue to hold the number one spot. However, they can’t rest on their laurels. EA Sports’ NBA Live is creeping on their turf and appear to be a few adjustments away from legitimately contending for the top spot once more.

Some notes from the assistant coach

We still don’t have notable players like Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, Rasheed Wallace, and Gilbert Arenas in this game. The 2K community has clamored for their inclusion but this is really more the mentioned players’ willingness to be included in the game more than anything. Here’s to hoping they change their minds soon.

There are a few classic teams I personally want to see. On top of that list is the ‘09-’10 Lakers that beat the Big Three Celtics. While a version of Kobe is already in the game, I badly want to play with Black Mamba #24 when he played with Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum as he hunted down his fifth NBA title.

If this is the game that finally makes you want to buy a PlayStation 4, consider getting the NBA 2K19 PS4 bundle. In the Philippines, it retails for PhP 20,490 which will net you the following: One jet black 500GB PS4, one DualShock 4 controller, the NBA 2K19 Blu-ray disc, one premium decal sticker, a badass poster featuring Giannis Antetokounmpo, and a PS4 one-year extended warranty. Not a bad deal!

Final evaluation

As a team with a solid lineup that’s been winning for years, it feels as though NBA 2K still hasn’t reached its peak. While it has been amazing, there’s another level that it can go to. As it is now, NBA 2K19 is still the basketball video game to beat. I have mixed feelings about both the MyCareer and the MyGM modes, but as long as the gameplay takes over when it needs to and until the competition puts up an actual fight, this game will continue to get an overall grade of A.

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

Gaming

Ubisoft lays down post-launch plans for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Comes with a Season Pass with two major expansions and an exclusive quest

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Assassin's Creed Valhalla

While the game hasn’t been released yet, Ubisoft already has big plans for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla post launch. Set to release on November 10, Valhalla takes you back to England’s Dark Ages as Eivor. The game offers exciting new features as you forge alliances to establish your Viking kingdom.

Now, Ubisoft bares its plans for all of its Assassin’s Creed players a month into picking up Valhalla. This new string of exciting content includes a Season Pass and frequent seasonal content. Through this Season Pass, players will discover new territories and stories surrounding the lore of Valhalla.

The Season Pass comes with two major expansions, the Wrath of the Druids and The Siege of Paris. In The Wrath of the Druids, players unravel the mysteries of ancient Ireland. Most of the worlds here consist of haunted forests and Gaelic kingdoms.

In The Siege of Paris, players relive the most ambitious battle in Viking history. You will take part in a prolonged siege of Frankia through Paris and the River Seine. In the end, what awaits players are secrets to unfold and alliances to forge.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will launch on November 10 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. It will also be available for the PlayStation 5 when the console comes out on November 12.

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Computers

Acer has 6 new Predator and Nitro gaming monitors

Which one to pick???

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Predator Nitro

Just like Michael Jordan’s six trips to the NBA Finals, Acer is giving us SIX Predator and Nitro gaming monitor options that are all winners.

We’re just going to run this down real quick.

Predator XB3 Series for Pros and Avid Enthusiasts

The new Predator XB3 series monitors are a line of FHD (1920×1080) or QHD (2560×1440) displays that feature high refresh rates and VESA DisplayHDR certifications.

From there, each monitor has been optimized around different criteria: The XB273U NV is Eyesafe-certified, the XB253Q GW boasts an 280Hz refresh rate (overclockable) and 0.5ms (G to G) response time, and the XB323U GX is color-accurate with 99% Adobe RGB coverage.

Predator XB273U NV – Easy On the Eyes

Predator

The Predator XB273U NV, part of the XB3 VisionCare series, has been designed to give players as comfortable a gaming experience as possible. One of the first gaming monitors to be certified by Eyesafe. The Predator XB273U NV manages high-energy wavelengths in order to selectively filter out blue light while maintaining crisp and vivid color quality.

Additionally, Acer VisionCare 4.0 incorporates a range of technologies — LightSense, AdaptiveLight, ColorSense and ProxiSense — that measure environmental and ambient light and then automatically adjust the monitor’s brightness and color-temperature to match it, helping reduce eye strain.

The monitor’s crystal-clear 27-inch QHD (2560×1440) Agile-Splendor IPS1 display features wide viewing angles, a fast 1ms response time and up to an overclocked 170Hz refresh rate, while 95% DCI-P3 color spectrum coverage and a Delta E<1 rating.

VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified, the XB273U NV has true 8-bit image quality and dynamically adjusts screen brightness to suit the displayed scene for noticeably darker darks.

