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Need for Speed: Payback review


Ok, ok, I know it’s 3 months since release, but I couldn’t just take a piss at it 2 days after release, because in all honesty, that’s actually enough time to see what kind of game this is. But as a decades long NFS fan, I gave it a proper try and here is my review of this thing…

I actually wanted to make a full blown serious in-depth review of this game, but it’s such a steaming pile of shit I just can’t be bothered wasting my time to do it. I’ll probably still spend an hour or two writing this anyway, but whatevers…

Lets make a quick summary of goods and bads and then I’ll briefly tell you why I think so.

The Goods:

  • Graphics are good
  • Reasonably good car engine sounds
  • Alright music selection for the most part (mostly in garage)
  • Driving model is pretty good
  • World is reasonably diverse with somewhat interesting layout
  • Reasonably OK car visuals customization
  • Reasonable car selection

The Bads:

  • On release day it felt like an expensive 60€ Early Access game
  • 3 months later, it still feels like an expensive 60€ Early Access game
  • Missing tons of content on release day
  • Still missing tons of content we already had in NFS series freaking 15 years ago
  • Unfinished world
  • Microtransactions
  • Speed Cards
  • Idiotic car upgrading
  • Limited car levels
  • Idiotic car tweaking
  • Enforced car classes
  • Stupid races with retarded enforced cars
  • Racers are cheating scumbags
  • No free roaming cops
  • Cops are cheating scumbags
  • Wonky car physics
  • Offroad driving is weird
  • Retarded multiplayer
  • Cheesy and boring story
  • Absolutely annoying “characters” chatter during driving
  • Tons of inconsistencies and illogical stuff
  • Visual car damage can’t be turned off
  • It just doesn’t feel like Need for Speed anymore

I’ll now describe all the things in more details in same order as they are listed above. So you can follow exactly what I meant with that…

The Goods in more details…

So, lets start with the good pars… Graphics look good. Then again it’s Frostbite, getting any less would be a major disappointment. Car engine sounds are also good, although it feels a bit generic at times, mostly because of missing distinct turbo whistling or supercharger whining (because unlike in NFS2015, there isn’t any Supercharger part even available). Music in some parts is good, especially in garage. I like quite few songs there although still not on level of dedicated music created for the game specifically like in pre-2000 era. Driving model is pretty good, cars have a distinct differences in driving feel and whole driving model feels more like Screamer 2 or NFS Hot Pursuit 2010 which is more to my likings. Perfectly holding a drift line through corners is challenging and fun. It just works. Driving around the map is fairly interesting, it has a highway ring basically around it, it has a lot of elevation changes, straights and twisty roads, has flat desert plains, twisty hill roads, certain interesting points like the observatory peak, the dam, canyons, bridges, dense city… I wouldn’t say it’s a peak of possible design, but it’s interesting enough to be enjoyable driving around it. It’s not easy to remember because a lot of things look all the same without really distinct map parts or elements that would make roads memorable. This especially applies to city part. Car customizations are also pretty good. You can keep your cars all stock visually, you can tastefully modify just few details or you can rice the hell out of them and turn them into abominations. It’s your choice and game is not forcing anything on you so that’s fine. There is also reasonable selection of cars, from casual hatchbacks to million dollar hypercars. Can’t complain over that even though I wouldn’t mind if they added few others, like for example something from Tesla to spice things up and make them funky with a fast car that makes no engine noise. Would be interesting.

Now to the extensive The Bads list…

When it was released, it literally felt like a really very expensive Early Access game. It had tons of idiotic bugs, flaws, missing content that they are still adding to the game. And I’m not talking about small eye candy, they are adding whole new segments to the game like actually functioning multiplayer and multiplayer free roam. You know, something NFS2015 released 3 years before had on launch day. It feels like a very eager indie project by some unknown developer. In which case, I’d actually be impressed by the game if it was being sold for 20€ or so. But this is a game from EA. A multimillion AAA developer and this is the best they can make in late 2017? Come on! I also love it how everyone defends Ghost Games like idiots because apparently everyone thinks Ghost Games is some poor 3rd party studio being bullied around by evil EA. Stop doing this shit, Ghost Games IS an EA. Just because EA smacked a label on a group f their internal coders and designers, that doesn’t make them anything. They are still just EA with a different name sticked on top. I’ve bought Killing Floor 2 in Early Access few years ago, made by actual indie studio and it felt more polished and properly designed on Early Access release day than NFS:Payback was on actual proper final release day. Sure they are totally different types of games, but you can’t cheat the feel you get when you play one or another. And while they are adding content, the game is still missing pretty much all the cool things we already had in NFS games in the past.

Game world, while praised in the Goods part, it also has a desert segment on the southern to central part of the map where is literally a big slab of nothingness. I think it only has 1 gas station and few notable structures and that’s it. The 99% rest of it are just empty hills. It feels like they had plans to make something there too, but then somehow forgot it till game was already released and they just said, oh well, fuck it. This goes along with the Early Access remarks. Because it helps game feel like it wasn’t even finished, they just had to push it out because board members wanted moar profitz.

