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Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming earbuds review – no-frills buds
1:25 pm | October 3, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Consoles & PC Gadgets Gaming | Comments: Off

The Turtle Beach Scout Air wireless gaming earbuds manage to get the job done on a number of fronts and are a solid option if you’re in the market for a pair of simple and effective mid-range buds.

Don’t expect incredible quality here though, as nearly everything about the Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming buds is pretty middle-of-the-road. Audio for gaming and casual music listening is decent without feeling particularly full-bodied or accentuated in any one area. Plus, the overall average battery life and awkward form factor make them rather unsuitable for extended listening sessions.

It’s not all bad news, though, and these buds do excel in some pretty important areas. Their low-latency Game mode is fantastic for providing accurate and responsive audio while gaming and a high water resistance rating means they’re perfectly suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. If you can deal with their shortcomings, the Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming earbuds are a solid pick if you’re after a well-rounded and versatile pair of buds.

Price and availability

You can get the Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming earbuds for $99.99 / £89.99, either from the brand’s official website or other big box retailers. This is fairly competitive as far as gaming-focused true wireless earbuds go, coming in much cheaper than the Razer Hammerhead Hyperspeed earbuds for PS5 which cost $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$259.

While you’ll get overall better performance from non-gaming earbuds released around the same timeframe, such as the Creative Outlier Pro for $119 / £84.99 (around AU$159), you’ll find that the Turtle Beach Scout Air buds are discounted quite regularly, making them worth keeping in mind during key sales periods.

Design and features

Turtle Beach Scout Air

(Image credit: Future)

The Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming earbuds come in a pocket-friendly charging case that features a lightweight design and form. A line of three white LEDs on the case indicates the state of charge for your buds, too, which is a welcome addition for seeing how much battery they have at a glance. On the rear, you’ve got a USB-C for charging up the case, and buds, once it’s run dry.

Flip open the charging case to find the earbuds inside, and you’ll notice that they have a rather distinct look. While there are no complaints to be had in terms of overall build quality, the stems of the buds are slightly angled by design, and the buds themselves don’t rest well in the ear without some fidgeting. Readjusting them mid-session was a fairly common occurrence just to make sure they wouldn’t slip out.

This form factor led to the buds becoming more uncomfortable over time; in fact, after just a couple of hours, I felt I needed to place them back in the case to give my ears a bit of a break. The buds made my ears slightly achy and overly warm over the course of a cross-country train ride, and it was a relief to stop using them for a bit.

The Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming earbuds do excel in other areas, though. Bearing an IPX4 water resistance rating, they can operate in conditions equal to an average amount of rainfall, and are resistant to small splashes of water. This makes them ideal for out-and-about play just so long as you’re not running into a storm with them.

As for connectivity, you’re strictly dependent on Bluetooth with the Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming earbuds. While that makes them ideal for Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck and Android-based devices, you’ll need to look elsewhere if you’re after buds that’ll be compatible with PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.

Performance and battery life

Turtle Beach Scout Air

(Image credit: Future)

The Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming earbuds perform adequately in terms of sound quality, but they’re not particularly special. The overall sound profile is decent but rather flat. Music with particularly high production value - like the Sonic Frontiers soundtrack or Tool’s 10,000 Days, for example - doesn’t sound as rich or full-bodied as it should when listened to with some of the best gaming earbuds around.

The earbuds do fare better for gaming, thankfully. A built-in low latency Game mode helps to reduce delay inherent with Bluetooth connectivity. The mode allows for accurate, responsive audio which makes them an excellent choice for Bluetooth-ready devices.

Connectivity in itself can be an issue, though. When pairing the buds to my Android phone (which you can do by flipping open the charging case with the buds remaining inside), I often found that only one of two earbuds would pair. As a result, expect to have times when you’ll need to unpair the device and try again. This is a substantial frustration and one you wouldn’t expect to deal with when spending nearly $100 / £100.

Battery life is acceptable, with the charging case providing up to 20 hours of battery when it’s fully topped up. It’s a shame that the earbuds themselves can only hold up to five hours of charge, but that should still be enough for most daily activities, and it helps that the case charges them fairly quickly, in roughly 60 - 90 minutes from empty to full.

Overall, the Turtle Beach Scout Air wireless gaming earbuds are a decent pair if you can grab them in a sale. It’s hard to recommend them at full price given their relatively flat sound and occasional connectivity issues. That said, they’re about as affordable as true wireless gaming earbuds get. If you have the budget, then, we’d recommend a higher-quality pair like the excellent Epos GTW 270 Hybrid Earbuds.

Should I buy the Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming earbuds?

Turtle Beach Scout Air

(Image credit: Future)

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

How we reviewed the Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming earbuds

I tested the Turtle Beach Scout Air gaming earbuds over the course of a couple of weeks, ensuring to use them in a range of environments including both in and outdoors, as well as aboard public transport. Both casual listening and gaming were tested, and I played many of the best Nintendo Switch games to get a feel for what their low-latency Game mode offers. 

If you’d prefer higher-quality audio while gaming, consider checking out our guides to the best PS5 headsets, the best Xbox Series X headsets, and the best Nintendo Switch headsets to experience a more immersive sound.

Station to Station review – all aboard
12:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC
Release date: October 3, 2023 

Station to Station is exactly what it says on the tin: a minimalist and relaxing game about building railway connections and moving things from station to station. You’ll pour hours into building stations and connecting buildings to then transport your goods to a city, all while bringing life back to the world's desolate landscapes. It’s incredibly simple in premise, but it’s astoundingly fun once you get stuck in. 

Regardless of your relationship with world-building simulators or anything that relies on resource management in general, Station to Station is a must-play for anyone looking for a relaxing experience. If you’ve played games like Before We Leave, Islanders, and Terra Nil, you’ll be familiar with the routine of finding out what you have to do, and then planning the best way to complete the task, but what separates it from these games is the extreme lack of feeling pressured due to resource management and instead the emphasis on working at your own pace.  

Bring me to life

Station to Station

(Image credit: Prismatika)

To start out, the map feels a little on the small side, since it’s just a square with a handful of buildings scattered across. As you begin connecting wheat farms to mills, then mills to bakeries, Station to Station hints at the complexity to come as it gently holds your hand while teaching you how to place stations and tracks. It’s an essential step, but once complete you’ll have a firm understanding of the game and the intricate systems that underpin it.

As you begin to breathe a new life into these landscapes and connect each building through your railways, the color starts to return, and the music starts to swell as both a visual and auditory representation of your progress. I love adaptive music within games that require you to build from the ground up since it feels far more rewarding than just being given a sticker at the end of the level and told 'good job', and it’s something Station to Station excels in. You feel proud of the work you’ve done as the world springs to life, and it’s enough motivation alone to push you through to the next level. 

To keep the experience exciting, Station to Station hosts six different biomes to bring to life too, so when you feel like you’ve exhausted one, you can move on to the next and encounter entirely new cities and requirements in fresh settings. Plus, each new biome is home to a new creature to locate across the map, like horses for plains, camels for deserts, all of which you can zoom right in on - which I might’ve spent more time doing than I like to admit, but in my defense, this was required for a few levels so that’s my excuse. 

Although there is a little room for error, you are free to completely restart levels or from a checkpoint if you realize you’ve misplaced or connected a rail that would be better off elsewhere. I don’t usually go back and correct myself when I notice I make an error like this, but the lax nature of Station to Station helps you feel like there are no real consequences if you do have to retrace your steps a little bit, so there’s no shame in feeling like you might benefit from doing so. Even if you just want to organize things a bit neater, it feels like an integral part of the game to go through this process rather than feeling like you’re going back on yourself. 

The train keeps a-rollin' 

Station to Station

(Image credit: Prismatika)

The only real restriction in Station to Station is your money. Placing stations and laying tracks isn’t free, and you will eventually run out of funds if you’ve been busy creating roller coaster-style railways for your freight trains to enjoy on their commute. But, you will always start with an ample amount to get set up, and the second you start producing things like bread and cheese, you’ll start to make money again. This emphasizes the importance of planning, which the game revolves around, and then goes back to my point about how restarting from checkpoints is part of the process rather than a retracing of steps. 