This model has RGB LightSense for synchronizing the screen’s colors to music, media and eSports tournaments. A built-in TX transmitter can wirelessly sync lighting colors and rhythm to additional networked monitors for an even more dramatic effect.

An ergonomic stand helps users find just the right angle by letting them adjust the monitor’s tilt, swivel, height and pivot.

Predator XB253Q GW — High FPS for Smooth Gameplay

Predator

The Predator XB253Q GW’s 24.5-inch NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible FHD (1920×1080) IPS panel can be overclocked to an incredibly fast 280Hz refresh rate (overclockable) with up to a 0.5ms (G to G) response time to keep up with even the fastest-paced action scenes, making it ideal for first-person shooter and racing games where precision is paramount.

Integrated RGB LightSense with nine different special effects synchronizes RGB to the beat of the music, games and more. The monitor has also been ergonomically designed, allowing users to adjust its tilt, swivel, height and pivot.

Predator XB323U GX – Stunning, Vivid Visuals

Predator

NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible and featuring a 32-inch QHD (2560×1440) panel with a speedy 270 Hz refresh rate (overclockable) and up to a 0.5ms (G to G) response time, the Predator XB323U GX’s fluidity and low latency serve to drastically reduce motion blur during fast-paced gameplay.

The 99% AdobeRGB coverage makes this an excellent choice for players who create videos of their gameplay, and a VESA DisplayHDR 600 certification indicates that the XB323U GX features 8-bit image processing and local-dimming, enabling the screen to adjust dynamically to what’s happening on the scene for deep blacks and impressive highlights.

To optimize comfort during long gaming sessions, the Predator XB323U GX provides users with the ability to adjust its tilt, swivel, height and pivot.

Predator X34 GS for Gamers Desiring Curved Immersion

Predator

The Predator X34 GS extends users’ peripheral view with a giant 34-inch curved UWQHD (3440×1440) screen, working in tandem with an Agile-Splendor IPS panel that delivers clear images even at wide viewing angles.

NVIDIA G-SYNC Compatible, it renders smooth action with up to a 180 Hz refresh rate (overclockable) and an ultra-fast 0.5ms (G to G) response time. VESA DisplayHDR 400 illuminates the finer details to create sharper images, so no important targets or details are missed, while 98% DCI-P3 spectrum coverage brings images to life in vivid color.

The flexible stand provides a multitude of viewing options, giving users the ability to adjust its tilt, swivel and height. Two integrated 7 watt speakers eliminate the need for external speakers.

Nitro Series Monitors — Get Into the Game

Two new 27-inch Nitro series models, the Acer Nitro XV272U KV and Nitro XV272 LV, are ideal for casual gamers that want to get as much value out of their devices as possible.

Both are Eyesafe-certified to help prevent eye fatigue and further viewing comfort, and an ergonomic stand lets gamers find just the right viewing angle by adjusting the monitors’ tilt, swivel, height and pivot.

The Acer Nitro XV272U KV offers stunningly clear QHD (2560×1440) gameplay with a low Delta E<1 rating and 95% coverage of the DCI-P3 color spectrum. Performance is fast and fluid with up to 170 Hz (overclocked) and a 1ms (G to G) response time on an Agile-Splendor IPS panel that also provides wide viewing angles to maximize the view.

Nitro

Beyond just looking great, the monitor is also equipped with LightSense, ColorSense and ProxiSense technologies, giving users a more comfortable experience by automatically adjusting the monitor’s settings based on ambient lighting in the environment.

The Nitro XV272 LV sports an FHD (1920×1080) Agile-Splendor IPS panel and offers up to 165Hz (overclocked) for smooth visuals even in busy action scenes. With 90% DCI-P3 color coverage and a low Delta E<1 rating.

Nitro

Pricing and Availability

The Predator XB273U NV will be available in North America in January 2021 starting at US$ 549.99; in EMEA in January 2021 starting at EUR 549; and in China in November 2020, starting at CNY 3,999.

The Predator XB253Q GW will be available in North America in January 2021 starting at US$ 429.99; in EMEA in January 2021 starting at EUR 449; and in China in December 2020, starting at CNY 2,999.

The Predator XB323U GX will be available in North America in January 2021 starting at US$ 899.99; in EMEA in December 2020 starting at EUR 999; and in China in November 2020, starting at CNY 6,999.

The Predator X34 GS will be available in North America in December starting at US$ 999.99; in EMEA in December starting at EUR 1,099; and in China in November, starting at CNY 7,999.

The Nitro XV272U KV will be available in North America in December starting at US$ 399.99; in EMEA in December starting at EUR 469; and in China in November, starting at CNY 2,999.

