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Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth review – fully reincarnated
5:00 pm | February 22, 2024

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

Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5
Release date: February 29, 2024

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is dense, rewarding, and confident in the tale it’s telling. Dramatic, playful, and dynamic, action role-playing game (RPG) Rebirth takes a cavalier attitude to its storytelling and mechanics - a move that almost always pays off. The well-paced and intriguing storyline is punctuated by satisfying character moments and thrilling battles, only let down by the rare half-baked idea that doesn’t quite hit the mark. 

On his quest to stop the villainous Sephiroth from destroying the world, protagonist Cloud has an entourage of varied and well-realized companions, each with their own distinctive personalities, goals, and ambitions. The dialogue between these characters is memorable, moving, and often humorous, too. 

Banter between party members is defined by an organic sense of chemistry that’s rare beyond the likes of Baldur’s Gate 3. High-quality facial animations complete with tentative lip twitches and lingering glances help enrich the game’s sense of drama and emotional stakes, creating a memorable and poignant experience. 

Those who fight further 

Yuffie and Cait Sith use a synergy attack

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Rebirth’s predecessor Final Fantasy 7 Remake famously dispensed with the original Final Fantasy 7’s turn-based battle system in favor of a hybrid setup that features pausable real-time combat. Rebirth doubles down on this change, offering battles that feel not only strategic but also fluid and responsive. Every aspect of the combat has been iterated upon. Characters move more deliberately, their dodges and parries feeling lifted from an action game proper rather than an RPG dressed up as one. A perfect parry will even render you immune to damage for a short time - a brave new mechanic that keeps players on their toes.  

This dynamism makes customization more meaningful, a feat that Rebirth delivers by offering oodles of Materia, which can be equipped to give your characters access to different passive and active abilities. This fleshes out the strategic layer in combat. As you battle, you’ll build up ATB - action points that you can cash in for specific spells or abilities. With the touch of a button, combat is paused, allowing you to execute these moves. This is a source of endless meaningful decisions and helps create joyful friction, keeping things fresh and engaging even during more routine battles. 

Best bit

Cissnei in Gongaga jungle

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Fighting a giant mech on top of a Mako reactor was particularly memorable, as were the pilot’s hammy monologues. Fraught with dramatic tension, stunning visuals, and nail-biting combat, this battle highlighted everything there is to love about Final Fantasy spectacle. 

As you battle, you’re able to rapidly switch between different party members, taking control of Cloud’s companions with ease. Each playable character handles very differently in battle, helping not only to add a sense of variety but also to reinforce the characters’ own personalities. 

The stalwart, reliable Barret is slow-moving. His dodge has a shorter range than his allies, but he makes up for this by being tough as nails, slowly but surely advancing as his gun arm spits hot lead. Red XIII moves rapidly, like a wild animal; his unique ‘Vengeance’ mechanic rewarding him for taking risks and successfully blocking attacks. Aerith is a deliberate and methodical spellcaster, placing glyphs on the ground to control the battlefield, and supporting her allies with consistent stability - much like she does outside of combat, too. In dialogue scenes, Aerith acts as the backbone of the party, guiding her friends with a sense of purposeful compassion. Seeing this mirrored in Rebirth’s combat is a real treat. 

It’s the little things 

Costa del Sol at dusk

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Unlike Final Fantasy 7 Remake which took place in the packed megapolis of Midgar, Rebirth has you travel beyond its walls, exploring an expansive semi-open world. However, rather than using this as a way to shoehorn in dozens of tedious sidequests and extraneous tasks, developer Square Enix designed Rebirth’s explorable zones with a sense of restraint. While there are plenty of side-quests, they tend to exist in short, sharp bursts, amounting to bite-sized mini-games or battles with optional objectives. Never do these diversions distract from the weight of the main storyline. 

Some side-quests do seem dull on paper; you’ll sometimes be tracking down a missing item or escorting something across the map. What gives these missions texture, however, is how each of them focuses on a specific one of Cloud’s companions, using the side-quest as a pretext for meaningful character interactions. 

A game of Queen's Blood in FF7 Remake

(Image credit: Square Enix)

What could be an uninspired escort quest in Junon quickly becomes something more when it causes Barret to raise concerns about his attitude toward parenthood and his anxieties around his daughter growing up. Parts of the conversation are played for laughs, with Barret comedically lamenting his daughter “flying the nest,” but there’s a real overtone of emotional sensitivity and nuance, too. 