The worst part however is the fact EA shoved microtransations in this game and as a result, totally fucked up entire core of the game which is having fun with the cars, fiddling with them and driving around, trying to hoard all of them etc. What I’m saying here is that EA shoved microtransations in this game and as a result screwed up car upgrading entirely. There is no “car parts” shops or garage anymore. Instead, you get “Speed Cards” which replace the usual car parts you’d install in your cars. Instead of having 20 different parts, you get 6 Speed Cards classes that “upgrade” your car. Except it’s so monumentally retarded I can’t understand what retard at EA thought this is good for any kind of game. But got to get dem moneyz from dumb gamers. You’re not really in control of car upgrading, you drive up to Tune-Up Shop which randomly throws few cards at you and you can decide from that crappy selection which one to buy to slightly boost your car stats. And as you progress through game story, Tune-Up shops slowly give you higher and higher cards. After grinding races for hours you then piss away all the money on these stupid cards moving your car stats back and forth because these cards have stats connected in most retarded way. You buy a Turbo card upgrade and your car also somehow gets a boost or nerf of the brakes. Or buying a “better” block improves your top speed but somehow nerfs your nitro. You can also use random parts generator which is essentially a god damn slot machine in which you throw 3 fucking token points and it randomly assigns a Speed Card from one of 3 categories you pick. It’s so stupid it’s hard to describe it in words. And when you complete the story, if you want to max out all your cars, you have to go through all the 18 levels of Speed Cards each and every god damn time. You can’t just buy all the level 18 speed cards straight away. No, no, no, you have to always go from whatever each car starts at. And you can’t just do that in one go either. You have to leave Tune-Up Shop for 15 minutes so it “restocks” and you can try your luck again. I miss the days where buying car parts an cars was down to hard work and grinding money so you could then buy EXACTLY what you want. Instead, you actually have to grind even more because you then piss all your money and token points trying to upgrade your fucking car. You also get reward Speed Card for winning a race. They give you a choice between 3 “mystery” cards where I bet it literally makes absolutely no difference which one of 3 you pick, behind the front end, game would always assign you the same card even if you had chance to pick any other, so I always just hit confirm key on the middle one. And the card you got as a “reward” often only nerfed your car instead of upgrading it. You can look on NFS Subreddit what a shitshow that was and still is to this date, they just mildly patched it to make it less retarded. They also just released an upgrade like a day ago that introduces “Catch Up” packs to upgrade cars. So, I have a choice between 3 of them. First two literally nerf ALL my car stats. I’d literally pay 130.000 in-game money to make my car worse. The 3rd option is a 180.000 bucks upgrade that boosts car acceleration, top speed, but literally nerfs everything else almost down tot he bottom. Almost no nitro, no air time, shitty braking and so on. You can piss away 500.000 money on single car just because you have to go through tons of utterly useless shit that does nothing but nerfs your stats so you have to grind some more randomized Speed Cards shit in order to upgrade cars. It’s so stupid and makes whole game 100x worse grinding shit any NFS ever was to date. To make things worse, some cars that you may like, can’t even be upgraded past a certain level, making them useless for later in the game because you’re forced to buy better ones in order to even progress anywhere.

Car tweaking doesn’t fall down to installing tires with different properties. It literally doesn’t matter now anymore. You smacked that sweet oversized rear spoiler on your car? Guess what, it does nothing at all. Suspension stiffness, what’s that? All this is gone. I spent hours in NFS2015 fiddling with cars. The game was somewhat boring in general, but the stuff around cars was fairly ok. Installing different car parts actually affected how cars were handling, on top of extensive car tweaking which was dependent on car parts you actually had installed. NFS2015 had quick tweak sliders while free roaming which depend on installed parts. If your car was stock, you couldn’t really change much. But with racing brakes, better engine, turbo/supercharger, spoilers and tires, you could control brake bias, suspension stiffness, spoiler downforce, tire grip etc. In NFS:Payback, it literally doesn’t matter what you have installed, you have like 2-3 sliders for steering responsiveness, drivetrain mode like 2WD or 4WD mode and few other things that depend on car or class.

Talking of car classes, all races have enforced car classes. You need to buy a car dedicated for a certain class. For example, you can’t use a Race class car for Drifting. Or vice versa. In NFS2015 you could just use whatever car you had and just tweaked the parameters in such way to make rear end loose. Here, you need to buy sometimes even same car for different class. For example, I fancy the BMW M5. It’s not enough to buy it once, no, you’ll have to buy same car several times if you like it in order to satisfy the game requirements for each class. Now, place this multiplied spending on same thing on top of already retarded Speed Cards. This game is such a fucking grind fest it’s unbelievable. All in favor of fucking microtransactions because they need to make game as insufferable as possible for people to voluntarily decide to buy part tokens which are a slightly faster way of actually getting parts that aren’t total garbage. Whoever actually buys this shit is a fucking retard and you should be ashamed of yourself if you have done that, spending actual money on in-game content because developer made the game so insufferably lame to grind through that you feel desperate enough to do it.