The Nitro XV272 LV will be available in North America in December starting at US$ 279.99; in EMEA in December starting at EUR 319; and in China in December, starting at CNY 1,999.

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Apps

Acer has an In-Game Live AI Translator on their own esports platform

It’s called SigridWave and the platform is Planet9

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SigridWave

Acer introduces SigridWave — an In-Game Live AI Translator for Planet9 which is the company’s next-generation esports platform. There’s a lot to unpack here so try to digest the information slowly.

SigridWave: In-Game Live AI Translator

SigridWave aims to break language barriers and facilitate communication among gamers around the world. It leverages deep learning tech and is especially trained in gaming jargon.

When in-game, SigridWave employs Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology to recognize utterances and convert them into strings of text. This text is then run through a Neural Machine Translation (NMT) technology. The NMT Tech has so far been trained with over 10 million bilingual sentence pairs, enabling it to understand the terminology associated with specific games (such as “ADS” or “camping”) and learn how players express themselves.

If your nose is bleeding after reading all of that, don’t worry. Same.

Intended specifically for gaming, SigridWave’s AI has so far been trained with over 1,000 hours of game-centric speech (voice + transcript), enabling it to accurately relay detected messages back to users in a language that they can understand.

Being game-centric is key. Acer points out that the biggest hurdle in machine translation is context. Many words can carry multiple meanings and computers struggle to discern the most suitable translation for the situation, that’s why being focused on gaming is essential.

SigridWave will have a closed beta in Q4 2020, during which time it will be available for two-way translation between English and Mandarin in a number of major FPS titles such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.

Planet9 — Acer’s next gen esports platform

SigridWave will work in tandem with Planet9 — a next gen esports platform. The AI Translator is booted up while in a game lobby on Planet9’s desktop client. It’ll appear as a customizable in-game overlay.

The platform itself is meant to be partly competitive and partly social. It’s designed to provide an open community for casual and amateur players who want to improve their skills and take steps towards going pro.

The platform helps players connect with others via teams and social clubs; to improve their skills, via in-depth feedback on gameplay in the form of statistics and coaching; and to experience organized gameplay, via casual or ranked scrimmages and competitive tournaments for most games.

In-game overlays will be supported for League of Legends on launch in late 2020 or early 2021, and support will be made available for additional titles in the future.

Teams

Planet9 strives to help gamers connect with others who have similar skill levels and aspirations. From there, players can create a team to be registered on the website or search for one to join.

Planet9 will also help recruiting teams to fill their rosters, considering factors such as game played, rank, region and language in order to identify potential teammates.

Once a team is established, a private team page is created on the platform to function as a central hub for all involved. In addition to keeping track of match history and statistics for later review and discussion, the team hub includes a number of features to help keep everything organized: a board for discussion and polls, a group calendar for scheduling scrimmages, a tab to keep track of team funding and a directory with basic stats on all members.

Clubs

Planet9’s Club feature is intended to help players keep up with groups they like or admire, whether they’re major names in the industry or a local university team. Clubs consist of two parts, a public “home” page for followers and a private “lounge” for members.

The home page is a place to share content (posts, polls, videos, etc) in order to engage with the community, whereas the lounge is a place to relax and discuss club-related content with a smaller circle of more dedicated members.

Businesses, influencers and public figures are also capable of forming a club on Planet9, creating a unique new touchpoint for brands that wish to connect with gamers. Whether professional or amateur, each club is granted access to a variety of tools to host tournaments in order to grow their own community.

Planet9 recently partnered with Currys PC World to feature Planet9 in its stores in order to enhance esports initiatives in the UK and Ireland. This includes an in-house designed arena to give players a chance to see what it’s like being part of a local gaming club, practicing with teammates and learning from coaches.

These in-house arenas will launch soon with a rapid expansion to 30 stores throughout 2021. Each of the stores will open its own club on Planet9 to grow its gamer community as well as to host tournaments, creating a pipeline for players to show off their talent.

Tournaments

Planet9 includes a significant amount of infrastructure designed to make the process of organizing and hosting tournaments as seamless as possible.

An extensive UI ensures that a successful tournament can be put together even by those with no experience, while a number of automation features (registration, bracket mastering, etc.) enable experienced hosts to minimize time spent on tedious activities and focus on providing as enjoyable an event as possible.

Tournaments are highly customizable, featuring a number of preset brackets and privacy modes, opportunities for sponsored branding and club-determined rewards. Come game day, an all-in-one “Bracket Master” console makes it easy for judges and organizers to communicate, configure matches, broadcast to an audience and more.

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