Best bit:

Station to Station

(Image credit: Prismatika)

Watching the world spring to life as you begin to build from the ground up is always a rewarding experience. There’s nothing quite like watching life come back to what looks like an abandoned location as you start to get to grips with the game.  

In addition to this, each level comes with two optional challenges for those who like a little more structure. One usually revolves around finances, challenging you to end a level with a certain amount left to your name, and the other will be more of a wildcard. You’ll be challenged to create rails that run for 2000m or cross three times, generally, just things that will require you to be a little more creative with your placements, but they are fun objectives to try and meet if you do struggle with just being told to build a network and left to your own devices. 

Let off some steam 

Station to Station

(Image credit: Prismatika)

The freedom Station to Station provides you with to just build as you please is what I think makes the game so appealing. You don’t have to place things on specific tiles or against certain blocks, just as long as you can connect your stations to one another, the world is your oyster. Even with optional challenges, you can still work at your own pace without any repercussions if you don’t follow a specific routine, and that is so important in a game that claims to be relaxing. 

Outside of it’s six regions, Station to Station comes equipped with a “custom game” mode, which lets you build your own maps according to your preferences, and really lets your creativity shine through. If you’re someone who doesn’t love the shackles of funds in world-building games, there’s a way to turn this off and simply build. 

With games like Terra Nil and Dorfromantik, you can feel as though one misplacement will end up with you having to begin again, whereas with Station to Station, you are more willing and more likely to find a workaround if you do realize you’ve misplaced a rail, but it doesn’t feel as enjoyment-shattering even if you do have to go back to a checkpoint and evaluate your decisions again. 

At its core, Station to Station is simply about learning to slow down and plan without feeling the limitations of deadlines or the pressure of resource management. Although its more relaxed content loop might not appeal to the action-seeking, high-stakes player, for someone looking for a game that just lets you chill, it’s a charming, unique little game that’s enough to keep you entertained for a decent chunk of time.


Station to Station

(Image credit: Prismatika)

Unfortunately, Station to Station falls a bit short on accessibility settings. If you don’t fancy playing with a mouse and keyboard, the game does have full controller support, but as for in-game accessibility, your options are limited. Keybinding and custom graphics settings, alongside the ability to change the language of your game, are about as accessible as things get, but the nature of the game and lack of narration or dialogue, in general, means there’s no need for subtitles - so it gets a pass on that.  

How we reviewed Station to Station

I played Station to Station for around 13 hours on PC using a mouse and keyboard. This was enough time for me to complete all six biomes the game offers, a handful of the optional in-game challenges, and explore the custom game mode. There are still several challenges for me to go back in and complete, which I definitely plan on doing.

For more games like Station to Station, you might want to check out the best indie games, or the best simulation games if you want to see the world from the perspective of a conductor rather than the network constructor.   

Counter-Strike 2 review: clicking heads
2:34 pm | October 2, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Comments: Off
Review info:

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on:
Release date:
Out now

Counter-Strike 2 doesn’t care about you. Over the course of hundreds of rounds in this multiplayer first-person shooter, I’ve been shot, blown up, and burnt in ways that feel savagely unfair. But the secret is that I am barely competent at Counter-Strike 2, and Valve’s newest competitive shooter really doesn’t care about making me feel welcomed. 

If you want success, you have to earn it. Bizarrely, dropping an enemy with a well-placed headshot actually feels more satisfying because it’s just that rare to get a sympathy kill. More often than not, I spent my time with CS2 getting picked off with a single round by people with better motor skills or more hours with the game than me.

So it goes. Counter-Strike has always been viciously cruel to newcomers. As a pioneer of the one-life-per-round multiplayer shooter, the game has long been about five-on-five multiplayer matches that see combatants slowly whittled down as the round draws on. Casual game modes up the player count substantially, but that feeling of attrition as players get wiped out, littering the map with their corpses, remains.

The two teams, terrorists and counter-terrorists, fight over a bombsite or a few kidnapped hostages: opposing objectives that see one or the other team taking a defensive angle while the other tries to bust in and complete their objective. In most competitive settings, these games will all involve the bomb defusal mode, which revolves around counter-terrorists trying to hold a bomb site while terrorists try to attack it, planting the bomb and holding it for 40 seconds before it explodes, killing everyone nearby. 

War Economy 

Counter-Strike 2 hostage

(Image credit: Valve)

The need to buy your weapons each time you respawn punctuates the round-by-round ultraviolence with a bit of meta-strategy, as the more powerful weapons cost more money and will require you to complete objectives and kill enemies just to pay your upkeep. The AWP, a godless killing machine that can end any player in a single hit, is so expensive that you’ll have to perform well through multiple rounds to get it, and when you die there’s a good chance the opposing team will try to scoop it up for themselves, turning it back on you in the next round. 

This is, by and large, how it has always been in Counter-Strike and very little has changed with Counter-Strike 2. Yes, there’s beautiful smoke now, and there's a subtick system that I don’t really understand that has the community divided, but in practice doesn’t seem to impact casual play too much. The M4A1-S will look a little different, but it’s the same game, remade in Valve’s Source 2 engine. This is why it’s called Counter-Strike 2 of course (if you were somehow confused as to why the fourth game in the series is numbered 2).

But if you’ve played Counter-Strike Global Offensive - the previous entry that Valve has made the baffling decision to hide away in a beta branch now, the better to replace it entirely with CS2 - then you’re still going to be good at this new entry. If you’re not, you’re going to have to bang your head against a wall made of players with better skills than you if you want to get better. 

Stick and move 

Counter-Strike 2

(Image credit: Valve)

The draw is the silken movement and clean gunplay. Moving around in Counter-Strike 2 is smooth and fast. Hidden paths through the somewhat remastered maps open up for anyone able to master a crouch jump, and you’ll soon find yourself cutting through the maps at high speed. Move at full speed and you’re noisy, walk and you move slower but you’re quieter. Crouch and you’ll move incredibly slowly, but make nearly no noise. The slower you move, the more accurate your guns are, so you’re making a constant trade-off between moving fast and noisy and moving slow and stealthy, poised to attack.

The only time you lose that control is when you’re shot by an enemy, with the impact of bullets slowing you down, all but guaranteeing your death. Unless you kill your attacker first. This is a simple and elegant way that CS2 pushes you, endlessly, toward violence. While several of the one-life competitive shooters will see people slowly trading damage over the course of a round, here most fights will end with someone dying as few angles provide the luxury of an escape route or a reposition while you’re moving at a snail’s pace. 

Best bit:

A skin in Counter-Strike 2

(Image credit: Valve Software)

Executing the perfect flank and getting a couple of kills to win a round always feels good. The time I did it on Overpass to kill two people with a USP-S, including the absolute bad guy who had been one-hitting me with a sniper rifle every single round? Bliss.  

The weapons you’ll play with are diverse and interesting: an MP5SD will spray down enemies up close with barely any recoil, while an M4A1-S is a long-range killing machine, providing you can manage your recoil. The buying wheel of CS:GO is gone, replaced with a Valorant-esque buying grid. There are more weapons in the game than slots to display them, so players will have to choose the weapons they’re most likely to use.

Each weapon behaves slightly differently. So despite how often it kills me, I find the AK47 unusable, though I’m capable of picking people off all day with the MP5SD or the bullet-hose P90. Both guns are more forgiving to people, like me, who haven’t yet internalized Counter-Strike 2’s golden rule: you should stop moving to fire.

While most people will be wearing armor in each fight, gunfights are still fairly brutal. The damage model isn’t as vicious as Escape From Tarkov or even Rainbow Six Siege but aiming skill is highly valued and most of the time a fight will be over in a split second, a burst of gunfire eviscerating the loser before they have time to react.

