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By Usama Jawad96
Top 5 reasons you should buy a PlayStation 5
by Usama Jawad
Sony's highly-anticipated next-generation consoles, the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition, will be available starting November 12. Although the company had a lot of trouble with pre-orders and how it handled the situation, it is safe to say that demand for the consoles is quite high.
But are you among the people who are still unsure about whether you should buy into Sony's next-generation offerings? We hope to make that decision easier for you with the top 5 reasons you should consider the PlayStation 5. Note that this list is not in order of importance.
There's no other way to say it: Sony completely blew the competition out of the water with its current-gen offerings, which included the likes ofGod of War, The Last of Us Remastered, Spider-Man, and Horizon Zero Dawn, among others.
It gained a lot of fans through these franchises, which is why gamers trust the company to deliver the same level of excellence with exclusives in this generation. Sequels to the aforementioned games are already in the pipeline with Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Horizon Forbidden West, God of War: Ragnarok, and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart confirmed for the PlayStation 5. Similarly, Demon's Souls is on track for release on the console as well.
While some of these titles will be available on the PlayStation 4 as well, and eventually even PC, the earliest way to play these will be the PlayStation 5, with performance benefits and better visual fidelity as compared to their PlayStation 4 counterparts a given as well.
Affordable Console with (almost) Identical Internals
Sony is at odds with Microsoft's console release strategy at the start of this generation. While the latter is offering two versions of its consoles as well, those come with considerably different internals, owing to the fact that they target different resolutions.
Meanwhile, Sony's PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition both pack almost the same hardware, which means that they both offer exactly the same performance. The only difference between the two consoles is that the disc drive is absent in the Digital Edition.
This entails that you can game at up to 4K resolution at 120fps on both the consoles, but you can easily knock off a hundred bucks from the retail price if you opt for the Digital Edition either for cost-savings or due to the possibility that you have a solely digital library of games. The PlayStation 5 comes in at $499 while the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition carries a price tag of $399.
PlayStation Plus Collection
To further sweeten the pot with its PlayStation 5 console, Sony has also announced the "PlayStation Plus Collection". Simply put, the company will be giving new buyers instant access to 18 PlayStation 4 titles on its new console on launch day at no extra cost. These feature both first- and third-party titles, namely:
Bloodborne Battlefield 1 Batman: Arkham Knight Days Gone Detroit: Become Human Fallout 4 Final Fantasy XV God of War inFamous: Second Son The Last of Us Remastered The Last Guardian Monster Hunter: World Mortal Kombat X Persona 5 Resident Evil 7 Ratchet & Clank Until Dawn Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End While these don't come with any known performance or visual enhancements, the collection should be of great value to gamers entering the PlayStation ecosystem or even veteran players who haven't had a chance to play some of these masterpieces yet.
Sony has announced new "DualSense" controllers for the PlayStation 5, replacing the existing DualShock branding. The company has been advertising the controller quite heavily, stating that it packs haptic feedback, which promises more realistic sensations for certain situations in games, such as "the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud". Additionally, the controller features adaptive shoulder triggers in the R2 and L2 buttons, which will reflect the tension of in-game actions, adding a degree of immersion to the experience. The controller also has a microphone array built-in, enabling voice chat features in games without the need for an additional headset.
Other than this, the controller packs cosmetic changes such as a new "Create" button, a dual-tone look, and a new design for the light bar.
With Sony placing so much emphasis on the immersive gaming experience offered by the DualSense, it will be very interesting to see how developers utilize its capabilities in their upcoming games.
Possibly more Exclusivity Deals
While Sony hasn't made a play as big as Microsoft's in terms of securing exclusivity for games on next-generation consoles yet, there have been reports from credible sources that the company has reached out to all major publishers for exclusivity deals. This was already apparent with Sony heavily marketing the "PlayStation Advantage" branding in Marvel's Avengers, owing to the fact that the title promises exclusive content not available on its console counterparts.
Rumors claim that this branding will play a major role in Sony's marketing strategy moving forward, which means that you can expect more games to feature content that won't be available for other platforms.
If you're someone who cares about this aspect of gaming, the PlayStation 5 is something you should definitely consider when purchasing your next-generation console.
What are your top reasons to purchase or consider purchasing PlayStation 5 consoles? Let us know in the comments section below!
By Usama Jawad96
Top 5 reasons you should buy an Xbox Series X, S console
by Usama Jawad
Microsoft's next-generation consoles, the Xbox Series X and the Series S, are just around the corner. While the consoles officially launch on November 10 across the globe, they were made available for pre-order a few days ago and sold out quite quickly at most storefronts. For those who could not get their hands on the consoles, Microsoft says that it will have more units available for purchase on launch day.