Oh, and to make things even worse, it was not enough that they enforced car classes for races, they’ve gone beyond that and also enforced races within classes. Most notable being Drag class where you have races that require you to use a Drag car that steers like a crippled whale through city streets around fuck tons of 90° corners and bends. It was one of the most infuriating race I’ve ever experienced right after racing portion of Mafia game. To make pain worse, they made Ai racers so obviously cheating in this race it made me go ballistic. I was sweating with the damn handbrake trying to move the fucking Drag class car through god damn corners using handbrake and Ai opponents were flying through corners like they are driving a god damn agile Race class.  Like fuuuuuuuuck, why can’t you leave Drag racing be a fucking Drag racing? NFS Underground 1 had most fun and exciting Drag racing of all NFS games. Manual shifting, one shot nitro, flying through a straight street between traffic. The rails system actually made it more fun than having full control over steering. But no, they had to “upgrade” it with fuckery like normal race in a wrong car against cheating Ai. Bravo. Thats’ a great plan to make people like your game or race mode…

Now to the part I was most annoyed about and still am. NFS:Payback has NO free roaming cops. Sure, NFS2015 had them and were so boring and useless you could evade them in 30 seconds using stock crappy car. But they were there and they could improve them to a point of being good and fun like in Most Wanted 2005 or NFS Most Wanted 2012. Instead, despite of all the complains, they didn’t bother even tweaking them a bit. They just left them being totally useless. Fast forward to NFS2015 successor, NFS:Payback and you’ll find out there aren’t even any free roaming cops. None, nada, nill, zero. You can drive around at 350km/h and crash into everything and no one will be there to enforce the laws of the road. Cops only exist in limited range of missions, mostly for the Runner class, there are some Bait Crates which you can use to initiate pursuits and recently they’ve been releasing new extra cars all over the map that you have to find and then race back to the airfield to claim them. And that’s where you find out just what kind of cheating scumbags cops are as well. Not only their cars behave like they are on god damn rails, they also have ridiculous acceleration and their tactics are utterly idiotic. Most of the time I get busted by a fucking EMP bullshit that is so unpredictably idiotic you can’t even know how to evade it because you can do same thing twice and once it’ll bust you and other time it won’t. It make it even worse when you’re out in the offroad sections of a map and if they fire EMP on your there it’s basically a guaranteed bust. To make things worse, all these abandoned cars are piles of shit so it makes racing back to airfield not an exciting experience but the most infuriating shit ever. Ever since I started playing this game on release date, I haven’t been once busted by cops being capable like in god damn NFS Most Wanted 2005 from 12 years ago, no, I was always busted by some stupid dumb shit, be it stuck into some fucking rock in the middle of nowhere, getting rammed off the road over the cliff by illogically accelerating cop and busted when it resets you back, nailed by EMP with absolutely no ways of evading it or just getting fucked by wonky physics…

Yup, we had funky things happening in the past NFS games, but the amount of bizarre shit your car will do in this one is just outstanding. Enter a tunnel and hit the 3cm high curb int he middle and your car will spasm out into the air like you hit a god damn jumping ramp. Or flipping over for hitting a small bump in the road or spinning on the front bumper with rear raised int he air for half a minute. or hitting invisible ceilings because you somehow jumped too high or hitting invisible walls because they decided that collision box around ground rock should extend 50 kilometers into the air. When things work fine, the physics work alright, but there is just too much of this really dumb shit that shouldn’t be happening in regards to physics.

Which goes the same with offroad racing. Opponents again being on rails that you can’t move them from, but they can push your around like they have 100 tons and you’re in a fucking Fiat 500. To make things worse, it doesn’t matter what car you have or what tires you use or what car height is, ALL cars without exception have same speed and behave basically identical on gravel or dirt. You can have a Honda Civic or Mercedes G63, they’ll both ride at the same speed over offroad surfaces. That’s just dumb.