Get good or die trying  

Counter-Strike 2

(Image credit: Valve)

There is, however, something compelling about this. To win even a single fight here means you’ve outplayed an opponent. To hold an angle feels heroic, reloading a tiny celebration of living another few seconds. I’ve clutched a couple of rounds, but success in Counter-Strike has always evaded me. Counter-Strike 2 is no different, but I view getting success here as aspirational; so much fun do I find the tiny conflicts that make up each round.

Sadly, I think I may be in the minority. Despite some features to make the game a little easier to learn, I think most people’s first 100 hours are going to be miserable and it’s hard to know who’s going to put all of that time in to actually get some skills. Especially when these skills will be hard-won and forged in the fires of, well, getting torn apart by talented players who have already suffered through those early hours. 

Counter-Strike 2 is an exceptional game. But it’s impenetrable and hostile to newcomers and it’s upset a lot of its existing player base by replacing a much-loved game with a newer version that will need a nicer PC for people to play and has cut out some of the beloved features from CS:GO

This doesn’t impact whether or not Counter-Strike 2 is a good game. It’s excellent. But the manner of its release is somewhat baffling and has meant that while I am writing the review, I’m writing this as a review of Counter-Strike 2 as it stands right now. But there’s a storm coming, and I think the version of Counter-Strike 2 that we play a year from now, six months from now, a month from now… is going to be entirely different. I hope those changes morph Counter-Strike 2 for the better.  


Outside of subtitles, really there’s nothing to talk about here. A poor showing.  

How we reviewed Counter-Strike 2

I played 30 hours of Counter-Strike 2, across the game’s competitive and casual modes. I also dabbled in the game’s deathmatch mode and the two vs. two wingman mode. These feel like sideshows so I didn’t spend a lot of time with them, putting an hour into each before focussing entirely on the main event, which for me is the five-on-five multiplayer. 

I spent all of the time playing on keyboard and mouse. I’m currently using Razer’s Cobra Pro, and that worked just fine here.

The best FPS games promise more high-stakes action, but the best co-op games may also be of interest for a more communal setting. 

The Lamplighters League review – lightweight strategy with a flavor all of its own
4:19 pm | September 28, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on:
PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Release date:
October 3, 2023

After you’ve beat up enough jackbooted thugs in an alleyway, the brilliance of The Lamplighters League reveals itself. The turn-based strategy game comes from Harebrained Schemes, better known these days for their work on stompy mech-’em-up BattleTech, but the scuffles here couldn’t be further from BattleTech’s city-leveling conflicts. 

Here the fighting jumps from the pages of pulp adventures, where your cast of daring scoundrels biff, pow, and blast baddies in a variety of locations: a winding alleyway, a hotel in the desert, or a snowy forest. While the stakes are the same - the end goal is to save the world from a horrible fate - the methods in which you try to seize victory often involve a poison dagger, a hand grenade, or even just a pair of revolvers.

The change is a good one. Bringing the camera in close lets us see the characters, and it’s these that make The Lamplighter League shine brighter than many other entries in the turn-based tactics genre. The writing is top-notch here, and characters will react to each other's triumphs and mishaps with lines that hint at the growing relationships between the rogue’s gallery that join you on missions.

While the mechs that inhabit Harebrained Schemes’ BattleTech are sterile and unknowable, these heroes are the beating heart of The Lamplighter League

Lamped 'em

The Lamplighters League

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

Some smart design decisions mean you’ll often rotate the agents you take on missions, particularly because when a character is downed they’ll often need time to recover. However, you’ll mostly switch up your A-team operatives regularly because every character is brilliant, hewn roughly from archetypes you might see in any tale of derring-do. The Lamplighters League makes itself clear early when you start with the stealthy Lateef, punchy Ingrid, and pistol-toting Eddie, but I was most fond of Ana Sofia, who gets a ton of killer voice lines, is well-acted, and also has a submachine gun despite her official role of team healer. 

In play, most of these characters will feel distinct. Ingrid is a close-range behemoth, with the ability to dance through a crowd of enemies, knocking one over as it hits the wall before pirouetting into the middle of a brawl to unleash her ultimate ability; a sweeping leg and a high roundhouse kick, damaging everything around her. Eddie can put out a nearly unlimited amount of damage with his revolvers, and every character has their own “engine”, a unique mechanic that lets them be good at the thing they’re supposed to be good at. 

This is classic turn-based strategy, so there’s a grid and you’ll rattle around it burning AP (each character starts with two, but it’s a fluid resource, and many buffs or skills will give characters more) to move or perform actions. Once your heroes - there’s usually three but some missions can give you more - have acted, then the enemy will take their turn. So far, so turn-based. The addition of stealth makes things a little more interesting, but stealth here isn’t a viable option for the entire game but instead a chance, Indy-style, to bop a few guards before a big scrap. 

Best bit:

Lamplighters League

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

The violent stealth kills available to all Bruiser characters has them charge into a crowd of enemies killing everyone they touch. As The Lamplighters League points out, it’s hard for anyone to raise the alarm when they’re all dead.  

The meta-game and size of conflicts bring to mind a different turn-based tactics game. XCOM: Chimera Squad feels like a close fit style-wise, with small-scale movement-focused warfare as you seek to stop three powerful enemies working for ultimate baddies - The Banished Court - from gaining too much power. This is represented by little gauges and as they fill up this trio will gain extra abilities and be more of a pain in your behind. So, you juggle missions to try and keep them from gaining too much power, and then you take the fight to them with a mission that knocks them off the board entirely. If you’ve seen this before in XCOM 2’s stellar War of the Chosen expansion, no you didn’t.  

Sadly, the push and pull of this in addition to the several different resources you need to keep on top of to upgrade your weapons or healing abilities while also recruiting new members to the League, means that the metagame is often the most stressful part of the experience. There are just a lot of urgent issues that need your time and attention and while this does create tension it often goes right past that, until it’s something akin to the game smacking you upside the head, demanding you to make an impossible choice. 

This will keep you engaged - especially when these demands start forcing you to go toe to toe with the dangerous scions just so you can delay their plans a little, even at the cost of your own agents - but it’s at odds with the rest of the game which is mechanically lightweight.

Still, there’s a strong chance if you’re into strategy games you’ll find something to love with The Lamplighters League, even if, due to the lack of replayability, you’ll probably only enjoy it once. 

 Accessibility features

Lamplighters League Accessibility

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

Subtitles and a few graphics options are your lot here. You can change the opacity of text boxes and change the size of text boxes if needed, but there’s very little else on offer. However, due to its turn-based nature, this may be enough accommodations for many.  

 How we reviewed The Lamplighters League

I played The Lamplighter League for 20 hours, which was enough to wrap up around two-thirds of the game’s story. I did this with a keyboard and mouse and think it would be better to do it that way. 

I’ve played a lot of turn-based tactics games, and have reviewed the likes of XCOM 2, Jagged Alliance 3, Marvel’s Midnight Suns, and XCOM Chimera Squad. I beat XCOM 2 on Legendary without losing a single soldier, which doesn’t impact my review but isn’t something I can brag about usually so give me my moment, yeah?  

Want something with more depth? There are plenty of options in our list of the best PC strategy games. 

Under The Waves review – alone in the abyss
2:56 pm | September 27, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Consoles & PC Gadgets Gaming | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
Release date: August 29, 2023

Under The Waves is an awe-inspiring story-rich adventure into the ocean's dark depths and one man’s psyche. While the grand ocean canyons are glorious, soon you'll realize that this underwater world is somewhat empty. 

However, follow the story through completing the various missions, and you’ll find a story which is just as fulfilling as it is sad. The meat here is slowly learning about the main character's past and what drove him to venture deep into the depths. 

You’ll follow protagonist Stan into the North Sea as he works for a company that becomes more sinister the closer you look. Throughout your time monitoring their submarine facilities and repairing broken machinery, you appreciate not only the beauty of the sea but also the ugly nature of what humanity is doing to it as you clean up plastic and cover up oil spills. In this solitary confinement, Stan also has no choice but to reflect on the recent passing of his daughter. This experience makes for some truly insightful and heart-wrenching experiences that’ll resonate with you long after you close down the game. 