However, if you're still on the fence about whether you should lighten your wallet on either or both of Microsoft's next-generation consoles, we have listed down top 5 reasons why you should consider the company's offering, which will hopefully make it easier for you to reach a decision. Note that this list is not in order of importance.
Xbox Game Pass
With the next-generation of console gaming, Microsoft is relying quite heavily on pulling gamers into its ecosystem using Xbox Game Pass. For those unaware, the service gives you instance access to over 100 games at $9.99/month. First-party titles such as the upcoming AAA Halo: Infinite become available on launch day, with high-quality titles from third-party publishers available in the catalog as well. Microsoft recently partnered with Electronic Arts to bring EA Play to Game Pass, offering access to all games on the EA service at no additional cost too.
The company also provides a $14.99/month price tier for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which offers all of the above on both consoles and PC, cloud gaming on smartphones (currently in beta), and Xbox Live Gold - which gives a handful of games to subscribers for free every month.
Microsoft recently announced that Game Pass now has over 15 million subscribers, with the service growing at a rapid rate. Simply put, the value of Xbox Game Pass is too good to be ignored.
Affordable Console for those on a Budget
Microsoft turned quite a few heads when news about the Xbox Series S leaked. While its more powerful sibling priced at $499 is targeted at 4K gaming with up to 120fps, the $299 Series S is aimed at delivering the same experience at 1440p resolution. While there is obviously a difference in specifications based on the power they are supposed to deliver, both consoles offer powerful internals and the same capabilities such as Quick Resume, ray-tracing, and more.
All in all, it's great to have an low-priced entry point into the next-generation for those on a budget or people who currently don't own 4K-capable hardware, and don't plan to in the near-future either. Similarly, it's also an attractive price point for people who don't purchase physical games, as the Series S is all-digital.
Only time will tell if the difference between the output of the two consoles is solely resolution, but it's definitely an enticing option to have.
Xbox All Access
Xbox All Access is Microsoft's leasing program that allows you to purchase the company's consoles with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at a low single monthly fee. For $24.99/month, you can purchase an Xbox Series S coupled with the subscription. For $34.99/month, you get similar treatment but with the more powerful Xbox Series X.
Once again, this is incredible value, especially for those who cannot afford to shell out several hundred bucks at once. This year, the leasing program will be available in 12 countries around the world, and here's to hoping that Microsoft offers it in more countries in the years to come.
Backward Compatibility on its next-generation consoles is yet again another feature that Microsoft is touting heavily. Both the Xbox Series X and Series S are compatible with over 1000 Xbox games spanning across four generations.
But it's not just the fact that these consoles will be able to run older games, it's also that some older games will run and look better on them. The Series X will offer HDR reconstruction for backward compatible games - automatically adding HDR to them -, with some titles getting boosted framerates up to 60 and 120fps as well. Meanwhile, the less powerful Series S will run backward compatible games in Xbox One S mode with improvements such as HDR reconstruction added on top.
With Sony not offering backward compatibility to PlayStation 1, 2, and 3 games on PlayStation 5, Microsoft is banking on the possibility that the nostalgia factor will pull in some gamers into its ecosystem in this generation.
Microsoft's Acquisition of ZeniMax Media
Last but definitely not the least is news that Microsoft is acquiring ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion, with the deal expected to be completed in 2021. With this acquisition, the company brings a number of high-profile studios under its umbrella such as Bethesda, Arkane, id Software, and more.
As can be seen in the graphic above, this ropes in numerous AAA franchises featuring highly-anticipated titles such as Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI into Microsoft's first-party offerings in the upcoming generation, also bringing these games to Game Pass on launch day. While the company has stated that it will be examining and determining multi-platform availability - that is, launch on PlayStation 5 - on a "case by case" basis, it's almost a given that these offerings will be exclusive to Microsoft platforms on consoles, which means that fans of these franchises need to consider Xbox Series X and S if they want to play these titles on consoles.
What are your top reasons to purchase or consider purchasing Xbox Series X and S consoles? Let us know in the comments section below!
By Rich Woods
Lenovo Legion Phone Duel review: A beast of a gaming phone
by Rich Woods
Announced in July, Lenovo's Legion Phone Duel is a beast. I feel comfortable saying that, because I can't think of a single spec on this device that's not at the top of its field. It's got a 144Hz OLED display, offering smooth animations that might give you that extra edge in gameplay. It's also got 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, which is on par with high-end laptops that I review.
