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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

Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed review: best grip on an affordable wireless gaming mouse
6:15 pm | September 14, 2023

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

Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed: Two-minute review

Imagine the Razer DeathAdder V3 in wireless form. That’s basically what Razer’s new gaming mouse offering, the Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed, is. 

There are some differences, of course. It’s got an ever so slightly thinner body and a more pronounced hump for better palm support. It’s heavier. It tops at 4,000Hz polling rate (as opposed to 8,000Hz) and weirdly has a 60M-click rating as opposed to the DeathAdder V3’s 90M. And, as its name implies, it’s a wireless gaming mouse that utilizes Razer’s HyperSpeed Wireless connectivity so you can do away with the cable. 

In fact, you’ve got no choice really as there’s no need for cables here, seeing as it’s AA battery-powered. That’s the biggest reason why this one sits at the same price point as the DeathAdder V3, despite being wireless (that typically gives manufacturers an excuse to jack up the price of a product).

At $69.99 / £69.99 / AU$129.95, the Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed is easily one of the most affordable brand-name gaming mice I’ve tested, especially in the wireless realm. But don’t take that to mean that you’re sacrificing a lot here. 

Yes, there’s the lack of rechargeability, which no doubt a lot of wireless peripherals fans will miss, but it’s a small sacrifice in exchange for all the premium features that you are getting.

It comes, for example, with Razer’s Focus Pro 30K Optical, a maximum speed of 750 IPS, and 8 programmable controls like the aforementioned wired mouse. It also inherited the DeathAdder V3 much-lauded smooth-touch finish – Razer’s own creation that allows the mouse to offer that luxurious, smooth-to-the-touch feeling while brilliantly delivering better grippage than all other gaming mice I’ve tested (and I’ve tested a lot).

It’s so similar to the DeathAdder line that I’ve started to wonder if Razer made a mistake when they were naming it. While it belongs in the brand’s Viper line, it actually looks nothing like the Razer Viper V2 Pro, its intended premium counterpart and one of the best gaming mice on the market. 

Razer Viper V3 Hyperspeed

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Veering away from the Viper’s gaming-esque aesthetic, the Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed sports the more elegant design and cleaner look for the DeathAdder line. Looking more like the Razer DeathAdder V3 Pro, its left and right buttons are nicely grooved toward the front for better ergonomics and grip, as well as, in my opinion, easier pressing. And again, it comes with the DeathAdder V3’s smooth-touch finish, which is quite a departure from the Viper V2 Pro’s textured one.

It’s got its own design improvements and changes as well. Its palm rest has a nice, rear-rested hump that supports both palm and claw grip styles as well as allows your palm to contour nicely and enjoy that necessary support, no matter how big your hand is or how long you’ve been playing. 

According to Razer, the company opted for flatter sides (as opposed to curved) to also help it fit different hand sizes and grip styles, but I just found the sides to be a little less supportive, especially where my pinkie usually rests. 

Razer Viper V3 Hyperspeed

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

I prefer ultra-lightweight mice for gaming and productivity so while I understand that Razer had to go with AA batteries to keep the price down, I didn’t really enjoy gaming on this one as much. Especially so soon after testing the Logitech G Pro X Superlight 2 Lightspeed (review to follow). A single AA battery to keep it powered bumps its weight from 59g to 82g and makes it noticeably rear-heavy and unbalanced.

Then again, this is a matter of personal preference. Not all gamers want or enjoy using a lightweight gaming mouse, and there are definitely others out there that are a lot heftier.

While we’re on that subject, inside the battery compartment is a USB garage in which you can keep your wireless receiver safe. Thank goodness – I already lost the original dongle for my Viper V2 Pro, and I have no idea where to properly store its replacement when I’m not using the mouse. As I write this, it’s sitting on my desk vulnerable to my insolent cats’ restless paws.

Razer Viper V3 Hyperspeed

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Like the Viper V2 Pro and the DeathAdder V3, it has six physical buttons, which are all strategically positioned so they’re within easy reach, no matter the size of your hand. However, for added versatility and an easier gaming experience if you’re not too lazy to customize and reprogram, it has a total of 8 programmable controls (the scroll wheel adds front and back scroll to the list).

If you have limited USB ports, you’ll be glad to know that it’s one of Razer’s several peripherals that’s compatible with the HyperSpeed Wireless multi-device support. That means that you can connect it and a supported Razer keyboard to your PC with just a single dongle. If you’re a competitive player and need that considerable bump in polling rate, it also supports up to 4,000Hz with Razer’s HyperPolling Wireless Dongle. That one will cost you extra, but Razer currently has it bundled with the mouse for a little less.

If I’m being honest, though, its native 1,000Hz polling rate is more than enough for most people. On its own, the Razer Viper V3 Hyperspeed is already a fast performer, seeing me through my CS:Go sessions as well as those Hogwarts Legacy trials without missing a beat. 

Razer Viper V3 Hyperspeed

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

It helps that it also boasts that 30K optical sensor that apparently not only gives it a 99.8% accuracy and better power efficiency but also allows it a wider surface compatibility. I’ve tested it on a couple of different desk mats, a slightly textured office desk, a marble countertop, and other surfaces, and while its pads aren’t the best for the harder ones, that tracking stayed on point.

As I had received my unit days before launch, I really didn’t get a chance to properly drain that one AA battery, but Razer promises up to 280 hours of battery life. While that longevity is nice, the downside is that you’d have to stock up on AA batteries, which I’m not really a fan of as there are other things to consider like proper disposal. And again, having that one battery in there makes the mouse heavier and more unbalanced.

Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? $69.99 / £69.99 / AU$129.95 
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

Unlike the Razer Viper V2 Pro, which will set you back a whopping $149.99 / £149.99 / AU$259.95, the price of entry for the Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed is much closer to the ground. In fact, at $69.99 / £69.99 / AU$129.95, it’s the exact same price as the wired Razer DeathAdder V3, touting the same marquee features but with that cable-free flair so you don’t have to stay tethered to your desk.

However, if you prefer something more lightweight and more premium, the $149 / £149 / AU$279 Razer DeathAdder V3 Pro is certainly worth considering, if you don’t mind the fact that it doesn’t have that smooth-touch finish.

  • Value: 4.5 / 5

Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed: Specs

Should you buy the Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed?

Buy it if...

You want a premium-feeling mouse for less
The Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed boasts that grippy smooth-touch finish you’ll only ever find on Razer’s wired DeathAdder V3, a beautiful and elegant form that’s supportive, and switches that are comfortable and satisfying.

You need a gaming mouse with the best grip
Razer swaps out the Viper V2 Pro’s textured finish for its smooth-touch finish that feels more luxurious yet somehow offers a better grip for gaming.

You don’t mind a heavier mouse
Due to the price and Razer’s attempt to offer a longer battery life, this one is AA battery-powered, which adds considerable weight to its rear.

Don't buy it if...

You want the most lightweight and balanced mouse
If you want something more balanced and incredibly lightweight, better go for the DeathAdder V3 or the Viper V2 Pro.

You prefer something rechargeable
Stocking up on AA batteries is a thing of the past. If you want a wireless gaming mouse that’s rechargeable, this isn’t the one for you.

Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed: Also consider

How I tested the Razer Viper V3 HyperSpeed

  • Tested the mouse for a couple of days due to time constraint
  • Used it for playing PC games and for work
  • Put its marquee features through their paces during testing

Usually, we spend at least a week testing a peripheral, including a wireless gaming mouse like the Razer Viper V3 Hyperspeed. Unfortunately, because I received it at the last minute, I only had two days to properly test its functionality and features, which means that I didn’t really have enough time to drain its battery and see for myself if it does indeed last up to 280 hours at 1,000Hz polling rate.