Don’t look too close 

Character's face in diving suit

(Image credit: Quantic Dream)

Under The Waves is a stunning single-player game with forgotten rocky crevices and vast open water sections that house all sorts of magnificent creatures. Exploring the map in your trusty submarine nicknamed Moon is all sorts of fun. I loved racing through schools of fish or watching from afar as a gigantic whale made its way slowly across my screen. If you’re a fan of the lonely adventures in the dark bottom of the ocean, then Under The Waves has a lot to offer. 

There are also several structures to enjoy on the ocean bed, each with its own distinct ambience. Having the cozy and safe structure of the base was a welcome change from drifting around in the cold and harsh sea. While activities were limited in here, crafting supplies, making a coffee, or even just staring out your porthole from a warm and soft bed gave me some much-needed respite from the otherwise emotionally taxing story.  

Best bit

Character walking through underwater dreamscape

(Image credit: Quantic Dream)

My favorite part of Under The Waves had to be the sinister dream sequences. These nightmares were a psychedelic trip underwater, filled with broken memories, ominous sounds, and frightening visuals. Travelling through these distorted oceanic locations made me feel smaller than I had ever felt before. 

There are also several structures to enjoy on the ocean bed, each with its own distinct ambience. Having the cozy and safe structure of the base was a welcome change from drifting around in the cold and harsh sea. While activities were limited in here, crafting supplies, making a coffee, or even just staring out your porthole from a warm and soft bed gave me some much-needed respite from the otherwise emotionally taxing story.  

On the other hand, you have the decaying corporate structures scattered across the map, such as The Terminal. This emits an entirely different atmosphere from your warm deep sea base. Swimming around the dark, or ominously glowing red hallways made my imagination run wild. While this certainly isn’t a horror game, I couldn’t help but feel on edge at almost every moment in these claustrophobic corridors.

Character standing on a submarine

(Image credit: Quantic Dream)

Unfortunately, as soon as you look a little closer at Under The Waves, the atmosphere crumbles under the weight of  various glitches and bugs. At moments when I would be travelling across a seriously strange and awe-inspiring dreamscape I’d at times accidentally turn the camera so I could see the character’s face while talking. Instead of focusing on the glorious landscape or heartfelt words all I could see was Stan’s mouth garbelling at random as he desperately tried to keep up with the words leaving his mouth. 

There’s also very little in the way of crafting and action. While there are a few adrenaline-filled moments, you're mostly guided through this story with convenient item drops, which meant I had to spend very little time crafting or searching for materials. 

These small quirks plagued my time in Under The Waves. Whether it was my character jankily repositioning himself to get through small entrances or accidentally phasing through one particularly happy and friendly seal. While this doesn’t mean that this story rich game is unplayable, it does put a damper on what would otherwise be a terrific emotional experience. 

The sound of the sea 

Watching a whale from inside a submarine

(Image credit: Quantic Dream)

However, there are so many more elements of Under The Waves that round this title off beautifully. One of my favorite elements had to be the soundscaping and music that accompanied my dangerous endeavors. 

As previously established, the story at the centre of Under The Waves is more than just a little emotional; while the fantastic voice work ensures that you feel the main character’s pain in every way, the soundtrack was the nail in the tissue-filled coffin for me. Traversing through strange dreamscapes or seeing an image of your daughter again is always paired with heart-wrenching music or ethereal sounds, which make the emotional impact all the more devastating.  

On the other hand, I also enjoyed how quiet Under The Waves was while you’re traversing through the open desolate ocean. The quiet and distant bellows of sea creatures, along with the reliable hum of your submarine, permeates the vacuum-like ocean floor, making me feel smaller than I ever had before. It’s a feeling that you can’t get from many games, and one that I greatly enjoy, in a twisted sense.

While Under The Waves does lack some final polish, it delivers an emotionally thoughtful story, beautiful landscapes and an equally brilliant accompanying soundtrack. If you’re a fan of narrative-driven adventures and don’t mind an adventure game that’s on the easier side, then Under The Waves is just the tale for you. 


Accessibility features  Under The Waves

(Image credit: Quantic Dream)

Accessibility features for Under The Waves are solid for a game of its size. You can toggle subtitles and change their size as well as the background to suit your needs best. There's also options to change the HUD color as well as its radar size and objectives size. Finally, there is the possibility to change button mash interactions as well as enable or disable camera sway and vibrations. 

How we reviewed 

It took me about seven hours to complete the main story of Under The Water, while I tried exploring for a bit which added some more time. On top of this, I soon found myself out of ideas and ways to explore the ocean floor. While there were some constant glitches for both the main character and the wider landscape, these never felt as if they impacted my experience to a massive extent while in the story-driven game. 

If you're a fan of expansive landscapes and thoughtful tales, be sure to check out these best story games that are available to play right now.

El Paso, Elsewhere review – high-stakes action
5:18 pm | September 26, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Consoles & PC Gadgets Gaming | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC
Release date: September 26, 2023

El Paso, Elsewhere is a stunning tale of vampire hunting and lost love set in a bizarre roadside motel that seems to be an unlikely gateway to another dimension. The further you fall into this strange story, the more you’ll witness reality itself crumble at the feet of the suave vampire hunter James Savage. 

This part-time hunter and folklore researcher is played by game director Xalavier Nelson Jr. In this action-packed single-player third-person shooter, you're tasked with taking out your former lover Draculae or Janet Drake before she destroys the known universe with her army of monsters and human sacrifices. All there is to do now is to forge onward through the collapsing motel and hordes of vampires, wolves, and mummies in the hope of stopping her before it's too late.

The story of Savage’s journey to destroy his estranged ex, Draculae, lord of the Vampires, and constant monologuing can be underwhelming at times. However, the trippy visuals and poetic script balance this out to make sure that you’re always brought back onside. 

Guns blazing 

Character jumping towards monster with guns

(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

The combat does a great job at raising your blood pressure. Each level is packed full of bloodthirsty skeletal vampires, rabid werewolves, and their supernatural friends. While these enemies do pack a punch if you find yourself trapped in a corner, they won’t ever be too much to handle, thanks to the seemingly endless supply of ammo and meds on hand.  

Best bit

Character standing in an elevator

(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

Saving human sacrifice after human sacrifice can be challenging work. So it was nice that after I saved each one, they would ask me a thoughtful question: who was going to save me? While I spent little time reflecting on it, it was nice to know someone out there was concerned about my well-being.  

I didn’t conserve my ammo by any means, yet I never once found myself in a situation where I was left with no way to defend myself. The difficulty curve is slight, and this meant that - as an experienced vampire slayer - I only died once during the entire campaign, and that was when I accidentally walked off the map. 

While this made my time reviewing El Paso, Elsewhere much easier, it also meant that it didn’t feel like a challenge. Almost every enemy dies within three shots, two if one is a headshot, regardless of any enemy’s perceived strength. I was slightly confused when the more powerful-looking cosmic witches died just as easily as the starter vampire monsters. James Savage seems like a tough monster hunter; I bet he could handle much more. 

The various weapons handled great, and it was very satisfying to mow down waves of enemies to the electric soundtrack, which Nelson also raps on. However, this blasting became repetitive as the story progressed due to said lack of difficulty. If you’re into beautiful shoot-em-ups and don’t want a grueling challenge, then this is definitely worth giving a go, but for those who prefer a tougher time, El Paso, Elsewhere may be too straightforward.  

Picturesque setting 

corridor without a roof

(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

While the combat left something to be desired, the location and visuals made up for any lackluster action. The concept itself is enough to let your imagination run wild. As you delve deeper into the mysterious and mind-boggling roadside motel turned vampire HQ you encounter a world that is imploding in on itself. 

While the collapsing map can be confusing at times, it’s worth the headache just to see all the impressively kaleidoscopic visuals on offer. Wandering around backroom-esque hallways and haunted graveyards is an exciting trip into the supernatural and unknown. There’s even a bonus of each location not having a ceiling meaning you can always stare into the endless starry sky. 