Accessibility features

Camera options menu in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth is light on accessibility features but not without plenty of options for camera customization. Screen shake can be toggled and camera distance and responsiveness can all be adjusted to suit tastes. There are also multiple difficulty levels, including ‘Dynamic’ which adjusts automatically based on your performance.

Not every side activity benefits from Square Enix’s more restrained approach, though. The occasional task remains a chore. Though almost all of the mini-games make for amusing distractions, some fall flat. Highlights include the Chocobo racing game, a loving send-up of Mario Kart 8, and Queen’s Blood, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s deep and rewarding collectible card game. 

Unfortunately, there are moments where the RPG overreaches. In one dire section, the player must use the DualSense controller touchpad to throw blocks around a dungeon to activate switches and solve puzzles. The section is derivative and torturous - a half-baked idea that is given center stage for a tedious half-hour due to the RPG’s unabashed (and occasionally misplaced) confidence.

Never-ending story 

Cloud leaps towards Sephiroth with his giant sword swung over his head

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Rebirth shows similar confidence when it comes to storytelling, almost always with strong results. Like an industrial drill slowly breaking through layers of concrete, the RPG retells Final Fantasy 7’s second act with consistent momentum. Open-world sections are broken up by hub towns and dungeons, all of which give Rebirth a pleasing ebb and flow where tension can build and fall across an accommodating backdrop of varying environments and contexts. 

Rebirth’s core characters grow and change throughout, their personalities reshaped under the deliberate weight of the RPG’s tightly constructed central story. For instance, as he did in the original, Cloud is forced to confront questions surrounding his identity and sense of self. What’s masterful about Rebirth is how seamlessly the stakes rise. As Sephiroth increasingly uses his supernatural influence to control Cloud, it feels like a frog slowly boiling in a pot, unaware that it’s overheating until it’s too late.

The remake trilogy is sticking to its guns - a move that’s worthy of respect

The tale Rebirth has to tell does differ from what’s offered in the original. While these differences seem minute for the vast majority of the story, the RPG’s final section is a high-concept set piece worthy of Kingdom Hearts 3 or Death Stranding in its simultaneous display of artistic bravery and obtuseness. The final act of Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth will ignite the internet with fan theories. While some will find it distasteful, it’s clear that the remake trilogy is sticking to its guns - a move that’s worthy of respect.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth proves that the remake trilogy isn’t a remake in the strictest sense. However, if you’re looking to go on another thrilling adventure with Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, Barret, Yuffie, and Red XIII, then you’ve come to the right place - just don’t expect it to be the adventure you’re used to.

Looking for other immersive titles? Check out our lists of the best RPGs and the best story games.

Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 gaming earbuds review – a decent option for tight budgets
3:45 pm | February 13, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming | Tags: , | Comments: Off

The Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 gaming earbuds are a smart, budget choice that’ll make a fine gift for younger gamers. Its attractive charging case, along with its responsive touch controls and decent audio performance, present an impressive package. They’re certainly a margin above most other true wireless earbuds at this low price point.

However, there is an element of ‘you get what you pay for’ here, and, while they’re by no means terrible, there are very noticeable caveats to keep in mind should you consider purchasing them. For one, the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 gaming earbuds feature a rough, overcooked bass profile, which can render your listening experience uncomfortable and potentially ruin in-game immersion. A pretty poor battery life doesn’t help the buds, either.

Still, as far as Nintendo Switch and mobile-compatible gaming earbuds go, the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 is a solid budget option at £29.99 (they’re presently not available in the US or Australia). However, you may miss some of the extra features and performance found in some of the best gaming earbuds like the Sony Inzone Buds or the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones.

Design and features

Canyon GTWS-2

(Image credit: Future)

Undoubtedly, the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 gaming earbuds’ best feature is its eye-catching charging case. While certainly imitating the look of Transformers’ Bumblebee, with a matte yellow finish and angular chassis, it’s not as garishly over-designed as you might think.

The top of the case is split in half, with two panels opening outward like a Lamborghini’s doors. Admittedly, this is quite fiddly, but I can’t help but be charmed by such a peculiar design quirk. A simple LED panel also shows the case’s battery life in numerical value, a nice touch that lets you see battery status at a glance. A couple of RGB strips flank the case on either side for some extra flourish.

