Monday, January 18, 2021

"Space Invaders Forever" Review

Ever since it started rocking arcades in 1978, "Space Invaders" has been a video game staple, steadfastly refusing to evolve as other trends came and went. Its simplistic charm -- oft-copied but rarely surpassed -- has been incalculably influential.

Staying relevant has been another, tougher story.

"Space Invaders Forever" is the latest attempt to inject some new life into the old bones, rounding up three games in an effort to revitalize the ancient concept. 

The results are largely satisfying, particularly on the form of the main event, "Space Invaders Extreme," which follows the lead of "Pac-Man Championship Edition" to add new layers of strategy and playfulness to the 16-level mix, complete with boss fights and hidden surprises. By far the most entertaining and replayable of the three included modes, the fevered blast-and-dodge routine rarely goes stale.

The dev team at Taito Corporation had middling success with its other components: "Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders: and "Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE." The quick-hit, party game-style feel works best in quick hits.

The overall lack of online multiplayer is an unfortunate, if understandable omission. "Space Invaders" is decidedly old school, and that sentiment continues in its latest release. "Forever" is a mixed bag that delivers the highs and lows of the concept, content to rest in orbit rather than shoot for the stars.

Publisher provided review code.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Review: OnePlus 8T+5G

 As the world continues the shift to 5G, T-Mobile is intent on leading the charge with its array of devices geared to take advantage of the network.

An upgrade over the OnePlus 8, the premium OnePlus 8T+5G vies to stand alongside the likes of Samsung's flagship phones. Armed with a 120 Hz display, four rear cameras and heavy-duty battery life, the phone manages to match specs with the best of the bunch.

The real star, of course, is the network. While 5G connectivity fades outside of heavily urbanized and trafficked areas -- I couldn't get service at all during a weekend trip to Silver City, NM -- the coverage performs so well at full service that it feels like a hefty downgrade to shift to WiFi. If this is the phone you get, unlimited data is a must.

The OnePlus 8T+5G's slim form factor and vivid display makes it a joy to watch HD video or play high-performance games while on the go. It's a solid option for those looking to take advantage of PlayStation and Xbox game streaming. That's where the advantages of the network truly come into play, reducing lag and latency that too often plagues services such as PlayStation Now, Google Stadia and remote play.

The 65-watt charger -- equipped with an unwieldy white box of an adapter, pumps the phone with juice in minutes. The charger is so efficient that I find myself lining my other devices for it every morning. Using the heavy hitter makes it tough to go back to whatever dinky USB-C adapter you were using before.

The lack of induction charging is a head-scratching absence, and some awkward button placement makes it difficult to affix to tripods. The minimal downsides are far eclipsed by everything going for the device. While the move from 5G to 4G may not be as dramatic as the jump from 3G to 4G, the subtleties of the advances combine to make you so comfortable that it's tough to look back.

Review unit provided by T-Mobile.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

"Immortals: Fenyx Rising" Review

A spiritual successor to "Kid Icarus," "Immortals: Fenyx Rising" is steeped in ancient lore, taking a lighthearted yet thrilling approach to the material. It's the opposite side of the coin of usual super-serious takes on the mythos, including "God of War" and "Assassin's Creed: Odyssey." 

Many of the team members who worked on "Odyssey" returned to the fray for this inverted version of the mythology-themed expansion to the epic, "Fate of Atlantis." You get the feeling that "Fenyx Rising" was something of a release valve for the devs, who used the opportunity to explore visions that the "Assassin's Creed" franchise couldn't contain.

After revamping production and scrapping the generic original title "Gods and Monsters," the dev squad at Ubisoft Quebec managed to find its stride. The result was a glorious, freewheeling Greek Mythology romp with action and humor to spare.

Playing as a warrior who intercedes in the ongoing conflict between gods and titans. As you take on quests and vie for upgrades, you take on the powers and abilities of the gods you are attempting to help.

While some of the banter is corny, the breezy approach is a welcome respite from the frenetic action. This is one of the games in which you truly do yourself a disservice if you skip the cutscenes.

While the mission structure tends to be heavy on fetch quests and repetition, the momentum never dissipates, and the fun keeps flowing as you fly ever closer to the sun.

Publisher provided review code.