El Paso, Elsewhere is more of a creative project than a third-person shooter. You’ll want to sit and watch through each and every cutscene - if only to admire the cinematic shots and wallpaper-worthy sights. However, the title does sometimes suffer at the hands of its own creativity.  

Too long in the coven

elevator to nowhere

(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

At first, the script stood out to me as something that has been painstakingly handcrafted and tweaked to perfection. The long monologues not only provide crucial information about your playable character James Savage, but also complement the artistic scenery with its Shakespearian tone. It covers tough themes like substance abuse in an interesting manner, constantly suggesting that this adventure might just be a one-way trip. However, the novelty of these beautiful monologues did begin to wear thin as I delved deeper into the survival horror. 

After only five chapters, I began to tire of the endless soliloquies. While the concept of emotional trauma is a worthwhile topic to cover, the presence of a lengthy monologue at the beginning of every chapter (there are many of these) ensures diminishing returns.

line of medication

(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

Towards the end of my time in El Paso, Elsewhere, I unknowingly began to just tune Savage out as it was the only way I could enjoy this third-person shooter. While all the voice actors are amazing in their own right, less is definitely more when it comes to brooding dialogues in twisted vampire-infested graveyards.  

The only respite from these dreary monologues were the rare dialogues scattered throughout between Savage and his old lover Draculae. These memories told a tragically beautiful story of a broken love that was destined to fall apart. They are full of emotion, lore, and humanizing qualities that make it easier to like Savage. I just wish there were more of these genuinely interesting conversations and less of the dreary monologues. 

El Paso, Elsewhere is a beautifully creative third-person shooter with an interesting story and a great range of fights and mechanics. However, at times it is undone by this very penchant for creativity as it morphs from an entertaining shooter to a pretentious short film. While this could well appeal to those who prefer story games, players who are a fan of action may be left unfulfilled.  


options screenshot

(Image credit: Strange Scaffold)

Unfortunately, El Paso, Elsewhere is seriously lacking in the accessibility settings department. Other than some basic game and control options such as sensitivity and key binding, there isn’t much here to customize the game to your liking. There are some basic subtitles which you can disable, but you can’t change the size of them.

How we reviewed

El Paso, Elsewhere was extremely smooth to play through. I encountered no bugs whatsoever while completing the action game. While I played each section in chunks, it took me just over 6 hours to complete as I tried to explore as many rooms as possible and try to collect as many items as possible. 

One factor to bear in mind is that this game is described as a survival horror by some. I would disagree with the horror element, as throughout the game, I encountered nothing particularly terrifying. 

For more titles filled to the brim with terrifying monsters, check out these fantastic horror games and survival games that are available to play right now. 

Paleo Pines review – almost dino-mite
10:01 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Comments: Off
Review info:

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One
Release date: 26th September 2023 

Paleo Pines starts with the traditional formula of a farming simulator, immediately handing you some derelict land to call home and placing you amongst an entirely new town to explore, but introduces a new element as its unique selling point: dinosaurs. There’s going to be no collecting cows and chickens, or riding around the town on the back of a horse, here; you’re armed with a huge variety of Cretaceous and Jurassic helpers. 

It’s certainly a quirk within the genre, and it's a great basis to set itself apart from what is starting to feel like an oversaturated market of games with the same mechanics and content. However, despite its obvious oddity, there’s something about developer Italic Pig’s Paleo Pines that still glistens with familiarity and raises the question of whether its inhabitants are enough to set it apart from the competition.  

Rise and grind 

Paleo Pines

(Image credit: Italic Pig)

You start your time with Paleo Pines by creating your character, immediately promoting a sense of ownership and personality, rather than just picking from a series of preset avatars like older Story of Seasons or Harvest Moon games would have you do.

Armed with your first dinosaur, a blue parasaurolophus called Lucky whom the central story revolves around, you’re soon introduced to some of Paleo Pines’ quite humorous inhabitants and their dino companions. They quickly share their surprise with Lucky, who is apparently an incredibly rare species since the other parasaurolophus’ has gone missing, and it becomes your main aim to uncover their whereabouts. However, before you set off on this adventure, you need to visit your new ranch. 

Your land is entirely abandoned with a lot of debris to clean up from the get-go. If you’ve played any Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley, this won’t be breaking news. This process is the backbone of farming sims, but it’s still the best way to get you familiar with getting set up on your farm and getting familiar with the space. But although it is an essential step, it feels like there’s not much of an attempt to shake things up and make them more unique or exciting, so it ends up feeling pretty long-winded when you’re just desperate to jump in and start collecting dinosaurs.

Your stamina also depletes incredibly quickly, as does Lucky’s, so days will be pretty short if you’re spending more time on your farm than you are walking around and meeting the townsfolk. I always find the stamina to be one of the downfalls of farming sims since so much is expected of you each day, be it through crop cultivation, mining, or clearing up your land, and there aren't many obvious pointers within the game to help you know how to replenish this. 

Eventually, you can somewhat automate your farm depending on which dinosaur species you keep around - incredibly useful if you don’t want to waste your own stamina cultivating crops. Each species comes with its own perks, such as the triceratops which helps till multiple squares at once, or the velociraptor which helps harvest crops once fully grown, however, you will find clearing your space and getting to grips with the taming process can become quite the timesink. 

Same old same old 

Paleo Pines

(Image credit: Italic Pig)

Even though you’ve got the excitement of dinosaurs to play with, the day-to-day routine is still pretty rigid. You wake up, water any crops you’ve got growing, and try to clear as much space as possible as you get started. Unfortunately, Paleo Pines doesn’t offer much to shake things up from this traditional routine as you get set up, but at least you’ve got a spare pair of talons to help out. 

Lucky is your key to getting things cleared since their presence basically grants you a secondary stamina bar, but you’ll also need to rely on it as a mount if you prioritize getting places quickly. Taking the size of the map into account as well, you’ll probably want to consider this once you start straying from home territory.

However, you can’t rely exclusively on Lucky to help you around the farm. You’ll learn to rely on a variety of old tools pretty quickly, like a shovel and a hoe which will help you get the farming side of things set up. You’ll also get gifted a few packs of seeds so you can start to get some income, but this takes time to set up and feels like a drip feed if you stick to one crop type. 

The journal does help keep things slightly more exciting though, and you’re able to take on quests for the townsfolk to keep your daily adventure more productive alongside following the main story. These tasks usually revolve around collecting certain foragable items or growing specific crops for a recipe. They’re fairly passive quests, and the freedom to do what you want makes the experience feel a lot more relaxing, but it’s nice to have the option to follow a little more structure. 

Dinos for days

Paleo Pines

(Image credit: Italic Pig)

Where the game does shine is through it’s dinosaur interaction sections where you can really get to grips with the critters that sold you the game in the first place. However, it’s not as easy as walking into a store and purchasing new dinosaurs to add to your journal and ranch. Instead, a creature-collecting element is introduced, and with nothing but a flute to attract their attention you’re tasked with befriending and logging your experience with said creatures in a Pokemon-esque fashion. 

Across the large map, you’ll come across what feels like hundreds of species of dinosaurs that spawn in the overworld, and once you’ve got settled into the town you’ll be free to go and wrangle as many as you can home on your ranch. These species will spawn in the same place each day, so if there’s a certain dinosaur you want to collect then you’ll know where to head without being sent on a wild goose chase. But while this sounds pretty mundane and repetitive, there’s still an exciting addition to the collection element. 

Rather than offering the same dinosaurs with the same patterns and colors each day, there’s a chance you’ll encounter new variations, some boasting a different ‘rarity’ to more common designs, almost like the Paleo Pines equivalent to shiny Pokemon. They don’t boast any sort of skill or stat boosts, but they are neat to look at. Your journal is the key to logging each color pattern and nature, which is why it’s essential to keep exploring even when you feel satisfied with your collection. 

Best bit

Paleo Pines

(Image credit: Italic Pig)

Walking into the open plains for the first time and seeing dinosaurs in their natural habitat and feeling as if I’d just entered Jurassic Park - except I didn’t have to fear for my life if one started to show an interest in me.  

