Gaming

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Review — Propulsive pulp classic

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With fascist figures influencing the world, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is as timely as a first-person shooter video game about fighting Nazis can be. How effective is its message conveyed through story and gameplay?

There is an important legacy to the Wolfenstein name. Wolfenstein 3D basically started the 3D first-person shooter genre in 1992. That name, however, had become irrelevant since then, as its World War II setting and white-bread protagonist BJ Blazkowicz were used as a template for a lot of FPS games for years. It wasn’t until Wolfenstein: The New Order came out in 2014 and surprised gamers that Wolfenstein mattered again.

It wasn’t because of innovative gameplay, although The New Order was certainly solid in that department. What wowed fans was its nuanced narrative.

As a direct sequel to The New Order, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was then burdened with the challenge of being as good or even better than its sleeper hit predecessor. Its marketing that capitalized on the political climate in the US only served to raise the stakes.

The New Colossus wields its storytelling and gunplay like dual shotguns to blow away those expectations and then some.

Horrifying alternate history

The New Colossus picks up right where The New Order left off. There’s a short video recap for the events of the previous game for players who missed it. It’s 1961 and the Nazis are at the height of their power. They won World War II and have taken over the United States of America after dropping a nuke on Manhattan, forcing the US government to surrender. Protagonist BJ Blazkowicz is with his ragtag resistance group from Europe. On board a captured high-tech German U-boat, they’re sailing to American soil to start a revolution and liberate the nation from Nazi rule.

Sounds like a hopeful premise to start with, no?

The New Colossus hacks that hope with a hatchet in the most shocking intro to a video game I’ve ever seen. In the first half hour alone, it features extreme graphic violence, domestic abuse, animal cruelty, racial and homophobic slurs, aggressive sexually suggestive behavior, and body shaming.

It’s understandable that some might find all this immediately off-putting and done for cheap shock value. However, considering the atrocities that the Nazi party, the Ku Klux Klan, and other racial supremacist factions committed throughout history, it’s critical for a game that has those groups in power to depict them for what they truly are: evil people who hold beliefs that cannot be reasoned with yet are rooted in very real human frailty.

Brutal combat for brutal difficulty

The game establishes its villains in the beginning so effectively that you can’t help but want to bring them down. Fortunately, you build up a small arsenal to do so in supremely bloody fashion. You get throwable axes, machine guns, explosives, and lasers to maim and murder Nazis. There are upgrade systems to improve your weapons as well as your character’s base abilities like movement speed and health regeneration.

You’ll need to take full advantage of these mechanics to beat these virtual fascists. The New Colossus is unforgiving in its difficulty. Most levels begin with you in stealth, but sneaking around is tough because of how most levels are structured. You’re either going through narrow hallways with just a couple of paths or wide open arenas with very little cover.

Like in The New Order, there are commanders that you’ll have to eliminate to keep them from calling in reinforcements. Unlike in its predecessor, these commanders are almost always hidden away at the very end of the sections you’re traversing. So what usually happens is you get spotted after taking out a couple of guards, the commanders sound the alarm, and waves of heavily armored soldiers swarm in for a gunfight.

Seconds of sustained gunfire will kill you. Making matters worse is there’s little feedback to indicate you’re taking damage. It’s very easy to get gunned down without you expecting it. Recovering health is finicky, too. While you can walk over health packs on the ground to restore your life, most of these items blend in the background and are up on shelves and desks. You have to manually look at these pickups and press a button to use them, and the seconds you take to do so can be enough to eat bullets from all sides.

The answer is to never stop moving and always pull out two firearms. Only through relentless mobility and ferocity can you reliably overcome these encounters. It helps that sprinting and shooting in The New Colossus looks and feels good. You can blitz across rooms while carrying an automatic shotgun in one hand and a grenade launcher in the other. Every blast from your guns explodes in a rhythmic song of righteous fury.

Momentum-driven human drama

This philosophy of constant, confident movement rings resoundingly in the cinematics. The New Colossus rarely lets up on dropping atomic plot bombs. The entire cast crackles with character in every cutscene. The dialogue and delivery pop and snap like a Quentin Tarantino flick, with motion capture rivaling the Uncharted games for expressiveness. The industrial metal soundtrack, courtesy of DOOM (2016) composer Mick Gordon, rips and tears to hype you the hell up.

It’s not just bluster, either. You take commands from the leader of a militant African-American organization and partner with a socialist armed rebel group. Both parties holler at the social injustices that are deeply ingrained in America’s racist and hyper-capitalist culture, long before the Nazis came along. In fact, The New Colossus reveals just how poised pockets of American society are to fully embrace white supremacist authority, which apparently isn’t so different from reality.

