Gadget news
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.

Synced review – number crunching
5:43 pm | September 18, 2023

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

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S
Release date: September 8, 2023 

SYNCED stands apart as a uniquely lopsided proposition in the free-to-play space. On the one hand, NExT Studios has managed to craft a startlingly high-quality PvE shooter with an engaging upgrade loop and a novel roguelike mod system that will have you coming back time and time again. On the other, all of this co-op goodness has been inexplicably paired with a mundane battle royale that suffers from poorly balanced design and a muddled overall structure. 

The disappointing PvP component is almost entirely distinct, however, so doesn’t detract from the excellent co-op, but does make the overall package harder to wholeheartedly recommend. If you’re looking for a solid free alternative to the likes of Back 4 Blood or World War Z to enjoy with a thrifty group of friends, SYNCED’s co-op mode will certainly do the trick - just don’t expect to give up Fortnite as you rush to make it your go-to battle royale any time soon. 

Sync or swim 


(Image credit: Level Infinite)

The action is set in a distant future where the evil Shinar corporation (a name so close to Shinra that it makes me wonder if someone’s been copying Final Fantasy 7’s homework) has managed to bring about the collapse of civilization with its rogue nanomachine technology. 

You play as a Runner, one of the few survivors who is brave enough to venture into the Meridian - a perilous wasteland filled with swarms of deadly robots called Nanos. Your goal in excursions into Meridian is primarily to kill Nanos and scoop up lots of glowing blue Nerva (a valuable energy source that’s being used to power what’s left of human society) to bring back to your camp.

As you can probably tell, the plot is reliant on a frankly absurd number of proper nouns that are deployed with almost alarming frequency. It’s by no means the most easy to follow narrative on the planet, but the frequent cutscenes do introduce some much-needed variety to what would otherwise be a series of back-to-back online matches.

These matches are split into two distinct game modes: PvE Dead Sector Runs and PvP Nerva Runs. The two modes feel markedly different but do share some underlying core mechanics. Both allow you to absorb (or sync) defeated Prime Nanos - roaming minibosses that can then be unleashed to fight by your side. There are four types of Prime Nano to choose from, each smartly designed and offering their own unique approach to combat. 

The Guardian, for example, carries a huge defensive shield that can help protect your team against incoming fire while the Crusher lives up to its name by effortlessly plowing through hordes of enemies. Each Nano also grants you a unique movement ability, including a fantastic super-powered jump that feels pleasantly reminiscent of the strong traversal in series like Infamous

The roster of Prime Nanos pairs well with the selection of available Runners, who each boast their own special abilities including an invisibility cloak and radar vision. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but experimenting with new Runner and Nano combinations adds some pleasant variety.

 In two minds 


(Image credit: Level Infinite)

Of the modes on offer, I found that Dead Sector Runs were by far the most enjoyable. They are a series of PvE story missions centered around uncovering the sinister secrets concealed by Shinar in the build-up to the collapse. It feels like something straight out of any of the best horde shooters - dropping your team into an environment filled with waves of robots that need to be culled in order to progress. 

In addition to a smattering of Nerva, every slain foe drops Radia - a temporary currency that only lasts for the duration of your current run. Radia is spent on upgrading the power of your current weapons and unlocking one of two randomly selected mods. While the shooting is all mechanically solid, with fluid animations and a robust sense of feedback, mods are really where the combat comes into its own. 

Some are small, offering basic buffs to stats like health or attack strength, while others introduce whole new mechanics like the ability to spawn decoys or ricochet bullets between enemies. There is a seemingly endless number to choose from and, most importantly, they can all be upgraded and combined in interesting ways. This opens the door to a huge amount of strategy as you carefully try to craft the perfect combination. It can feel slightly too reliant on luck at times, but when it does all come together the results are incredible. In one particularly memorable run, I bought a series of weapon knockback upgrades leading to a hilarious situation where I could use a fast-firing SMG to send whole groups of enemies flying around the environment like some kind of deadly robot confetti.

All of these upgrades are vital for success against the mission’s final boss, a challenging gauntlet designed to put your combat skills to the test. They’re mostly just big bullet sponges with powerful attacks, but there are some novel gimmicks thrown in here and there to keep things fresh.

Best bit:


(Image credit: Level Infinite)

There are a smattering of more open-world Dead Sector Runs that allow you to explore huge environments freely while collecting upgrades. It’s a delightful change of pace. 

 Your haul of accumulated Nerva can then be spent on permanent upgrades back at base, including a selection of starting mods and more powerful weapons. Despite being mostly centered around increasing your overall power level, a numeric measure of the power of your starting mods, the whole loop feels extremely rewarding with plenty of significant unlocks to keep you going. 

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Dead Sector Runs can be enjoyed solo or as a pair. The overall difficulty adjusts depending on the size of your team, a clever inclusion that also means you're not heavily punished if someone disconnects halfway through a match.

