2020 is still pretty bloody shithouse, we know. But before the Sony and Microsoft try to wow you with their new consoles, here’s a handful of new games and tech to keep you keepin’ on. First up, the eventual release of Marvel’s Avengers …
Marvel’s Avengers (PS4, XBO, PC)
Here’s the skinny on this hotly anticipated superhero brawler: it’s actually pretty darn good. A lot of that joy most stems from the Marvel’s Avengers’ campaign, which surprisingly doesn’t set its sole focus on everybody’s favourite group of heroes, but rather that of Kamala Khan – Marvel’s first Muslim character to headline her own comic book. Her charm and enthusiasm is infectious, helping differentiate from the rest of the cast who look strikingly close to the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr and co., but not so close that Disney’s pack of lawyers need to be involved.
The rest of the Marvel’s Avengers’ package is slightly less enticing as the games as a service elements kick in – making it a little repetitive for solo players, but perfect if you have a bunch of mates wanting to lay the smackdown on nameless robot foes. Regardless, this is worth a shot if you’re a comic book or MCU nut, and has boatloads of potential.
Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series (PSVR)
If there’s one series you’d think would fit VR like a glove, it’s Star Wars, so it’s about high time we score a decent crack at swinging a virtual lightsaber around and Vader Immortal lets you do exactly that. Split across three episodes, the three-ish hour adventure acts more like a walking simulator with the expected Star Wars trappings, but when it all comes together special, this game is.
Using your Move Controllers to manipulate a lightsaber and your force powers in battle is exhilarating, and coming face to face with old mate Darth himself is strangely intimidating. Just be prepared for the opposite to happen as well, as the limitations of PSVR can occasionally rip you out the whole shebang when things occasionally go astray behind the scenes. Still, if you’re a Warsie with a PSVR packed away, Vader Immortal is a great way to spend a few hours.
Hands on with the TCL 10 Pro smartphone
Working out what new smartphone to buy is one of the great struggles of modern-day life – much like working out whether it’s appropriate to remain pantless during your 10am Zoom meeting. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. Now TCL has entered the field with the TCL 10 Pro, and it’s a worthy contender indeed.
Your eyes will instantly be drawn to the 10 Pro’s display, and to be frank that’s completely understandable considering how sharp and beautiful it is. The 6.47-inch AMOLED screen is vibrant and gorgeous – the curved edges making it feel as though every inch of screen real estate is being maximised. Needless to say it quickly became our default device for all our Netflix and video streaming needs – just make sure you turn on the included Nxtvision for that extra visual boost.
It ties in well with the phone’s overall sleek form factor. It’s comfortable, light in the hands and packs a sturdy finish that doesn’t feel like will smash into a gazillion bits at the slightest of tumbles.
Camera-wise you’re working with a 64MP AI quad-camera system which is perfect for taking snaps out in the daylight, but does take a bit of a dip once your scene starts to darken. Likewise, the front-facing camera takes pretty crisp shot with good lighting, and you’ll appreciate how much space it takes up – a minimal notch that isn’t unpleasing to the eye.
One of the more surprising discoveries was a cheeky phone cover that’s included in the box, which is hardly a selling point, but a bloody nifty inclusion to protect your new investment right off the bat. The clear silicon case is hardly the prettiest option thanks to some on-the-nose branding, but will do the job until you invest in a more permanent solution. It also lessens the sting of earphones not being included, but that’s unfortunately going to be a wider trend moving forward, we predict.
At the end of the day, the TCL 10 Pro is a perfect choice if you’re a run-of-the mil user. It might lack some of the flashier elements you’ll get with an iPhone or Galaxy variant, but it’s also a few hundred dollars cheaper which is a big win if you’re going for bang vs. buck. And seriously, that screen is pretty as a picture.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (PS4, XBO, PC)
Forget the sour taste that the Birdman’s last remaster attempt left in your mouth – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 avoids a repeat faceplant and captures nostalgia aplenty. All the bells and whistles are accounted for as well, combining the first two classic games that helped define the original PlayStation.
There’s a great track list to rock out to that includes old classics and new bangers, and the visual overhaul to stages is impressive, although they admittedly feel a little smaller than they did 20 years ago. The big positive though, is that unlike our criticism of the recently released Skater XL, there’s an absolute shit-tonne of objectives and challenges to work your way through once the muscle memory kicks in. What we’re trying to say is that if you’re a long-time fan you’ll be impressed and if you’ve never played these gems, now is the time to rectify your foolish mistake.
NBA 2K21 (PS4, XBO, PC)
Dabbling with the NBA 2K series over the last few years has been something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s an incredibly polished, realistic representation of basketball’s on-court antics that fans have come to know and love. On the other, aside from a new shot mechanic and a handful of smaller changes, much of 2K21 remains unchanged, meaning an upgrade right now might not be totally justifiable if you’re pinching those pennies waiting for the next generation. That said, the revisions to shot-stick aiming do add another layer of complexity that will take hours to perfect and the new MyCareer mode – dubbed The Long Shadow – continues to be a series highlight.
It’s also worth noting though that microtransactions are once again very present. You’re thankfully never forced into them, but later progress will just be slow-going should you cast them aside. If you’re okay with all that, then hell, NBA 2K21 remains the best basketball game on the market and easily dunks on the competition.
Project Cars 3 (PS4, XBO, PC)
Let’s not beat around the proverbial bush with this one, shall we? Project Cars 3 is so far completely removed from the first two games that it almost feels as though it shouldn’t share the name. It’s the American Psycho 2 of the video game world. That might sound a little rough, but the racer’s move to tackle a more mainstream audience is a truly mind-blogging one.
By removing the core sim-heavy DNA that defined the Project Cars series, what remains is a mishmash of other titles that creates an experience that feels a lot like many of this threequel’s competitors. It’s certainly easier to pick up and play for newcomers, and continues to handle exceptionally well, but the series just lacks an individual identity now. If you’re a casual racer, there’s some fun to be had, but fans of the last two entries should definitely do some homework to see if this is their speed.
Battletoads (XBO, PC)
All the way back in 1991, the original Battletoads lived in infamy – its ridiculous difficulty the litmus test many gamers would use to judge how ‘hardcore’ they really were. Yep, it was pretty much the Dark Souls of the ‘90s. Now almost 30 years later we have a reboot/sequel mishmash, and the end result is nothing at all like we expected.
While there’s still plenty of challenge involved, Battletoads, ahem, leapfrogs from one gameplay style to the next with rapid pace. What that creates is a constantly refreshing experience that never allows you to grow tired of a certain mechanic because you’re suddenly thrust into a new one. It’s also backed up by some wonderfully self-depreciating, self-aware humour that’ll keep you chuckling along. Recommended, especially if you have Xbox Game Pass.