That's not all, of course. It's got Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865+ chipset, which is designed for gaming, and if you're worried about battery life, Lenovo has you covered on that as well. The Legion Phone Duel has two 2,500mAh batteries that can actually charge separately, so it has 90W fast charging.
To be clear, this is a gaming phone, and it's the first time I've reviewed anything like it. It's clear that if you're looking for a great phone with top-end specs, this device might not be for you. You do have to care about mobile gaming to warm up to the Legion Phone Duel.
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+, single 3.09GHz, triple 2.42GHz, quad 1.8GHZ Kryo 585 GPU Adreno 650 Display 6.65 inches, 2340x1080, 19.5:9, AMOLED, 144Hz Body 169.17x78.48x9.9mm, 239g RAM 16GB LPDDR5 Storage 512GB UFS 3.1 Battery 5000mAh (2500mAh *2) / AI charging for battery protection Camera 64MP f/1.89 + 16MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, Front - 20MP f/2.2 Video 4K - 30fps, Front - 1080p - 30fps Audio Dual front-facing stereo speakers with Dirac and AWINIC 88264 / Quad-microphone system with Qualcomm Noise Reduction Technology Color Blazing Blue Price ~$857
One thing you'll notice is that it comes with two charging cables, both of which are USB Type-C to USB Type-C, and of course, there's a charging brick with two ports. It also comes with a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter.
If you're familiar with gaming laptops and their typical flamboyant designs, then you'll notice the parallels in how the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel was designed. There's nothing about this device that looks like a normal phone, and it's hard to mistake it for anything other than what it is.
The glass back is loaded with metallic and holographic finishes. It comes in two colors. This one is Blazing Blue, and the other is Vengeance Red. On the left side of the back, it says "Stylish Outside", and to the right, it says "Savage Inside". Right in the middle is the Legion logo, which actually lights up in red when the device is awake. It also lights up in green when it's charging, and I'd love to see more customization options on the lighting.
It is a bit heavy, of course, coming in at 239g, and it's a bit thick at 9.9mm. That means that it actually weighs over half a pound, and it's not the most comfortable phone to carry around on a regular basis. It's just something to be aware of, but it's what you'll have to sacrifice for top-notch gaming gear.
It's very clearly meant for use in landscape orientation, and that's apparent by the pop-up front-facing camera that comes out of it. In fact, just about everything that's part of the experience can be done in landscape orientation, from the lock screen to the app drawer.
The reason that it's designed like this is because you're going to be playing games in landscape orientation. Not only is there a pop-up camera, but the corners can be used as triggers in games. This entire device revolves around playing games, just as it should.
The bottom of the device (in portrait orientation) looks like any other device, with a USB Type-C port for charging and a nano-SIM slot.
But also, the bottom of the device (in landscape orientation) has another USB Type-C port. You can use either one of these for charging, but you can also use both of them for charging. As I noted above, the charging brick has two ports on it, and it comes with two USB Type-C cables. Using both ports combines for 90W fast charging. Also on that side is the volume rocker.
The power button is actually located on top of the pop-up camera, and it feels a little weird. It's an interesting design choice though. Other smartphones that I've used with pop-up cameras will display a warning message if you try to manually close it, but this one doesn't. That's because you have to press the power button to do it, and when you put the device to sleep, obviously the camera retracts on its own.
One other thing that I want to note about the design is the two cameras on the back. You'll notice that they're just off-centered, but what I love about it is that there's no camera bump. In fact, they're a bit recessed. It's always worth noting when there's no camera bump because it's so rare these days.
The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel has a 6.65-inch 19.5:9 FHD+ 144Hz AMOLED display, and it's absolutely made for gaming. Obviously, it's 1080p instead of 1440p, but for gaming, it's common to sacrifice some resolution for a higher refresh rate. We see it all the time in the world of gaming laptops. In fact, FHD is standard for gaming on 15-inch screens; why wouldn't it be on a 6.65-inch screen? I still challenge anyone that claims to be able to see the difference between 1080p and 1440p on a screen that small.
First of all, high refresh rate displays are awesome, no matter what you're using the phone for. We've seen up to 120Hz with regular phones like the OnePlus 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20+, and it just makes for a smoother all-around experience. With gaming, it's even more important, because it can actually give you an edge in games. That smoother experience will let you see something and react just a few milliseconds sooner, and that can make all of the difference.
