Gaming

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! review: Catching ’em all once again

Isn’t Eevee absolutely adorable?

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Countless times, my friends have jokingly asked, “Where’s Mario?” My name — Luigi — has unwittingly cursed me into a lifetime of jokes associated with Mario’s green-suited brother. Ironically, my favorite Nintendo franchise isn’t even remotely related to the Super Mario Brothers series. Since childhood, the prestige has always gone to the Pokémon franchise.

During my Game Boy days, I played through the classics of the Pokémon franchise. Sadly, that streak ended with Pokémon Emerald, immediately before the arrival of the first Nintendo DS. Since then, the franchise’s Generation 4 ushered in a period of silence.

Thankfully, Pokémon’s decline was halted by the arrival of the mobile game, Pokémon GO. The pioneering AR game brought back a wave of nostalgia. Despite the initial popularity, the game’s novelty was short-lived, failing to measure up with the classic games. Of course, the game wasn’t from Nintendo.

Now, Nintendo has finally taken over the franchise’s modern renaissance. Weeks ago, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! launched for the Nintendo Switch, promising a new world for the new generation. Besides ushering a generation, the nostalgic series revitalizes the old and creates a new ecosystem.

Generation 1.2 

Right on the tin, both games advertise a return to Kanto, home of the first Pokémon. Pikachu and Eevee are remasters of the original Pokémon Yellow. In the original, Pikachu replaced the traditional trio of Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. Likewise, Pikachu and Eevee replaces the starter Pokémon based on the version you purchase.

Likewise, both games share the same story elements with Pokémon Yellow: Team Rocket’s antics, Lavender Town’s eerie story, Mewtwo’s appearance. Of course, because of the times, Nintendo updated some minor elements for a modern audience. For example, in-game television sets come with Nintendo Switch units. Characters talk about Alolan Pokémon, smartphone technology, and most importantly, Pokémon GO.

Cuter, cuddlier, livelier

After Pokémon GO’s initial wave of novelty, the franchise’s fans chided the game for depersonalizing their favorite creatures. In GO, Pokémon became collectibles, valuing quantity over quality. Completely contrasted to this, Pikachu and Eevee added a thick layer of personality to all 151 original Pokémon.

Mostly, this dynamic personality applies to your chosen partner, Pikachu or Eevee. Like Yellow, your partner Pokémon follows you around. However, instead of just a few pixelated frames, both have their own new sets of animations and moves. For example, Pikachu hangs out on your shoulder as you walk. Eevee perches atop your head. In combat, both have exclusive move sets. Eevee, for example, uses Veevee Volley, an extremely strong Normal move that activates only occasionally. Cutely, you can interact with both partners outside of combat, petting them or playing patty-cake using the Switch’s touchscreen.

Additionally, you can take a Pokémon out of its Poké Ball, acting as a secondary companion. Also, their animation depends on their build. Mew floats ahead of you. Kangaskhan carries you in its pouch. Charizard flies and carries you on its back. It creates a much more dynamic world compared to the original games.

Speaking of, wild Pokémon encounters are no longer completely random. Instead, you can see the wild Pokémon wandering around, letting you choose which to catch. Catching them is also different. Instead of going into combat, the games adapt the same system as Pokémon GO, using catch rings and berries.

Creating a Pokémon ecosystem

Along with the games, Nintendo also launched a new controller, the Poké Ball Plus, specifically made for the new Pokémon games. Unfortunately, the optional controller, shaped like a Poké Ball, is pricey, costing US$ 49.99 on its own. The bundle — the game plus the ball — costs US$ 99.99, reducing the price by 10 bucks. That said, why should you buy a Poké Ball Plus?

Firstly, the ball comes with a free Mew. Traditionally, this mythical Pokémon was obtainable only through Nintendo-exclusive events or hacks. The Ball finally provides an easily accessible way to obtain one of the franchise’s most elusive Pokémon.

Secondly, it creates a new experience for the franchise. While it has only two buttons, you can use the ball in a throwing motion to catch Pokémon. Instead of just pressing A, the new mechanic simulates the feeling of actually throwing a Poké Ball. It’s unique and strangely gratifying. Additionally, you can take a Pokémon (housed inside the Poké Ball) with you on your daily commute. As you walk, it gets experience, similar to GO’s buddy system.

Thirdly, the ball acts as a Pokémon GO Plus, connecting the Switch games with GO’s world. To those who still play GO, the Poké Ball is a welcome arsenal, especially in crowded cityscapes. Similarly, you can transfer Pokémon from GO to Switch, making it easier to fill a Pokédex.

Finally, the Poké Ball Plus is a clear indication of the Pokémon franchise’s future. Next year, Nintendo will launch a fresher addition to the franchise, marking the console’s first full-fledged Pokémon game. By then, the future game will fully integrate the Ball into its mechanics, making the controller a worthy investment.