But, as easy as it is to befriend these beasties, it’s much more challenging to care for them. Rather than a traditional farming simulator that will have you throwing wheat and seeds at your animals and calling it a day, each species of dinosaur you house on your ranch has specific requirements for pen space, diet, and living preferences which you need to keep in mind if you don’t want them to get upset because they will leave your ranch. 

If you’re a superfan of dinosaurs and farming simulators, Paleo Pines is a dream come true. It’s relaxing and brimming with cute critters, yet still offers structure when you need a little more story to follow during your day-to-day, but it’s hard to shake the close comparison to other farming simulators despite these differences.  


Paleo Pines Accessibility menu

(Image credit: Italic Pig)

Accessibility settings within Paleo Pines include features such as turning off the general blur, and the ability to increase text size for dialogue boxes, but this is done through a simple yes/no option rather than a slider to completely personalize it to your preference. Character speed can also be slowed down through this menu, alongside high contrast mode.

Although accessibility settings already offer numerous features to toggle, a number of in-game elements have been curated with accessibility in mind without the need for an additional menu. 

For example, visual cues have been implemented within the game by default for sections such as analyzing dinosaur friend calls rather than just relying on the audio, and the colors used as these bubbles have been selected to take into account color blindness, as shared to Twitter and Steam by Italic Pig. 

How we reviewed Paleo Pines 

I’m not a stranger when it comes to farming simulators. I’ve spent what I can only assume are thousands of hours watering crops, tilling soil, and fawning over chubby-looking animal sprites in the hopes that I can make enough money for another bag of seeds. So, I’m confident in calling myself a farming simulator aficionado and knowing what makes such a game worth checking out. 

I played Paleo Pines for around 25 hours on PC with a mix of mouse and keyboard and controller, completing pages of quests and collecting numerous dinosaurs to add to my ranch. I’ve explored the map, met its cast of characters, and befriended a huge array of dinosaurs across each season and period in the game. After completing almost a year of in-game time, I got incredibly familiar with its routine and learned how to optimize my farm to make each day as productive as possible. 

For more adventures like Paleo Pines, you might want to turn your attention toward the best indie games. However, we've also got a list of the best story games if you want something slightly more narrative-driven. 

EA Sports FC 24 review – the football is excellent, and that’s enough
6:57 pm | September 25, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: | Comments: Off
Review info:

Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release date: Early access: Sept 22, regular release: Sept 29 

EA Sports FC 24 is the football video game phoenix that has risen from the ashes of the FIFA series. It feels very akin to its predecessor and introduces some bold new features, but first, it’s worth remembering how we got here. 

In brief, EA cut ties with FIFA in 2022 after the latter demanded a reported $1 billion (One. Billion. Dollars.) for the continued use of the 'FIFA' moniker in EA’s long-running video game series, with FIFA 23 marking the last in a thirty-year run of FIFA-branded EA titles. 

EA opted to forge ahead with a new, FIFA-free version of its annual soccer simulator in 2023, and the result is EA Sports FC 24 – a rather ugly-sounding name for what the developer is describing as the “most true-to-football experience ever.” But is EA’s first solo project – which I’m now calling FC24 for the benefit of both my typing fingers and your eyeballs – really anything more than a FIFA clone in different clothes? Or has EA here crafted a markedly different offering from the new-but-not-really-new FIFA entries we’ve become accustomed to habitually buying in recent years?

Well, for starters, neither Messi, Ronaldo nor Mbappé adorns the cover. This year’s poster boy is Norwegian soccer cyborg Erling Haaland – and after several hours spent scoring goals, conceding (even more) goals, and applying undue pressure to the grips of my DualSense controller, I’m happy to report that the changes in FC24 don’t stop there.

An even more beautiful game 

Marketing shot for EA Sports FC 24

(Image credit: EA)

FC24 runs on a refreshed Frostbite graphics engine that provides the perfect foundation for EA’s latest buzzword-y feature, HyperMotionV. This is the third iteration of the developer’s motion capture technology, with volumetric data (hence the ‘V’) now on hand to deliver even more motion-based realism than we saw in FIFA 23. EA says it gathered this volumetric data from more than 180 real-life professional football matches, and the in-game improvements are plain to see from the moment you set foot on the grass.

Players now move in a way that more closely resembles their flesh-and-bone counterparts; individual muscles flex, hair strands dance in the wind, and kit fabric ripples when brushed by an overzealous defender. Strikers will fall into shots, bundling the ball over the line when it's been zipped in with too much speed to control properly, and defenders will visibly grimace when lunging in for a last-ditch block (they’ll also be aggressively congratulated by their teammates if that effort prevents an opposition goal). 

HyperMotionV is best demonstrated through players with distinct movement types: for example, as in real life, Riyad Mahrez remains noticeably upright as he dribbles, while Phil Foden slaloms between defenders by dropping his shoulder to the floor. However, some neat AI wizardry applies the benefits of EA’s new technology to every player in the game, so a local, regional derby in the North of England looks just as convincing as El Clásico.

FIFA 23’s HyperMotion 2 technology brought noticeable improvements to peripheral areas of the pitch – the net, the turf, the crowd, and so on – but HyperMotionV represents another genuinely palpable step up in FC24 (it’s worth noting, though, that this feature is exclusive to the PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC versions of the game).

Dripping in finesse 

Marketing shot for EA Sports FC 24

(Image credit: EA)

There are some neat new additions on the action front, too. This year’s headline feature is PlayStyles, an Opta-optimized attribute system that supplements players’ existing skill sets with style-specific boosts - it’s essentially a replacement for the old Traits system. 

There are 32 PlayStyles in total, split across six categories – Shooting, Passing, Defending, Ball Control, Physical, and Goalkeeping – with the very best players also benefiting from PlayStyles+, which are basically enhanced versions of a certain PlayStyle. Players known for curling in shots from a distance might be equipped with the Finesse Shot PlayStyle, for instance, which allows them to perform finesse shots faster and more accurately than those without it. 

The world’s very best long-range ball curlers, like Heung-Min Son and Mohamed Salah, are equipped with the Finesse Shot PlayStyle+, which gives them maximum curve and exceptional shooting accuracy. These boosts really do translate into superior in-game performance, and players in traditionally unglamorous footballing roles, like a holding defensive midfielder, feel much more valuable to the team than ever before (top tip: the Intercept PlayStyle, boasted by the likes of Aurélien Tchouaméni and N'Golo Kanté, is pretty much a cheat code for automatically regaining possession).

FC24 also introduces new passing mechanics. There are now three different Precision Pass styles: the standard Precision Pass, the Precision Lob, and the Swerved Precision Pass. As with FIFA 22’s timed runs mechanic, these button combo-induced passes are tricky to master – and they definitely don’t work every time – but they’re a nice new option for skilled players who enjoy the challenge of beyond-the-manual controls. Controlled Sprint – another new FC24 mechanic that lets you run with the ball much closer to your feet by simply holding R1/RB – will definitely be a more welcome addition for casual players.

FIFA 23 added the ability to exert more control over how the ball travels to its target from a free kick or corner, and thankfully, the same mechanics are present and correct in FC24 - although, somehow, EA has managed to make the free kick interface appear ever more frightening than before). 

Old modes, new tricks 

Marketing shot for EA Sports FC 24

(Image credit: EA)

The playable modes in FC24 are nigh-on identical to those in FIFA 23, and, as we’ve come to expect from EA, some of these modes have clearly had more attention paid to them than others.

The biggest shake-up comes to Ultimate Team, which now combines male and female players for the very first time. The ratings awarded to the latter are relative to the competition in which they play, but on the pitch, their attributes are worth the same as their male counterparts (so Barcelona star Alexia Putellas has a similar Ultimate Team card to Kevin De Bruyne, for instance). 