Inside, both earbuds are held in place magnetically, and dislodge with relative ease. They’re relatively unremarkable in terms of design beyond keeping to the yellow colorway. An LED chevron on each will also indicate when the buds have successfully paired to your device of choice.

The earbuds themselves are fairly standard in terms of design at this price point. There are no soft tips here, meaning the hard plastic can grate on your ears after some time. I found that this wasn’t an issue up until they needed recharging, though your mileage may vary here depending on the size and shape of your ears.


Canyon GTWS-2

(Image credit: Future)

The Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 earbuds provide overall serviceable audio for both gaming and casual music listening. Testing on Nintendo Switch, the buds performed admirably with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s clean register and head bob-inducing jazz fusion soundtrack. For games with relatively laid-back soundscapes, the GTWS-2 gets the job done just fine.

However, it’s also worth noting that the buds have a rather flat audio profile, and they simply couldn’t match up to Astral Chain’s busy, bass-heavy soundscape. The character-action game’s usually excellent sound design felt muddled and lost much of its immersive qualities as a result. It was further impeded by what is easily the earbuds’ biggest flaw: that terrible bass register.

To put it bluntly, the GTWS-2 handles bass and lower-end audio with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It’s got a real thudding quality to it that’s rather brash and occasionally uncomfortable to listen to. It’s so bad that it often registers at the lower end with unwelcome distortion. This problem also occurred when casually listening to music; the opening notes of Kuze’s theme from Yakuza 0 demonstrated this perfectly - those rough guitar chugs lost all their satisfaction and instead sounded like someone was knocking against the earbuds with their knuckles.

Battery life doesn’t do much to save the buds in terms of performance, either. You’ll get a paltry four hours on a single charge. The charging case does fare better, offering an additional 35-40 hours, which is impressive for such a cheap set. It’s quick to charge up via the included USB-C cable, too, taking roughly an hour to go from empty to full.

The earbuds also feature an in-built microphone, handy for calls and voice chatting online. And like many aspects of the earbuds, it’s also just decent. Certainly not as crystal clear as what you might expect from the higher-end Sony Inzone Buds, but it is a good deal less sensitive than the mic found in the Turtle Beach Battle Buds. A working, if unremarkable, aspect overall, then.

Should I buy the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2?

Canyon GTWS-2

(Image credit: Future)

Overall, the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2 are serviceable and certainly worth the aggressively budget price point. However, the deeply muddy lows and poor battery life mean we’d recommend looking for a more effective pair if you can afford it. The SteelSeries Tusq are a great option here, if you don’t mind the fact that they are a wired pair. 

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

How we reviewed the Canyon Doublebee GTWS-2

I tested the GTWS-2 gaming earbuds over a few days, primarily gaming on Nintendo Switch and mobile. While I found the buds to perform decently for titles with less busy audio design, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Suika Game, they routinely faltered with anything more dynamic.

Considering other pieces of Nintendo Switch hardware? You may want to check our guides to the best Nintendo Switch headsets or best Nintendo Switch controllers.

8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller review – a quality, affordable Switch gamepad
2:51 pm | January 4, 2024

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

The 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is the latest gamepad in the manufacturer’s Ultimate lineup. In essence, it’s a much more affordable variant of the 8BitDo Ultimate, coming in at less than half the price of its fully-featured older sibling. This compromise on price does come at the cost of a fairly pared-back experience.

The Ultimate C Bluetooth controller ditches the remappable back buttons, charging dock, and 2.4GHz connectivity of the flagship gamepad. Battery life, while still quite decent, isn’t as impressive as it is with the main Ultimate controller, either.

But with those caveats out of the way, what remains is still a fantastic Nintendo Switch controller with excellent build quality shining in the form of delightfully tactile buttons and triggers and thumbsticks that feel superb. As a result, what you’re getting with the Ultimate C Bluetooth controller feels fair when considering its lower price point.

Price and availability

The 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is available to buy now for $29.99 / £24.99, either from 8BitDo’s official website or its Amazon store page. Additionally, you’ve got three colorways to choose from - blue, orange or pink - that lend it some uniqueness in comparison to the main Ultimate model. 

This is starkly more affordable when compared to the 8BitDo Ultimate, which retails at $69.99 / £59.99 outside of sales period. Overall, the Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is easily one of the best budget gamepads you can buy for use with your Nintendo Switch.

