Gaming

Razer Phone Review: Best smartphone for gaming?

First and only phone with 120Hz display!

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Razer is stepping up to the plate of mobile phones. Was I surprised? Not quite as much as everyone else. With mobile gaming going up a notch despite a critical crowd internally rubbing elbows as to what makes someone a “gamer,” I was partly expecting brands to take on the challenge of catering to their audience.

With Razer appropriately initiating marketing to gamers, is the phone a step forward to a no-compromises mobile experience, or is it just a flashy-looking phone?

A mobile handheld?

At first glance the Razer Phone is undeniably reminiscent of holding any handheld console. It’s a strange association, I know, but stay with me. As much as the bezels and speakers shrink the eye-catching 5.7-inch 1440p IGZO LCD 120Hz UltraMotion display, it leaves your touchplay mobile gaming undisturbed.

With an awesomely smooth matte and slick all black anodized aluminum casing, the phone’s grip is comfortable and perfect while you’re playing games. I usually have trouble holding my phone while playing Arena of Valor because the touchplay mechanics are so close to the edges of the phone. On the Razer Phone, the speakers and square edges give ample space for you to hold it up comfortably.

Mobile gamer’s pipe dream

The hardware of the phone joins the top-notch phones with a Snapdragon 835 processor with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. If you’re worried about the phone lasting a day out, the 4000mAh battery can take more than just a beating.

When Razer bragged about providing absolute freedom to watch, listen, and play as much as you want without ever being caught with a red battery bar, they meant it. The Razer Phone breezed through more than 24 hours of on-and-off intensive gameplay on a single charge.

Cue in “but wait, there’s more” infomercial

The phone lets you modify and customize frame rate, resolution, CPU clock frequencies, and anti-aliasing with its built-in Razer Game Booster. Each game can be optimized individually under this system. The 120Hz UltraMotion screen is so smooth, it deserves more than just a sentence in this subsection.

The phone features Dolby Atmos- and THX-certified audio that’ll blow your socks off. While shooting, I had them on full blast while logging into Vainglory. Needless to say, I thought someone pulled a prank through the speakers, and I was impressed to find it was the Razer Phone.

Display as smooth as butter is almost an understatement

Although the display’s brightness is relatively dimmer than what I’m used to, the 120Hz refresh rate is just amazing. Dropping the refresh rate from 120Hz to 90Hz does make a difference in-game and out. It may not make a huge difference to the untrained eye, but it’s a noticeable one to PC gamers.

The phone makes Android look so buttery smooth that I can never look at other phones the same way again. Regular phones settle for a 60Hz panel meaning they’re only half as smooth as the Razer Phone’s display. If that doesn’t put it up to scale for you, 120Hz is about as high as a refresh rate from most high-end laptops and PC monitors.

Bundled with pre-installed games

It comes as no surprise: A gaming phone is no gaming phone without games. Razer brought out their guns, already setting the phone up with four titles perfect on 120Hz. They have Titanfall: Assault, Gear.Club, World of Tanks: Blitz, and Arena of Valor pre-installed on the phone so you won’t need to look far to test out the display right off the bat.

If you want to immerse in a sharp and bold display while you play, this is the way to go. Other games that support this frame rate are:

  • Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition
  • Real Racing 3
  • The Simpsons: Tapped Out
  • Vainglory
  • Vendetta Online
  • Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade

Netflix and play

The Razer Phone boasts perfect features for gamers, but it delivers on more than just that. The phone’s HDR-ready screen is perfect for watching movies, shorts, and TV shows. With the phone’s extensive battery life, it had no problem tearing through hours of binge watching on Netflix.

A catch that may not matter to you

The 12-megapixel dual cameras are decent but feel like an afterthought, which ultimately makes a lot of sense. With the target use to be mainly for playing games and lodging around without being tied to an outlet or power bank, it’s clear that Razer took this more as an accessory than a main feature. Which isn’t to say it’s completely horrifying; you can check the test shots for yourself below:

Its highs and lows

The Razer Phone doesn’t have a headphone jack. A bummer? A little, but the phone comes with a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle. Luckily, Razer sent us Razer Hammerhead USB-C earphones with the phone so I had a chance to try them out and they delivered on quality.

Connecting a variety of headphones and earphones both over- and in-ear through the dongle thankfully didn’t degrade the experience that much. Although you’re better off with the direct USB-C earphones, the dongle is not so bad an alternative when you don’t have US$ 80 more to cash out for the Hammerhead or similarly expensive headphones.  

Is this your GadgetMatch?

If you’re looking for the perfect phone to play and watch with while still being able to go about your day, this is the phone for you. The Razer Phone’s 120Hz refresh rate can change a life. It’s eye-gasmic and the phone doesn’t make me feel any remorse for saying it.