That said, I was able to spend enough time with the mouse to test the rest, from its marquee features like the smooth-touch finish and more pronounced ergonomics to its actual performance, utilizing it as my main work and gaming laptop for two days.

I’ve been testing and reviewing PC gaming peripherals for about 10 years now. Not only do I have plenty of experience with them, but I know what makes the best ones tick and can intuitively tell you which ones are not worth your time and money.

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed September 2023

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D review: a fantastic premium performer, but its price holds it back
8:17 pm | September 13, 2023

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

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D: One-minute review

The AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D is the middle child of the current 3D V-Cache processors from Team Red alongside the 7800X3D and the 7950X3D. It launched alongside the rest of the line back in February of this year and offers heightened gaming performance, but comes at a price. 

Without a doubt, it is one of the best processors for gaming on the market. But even as gamers are going to be able to get the most out of this chip, it's productivity performance isn't too bad either. 

Armed with a significantly lower TDP than the rest of the current AMD Zen 4 lineup, the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D packs in 12 cores and 24 threads on a 120W TDP with a base clock speed of 4.4 GHz out of the box, and that's honestly the core appeal of this chip. 

It's more power efficient and offers better raw gaming performance than its non-3D counterpart, but the addition of AMD's 3D V-cache means it can hold up with far pricier processors as well. 

It should be stated that overall, you're falling into one of two camps with the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D, as it is impressive for gaming, but won't necessarily set the world on fire with the creativity or productivity side of things at the higher end of the spectrum. 

The raw gaming performance at its $599 / £479.99 / AU$859.99 price point is decent, but chances are if you're spending this much on a CPU purely for gaming, you could argue that an extra $100 / £130 / AU$279 for the top-end 7950X3D could be a better bet instead. 

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D: Price and availability

  • Comparable price to the Intel Core i9-13900K
  • $50 /  £50 / AU$64 more than base 7900X

The AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D was released on February 28, 2023, and currently retails for $599 / £479.99 / AU$859.99. 

That's around $100 / £130 / AU$279 less than the flagship AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D which features 16 cores and 32 threads. As a point of comparison, this AMD processor comes in a little cheaper than the Intel Core i9-13900K in the UK and Australia, where it currently sells at £699 / AU$929, and is just $10 more expensive in the US. 

That is only one side of the story, though. That's because the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D requires an upgrade to the latest AM5 socket, which means an entirely new motherboard as well as the exclusive use of DDR5 RAM, and the best DDR5 RAM isn't cheap (even if it has come down in price). 

Essentially, you'll be building an entirely new system around the chip as there's no more backward compatibility with AM4 as we saw with the two previous Ryzen processor generations (though the best CPU coolers for AM4 processors will still work with the new AMD chips). 

This is owing to AMD's transition from a PGA to LGA socket, which just means that the processor no longer has pins the way previous generations did, much like with the best Intel processors

  • Price score: 3.5 / 5

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D: Chipset & features

Close up on the Ryzen 9 7900X3D

(Image credit: Future)
  • Improved power efficiency 
  • Zen 4 3D V-cache for under $600 / £500 / AU$900

The AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D features a lot of the same broad strokes as its non-3D variant. You're getting the same 12 cores and 24 threads on the AM5 socket with a total boost clock of up to 5.6GHz. The core difference here, however, is the 3D V-Cache which doubles the stock version's 64MB L3 Cache for a total of 128MB. 

The higher the L3 cache is, the better gaming or intensive processing workloads can perform, that's because it's the largest level of cache available on a processor.

Added cache aside, the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D is also significantly more power-efficient than any current non-3D Zen 4 processors available, as it clocks in with a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 120W, which is much lower than the substantially higher 170W of its stock variant. 

While a higher TDP usually relates to higher performance, the inclusion of the added 3D V-cache means that the processor can access a larger pool of superfast cache memory, which is even more useful when gaming than just throwing raw power at the problem. With its own dedicated extra cache, there are fewer fetch operations to the PC's main memory, so the chip runs more efficiently, and potentially cooler under load. 

This is reflected when contrasted against the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X's core clock speed of 4.7 GHz to the 3D variant's 4.4 GHz. It's a little slower out of the box despite the overclocking potential being the same, however, the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D is still far faster than any of the current Alder Lake or Raptor Lake processors in terms of the raw speed. 

Ultimately, the reduced memory latency means that you're getting a chip that runs cooler, draws less power, and performs better thanks to the addition of the second generation of AMD's V-cache. 

  • Design & features score: 4 / 5

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D: Performance

AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D up close

(Image credit: Future)

You won't be shocked to hear that the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D is one of the most capable CPUs for gaming that I've ever used, holding its own against the flagship 7950X and the Intel Core i9-13900K. 

This is evidenced by some of the most impressive synthetic scores to date in industry-standard programs such as GeekBench 6, PCMark10, and Cinebench R23, among others, and you can see how the Ryzen 9 7900X3D compares to competing high-end processors below. 

Where the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D falls behind the Intel Core i9-13900K and the 7950X3D in terms of the productivity benchmarks, the gap is greatly closed with the raw gaming performance. Turning to the gaming benchmarks, this chip's 3D V-cache makes all the difference in demanding titles such as F1 2022, Returnal, and Total War: Warhammer 3

As with our other CPU reviews, the games tested in the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D review are tested at 1080p at the lowest graphics settings in order to isolate the processor's contribution to gaming performance. Below, you can see how this chipset compares to the best AMD processor and best Intel processor respectively. 

Compared to the more expensive chipsets, the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D absolutely holds its own with the 7950X3D and the 13900K, with the largest gap visible seen with how AMD's flagship handles Returnal. This is likely due to the fact that the 7950X3D utilizes an additional four cores and eight threads, and Total War series has always been Intel's strongest gaming benchmark, which remains the case here. 

Still, with the Ryzen 9 7900X3D, we're still talking about an absolute powerhouse of a CPU, with framerates well above 100fps in demanding games, and upwards of 400fps in tamer titles. Realistically, you can expect this chip to be an absolute behemoth for 1080p, though you'll get diminishing returns at 1440p and 4K if you don't have the beefiest video card in your rig that can keep up with the processor. 

Overall, the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D is an impressive processor for the money which is definitely geared more toward gaming than productivity or creativity tasks. If you're purely interested in playing games then this processor offers strong price-to-performance at the $600 / £480 / AU$860 mark, but with the Ryzen 9 7950X3D so close in price, a lot of buyers out there are likely to be torn. 

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also Consider

If my AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D review has you considering other options, here are two more processors to consider.

Intel Core i9-13900K
There's very little that we can fault the Raptor Lake flagship on with its performance. That's due to the excellent Raptor Cove and Gracemont cores with its hybrid architecture that makes it a processor that's difficult to beat outside of its expensive price point. 

Read the full 5-star Intel Core i9-13900K review

How I tested the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D

  • Used in main gaming PC rig for almost a month 
  • Played a variety of titles including those benchmarked 
  • Industry standard synthetic benchmark tests 
Test system specs

CPU cooler: NZXT Kraken Elite 360
GPU: Nvidia RTX 4090
DDR5 RAM: 32GB (2 x 16GB) Kingston Fury Beast RGB @ 6,000 MHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte X670 Aorus Elite AX
SSD: Seagate FireCuda 530 2TB
PSU: Corsair RM1000x
Case: NZXT H9 Flow

I tested the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D inside of a newly built machine utilizing Kingston Fury Beast DDR5 RAM, an Nvidia RTX 4090, and a brand new RM1000X PSU. The chip was utilized heavily for gaming in the benchmarked titles as well as in games such as Mortal Kombat 11, Cyberpunk 2077, and Tekken 7.