With Pikachu and Eevee, the Pokémon franchise heralds a new generation for both old and beginning players. For old players, they create a refreshed wave of nostalgia. For beginning players, both games are a good start to the new generation.

SEE ALSO: Pokémon: Let’s Go gets its own Nintendo Switch bundles

Cameras

Razer’s new webcam: the Kiyo Pro

For work and play

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With Razer showing off their dedication to workers and gamers staying safe and indoors, they’ve announced the new Razer Kiyo Pro.

The Kiyo Pro is a USB camera with a high-performance Adaptive Light Sensor to deliver sharp video quality even in low-light conditions. Combined with an ultra-sensitive Type 1/2.8 CMOS sensor with STARVIS technology, the Kiyo Pro boasts professional-level image quality to video conferencing and streaming.

In this day and age, it’s no surprise that Razer is bringing new webcams especially with work-from-home and new digital communications. Working from home has really become an integral part of professional life today.

However, sometimes built-in laptop cameras lack the resolution and framerates for professional-looking conference calls or streams. They often struggle to cope with low-light and deliver blurry images and that’s where the Kiyo Pro comes in.

The Kiyo Pro is capable of uncompressed full HD 1080p 60FPS. Razer says this will not only ramp up dynamic range but also, correct under- or overexposed areas on the fly, eliminating silhouetting if the subject is lit from behind.

Making sure it’s ideal for video conferencing or streaming, the wide-angle lens on the Kiyo Pro gives you a choice of three fields of view: 103°, 90° or 80°. The 103° view lets everyone fit in a group video call or allow streamers viewers to show off their set up. But, if you’re just looking for a perfect headshot view for meetings or streams, the 80° view will suffice.

Other features

The Kiyo Pro has a range of extra features with flexible mounting options to perfectly set it up. And, its omnidirectional stereo microphone array ensures your voice is properly picked up wherever you’ve mounted it. A separate cover is included to protect the lens and assure your privacy when not in use. 

Razer Kiyo Pro Specs:

Camera Specifications

  • Connection type: USB3.0
  • Image resolution: 2.1 Megapixels
  • Video Resolution: 1080p @ 60/30/24FPS / 720p @ 60FPS / 480p @ 30FPS / 360p @ 30FPS
  • Video encoding: H.264 codec
  • Still Image Resolution: 1920×1080
  • Image Quality Settings Customization: Yes
  • Diagonal Field of View (FOV): 103°, 90°, 80°
  • Focus Type: Auto
  • Mounting Options: L-shape joint and Tripod (Not included)
  • Cable Length: 1.5 meters braided cable

Microphone Specifications

  • Channels: Stereo
  • Audio Codec: 16bit 48KHz
  • Polar patterns: Omni-directional
  • Sensitivity: -38dB

System Requirements

  • PC with a free USB port
  • Windows® 8 (or higher)
  • Internet connection
  • 500 MB of free hard disk space
  • Compatible with Open Broadcaster Software and Xsplit

The Razer Kiyo Pro is already available on Razer’s website with the price tag of USD$199.99 or EUR€ 209.99

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Gaming

Watch Dogs: Legion’s latest update brings online play

Along with exclusive single-player content for Season Pass owners

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Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs: Legion was the latest open-world offering from the company released in October 2020. The entire game peers into the realm of technological London, some time since Brexit happened. As such, you take command as any normal citizen of London but as a member of DedSec, a group of hackers fighting against authoritative regimes. Overall, the game received mixed reviews due to its uncanny yet vivid storytelling and gameplay.

As such, Ubisoft continues to improve on its product through the addition of new player-friendly features. Starting March 10, players will now have a chance to play with their friends through a dedicated Online Mode. The addition of this new mode comes with the free update patch set to be released on that day, along with several freebies for Season Pass owners.

With the new Online Mode, you now have access to a slew of co-op missions and environments to explore. As such, players can assemble teams of two to four to complete more challenges and explore the rest of London. More co-op features that comes with Online Mode include the “Leader of the Pack” missions and a PvP deathmatch mode.

Along with Online Mode, the new patch also comes with unique single-player missions for Season Pass owners. Watch Dogs: Legion is available now for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC through the Epic Games or Ubisoft Store.

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Gaming

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i review: How light can you go?

Apparently, lighter yet just as powerful

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Legion Slim 7i

A few months ago, I took a look at the Lenovo Legion 7i, which was one of Legion’s top gaming laptops when it was released. In my opinion, it had the hardware to rival its contemporaries — even in the RGB department, but some things got in the way. A few months later, a slimmer option arrived into the market.

The Lenovo Legion Slim 7i, on paper, doesn’t particularly change a lot of things from its bulkier counterpart. It still comes in a similar build design, roughly the same set of hardware (with a GPU change), and less RGB. Even on this device, there are less ports to plug in your peripherals and it has the same cooling setup.

