Monthly Archives: August 2018

Halo Fireteam Raven: A pictoral essay

As I mentioned earlier this week, I was in Auckland for work so was able to head along to the New Zealand launch of the Halo Fireteam Raven arcade machine at Timezone in Auckland’s Wairau Valley.

It was nice event, with like-minded individuals chatting, eating delicious nibbles, imbibing fluids and, of course, being among the first in NZ to play the dual-screen, four-player Halo Fireteam Raven arcade machine.

Short verdict? It’s good. It’s very, very, very good. Actually, it’s a helluva lotta fun, letting you fill the combat boots of a Halo spartan taking on the covenant hordes – with some mates along for the ride.

Feast your eyes on these images of some obligatory Spartans controlling Spartans in Halo Fireteam Raven & some video of the game in action.

Sadly, the machine was too big to to fit in my carry on luggage for the flight home a couple of days later.

 

Halo Fireteam Raven launches in NZ tomorrow night

There’s a new Halo game launching in New Zealand tomorrow night – but you can’t buy it at your local retailer or play it on your Xbox One (or One X console).

Halo: Fireteam Raven is the first arcade edition of Microsoft’s much-loved FPS game Halo to come to New Zealand – and it’s getting its first outing at Timezone Xtreme Entertainment Wairau in Auckland tomorrow night (August 28)

The arcade game lets  four players either play cooperatively, or compete against each other in the Halo universe, and boasts a 130-inch, 4K  widescreen and 5.1 surround sound. Halo: Fireteam Raven lets fans of the Halo franchise play alongside Master Chief in the battle to ward off the enemy forces of the Covenant and the Flood infestation.

Here’s the official trailer for the game:

As luck would have it, I’m actually in Auckland tomorrow night for work so I’ll be popping along to Timezone Wairau to check out the Fireteam Raven and the festivities I’ll  post images to my twitter feed (@GamejunkieNZ) during the night, too,  if you want to see what the arcade machine looks like.

Also, if you attending the event and see me, come say hi!

 

 

 

 

Huawei nova 3i: A budget priced phone with a high-end presence

Huawei’s nova3i smart phone is a budget handset with flagship features that’s  missing one thing that a flagship smartphone does: The hefty price tag.

The last Huawei phone I reviewed was the P20, which I thought was a good phone but it just didn’t wow me, especially given the flagship P20 Pro wasn’t much more price-wise. The nova 3i has impressed me no end.

For starters, I love the iridium purple (Huawei calls it iris purple) on the glass/metal back: It looks classy and high-end, and makes the phone look more expensive than it is. It’s nice to see a budge phone that is a little different from the usual gold/white we so often see on smart phones. Some one said to me it looks kind of like an iPhone X, too, and it does – but without the eye-watering price point.

 

The nova 3i has a 6.3-inch IPS screen  ( FHD at  2340 x 1080), an impressive 4Gb of memory, is running Android 8.0 (with Huawei’s Emotion UI 8.2) and its 128Gb of storage is expandable to 256Gb via MicroSD. It also lets users set Te Reo as a language, which is a great touch for those of us in Aeotearoa. The battery life was damn good, too.

The nova3i has four camera lenses (two front-facing, two rear-facing) like Huawei’s flagship P20 Pro but – and here’s where saving would have been made – not from renowned company Leica. The nova 3i takes pretty damn good photos, which I’ve posted here, and camera software uses AI to enhance where it sees necessary. Sometimes it makes the original image look better, other times, though, it makes the original image look a little over-saturated, overall I was really impressed with the camera and the images.

Before: The original image with the Huawei nova3i’s AI mode disabled.

After: The image with the AI mode enabled. Note how the blue sky looks brighter, as does the sand.

Before: Another shot from the same beach with the AI mode disabled.

After: Again, note how much brighter the same and blue sky is thanks to the AI mode.

I think one of the main reasons I’m so taken with the nova 3i, though, is the price point: This is a phone with Rolls Royce looks but with at a Datsun 180B price. At $499, I’m more likely to upgrade my ageing Samsung Galaxy S7 with the nova 3i than I am Samsung’s recently released Galaxy Note 9, which may kick the Huawei’s arse when it comes to specs and performance, but these days, I’m not that keen on spending $1700 to $2000 on a phone, not matter how impressive it is (Nor would I want to, actually.)

The Huawei nova 3i does everything I need it to in a smartphone, and at a far more affordable price. As a budge conscious tech-head, that’s a win in my book.

Thanks to Huawei for providing a nova 3i hanset for this review.

Figment review: Battling the thoughts in your head

Figment, a puzzle/platformer for Finish indie developer Bedtime Digital Games for the Nintendo Switch, reminds me a lot of a children’s story book, with its whimsical artwork and fairy tale locations, except it’s set within the human mind with all sorts of weird shit going on.