If a great camera is one of the striking features you value in a phone, this isn’t the phone for you. The device can manage with ample lighting, but there’s no denying that the camera is this handset’s pitfall. Considering that this is a gaming phone though, it does deliver. Whether a gaming phone is worth cashing out US$ 699 for, is up to you.

What lies ahead?

I touched on this subject in the introduction, but it’s safe to say brands are listening to their audience more and more. Gaming on your mobile has been looked down upon by many and it has struggled to gain equal respect from other hardware. Although it continues to be belittled, it grows. Mobile games are not just convenient, portable, and efficient, it’s also mostly for free — and that’s why despite harsh shade, it’s popularity has grown incrementally. Games are no longer a sensible debate between hardware, and it shouldn’t have been to begin with.

Judging software through hardware isn’t a valid way of going about the subject. Games like Mobile Legends, Arena of Valor, Army Attack, and Battlefield has proven that games that go multi-platform and dive into iOS and Android grow a huge number of players. So, next time you feel like judging a game by what people play it on, consider the context of usage, availability, and accessibility of the game for people.

Gaming

Final Fantasy VII Remake review: A fresh experience of a timeless tale

Nostalgic and new at the same time

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Easily one of the most hyped and anticipated video games over the last five years, Final Fantasy VII Remake has arrived and it is everything I hoped it would be.

It manages to preserve the spirit of the original game while modernizing it in every way imaginable. It feels so close to the Final Fantasy games I grew up playing — those being VII, VIII, IX, and X — while also definitely being a game for 2020. Nostalgic and new at the same time.

Before we proceed, some important declarations: GadgetMatch received an official copy of the game specifically for the purpose of this review. This article will have no spoilers — just a general overview and assessment of the Final Fantasy VII Remake experience.

The devil is in the details

One of the more obvious differences is how the game looks. In 1997, Final Fantasy VII, was a visual breakthrough. It was the first time for a Final Fantasy game of this scale to switch from 2D to 3D.

Being preceded by games like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End just to name a few, the Remake won’t have the same kind of video game graphics impact. But make no mistake, it serves up a visual experience that is utterly breathtaking.

LADIES’ MAN. Cloud is pretty popular with the ladies. A true visual 😉

It starts with the little things. The way the game treats light when you go indoors or outdoors is reminiscent of how your eyes would behave when doing the same. It takes a second before your eyes fully adjust to your surroundings. And this treatment of light is consistent throughout the game.

The cinematography is also a masterclass in visual storytelling. There’s a sequence during the beginning of the game where Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockhart (two of the main characters) were interacting and the way they were positioned in relation to each other and to the environment tells you a lot about the current standing of their relationship.

SOCIAL DISTANCING? Cloud and Tifa meet again after 5 years

It’s a classic show-don’t-tell technique and it works wonders. It’s also pretty consistent throughout the game. The shots used for each scene were carefully and meticulously thought out. It adds not only to the cinematic flair, but also to the emotion of the game.

Midgar feels alive 

This level of attention to detail is present all over Midgar — the place where most of the game will take place. The way the camera zooms in and out of the city during certain scenes gives you a good grasp of the life and status of Midgar and its people.

The class divide between those living in the upper levels versus those relegated to the slums is very evident in one of the earlier missions. Not just with how the levels are designed, but also with the dialogue of the NPCs (non-playable characters).

There’s a stark contrast between how people from the upper level reacted to the bombing of the first Mako reactor to how the people in the slums reacted. People in the upper levels mostly support the authoritarian Shinra — the city’s ruling organization. They also happen to be direct benefactors of Shinra’s exploits.

Meanwhile, the people in the slums are a mixed bag — some are indifferent, only caring about how they will get through the next day. Some are rightfully afraid of how they will be affected by the ensuing conflict.

By the way, for the uninitiated, the story basically kicks-off with a radical group called Avalanche carrying out the first of a series of bombing missions. The group believes Shinra is syphonying off the planet’s life through the Mako reactors. Mako is the planet’s lifestream. If it runs out, the planet will most likely wither away.

Action-RPG combat with turn-based feel is extremely satisfying

One of the biggest points of discussion is how the Remake will handle combat. The original game — in true JRPG fashion — was turn-based. That was 23 years ago, and outside of Persona 5, the turn-based style hasn’t really attracted plenty of gamers.

What Final Fantasy VII Remake did is fuse that turn-base feel to the more popular Action-RPG type. Something that a lot of gamers today prefer. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but it’s pretty darn close.

Here’s how it works: When you go into battle, you have direct control over moving around as well as the character’s physical attacks. Dealing physical damage raises your ATB meter. Your ATB meter then gives you access to using Abilities, Spells, Items, and whenever they become available — Summons and Limit Breaks.