Unfortunately, the Nerva Runs are far less enjoyable. A strange take on the battle royale formula that brings in elements of extraction shooters and territory control modes, your main objective is to loot gear and gain Nerva by capturing marked points on the map. Hordes of Nanos are still present, as is the same Radia upgrade system, but it all seems a little out of place in a PvP context. Railing against AI enemies with random overpowered abilities is one thing, but it feels incredibly unfair to find yourself eviscerated by a rival player who just happened to roll better mods. 

Add in a pricey battle pass, multiple premium currencies, a gacha system, not to mention the ability to buy some Runners directly with cash (which could potentially put paid players at an advantage) and there’s little here to make SYNCED’s PvP component more appealing than its strong competition in the battle royale genre. 

Accessibility features

SYNED accessibility menu

(Image credit: Level Infinite)

The accessibility options in SYNCED are fairly basic. Subtitles are enabled by default (for both cutscenes and in-game radio transmissions). Controllers are supported on PC and you also have the option to switch a number of actions that are commonly associated with holding down keys (like crouching or aiming down sights) to a toggle. 

How we reviewed 

I played more than 20 hours of SYNCED on PC and managed to complete most of the co-op Dead Sector Runs either solo or as part of a team. I also spent several hours getting to grips with the PvP mode, Nerva Run, where I experimented with as many weapons and abilities as I could get my hands on. 

Our list of the best co-op games will offer you unmissable multiplayer experiences, as will our list of the best multiplayer games on PC, but if you're looking for something to suit a solo experience, then it's worth checking out the best single-player games

Sea of Stars review – a traditional RPG with modern wit
5:33 pm | August 28, 2023

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

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC
Release date: August 29, 2023

As the heroes of Sea of Stars, Valere, and Zale, squared up to do battle against a giant worm, a tense beat began to play, before slowly opening into a dramatic score. The way the game’s first boss fight played out followed suit, in a way, with Sea of Stars’ first giant enemy (an enormous worm) smashing the sides of the arena all while the encounter continually escalated. After a fierce back and forth with more than a few close calls, the worm perished in a dramatic and cathartic animation. The battle was won, and I felt great. 

This is the magic at the heart of Sea of Stars. This indie RPG from Sabotage Studio faithfully recreates the thrill of classic turn-based battles that define the best JRPGs while elevating itself through the use of modern genre-blending design principles.

Sea of Stars is all about adventure, offering stunning pixel art visuals, diverse locales, and a simple yet engaging plot. However, Sabotage’s latest RPG is more than just an homage to the classic, early installations of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. With Sea of Stars, Sabotage has taken a holistic approach to design, making the game world feel broad, grounded, and cohesive.

Sea of Stars’ writing has a cheeky irreverence reminiscent of indie classic Undertale

Background NPCs have dialogue that makes sense and is consistent with the world, while even small towns have areas you can explore if you’re inclined to go searching for hidden treasure. NPCs also have custom animations to help underscore their quirks, reinforced by character ‘voices’, which are captured by contrasting text sounds for different speakers. There’s even a fishing minigame. These little details add up to give Sea of Stars a depth that exceeds the sum of its parts. 

What’s more, Sea of Stars’ writing has a modern twist, with some cheeky irreverence reminiscent of indie classic Undertale sprinkled in. Characters might make little nods to the tropes that bind the world together, or, in the case of one particular pirate, almost break the fourth wall entirely. This sense of self-awareness keeps the game fresh, offering Sea of Stars a momentum that carries it through its weaker moments. 

A matter of timing

Zale, Valere and Garl battle The Elder Mist

(Image credit: Sabotage)

Beneath its pixelated veneer, Sea of Stars is a surprisingly innovative title, daring to conflate genres in its attempt to build something novel. Though combat is turn-based, the game rewards you for some good timing whenever your character attacks or receives damage. Time a button press right, and you’ll get an offensive or defensive bonus. This little quirk adds an element of tension and excitement to even the most routine of battles.

Character skills also follow suit, requiring you to press buttons when prompted, or hold down buttons and release them at the right moment. In isolation, they amount to very simple mini-games, but, in the context of the game’s battles, they enable you to learn and grow alongside the characters. So, as Valere levels up, so too does your ability to get the timing right on her Moonerang attack. 

Best bit

The party move through the overworld past an immense sleeping dragon

(Image credit: Sabotage)

Our heroes descended into a valley, passing a giant dragon called ‘The Sleeper”. Seeing the dozy titan up close brought me into the world of Sea of Stars in a big way, hinting at a whole universe of myth and potential - all while proving that sprites can be just as awe-inspiring as polygons. 

Combat in Sea of Stars offers a satisfying depth that is made apparent by the game’s approach to regular attacks. Hit someone with a normal attack and you’ll not only recover MP, your spellcasting resource, but you’ll also generate Live Mana, which can be used to Boost characters when they use skills and attacks in battle. Reminiscent of the excellent action economy in Octopath Traveller 2, boosting makes your character more effective, while also imbuing their basic attacks with the character’s signature element.