So, is this laptop really any different? For starters, here’s what you’re getting with the Legion Slim 7i:

It has a 15.6-inch FHD, anti-glare display with a 144Hz refresh rate

Legion Slim 7i

It comes with an NVIDIA RTX 2060 Max-Q inside

The device features a full-size RGB-backlit keyboard

It only comes in a Metal Gray colorway

Legion Slim 7i

Handy-dandy performance for the chill times

This device comes with a 10th generation, Intel Core i7-H processor inside, with 16GB of RAM to boot. For every other thing you can possibly do with this device, it obviously stacks up pretty well. From social media browsing and doing some presentations to watching True Beauty and playing games casually, it just worked smoothly.

Legion Slim 7i

As far as photo and video editing goes, the NVIDIA RTX 2060 Max-Q helps out quite a lot. Along with a 144Hz refresh rate, anti-glare display, I was able to take the work outdoors without having to reach for shade. Render times were just around how I expected them to, clocking in at around 40-50 minutes for 5 minutes of gameplay.

Now that I’m looking back at how the Legion 7i was, I couldn’t see or feel any difference in this regard — and that’s a good thing. Even in a much slimmer chassis and less RGB, the hardware held up pretty well for anything you throw at it. Honestly, it’s something I love to see when brands scale it down without sacrificing performance.

Gaming performance meant for competition

Much like the Legion 7i, this is a gaming machine after all, and the hardware certainly had its work cut out for it. While I threw some casual games in there, I also wanted to see how well it handles competitive titles especially for 2021. Surely, the Legion Slim 7i didn’t disappoint even with an RTX 2060 Max-Q:

Title and Settings Avg. Frame Rate
VALORANT (Max. Settings) 223 FPS
Fortnite: Battle Royale (Epic w/ DLSS) 103 FPS
Apex Legends (High) 99 FPS
Star Wars Battlefront II (Max. Settings) 95 FPS
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Max. Settings) 255 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 (High, DLSS at Quality, RTX on) 42 FPS

Now to be fair, I wasn’t expecting full 60 FPS when trying to run Cyberpunk 2077 on this GPU. However, with RTX on, it was a great lighting experience to have through and through. For the rest of the games, I honestly felt no drops in frame rates even with longer play times. If there were any drops, it’s probably my internet’s fault.

Legion Slim 7i

For more competitive titles, it brings a ton of power to the table. I’m seeing above 200 FPS for games like VALORANT, CS:GO, and even Rocket League (given the frame rate cap at 259 FPS). I felt that this device surely provides the performance necessary for Esports players to compete at a high level.

Improved cooling in some areas

Another improvement I noticed between the Legion 7i and Legion Slim 7i was in how the device remained cooled down. Unlike the Legion 7i, this device doesn’t come with a Vapor Chamber cooling system. Instead, it makes use of Lenovo’s Coldfront cooling system with the four exhaust points at the rear end of the laptop.

Power button with an LED indicator for different fan modes; usually, the first part that feels a ton of heat during gameplay

Throughout my entire usage of the device, I still felt some uncomfortable levels of heat when playing for longer hours. However, it takes a little longer to warm up unlike the Legion 7i, which is a big improvement all things considered. Plus, it cools down a little faster after you exit the game so you can proceed with work as you please.

However, it doesn’t necessarily reduce the amount of noise the fans produce under Performance Mode. In fact, during gameplay, I felt the fans blasting out more air on this device than the Legion 7i. So, I honestly believe it would have helped to ship this device with a dedicated set of headphones to cancel out the noise. Trust me, the fan noise is a little distracting.

Alas, performance that doesn’t last long

Of course, one of the expected disappointments with gaming laptops involves the battery life. With the Legion Slim 7i, I got about six hours using it normally — you know, social media, Netflix, and just gaming on it casually. When you game full time (and you want frame rates above 60 FPS), I was looking at about an hour and 45 minutes before it lost all power.

Charging the laptop didn’t take too long, as it took me about an hour and 35 minutes with Rapid Charge on. Obviously, the upside here is that you can get back to your work or your game quickly. Still, with such an abysmal battery life, I’d rather bring the charging brick around. 

Is this your GadgetMatch?

For PhP 99,995, the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i poses nothing spectacularly different from its bulkier predecessor. It manages to provide highly effective and flexible performance for work and play. Plus, it manages to remain a little cooler than the bulkier Legion 7i. If you think it’s a bad thing that it’s not that different, it isn’t.

Legion Slim 7i

Of course, there are things that would drive you away from this gaming device like the short battery life. I could even argue that the loud fans blasting out air is a nuisance when trying to play well. Looking past these, however, you still get a gaming device that’s certainly worth your hard-earned money

It isn’t as flashy, nor as colorful, but the Legion Slim 7i gives you power in a lighter form factor. How light can this device go? Apparently, just light enough but just as powerful!

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