When you trigger the use of your ATB meter the game goes into this slo-mo mode. It sort of reminds me of “bullet time” from Max Payne or that brief slo-mo in Marvel’s Spider-Man that gives you enough time to plan your next move. Except in Final Fantasy VII Remake, that slo-mo is longer, giving you ample time to issue commands for every character in your party.

The whole combat system might also remind you of Kingdom Hearts III, but unlike that game, there’s no way you can just charge in and button mash to win fights. Each enemy has to be dealt with differently and you’ll have to be very careful and tactical in your approach to win battles.

A great way to jump into Final Fantasy

Another thing that Final Fantasy VII Remake masterfully does is not overwhelm you with all the Final Fantasy things you need to know. It slowly introduces you to the story and the franchise’s concepts throughout the game.

VR MISSIONS. New summon materia can be acquired through this method

The Final Fantasy franchise is full of lore. While each game is a stand alone story, some items, summons, skills, and magic are consistent across all the games.

If you have zero knowledge going in, you’ll feel right at home. The franchise’s lore is carefully integrated into the main story. If you’re a Final Fantasy veteran, the introduction of these concepts flow well enough that they’re not at all boring.

It perfectly walks the tightrope of keeping franchise fans happy without alienating any potential newcomers.

A fantastic remake

It was the Final Fantasy franchise that first had me dreaming what it would be like when in-game graphics would finally match cutscenes. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children — the computer-animated film that served as the follow-up to FF7’s story — sparked that dream further.

Final Fantasy VII Remake made that dream come true. The way it transitions from free-roaming to battle to cutscene is seamless. It literally feels like you’re playing a computer-animated film.

While we’ve seen this play out in other games, just the fact that it’s an iconic game with iconic characters given new life by modern technology makes it extra special. Playing it made me feel like a kid again. It’s exactly the jolt that my jaded adult version needed more than anything.

There’s a lot more to this game that can be discussed. So much more can be dissected. Everything from how each character is treated, how the story almost feels like a reflection of society today, the intricacies of its battle system, and many more. I’m excited to have these conversations with fellow gamers.

If you came here looking to find out if you should pick this game up, the answer is a resounding YES. If you pre-ordered (and have already preloaded) the game, let this be a primer for what you’re about to step into — a game that’s carefully crafted to give you a fresh experience of a timeless tale.

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Gaming

A Japanese company tried doing work meetings in Animal Crossing

WFH just got better

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Image source: Livedoor

Today, New York City banned the use of Zoom in schools and universities. In the past few weeks, the city trained its teachers and employees in using the platform to maintain some sort of semblance amidst the pandemic. However, after numerous reports about Zoom’s security, the world is quickly changing its perspective on easily accessible teleconferencing software.

Naturally, with Zoom’s quick exit as the world’s most reliable platform, everyone is looking for an alternative. In Japan, a company tried a meeting in the cutest possible place today, Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Over the weeks since its debut, Animal Crossing: New Horizons took the world by storm. In short order, the adorable simulation game invited friends to virtual desert island paradises from all over the world. It replaced a sense of community lost in today’s pandemic.

Reported by Livedoor, a Japanese publication, the Japanese company tried the game as a platform to work from home. According to the report, an employee invited its editorial staff to a single desert island. Besides meeting, the staff even went on a fishing trip together.

Image source: Livedoor

Though fun, the experiment was less than stellar. After concluding the meeting, the writer listed down the few but critical disadvantages at working in Animal Crossing’s island paradises.

For example, the game can’t facilitate file transfers or private person-to-person chats. Also, usernames are almost impossible to recognize. Adding contacts on the island involves alphanumeric codes assigned to each Nintendo Switch user. And, of course, it’s hard to focus on actual work with island chores always lurking in the background.

As an adorable game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons fails as a productivity pusher. That said, the game is one of the most relaxing gaming experiences on this side of the pandemic era.

SEE ALSO: Nintendo announces Switch ports for Borderlands, Bioshock, and more

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Gaming

Final Fantasy VII Remake final trailer

Get hyped!

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From the time it made a huge splash in E3 2015, we’ve been glued and have been waiting anxiously for this game to come out. And now, it’s finally upon us. The Final Fantasy VII Remake is coming and this is the final trailer with just days away from the April 10, 2020 release.

If you pre-ordered the game, you already pre-load it now so you can play right away on April 10. Square Enix also shipped the game early to some areas earlier than scheduled considering the Coronavirus situation that has everyone on lockdown.

With the game coming, it’s highly likely PlayStation gamers will now have more incentive to stay home.

Watch the final trailer.

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