This latter is vital for dealing with 'Locks', a system whereby powerful attacks from enemies can be weakened or even prevented by hitting them with the right combination of damage types in a given time window. Sea of Stars transparently counts down to every foe’s next move, allowing you to spend your turn wisely and plan accordingly. In keeping with the best traditions of the turn-based RPG, Sea of Stars’ battles feel like dramatic, fast-paced puzzles, challenging players to find efficient solutions to increasingly complex threats.  

That said, a lack of character customization is conspicuous. When characters level up, you can select which stats to increase, but the choice of skills and abilities available to each party member is determined by story beats, rather than player decisions. Though this grants each character a more distinctive set of actions that reinforces their role in the story, it does detract from player agency in a way that had me missing Bravely Default 2’s job system.  

Will it blend? 

the party look out over a cliffisde

(Image credit: Sabotage)

Every other facet of Sea of Stars attempts to blur genre divides, borrowing techniques from across the rich tapestry of modern games to create something novel and refreshing. 

Not only does Sea of Stars place a greater emphasis on traversal than most JRPGs, but the game’s dungeons also borrow from the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom by allowing the player to acquire items that let them interact with the world in new and interesting ways. A grappling hook you find in a necromancer’s lair is a particular gem: it not only allows you to solve the dungeon’s own puzzles but also gives you a tool with which to gain the upper hand over enemies in combat.

The story, too, borrows from outside of the established JRPG toolbox. While the narrative’s bare bones follow the traditional “chosen heroes go off to defeat a great evil” mold, Sea of Stars offers twists that alter the flavor just enough to keep it interesting. Early on in the story, serious and superpowered Solstice Warriors Valere and Zale are joined by Garl, a wholesome young man who loves cooking, meeting new people, and looking out for his friends. 

Having a non-magical party member early on helps place the epic struggle of the Solstice Warriors in a wider context

Seemingly transplanted from Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing: New Horizons Garl’s wholesomeness adds a much-needed counterbalance to Valere and Zale’s stoic determination. Having a non-magical party member early on helps place the epic struggle of the Solstice Warriors in a wider context by allowing us to view their quests through the eyes of an average Joe, all while humanizing the whole affair with Garl’s good-natured gentleness.  

A pirate troupe perform for an inn that's fallen on hard times in Sea of Stars

(Image credit: Sabotage)

Much like Undertale, Sea of Stars isn’t afraid to draw on tropes when needed, skillfully discarding them once they lose their luster. For instance, at one point in the tale, you encounter a group of charming, fourth-wall-breaking pirates. Though initially presented as a comedic interlude, they swiftly gain depth as they’re transplanted from a wholesome trading port to a tavern on a haunted island. In this new context, their irreverent comedy takes a whole new tone, as they take to the stage to lift the locals’ spirits. What was once played for laughs is now used to make a comparatively serious point about hope in dark places. The grief-ridden patrons of the tavern are distracted from their woes, if only for a moment, by these zany pirates. Sea of Stars is full of these moments of theatrical contrast and is all the stronger for it. 

This sense of theater is consistent across the entirety of Sea of Stars. Every story beat is tinged with JRPG melodrama but never feels imprisoned by it, allowing the game to occasionally blur genres and move beyond the established JRPG formula. Though the relatively flat main protagonists and lack of customization options do stifle the game’s flair, Sea of Stars remains an enchanting adventure that will please old-school RPG fans as well as those looking for a cozy adventure.  


Sea of Stars accessibility relics menu

(Image credit: Sabotage)

Though Sea of Stars doesn’t offer support for colorblind players or those with other visual impairments, the title does offer numerous ways of tweaking the core game experience to make its combat accessible to a range of players. Much like Final Fantasy 16, Sea of Stars offers players Relics which allows them to customize elements of the game difficulty. Some soften or even remove quick-time elements, while others heal the party between engagements, allowing players to tailor their experience to better suit their preferences. 

How we reviewed Sea of Stars 

I played 10 hours of Sea of Stars making my way through a range of boss encounters, dungeons, puzzles, and a sizable chunk of the story. I played the game on PC with a Dualsense PS5 controller, which handled smoothly.

During my time with the game, I sampled the fishing mini-game as well as Wheels, an in-universe strategy game reminiscent of Gwent or Triple Triad. I also spent time experimenting with different party compositions and battle strategies.  

Looking for more great games? Our list of the best PS5 games and our round-ups of the best Xbox Series X games and best Nintendo Switch games will tell you exactly which titles offer the most bang for your buck.

Turtle Beach Recon Controller review – the most robust voice chat experience on Xbox Series X
7:14 pm | August 21, 2023

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

The Turtle Beach Recon Controller is primarily designed with online players in mind. Whether you’re looking for a wide range of equalizer settings to boost the audio performance of the best gaming headsets, or need loud-and-clear team communication in multiplayer environments like Fortnite or Final Fantasy 14 Online, the Turtle Beach Recon was made for players like you.