Lenovo actually puts a fairly heavy skin on the UI, which is apparent from the icon designs as soon as you start using it. But also, if you swipe down from the top while playing a game, you'll get a gaming dashboard instead of the notification shade. This will give you stats on the CPU, GPU, frame rate, network quality, and more. There's also a stream mode and some other things that you can do in-game.
Another thing that's important is audio quality, and the Legion Phone Duel delivers. You'll notice that it actually has front-facing speakers on either side of the screen, something that I haven't personally seen since the HTC days.
Performance and battery life
Obviously, this is the part that you've been waiting for. Normally, in a smartphone review, I save this part for the end, since with flagship specs, it's pretty much irrelevant. But this isn't a normal phone; it's a gaming phone, and performance absolutely matters.
As you can probably guess, the performance is amazing. It has the best chipset, the most RAM, the fastest storage, and more. The Snapdragon 865+ is purpose-built with gamers in mind, and it's the best Android chipset available. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, 16GB RAM and 512GB of storage are comparable to what you'd find in a high-end laptop; indeed, entry-level gaming laptops only come with around 8GB RAM.
Qualcomm's high-end chipsets have a single prime core, and this one is clocked at 3.09GHz, compared to the 2.84GHz prime core in the Snapdragon 865. It's also got three 2.42GHz cores and four 1.8GHz cores. The company also has its Snapdragon Elite Gaming, which is meant to optimize the chipset for playing games, and OEMs can now offer GPU driver updates through the Google Play Store.
For benchmarks, I used Geekbench 5, AnTuTu, and GFXBench. First up is Geekbench 5, which tests the CPU.
You can compare this to the OnePlus 8 Pro, which got 901 on single-core and 3,318 on multi-core. Of course, that had a regular Snapdragon 865. Next up is AnTuTu, which is an all-in-one test.
These scores speak for themselves, although the OnePlus 8 Pro got 576,696, for reference. But you can see in each category what percentage of other users got lower scores. Finally, GFXBench tests the GPU.
At this point, you might be wondering about battery life. For regular smartphone usage, you'll have no problem getting through a full day on the dual 2,500mAh batteries, and you might even get through two days. Naturally, this can go down depending on how you use the phone. If you're playing graphics-intensive games, that will obviously eat through the battery faster.
Luckily, the Legion Phone Duel has 90W charging, so you can top-up your phone pretty easily. You can also use either port to charge, so if you want to leave it charging while playing, you can stick it in whichever port is more comfortable. Unfortunately, there's no wireless charging, which is a real shame. Personally, I like to have my phone charge throughout the day on a Qi pad while I'm working.
I saved the camera section for last because frankly, that's not what this phone is about. This wasn't made for smartphone camera geeks; it was made for gamers. That doesn't mean that the camera isn't important. Anyone who buys this is still going to be capturing memories with the included camera, so they're going to want quality.
The rear camera has two sensors, one of which is 64MP f/1.89, and the other of which is a 16MP ultra-wide sensor. You'll notice that the aperture isn't very large, although the sensor size is 1/1.72 inches. It's not very deep though, as there's no camera bump. Video capture features are lacking, as you can only record 4K 30fps on the rear and 1080p 30fps on the front, while the chipset actually supports 8K 30fps or 4K 60fps. In fact, there doesn't seem to be any 60fps setting at all.
Check out some samples. I didn't take too many, as that wasn't my primary method of testing this particular phone.
Gallery: Lenovo Legion Phone Duel samples
The camera has a dual-mode that lets you record photos or videos with both cameras. I was a little disappointed that it didn't include any of the things we find on Motorola phones, being that Lenovo owns Motorola. I'd have liked to have seen spot color. All-in-all, the camera is definitely passable, which is what's important.
The Lenovo Legion Phone Duel is a really cool device, and if you're looking for the best in performance, look no further. It's got the best chipset, the most RAM, the most storage, and the best screen. You really can't beat it, especially for under $900, which is what the price works out to when converted.
But that's where problem number one comes in, which is that for such a cool smartphone, it has pretty limited availability. Here in the U.S., I obviously couldn't get 5G, and even 4G seemed a bit shaky. My other issues with it aren't big deals. I'd love to have seen wireless charging, but it does have 90W wired charging. Also, it's a bit big and bulky for my taste, but that's what you get for something so powerful.
It also just looks really cool. This handset definitely stands out from the pack, with its holographic finishes and Legion red lighting. And don't forget that part of that design comes with triggers on the bumpers. Lenovo really put a lot of thought into how to make this the best possible experience for gamers. It's definitely worth picking up if you're looking for a new gaming phone and this is available in your region.
