Our verdict on the the star-studded Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Weird West, Stranger of Paradise and Apple’s brand spanking new iPad Air.

Whether you’re getting ready for a bit of a gaming release lull, looking to enjoy some A-list Hollywood talent or want a fun romp with or without friends, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is just one of a few new games worth checking out this month. Let’s explain why…

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, XBO, PC)

Take one look at Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands and you’d be forgiven for dismissing it as simply more Borderlands. But while that’s not an entirely unfair assessment, there’s also a whole lotta charm at play that we weren’t entirely prepared for in this standalone adventure.

It all starts with the setup: as Borderlands regular Tiny Tina (voiced by Horizon’s Ashly Burch), invites some pals over for a cheeky game of Bunkers & Badasses – the game’s version of D&D. But while your individual hero will be of your own making, your fellow adventurers bring a little more star power – Andy Samberg taking the role of Captain Valentine and Wanda Sykes playing robot Frette, while Will Arnett laps it up in his best villainous portrayal.

The whole cast does a great job at keeping the energy consistently high and rollicking from one gag to the next. Not every joke will land, but the core goofiness of Borderlands is hard to dismiss, especially when it revels in its new coat of paint. Backing everything up is the core Borderlands loop that has turned the franchise into the hit series it is today.

We’re a sucker for a good loot grind and Wonderlands delivers that in spades, alongside satisfying gunplay that gets creative with its new fantasy theme. So if you’re looking for something to help you along this upcoming gaming lull or a quirky new co-op adventure, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a great shout.

Buy on Amazon.

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Weird West (PS4, XBO, PC)

Speaking of quirky adventures, you’ve gotta hand it to this indie immersive sim – it sure as hell is weird. Pitched as a dark fantasy reimaging of the wild west, Weird West will see you encounter man-pig hybrids, werewolves and a whole lotta gunslingers.

Playing as the ‘passenger’ you take control of five different protagonists, following their strange individual tales. We say strange because, while things usually start of normal, it’s rarely long before everything spirals out of control and you find yourself in the middle of a gunfight.

The good news is that they’re mostly a blast. Gradually working your way through enemies and working out the best path for success or which ability to leverage was a treat, although admittedly a little chaotic at times with a controller. Conversely you can try the sneakier stealth route, but we often preferred a much more traditional guns-blazing approach.

We were also impressed with how choice and consequence affected gameplay. Sometimes it’s as simple as a character you help in one mission returning to save your bacon in another, but other times it runs deeper – like your impact on a town affecting its future and its inhabitants.

Weird West mightn’t be for every gamer, but well worth a shot if you’re after an adventure with some flair. It’s also free for Xbox Game Pass subscribers.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, XBO, PC)

Stranger of Paradise is without question one of the most bizarre games of 2022 so far. Touted as a semi-retelling, semi-spin-off of the original Final Fantasy game it’s not at all what you’ve come to expect from the series. There’s a whole lot of attitude, a dude who keeps talking about wanting to kill Chaos and even a Frank Sinatra track that makes one hell of an unexpected appearance

By all accounts that should make Stranger of Paradise an absolute bloody train wreck, but somehow against all odds there’s just something that kept bringing us back for more.

Part of it is the dialogue that’s so seriously hammed up it actually made us chuckle, but perhaps the real highlight is the game’s combat, which packs in a suite of moves and attacks that just feel damn good to pull off. It’s also surprisingly difficult, which means playing around with the game’s many systems and combos is crucial to your success.

It’s certainly not a conventional game, and sure isn’t pretty to look at, but walk in expecting an especially offbeat adventure and you’ll wind up having quite the fun experience.

Buy on Amazon.

Hands-on with the new iPad Air (2022)

If there’s one skill that Apple truly excels at, it’s refinement. Each new line-up might not be the glitzy, game-changing affair some fans may crave, but each new product is sleek, sturdy and damn reliable. The new 2022 iPad Air not only follows this trend, but thanks to one big inclusion, also does well to future proof itself for years to come.

That inclusion is none other than the M1 chip – Apple’s self-made powerhouse that is capable of doing some pretty heavy lifting. It is also the chip that powered last year’s iPad Pro, so the fact that it’s being included in the lower-priced Air model is a bloody welcome surprise.

As you’d expect then, performance is blazingly quick and snappy, especially when we started with some Apple Arcade titles like Lego Builder’s Journey and The Pathless, although we do wish the ProMotion capabilities of devices like the iPhone 13 Pro also made their way across.

Once you start adding accessories into the mix, the iPad Air transforms all over again. The Apple Pencil, for example, turns the tablet into an essential sketching tool, and packs in so much flexibility for creatives. Being able to sense pressure on strokes make all the difference for drawings and artworks, while using it as a stylus in home design apps is a pretty seamless experience. The Magic Keyboard on the other hand is a pricey investment, but without question the best iPad keyboard we’ve ever used and actually had us wondering if it could help replace our much heavier, bulkier laptop – especially when travelling.

The range of accessories is extensive too. We also got our hands on some of Twelve South’s compatible apps including the HoverBar Duo and StayGo Mini USB-C Hub. The former is an incredibly sturdy stand that easily clamps the iPad in place and allows you to angle it in all sorts of positions – be it to aid you in your cooking quests or a hands-free FaceTime call. Then there’s the Mini USB-C Hub which will be critical in maximising your Air’s potential with four ports including USB-A, HDMI, headphone/audio out and USB-C power. Being able to hook up a USB and actually grab files in particular was efficient and painless, so we’d recommend keeping one handy.

Like we said, the iPad Air is an incredibly example of Apple refinement at its most effective. If you’ve got the funds, it’ll be a perfect companion for your workday, holiday or whatever you’re doing really.

Buy on Amazon.

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