Design and features

8BitDo Ultimate C

(Image credit: Future)

The overall look and feel of the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is practically identical to the original, pricier model. It’s the same size, has the same button layout, and also features nicely textured grips that allow the gamepad to rest firmly in your hands. While there’s no charging dock with this model, the box does include a USB-C cable for convenient charging.

As mentioned, the Ultimate C is lacking a pair of remappable buttons on the rear of the pad. And as a Bluetooth-only controller, the connectivity toggle on the back (which switches between Bluetooth and 2.4GHz on the regular Ultimate controller) is also absent. As is custom profile creation and switching. These removed features mean that the Ultimate C does weigh slightly less than its parent model, but really not by much.

If you’re familiar with the original Ultimate pad, then there isn’t much more to say in regards to the Ultimate C Bluetooth controller. It’s very much a pared-down version of the first model. But, for the most part, this doesn’t mean that its performance suffers as a result.


8BitDo Ultimate C

(Image credit: Future)

Despite lacking the Ultimate’s shinier features, the Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is still a winner when it comes to performance. For starters, connection via Bluetooth is quick and simple and done so by holding the pairing button at the top for a few seconds, and then selecting it on the Nintendo Switch’s controller order menu. Connectivity from there on remained stable, and I never encountered an instance of it cutting out or disconnecting entirely - an occurrence I’ve occasionally run into with other controllers with Bluetooth connectivity.

The controller’s modules are of comparable quality to the Ultimate. The pad’s face buttons are delightfully clicky and responsive. The rear triggers are fully digital, thus sharing that same quick register as the face buttons. This differs from the triggers featured on the main Ultimate controller, which require a squeeze to fully depress. I actually prefer the triggers found here on the Ultimate C controller; their short travel time feels much more satisfying for use in fighting games, platformers, and classic arcade titles.

Unlike some other cheap Nintendo Switch controllers, you’re also getting support for motion controls and gyro aiming with the Ultimate C. This makes it an excellent choice for games that heavily rely on gyro such as Splatoon 3, or aiming with your bow in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

I’m also a huge fan of the punchy rumble featured in the Ultimate C. It’s not as detailed as Nintendo’s patented HD Rumble, certainly, but it does provide a surprisingly strong kick that felt fantastic in the rhythm-centric Hello Kitty Happiness Parade and Metroid Prime Remastered’s immersive vibration profile.

One notable drawback with the Ultimate C is that the analog sticks don’t feature Hall effect technology. Implemented in the original model to eliminate stick drift, the absence of them here means they likely won’t last as long as those found on the standard Ultimate. While this is likely another cost-cutting measure, it’s a shame to see one of the Ultimate’s best features missing here.

Overall battery life also doesn’t fare quite as well here. On full charge, you’re getting approximately 16 hours of battery life. That’s still pretty solid overall but is notably less than the Ultimate’s 22 hours. And as you’re relying on a USB-C cable for charging, expect that to take longer, too, at roughly two hours from empty to full.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that while the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller’s box only lists Nintendo Switch compatibility, our testing found that it was also usable on PC with the included USB-C cable (or if you own a USB Bluetooth adapter). If you’re after a cheap controller for your desktop or laptop, then, you can’t go wrong with purchasing the 8BitDo Ultimate C controller.

Should I buy the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller?

8BitDo Ultimate C

(Image credit: Future)

Don’t let the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller’s low price point make you think it’s a cheap knock-off. While I certainly do miss the features that are absent here, what’s left still provides a fantastic play experience that boasts superb build quality, responsive and tactile modules and fairly decent battery life. If you’re looking for a spare pad or just after a cheap controller in general, then the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller is an amazing budget choice. 

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we tested the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller

I tested the 8BitDo Ultimate C Bluetooth controller for about a week and a half over the Holiday period, focusing on several high-profile Nintendo Switch titles such as Splatoon 3, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I also found the controller to be an excellent choice for PC gamers, loading up games in my Steam library such as Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, Monster Hunter World and more.

Controllers would be nothing without some of the best Nintendo Switch games to play them with. Additionally, some of the best Nintendo Switch accessories can provide a more convenient experience with the console, offering quicker charging solutions or entirely new ways to play. 