Halo 3: ODST PC Review: A remarkable campaign that oozes atmosphere
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
When Halo: The Master Chief Collection was first announced for PC, I do not believe I saw many fans in discussion threads excitedly talking about or specifically wanting to get their hands on Halo 3: ODST. Obviously, much of the hype was surrounding Halo 3, with the rest of the hype-pie being shared by the fan clubs of Reach and the Anniversary-enhanced original duo. You would think Halo 3: ODST was unpopular at launch or something, but as par for the course for the Bungie entries, it sold exceedingly well on the Xbox 360 in 2009. I feel like this strangely unknown nature of the product was also felt during its testing phases on PC. 343 Industries said the flighting sessions for Halo 3: ODST suffered from "lower than average participation" compared to previous releases.
My Halo journey had only included Combat Evolved and Halo 2 before the Master Chief Collection party finally rode to PC town last year, and the general lack of excitement surrounding ODST made me go into this adventure not expecting much, and boy am I glad I did that. The main course of Halo 3: ODST is its campaign, as a dedicated multiplayer portion was never attached to the project, and that would have been the only item on the menu if it weren't for 343 Industries bringing the missing cooperative Firefight horde mode back from the Xbox 360 version's depths.
My thoughts in full regarding this enhanced re-release of Halo 3: ODST and the current state of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection follows from here.
Gone are the colorful vistas of Halo 3, with imposing skyscrapers of a dead city and gloomy skies littering the landscape, all held together with an astounding soundtrack that radiates atmosphere. Even though this game has Halo 3 attached to its name, the campaign takes place during the events of Halo 2. Specifically, in the city of New Mombasa right after a Covenant ship hightails it out of the system through a Slipspace portal, taking out much of the nearby concrete scenery in the process. The post-evacuation alien-infested landscape is our home for the entirety of the story. This is a departure from all the previous games in the Collection so far, where the escapades took us to exotic locations, and frankly, this is a contained storyline focused on a group of very regular humans that doesn't need the grand road trips or shocking revelations of ancient ruins.
Right off the bat, it is clear Bungie wanted to go in a different direction with the campaign. The story is presented in a unique multi-perspective structure, jumping between the various members of our colorful ODST squad - I should mention here that I did not expect to see Nathan Fillion - who became separated during their entry into the city. Mjolnir armor-wearing superheroes that can survive being punched by a planet are nowhere to be seen here. The game's name comes from the special military force that we take control of in the game, the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, which are human soldiers with only their training and minimal armor to help them stay alive. As their name implies, these soldiers - or Helljumpers as they are affectionately called - simply drop out of the sky from orbiting frigates, riding tiny capsules straight into alien-infested grievous situations, quite literally out of the frying pan and into the fire. To sidetrack a little, this mechanic is just asking to be used as a battle royale entry method if Halo ever goes that route. But back to the matter at hand.
A significant portion of the story does not rely on the series' usual linear mission structure, where set-pieces guide you from arena to arena. While those 'go from A to B while killing everything' missions still exist, and offer wildly enjoyable over-the-top ordeals, Halo 3: ODST actually presents multiple scenarios where it opens up the city so you can utilize it in your own way as you journey towards objectives. Starting off, you take the role of Rookie, the newest member of your ODST squad, and since you drew the lucky straw to wake up hours later than everyone else, it's your job to go around the city to try and piece together the events of the day surrounding your missing squadmates. Whenever you come across a clue, a flashback pulls you into the shoes of that squadmate and their journey.
This is not an open-world game by any means, but there are usually at least a couple of main roads you can use to reach missions when roaming around the city. There are even building interiors just waiting to be employed as shortcuts through blocks. The game also rewards exploration in the form of audio logs you can find that tell the riveting tale of a civilian during the evacuation of the city. Interestingly enough, if it weren't for the special visor we are equipped with that enhances darkened areas and enemies, I could easily see Halo 3: ODST turning into more of a horror title. Some of the alleyways and building interiors can get creepy when sneaking through. Yes, surprisingly enough, stealth is an actual option. You can utilize the map and roaming patterns of Covenant forces to simply avoid fights during these open levels. This becomes neater when you realize that even Grunts can pose a threat to ODSTs depending on the difficulty level. The late-night trips are absolutely brilliant and atmospheric, carrying you across New Mombasa-like sightseeing tours that connect every squad member's unfortunate entrance into the city.