The gamepad isn’t our top pick for voice chat in our best Xbox controllers guide for nothing. You will need at least a mid-range headset to get the most out of the Turtle Beach Recon, but you’ll be well-served with a plethora of audio settings, including those aforementioned EQ profiles and Turtle Beach’s own Superhuman enhanced audio, which really hones in on voice chat clarity.

But it’s no gimmick, as the Turtle Beach Recon Controller is a competent gamepad in its own right. The play experience is bolstered by excellent build quality, and some particularly tactile face buttons, sticks and triggers. In its totality, you’re getting a product that’s remarkably affordable for its rich feature set and competent design.

Turtle Beach Recon Controller: price and availability

The Turtle Beach Recon Controller is available to buy now for $59.95 / £49.99 / AU$99.95, either from the manufacturer’s own website, as well as large online retailers including Amazon, Game and Best Buy. Do keep in mind that the controller is designed for Xbox Series X|S and PC, meaning PS5 players will need to look elsewhere as there’s unfortunately no Sony version of the gamepad. 

Turtle Beach Recon Controller: design and features

Turtle Beach Recon Controller

(Image credit: Future)

The Turtle Beach Recon looks the part of the Xbox Wireless Controller with a strikingly similar form factor. But there’s some key differences that separate and in some ways elevate it above Microsoft’s pack-in gamepad. 

While build quality isn’t quite as premium as Microsoft’s, it’s nevertheless a solidly built controller that doesn’t really have any outstanding weaknesses in terms of its design. Its textured grips, triggers, bumpers and back buttons all drive that home even further, creating a feel that’s both comfortable and resistant to slipping. In other words, perfect for a gamepad that prioritizes hassle-free online play.

There’s dedicated space at the top of the controller – just above the Xbox Home button – for all its audio profile features and settings. It’s a bit busy here, and first-time users may find the layout to be a touch overwhelming, but it doesn’t take too long to acclimatize to the setup.

Bookending either side of the Turtle Beach Recon Controller’s on-board audio controls are headset and voice chat volume controls. Between them, there’s a dedicated mic mute button, EQ selection and a toggle for Turtle Beach’s Superhuman audio setting. It’s a fairly basic setup once you’re used to it, and you’ll likely find it to be a highly convenient set of on-board functions, eliminating the need to open your console or PC’s volume control centers separately.

Turtle Beach Recon Controller: performance

Turtle Beach Recon Controller

(Image credit: Future)

The Turtle Beach Recon Controller impresses on the fundamentals. Its face buttons, triggers and sticks all feel nice to press and move about; a necessity for a multiplayer-focused gamepad, and thankfully the manufacturer has understood the assignment here. Overall feel reminds me of the 8BitDo Ultimate in that modules are tactile, and feature a short travel time which helps to reduce input delay. The addition of trigger locks would’ve been nice, but what’s here more than gets the job done for online play.

Where the Recon sets itself apart from other pads is, as mentioned, that on-board audio control. These all feel similarly responsive, with volume controls and the mic mute button doing exactly what they say on the tin. The EQ presets are all functional, too. There’s a default setting if you’re happy with a more generalized audio profile, however, there are also options for heavier bass, or a focus on distant sounds such as footsteps and vehicles. That’s especially handy for shooters like PUBG Battlegrounds and Warzone, wherein spatial awareness is often key to success.

The two big surprises for me, though, include the togglable Pro Aim setting. This will automatically tune your analog stick sensitivity to help improve accuracy in the best FPS games. It’s simple, but an effective way to manage finer aiming without needing to delve into your game’s sensitivity settings. Take PUBG Battlegrounds, where sniping from hundreds of meters away is a common method of scoring kills. I found that the togglable Pro Aim helped me to focus more effectively on distant targets.

Lastly, the Superhuman audio toggle on the Recon deserves special mention. In essence, this helps to add clarity to voice chat, and it works phenomenally well. During a Fortnite play session, toggling the setting on and off created a clear difference in clarity by sharpening the chat audio profile, and it helps to quieten background sounds. It’s a must-enable option if you’re playing a title that requires clear, careful communication between team members. 

Should I buy the Turtle Beach Recon Controller?

Turtle Beach Recon Controller

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we reviewed the Turtle Beach Recon Controller

Given that the Turtle Beach Recon Controller is designed around online play and communication, we primarily tested the gamepad in a variety of multiplayer scenarios. We found it to be especially useful in games that required clear communication, such as Final Fantasy 14’s various raids and trials, as well as sessions of Fortnite to discuss our plans for each game, where we were headed and callouts for enemy players and loot. 

Interested in more of the best Xbox controllers? Consider checking out our expertly tested reviews for the Victrix Gambit and PowerA Fusion Pro 3 gamepads.