I've also been using the machine as my main computer for both work and play and have racked up dozens of hours word processing as well as with media playback. Through the real-world testing, the benchmarking, and the stress testing, I came to my four-star conclusion on the AMD Ryzen 9 7900X3D as a recommended CPU for gaming.

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed September 2023

Asus ROG Raikiri Pro review – luxurious but limited
2:52 pm | September 4, 2023

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

The Asus ROG Raikiri Pro can be considered one of the best PC controllers whether you’ve got a dedicated gaming PC, gaming laptop, or an Asus ROG Ally, and makes a strong impression with its stellar visual design. However, despite being designed for Xbox, with systems such as the Xbox Series X|S in mind, the limited wireless functionality holds it back from being considered one of the best Xbox controllers, especially for its price point. 

It comes down to the fact that the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro cannot be used wirelessly on Xbox consoles, as you’re restricted to being plugged in via USB-C. With both an included wireless 2.4GHz dongle and Bluetooth inside, it’s a shame it’s not a catch-all for both platforms. Outside of this, with its OLED screen and RGB lighting, you’re getting a gamepad like no other, but paying a premium for the extra prettiness. 

Price and availability

The Asus ROG Raikiri Pro is available in the US, the UK, and Australia for $169.99 / £149.99 / AU$269 which positions it as one of the more expensive Xbox and PC controllers on the market. For a point of comparison, that’s a comparable sticker price to the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 ($179.99 / £159.99 / AU$249.95) for a similar level of functionality. It should be known that the Asus ROG Raikiri is also available for $99 / £102.99 / AU$169. This version drops the ‘Pro’ moniker, is a wired variant, and lacks the OLED screen. 

Design and features

Screen of the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro

(Image credit: Future)

The Asus ROG Raikri Pro shares a lot of the same DNA as the standard Xbox Wireless controller in terms of its ergonomic shape and design with a few hallmarks of the angular Republic of Gamers theming. This manifests most notably in the form of a monochrome OLED display which can be customized with wallpapers and gifs - which is a nice touch. It’s essentially a modern version of the Dreamcast controller’s VMU and adds something completely different that no other modern controller has, even if it is largely superficial and non-functional. However, it does look good in combination with the RGB light strips on the front. 

On the more practical side of things, the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro is a controller aimed at competitive play which means you’ve got trigger stops and rear paddles. The functionality is closer to the Nacon Pro Revolution X than Microsoft’s official second-generation pro pad, and that’s due to the fact that software can be used to further tweak the sensitivity of sticks and remap more granularly. There’s also built-in ESS DAC technology which reduces noise and distortion and acts as a booster for some of the best wired gaming headsets when one is connected. 

There’s also a 2.4 GHz wireless dongle and Bluetooth for wireless play, however, this functionality is exclusively limited to PC gaming or for use with the Asus ROG Ally  - not the Xbox Series X or Series S. Despite having the ‘Designed for Xbox’ badge and labeling, this controller does not feature the ability to be used wirelessly on any of Microsoft’s consoles. That means you’re essentially paying $50 / £50 / AU$100 extra for lighting and the OLED screen while remaining tethered by the  3m / 10ft cable, which makes this one truly expensive option. 


Options menu on the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro's screen

(Image credit: Future)

In my testing with the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro, primarily on PC, I found that the controller worked well wirelessly with the 2.4 GHz dongle and also when plugged in via the USB-C lead. The buttons, triggers, and bumpers all feel responsive enough, however, with the all-matte membrane construction, this gamepad ultimately feels like a marginal step up from the standard Xbox wireless controller instead of a sweeping improvement matching the premium price of a controller that costs 40% more. 

In contrast, the hairline triggers themselves and the rear paddles feel solid and satisfying, which are easy to map and use without too much tweaking. In my testing, I found that the battery lasted around 35 hours with the lighting and the screen disabled, but you’re looking more at 10-15 hours’ use when going all out. 

I found the trigger stops on the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro to be some of the best that I’ve experienced, feeling similar to the Victrix BFG Pro, and making for satisfying feedback when more precision was needed. If you prefer playing some of the best FPS games armed with a gamepad then the reduced pull distance really helps. What surprised me the most was how the ESS DAC built into the 3.5mm jack elevated the SteelSeries Nova 1X’s sound quality significantly when compared to being plugged into the front I/O on my machine. 

While the OLED display looks cool, it ultimately doesn’t add to the user experience in any meaningful way. There’s no way to utilize the panel in games or sync up with what you’re doing. Instead, it’s there along with the lighting to look cool, but it’s more of a gimmick than a major selling point when all is said and done.

Ultimately, the Asus ROG Raikiri is a good performer, but it doesn’t offer enough functionality for its high price point to be the essential gamepad for either PC or Xbox consoles outside of its looks. 

Should I buy the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro?

Buy it if…  

You want a PC controller with a good battery life

The Asus ROG Raikiri Pro has a lengthy battery life with its 2.4 GHz wireless and Bluetooth functionality when playing on PC.

You want a unique-looking gamepad

The Asus ROG Raikiri Pro looks stunning with its screen, aggressive angular design, and bright RGB lighting for a controller that really stands out from the crowd. 

Don’t buy it if… 

You want to play wirelessly on Xbox consoles 

Despite being officially licensed for Xbox systems, the Asus ROG Raikiri Pro can only be used with a wired USB-C connection on the Xbox Series X|S. 

You’re looking for top-tier value for money

The Asus ROG Raikiri Pro is one of the most expensive Xbox and PC controllers on the market, and you’ll be better served by the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 for the same price. 

The Asus ROG Raikiri Pro will pair nicely with one of the best gaming monitors or one of the best monitors for Xbox Series X

Starfield review – deep, space
7:00 pm | August 31, 2023

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

Platform reviewed: Xbox Series X
Available on:
PC, Xbox Series X|S
Release date:
Early access: Sept 1, regular release: Sept 6

Starfield wants to cast you as the lead in a brand new mystery of the week sci-fi series. Whether that’s Firefly, The Mandalorian, Stargate, or whichever flavor of Star Trek takes your fancy, Starfield has you covered. The role-playing game is best enjoyed like this too; as a lightweight and competently made amusement box that lets you interact with the world around you in whichever way suits you best. 

It’s quite an achievement. While some situations are going to require a quick trigger finger or an orbital dogfight, you’re often free to explore at your own pace and solve problems in your own way. I prefer to jetpack around and shoot all of my problems with a laser pistol, but if you want to try to persuade people or even forge a new life away from the game’s main story running resources between outposts and making a mint you can. Several of these paths can even be blended together,  something I expect most players will do in their first playthrough as they get to grips with the game. 

Bethesda Game Studios’ latest RPG will feel familiar to fans of Fallout’s 3D outings and even perennial fantasy favorite The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. The offering here is much more polished, and there are notably fewer bugs than many meme accounts would have you believe. Ultimately there’s a whole universe here for players to dip into. 

Playing the ‘Field 

An astronaut in a Starfield Unreal Engine 5 demo

(Image credit: Pasquale Scionti)

But you won’t do it alone. Starfield pits you as a starship captain and you’ll slowly accumulate people to man your vessel, accompany you as you explore, and even staff your outposts. While the majority of the writing in Starfield is somewhat patchy, the companion characters are fleshed out and interesting enough to jet around the universe with. 

You can hire your future space friends from bars, but you’ll also get a regular flow of recruits from the game’s main story or side quests itself. Many characters in Starfield are looking for a bit of hope and something new. Often, your arrival brings that hope and you can then choose to add them to your crew - whether they can get their new life depends on whether you add them to your galaxy-hopping A-team, or assign them to oversee water production on a dead world.

