Posts Tagged ‘feature’

AOC Agon AG352UCG review: The Final Fantasy XII monitor quest continues

AOC AG352UCG

As I continue my quest to find the best ultra-wide monitor for playing Final Fantasy XII, the next display in my party roster is the AOC Agon AG352UCG. Equipped with a 100Hz refresh rate, Nvidia G-Sync support and an LED-laden lower bezel, this curved, 35in 3440×1440 monitor has almost everything you could possibly want for the ultimate 21:9 experience. Almost.
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How Dead Cells’ pokeball keeps me coming back

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Hey, remember Dead Cells? You should, because it’s not even out of early access and we named it our game of 2017. It’s a combat-focused platformer roguelike that John refuses to call a metroidvania (although it is).

The game’s received another large update since anyone on the site wrote about it, though I’ll save most of what’s in the Foundry Update for another time. This is an article about one little item that solves one very big problem. It’s about how the Hunter’s Grenade gives me something to work towards with every fresh start, and why I was still playing at a point when I’d seen almost everything the game had to offer.

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Exploring Assassin’s Creed Origins with a camera

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I have been, since November, utterly enamoured with digital Ptolemaic Egypt. Assassin’s Creed Origins’ snowglobe version of the kingdom makes it excellent fodder for long, meandering walks and screenshots of tantalising vistas, but it’s the small vignettes of daily life and scenes of mundanity that make Egypt feel less like just another theme park.

Since the first Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft Montreal has used scale as its default weapon. Huge towers, massive crowds, more map icons than the eye can handle. But while, yes, Origins is still a gargantuan game, it’s one that spends a lot of time zoomed in on the streets instead of hovering around the rooftops. It’s inspired me to do the same, accompanied by the game’s impressive photo mode. It pauses the action and unlocks the camera at the press of a button, letting you tweak the image with filters and by changing things like contrast and depth of field. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: My Time at Portia

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the (well-tended agricultural) wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s taking a break in My Time at Portia, a crafting sim with shades of Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley.

Tirelessly exploring early access games takes its toll, so this week I’m off somewhere relaxing: a post-apocalyptic town. Portia is more Ghibli than Fallout, thankfully. It’s a brightly-coloured, charming place, surrounded by vast green fields and gargantuan ruins from the time before the cataclysm. A perfect spot for a holiday, then.

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The great GPU crisis – why are graphics cards so expensive now, and just how bad is it?

ZEC tales

Updated to reflect the latest, even more horrifying graphics card prices & availability, plus the concurrent RAM shortage.

If you’ve made a point of leaving any conversation as soon as you hear the sound ‘bitc…’ start to emanate from someone’s face-hole, I’ve got some bad news for you. The effects of the cryptocurrency goldrush are no longer confined to twitchy-eyed evangelists and screechy news headlines – for the second time in recent memory, it’s caused a huge spike in graphics card prices, both new and second-hand, as the crypto-clan rush to snaffle up any GPU they could possibly use to mine blockchain currencies such as Ethereum and Zcash. Even the recent decline in crypto exchange rates hasn’t brought GPU pricing back down to Earth – quite the opposite, in fact.

This means two things for us, in practice. 1) Now is the worst possible time to buy a new graphics card for gaming 2) now is the best possible time to sell on any unused old graphics cards you own.
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Wot I Think: Dragon Ball FighterZ

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Dragon Ball was the hallmark of nearly every Thursday night when I was growing up, especially during the infamous run of Toonami on Cartoon Network. I never did keep up with the show’s evolving story, but I was always enamored by the way Goku and pals decimated the world around them as they fought at super Saiyan speed. And that’s the first thing that hit me when I jumped into Dragon Ball FighterZ – Cell flew directly into an asteroid behind him and blew it to bits after I landed a heavy kick directly to his gut. You beat up your opponent and watch the world crumble and collapse.

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The creator of the Civilization V superintelligence mod on AI safety

civ-v-ai-mod

Last month, the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk released a mod for Civ V that introduced superintelligent AI to the game – not in the form of AI opponents, but as a technology that can end the game for every player if it’s left unchecked. It’s a novel overhaul to the science system, as well as an attempt to teach people about AI safety.