Unsurprisingly, some have criticized EA for gender-blending in what is indisputably its most popular mode, but the logic behind the move is clear: the inclusion of women in Ultimate Team will have a meaningful impact on the prominence of the game’s best female players. Besides, why wouldn’t you want a 90-rated Sam Kerr leading your forward line? I’ve been playing FC24 for about a week now, and I’m already familiar with the names, faces, and attributes of three times as many female players as I was before I picked up the game. The naysayers will naysay, but EA is using its considerable cultural power for good here.

Best bit

Play in action in EA Sports FC 24

(Image credit: EA)

Hitting my first successful Precision Pass to split open my opponent’s defense in a way that hasn’t been possible before. I struggled with this mechanic at first, but after practicing the required input combinations in the Training Hub, Precision Passes became a powerful tool that I’ll continue to use regularly with the right players (looking at you, Trent Alexander-Arnold). 

The aforementioned PlayStyles system adds a new dimension to Ultimate Team, too. As part of a new Evolutions feature, you can improve a qualifying player’s stats, overall rating, PlayStyles, and card design by completing objectives. In other words, you don’t need to wait for EA’s typically ridiculous seasonal cards to drop before transforming, say, Richarlison into a striker who can actually score goals. Evolutions are split between those suggested by EA and those you create yourself. Though, of course, the developer has also introduced a pay-to-win element here: you can speed up a player’s ‘Evolution’ for the princely sum of 50,000 coins (or 1,000 FC Points).

Career mode has also received some welcome updates, but they’re not nearly as significant as those in Ultimate Team. The bottom line: there’s now a focus on tactics over training. Once you pick a team, you’re encouraged to select a tactical vision – the options are standard, wing play, tiki-taka, gegenpressing, park the bus, counterattack, or kick and rush. You then need to hire coaches to implement your chosen tactical vision, and these coaches grow in rating (as players do) when you win matches by using those tactics successfully. To be honest, it’s all pretty surface-level stuff – this is FC24, not Football Manager – but since your tactical vision can be changed at any time, it’s fun to experiment with team sheets and try different tactics against different teams.

Mercifully, EA has finally done away with those annoying daily training sessions in Career mode, but that doesn't mean there’s now no control over how your team prepares for a match. As before, you can put individual players on specific training plans to suit their play styles, but now your assistant coach will advise (tell) you when to do this for certain players. Oh, and if you really do want to play coach, career mode has a new (albeit crushingly boring) tactical view option that lets you watch matches from the dugout.

Seasons, Tournaments, Online Friendlies, and Volta remain largely unchanged from FIFA 23, but Pro Clubs has been rebranded to Clubs, and EA has finally added generation-specific cross-play to the latter mode, too. The Clubs progression format has also changed; now, each calendar month represents a season, with seasons split into a League phase, a Promotion phase, and a Play-off phase. I haven’t had a chance to jump into a Clubs match with friends yet, but it’s good to see EA finally showing this fan-favorite mode some real love.


Player in EA Sports FC 24

(Image credit: EA)

If I’ve got one real criticism of FC24, it’s the game’s aesthetic. Or rather, how everything looks off the pitch. The entire menu system has been redesigned compared to previous FIFA entries, and although, after some practice, it’s quicker to navigate than before, the whole thing feels strangely soulless and sanitary, like something assembled by a corporate committee. 

This isn’t helped by the odd color palette EA has opted for – the Ultimate Team interface, in particular, looks like something designed by Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. The FIFA games looked much more inviting (dare I say, fun?) by comparison, and although this is certainly not a big enough criticism to warrant not buying the game, FIFA’s absence from FC24 is palpable in this respect.

But despite losing its star license, EA has again set the benchmark for what current-gen football simulators should look and, more importantly, play like with FC24. This is a game that’s both fun for newcomers and optionally challenging for skilled players, and FIFA loyalists will be grateful for the impressive number of meaningful updates made to the series’ most popular modes. The name is terrible, but FC24 is a strong start for EA’s new footballing franchise. 

Accessibility features 

EA Sports FC 24 accessibility settings

(Image credit: EA)

FC24 features the usual suite of EA accessibility options, all of which can be found in the dedicated Accessibility Settings tab. These options include color-blindness filters, the ability to increase the size of the player indicator, subtitles and stick remapping. 

How we reviewed EA Sports FC 24 

I played EA Sports FC 24 for around 20 hours on PS5, spending significant time in every mode but Clubs. I started a Career mode save as the manager of Chelsea FC, built (and played several matches with) a mixed-gender Ultimate Team squad, and tested various PlayStyles in Kick Off. 

For more like EA Sports FC 24, it might be worth checking out the best football games.

8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller review – an exceptional recreation of an iconic 90s gamepad
1:44 pm | September 22, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Consoles & PC Gadgets Gaming | Tags: | Comments: Off

8BitDo has partnered with SNK to develop the NeoGeo Wireless Controller. Essentially a revision of the original NeoGeo CD gamepad from 1994, this new model recreates its iconic look and feel, while adding some quality modernities like wireless connectivity along with PC, Android, and NeoGeo Mini console support.

The star of the show here, just as it was with the original controller, is the beautiful joystick. Simply one of the best of its kind, the stick has been accurately recreated, maintaining a responsive, clicky feel that’s perfect for play with some of the best fighting games and arcade games of the 90s.

It’s worth noting, above all, that, despite some modern changes, the 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller is a warts-and-all recreation. This means that those awkwardly-placed Start and Select buttons are right where they were left in the '90s - smack in the middle of the pad. But really, aside from the controller’s relatively limited use (since it lacks a second analog stick), this is the only blemish I can point to on what is otherwise an excellent gamepad that’s well worth the astonishingly low asking price.

Price and availability

The 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller is available to buy now for $34.99 / £29.99. US buyers can purchase the gamepad directly from 8BitDo’s website, while those of you in the UK can rely on Amazon to obtain theirs. While that’s a relatively low asking price, do note that the controller is only compatible with Windows PCs, Android devices, and the NeoGeo Mini console.

There are also four limited edition variants of the controller available to purchase, each bearing the likeness of The King of Fighters ‘97 characters Iori, Kyo, Mai, and Terry. However, these are slightly more expensive at $39.99 and seem to be exclusive to the US market. 

Design and features

8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller

(Image credit: Future)

The 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller is an impressively lightweight and easy-to-handle gamepad. It’s highly accurate in recreating that original look and feel, maintaining that stark black finish complemented by face buttons bearing four different colors. In terms of appearance, the only real change here from the 90s original is the addition of 8BitDo’s logo on the front and rear of the pad, as well as an added pair of shoulder buttons not too dissimilar to the ones you’d find on an SNES controller.

The gamepad also maintains the original’s impressive ergonomics. It has a much thinner profile compared to the best PS5 controllers and best Xbox controllers, but it’s neatly rounded to fit exactly between your thumbs and index fingers. It may fit less well if you have larger hands, as it is a fairly compact controller, but for most players it’ll rest very comfortably.

Module quality is also fabulous across the board. The sizable face buttons have a short, snappy travel time that makes them perfect for classic platformers and fighters. The same goes for the newly added shoulder buttons, though it’s worth noting that there are only two here, meaning games that require the use of four aren’t a good fit for this pad.

The standout module on the 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller is undoubtedly its phenomenal stick. Feeling more like a versatile, 8-way d-pad, it's excellent to rock back and forth thanks to a clicky, tactile response and a relatively short travel time compared to more traditional analog sticks.

The only major drawbacks in terms of design are those centered around the Start and Select buttons mentioned earlier. The fact they are smack center of the pad, one placed above the other, means it can be slightly awkward to reach a thumb over to press them. It’s a small gripe that would have benefitted from a slight revision, but it doesn’t detract too much from the controller’s superb design.

Performance and battery life

8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller

(Image credit: Future)

You can wire up the 8BitDo NeoGeo controller to your PC via USB-C connection, or opt to insert the included USB dongle for a wireless 2.4GHz connection. A toggle on the back of the pad also lets you switch to Bluetooth for use with Android devices if you prefer. Wireless connectivity in both modes was stable in my testing, without any noticeable input latency.