Rocket Racing review – A hyper-polished racer that fails to stand out
7:53 pm | December 12, 2023

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

Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Android
Release date: December 8, 2023

Rocket Racing is another major game to launch within Fortnite at the end of 2023, in what was a landmark period for the ongoing blockbuster title. Rocket Racing is being worked on by Psyonix, the folks behind Rocket League, and actually shares a lot with the popular car football game. The result is as slick and polished as you’d expect, but like the other two new Fortnite games to arrive alongside it, Rocket Racing lacks its own sense of identity. It’s a competent racer that simply fails to stand out against its competitors - but there is hope on the road ahead.

Psyonix has made a smart choice with Rocket Racing, taking the beloved Rocket League brands and folding it into a reasonably straightforward arcade racing experience. If you buy a skin in Rocket Racing, you can use it in Rocket League, for example, and many of the racing mechanics are just retooled versions of the moves you can pull off in Rocket League. Because of this familiarity, given you’ve played Rocket League, of course, Rocket Racing’s drift-heavy gameplay clicks almost immediately. The key to winning a race is delightfully simple: just be faster than the other players. There are no items and very few gimmicks to be found in Rocket Racing, with races primarily focusing on skill and map knowledge.

There are 26 launch tracks to race through in Rocket Racing, split into Novice, Advanced, and Expert difficulties. One of the main issues with progression is that if you want to go down the ranked route, you’ll only really play Novice tracks for the first couple of hours. These are stripped-back affairs, lacking any of the zero-g twists and turns that comprise the game’s main hook. You see, the cars in Rocket Racing can air-dodge and stick to surfaces, gravity be damned. In Expert levels, this neat mechanic is used plentifully, resulting in some very fun racing indeed. The tracks at lower difficulties? Well, they’re less engaging. Simpler tracks focus on drifting, which does get old very quickly. It all feels a bit like item-less Mario Kart. It's exciting for a select few, but not really how most people would choose to play the game.

A challenge a day

Fortnite Rocket Racing

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Thankfully, you can choose tracks to jump into from the get-go, if you want to experience the Expert tracks sooner. As a complete offering, Rocket Racing’s tracks suffer from the lack of identity present in the overall game. I have played each track at least four times apiece, but I would struggle to tell you my favorites or even distinguish between most of them. The soundtrack, meanwhile, is excellent, hitting a sweet spot between the drum and bass of the 2000s and some of the more electro-heavy leanings of the Rocket League soundtrack.

Given that Rocket Racing lives within Fortnite, its vehicles can be applied to use in the Battle Royale Mode. New vehicle skins can be purchased in the Item Shop, and I must say, the prices are absolutely egregious. A whopping 4000 V-Bucks (a 5000 V-Bucks pack costs $19.99) will get you a new car and some decals. This is well out of parity with the Lego and main Fortnite offerings in the store, though perhaps this has something to do with the prices in Rocket League. Regardless, it turns an approachable racing game into something a bit more pricey, which I think misses the mark.

Best bit

Fortnite Rocket Racing

(Image credit: Epic Games)

By dodging while in the air, you’ll flip your Rocket Racing car left, right, up, or down. This can be used to propel yourself onto walls and ceilings, where you can drive in zero gravity. Building on this, some of Rocket Racing’s best moments involve switching between these planes of racing. 

Rocket Racing does have Daily Challenges, Quests, and even Battle Pass rewards, giving players something to work towards while racing. Unfortunately, the game does not have its own Battle Pass and instead shares its rewards as part of the main Fortnite Battle Pass. In fact, the first Rocket Racing Battle Pass unlock doesn’t arrive until level 82 out of 100, making it pretty inaccessible to most players.

Not so special

Fortnite Rocket Racing

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Currently, Rocket Racing is running its Season Zero, so it has yet to launch what one assumes, or hopes is a more robust set of progression features. It’s the future where things look brightest for Rocket Racing, with user-created tracks, leaderboards, and further customization options all teased for later down the line. Hopefully, once the first major update hits, Rocket Racing will start to feel a bit more like a full game, and less like a Rocket League collaboration within Fortnite.


Rocket Racing

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Rocket Racing shares Fortnite’s accessibility settings, which means they’re slightly too buried in menus. Still, there’s a sound visualizer, completely remappable controls, as well as some HUD scaling options. 

While future updates will go a long way to making Rocket Racing feel like a worthwhile proposition, the game has a real problem with its sense of identity. The art style is generic, the tracks are forgettable, and the core racing hook is not exciting enough to make a splash. This will be trickier to remedy moving forward, but for now, at least, Rocket Racing is polished enough to recommend to those looking for a new arcade racer. Something is missing, however, and I suspect that feeling will persist until the community gets its hands on the upcoming creation tools. Until then, so far, so unremarkable.