While I had some problems with the mod, I also thought it was a fascinating idea. Keen to learn more, I spoke to project director Shahar Avin about how the mod came about, the issues that it presents both poorly and well, and how people can get involved with AI safety themselves.

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How Iconoclasts makes platforming flow

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the difficult journeys they underwent to make the best bits of their games. This time, Iconoclasts [official site].

Iconoclasts is a platformer that feels great to play. As Robin, a daring mechanic armed with a wrench and a stun gun, you’ll run, jump and shoot your way through sprawling multi-level areas, enjoying precise movements which balance detail and nuance with smoothness. It’s a feel that’s down to developer Joakim Sandberg’s taste in games. ”Something I always enjoy in a videogame is that feeling, usually when you’ve played it a few times, of being able to push through,” he tells me. “Flow, essentially.”

Almost all of Iconoclasts’ design features are directly about maintaining this sense of flow, of momentum in which you feel like nothing is getting in the way of your intention. And one feature you’ll notice when you first start playing the game is kind of shocking. Read the rest of this entry »

Wot I Think: Lost Sphear

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a ragtag group of orphans wake up one day and decide to slay some monsters, as all small-town gangs are wont to do. This is the opening of Lost Sphear. After bonking some bunny-mutants to death in a nearby field, they discover that their idyllic hometown has blinked out of existence, replaced by a gaping white void. But, soon enough, one of our heroes has a dream that reveals that he and he alone possesses mysterious power that can restore these “lost” objects through the power of memories. Together, the gang embark on a quest to save the world from ruin.

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Samsung 860 Pro review: Just say no and get the 860 Evo instead

Samsung 860 Pro

Samsung’s Pro range of SSDs have always had a hard time in the face of their cheaper Evo counterparts. On the face of it, they’re meant to be faster and longer-lasting – the best of the best SSDs, so to speak – but when the Samsung 850 Evo and 960 Evo proved to be pretty much just as quick as their respective Pro siblings for a lot less cash, they’ve become increasingly hard to justify. Unless you regularly move hundreds of GBs of files around your PC on a daily basis, Samsung’s Evo SSDs are more than enough for your typical gamer.

The 860 Pro is no different. Speed-wise, Samsung claims it’s a fraction faster than both the outgoing 850 Pro and incoming 860 Evo with a sequential read speed of up to 560MB/s and a sequential write speed of up to 530MB/s, but in reality they’re all pretty much identical. Why, then, should you consider the 860 Pro? It’s all to do with endurance.

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Samsung 860 Evo review: Improved endurance, but just as fast as the 850 Evo

Samsung 860 Evo

For the past three years, Samsung’s 850 Evo has been consistently one of the best SSDs money can buy. It’s often been more expensive than the competition, but its speed, endurance rating and generous five-year guarantee have all helped it secure its place as one of the mainstays of any PC gaming build. Finally, however, it looks like the 850 Evo’s time at the top is about to end, as Samsung’s just replaced it with the brand-new 860 Evo.

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Underworld Ascendant wants you to break all the rules

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Underworld Ascendant is a game for anyone who has ever tormented a GM during a tabletop RPG session. The maps have been drawn up, the traps have been primed and all of the plans are coming together. You’re deep in a dungeon and the story is about to take a very unpleasant turn. And then…

“You said the spikey pillars are made of the same wood from which the ancient throne of Catharsia was carved? Fine. I’ll set fire to them.”

“You can’t do that…there are another six distinct phases of this particular peril…”

“I’m pretty sure I can. They’re wood. They’ll burn. Let’s get out of here.”

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Have you played… The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

‘Played’ in the title suggests something concluded, but clearly if you did ever play The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (plus its various expansions), you’re almost certainly still playing it. Forever and ever. Read the rest of this entry »

Best SSDs 2018: Top solid state drives for gaming

Best SSDs 2018

Buying an SSD can be a bit of a headache when you’re constantly being bombarded with such friendly terms as mSATA and M.2 this, and NVMe and PCIe that, which is why we’re here to help you pick the best SSD for you and your budget. Below, you’ll find our current top picks as well as in-depth buying advice on how to pick your next SSD. Whether it’s for general performance or the fastest speeds money can buy, we’ve got you covered.

