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

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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Gaming

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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