We've pulled together all the best free games if you're searching for another adventure to sink hours into. However, for a more communal experience, you might want to check out all the best multiplayer PC games, too. 

Roccat Syn Buds Core review – big bass on a budget
8:01 pm | November 10, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Gaming Gaming Accessories | Tags: | Comments: Off

The Roccat Syn Buds Core are powerful wired earbuds with plenty to offer regarding sound quality, especially on a budget. Advertised with Nintendo Switch and mobile gaming in mind, they’re able to enhance your immersion with deep, all-encompassing directional audio that can block out external distractions and make in-game music and sound effects much more lively than if they were just playing out of your device’s speakers.

Complete with a clear, high-quality built-in microphone, these earbuds are also perfect if you want to game on a mobile device while chatting with friends. They also come with inline controls to adjust volume, but bafflingly, these don’t work on Nintendo Switch or iOS devices, limiting their utility. This - combined with the declining compatibility of wired earphones and headphones with modern devices - make it hard to recommend the Roccat Syn Buds Core for anyone looking for earbuds that will last them for years to come.

However, given that you can pick them up for $24.99 / £19.99, the Roccat Syn Buds Core earbuds are of incredible value if you’re looking for something simple but effective, and you really can’t go too far wrong for the price.

Price and availability

At full price, you can buy the Roccat Syn Buds Core for $24.99 / £19.99. These make them cheaper than every single one of our picks for the best gaming earbuds, so they’re very budget-friendly.  

For reference, in our roundup of the greatest gaming earbuds on the market, we recommended the wired Turtle Beach Battle Buds for their cheap price point, and they cost $29.99 / £28, so on cost-factor alone, the Roccat Syn Buds Core are even better. Compared to the pricier 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones, which - at recommended retail price - go for around $199 / £200, these are a fraction of the cost, although tradeoffs in quality can be expected when comparing the Roccat Syn Buds Core to high-end earbuds.

Design and features

Roccat Syn Buds Core leaning on their drawstring bag.

(Image credit: Future)

From the moment you pull your Roccat Syn Buds Core out of the box, you have everything you need for a comfortable and portable experience. As well as three different sizes of silicone ear tips to swap and change as required, the earphones also come with a small, thin fabric drawstring bag to store them. They also come with a short quickstart guide to explain the contents, device compatibility, and technical specifications.

Being a regular drawstring bag, there’s nothing to stop the wires from getting tangled, and the bag itself is plain black with no further design to distinguish the brand. It’s also so thin that I can’t imagine it holding up particularly well as far as wear and tear is concerned, nor should you expect it to offer much protection to the earphones themselves, so don’t expect wonders from it.

As for the earbuds themselves, these boast a lengthy 1.2-meter cable, offering plenty of room for movement and flexibility when in use. The individual buds are ergonomic and designed to stay comfortably in each ear (with left and right markings to indicate which goes where). In my time using them, they remained comfortable even when worn for lengthy periods of time. However, I found that even when swapping the silicone tips to fit my ears better, the earbuds were still quite susceptible to falling out when I was using them during calls and actively speaking. 

The Roccat Syn Buds Core feature inline headset controls with three buttons built into a plastic block on the left earphone wire. These buttons include a ‘multifunction button’ for pausing and playing music on compatible devices, as well as buttons to adjust volume. Unfortunately, these inline controls are incompatible with Nintendo Switch and iOS devices, significantly limiting their functionality. Also included on the inline controls block is a microphone, which is ideal if you plan to be on a call while gaming on a mobile device. 

Otherwise, the earbuds are very lightweight, adding to their comfort factor, despite looking slightly bulky. The inline control block feels sturdy and robust, and the wire passing through it doesn’t rattle or show any risk of becoming disconnected. 


Roccat Syn Buds Core plugged into a white Nintendo Switch OLED model.

(Image credit: Future)

The Roccat Syn Buds Core provide a rich, booming sound (if you want it), not to mention impressive bass, for an overall listening experience which is brilliant given their price. The 10mm drivers really pack a surprising punch - with earphones I’ve used in the past, I usually set my volume to the maximum setting to get a more dynamic listening experience, but the Roccat Syn Buds Core are so powerful that I only had to put them to 70% of the maximum volume for the same impact.