PDP Afterglow Wave review – an RGB novelty that misses several marks
6:38 pm | August 18, 2023

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

The PDP Afterglow Wave sets a mighty fine first impression, at least out of the box. Boot up your console with the gamepad plugged in via USB-C and you’ll be treated to a lovely RGB lighting effect that cascades down the grips, and lights up the surroundings of each analog stick. It’s certainly an eye-catching pad, and one that would suit RGB heavy gaming setups.

Unfortunately, all other aspects of the Afterglow Wave can’t match its lovely lighting. Overall, the controller has a cheap, almost tacky feel to it. This is especially apparent in the analog sticks, bumpers, face buttons, and triggers which all feel frustratingly stiff and below the level of quality you should expect. The two programmable back buttons do salvage things somewhat, however, feeling nicely tactile. Additionally, the circular D-pad design is a welcome touch.

Still, there is an argument to be made in favor of the Afterglow Wave in that of its welcomely affordable sticker price. But, the same can be said for some of the best Xbox controllers, including the 8BitDo Pro 2 and HyperX Clutch Gladiate, which sit around the same price point and perform much better overall which leaves this one with precious little to say for itself.

PDP Afterglow Wave - price and availability

The PDP Afterglow Wave is available to buy right now, for $44.99 / £34.99 / AU$69. The gamepad is purchasable from PDP’s official website, as well as big box retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Gamestop. If you’re not keen on the default black colorway, then white and gray options are also available should you prefer. 

PDP Afterglow Wave - design and features

PDP Afterglow Wave

(Image credit: Future)

The most eye-catching design element of the PDP Afterglow Wave is certainly its RGB lighting, which is some of the best I’ve seen for an Xbox Series X|S controller. I love the cascading light trail that slides down the sides of the controller’s grips, and the ring of RGB around both analog sticks is an equally nice touch. Even better, you can fully customize your lighting profile, including colors, patterns and speed, via the PDP Control Hub app if you’re playing on PC.

It’s a crying shame, then, that the rest of the controller’s features don’t match up in terms of quality. The Afterglow Wave’s build feels fairly cheap, which may be expected for a budget pad. However, the 8BitDo Pro 2 proves that you can have high build quality and affordability both. The Afterglow Wave’s RGB lighting is doing some extra heavy lifting here, but overall I would have preferred even slightly better build quality.

As for ancillary features, the Afterglow Wave does feel complete with a 3.5mm headphone jack, a dedicated mic mute button and two additional back paddle buttons, which can be assigned to an input of your choosing via the PDP Control Hub app, wherein you’re able to set multiple button profiles, too.

PDP Afterglow Wave - performance

PDP Afterglow Wave

(Image credit: Future)

Being a wired only controller, you can expect minimal input lag when using the PDP Afterglow Wave, which is always nice. Wireless functionality would of course have been welcome, but that is a rarity at this price point. The included USB-C cable is at least of a decent length (10ft), so you should have no trouble sitting comfortably during play.

The controller’s modules are underwhelming overall. Almost every module on the controller, including sticks, bumpers and triggers, all feel unnaturally stiff. They offer slightly more resistance than what I’m used to, especially compared to the pack-in Xbox Wireless Controller and the manufacturer’s own Victrix Gambit. This proved to be an issue in racers like Forza Horizon 5, and shooters including Halo Infinite, where trigger management is especially important.

The one saving grace here is those competent back paddle buttons, both of which feel nicely tactile and satisfying to press. I found myself assigning frequent inputs to these buttons, such as accessing secondary hotbars in Final Fantasy 14 Online, and felt like this was something the Afterglow Wave handled very well. It’s just a shame the rest of the controller’s modules don’t share that level of quality. 

Should I buy the PDP Afterglow Wave?

PDP Afterglow Wave

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we reviewed the PDP Afterglow Wave

We tested the PDP Afterglow Wave over the course of about a week, making sure to play a variety of titles across Xbox Series X and PC. While we rate the aesthetics of the controller, what was most important was testing its overall performance, which was overall quite underwhelming no matter the title we tested it with. 

Interested in more Xbox hardware? Have a read of our best Xbox Series X accessories and best Xbox Game Pass streaming accessories guides to upgrade your experience on Microsoft's current-gen systems.

Backbone One PlayStation Edition review – a fine mobile controller that’s strangely better for Xbox
6:08 pm | June 2, 2023

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

The Backbone One PlayStation Edition is an officially licensed mobile controller, of which there are both iOS and Android variants. At surface level, it’s a perfectly fine mobile gamepad. Build quality is mostly great, and the USB-C port means your phone will remain locked in firmly during play.

It helps that the Backbone app is fairly robust and easy to navigate, allowing you to quickly select go-to apps like PS Remote Play and Xbox Game Pass. However, while bearing the PlayStation button layout, it’s not a particularly great fit for PS5 owners. It’ll do the job during remote play sessions, with impressively low input lag, but I found it to be a much better fit for Xbox Series X|S players, like many of the best Xbox Game Pass streaming accessories, due to one key oversight.