What is most impressive though is the game’s deep dive into protagonist BJ Blazkowicz’s psyche and personal history. He cuts the perfect Aryan figure; a white, blonde, blue-eyed, square-jawed, deep-voiced, musclebound manly man. But The New Colossus takes the time to explore his emotional vulnerabilities, his sources of inner strength, and how his core values differentiate him from the insecure, paranoid, and destructive narcissism of Nazi oppressors.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a double threat of ultraviolent action and ballistic fiction. It swings from hilarity to horror with rockstar swagger while maintaining pitch-perfect solemnity in its soliloquies. 25 years since the series debut, Wolfenstein proves that it’s always relevant to resist.

SEE ALSO: Doki Doki Literature Club: It’s all fun and games until it’s not

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Gaming

ASUS releases the ROG Zephyrus S17, M16

ASUS adds three new gaming laptops for gamers and creators alike.

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ASUS Republic of Gamers Philippines (ROG) released brand new gaming laptops equipped with the latest Intel 11th Generation CPUs. Lead by the award-winning ROG Zephyrus series, together with the crowd favorite TUF Gaming family. Released in their latest event, the ROG: Unleash the Legend Inside Digital Launch. With this, ASUS finally completes ROG’s roster of gaming laptop products this 2021.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17

Starting off with their newest lineup we have the ROG Zephyrus S17!

ASUS tweaked its gaming experience with its Rising Optical Mechanical Keyboard design, adding a 5-degree tilt to improve airflow by 25 percent. Having provided optimized typing comfort, this assures its user’s full control of any modification. They implemented ROG’s AAS Plus technology, together with the ROG Intelligent Cooling feature. Also with a new redesigned Arc Flow fans create a quiet and efficient airflow system. Having said this, it favors the Zephyrus S17’s thermal capacity. It maximizes cooling and performance for the laptop’s build.

Geared with up to the latest Intel Core i9 11th Gen CPU, paired with up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, the Zephyrus S17 delivers top performance to provide users the best experience in gaming and other heavy-duty tasks. With up to 32GB RAM and 3TB SSD storage, the Zephyrus S17 maximizes its hardware to perform at a high level. The laptop also has display options of 4K UHD, 120Hz refresh rate, or WQHD 165Hz. The Zephyrus S17 caters to both gamers and creators alike.

ROG Zephyrus M16

The latest addition to the Zephyrus M line, the ROG Zephyrus M16 arrives with the newest specifications, but also a renewed design. Designed within its prism aesthetics is a 16-inch screen display in WQHD resolution with 165Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time, and an Adaptive-Sync. Users can enjoy the 16:10 aspect with a 94 percent screen-to-body ratio. Having this said, it elevates their gaming experience to another level. Artists can also expect top-grade visuals with Pantone Validated colors across 100% of the cinema-grade DCI-P3 color gamut, supported by Dolby Vision

This gaming laptop can run through any application. The laptop is powered by the latest 11th Gen Intel Core i9 CPU and paired with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU. The Zephyrus M16 brings powerful performance to deliver the best output and deliver it through its beautiful display. With RAM of up to 32GB and SSD storage of up to 2TB, expect quality performance across many applications. With its battery lasting about 10 hours, ROG produced the immersive experience in its thin-and-light form factor. Made possible thanks to its 90W Hour Battery and Thunderbolt 4. 

TUF GAMING F17/15

The TUF Gaming series has been known for its gaming performance at affordable options. This year, ASUS redesigns the TUF Gaming F17/15 with great value for the latest CPU and GPU specifications. Equipped with the newest Intel Core i7 11th gen CPU, with available options from the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti to RTX 3060 options. With a 144Hz refresh rate screen, users can experience high and stable FPS while playing their favorite games. 

New variants of the TUF Dash F15 are available. Now also equipped with the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 GPU.

Price and Availability

The ROG Zephyrus line will be available in-stores starting 3rd quarter. In August 2021, the Zephyrus S17 will be coming with the following items: ROG Ranger Backpack, ROG Delta Headset, ROG Chakram Core Gaming Mouse, a Type-C PD Adapter, and a pre-installed Windows Office Home & Student 2019. The price starts at PhP 184,995. 

By the end of July 2021, the Zephyrus M16 will be arriving and comes with the ROG Backpack, ROG Delta Headset, ROG Chakram Core Gaming Mouse, a Type-C PD Adapter, and a pre-installed Windows Office Home & Student 2019. The price starts at PhP 129,995. 

The TUF Gaming F17/15 and the TUF Dash F15 with Intel 11th gen CPUs and RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti GPUs are already available in the market since June 2021. Both lines are available with the new design of the TUF Gaming backpacks. Price starts at PhP 54,995 

ASUS advised that coordination with your preferred store is convenient when ordering or reserving products.

To view the full price list click the link here.