If they’re on the ship, they’re getting a ticket to the main event. Building spaceships is one part of Starfield that feels expansive and, even on a controller, toggling power between your ship’s different systems is easy to do but feels surprisingly intricate. The way parts of your ship slowly thrum to life as you power up various systems is satisfying, the clunky way you power through space makes fights feel tense, lasers and ballistic rounds bouncing off your shield as you keep an eye on the all-important hull strength. 

There’s even ship-based stealth, where you cut the power to all of your ship’s systems and chug slowly forward in the hope of avoiding detection. When this goes wrong, and it likely will, you’ll get into dogfights that feel thrilling but also mechanically complex. Tweaking your shield and weapon power levels to try and get an advantage in fights feels crunchy and satisfying, while you can also board disabled ships and take them for yourself if you’re that way inclined, making space combat a satisfying diversion to scuffling around planetside. 

Conversely, on-world combat feels very similar to Fallout 4 or Fallout: New Vegas, although many planets have their own gravity and the addition of boost packs - a jetpack, proving that a rose by any other name does smell just as sweet providing the rose is a jetpack - means that firefights feel quite different to most other games. If you want to pretend to be Boba Fett, you can do that. I, in fact, did that fairly regularly.

Unfortunately, enemies feel spongy, and often you’ll pump round after round into an opponent without much in the way of feedback. Combat often feels quite weightless, but can be helped with a few damage-boosting skills. 

Skills to pay the bills 

An astronaut looks out over a snow covered mountain range with a ringed planetoid in the distance

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield’s skill system is one of my favorite parts of the game. You can buy skills in any order that you want and some of them will unlock new game mechanics: the stealth skill gives you a detection meter to help in skulking around, while the targeting skill allows you to use your ship’s weapon systems to target individual parts of a ship. Use these skills enough and you’ll finish their challenge - killing enemies with a pistol, crafting objects, getting sneak attacks -  and can then buy the next level of the skill which will give you even more benefits.

There are several different families of skills and you can slowly progress through them, and it’s really clear to see how these different trees can intersect to create unique situations. My character started with skills in speech, pistols, and piloting but I quickly found myself swotting up in research, gaining proficiency with melee weapons, and then - due to my innate desire to gather items like some sort of spacefaring magpie - skills in weightlifting to let me carry everything. 

Best bit:

A lone space explorer stands at the bottom of a vast canyon as the sun rises in the background

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Docking with a space station that wouldn’t respond to my hails, I found myself in the middle of a zero-G shootout in a space casino. As spacers descended on me from all sides, my pistol rounds were knocking bodies and props flying through the station as I used a boost pack to float through the station and outmaneuver my enemies.  

There are some games that you just don’t want to write reviews for. Starfield is, unfortunately, one of them because of the weight of expectations, fans clamoring to hop into a spaceship and throw themselves into the vast inky blackness of space. There’s something about space that seems to do this to people: just look at No Man’s Sky or Star Citizen, both games about pirouetting through the void that have been victimized and lionized by people in equal measure. Writing about Starfield, then, is a bit of a poisoned chalice. If it’s bad people will get grumpy. If it’s good, people will get grumpy. I’m not sure how people will react to the reality: that Starfield is competent and well-made but has the same lifeless eyes as the uncanny valley NPCs that inhabit its sprawling cities.

Starfield isn’t like those other space games: there is a full universe to explore but the playspace here is actually broken up into a lot of little chunks. You won’t be flying your ship from orbit down to the planet, and you can’t even use your ship to get around on the planet. There are a thousand different worlds to explore, but many of them are barren and good for nothing more than gathering resources in a pinch, the planet able to provide a platform for your building but very little else. On the ground itself, you also can’t explore willy-nilly - the planets are parceled up into little packages of land for you to charge around. You’ll rarely notice that the universe is split up into these vignettes: you’ll fast-travel around much more often, and in all of my playtime I’ve run into this issue once or twice. 

For some, that will be an unforgivable error: an open-world game portioned off by loading screen toll gates. If this is you and you’re bristling away, my advice is just to get over it. It won’t impact your enjoyment of the game. Hardly any of the little qualms in Starfield will impact your enjoyment.

A titanic undertaking 


(Image credit: Bethesda)

I could have spent another 100 hours with Starfield and I’m still not sure if I’d have managed to see everything. However, the 40 hours I’ve spent with the game have left me certain that this is a well-made game made by people who really do want to offer up the sort of RPG that most developers can’t find the resources for anymore. It’s titanic, and this is easy to see whether you’re running across frozen tundra trying to escape alien spiders or navigating a course around a fractured asteroid field. 

But, I’m somewhat concerned about the soul of the game, which is largely absent. This soul - raptured away at some point as Starfield’s multitude of systems were layered into place - isn’t something you can touch, but it’s what I've come to blame for the fact that Starfield is almost completely devoid of character. There’s an entire universe to explore and you can go anywhere, but none of it feels like it’s anywhere. 

The cities and planets might have a different aesthetics, but they often feel like the same place. New Atlantis’ shining spires and the cyberpunkish Neon couldn’t look more different, but they feel like the same place once you’ve adjusted to the look. Ultimately, Starfield feels like a game made for screenshots. It even has a great “Oblivion moment” when you step out of the mines that act as a tutorial. Sadly, in play it’s rare to find something truly breathtaking. There’s a wide range of sci-fi here, but it feels like the rougher edges have been sanded off, and what’s here is fun if uninspiring, competent enough that there’s rarely a misstep even as you seek to get to the bottom of every mystery the game throws at you. 

I’ve enjoyed the time that I’ve spent with the game, and I fully expect scores and scores of people to be playing this for years. There’s so much here for willing captains who want to explore every different station, survey and map out every world. For me, I’ll be left looking up from the ground, wondering if a more interesting version of the game is out there in the stars somewhere. 

 Accessibility features

Slim picking here. You can turn on subtitles for dialogue and general play and also adjust the size of the text in the menus in Starfield, but otherwise, the accessibility options just offer you the chance to bring up ironsights (aim down sights) as a toggle option rather than requiring you to hold it. 

A disappointing offering for a game with this much time and money poured into it. 

How we reviewed

An astronaut staring at a distant ringed planet in Starfield

(Image credit: Bethesda / Microsoft)

I played 45 hours of Starfield on the Xbox Series X, with a 4K HDR-ready TV, playing with an Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2. During my play session, I did some main story and then decided to explore some random worlds and answer some distress beacons, ostensibly with the goal of getting enough money to buy a huge spaceship. 

I eventually wasted that money fitting the biggest laser cannons of all time to my existing spaceship, but I regret nothing.

Our list of the best RPGs might be worth checking out if you're not sold on Starfield. But, if you're looking for a journey to share with friends, you might want to check out the best multiplayer games on PC too. 

Immortals of Aveum review – do you believe in magic?
10:50 am | August 22, 2023

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

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S
Release date: 22 August 2023

Immortals of Aveum is a fascinating first-person shooter that doesn’t quite live up to its ambitions. A curiosity that isn’t quite interesting enough to justify itself, despite a compelling world brought to life with some vibrant design and a cracking soundtrack.

The concept is simple: your character - Jak, which makes me wonder if his parents misspelt my name or were fans of now-obscure PlayStation platforming mascots -  is a semi-magical street urchin in a world where people are having big magic fights in a never-ending war. After tragedy strikes, Jak gets picked up by General Kirkan - played by an excellent Gina Torres - and trained to become a magic commando. 

