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Win with Gamejunkie & PriceSpy

 

If PriceSpy’s latest data insights are anything to go by, Kiwi gamers appear to be steering more towards driving games, with CTR Crash Team Racing – Nitro Fueled Edition (PS4) and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch) proving to be amongst the most popular games for the month of July.

Accelerating to poll-position for a second month running is CTR Crash Team Racing – Nitro Fueled Edition (PS4), followed by Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4), which despite receiving an overall price increase of $17 since last month, the game has consistently been well-placed since first launching in September last year.  Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch) and Days Gone (PS4) placed as third, fourth and fifth most popular games.

Liisa Matinvesi-Bassett, New Zealand country manager for PriceSpy, says “The most popular games for July certainly appear to be driven by the two racing games, CTR Crash Team Racing – Nitro Fueled Edition and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

“Interestingly, all five of the most popular games were also priced under the $100 mark, which goes to show just how important price is to consumers in driving overall interest in a game,” she says.

WIN WIN WIN

PriceSpy has teamed up with GamejunkieNZ to give away the top two most searched for games for the month of July, CTR Crash Team Racing – Nitro Fueled Edition (ps4) and Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4).

To enter the draw to win these two games, leave a comment on this post telling me what your most anticipated game is. The competition closes September 4.

Competition rules: 1) The competition is only open to NZ residents 2) You must comment on this post to enter the draw 3) The prize is two (2) games for the PlayStation 4: Crash Team Racing – Nitro Fueled Edition & Marvel’s Spider-Man. 4) A PlayStation 4 is not included in the prize. You must already own the console 5) The winner will be contacted by email.

Oppo Reno 10x zoom: Serious smartphone competition

Colour me stupid but it took me a little bit to actually cotton on to where the front facing camera was on Oppo’s new Reno 10 x zoom smartphone ($NZ1299), one of the latest handsets from the Chinese manufacturer.

I’m no fan of selfies but, you know, for the sake of a thorough review,  I had to test of the phone’s forward-facing camera, right? But try as I might I couldn’t see an obvious camera lens in the screen, like other phones. “Where the heck is it?” I thought to myself.

Then I had a light bulb moment: I pressed the on-screen camera rotate button – and voila, the front facing camera glided out of the top edge of the phone, just like magic. Here’s a video showing it in action.

OK, stupidity on my behalf out of the way, Oppo’s Reno 10x zoom is an impressive phone from a manufacturer that isn’t as well known as Samsung or Huawei – but it deserves to be.

The selling point of the 10x zoom is the phone’s three lens set up which features a 48MP Sony camera, a 13MP telephoto lens and a 8MP wide angle lens, which in layman’s terms means it can take pretty damn good photos and you can zoom in on things really far away.

I did find the camera rather good, especially when I used it to zoom in on objects in the distance, but confusingly, the Reno 10x zoom doesn’t actually have a 10x optical zoom as the name suggests: It has a 5x optical zoom backed up by a digital zoom. It’s a little confusing, to be honest, but the end result is a top-notch camera on Oppo’s flagship smartphone.

As an example, the two photos below were taken from exactly the same spot near my Christchurch home as I photographed the city’s hills from the roadside, which were a good 5km away. In the zoomed shot (on the right) you can clearly see a television broadcasting antenna as clear as day. You can zoom in set increments ie 1x, 2x, 6x & 60x but I actually found pictures more blurry at the 60x zoom.

Oh, and remember how I said the front facing camera pops up from the top edge? It means that the 10x zoom doesn’t have a notch like other smartphones to house the front camera so the front of the phone is all screen [I did notice, though, that the pop up camera  did get a little bit of dust on it that I’d have to wipe off].

The 10x zoom sports a 4065mAh battery, Dolby Atmos audio playback, packs 8Gb of memory and has up to 256Mb of storage space. It’s a big phone, too, with a 6.6-inch AMOLED screen and it has a good weight to it. As you’d expect, it features all the bells and whistles you’d expect in a modern smartphone, including a blazingly-fast fingerprint scanner that unlocked almost instantly using my thumb. I found battery life to be really good.