As you might have noticed, I mentioned a map. Taking things even further away from a traditional Halo game, there is a 3D city map you can pull up to orient yourself in the city sandbox. This addition lets you find objectives, track enemies - since the series staple motion sensor is missing here -, put waypoints, and locate alternate pathways. I've never needed a map in a Halo game before, since who actually has time to read maps when there are aliens to kill, so it was surprising to me how well it just fit in and elevated the experience. The implementation reminded me quite a lot of what we saw in the recent Halo Infinite gameplay demo, which also seems to be going for a more hub-like approach similar to ODST, but on a much grander scale.
ODSTs aren't wearing power armor like Spartans, so we are much more vulnerable and less powerful in every department. Simply dropping from a small height brings down health, and capabilities like dual-wielding or shrugging off alien hammers have been deemed impossible. Old school fans will be happy to know that the health bar is back from Combat Evolved. This pool goes down very quickly after your stamina (which is what your shield is called here) is depleted, and the only way to get it back is by finding health packs like in the history books. At the start of the game, the semi-transparent overlay emulating the helmet seemed very distracting, covering large portions of the screen at the top and bottom - no wonder the UNSC suffers massive losses against the Covenant, their soldiers are half-blind. But seriously, I failed to notice it bothering me when engaging in combat or drinking in the views, making it a throwaway concern.
As you might have gathered from my thoughts, I really enjoyed this campaign, and at the end of it I was wishing to return to the New Mombasa city streets to uncover more of its secrets. This campaign also falls onto the growing mountain that has formed out of Halo storylines you should not miss out on.
If you were around for the Halo: Reach launch, you should know that Firefight is Halo's take on the horde mode, and Halo 3: ODST delivered the first iteration of this venture back in the day. However, when the Xbox One Master Chief Collection version of the game came strolling through, it lacked the cooperative mode, which is what 343 Industries has finally dragged back from the depths. This is not just a PC-exclusive addition either, as the Xbox One version also received the mode as a free update.
With the implementation, you can now matchmake into surviving against Covenant waves alongside random ODSTs or pull up the friend lists across Xbox Live and Steam to invite up to three friends. Apart from the cookie-cutter matchmaking options, you can also apply custom rules to a Firefight match if you host your own game after selecting one of the available 10 maps. The variants, options, and skulls can give you rounds that range from hard as nails to mindless fun. Obviously, the campaign is the main draw of the package, but don't sleep on Firefight too much if you got some time to kill between multiplayer antics.
Graphics, Music, and Performance
No Halo conversation is complete without mentioning the soundtrack, and nobody will be surprised to hear that the soundtrack here is phenomenal. Electric guitars, tribal drum beats, and piano solos spice up everything they touch; however, it wasn't very Halo-like at various points, and the changeup really added to the game. The wave of saxophone-ridden jazz that mixes in thoroughly with the murky and wet atmosphere of New Mombasa is just perfection.
The graphics are truly the only weak point of this release. While the art, lighting, and the atmosphere I keep harping about keep the highpoints at a high, just like on Halo 3, it's the human models that drag the image down and make you remember this is still an 11 year old game that was designed for a console two generations old.
The performance of these classics on modern hardware hasn't let me down yet, and continuing the streak, 343 Industries and its development partners have delivered another experience that is smooth as butter from start to finish. Support for high-resolution displays, ultra-wide monitors, as well as field-of-view sliders, completely customizable controls on a per-game basis, and more come in to make PC users' lives better.
My cooperative play journey continued through Halo 3: ODST as well. I went through the entire campaign in two-player co-op, though up to four players are supported. Just like in the previous releases, while the implementation works fine without any instances of weirdness, crashes, or glitches, one thing I will say is that having good ping to each other is highly recommended for a lag-free session. At one point, a routing issue bumped up the latency to my co-op partner to around 200, and the peer to peer connection could not handle that very well, adding movement hitches and cutscene audio syncing issues that ruined the moment.
Master Chief Collection
343 Industries continues its expansion of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection, but that does not mean it's all about adding new chapters of Halo. You could say that all the previously released games are still in active development, as game-specific features, bug fixes, alongside Master Chief Collection-wide changes are still being worked on in the background.
Alongside Halo 3: ODST's release came through another suite of updates and upgrades to the evolving collection. If you felt like the hit registration was off in Halo 3 at launch, this is probably the update you want to check out as the developer has made some big changes to how your bullets reach the noggin of others. I didn't really suffer from the issue previously, though, and thankfully, post-patch shooting feels just as good.