Hours of blasting identikit enemies with different weapons pretending to be spells follows, and if this hasn’t sold you, you’ve clearly never played one of the wealth of PC FPS games that were floating around between the early 00s to around 2015. Aveum’s concept is genre gold, and the team at developer Ascendant Studios have done a fantastic job of delivering the visuals and sound to bring this magical world to life. Unfortunately, Aveum is fun, but seems absolutely determined to get in its own way.  

Immortal combat

immortals of aveum

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

When Aveum hits the turbos, the game absolutely shines. Weapons are pinpoint accurate, even when you’re on the move, so you’ll do a lot of circle strafing and leaping around the arena with a magic-infused double (or even triple) jump. This fluid combat is the best part of the entire game, but it’s sadly too often bogged down with the lore dumps that’ll place you at the business end of a dull walk and talk, with cutscenes that look good but often serve little purpose outside of killing the vibe. 

I’m not the biggest fan of microtransactions, but would happily pay money to be able to skip through some of the cutscenes here. I still read the speech via the subtitles, but often just want to carry my adrenaline high from one big fight to the next, and it’s hard to do that when I keep being forced to slow down and ingest the story. 

While the writing is enough to drive me to distraction, it’s a hell of a world to be distracted by. Some of the Aveum’s vistas are absolutely beautiful and can rank among some of the finest views in video games. The world-design is top notch, and the little incidental details like an early statue trapped in a magical pool of water are just impressive. Later, twisted geometry makes for memorable platforming segments as you hurl yourself through floating chunks of rock. 

Best bit:

immortals of aveum

(Image credit: Future)

 Your first use of the Iron Man-esque ultimate ability that lets you fire a concussive force beam from your hand that melts through enemies. It briefly turns you into a godless killing machine and it is exceptional.  

This is carried across to your arsenal, too. You’re still taking enemies out with a rifle or a shotgun, but in Aveum they’re instead magical. This means the team at Ascendant can have a more than alittle fun with the designs. Magic in the game is colour-coded into a few different magical schools, red for chaos magic, blue for force magic and green for light magic. Each of your three weapons will be one of these. Your arsenal can also be modified somewhat: an up-close shotgun blast can be altered into something akin to Halo’s Spartan Laser, damaging and pushing back everyone in front of you.

The magic hits people in different ways, too. Force magic hits your enemies with sheer concussive power, ragdolling them like so many modern shooters. Life magic isn’t as impressive, hitting your enemies with less of an impact. The most visually impressive though is the chaos magic, which disintegrates enemies on death leaving behind nothing but tattered pieces of clothes and some charred ground.

Magic, man

immortals of aveum

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Aveum has a lot in the way of cool tricks:  a shield you can bring up with a press of the tab key, a third jump that lets you float through the air and even a little jump that will let you blink in a direction to dodge attacks. It has the potential to make some incredibly fun combat encounters, but there’s a problem. 

The problem is that combat is Immortals of Aveum just isn’t particularly interesting. Early fights often involve lazily strafing while firing off a fast-repeating single shot weapon until your opponent dies. This strategy is good at almost any range and, if you can land shots on enemy weakspots, there’s no need to ever change your weapons. While I often did swap out weapons mid fight, it was often just out of boredom, there’s very little reason to mix things up here. 

Like magic, enemies also most often come in three varieties: smaller melee enemies, ranged enemies and large, slower melee enemies. You can kite all three with the mobility provided by the game, fluidly running rings around all but the most tricky adversaries. 

Paired with Aveum’s uninspiring talent system, which does offer a few interesting modifications to the way your skills are used, it’s often more efficient to just put all of your points into a single weapon to max out its damage and then use that constantly.

There’s probably a question here about whether prioritising efficiency over fun is a worthwhile use of time, but often if a game makes it easy for me to dominate with my skill choices, I’m going to do just that. It’s easier than changing weapons too. There’s no way to quickly bounce between weapons as several special moves are mapped to the number keys so if, like me, you’re a PC FPS fan and you regularly mash the number keys to switch weapons, you’ll find yourself burning resources of magic spells instead.

Regardless of this scathing criticism, there’s a lot of charm to Immortals of Aveum. I largely enjoyed this fascinating magical setting and the fluid movement. There’s a degree of underdog charm here, too, and it’s hard not to root for the game. I hope the team at Ascendant get to do more with the idea, because there’s a sense that, if they could take another run at it and iron out the issues, this could have been just the thing to scratch the itch for players desperate for an action-packed FPS. For me though, it didn't quite hit the mark.  


immortals of aveum accessibility menu

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Immortals of Aveum has three different colorblind modes (Deuteranopia, Protanopia, Tritanopia) and on/off toggles for camera shake, camera bob and controller vibrations. This is a solid foundation and not one a lot of games manage to hit. 

Elsewhere, there are cinematic subtitles, conversation subtitles and gameplay subtitles too. You can change the size of these, but the standard size (12) was fine for me, someone who struggles to pick human voices out of sound at the best of times.  

How we reviewed

immortals of aveum

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

I played Immortals of Aveum for 15 hours and made my way through most of the story. I didn’t solve several optional puzzles and felt like there was plenty of scope for me to go back and eke out collectibles. I played on the PC version of the game with a mouse and keyboard (because it’s a first-person shooter and I’m not a savage). 

During my time with the game, I tried several optional challenges and spent a little bit of time searching for collectibles. The challenge here seems to oscillate between very simple puzzles and some surprisingly tricky time challenges that will require plenty of smarts to pull off. 

The best FPS games promise a high-risk, high-reward dose of action, so our list is worth checking out if you're looking for the next title to jump into. The best co-op games are also worth looking at should you want to share the experience with a companion. 

Stray Gods review – a poetic pantheon of melody
12:56 pm | August 10, 2023

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

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on: PS5, Xbox X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch
Release date: August 10th 

Fans of Greek mythology, musicals, and narrative games rejoice as Summerfall Studios' Stray Gods is here to smash those three things together in style, delivering an inventive and refreshing roleplaying experience.

In Stray Gods, you assume the role of Grace, a troubled singer who is unwillingly gifted the theatrical powers of the last Grecian Muse, Calliope. Subsequently, Grace is enveloped in a murder mystery surrounding Calliope’s unusual death, and has seven days to explore a city and sing her way towards freedom, using her newfound power to compel deities to duet and speak their truth.

From the first call-and-response vocal performance of Stray Gods, I was enthralled with its poetic lyricism. An enchanting opening duet features an elegant refrain that shines in its simplicity while carefully setting up the plot. It’s the perfect amuse-bouche to the games’ choose-your-own-adventure musical playstyle. 

Pick your poison

Stray Gods character with yellow eyes

(Image credit: Humble Games)

Similar to Telltale and Bioware games, you’ll have access to a preordained set of dialogue choices which you can choose to progress conversations, with all interactions available via clicking on-screen prompts. Summerfall Studios twists this approach in a smart way by forcing you to pick a specific trait for Grace early in the tale (Charming, Kick-ass or Clever), which defines the response paths you’ll have access to as you flirt your way through the pantheon to clear your name. Cruelly, you’ll still be able to see the other options even if you can’t interact with them, which taunts you into a second playthrough. 

Picking Charming gave me agency in an otherwise predestined dialogue tree, and I enjoyed how Grace’s thoughtful touches impacted her relationships. It was often easy to forget the urgency of looking for clues and instead immerse myself in the lives of the ‘Idols’ with my choices, which felt like Stray Gods enabling my particular approach to its narrative, and my idea of who Grace could be. 

Grace is voiced by VA veteran Laura Bailey (Abby, The Last of Us Part II), who flexes her musical muscles here, delivering showstopping vocals, from raps to rock ballads, across the entire saga. She is not alone, though, as the game’s cast is a rogue’s gallery of talent, from Troy Baker’s Apollo to Rahul Kohli’s Minotaur, and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn’s feisty take on Persephone. The star-studded cast breathe life into the wide world of Stray Gods, making it easy to get lost in its mysteries, prophecies and atmosphere. One of the game’s undeniable highlights is its casual portrayal of queerness, too. From pride flag set dressing to an open approach to romantic options, Stray Gods succeeds in creating complicated characters that aren’t defined by their preferences - it’s just who they are.

