Choosing a pair of quality wireless earbuds can be a painstakingly long process, given thousands of options available on the market across a diverse price range, and in my experience, can often be hit-and-miss across many brands. Jaybird Freedom have caught my eye during a half-price sale, and I got my hands on a bright red pair from BestBuy. Over extensive use throughout two months, the headphones have met or exceeded my expectations when it comes to reliability, design, and sound quality, delivering consistent performance across the board. If you get them during a sale, the Jaybird Freedom are often available at a half price point, which I highly recommend waiting for, and make full use of that value by delivering a strong set of features. Jaybird Freedom make a strong case for why premium audio products command such consumer demand, and their general availability at an affordable price point backed by high quality ensures user satisfaction. Below, I discuss the full extent of the product’s features, taking into account extensive quality testing throughout a two month period to highlight why these rank among some of the best wireless earbuds money can buy.Continue reading
Warframe presents one of those rare cases where extensive community support not only lets a free-to-play game remain afloat for extended periods of time, but also enables developers to continuously add an expansive array of features. The game has grown dramatically since its initial release in 2013, though my first experience of Warframe occurred further in 2016 when it had a fully cohesive narrative, as well as the Archwing missions among other features. Consequently, looking at the game at the end of 2018 makes Warframe almost unrecognizable, since its growth over the last 2 years added an unprecedented amount of new content and improved existing features. Playing it just two years ago, I didn’t see either of the open world zones, half the currently available gear and a share of about 10 new quests I’ve yet to experience. Warframe is the fastest growing free-to-play shooter you can currently get, and oozes triple A quality throughout its striking game and visual design, which paired with its addicting progression make it a game you could easily sink hundreds of hours into.Continue reading
Half-Life turns 20 years old today, giving fans an opportunity to celebrate one of PC gaming’s greatest shooters, although sadly there comes no Half-Life 3 announcement at the top of it. Still, we’ve been given a glimpse of a new project by Crowbar Collective, the studio behind an excellent re-make of Half-Life, known as Black Mesa.
The new project is titled Black Mesa: Xen, and aims to bring the developers’ vision of the alien world in Half-Life players got to visit briefly. Xen will serve as an extension of Half-Life, although besides the main assets, rest has been built up from the ground up. The story will expand Gordon Freeman’s brief adventure on the Xen world to a roughly 6-hour campaign, which will include plenty of jaw-dropping moments if the minute-and-a-half trailer is anything to go by. Level design showcased so far promises expansive maps spread across spectacular and intricate alien environments, while also looking exponentially better than the team’s Black Mesa release.
With stellar gameplay remaining unchanged, Black Mesa: Xen will once more put players in the shoes of Half-Life’s protagonist and give players an extensive range of weapons to be used. The alien world holds a lot of unknowns expressed through detailed enemy designs, and the team at Crowbar Collective will hopefully give us a fun range of weapons to use against them. Black Mesa: Xen is slated to release in Q2 2019 so the team has time to polish the game and bring it fully in line with the intended vision. Meanwhile, check out the announcement trailer below, as well as follow Crowbar Collective’s community page for further updates.
Developer, Publisher: Hello Games
Released: August 12th, 2016 (original), July 24th 2018 (Next update)
Reviewed on: PC; Available via: Steam
Testing specifications: Core i5-6500 3.2 GHz, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, GeForce GTX 1070
The hype surrounding No Man’s Sky was one of the biggest generated throughout the entire gaming industry, but when it released in 2016, it lacked many of the promised features, and underperformed on delivering the expected experience. This resulted in a wide community backlash, where negative reviews encompassed positive comments, but development on the game wasn’t finished. Hello Games spent the next 2 years providing consistent updates to the game, which expanded on what players could do and aligned the game with original design vision. No Man’s Sky gives players a massive universe to explore, filled with a myriad planets, star systems, and space fleets, now enabling cooperative play throughout the entire game. The Next update, coupled with previously released improvements, brings No Man’s Sky to the next level, and while players won’t be able to escape the tedious structure of its survival mode, it provides ample opportunity to create fun moments. With so many elements introduced post-launch, this feels like the game Hello games should have made at the start, although doesn’t feel vastly different from its original build. Thankfully, all the updates came at no charge, enabling early adopters to experience a fresh take on survival in a vast universe.Continue reading
Developer Insomniac Games surprisingly confirmed release of their wacky open-world shooter Sunset Overdrive in recent few days, and today it releases worldwide on the platform. Available to purchase through Steam and the Microsoft Store, the game includes two DLC packs and retails for $19.99, which is quite a good deal for one of the most underrated open world IPs. If you missed it in 2014, there’s now an opportunity to experience the definitive edition, although details are scarce whether the PC port improves any visual aspects.
Sunset Overdrive failed to receive extensive attention during its release window, overshadowed by some higher profile titles, but critics were generally accepting of the fun experience it provided. Mashing multiple games together, it features a vibrant open world along the lines of Saints Row 4, and especially shines in player movement which resembled Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, as you grind along the metal rails spread throughout the city. The mutant outbreak caused by a certain energy drink is as silly as story premises go, but ties in well with the gameplay activities you’d be doing. With a diverse selection of crazy weapons to top it off, Sunset Overdrive really shines as one of the underlooked gems in open-world gaming.
Insomniac Games also released a trailer to accompany the PC launch of the game, which you can check it out here:
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Toronto; Publisher: Ubisoft
Released: March 27th, 2018; Reviewed on: PC
Testing Specifications: Core i5-6500 3.2 GHz, 16GB DDR4 RAM, GeForce GTX 1070
Playing a new Far Cry game at this point feels like slipping on a familiar pair of shoes, and despite minor token innovation throughout each release, extensively feels like going through the same motion. Far Cry 5 may be the biggest step away from the series’ usual tropes so far, yet I can’t escape the feeling I’ll be doing precisely the same stuff in a different setting. It’s a new region to explore, a new story, a new villain – yet feels very much the same as the games that came before it. Retreading familiar ground, Far Cry 5 throws players into an isolated region, tasked to liberate it from an oppressive cult. It’s wearing a new coat again, although this time Ubisoft made some welcome changes to make the experience less redundant. Don’t expect full blown progress, however, as we’re still playing by the same rules established in Ubisoft’s sandbox titles back around when Far Cry 3 came out. That said, there is a reason many enjoy the series, and won’t leave that comfort zone for innovation. Far Cry 5 is a solid entry once more, but four games in, the magic of its experience is starting to wear off no matter what Ubisoft attempts to change for a new release.Continue reading
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment, Publisher: Square Enix
Released: July 18th, 2018
Tested on: Razer Phone, Android 7.0
It’s always exciting to see a fully-fledged game release available on your mobile device’s marketplace, especially if it is a port of the game you’ve enjoyed on PC throughout the last couple of years. There’s something remarkable about being able to play a PC release in the palm of your hand, even more so if there was no downgrade in the process. Life is Strange marks one of these rare cases where the mobile port is so good, I may never go back to the PC version, as the platform is more adept to play action-heavy games on. If I want to relax and game on my phone, Life is Strange offers a compelling story-rich experience that will be engaging throughout long stretches of time. With fluid controls, excellent graphics and rewarding story content, Life is Strange arrives on Android in shining colors, and delivers the quality few mobile titles can match. And the fact that it’s one of the best episodic adventure games on the PC and consoles makes it even even more sweet.
Note: this is not a full-feature review but my impressions with the Android port of the game, which released a few months ago.