While the DualSense and DualShock 4 bear a central touchpad that’s easy to access, that’s not so much the case for the Backbone One PlayStation Edition. During remote play, you’ll need to double-tap your phone’s screen in order to activate touchpad input. That might not sound too terrible, but reaching a thumb over to the center of your phone’s screen quickly becomes irksome.

Overall, though, despite the touchpad issue and some generally awkward button placement, the Backbone One PlayStation Edition is a solid choice if you’re looking for a relatively affordable mobile gaming controller.

Backbone One PlayStation Edition: price and availability

The Backbone One PlayStation Edition is available now from Backbone’s official store page, in both iOS and Android variants. Both are priced equally at $99.99 / £99.99 / AU$179. Additionally, purchasing the Backbone One from the company directly will net you a three-month Discord Nitro subscription and a one-month Apple Arcade subscription for new customers. 

Backbone One PlayStation Edition: design 

Backbone One

(Image credit: Future)

The Backbone One PlayStation Edition pleases right out of the box. The sleek, matte white finish matches the default colorway of the PS5 and DualSense wireless controller. The pad rests comfortably in your hands while the triggers, analog sticks, and face buttons are all of satisfyingly high quality. 

The same can’t be said for the Backbone One’s D-pad, however, which feels slightly loose and listless. Still, that’s a small blemish on an overall tight design. A larger issue is the placement of the Backbone One’s ancillary buttons. Menu, screenshot, and sharing buttons (along with the shortcut button to the Backbone app) are all awkwardly placed quite far down either side of the controller. On the left side especially, you’ll need to move your thumb a significant distance away from the analog stick, which never feels quite right.

The Backbone One PlayStation Edition also lacks a dedicated central touchpad button. However, the functionality is there; you’ll just need to double-tap your phone’s screen during gameplay. I found this to be incredibly awkward. Having to strain my thumb every time I want to open a map or inventory makes playing games like Horizon Forbidden West and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart a significant chore compared to on console.

This isn’t an issue for Xbox Game Pass games via Xbox Cloud Gaming, which makes the Backbone One PlayStation Edition, ironically, a better fit for Microsoft’s subscription service. Separate touchpad buttons on, say, the rear of the controller, would’ve been a welcome addition, too.

Rounding out the controller’s design aspects are a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB-C port. Both are great to have, and the latter means you can charge your phone while playing.

Backbone One PlayStation Edition: performance

Backbone One

(Image credit: Future)

As hinted above, the Backbone One PlayStation Edition performs solidly, with impressively little input lag during both cloud streaming and remote play. To an extent, your mileage here will vary based on the strength of your internet connection (remote play also requires Wi-Fi) but the overall experience was surprisingly smooth. 

Naturally, there will be a degree of input delay when streaming games to your phone, and I won’t say the experience is entirely seamless. I did struggle to swiftly input more complex button inputs in Street Fighter 6, for example, when played via PS Remote Play. But for games that require relatively fewer inputs like Gran Turismo 7, or Stardew Valley, you’ll get a perfectly serviceable play session when you’re handheld with the Backbone One PlayStation Edition. 

Should you buy the Backbone One PlayStation Edition?

Backbone One

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You’re not on a budget
The Backbone One won’t break the bank at the sub $100 / £100 mark.

You’re after versatility
The controller’s Backbone app provides shortcuts to Xbox Game Pass, PS Remote Play, and controller-supporting Apple Store or Google Play titles.

Don't buy it if...

The touchpad functionality puts you off
Using the Backbone One for PS Remote Play is tricky, largely thanks to the double-tap touchpad setup.

You’d prefer a more feature-rich controller
The Backbone One simply does what it says on the tin and little else. The Backbone app is nice for accessing shortcuts, but the device isn’t particularly customizable.

How we tested

I tested the Backbone One PlayStation Edition with my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to play a variety of games across PS5 Remote Play, Xbox Game Pass, and Google Play over the course of a couple of weeks.

Games tested were across a variety of genres and size, from smaller indies like Hollow Knight and Stardew Valley, to larger-scale titles like Gran Turismo 7, Halo Infinite and Final Fantasy 14 Online.

System Shock review: a SHODAN showdown
7:12 pm | May 30, 2023

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Review information

Time played: 15 hours
Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC 

System Shock feels like a homecoming. You can draw a clear line of inspiration from the 1994 first-person adventure game to immersive sims like 2000’s Deus Ex, 2007’s Bioshock, and 2017’s Prey. But it all started here, a battle of wills between a hacker and a rogue AI.

That’s the history lesson. Remake developers Nightdive Studios have made an entire career out of treating gaming history with reverence, and System Shock is no different. It’s a celebration of everything that made the original so great, blending in some of the parts from 1999’s System Shock 2. However, a few systems feel long in the tooth and might hinder the enjoyment of people coming to the game for the first time. 