Furthermore, using them while gaming makes in-game action even more immersive, allowing you to hear background music in more detail and sound effects with much greater clarity. 

When playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch, I was able to experience the game’s gorgeous, uptempo soundtrack in greater quality than I ever had before. In my experience, the racing game’s catchy tunes often get lost when playing through the TV or Switch’s speakers, with all the crashes, noisy items and characters hogging the limelight. While these sound effects still ring loud and clear when using the Roccat Syn Buds Core earbuds (and hearing the low hum of engines and smashing of item boxes in such clarity is a truly immersive experience), it’s also much easier to focus on the music.

Meanwhile, the microphone also proved to be surprisingly high-quality - when testing it in an online meeting, my colleagues agreed that I sounded much clearer than usual when using my laptop’s built-in mic. It’s worth noting that in further testing, I found that the mic picks up movement quite loudly, too, so users should be wary not to tap or move it directly when in use.

Due to the inline controls’ limited compatibility, I was forced to test them on an old Android phone. This is frustrating given that the box markets the Roccat Syn Buds Core as “Nintendo Switch ready”, but these consoles aren’t able to use one of the earphones’ main features at all. The volume buttons worked effectively and smoothly, although it consistently took a moment after pressing the multifunction button for music to pause or play.

Should I buy the Roccat Syn Buds Core?

On a budget, there’s no doubt that the Roccat Syn Buds Core boast superb sound quality to suit your gaming needs. However, there’s no getting around the fact that as wired earphones, they’re becoming dated, and fast.

While battery life is never going to be a concern, the overall utility of the Roccat Syn Buds Core is dwindling as less devices include a headphone jack for them to plug into. Additionally, the inline controls’ already-limited compatibility is another nail in the coffin. While you can’t go wrong for the price, they feel like more of a short-term solution to high-quality audio on the go, rather than hardware that can continue to be used well into the future. 

Buy them if...

Don't buy them if...

How we reviewed the Roccat Syn Buds Core

I spent around a week using the Roccat Syn Buds Core to play Nintendo Switch games like the fast-paced racing title Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, as well as music and rhythm games Mush Dash and Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun, where I found them particularly pleasing to use. I also used them on a Windows laptop to listen to music, where they continued to hold up well for long listening sessions.

For more ways to enhance your gaming experience, be sure to take a look at our recommendations for the best wired gaming headsets, as well as the best wireless gaming headsets.

Lego 2K Drive review – One of the best racers ever built
2:13 pm | May 17, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off
Review information

Time played: 15 hours
Platform: PC

Lego 2K Drive may not literally reinvent the wheel but it does build upon it. Equal parts exciting racer and extensive building title, this open world driving game can easily be considered one not just only one of the best Lego games, but one of the best racing games as a whole. With clear inspiration from the likes of Forza Horizon 5 as well as Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed, the sum of its parts come together to be the best new kart racer in years. 

Set across the expansive Bricklandia, you play as the next big thing in the Lego racing scene. Guided by Clutch Racington (yes, seriously), you drive across the roads, hills and even rivers, meeting and beating new rivals, and building all manner of vehicles in pursuit of first-place glory. It’s a simple premise, but one that’s done justice by Lego’s typical irreverence, with a wry presentation that largely follows in the wake of the popular Lego Movie duology from a number of years ago.  

Lego 2K Drive price and release date 

Now you see me 

Lego 2K Drive

(Image credit: 2K)

Lego 2K Drive’s most exciting part is how mechanically solid plowing through the game’s biomes feels. Whether you’re going off-road in the rocky expanses of Big Butte County, cruising down the cascading lakes of Hauntsborough, or rushing through the bustling streets of Prospecto Valley, how you get around is unlike any other racing game of its type. That’s because vehicles can transform to suit their environment. With the press of LB / L1 on your controller, your mode of transport becomes one of three different machines based on street, off-road, and water. 

That’s because your Lego racer has a loadout of all three. Whilst cruising and drifting on slick city streets, a finely tuned performance car is going to handle best, but could struggle when taking things off the beaten track. What seems like a neat gimmick at first quickly becomes part of the central gameplay loop if you want to actually get anywhere in this game both metaphorically and physically. 