Now, lets talk multiplayer. It was bad on release and it’s still bad. Probably one of the worst in entire NFS history. Initially there was a mix of Race and Offroad class. You can’t just decide to play Race class modes because you fancy high speed tarmac racing. Nope, you’re again FORCED to do one offroad race between 2 Races. To make things even worse, I wasn’t aware of this in the beginning when I only had 1 upgraded car which was for the Race class. But no upgraded car at all for Offroad. So, I was forced to compete against others who had both cars upgraded. I was doing reasonably well in Race, but in offroad I was last because my car was shit. The ones game gives you as option if you have none at all are all stock and just as shit as not having a car at all. Later EA added Drift competitions and managed to cock that up again (what a surprise). They made drift points scoring higher if you’re in the front, leading the pack. What people did then was crash everyone into shit or push them ff road and complete the Drift race in front of the rest, scoring highest points. because a developer “Ghost Games” (still just EA) never heard of this thing called “GHOST CARS”. It’s a recording of your best race using a transparent car that can’t collide with you. Same could be done here. Opponents in your view would be a ghost car and you’d be a ghost car to them. Everyone could be on the same road at the same time, doing Drift race while applying the points boost for the one in the front, but with no means for people to ram each other off the road. I’m a fucking nobody and I thought of this solution in 2 minutes that a fucking AAA developer with allegedly professional game designers couldn’t. Fuck me sideways. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in NFS Hot Pursuit 2010 multiplayer and while it was flawed, I’ve had tons of fun in it. It was just designed well enough for it to work and be enjoyable despite its flaws that never even got fixed. This here is just absolutely horrendously terrible. So bad I gave up after doing just once race and I have no wish of ever trying it again. It’s almost as if they never planned to have mutliplayer in this game and they decided to add it anyway pretty much 15 minutes before game was released to public.

Story, while I never demanded one or had any problems with any in racing games is rather cheesy and inconsistent here. For example, NFS Most Wanted 2005 had cool cut scenes that were funny and I couldn’t wait to see what more I’ll see. It also had a really nice plot twist that surprised me more than many heavy story driven games. And then here we have a bunch of missions and races stitched together in really weird way that again gives that weird sensation of playing a game made by very eager designers who don’t have the skills to materialize the ideas proper way. Everything I did to progress through story was just “whateverz”, just let me get over this already. And to make things more annoying is this stupid characters chatter when they just randomly “call you up” and ask you shit or talk to you for no reason what so ever. And they usually decide to do so when you need distractions the least. I’d almost prefer a tree style progression with unlock rewards like we had in NFS Hot Pursuit 2 with no story at all than the fact they spent tons of time doing all these animations and dialogs instead of making properly capable free roaming cops. I just can’t get over that fact…

There is also bunch of weird inconsistencies in this game of which most memorable was when you evade cops in some mission, totally obliterating some bridge across the highway. Just for it to be absolutely spotless 1 minute later. Or how in some part of the story someone says to you that all the cops in the city will be after you from now on and that you should lay low. Motherfuckrs, there are no free roaming cops. I could plow right back into the city, do donuts all over it and literally nothing happens. old NFS games that were story driven had this covered and done properly. You actually had heat level that affected how trigger happy cops are on your presence. But here they say one thing like thy had plans in doing it but then they got distracted by sweet Microtransactions and Speed Cards to be bothered doing it.

What also annoyed me was car damage. Now, the car damage doesn’t affect driving capabilities at all (well, not all). It just makes your lovely car look like absolute shit. But there is no way of turning this off to always have spotless beautiful car. You’ll be riding this wrecked pile of shit most of the time because lets be honest, you’ll be hitting shit in this game. What I meant with that “well, not all” above is that if you like the Hood Camera view, the one where you feel the closest to sitting in a cabin, it’s because when you hit a car into something, the hood will bulge upwards, obstructing your view, forcing you to use way too lower Bumper Camera or some top of the view one. And that’s fucking annoying. Giving players ability to turn off visual damage would solve this. But nope, can’t be bothered with that either.


In all honesty, I haven’t played NFS game this bad. NFS Hot Pursuit 2 was a lackluster but I actually had fun with it. NFS Hot Pursuit 2010 was also a lackluster, but it was fun despite not having any story at all. NFS Most Wanted 2012, it was crappy copy of Burnout that ran like shit on pretty capable hardware, but at least it has properly capable cops and quite fun world so it was still exciting. NFS The Run, despite going absolutely the other way without any open world and car customizations and people bitched over that endlessly for it not having all that, it left a mark on me. The sheer experience of racing across entire United States was really exciting for me, especially because the world was so beautifully crated to really give you feel like you’re conquering large distances. Hell, even NFS2015 was quite fun because of how much you could fiddle with cars and just drive around, despite having absolutely useless cops and also cheesy boring story. Only game that relates to NFS:Payback garbage that it is is NFS Rivals. NFS Rivals was a weird one, it wasn’t absolutely bad as such, it was just so god damn forgettable I often forget where it is positioned chronologically in the NFS timeline. I know it had cops and that you could drive Ferrari after long time of not having them, but that was about it. Like I’ve said, it was just so damn forgettable it’s almost as if it didn’t even exist.