The biggest improvement in this remake is System Shock’s aesthetic. First, you’re in an apartment littered with trash-tier future tech, cyberpunk detritus that betrays the dystopian universe of System Shock. This grim future continues on Citadel Station, a space station full of a thousand twinkling lights, of neon flaring through dark corridors filled with the grumble and moan of cyborgs. 

Look at you, hacker

System Shock remake

(Image credit: Prime Matter)

System Shock is working on a budget and occasionally you’ll see this with some low-quality textures, supposedly by design to capture the original’s vibe. Many players might see this as cut corners, but the style and presentation throughout the game is always consistent. Wherever you are on Citadel Station, you’ll feel the same way: the future is here, and it’s awful. While later areas look much fancier, there’s still a layer of grime on everything. 

The story sticks close to the original. Decades of jokes and references have made it nearly impossible to hide the reveal of evil AI SHODAN, but such was the impact of System Shock and evil AI movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey that just hearing the name SHODAN makes you realize what’s up. 

Sadly, characters in System Shock aren’t so genre savvy. The game kicks off by having your character - known as the Hacker - remove SHODAN’s ethical restrictions. Six months later, you get to reap what you’ve sown, rattling around Citadel Station to try and stop SHODAN’s reign of terror.

The game doesn’t do a lot differently. This isn’t a remake like Final Fantasy 7 or Resident Evil 2 where the original game is a jumping-off point for adventures in the same world.

System Shock remake

(Image credit: Prime Matter)

This is a retelling of the same yarn, and not only were several areas of Citadel Station easily recognizable, but several enemies were located in the same spot. Walking up to the first locked door, I entered the now-legendary 451 code (once the door code of original System Shock developers Looking Glass Studios and now an immersive sim staple) and the door slowly opened. 

This is very much a retread of that first game, albeit fleshed out in a lot of places. While the original game was more menu than game, with the huge UI taking up most of the screen while you observe the action astronaut style through a little window - here Nightdive has offered up something that, in play, feels a lot more like the 1999 sequel System Shock 2

Luckily, the story being largely the same shape means you’re spending most of your time going toe to toe with SHODAN, and this buoys the entire game because boy, SHODAN is a hell of a villain. Original voice actor Terri Brosius returns and is often terrifying, with every line delivered with phenomenal contempt. This venom, the fact SHODAN does not like you, makes it feel personal and drives you through the campaign out of sheer bloody-mindedness. 


System Shock remake

(Image credit: Prime Matter)

It’s a long time before you can deliver any real harm or discomfort toward SHODAN but until then you’ll be waging war on the robots, mutants, and security systems of Citadel Station. Combat is a little clunky throughout, however. 

The early wrench provides terrifying fights as you try to dance around your enemies, but there’s a wide assortment of weaponry in the game and all of it feels slightly clumsy while the game rations ammo out so that every missed shot is felt as if you had turned the gun on yourself instead. Compared to more recent shooters, the flow of combat feels off somehow, and while immersive sim fans will likely enjoy it, those coming here hoping for the white-hot adrenaline rush of proper firefights will be left wanting.

...the world design, writing, and sense of style still impress.

The slightly unwieldy nature of the guns and movement helps to sell the survival-horror atmosphere, something System Shock flirts with but never fully adopts. At least that is until you get a game over screen and you’re treated to a short video of you being turned into a cyborg or bolted to another robot to help act out SHODAN’s evil plans. 

Still, death is actually one of the biggest irritations with System Shock. Checkpointing is inconsistent and at one point during my playthrough, I lost an hour of progress because I hadn’t been saving manually and was sent back to the last big story beat.

This error is mostly my fault because I am a big idiot, but it still grated in a world where most games throw autosaves and checkpoints at you to ensure you’re not having to retread areas several times. Even System Shock’s substantial charm diminishes when you have to replay an area after a hulking mech blows your arms off for the third time in a row. 

For digital tourists hoping to spelunk the depths of video game classics after experiencing the many many spiritual successors inspired by the original game, System Shock might feel old hat. However, despite the slightly aged systems - no longer offering the wow factor of the 1994 release - the world design, writing, and sense of style still impress. This is a worthy update and the best way to revisit one of gaming’s very best doomed space stations. 

HyperX Clutch Gladiate review – A David among Goliaths
1:15 pm | March 27, 2023

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

The HyperX Clutch Gladiate is a seriously impressive controller for its price. Not only does it offer ‘Pro’ controller adjacent features like back paddle buttons and hair trigger locks, but it also boasts surprisingly good build quality with comfy textured grips and satisfyingly tactile buttons and sticks.

HyperX Clutch Gladiate’s low price makes it a more affordable Xbox Series X controller than the likes of the Nacon Revolution X Pro and the 8BitDo Pro 2 wired controller. If you’re on a strict budget, I highly recommend the HyperX Clutch Gladiate.

