There is definite great value to cost in this game, even with the mild performance issues with PS4Pro and 4K HDR. Beautiful to look at, engrossing story.
God of War
A well known series attributed to the Greek god of war Kratos. What was originally a hack and slash game, has evolved in this latest release, due for release on the 20th April 2018.
The game takes place in a Norse mythology backdrop as oppose to the original Greek mythology.
The game, as most would expect for a modern release, has stunning 4K HDR visuals, albeit PS4 4K (insert debate over whether this really should be called 4K, lets assume that yes it is 4K).
You are convincingly brought into a Norse world with mythology intact, cleverly woven story to make Kratos latest outing a visual delight.
It must be noted that on occasions the 4K HDR 30fps performance did drop a little on the PS4Pro, with some frame rate issues, nothing that would effect the average gamer, but visible if you pay extra close attention. Even if this does bug you, the game lets you ‘favour’ performance in its options, dropping the resolution to 1080p and giving you 60fps.
Open play area, not open world
The game gives a level of freedom in your roaming around as Kratos, with son Atreus in tow. However the game is not a ‘true’ open world game, so you cant just pick a direction and go, although the game does well to give a feel of open play whilst still keeping you in the area and on track for the story being played out.
More than just slash and bash
Previous instalments have been heavily based on slashing and bashing through enemies of varying degrees of difficulty. This game has a new integral mechanic; Atreus. Kratos’s son. After the death of your wife, you and the son she bore you are charged with her last wish to have her ashes spread across the highest peak in the 9 realms.
Kratos with his divine origin shrouded from his son embarks on a journey part in quest, and part in an ongoing development of his relationship with son.
A sometimes touching story of a father and son complements the Arteus helper mechanic, in battles and puzzle solving. The hack and slash is still there, with a more Norse ‘Leviathan Axe’ (imbued with magic….ooooh)
Game retails £46 ~ £52, with the obligatory in game extras for deluxe editions of the game.
In short yes, God of War has clearly gone through a gameplay and aesthetic redesign from the ground up, always a risky endeavour, you can end up with something amazing, leading to an industry milestone, however you risk making a lemon of a game.
God of War isn’t quite the industry milestone, but a pleasantly challenging and engrossing endeavour. One I can recommend to those who think a good game is more than just the action, and place credit in a really good story. It is also nice to see a game that makes family part of its core story when that is usually not the preserve of a classic 3rd party action adventure like previous God of War games.
Often in this consumer driven world, we look to comforts and products that make our lives easy.
If you are hungry you may buy a ready prepared sandwich.
Although a simple example, the sandwich illustrates the convenience that consumers are willing to pay a little more for. Rather than get some cheese, meat, bread etc and go through the rather mild inconvenience of assembling these ingredients, we pay some pence/pounds more to have it ready to go.
In a similar parallel the preferred beverage of millions, coffee undergoes significant harvesting and production overheads before it becomes a hot liquid for someone to enjoy. Demand for coffee has seen a supply and process chain setup that proven lucrative for many companies. This has not always been fairly distributed amongst those responsible/involved in getting that beverage in our hands. Historically farmers have been the ones to get the least reward to effort.
The Bonaverde Berlin is a coffee machine with a difference, rather than putting roasted coffee beans (in a prepared pod or beans themselves) you put green un-roasted beans into the roasting tray of the device. After pouring water into the reservoir, the Bonaverde Berlin will allow you to roast, grind and brew your coffee from the green beans you put in its roasting tray earlier on.
The idea is to provide the consumer a facility that will allow them to directly shop with coffee farmers, albeit in a facilitated form with the Bonaverde Berlin company.
To add (some might unnecessary) strings to the device’s bow it has a built in 3G sim card and cellular phone, to allow it to be controlled remotely. This is done via a facebook bot, the user goes to a particular URL (which is a chat console to Bonaverde concierge) and then can instruct the machine to roast, grind and brew in isolation or as a complete process to make a coffee.