I’d actually say NFS Payback is a decent racing game if it was made by some unknown studio and being sold for even 40€. You’d have no expectations from them because they would have no reputation. And it would probably surprise me as a game worth considering. It does some elements right and a lot very wrong. But that would be OK for a no name studio releasing their first project. However, Ghost Games is an internal label of a group of EA programmers and game designers. This is an AAA (triple A) studio with millions to piss on development and having allegedly capable teams to do the job with perfection. Instead they made this mediocre thing that has nothing fun, no identity, it just feels out of place, made around bunch of eager ideas that never got finished. I gave me sensation like not a single person from development team has EVER played ANY older NFS game. Dropping all the cool stuff people always wanted is just inexcusable.

I’m a NFS fan since TNFS released back in the mid 90’s of the last century and I regret buying this game even for a cheaper price of 30€ from a 3rd party store (which is a reason why I couldn’t refund it). I was disappointed by certain NFS releases, but never to this extent as with NFS:Payback. I was always willing to forgive mistakes or changes and just accept them. But NFS:Payback is so monumentally flawed at its core it’s impossible to look away and ignore the flaws. NFS:Payback would actually be a fantastic game if they ditched the god damn Speed Cards that fucked it all up, if it had NFS Most Wanted 2005/2012 capable cops and car upgrading and tweaking from NFS2015 with classes of cars like in NFS:Carbon which weren’t enforced, but separation between Tuner, Muscle and Exotics made it refreshing and you could pick the right class for your driving style and stick with it. I could ignore the cheesy story, inconsistencies, bad design choices if NFS:Payback had that. But it doesn’t. And because of it it gets the label of being probably the worst NFS game in history of this franchise.

Only buy it if you are really so desperate in playing an arcade racer and even then, only do it with maximum possible discount. In all honesty, it would be difficult for me to pay 20€ for it, knowing I paid 20€ for far better games made by nobody indie teams consisting of 3 developers… This is a disgrace for EA and NFS franchise. Get your shit together EA. The Star Wars fiasco with same shitty microtransactions and this bullshit with NFS made me drop EA on the same list as I have Ubisoft. The DON’T EVER FUCKING BUY THEIR GAME one. I’m a NFS fanatic and since there aren’t any other decent arcade racing games around, I’ll most likely still consider next NFS game, but I’m not just gonna buy it like NFS:Payback. I’ll get a pirated copy first if I’ll have to and evaluate it properly. I don’t even trust their refund policy anymore at this point for it. And then I’ll decide if it’s actually worth the money or not.

Welcome back to Mars. Doom 2016 review!


I wasn’t really following the progress of new Doom since its announcement months and years ago. I’ve heard about it and how id Software is planning on making Doom 4, but I was like OK. I’ve never been that die hard fan of Doom franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played it a lot because it was just so satisfying to gun down monsters, but I’ve never been a hardcore fan. Spotted a release date that was just few days away and thought, fuck it, I’ll just buy it. It was one of those impulsive purchases and man I’m glad I’ve done it…

Lets break it down how I usually do it, starting with…


This has always been the strongest point of Doom and it doesn’t disappoint this time around either. It looks absolutely spectacular, there are no compromises or trickery used to cut corners and make things run faster. And it’s a lot brighter than Doom 3 which is probably the reason why it’s more pleasing to the eye. Models, weapons and world are incredibly detailed, textures are sharp, lighting and post processing is beautiful and it just gives the impression it will age well. Not many engines can brag with this, but new Doom certainly is giving that kind of vibe. And best of all, it runs insanely fast. We are too used to brand new games running like crap on everything but the most ridiculous high end systems running dual GPU setups. But not this one. If you have a decent quad core CPU and at least GTX 970, you can expect the game to run at around 100fps at 1080p using Ultra settings. It’s almost unheard of for a brand new game running on a mid-high end graphic card from last year this well. I’ve been playing it on a very capable overclocked hexa core with 32GB RAM and single GTX 980 at 1080 and it was absolutely flawless from start to end. I’ve even tried it using 4K DSR and it was surprisingly playable. Not up to my standards where I want silky smooth V-Synced 144 fps, but it was playable. On a single freaking overclocked GTX 980. And it’s not even running Vulkan as it was originally suggested. This is plain ol’ OpenGL! Imagine how fast it’ll be with Vulkan 🙂 I don’t know if Carmack was involved in development of this engine, but I have to say, incredible job id software!


New Doom is a lot less about scary moments like in Doom 3 so, sound doesn’t play such a huge role, but it’s still something worth mentioning. The music score is really good, from somewhat depressing and dark menu music to punchy and energetic gameplay music that doesn’t really stand out in any way but does blend amazingly with the gameplay itself. It can enhance the atmosphere when nothing is happening or just pump adrenaline in your blood during combat. Which is good. That’s the point of music. It shouldn’t ever take away the focus from the game, instead it should always be a supporting component. And as such it’s used perfectly.

Ambient noises and effects are also really good and they compliment graphics well into creating a believable world on Mars. No complaints here.