Another one of my favourite things about Stray Gods is how Summerfall Studios chose to keep the vibrato and natural shakiness in the audio provided by its performers, which brings refreshing honesty and heightened emotion to its soundtrack, selling the game as a true theatrical experience. In my first playthrough, there were a handful of gut-punching moments that garnered some tears and, on one occasion, a genuine gasp. Across these scenes, I thought back to every decision I’d made as Grace, and whether I’d chosen correctly, turned a wrong corner, or worse even, trusted the wrong person. There was a humanity in it all that felt very convincing and immersive. The writing has an earnest realism to it beyond the mythological set dressing, which summons palpable gravitas. 

However, in my second attempt at Stray Gods’ campaign, my previously-tailored experience lost some shine as it became clear my choices didn’t hold as much importance as I’d anticipated, and were orbiting some key narrative beats, which shattered some of the carefully-crafted illusions of choice. It’s a backhanded compliment, and that’s not to say everything is the same each run, as there are alternative story branches for you to follow. If you’re keen on certain characters, you can uncover more about each NPC’s history in your revisits, whether it be mythological or mortal in origin. But ultimately, your first run will always answer most of your big questions about the narrative at large.

Carve your own path

Stray Gods characters going through a yellow doorway

(Image credit: Humble Games)

When revisiting Stray Gods’ most powerful sonic anthems after the credits had rolled, it was nice to see how players could potentially make different choices and encounter unexpected musical genres and themes. Most impressive is how Stray Gods’ composers manage to create cohesive songs that felt seamless even as you flit between genres with every individual choice. It would have been great to see a Karaoke mode in the post-game so players could access the fantastic music without all the effort, though. Fingers crossed that feature may come in the future; for now, the soundtrack will have to do.

Best bit

Stray Gods key art

(Image credit: Humble Games)

As Stray Gods shifts from conversational dialogue to musical numbers you’ll face timed decisions that add palpable tension to the songs. In these moments, the game capitalises on the emotional weight of its difficult choices with intense musical swells as the clock quickly ticks down. In the throws of its resonant melodies, you always feel like an integral part of the ballad. 

A hand-drawn art style frames the world, fusing modern amenities with Grecian history to create a striking graphic novel aesthetic. The environments you explore feature tasteful 3D elements on a 2D backdrop and vice versa, providing a dynamic feel as the camera’s focus shifts. Because many of the scenes are mostly static, the unique colour palettes and mixed-medium approach brings much-needed life to areas that could have felt flat otherwise. 

This distinct visual style shines best in the character designs, though, which, aside from being great to look at, display some of the coolest fits I’ve seen in a video game, with cute nods to each idol's mythology included in their dress sense - Persephone’s maroon suit is complemented by a luminous teal accent on her silken coat, evoking the blue flames of the underworld.

Stray Gods delivers an emotional narrative adventure full of twists and turns that puts the power of lyrical poetry and clever composition into the hands of its players. Even though going back to collect every song became somewhat repetitive, there was a reason I was doing it. The team at Summerfall Studios took care to craft this mythological murder mystery, and I relished in unravelling it.

Accessibility features 

Stray Gods accessibility menu

(Image credit: Humble Games)

Before you begin the campaign in Stray Gods, you’ll be presented with a content warning for alcohol use, violence, PTSD, death and themes of suicide. In the options menu accessible from the pause screen, Stray Gods also provides a solid range of accessibility tools, including re-bindable inputs, subtitles and subtitle sizing options, as well as audio description. You can also decide whether you would like to play with or without timed choices, and you can control the volume of specific parts of the audio mix across environmental SFX, score and character voices. 

How we reviewed 

After completing one full playthrough of Stray Gods, I started a new game and continued through the narrative while intentionally making different choices. In each of my subsequent experimental playthroughs, I chose a different core stat for Grace, which unlocked unique conversational threads. In this process, I unlocked almost all of the game’s songs and experienced (what I believe to be) most of its plotlines and options for romance. 

We've got a list of the best RPGs if you're on the hunt for another adventure to sink into, alongside a list of the best single-player games if you're looking for a solo experience. 

Atlas Fallen review – a game built on sand
9:00 pm | August 9, 2023

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

Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Release date: August 10, 2023

The traversal in Atlas Fallen is one of the best in years. Skimming and gliding across its vast sandy landscapes with supreme elegance, ease, and smoothness is a mastery that’s a joy to control, while airborne dashes and double-jumps make crossing chasms and cliffs a breeze. However, while getting around is undoubtedly the highlight, the rest of the game fails to offer a similar high, with wooden characters, a disappointing narrative, and complicated combat letting it down.

Atlas Fallen is also a ‘Soulslite’. Souls-ish staples like respawning enemies, a rechargeable Estus flask-style healing idol, Bonfire-alikes to save or upgrade your gear, and challenging (but not brutal) encounters, will make it feel like a Soulslike, but in reality, it’s more than that. However, at its core, this is much more of an action-adventure game and when you look at all its parts holistically, certainly doesn’t feel like the genre it’s aping in play. It is, however, a fun entry into the RPG and open-world fantasy libraries despite its lack of polish in places. 

Sandscapes and sand surfing

Sand surfing character in Atlas Fallen

(Image credit: Deck13/Focus Entertainment)

Taking place in a fantasy world that’s unbelievably sandy, Atlas Fallen opens by going through some typical tutorial motions - a dream sequence teaching you basic combat and movement, and setting up the story in a nomad camp, complete with some character customization to make your avatar, in the middle of nowhere - before unleashing you into the world, and its best bits. However, like the wider story, the setup of the narrative is a well-trodden one: your character of lowly origins has a magical dream and finds a magical item to begin a kinship with a mysterious being and can begin to wield powers through the discovery of a powerful, but incomplete, gauntlet. 

That world is made up of four main maps or areas, each with a central hub or settlement, expansive landscapes to travel across - and plenty of sand to shoot across. Each area and environment is worthy of the exploration time you’ll need to find all of the open-world game in 2023 trappings, featuring collectibles like lore, treasure, puzzles, and secrets. The benefit of taking the time to investigate the landscape is that you’ll also immerse yourself in some beautiful landscape spots and enjoy some fine vistas - from old decrepit ruins, sand-eroded caves, and expansive dunes or woodland.

A landscape vista from Atlas Fallen

(Image credit: Deck13/Focus Entertainment)
Best bit

Nothing beats surfing, skimming, and gliding across the sands in Atlas Fallen; it’s fluid, fast, agile, and every moment is fun. Combined with some aero-acrobatics, and the traversal of the game’s world is some of the best I’ve experienced in years.

It’s easy to fall for the beautiful vistas and crumbling ruins that make up the world of Atlas Fallen, but what makes this world one of my favorites from the last few years is the way you move through it. The traversal in Atlas Fallen is awesome. Strapping on the magical gauntlet gives you several powers, borne of the sand, including the ability to surf it. This isn’t just a sprint replacement service - you can twist and turn at will, your character leaning down as if they were a snowboarder to help turn corners. It even sounds brilliant; scuffed sand makes an ear-pleasing noise as you blast toward your next quest, hunt, or enemy.

There are rare moments when the surfing felt a little imperfect when transitioning from sand to another surface, or vice versa, but overall, it’s far and away the best part of the game. Deck13 knows this too, with designed-in functions like auto-collection of resources helping to keep the surfing experience uninterrupted and smooth.

