Our verdict on the divisive The Last of Us Part I, as well as We Are OFK, Midnight Fight Express and Bonelk’s Elevate Gamer stand.
To say there’s been a lot of chatter regarding The Last of Us Part I is something of an understatement. A full-priced remake of a beloved PS3 classic, fans and credits alike have argued the game’s worth since its announcement.
Now that we’ve had some quality time with the final product here’s what we can tell you. The Last of Us Part I is absolutely, positively stunning. Naughty Dog has always shot for the skies when pushing the graphical capabilities of each Sony system, and this is no different. Each location, encounter and character model has been lovingly recreated with rich detail it’s a true sight to behold.
It breathes new life into what is already one of the best games ever made and easily makes Part I the only way to play through The Last of Us going forward. Lighting is particularly impressive, especially in the new 40FPS performance mode we tested which really made the sun-soaked scenes pop. All in all, the upgrade in visuals and fidelity makes The Last of Us Part I feel more brutal than ever before and highlights how dire the world is.
Outside of visuals, Naughty Dog has worked to boost its level of accessibility and the list of inclusions is truly commendable. From alternate controls to magnification and visual aids and audio cues, it opens the game up to an even larger amount of gamers than ever before. Meanwhile the developer also claims to have boosted smarts, but we’ll admit our companions still occasionally strode into full view on occasion, which is hardly a deal-breaker but does tarnish the immersion slightly.
With the HBO show only months away The Last of Us Part I is the perfect primer for newcomers and long-time fans desperate for another replay. But while the game is absolutely not a “cash grab”, if you only just played through Joel and Ellie’s adventure, there may be less of a reason to rush out immediately and grab this remake.
It’s also worth noting that although we were lucky enough to receive a review code courtesy of PlayStation, as huge fans of the franchise we wouldn’t have hesitated to pick this up at full price (the full $125) with zero regrets and can imagine many likeminded gamers will feel the same.
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For everybody else, there’s still the 2014 PS4 remaster which you can pick up for a ludicrously low $12. Everybody wins.
The Last of Us Part I is out now for PS5.
Also out now…
Saints Row (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, XBO, PC)
After a lengthy sabbatical, Saints Row has made its grand return and the results are… well they’re a little mixed. All the usual pieces are there: an open world filled with things to shoot, cheeky tone and plenty of reckless destruction, but the whole puzzle just doesn’t come together as well as it should.
There are plenty of chuckle-worthy antics (like throwing grenades down the pants of your enemies) and we enjoyed the lighthearted tone the reboot strives for but the whole experience just needs more polish. Driving feels a bit rough, the story could use some work and we were met with more than the occasional bug – some of which required a hard restart. It’s hardly a complete disaster, but a bit more TLC might be needed before these saints come marching back in.
Midnight Fight Express (Xbox Series X/S, XBO, PS4, PC)
Operating in an interesting middle point between games like Hotline Miami and Batman: Arkham Asylum, Midnight Fight Express is a 3D beat-em-up with serious attitude. While the story and writing is pretty weak (focusing on an ex gang member with memory loss), it’s hardly the main dish in this brawling banquet. Midnight Fight Express is all about the fisticuffs and it does well to offer plenty of thrills.
Each combat encounter will see you endlessly surrounded, leaving you to juggle a rather extensive (once you start unlocking a traditional skill tree) move set that includes devastating counters, a range of weapons and a flurry of punches and kicks. Even the addition of slow-mo is focused more on planning your next move than Matrix-inspired antics. While Midnight Fight Express lacks some of the polish of a Hotline Miami, it’s fast, frantic and a hell of a lot of fun.
We Are OFK (PS5, PS4, Switch, PC)
If you love your video games small in size but large in experiemtnation, We Are OFK might just be for you. Focused on a small group of creatives each trying to make it in their field (a pianst, a wannabe singer, a music producer, etc.) you’ll follow the group’s lives over five episodes that are structured, and play out like a television episode. There’s even a neat little timer whenever you pause that will tell you how much game time you have left.
It’s worth noting though that there’s not a lot of traditional “game time” in We Are OFK. Most of your time will be spent sending text messages, choosing dialogue options and playing through interactive music videos. If you’re on board for a more passive experience, each of the leads are mostly engaging thanks to well-written dialogue even if the whole experience can occasionally feel a bit long in the tooth, will likely pique your interest to see the conclusion. The five original songs are also pretty darn good, and well worth checking out on Spotify.
Hands on with the Bonelk Elevate Gamer LED Laptop Stand
When it comes to balancing your home office with your gaming setup, you might not think it but a quality laptop stand will go a long way. We’ve certainly tried our fair share in the last year, but Bonelk’s Elevate Gamer LED Laptop Stand has without a doubt become our new favourite.
A large part of that is due to its incredibly sturdy build quality. Constructed with high grade premium aluminium, this thing is hefty and surprisingly weighty. While that means it may be less portable than some competitors (although it can fold down quite neatly), it means we were never once worried about the safety of our Windows or Apple laptops. Even with a hefty budge to our work table there was little to no shaking – helped along by a number of non-slip pads that do well to grip onto your device of choice. That stability is a good thing considering how high the Elevate can get. With a dual pivot design, you can raise the height of your laptop from 40mm to 200mm. It’s great for ergonomics (and could almost even get high enough for us to use it as a makeshift standing setup) it also gives you plenty of room underneath to stow away controllers or chargers.
Where the Elevate tries to further break away from the usual crowd is its implementation of RGB lighting. But although we’ll easily admit to enjoying the extra flair the undercarriage lightning provided, it does come with a few caveats. The first is that customisation is a little limited (able to choose between Choose between solid colour or breathing effects from 7 different colours), understandably due to it being a more basic device. The other is that in order to light up the stand, you will need to use up one of your laptop’s USB slots. There is a USB-A to C adapter included for a bit of flexibility, but depending on your device that’s still precious real-estate.
Ditch the RGB element entirely and we’d still recommend the Bonelk Elevate Gamer LED Laptop Stand as an invaluable bit of gear for heavy laptop users. It’s sturdy, sleek and wonderfully flexible. While it retails for $119, savvy shoppers can pick one up for as low as $99, so it won’t break the bank. And hey, we’re always a sucker for a bit of extra lighting.
You can buy the Bonelk Elevate Gamer LED Laptop Stand from major retailers like JB-Hi Fi.