This all in one machine also makes use of an NFC(Near Field Comminication) reader, to allow the user to scan the sticker on the bag of coffee supplied via Bonaverde, so the machine knows the precise and intended roasting time, grinding and brewing process for the particular green beans coffee you want to enjoy. This gives the gadgets design a simple composition: 1 touch button, 1 NFC scan point, some indicator lights
As alluded earlier the notion of this machine is to allow a user a direct path to coffee farmer, whether this translates to fairer distribution of the wealth in this model really relies on the means by which you acquire/discover the suppliers i.e. the farmers.
In this regard Bonaverde as a company could be accused of attempting to create there own market to monopolise, however its a little bit like the chicken and the egg which has to come first in order for a market to exist? Many will be familiar with bespoke machines like the Tassimo and Nespresso when bespoke pods are used with machines designed specifically to make a beverage using a licensed pod system. With varying degrees of success these proprietary pod systems have furnished an ability to have barista quality coffee in the home. Albeit still a little expensive compared to other means of making the perfect cup at home.
The Bonaverde berlin coffee machine doesnt quite have the same slick look and feel as other coffee machines (comparing to Tassimo and Nespresso devices). The sample I was able to test definitely had prototype feel to it, and this may well be a consequence of the company/product infancy. Bonaverde have on their website examples of the white machine I was given to review and the rather smarter looking ‘silver’ version.
The machine also makes use of a ‘pocket’ reservoir, which can be detached to be filled. You can regulate the strength of the coffee produced in the coffee pot receptacle by reducing the water.
At a price of €799 it is quite an expense to undertake, and makes you wonder if it is really worth it. The machine produces coffee which is ok, which can be a little on the watery side sometimes
HMD Global has announced a re-release of Nokia 3310
Back when a mobile phone for was nothing much more than just that (well more or less), the Nokia 3310 was launched.
What is a little disconcerting for those of us able to remember the release of the Nokia 3310, this was only in 2000. Although 17 years ago, there is something about that year being perceptually closer in the psyche, at least for some of us older folk it seems. Nevertheless either as a marketing ploy to generate interest in the flagging Nokia brand or the fact its been that magic amount of time automatically qualifying it for a remake/re-release.
HMD Global, a startup born out of the aftermath from the Microsoft acquisition of the mobile phone company, has the rights to sell the Nokia brand world wild and announced this reboot of a classic phone at Mobile World Congress on February 26th 2017.
HMD Global’s announcement is for a remake of the phone, with some welcome difference and some features expected to be added but not.
Definitely the release of this phone along with a raft of other Nokia smartphones more akin to modern expectations has done wonders for the press coverage of Nokia’s return to the ring. Is the Nokia 3310 rerelease just that? A PR exercise to get more inches of coverage in the press? Maybe, but it is false to consider that the phone has just been thrown out there without some features to make it bare-able in our modern age. Albeit the sin of no wifi may prove ultimately otherwise.
Phone announced to sell at an average of €49 in quarter 2 of 2017 (April - June)
Thinner, lighter, with a new 1200 mAh battery giving 22 hours of talk time & up to 31 days stand by time, an increase of 2.5 hours in talk time and around additional 11 days on stand by time.
Larger colour display screen (2.4 inch 240x320 resolution)
It has a camera and flash light
2.5G support, so no fast 3/4G let alone the emerging 5G coverage
16MB internal memory with microSD slot (upto 32GB)
No Wifi :(
Opera browser present
Runs Nokia 30+ OS
Headphone jack to listen to music on your microSD
2MP rear camera
FM radio & MP3 player
4 colours (red, black, yellow and silver)
Yes it has an updated version of snake to play! Along with those ‘special’ Nokia-esk ring tones
Offical webpage for Nokia 3310 re-release is available here
Finally got my hands on the Nintendo switch. In the hands it feels suprisingly light for what it is. Joycon controllers slide onto the sides of the roughly 6 inch tablet, and sit comfortably when playing the switch in hand held mode.
Nintendo also presented refinements of their motion control and haptic feedback. Calling the vibration feature HD rumble, in the presentation most people including myself were skeptical of this as a feature, but when I actually tried it out in one of the 1-2-switch mini games (due to release with the console), I was impressed.