But it’s not a case of splurging the game’s best feature in one early hit - your full suite of traversal moves grows with the story, and you’ll be adding to your repertoire of movements quite deep into the game, thus gaining more opportunities to mix it up and keep your movement feeling fresh and smooth.

Not handmade, but sand-made

Atlas Fallen's main character leaping into attack against a big crab-like creature

(Image credit: Deck13/Focus Entertainment)

The way your sand-made weapons tear their way out of your gauntlet within milliseconds of a button press, comprised of the sand surrounding you, is remarkably cool and adds a level of seamless fluidity to each fight. As soon as you can think of going to town on an enemy you’re already wielding the weapons and smashing them on your foes.

There are three sand-borne weapons that you can equip a pair of - a balanced hammer, a spikey glove, a super-fast whip - and each has a bunch of moves that you can master and combine too, extending the attacks beyond the standard ‘heavy’ and ‘light’. Simple stuff, but it layers complexity by moving away from a traditional stamina bar and instead has you building up Momentum during fights. This is granted with each hit you make on your enemies and opens up several special moves at different thresholds - similar to that of stamina slots in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Valhalla. Striking enemies also recharges the healing idol encouraging some aggression in your combat so as to gain healing charges - though this can also lead to some agonizing moments when you’ll be one hit away from said heal, only to be hit by a rogue swinging claw at the last moment.

Enemies of a certain size canteen be strategically taken apart

Your sand-made arsenal is further enhanced by Essence Stones; these are your passive or active equippable abilities, buffs, and skills; these can take your combat to another level and offer the chance to really personalize, and experiment with, your preferred combat. Almost all are upgradeable with resources and you can build up an approach to battle with these alone: equip damage-focused skills like a sand tornado, give yourself a boost of momentum as each fight begins, create areas of energy that slow projectiles and enemies down, or concentrate on durability by going for extra defense and healing effects. At some point, though, you’ll likely have problems with your build, whichever way you commit to. But you’ll be well-catered to switch your character’s focus as there are plenty of Essence Stones available to use or upgrade. 

Changes in style will be a consideration once you factor in enemy variety and types, as things change from four-legged ground beasts and larger sandworms to massive crab- or bull-like creatures. Those enemies of a certain size canteen be strategically taken apart; body parts of the larger enemies will have their own amount of health that you’ll have to take down - something Deck13 introduced in its The Surge games. This can increase the amount of complexity in combat further - particularly if you have to maintain being airborne to attack a head or a flying creature. That said, the extra targets can make fights a little more nuanced as you can target particularly potent attacks or limbs first in an effort to nullify an enemy. However, it can be frustrating when after taking an enemy's head, the rest of its attacks can be delivered just as viciously and effectively.

The results of all these parts mean Atlas Fallen’s combat is fast, fluid, and frantic

You can also take evasive action: you’ve got a block that can freeze enemies when a parry is timed perfectly and the ability to dodge by rolling on the ground or jetting in the air. While having these is welcome, both can actually serve to complicate combat, especially when you’re frantically fighting multiple enemies; both have to recharge and you can be left without either if you miss time them slightly.

Combat stills from the game Atlas Fallen

(Image credit: Deck13/Focus Entertainment)

All in all, though, the results of all these parts mean Atlas Fallen’s combat is fast, fluid, and frantic. However, sometimes it’s a bit too frantic and thus has a tendency to be over complex. The combination of weapons two weapons, each with its own combinations, the constant eye on momentum build-up, the button-combos to heal or use skills attached to the idol, and the role of dodging and blocking means that some combat scenarios become dangerously close to button mashing. This cheapened the combat somewhat and meant that the combat can be simultaneously enjoyable but tiresome as you rely on a few effective methods; no matter how satisfying it was to build up to a shatter attack - freezing the enemy and delivering high-damage blows - it had a tendency to become a regular, uninspiring pattern.

Atlas Fallen’s take on the good vs evil tale is a well-trodden one. It’s a familiar story of a person of lowly origin, finding a magic item, becoming powerful, and channeling the spirit of one god to take on another. Bits of the story were even quite predictable early on, and the supposed crescendos when moving into new areas felt a little anticlimactic narratively, but the big gauntlet upgrades that tie closely to the story and punctuate the adventure - often with boss fights or multi-phase quests - did feel more significant and meaty; the narrative journey failing to mirror and match pace with the game’s mechanics’ journey.

Atlas Fallen, then, is a mixed bag - but also rather a ‘mid’ bag. Its traversal in the shape of the exquisite sand surfing and hangtime-tastic jumping and dashing will stay with me for a long time, but the story, characters, and parts of the combat are largely middling and shrug-worthy. This will ultimately stop it from shining in a year when we’re eating very well at the fantasy RPG adventure table. While there’s potential here, it feels like Atlas Fallen just isn’t quite the sum of its parts.


The accessibility menu screen from Atlas Fallen

(Image credit: Deck13/Focus Entertainment)

There are only a few dedicated accessibility functions and features in Atlas Fallen, with the majority of them geared toward language and subtitles. Outside of that, there is one option to turn on or off the camera shake. Overall, this is lean, and some more features - even the addition of subtitle size differences - would be most welcome. 

How we reviewed Atlas Fallen

I played Atlas Fallen on PS5. My playthrough took me about 12 hours to complete and included a host (but not all) of the side content. I played the game in both its performance and quality-focused modes and found the performance mode to be more suited to the game’s emphasis on fluidity and movement. I found there to be only very minor performance issues in the busiest city, and only for a few minutes only. I played the game on a Samsung 4K TV and used both a soundbar and headset for audio - deploying the latter when playing a couple of hours of co-op.

Atlas Fallen releases August 10, 2023, on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. See how it compares to our takes on the best PS5 games, the best Xbox Series X games, and the best PC games that you can play right now.

Indian Government restricts laptop, tablet and PC imports with new licensing bill
5:09 pm | August 3, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

The Indian government issued a new restriction on the import of laptops, tablets and all personal computers part of the HSN 8741 category which will now have to hold a special licensing requirement with immediate effect. The reasoning behind the move is to bolster the “Make In India” program and demand for locally produced tablets and computers. The new policy will result in price markups for imported laptop and tablet devices yet the exact specifics are still not clearly detailed. Import of laptops, tablets, all-in-one Personal Computers, and ultra-small form factor computers and...

Alienware Aurora R16 review: a little less Alien, a little more office
7:01 am |

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Alienware Aurora R16: Two-minute review

Last year saw the release of the Alienware Aurora R15, Dell’s powerful and expensive gaming PC outfitted with some of the highest specs on the market. The Alienware Aurora R16, however, attempts something different. While it’s still a gaming desktop, it’s undergone a redesign to make it both more lightweight and to better fit an office desktop. 

Further aiding that office-friendly look is its surprisingly benign black box shape, which completely defies the normal “alien-eques” aesthetics of Alienware PCs. The only minor flaw this desktop has is the glass side panel that lets you see all the innards, aka the components. Unfortunately, the look inside is a bit boring, as Dell didn’t bother to change the interior layout from previous models.

The port selection is quite excellent, with pretty much everything you could possibly need to hook up to the desktop. It includes four USB 3.2 Gen Type-A ports, three USB 3.2 Type-C ports, one audio jack, two SPDIF digital outputs, one side surround output, one rear surround output, one center/subwoofer output, one Ethernet port, one line out port, and one line in port.

Its ventilation is also excellent, with the Alienware Aurora R16 never coming close to overheating or even feeling particularly warm around the vents during intense gaming sessions. This is due to the several vents on the top and on the side of the case, an internal liquid cooling system, and a honeycomb vent located under the glass side panel. The latter is effective but visually bizarre as the R16 doesn’t need it shaped that way, unlike the R15.