One thing I was especially keen to test out, though, was the phone’s gaming-specific functionality which  Oppo boasts about. The phone comes pre-installed with Oppo’s Game Space software which is said to boost gaming performance by doing things like predicting in-game lag and adjusting in-game frame rates accordingly.

So I put the phone to the test with some of my favourite mobile games: Deus Ex Go, Lara Croft Go, Alto’s Adventure & racing game Asphalt 9: Legends, as well as benchmarking tools 3D Mark and Antutu, which tests 3D gaming performance, memory performance, CPU performance and the user experience using a variety of real-world tests.

It scored a respectable 5673 using the OpenGL API with the Sling Shot Extreme demo [3D Mark actually told me the Reno 10 x zoom was too powerful for the Ice Storm Extreme benchmark so pointed me back to the Sling Shot Extreme demo] and managed 35,2371 in the Antutu benchmark, beating out phones like the Sony Xperia 1, the Samsung Galaxy S10 and the Huawei P30 Pro. Most impressive.

Deus Ex, Lara Croft Go & Alto’s adventure all played well, but then all three are relatively undemanding games. The true test would be with Asphalt 9: Legends, a graphically demanding racing game that boosts console-quality visuals and fast-paced action. Legends looked eye-wateringly beautiful on the Reno’s AMOLED screen and I didn’t not any stutter or lag during my sessions playing it. Clearly, the Reno 10x zoom has the hardware chops to make it a great gaming smartphone [it would be wasted on Candy Crush, though].

Look, I was really impressed with the Oppo Reno 10x zoom. It’s a high-end smartphone that deserves attention from consumers who are eyeing up top-end handsets from the more well-known manufacturers.

Judgment’s Komurocho in selfies

Judgment might have its roots based on Sega’s wonderful Yakuza series (games I’ve been playing since the days of the PlayStation 2 & with the purchase of Yakuza Kiwami 2 last night, my collection is growing even more) and lawyer Takayuki Yamagi might not be as well known as the Dragon of Dojima Kazuma Kiryu , but Ryu Ga Gotaku Studio’s legal thriller is the perfect reason to revist Komurocho.

The game follows Yamagi, a former lawyer turned private detective, as he investigates a serial murder involved a high-profile Yakuza captain.

This isn’t a review of Judgment – I haven’t played it for enough hours yet to justify a review – but I thought I’d document my journey through Kamorucho using Yamagi’s mobile phone, in a series of selfies. That’s the modern way to document life, right?

Enjoy.

Bite sized news & reviews, June, 2019

God of Waaaar tops June games

Santa Monica Studio’s PlayStation 4-exclusive God of War has topped the games charts in New Zealand for the month of May, according to price aggregation site PriceSpy.

Despite being released over a year ago, the game staring angry Kratos and his son stomping around Norse mythology, beat out Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4), EA’s Anthem (PC) and Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4) for the top spot. That’s a pretty impressive effort. given the game came out early last year. Coincidentally, you can just happen to find my thoughts on God of War here

God of War originally launched with an RRP of $120 and according to pricing insights from PriceSpy, it can now be picked up for just $48, 60 percent less than 15 months ago.

If you haven’t played it, then I  politely suggest you give it a go. It’s very, very  good.

“They’re not loot boxes. They’re surprise mechanics,”  says EA 

Spotted on Eurogamer this week, EA and Epic Games got a grilling from Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee on a few video game related issues. One of the topics of discussion was loot boxes .

The response from EA’s vice president, legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins will become the stuff of memes: “We don’t call them loot boxes – we call them surprise mechanics … People like surprises. We do think the way we’ve implemented these kinds of mechanics is quite ethical and quite fun. They aren’t gambling and we disagree that there’s evidence that shows they lead to gambling.”

Eurogamer reports that the “thorny” issue of loot boxes and gambling was also brought up, but EA, which makes hundreds of millions through the sale of a virtual currency that’s then used to buy packs of cards in FIFA Ultimate Team, believes the two aren’t linked.

There’s not really much else to say on that, is there?

Total War Three Kingdoms & Shakedown Hawaii reviews

I’ve started writing for Australian-based website Koru-Cottage so here are a couple of recent reviews I did for the site: PC game Total War Three Kingdoms and PlayStation 4 game Shakedown Hawaii. Enjoy.