Can’t complain over sound effects of monsters either. As I’ve said, this isn’t Doom 3, so it’s using monsters sound a lot less to build up the tension and scary atmosphere, but they just blend in nicely with the entire game. I do have tiny complaints over certain weapon sounds. While some are incredibly satisfying like the incredibly deep and punchy faster and faster sound of the chaingun as it spins up and massive noise on railgun discharge, I kinda miss a bit more punchy double barrel shotgun sound as well as more empowering noise from the iconic BFG gun. I miss that tension as it powers up and discharges, you know, like it was in Quake 2… I miss that. That longer weeeeeeeeeee BEEEEEEWWWWWW and everything just gets obliterated from the screen. It is there, but not in such scale. It’s just not as satisfying as it should be. Too bad.


With around 26 hours of total gameplay (probably some counted as I sometimes left the game in main menu or paused) playing it on Nightmare difficulty, which is the highest possible on first run, it was very satisfying. Incredibly challenging as monsters kill you very quickly, but still very satisfying. I did take time to poke my nose everywhere and even restarted one huge chunk of the game because I thought I missed one huge secret (a Rune challenge). Turns out I haven’t missed it. 😀

We often hear things like “going back to roots” but most games just fail to deliver. I’m happy to report that’s not the case with new Doom which is an actual reboot. While there are some changes to the location, monsters and so on, it’s full on back to roots Doom and Doom 2 and exact opposite of Doom 3. Doom 3 was more focused on terrifying atmosphere and stronger individual monsters in tight and dark areas where new Doom throws you into big “arenas” with tons of monsters attacking all at once. It demands constant motion and smart usage of correct weapons at given situation. Not all weapons are good to counter all monsters so you do have to switch them quite a lot.

And here is the interesting part… Weapons have several upgrades and fire modes. One might say such thing has no place in a game like Doom, but you’d be wrong. Weapon modes aren’t fiddly, they are easy to use and give you choice to create your own gameplay style. You can go with brute force and be more up close and personal or you can have weapon modes more suitable for long distance combat, keeping enemies at distance. And the way things upgrade and progress, it’s very hard to mess it up so far that you’d have to start the game all over. Around half way through the game I already had all the upgrades I’ve wanted. So I’ve started experimenting with the rest of them. I did find nearly all secrets though. Which brings me to the next interesting part…

I’ve always been a bit meh for hidden secrets in games. Especially the ones with Doom first person shooter style. I did poke my nose into every tiny hole in games like Deus Ex or System Shock 2 where it’s expected to do this kind of stuff, but not in games like Doom. But here, you’re double rewarded for finding secrets, so you’ll happily spend . You find the secrets, obviously, but doing so, you also earn weapon upgrade points which further encourages you to look for them. You also unlock viewable 3D models of weapons and monsters by looking for miniature Preator toys (basically cartoonish big headed toys of your own Preator suit). You can then zoom and view all the models up close in main menu without having to fight them. It’s a tiny but cool detail. I’ve checked all of the models and they are made really well.

Your protective suit also comes with upgrades just like weapons which are earned by picking up upgrade modules from corpses of Elite soldiers scattered all over UAC Mars base. They aren’t offensive as much as the weapons upgrades, but they focus more on location awareness and faster movement.

And if you’d think this is is as far as upgrading goes, there are also Runes. You have to complete Rune challenges which are again found on various locations and they provide you with runes, special upgrades that can further enhance you or your weapons. You can pick up to 3 Runes at once from selection of like a dozen of them.

Oh and there were some changes to the equipment as well. It was a bit confusing at first, but equipment is unlimited. You can’t run out of it no matter how often you use it. But equipment needs time to recharge and that’s what prevents you from spamming it like crazy. Again, with Preator suit upgrades, you can pump it up to 2 pieces of equipment and faster recharging which makes it an incredibly useful asset.

Snap, I’ve almost forgotten one crucial change. Killing enemies using Glory kills (basically a quick time event) replenishes you health. Which at least on Nightmare is hard to come by and goes down very fast, so you have to balance your gameplay as well. You can either be super careful and gun down everything from a distance or engage close combat Glory kills to risk getting killed or replenish your health. It’s an interesting concept that gives you choice and makes everything a lot more dynamic. Shoudl I look for health pack or should I do that risky Glory kill and get health that way. Decisions, decisions… 😀

One would think all these upgrades just mess it all up, but to my surprise, they don’t. Somehow id Software managed to combine old school mass shooter with modern elements that give game some depth and interesting stuff to fiddle with. Sure opinions will clash on this one, but they made such an excellent blend of fiddly things and shooting it makes a really badass experience.