In the game I had to tilt the joycon (pictured above) about, feel and guess how many balls are in the box. Although I know this is an illusion of motors and sensors, the joycon actually felt like a match box containing marbles. Tilting it side to side gave the sensation of these marbles rolling about and hitting the edge of the virtual box. Impressive this demonstration of the HD rumble feature it may be, but wonder if this will really be used to the full extent by games released in the future, particularly I find it difficult to see a 3rd part develop a game that makes proper extensive use in the way that the 1-2-switch game does.
The main unique selling point of the switch is the ability to play the console at home on your TV and then take the same game away with you on the console to play anywhere else. The home portable hybrid has meant that Nintendo in design has had to sacrifice in power to get a comparable experience portable and docked at home. In my use of the console I could not easily discern any difference in the graphical experience, although with closer inspection you can see a reduction in resolution in handheld mode. It will remain to be seen if this is just an observation the keen eyed will find or something that will irritate the general consumer. A few journalists have even noted that the console actually has a frame rate difference on Zelda Breath of the Wild, but rather it being an issue in portable mode, it has been reported that this is in home, docked mode. I did not notice this, and wonder if the time the devices had been out and being used may have contributed to the reports from other journalists. Indeed I noted the switch console itself giving off a bit of heat whilst playing Zelda.
Head of Nintendo Europe: Satoru Shibata
I think out of the gate, the Nintendo Switch will sell and sell really well, it is a little pricey at £279 base console and Zelda costing from £59, but there is enough hype about the console and a good unique selling point to drive the sales initially. Its performance in the long run will really depend on the games released and their exploitation of the Switches features. If games are forthcoming from 3rd parties as indicated by many reports, then the ability to tailor the game to run sufficiently comparable in portable mode will be key. It is a new and interesting play off for some developers to consider, performance (accepting whatever graphical hardware is in the Switch) versus battery life.
Generally you can observe that when a entity encounters an existential precipice, for whatever reason that entity will either perish or change to survive.
Usually these changes are significant and impressive, whether they fail or succeed.
Nintendo is facing an existential precipice when it comes to gaming on a console, the Nintendo Switch is the change to address this particular void, made to survive a future that will see more smartphone gaming eat away at the home/portable dedicated gaming console market. I believe it is a strong candidate device to bring Nintendo back from the edge it clearly has anticipated.
Nintendo Switch Presentation Jan 13th (GMT) Software mentions / announcements
You can view my hands on experience at the Nintendo Switch event on youtube here
Key facts from presentation about the Switch games (apparently 80 in development):
Zelda Breath of the Wild confirmed as launch title to be released alongside console on the 3rd of March 2017 - £59.99 basic game £89.99 for special pack with master sword figurine & orchestral music CD
‘1-2-Switch’ - new IP illustrating the joycons and style of gaming where looking at the screen is not necessary. Launch title - 3rd March 2017
ARMS - Extendable arms boxing game, with a colourful art style, making use of the Joycons - Spring 2017
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - a further polished version of the Wii U game, revamped battle mode, a Smart steering mode for novice players which keeps you from falling off the track and ability to carry 2 items. TV mode plays at 1080p - £49.99 28th April
Splatoon 2 - The next version of the popular paint warefare game, new maps, new weapons. Local play support adding to dynamics, able to use pro or joycon controllers, able to use gyro for aiming - release scheduled for summer 2017
Super Mario Odyssey - journey to an unknown world, Mario’s cap is a character, with eyes! release in holiday season 2017
Snipperclips - Cute puzzle game where players co-operatively play with another person or upto 4 people (single player also available). March 2017 release in eShop only
Skyrim - coming to switch (yeh really this time, not just pretending)
FIFA - later this year will release a custom built FIFA for Switch
Xenoblade, Fire emblem warriors - games confirmed in production
Dragon quest 10 & 11 for Japan release confirmed
Dragon quest heros I and II - new game for switch confirmed