Bite-sized review: Hellmut The Badass from Hell

What is it: Hellmut Badass from Hell is a twin-stick shooter rogue-like which, according to Slovakian development team Volcanicc , has you play as a collection of “improbable creatures and slaughter furious demon hordes”. I looked at it on Nintendo Switch but it’s also available on PC and console.

So, what’s it all about?: Hellmut uses the currently popular 16-bit pixel art style of graphics that a few developers are favouring at the moment, and it’s one of those games where you move with the left stick and aim with the right as you fight your way through increasingly tougher enemies until you die – then you respawn and start all over again.

If you like games like Dead Cells and Hollow Knight, Hellmut will likely appeal to your gaming sensibilities (conversely, if you hate games like Dead Cells and Hollow Knight, you’ll hate Hellmut). It has procedurally generated levels and nice touch is that Hellmut (who seeks imortality from a demon so is reduced to a floating skull and spine) can transform into two other nightmarish creatures (the rat king and the stitchmonster), both with different abilities. The game really looks great on the Switch’s screen, too.

So, anything about the game that grinded your gears?: Well, it’s a rogue-like so, yeah. I frustrate easily with rogue-like games and so it was with Hellmut (and with Dead Cells and Hollow Knight before it). You have to have incredible patience and stickability with games like this and I’m not sure I have the patience to see them through to the end.

Verdict?: Hellmut Badass from Hell has a nice little sense of humour running through it and I liked that, but the bottom line is, like all rogue-likes before it, if you find games like Dead Cells – where when you die you restart from the beginning – frustrating then this isn’t the game for you. That said, if you love games where the odds are often against you and you love the challenge of learning from your mistakes, you’ll love this.

Thanks to the publisher who provided me with a Nintendo Switch game code.

Huawei Y6 Pro 2019 review

Huawei has been in the news recently – and not for great reasons thanks to Android OS maker Google and a decision by the US government – but don’t write the Chinese smartphone manufacturer just yet.

The Y6 Pro 2019  is one of Huawei’s budget phones – it’ll set you back a paltry $249 – but it doesn’t look or feel like a budget smartphone, thanks to its sleek design and quality construction. My review handset was coloured a nice sapphire blue that really does look the bee’s knees and wouldn’t look out of place next to top end smartphones from Huawei and other manufacturers.

Sporting a 6.09-inch HD+ IPS screen (1520 x 720 resolution), 3Gb of memory, a 13MP camera and 32Gb of storage (which is expandable via MicroSD), the Y6 Pro doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner like Huawei’s top-line phones like the P20 and P30 (or even the Nova 3i) but it does have facial recognition which worked every single time I picked up the phone.

The screen is good but not colours don’t pop and the screen isn’t as sharp don’t pop as Huawei’s higher end models and it handled mobile games like Deus Ex Go and Lara Croft Go extremely well, not seeming to drain the battery too much. Talking about the battery, I was impressed with Y6 Pro 2019’s battery life. I got on average two days usage from the phone’s 3020mAh battery needing a charge.

The camera does the job but images aren’t as sharp as on higher end smartphones.

Perhaps the biggest flaw of this phone is the limited internal storage: 32Gb isn’t going to last you very long so if you’re the sort of person who takes lots of photos or downloads content, I’d suggest buying an microSD card at the same time as buying the phone. Face it, buying a larger microSD won’t break the bank given how cheap this phone is.

Overall, Huawei’s Y6 Pro 2019 is a good phone without being a fantastic phone. It’s a workhorse that ticks all the right boxes and is perfect if you want a cheap but good-looking smartphone for your teenager.

If you’re a power user, though, you’ll want to look at something more high-end.


 

Weekend news

Some news for you all.

As well as maintaining this blog, I’ve now started writing PC game reviews for Australian-based gaming blog Koru Cottage which has a great team of writers based in New Zealand and  Australia.

I’ve known the guys involved in the site for some time through social media platforms so it’s nice to have been asked to join the team and contribute.

I’ve done my first review for the site, too  – Rebellion’s Sniper Elite V2 Remastered – which you find here.

Have no fear, though, I’ll still be keeping this blog up and running: I may just tweak the content a bit as time goes on.

Have a great weekend.

 

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