A lot of them returned from originals, some from Doom 3, but they are a lot more dynamic now and they want to poke you out. Including your guts. Original Doom was rarely up close and personal, this one is very often. Not by your choice, but because most monsters just want to hunt you down and slaughter you. And most have some sort of high distance jumping skills or ranged attacks as well as things like invisibility or teleportation. This also includes boss fights which are pretty badass. Very hard on Nightmare, but really cool. And you need to use some brain to defeat them. Just filling them with lead is not enough 🙂

The Story

Story? It’s a Doom game lol. You wake up on Mars and you frag some monsters. Yeah, story is nothing to write home about, but this is Doom. It’s pure fragging pornography. That’s like expecting deep story and character development in a porn movie lol. But in the end, all the data you collect via Data Vaults and stuff you can read in your logs section of the “inventory”, it explains background story of monsters, weapons, different map sections and people. It’s quite nice.


Sorry, I’m not going to review multiplayer as I don’t think I’ll even try it, but I did try SnapMap feature. Basically a map editor for people who can’t be bothered with over the top complex level editors. Here, you have tons of predefined world elements, objects, monsters, sounds and triggers and you, just like the name suggests (SnapMap) just snap them together. It’s really easy and they even provide live tutorials. Controls are a bit clumsy, but I’ll certainly spend some more time experimenting with it, maybe even creating a campaign or a multiplayer map. By modifying existing elements and creating complex script chains, you can create more than just a generic map. You can create complex maps where you have to do things in order to unlock doors and progress. Really interesting and certainly a big extra value with the base game.


I could go on and on about it. Damn, just look at the “Gameplay” segment of the review which exploded from 2 paragraphs into 9 haha. This game is certainly one of those that will be written in history just like original Doom games. I honestly can’t complain about anything specific. It looks amazing, runs amazing has tons of cool and badass weapons, challenging monsters, beautiful environments and best of all, it’s super fun from start to end. And that’s the whole point of games. They need to be fun. And new Doom most certainly is!

It is a properly good game and id Software really outdone themselves. If you’re a Doom fan or just someone who likes to poke things with virtual guns, you have to play it. It’s really good and I can easily say one of the best games this year, hands down.

Life is Strange – A year later…


My Episode 1 review:

I can’t believe it’s been a year since this game was released. Well, the first episode at least. The last one was released in October 2015. And while I’ve finished first one immediately, I’ve left episode 2 somewhere in the middle and haven’t picked up the game for almost a year. I have to be in the mood to enjoy a game and I guess just few days ago was that moment when I was in the mood again. Picked up Life is Strange again. And wow…

I’m still a bit overwhelmed by the experience. So much, my mind is jumping back and forth trying to fit all the experience into sentences this very instant. Not a moment later. Ever since System Shock 2 and Deus Ex back in the 1999 and 2000, those two games were considered my all time favorites. They involved thinking, action, amazing story, emotional segments, I’ve considered them a benchmark for all games I’ve played after that. And then, around 15 years later, Life is Strange arrived… and it pretty much entirely shattered my perception of games.

The thing is, I’ve experienced a somewhat similar thing with another title from same developer (DONTNOD). It was the Remember Me. While it was again an action packed game, the memory remixing segments paired with Nilin’s backstory were so unforgettable, so freaking emotional. The Neo Paris art design, the feel of it as you walked through the city, Nilin as a person, her back story, the music support, voice acting… I know quite a lot of games that really push the storytelling and drama, but there is just something only DONTNOD team can pull off. And they’ve outdone themselves with Life is Strange. I mean, I’m sitting here, writing this article, listening to Life is Strange main menu guitar soundtrack almost in tears, like something is missing from my life now that I’ve finished the game. The experience was so emotional, so immersive, so vivid but at the same time totally surreal. I can really immerse myself into many games, but I’ve never ever immersed myself into any game as much as I have in this one. Maybe it’s because parts of Max’s life kinda reminded me of my own, maybe because of the whole surreal experience, maybe because of the whole artistic approach to it… I honestly don’t really know… DONTNOD really knows their mysterious ways 🙂

People complained over many things in this game, particularly the dialogs and the slang used, but remember, this is a game, not a reality simulator. What others thought the slang was cheesy, for me it was kinda cool in an awkward cute kind of way. It didn’t bother me at all and I think it even gave the game that special unique touch. Along with all the artwork in the game. While the game is technological marvel since it’s using a rather new Unreal Engine, what made it so unreal was the art design of the game. Developers didn’t push all the latest shaders and effects, instead, they’ve opted for a more artistic approach that will remain timeless. 5, 10 or 15 years later, it’ll still have its flair where most of other games will just look old and outdated, this one just won’t. Like true art that somehow just keeps up with the times even hundreds of years later. People often say games can’t be art. And they are so wrong. They can and they are art. This game certainly is a work of art. It’s just… everything about it. The visuals, the ambient sounds, the acoustic guitar music, voice acting, the animations, amazingly believable world design, the people you meet and talk to, the way you grow fond of people and friends as if they were real people, mind blowing twisted story, all those terrifying moments when you have to make tough decisions that can and most often change the fate of everyone around you.