Also armed with the ability to jump, boost, quick-turn and drift, the manual transformation of your vehicles adds a new dimension to exploration and racing. These transformations turn what would have otherwise been a pretty standard kart racer into something truly its own. One second you’ll be taking a sharp bend on Vessel Run or Cat Scratch Freeway, looking like you’re about to plummet off course, before a carefully timed jump and change to an offroad vehicle can help you regain momentum. Another moment could see a frantic boat race on the raging rapids of Swampus switch up a gear by strategically ramping off rocks for added height to boost from as you soar above your water-bound rivals. 

A car becomes a boat in Lego 2K Drive

(Image credit: 2K)

It's a rewarding core loop that satisfies regardless of whether you’re competing in one of the detailed races, or just driving around and killing time. The extent of the vehicle transformations combined with open-world traversal is something I haven’t experienced with the likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, or even Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed’s track-to-track format. Races are consistently entertaining, with set pieces happening all around you as you and seven other plastic motorists collide as displaced Lego bricks fly everywhere.

As expected from an open-world racing game, there’s a tonne of things to do in these distinct biome areas other than race, though some are clearly more thought out than others. The open-world experience is segmented by a leveling system. You gain experience points and cash as you complete tasks which can range from quests to minigames that pop up as and when. Quests are generally short but sweet and can range from retrieving lost dolphins near a waterfall to seeing how many sick jumps you can make on a quad bike in 60 seconds. Unfortunately, the minigames don’t offer the same novelty and get old pretty quickly. There are two archetypes that you’ll play through: escort and defense. While fine at first, these missions quickly overstay their welcome, offering repetitive gameplay that fails to capitalize on Lego 2K Drive’s otherwise exciting systems.

Build it up 

Building in Lego 2K Drive

(Image credit: 2K)

Lego 2K Drive isn’t just a racer; it’s a builder. The Garage is where you can build new street, off-road, or water vehicles, as well as customize existing ones. It’s an incredibly robust and detailed system giving you free rein to construct just about any vehicle you want. Once you pick your basic chassis, you’ll then be introduced to a blisteringly vast library of Lego bricks with which you can design your ride of choice.

There’s an entire catalog of detailed tutorials which walk you through how to construct lovely-looking cars and boats in an instruction manual format. Much like with LittleBigPlanet Karting or Modnation Racers before it, These tools are an awesome addition, but not a feature that I found myself going out of my way for. Tweaking existing vehicles was something that I found more enjoyable, like giving my hard-won McLaren Solus GT a fresh splash of paint and some much-needed stat adjustments. 

What I’m much less keen on is Unkie’s Emporium which serves as an in-game storefront to spend all your Lego Brickbux. It comes down to the fact that you earn a comparatively small amount of money after every race won or quest completed, meaning that it’s going to take you a lot of grinding if you’re pining for a new vehicle, racer, or accessory for your ride. In my time with Lego 2K Drive, I was barely able to scrounge up 4,000 Brickbux, which paled in comparison to the price tags of the Beach Runner, Go Kart, or Zombie Smasher Roadster which all land between 10,000 - 14,000 units of the virtual currency. 

Those are some of the cheapest pre-built sets, too. Some bundles can run as high as 22,400 Brickbux, and many designs are locked behind the Drive Pass, which is similar to how free-to-play games like Fortnite do business. For a game that’s base edition costs $69.99 / £59.99 / AU$149.95, it stings to see the full suite of customization options hidden behind paywalls. 

Catch me if you can 

A Lego McLaren in Lego 2K Drive

(Image credit: 2K)

What I was pleasantly surprised by is just how challenging the races themselves would become as the campaign progressed. Similar to how the Mario Kart series measures speed and intensity from 50cc and up, Lego 2K Drive uses a Class system of C, B, and A to determine the speed and difficulty of a given race. 

As you start to rise through the ranks, you’ll quickly see your fellow Lego racers using shortcuts, utilizing power-ups effectively, and undercutting you on tight turns. The enemy A.I. is impressive and really makes you work for those wins. It’s a massive improvement on the tournament setups from the likes of Mario Kart 8, and all the better for it.

Microtransactions aside, Lego 2K Drive is the best thing to happen to the kart racing genre in well over a decade. No matter how many races I’ve won, or the destruction I’ve caused, I find myself forever drawn back to the tight mechanics and wholesome setting. If you’ve been looking for something different to your standard racing sim or arcade title, or for a game to use one of the best racing wheels on then you’ll find it here.