Seriously, though, for most of the game the environments are like something you’d find in Alice in Wonderland, with teapots for houses, flowers made out of stringed instruments and white fluffy clouds providing a peaceful backdrop, things are more sinister than they seem at first in this fairy tale land, populated with memories, thoughts and urges and home to the voices in our head.

When Dusty (the game opens with him relaxing in a rocking chair, dreaming of ice for his drink) finds the nasty figments of the imagination have invaded the world, causing chaos, he must save the day. Accompanied by ever-optimistic bird Piper, Dusty must battle his way through a variety of dangers to, well, save the day.

The sumptuous visuals are the first thing that will attract your attention with Figment: They’re said by the developers to be hand-drawn, and by golly, does it look gorgeous, with an art style that belies the undertones of what Bedtime has called a “musical action adventure”.

The second thing that you’ll be captivated with is the wonderful voice acting which at times is delightfully over-the-top, and the musical score: Both are just delightful, with the score supposedly “defined by your exploration of the world”, which means that it adapts to how you react with the world: Move closer to the cello-like flowers and the strings sing, wander closer to a tuba-looking tree and the music takes a more brass band-like tone. It’s delightful and really adds a nice personal touch to the game.

The puzzles won’t cause you to have a brain haemorrhage, ranging from things like tracking down the handle that will turn the windmill that will blow away the nasty black fog and finding the right colour battery that will power the windmill to finding the missing pieces of a brass band bridge that will let you cross to another part of the world. Combat generally involves Dusty whacking unspeakable horrors with his sword or knocking back projectiles from said unspeakable horrors.

Figment is a delight to play, both visually and the way that the sound reacts to the player’s movement through the game world, and it’s further proof that games from small independent developers are a perfect fit for Nintendo’s console.

Remember how I commented last week on the great year that Nintendo was having?  Well, Figment is further proof of that.

Thanks to Bedtime for providing a digital code for Figment

Red Dead Redemption 2: I am ready

Rockstar dropped a game play trailer of the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 this morning, and after watching it today, I pity any other game/s that is/are coming out in October because, seriously, RDR2 is going to leave them sniffling wrecks, crying, curled up in the corner of a room.

Here’s 6 minutes and five seconds of RDR2. I pre-ordered this game two months ago. I usually never pre-order video games. In fact, I’ve pre-ordered only two video games in 40 years of playing video games (this and Batman Arkham Knight).

I have no more words. Just watch the trailer.

God, October can’t come fast enough. My PlayStation 4 is ready and waiting.

Element: An RTS game for people who really don’t have time for RTS games

Element (Nintendo Switch)

What a year the Nintendo Switch has had.

Despite being the least powerful console of the big three (Nintendo, Microsoft and PlayStation), I can quite comfortably say that I spent more time playing games on my Switch than I do the other consoles I own.

There are so many great reasons to own a Switch, and Element, from New Zealand developer Flightless, is another one.It’s a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch.

Element’s narrative involves a space craft fleeing a decaying solar system. Arriving in a new solar system, you must visit each planet (named after elements on the periodic table, ie barium, titanium, silicon, gallium), mining enough crucial resources to ensure your survival. Sounds simple, right? Well, kind of. You see, while you’re mining for resources, enemies are doing the same thing, You’ll have to build attack and defence forces and assault the enemy while mining the planet for all you can.

Early planets like Boron offer very little challenge, with minimal enemy presence, but by the time you get to planets like platinum, the enemy threat starts increasing. Planets like iridium and neon, have well established enemies that pose a dangerous threat.

Element is a really nice fit on the Switch, with an appealing low-poly look to it and intuitive controls. Using the Switch’s touch screen, you can zoom into the action so you can get a good handle on things and strategize accordingly, and rotate around planets using the right analogue stick.  After a while, you’ll find yourself rotating around a planet like an old hand, plonking down mines and defence units as you target enemy mines with missiles.

It feels a little bit Command & Conquer to me sometimes,  making you think strategically before you do something  while also making you think two steps ahead for potential threats.

Flightless has described Element as a real-time space strategy game for those who don’t have time for real-time space strategy games which, let’s be honest, is probably a lot of us these days. It’s the sort of game that is perfect for bite-sized gaming chunks during lunchtime or just before bedtime, letting you play through two or three planets in a session then call it quits for the night but still feel satisfied.

Update: Something that I suddenly thought about after an email exchange with Flightless director John O’Reilly was that Element would really work with a two-player network co-op mode where where each player controlled a faction. I think that would really work well with the game play in Element. 

 

Thanks to Flightless for the Element review code