The controller also features a Turbo mode with its own dedicated toggle. This is particularly useful if you’re playing shoot-em-ups or brawlers that require frequent presses of the same button.

The 8BitDo NeoGeo wireless controller performs wonderfully for older games, so long as they don’t require a second analog stick or two additional shoulder buttons. Starting a new game in the original Final Fantasy 7, I found the gamepad’s responsive buttons to be a perfect fit for the turn-based commands. I’ve also never had more fun playing classic fighting games like Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Vampire Savior; that excellent analog stick makes inputs much easier than on a more traditional d-pad.

The controller is also generous in terms of battery life. Expect to get around 30 - 35 hours on a single charge, with anywhere between 60 - 90 minutes required to get it topped up again via USB-C. That high battery capacity paired with the pad’s relative lightness makes it excellent to take out and about, too, especially if you’re planning on pairing it to an Android device.

Should I buy the 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller?

8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we reviewed the 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller

I tested the 8BitDo NeoGeo Wireless Controller over the course of a week, primarily on PC, but also with some testing via Bluetooth on my Android phone. To get a proper feel for the controller, I ensured testing was largely done on older titles with modern ports, including the Capcom Fighting Collection, Breaker’s Collection, Final Fantasy 7, and various entries in the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster collection. 

For more top gaming accessories, consider checking out our best Nintendo Switch controllers and best wired gaming headsets for enhanced experiences on console.

Payday 3 review – a shiny shooter rehashing ideas from ten years ago
6:00 pm | September 21, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Comments: Off
Review info

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on:
PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
Release date:
September 21, 2023

Forget about the tense stealth and bombastic firefights that punctuate first-person shooter Payday 3, the heist-shooter is actually a game about logistics. Each level has you casing up a building full of items that need to be put in bags and then moved to a waiting transport. Chuck enough of these bags - in an ideal world you’ll want all of them but that’s not required - to safety and you’ll escape too, getting a cut of the heist for your troubles. 

Really you’re just a house mover with military firepower. But it’s this constant need to keep an eye on things that sets Payday 3 apart from shooter contemporaries and marks it as an actual heist sim, delivering on the fantasy of being a bank robber and taking on bespoke, high-risk heists. 

Most of Payday 3’s best moments focus on your loot being moved too. Complete a stealth run of the game’s first level, the Secure Capital bank, and one or two of your four-man team will be walking bags calmly, as civilians, to the van idling in the parking lot, an entire vault’s load of cash being moved out under the watchful eye of the pathologically inattentive guard. In another context, chucking bags of cocaine and jewelry out of a penthouse window to the balcony below while gunfire explodes off of every surface is a different tension but creates the same feeling of elation as the daisy chain of loot slowly makes its way to a waiting helicopter. 

Every heist in Payday 3 has unique mechanics, and most of them are entirely drill-free, which is excellent for players who hated spending the entirety of their time with Payday 2 sick of listening to the wail of a drill that needs repairing. You’ll still drill the occasional lock, but now you’re most often using thermal lances, thermite, or the low-tech method of just straight up picking a lock or cracking a safe instead.  

Criminal empire 

another player coming up the stairs in Payday 3

(Image credit: Starbreeze Studios)

There are three different approaches to Payday 3, and if you’re rumbled or you have no patience you’ll likely fall back on the loud and proud approach, which has you strapping on your mask and cutting loose with the game’s arsenal. Payday 3’s weaponry feels somewhat truncated - there are only two shotguns, for example - but most of the guns are fairly satisfying and each has detailed customization options. You can equip attachments to make your gun handle differently, and also paint it a matching color to your mask, should you prefer. 

Shootouts are often close-range affairs and see you spraying weapons from the hip as you move from room to room. While there are marksman rifles and snipers, the opportunity to use them feels fairly limited due to the fact special enemies can disable solo players, meaning that if you’re hiding out on a sniper perch you’re opening yourself up to being tazed or bashed upside the head by the terrifying cloakers - invisible enemies that ambush you like something out of a horror game. So, you’ll be primarily pushing around enclosed urban spaces, and I found I quickly had an affinity for the shotgun and submachine guns, which both allowed me to make a small area very undesirable to opponents.

Not that they’d realize - the AI is of middling to low intelligence and will often charge you with the self-preservation instincts of a TikToker that has just heard of a hot new way to die and wants to try it out for themselves.

The other two approaches are variations on the same stealthy theme. There’s a social stealth that plays out a little like Hitman, as you have no mask, and you’re just skulking around in public areas and testing the boundaries of restricted zones while trying to avoid cameras and guards. Then there’s the mask-on, gun-out stealth. This’ll feel familiar to players of Payday 2 and mostly involves strolling around maps cuffing civilians and taking out guards to answer their radios. You also have unlimited cable ties in this game, because hostage management is a larger part of the process.  

Little hand says it’s time to rock and roll 

Payday 3 close up to a player

(Image credit: Starbreeze Studios)

Stealth feels much easier compared to Payday 2 which personally works for me. A perfect stealth heist in Payday 2 was nearly impossible unless you were super coordinated, but here it feels like you can easily lock down rooms by bursting into them with a gun. It’s fairly forgiving but that accessibility does make it feel less rewarding. 

However, you’ll want to follow the stealth path as much as possible because, well, it’s easier and can net you more money, but it’s also where you’ll get to see most of Payday 3’s improvements over its predecessor. Seven of the eight heists included in the base game can be stealthed from end to end, and while the Secure Capital bank of the first level is a fairly mundane heist compared to what comes later, each of these seven has a fascinating path you can carve through the level on your way to getting the loot. 

The shooting is, by comparison, fairly uninteresting and feels like a punishment for getting the stealth route wrong. The full-auto weapons are nearly constantly out of ammunition as the ammo pools are quite limited and it’s hard to get enough ammunition to keep them fed - so it feels like there’s a strong case to use the marksman rifles or shotguns. Except that there’s only one pump action shotgun and the double-barrelled shotgun seems like it doesn’t have the ability to put out as much damage as you need with the swarm of police. 

Best bit

In-game screenshot from Payday 3

(Image credit: Starbreeze)

The elation as you sling the last bag of loot into your waiting transport and extract after a mission gone wrong is always a relief, as you ignore your broken and bloody heister and instead focus on how much cash they've managed to pull out.

Unlike previous games in the series, Payday 3 can be played and enjoyed as a solo or duo player. The bots wisely stay outside hanging out during the stealth sections, but are competent partners during firefights and will chuck down bags of ammo, health, or armor when needed in addition to reviving you and doing what they can in firefights. It’s still a better game with a coordinated group of four players, but it isn’t a deal breaker in the way it is for many of these four-player co-op games.

I think Payday 3 is a solid foundation and given the decade the team worked on Payday 2 there’s no reason to believe that this game won’t also become stuffed with DLC, licensed content, and new heists until it’s a veritable paradise for would-be heisters. However, as it stands there’s just not enough game here and what there is feels a little less enjoyable than Payday 2, despite the extra polish. The game shipping with eight heists and being completable on the normal difficulty in just a few short hours left me feeling a bit cold.

But hey, at least they got rid of that stupid offshore account thing, so the cash you rake in from the heists is all yours to spend on silly masks.

Accessibility features  

Payday 3 accessibility settings

(Image credit: Starbreeze Studios)

There’s no dedicated accessibility menu, but there are toggle options for things like crouching or aiming down sights, while there’s also something to reduce weapon sway. 

There are colorblind options for those with protanomaly, deuteranomaly, and tritanomaly, with a slider to scale the assists up or down depending on sensitivity. This is accompanied by a series of different images so you can see what’s changing in real-time. 

 How we reviewed Payday 3

I played Payday 3 for 20 hours, tackling every heist in the game. I completed several heists in full stealth on normal difficulty but was unable to manage this in the harder difficulties. I also played with four or five of the different weapons in the game, and played solo, with another player, and in a four-man team.  

If you enjoy the Payday series, you might want to check out the best FPS games, or the best co-op games for an experience to share. 

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