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Samsung 850 Evo review: Still a great SSD for those in the UK

Samsung 850 Evo

The Samsung 850 Evo is one of the most popular SSDs around, and with good reason. Thanks to its blistering speeds, five-year guarantee and best-in-class endurance rating, it’s sat near the top of most best SSD lists ever since it first came out at the end of 2014. If your PC’s been feeling a bit sluggish lately, then the Samsung 850 Evo will almost certainly give it a much-needed boost.

Having said that, Samsung’s just replaced the 850 Evo with the newer 860 Evo. There’s not actually a huge amount of difference between them speed-wise, but the 860 Evo doubles down on the 850 Evo’s already excellent endurance levels and takes it to the next level. That’s not to say you shouldn’t still consider a Samsung 850 Evo, though, as those in the UK will find it a much better buy than its newer sibling. In the US, it’s a different story, as 850 Evo stock has pretty much already dried up, making the 860 Evo the obvious choice. Still, if you’re looking for a new SSD and live in the UK, then read on, as the 850 Evo is still a pretty tough act to beat while it’s still available.

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Steam Charts: Mystery No. 9 Edition

Where oh where is #9 this week, you ask, uncertain that it is possible to have a top ten without it. A mystery! Of course there are the usual suspects, the increasingly usual new suspects, and even a couple of new entries, but when it comes to slot nine, there’s a gap. The URL for the entry is this, the number seemingly unattached to anything on the store, and not the since deleted entry for the idiotic CS:GO championship sticker collection, as I’d first assumed. Go solve the mystery, mystery solvers! Read the rest of this entry »

Battalion 1944: a hardcore hybrid of noughties COD and Counter-Strike, with teething troubles

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“I wonder how long it will be before I get even a single kill in Battalion 1944“, I whinged at my colleagues earlier. I had plenty of time to whinge, because I was, on average, getting insta-killed within 10 seconds of starting a round, then having to wait 50 seconds before the next one started, at which point I would respawn.

The more capable players, meanwhile, spent their down and out time whingeing in Chat about how much people like me, who hadn’t instantly memorised all the maps and had the temerity to not make every single shot land in their very first match, were spoiling the show. World War II-themed multiplayer first-person shooter Battalion 1944 is not, at present, a particularly happy place to be. That’s not because of the solid and steely-eyed underlying game, but because this early access build’s long waits, disconnects and minimal player-matching mean tempers are short once people are finally in a match. Nonetheless, it’s very obviously and immediately meeting a need.

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How Human: Fall Flat has kept its head held high

A strange thing has happened in the Steam charts since the start of the New Year. A minor indie release from summer 2016, the rather lovely Human: Fall Flat, appeared in the top ten grossing games of the week. And then stayed there. It’s been top ten for four weeks in a row now, twice peaking at #3. And I couldn’t work out why. So I tracked down the game’s one-man development team, Tomas Sakalauskas of No Brakes Games, to solve the mystery.

The answer, it seems, is multifarious, but contains lessons that might help other developers who want to see their games live on. Though, as Sakalauskas says, there are no magic bullets. Read the rest of this entry »

Crucial MX500 review: Better value than Samsung’s 850 Pro

Crucial MX500

The MX500 is Crucial’s first SSD with flashy new 64-layer 3D NAND memory. This means that the data storage cells inside are stacked on top of one another, 64 deep. In comparison to 2D NAND, which only has a single layer of cells, 3D NAND has much higher storage density. This opens the door to potentially huge storage capacities, as well as making the NAND itself cheaper to produce for a certain capacity.

But why, you may ask, am I reviewing Crucial’s latest SSD tech in an old-school 2.5in SSD? Wouldn’t an NVMe drive’s faster interface give the NAND more of a chance to shine? In short, yes, it would. But not everyone has a motherboard with the requisite NVMe-compatible M.2 slot. After all, motherboards with M.2 slots only started appearing less than three years ago, and as long as my nearly-six-year-old gaming PC can still play The Witcher 3 at 60fps, it ain’t going anywhere. So let’s see what the new Crucial MX500 is capable of, and whether it can upset our previously established list of Best SSDs.

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