The gamepad only has a couple of drawbacks, though one is significant. The controller’s D-pad is on the basic side, lacking texture, making it feel flat. The bigger problem is the pad’s hair trigger locks. When toggled on, trigger presses register inconsistently. As a result, I opted to leave them off throughout the majority of our testing phase.

Despite those issues, I still recommend the HyperX Clutch Gladiate controller. Read on for our full breakdown and review.

Price and availability

The HyperX Clutch Gladiate is available to buy for $34.99 (around £29.99) from March 27, 2023 across a broad range of online retailers. Comparatively, that’s a lower price than many of the best Xbox controllers you can buy today, such as the 8BitDo Pro 2 and Turtle Beach Recon. In terms of design and functionality, the Clutch Gladiate’s most similar to Nacon’s Revolution X Pro. 

HyperX Clutch Gladiate: Design

HyperX Clutch Gladiate

(Image credit: Future)
  • Surprisingly strong build quality
  • Lovely face buttons and sticks
  • D-pad and shoulder buttons could be better

The build quality of the HyperX Clutch Gladiate isn’t up to par with the high bar set by the Xbox Wireless Controller, but it doesn’t feel cheap. Despite its low price, HyperX has managed to manufacture a pad that feels solid in the hands while also being relatively lightweight at just 280 grams.

Thanks to textured grips, the pad immediately feels secure to hold. The overall shape is ergonomic, too, allowing for a comfortable gaming experience for long and short sessions.

That quality is consistent with the Clutch Gladiate’s face buttons, sticks, and triggers. The face buttons are a particular highlight here. Made of solid plastic, they have a subtly bouncy feel, allowing for easy and quick presses. The sticks are another highlight with a slightly weighty feel and concave design.

I can’t say the same about the shoulder buttons. They’re ever so slightly longer than those on the official Xbox pad, while feeling mushier and less satisfying to press. That sentiment extends to the middling D-pad, which lacks texture and feels flat.

Lastly, the Clutch Gladiate comes with a 2.95 m USB-C cable, a requirement for the wired pad. And while I wish it were a touch longer, it’ll be more than enough for most gaming setups and is plenty long for play on PC. The 3.5mm headphone jack is welcome, too, making the Clutch Gladiate an overall great choice if you prefer wired play.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

HyperX Clutch Gladiate: Features

HyperX Clutch Gladiate

(Image credit: Future)
  • Rear paddle buttons are a joy
  • They’re easily remappable, though macros aren’t supported
  • Hair trigger locks are frustratingly inconsistent

Impressively, the HyperX Clutch Gladiate boasts a suite of ‘Pro’ pad adjacent features, allowing you to get more out of the controller. First up, I'm a fan of the two rear buttons. While basic, they have a clicky, tactile feel to them. 

The rear buttons are remappable, so you can assign them as secondary inputs. You do this by first holding the center-rear P1 button for a few seconds, followed by pressing the button you wish to map as secondary. Finally, pressing either of the rear buttons will assign the original button to it. While a great feature, button macros (multiple button combinations) aren’t supported, unfortunately.

One of the Clutch Gladiate’s standout features should be its hair trigger locks. These switches on the back of the pad allow the triggers to stop midway, registering a trigger press in half the travel distance. In theory, this is great for games where rapid trigger presses can give you an advantage, such as shooters like Overwatch 2 or Halo Infinite.

In practice the hair trigger locks are inconsistent on both console and PC. This is the Clutch Gladiate’s biggest flaw. I first tested a controller setup on Final Fantasy 14, customized so that double-tapping a trigger gives access to a secondary hotbar. When this didn’t work, I hopped over to Elden Ring, where triggers activate strong attacks by default. I found that I had to press the triggers hard to initiate strong attacks, thus defeating the point of having trigger locks in the first place.

Sadly, the issue was present on Xbox Series X|S, too. Though I did have overall better luck with first-person shooters, the hair trigger locks worked just fine in both Halo Infinite and PUBG Battlegrounds. If you plan to use the trigger locks, check to see if your game has trigger sensitivity settings, as I found this allowed us to use the feature better.

  • Features score: 3 / 5

Should I buy the HyperX Clutch Gladiate?

HyperX Clutch Gladiate

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

You’re on a strict budget
‘Pro’ adjacent pads don’t get more affordable than the Clutch Gladiate. It’s certainly one to consider if you want to keep costs low.

You’re interested in some light ‘Pro’ features
Remappable rear buttons and hair trigger locks provide a good introduction to higher-end controller features on a pad this affordable.

You want good comfort and feel
Despite the low price, the Clutch Gladiate is a satisfying controller to both hold and play with for long gaming sessions.

Don't buy it if...

You want more ‘Pro’ features
The Clutch Gladiate is still light on ‘Pro’ adjacent touches, and the hair trigger locks are a bit of a letdown here.