 

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Entertainment

Plunge into a dark world in Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness

A thriller series based on Capcom’s beloved franchise

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Infinite Darkness

Resident Evil proved to be one of the most popular game franchises of all time, spanning different console generations. For over 25 years, Capcom produced some of the most jaw-dropping, horrifying game releases that shake people to their core. Just last May, they released Resident Evil: Village to a fanfare of everybody simping for Lady Dimitrescu.

Apart from the games, Resident Evil also received several television and movie adaptations, bringing the same horror to the big screen. From live-action movies to animated TV series, these provide a good amount of fan service to long-time fans of the games. For 2021, Capcom has a new series that I believe fans will also appreciate upon release in RESIDENT EVIL: Infinite Darkness.

A series of unfortunate events

The world of RESIDENT EVIL: Infinite Darkness still revolves around the whole zombie encounter-theme the games follow, but on a rather global scale. In the year 2000, U.S. special forces were sent to intervene in the ongoing civil war in the region of Penamstan. However, tragedy struck when the helicopter fell from the sky, and the special forces were annihilated. At least, that’s what they believe happened.

Fast forward to 2006, back in the United States, a hacking incident occurs within the White House. To avert more disaster, the government invited four agents to investigate but were met with strange circumstances. As it turns out, a horde of zombies infiltrates the building and the agents, along with the U.S. S.W.A.T. team, fight them off.

It’s an anime series that tackles a ton of mystery about the events of the past, and how they catch up in present time. In essence, the agents seek to unravel what truly happened that day in 2000, and how they could avert another disaster from happening.

A familiar face returns to the scene

Remember how I mentioned that there are four agents assigned to the investigation? Well, one of them is Leon S. Kennedy, one of the main playable characters in Resident Evil 2. In this series, he looks a bit older and wears a more formal attire than a police uniform. In an interview with Director Eiichiro Hasumi, he explained to me why they picked him in the first place.

According to him, Leon’s character provides a “lot of freedom to move around” in terms of the storytelling aspect. Compared to someone like Chris Redfield, for example, Leon’s character doesn’t necessarily tie him down to any specific roles or places in the story.

As seen in his character design, Leon looks a bit more tired — as if the youth in his aura was sucked out of him. Director Eiichiro notes that he is “in a slightly bitter position” compared to his younger self. How exactly will this version of Leon deal with the crisis of Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness? We’ll find out soon enough.

Managing your expectations a bit

So, what can you expect from RESIDENT EVIL: Infinite Darkness when it comes? For starters, it’s a fully animated TV series that Director Eiichiro hopes would be easily digestible for everyone. It’s a series that reveals everything slowly, and eases you in on what’s happening with every bit of new information.

Secondly, while I’ve already mentioned Leon’s presence, you will also see Claire Redfield, another protagonist from Resident Evil 2. In the series, she serves as a volunteer for TerraSave based in Penamstan, and even does her own set of investigations. Where these investigations will take her, you’ll have to find out on your own!

Finally, there will be zombies and zombie killing, like a lot of it. I mean, it’s par for the course for the games to have zombie killing, so the anime series should include it. As for the zombies they will be killing, again, you have to watch the series to find out.

RESIDENT EVIL: Infinite Darkness will arrive on Netflix on July 8, 2021.

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Gaming

Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2: Price and availability in the Philippines

A immersive, gaming-centric experience like no other

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Legion Phone Duel 2

Lenovo continues to break ground on bringing the gaming world to a wider audience. As such, they launched the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel last year to do exactly that. Their own take on a proper gaming smartphone received a mix of adjulation and criticism, but it didn’t stop them. This year, they’re bringing the heat with the new Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2.

Legion Phone Duel 2

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 doesn’t necessarily stray away from its predecessor’s overall design. Although, with a 6.92-inch AMOLED display, it’s certainly a little larger for a good reason. Also, this time around, the Legion Phone Duel 2 sports a whopping 144Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support for clean and crisp gameplay.

Inside this machine, you will find a Snapdragon 888 5G CPU, up to 16GB of RAM, and a 5,500 mAh battery for intense and extensive mobile gaming.

Legion Phone Duel 2

Another prominent gaming feature of the Legion Phone Duel 2 is its Octa-Trigger system. On the phone, you have eight airtriggers to map onto different actions during gameplay. In essence, it’s as if you’re already using a controller for your phone to play your games. Along with Lenovo’s Dual HaptiX technology, you can also expect precise touch feedback, as well.

The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 is available for pre-order beginning June 18 until June 30, 2021. It comes in two colors in Ultimate Black and Titanium White, but only the former is available during the pre-order. As for the SRPs, here are the available configurations:

  • 12GB RAM + 256GB storage — PhP 39,995
  • 16GB RAM + 512GB storage — PhP 49,995

SEE ALSO: Lenovo Legion Phone Duel review: Raw gaming power

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