Halo 3 enhancements do not stop there, as the silenced weapons of ODST are now available for use in multiplayer for the first time. Moreover, customization has been turned up a notch to include weapon skins and visor colors. Fans of the classic that don't like seeing bright and colorful weapons on the battlefield can disable these skins entirely through a setting in the options menu, just like it was possible for the Halo: Combat Evolved cosmetics. This is simply an excellent option to have. A new season of cosmetic items to unlock using your hard-earned level up points or as challenge completion rewards has arrived too alongside Halo 2: Anniversary per-piece armor customization.
These are great and all, but it's the planned updates to the Master Chief Collection that excite me the most. The Halo playerbase in the Asian region has not been very healthy for a while, so the upcoming region selection, custom server browser, and cross-play features will be very useful for players like me who don't live near the most active territories.
Compared to all the injections of Halo that have appeared through the Master Chief Collection on PC, Halo 3: ODST certainly looks like a rather small and skippable update from the outside as it does not seem to carry a large presence in the fanbase and lacks its own multiplayer companion. Obviously, this is a miscalculation that even I made as a fresh player. It is also a fine farewell to Bungie as this will be the final Halo title from the original studio to reach PC.
Halo 3: ODST is a campaign that easily stands among the greats. The isolated entry presents its own unique story in a unique way without ever even mentioning the hero of the saga, all the while building up a new cast of characters that you instantly get attached to. This is like a pocket universe of Halo goodness that can easily go under the radar due to other stories having such huge followings attached to them. Sparks of brilliance like Reach, ODST, and even the Halo Wars games, that deliver saga enriching standalone storylines just leaves me wanting for even more spin-offs and side stories.
You can purchase Halo 3: ODST on PC through the Microsoft Store and Steam for $4.99. The Halo: The Master Chief Collection is also available for $39.99 from the Microsoft Store and Steam if you want access to all the games. The Collection is a part of the Xbox Game Pass for PC library as well.
This review was conducted using a Steam copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection provided by Microsoft.
Weekend PC Game Deals: Tokyo Game Show specials take the spotlight
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Weekend PC Game Deals is where the hottest gaming deals from all over the internet are gathered into one place, every week, for your consumption. So kick back, relax, and hold on to your wallets.
Once again we are jumping into this weekend's deals with a look at the latest bundles, and Humble this time dives into the coffers of CI Games. It offers Alien Rage - Unlimited, Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual, The Tree of Life, Dogfight 1942, and Art of Murder - Cards of Destiny for $1.
Lords of the Fallen - Game of the Year Edition, Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, and two DLC packs for it arrives with the Pay More Than the Average tier, which is currently grazing the $7 mark. The final $15 tier attaches Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts to the bundle, alongside three more DLC packs.
Meanwhile, the Better Futures bundle from the previous week has been enhanced with some extras. In addition to Road Redemption, Torchlight II, and This War of Mine, the around $4 second tier now includes a copy of Vanquish, a 75% coupon for Two Point Hospital as well as DLC packs for the MMOs Star Trek Online and Neverwinter.
Over on the Fanatical side, the store is still hosting collections we highlighted last week like the All Stars and Killer 13 collections from Bundle Fest, but now there are even more bundles to check out.
The new Reaper Bundle 6 carries seven games, including hits like DiRT 4, GRID 2019, Hard Rest Redux, and Ancestors Legacy. The Steam key delivering-bundle comes in at $3.99.
You may also want to check out the store's Platinum Collection bundle, which is currently offering games such as Metal Gear Solid V, The Walking Dead: The Final Season, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Ultimate Edition, and Life is Strange Complete Season. Picking three games will set you back $9.99, but if you go put down $16.65 you can pick five games.
Epic Games stuck to the schedule this week by making free the newly released Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition, replacing the trio of freebies from last week.
This complete edition of the classic amusement park builder comes in with enhancements such as 1080p and widescreen support that enables it to run on modern PCs without resorting to workarounds. The extra content from the Soaked! and Wild! expansion packs are included in the package too.
The giveaway will end on October 1, which is when Pikuniku will begin its freebie journey. Moreover, if you picked up Total War Saga: Troy from the Epic Games Store during its recent giveaway, it is now possible to grab its latest Amazons DLC at no cost. See directions on claiming it here.
Free events have returned after an oddly quiet week, and a couple of interesting games have gone temporarily free-to-play for you to check out.
Celebrating the launch of "The Last Stand" expansion that adds a campaign, survival and scavenge arenas, among other extras, Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 has gone free-to-play on Steam for the weekend. Joining it in the free events pile is Ubisoft's third-person shooter The Division 2, which is fully playable on Uplay and Epic Games Store until September 28.