It performs extremely well with any of the best PC games you can possibly throw at it like a champ. Titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Dirt 5 run smoothly at 1080p, which is what it was meant for. And while Dirt 5 can also handle 4K while maintaining over 80 fps, Cyberpunk 2077 suffers greatly without DLSS 3 active.

Alienware Aurora R16: Price & availability

black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)
  • Starting at $1,749 / £1,349 / around AU$2,670
  • Available in the US, UK, and Australia

The Alienware Aurora R16, while still a bit on the expensive side, is one of the most affordable gaming PCs equipped with current-gen components like the 13th-Gen Intel Core i7 processor and the Nvidia RTX 4070 graphics card. Starting price is at $1,749 / £1,349 / around AU$2,670, with upgrades not skyrocketing the price nearly as much. And there’s another, even more affordable option that will be available later in 2023.

Dell confirmed that the R16 will launch in US, UK, and Australia. And while pricing has been confirmed for US and UK, there’s no official Australian pricing at this time. Unlike the US release, which is August 3, 2023, the UK release is August 8, 2023.

  • Price score: 4 / 5

Alienware Aurora R16: Specs

black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)

The Alienware Aurora R16 comes in two configurations, with a planned third cheaper one coming later in 2023. The one given to me for review is as follows: an Intel Core i7-13700F processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 12GB GDRR6 graphics card, 32GB DDR5 RAM, and 1TB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD storage.

Meanwhile, the current starting configuration for the US is an Intel Core i7-13700F, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD storage. Starting configuration for the UK version is a bit different as it comes with an Intel Core i7-13700F, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD of storage.

Being that this is a PC and not a laptop, each component can be upgraded. However, the tight fit within the chassis could make certain upgrades more difficult. And if you’re not the self-upgrading type, there are plenty of configuration options available to customize your PC.

  • Specs score: 5 / 5

Alienware Aurora R16: Design

black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)
  • More compact and takes up less desk space
  • Glass side panel is pointless
  • Great port selection
  • Great ventilation

The Alienware Aurora R16 is fascinating as a desktop gaming PC, as its aesthetics are both subdued and a departure from the usual Alienware design. Though it’s still a gaming machine through and through, the plain black case, subtle RGB lighting, more compact box shape, and single clear side panel create a PC that’s a perfect fit for the office. It’s impressive how little space it takes up on a desk and as for its weight, it’s easier to maneuver around than the previous model, though it’s still a bit hefty.

While I do enjoy the striking look of the clear side panel, it’s a bit out of place for a PC that’s meant to fit in a more professional setting. Not to mention there’s nothing particularly interesting to see, since the interior is set up pretty much like any other Alienware desktop. It’s actually a bit less interesting due to the lack of RGB lighting and the almost claustrophobic insides.

black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)

It does have an impressive port selection, with plenty of ports on the front and back tailor-made for pretty much anything you’d want to connect the PC to. There are four USB 3.2 Gen Type-A ports, three USB 3.2 Type-C ports, one audio jack, two SPDIF digital outputs, one side surround output, one rear surround output, one center/subwoofer output, one Ethernet port, one line out port, and one line in port.

Ventilation is also some of the best out there among gaming PCs, with not a single moment of overheating during long gaming sessions. There are several vents on top and on the sides of the chassis that aid in that, along with the 240mm liquid cooling system inside. Not to mention how whisper quiet it is, you would be hard-pressed to hear any sound coming from it. And though the honeycomb-shaped vents below the clear panel are solid, it’s an unnecessary design choice considering that the R16 doesn’t need it, unlike the R15. A regular vent would have been more than sufficient.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Alienware Aurora R16: Performance

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black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)
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black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)
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black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)
  • Excellent all-around performance
  • Works well for gaming, productivity, and creative/editing
Alienware Aurora R16: Benchmarks

Here's how the Alienware Aurora R16 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 73,829; Fire Strike: 36,116; Time Spy: 17,203; Port Royal: 10,934
Cinebench R23 Multi-core: 17,664 points
GeekBench 5: 1,935 (single-core); 15,764 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 8,194 points
Total War: Warhammer III (1080p, Ultra): 133 fps; (1080p, Low): 310 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra): 16 fps; (Low): 56 fps
Dirt 5 (Ultra): 82 fps; (Low): 168 fps
25GB File Copy: 20.9
Handbrake 1.6: 3:52
CrossMark: Overall: 2,076 Productivity: 1,921 Creativity: 2,328 Responsiveness: 1,858

As with most gaming PCs, the Alienware Aurora R16 not only performs well with high-end PC titles, but can also double as a productivity and creative/editing machine.

It handles titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Dirt 5 well, with the former scoring nearly 60 fps consistently while the latter hits over 150 fps on lower settings. However, it gets a little dicey for Cyberpunk 2077 when you kick up the resolution to 4K, dropping the framerate to 16 fps without DLSS 3 active. Dirt 5 drops as well but the framerate is still an excellent 82 on average. This tracks with the focus of the R16 being on 1080p and QHD gaming, so having it run at 4K resolution isn’t an ideal condition.

Dell made an interesting claim that the R16 matches or is superior in performance to the R15 while maintaining mid-range pricing. And when looking over the benchmark scores you can definitely see where that claim comes from. In 3DMark, the R16 is surprisingly close to the R15 in Night Raid and Fire Strike, only losing out in Port Royal and Time Spy. Though the latter far surpasses the former in Cinebench R23 results, the R16 either matches or exceeds the GeekBench 5 and PCMark 10 Home Test results.

Of course, benchmarks aren’t the end all be all of the actual performance, and naturally, the R15 outperforms the R16 when it comes to gaming due to having a better graphics card. But for what the R16 has and for its lower cost, it’s a solid machine for those wanting solid game performance without paying close to or over $4,000 for the top-tier specs.

It also scores well on other benchmarks like the 25GB File Copy test, the Handbrake 1.6 test, and the CrossMark test. If you need a PC for creative and editing projects, it would be worth investing in a monitor with a solid color gamut to take advantage of this PC. 

  • Performance score: 4.5 / 5

Should you buy the Alienware Aurora R16?

Buy it if...

You need a well-rounded PC
Showing by its benchmarks and general performance, this PC can handle it all and well. You can use it for gaming, productivity, and creative or editing projects.

You need a diverse port selection
The port selection is excellent, a well-rounded selection that caters to many devices. 

You need a smaller PC for the office
Compared to other models from the same line, this one is more compact and a bit lighter, which lets it fit right in an office environment.

Don't buy it if...

You're on a strict budget
While the cheapest option is nice to see, it's still not a budget machine and the highest configurations can get a little pricey.

Alienware Aurora R16: Also consider

If the Alienware Aurora R16 has you considering other options, here are two more gaming PCs to consider...

How I tested the Alienware Aurora R16

  • I tested the Alienware Aurora R16 for about a week
  • I tested PC games at both low and high settings
  • I used a variety of benchmarks as well as general gameplay to test performance

First, I tested the general weight of the Alienware Aurora R16 by lifting it up and around my apartment. After I set it up, I ran several benchmarks to test out both the processor and graphics card, as well as in-game gameplay performance. Finally, I stress-tested titles like Dirt 5 and Cyberpunk 2077 in various settings to see both overall performance and ventilation quality.

The Alienware Aurora R16 is specially made as a gaming PC, which meant the brunt of my testing revolved around checking game performance and looking for any ventilation issues.

I've tested plenty of gaming PCs and laptops, making me more than qualified to understand benchmark test results and how to properly stress test machines to see how well they work during both casual and intense gaming sessions.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed August 2023

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