Thanks to the Tokyo Game Show, there is a massive amount of Japanese studios-developed titles on sale this weekend alongside the usual array of specials. But also, you should keep in mind that Epic Games is currently offering another $10 coupon for anyone claiming the newly free-to-play Rocket League via its store. Here is our handpicked list of big deals for this weekend:
Red Dead Redemption 2 – $40.19 on Steam Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot – $32.75 on GameBillet EARTH DEFENSE FORCE 5 – $29.99 on Steam Doraemon Story of Seasons – $29.99 on Steam RESIDENT EVIL 3 – $29.99 on Steam HITMAN 2 - Gold Edition – $29.99 on Steam Satisfactory - Early Access – $23.99 on Steam NieR:Automata Game of the YoRHa Edition – $19.99 on Humble Store Devil May Cry 5 – $19.99 on Steam Mortal Kombat 11 – $19.99 on Steam Monster Hunter: World – $19.79 on Steam JUMP FORCE – $17.99 on IndieGala GOD EATER 3 – $17.95 on GameBillet FINAL FANTASY XV – $17.49 on Steam Age of Wonders: Planetfall – $16.99 on Steam Valkyria Chronicles 4 Complete Edition – $16.99 on Steam Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – $16.99 on GamesPlanet Untitled Goose Game – $14.99 on Steam Pine – $14.99 on Steam Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy – $14.99 on Humble Store Command & Conquer Remastered Collection – $14.99 on Steam FINAL FANTASY X/X-2 HD Remaster – $14.99 on Steam Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom – $13.49 on IndieGala Middle-earth: Shadow of War Definitive Edition – $11.99 on Steam Batman: Arkham Collection – $11.99 on Steam FEAR Complete Pack – $10.99 on Steam Yuppie Psycho – $10.82 on Steam Europa Universalis IV – $9.99 on Steam Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition – $9.99 on Steam Tales of Zestiria – $9.99 on Steam Dead Rising 4 – $9.99 on Humble Store Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 – $9.99 on Humble Store Injustice 2 – $9.99 on Steam LEGO DC Super-Villains – $9.99 on Steam The Division 2 – $9.90 on Ubisoft Store Forza Horizon 3 – $9.89 on Microsoft Store Katamari Damacy REROLL – $9.89 on Steam Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen – $8.99 on Steam Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience – $7.49 on Steam Chrono Trigger – $7.49 on Steam Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – $7.49 on Steam INSIDE – $6.8 on Steam Final Fantasy VII – $5.99 on Steam Mad Max – $4.99 on Steam Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 – $4.99 on Steam Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes – $4.49 on Steam Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight – $3.99 on Steam PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX+ – $2.99 on Steam Left 4 Dead 2 – $1.99 on Steam LiEat – $1.19 on Steam RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Complete Edition – $0 on Epic Store DRM-free Goodness
As is usually the case, there are some DRM-free games having sales this weekend also, and our highlights list is quite populated with games from GOG's new Space Combat sale:
Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition - $17.99 on GOG Distant Worlds: Universe - $14.99 on GOG Star Control: Origins - $13.49 on GOG My Time At Portia - $11.99 on GOG Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition - $9.99 on GOG X3: Terran War Pack - $9.99 on GOG Freedom Fighters - $9.89 on GOG Warhammer 40,000: Sanctus Reach - $8.99 on GOG Yooka-Laylee - $7.99 on GOG Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon - $7.99 on GOG Overcooked: Gourmet Edition - $5 on GOG Icewind Dale 2 Complete - $4.99 on GOG Dead Space - $4.99 on GOG Space Rangers HD: A War Apart - $3.74 on GOG STAR WARS Battlefront II (2005) - $3.49 on GOG STAR WARS Republic Commando - $3.49 on GOG STAR WARS: Rogue Squadron 3D - $3.49 on GOG STAR WARS: X-Wing Special Edition - $3.49 on GOG Tachyon: The Fringe - $2.49 on GOG Wing Commander: Privateer - $1.49 on GOG Wing Commander 1+2 - $1.49 on GOG Worms United - $1.49 on GOG Keep in mind that availability and pricing for some deals may vary depending on the region you're in.
And that is it for our pick of this weekend's PC game deals folks, and hopefully, some of you have enough self-restraint to not add even more games to your growing backlogs this season. Of course, there is an enormous amount of more deals ready and waiting all over the internet if you comb through it hard enough, so keep your eyes open for those, and have a wonderful weekend.