And I’m intentionally not going into details here. I can tell you, I’ve experienced thousands of hours in games and I’ve never felt like this in the end. It doesn’t matter what genre of games you prefer, you have to give this game a try. I cannot pour my thoughts into words good enough to give this game a praise it deserves. Give it a try and maybe let me know down below in comments what you think about it. But remember. Take your time. Don’t rush it. Experience it fully. Talk to people, look at things, explore, take your time.

For me, only wish I have now is that I was able to rewind time myself, so I could go back to day 1 when this game was released. With no memories of the story and the experience, just the knowledge that the game is really good. So I could re-experience the whole thing again. And again. And again. It is that amazing.

Life is Strange. And it becomes even stranger once you experience this game…

Noctua NF-A4x10 FLX 40mm and Noiseblocker XM-2 fan review

As I’ve posted not long ago, I’ve bought a new platform based on X99 chipset attached to ASUS Sabertooth X99 motherboard. And this motherboard arrived with special fan that you mount on a VRM segment of the motherboard for additional VRM cooling. Well, the stock fan is PWM and mounted on a special fan header which even when set at lowest speed makes it quite noisy and you can’t force the fan curve any lower. Too noisy considering the rest of the fans are almost dead silent. So, I’ve tossed it out and looked for alternatives…

After lengthy digging after 40mm fans (they really aren’t easy to find), there were few options at 10mm thickness that caught my attention. The Noiseblocker XM-2 that I already had, but is somewhat weak on the air pressure aspect, Gelid 40mm Silent Fan or Noctua NF-A4x10 FLX. I wanted the Noiseblocker BlackSilentPro 40mm but it only comes in 20mm thickness so that fell off my selection list.

I’ve checked bunch of resources and decided to go with Noctua. HalTech reviewed it and gave it very positive review on Youtube. Noctua is also known for high quality products (apart from absolutely terrible skin+diarrhea color scheme) and it has air pressure higher than some larger fans.

I was really enthusiastic about it…


Till I actually got the fan. Yeah, that color scheme… but fine, it sort of fits to desert beige and grey found on Sabertooth X99. Presentation is amazing. High quality box with preview window secured with a Velcro “lock”, bunch of really high quality accessories like amazingly well sleeved cables, anti-vibration holders, slowdown resistor etc. Really top notch, but then again, for almost 15€, I wasn’t expecting any less.

There was immediately a problem with fitting of this fan inside the cooling slot on Sabertooth X99. This damn fan is not standard 40mm size, I had to grind away the pointy parts on the corners in order to even be able to fit this darn thing in the fan slot. After I’ve done that, second problem appeared…

Connected everything, fired up UEFI BIOS and tested this bad boy. And guess what, this fan is TERRIBLE. Considering it’s loaded with anti-vibration, anti-noise, anti-everything with superduper SSO2 150 trillion hours hydro bearings with SCD2 drive and the review from HalTech stating it’s dead silent, this fan is anything but silent. Sure, it’s a 4500 RPM fan, but even when you slow it down, it doesn’t actually get any more silent. Connected the L.N.A. resistor in between to slow it down to 3700 RPM and further slow it down using UEFI BIOS controls and the damn thing was still buzzing and hissing like crazy. There is a third problem with it, if you partially block/obstruct its air intake and that’s exactly what happens since rear exhaust fan partially covers it, Noctua starts making really annoying whining noise.

It’s the noise frequency which is so irritating it makes you think it has 10.000 mosquitoes electrocuted inside the fan and that makes it spin. Even when absolutely slowed down it makes this god damn annoying buzzing noise that was driving me insane.

Yes, the air pressure is phenomenal for such tiny fan and you can properly fell it, but there is no way in hell I’m gonna listen to this buzzing crap. Sorry Noctua, but you failed badly here.

Pros and cons for Noctua NF-A4x10 FLX:

+ high quality packaging and presentation
+ attention for details (quality cable and resistor sleeving)
+ amazing air pressure of 1.21 mmH2O @ 3700 RPM
– motor is emitting super annoying buzzing noise across entire RPM range
– partially restricting air intake creates horrible whining noise
– fan frame is not perfect 40mm standard (holes are, the frame isn’t)
– a bit expensive for a tiny 40mm fan (considering the noise problems)

Alternative? Yeah, I’ve gone back to my all time favorite fan maker, Noiseblocker, more specifically to XM-2 fans that I had for ages but somehow decided to neglect it and give Noctua a try…


I don’t know what kind of witchcraft Noiseblocker is doing, but the XM-2’s that I have are old generation with sleeve bearing and they are dead quiet. At freaking 3800 RPM! New XM-2’s that you can buy now even come with Noiseblocker’s higher grade NB NanoSLI bearings. If their sleeve bearing is this quiet, how freaking quiet is the new generation of XM-2’s then!?

Anyway, XM-2 fits in the Sabertooth X99 directly without any modifications, is absolutely quiet at 3800 RPM meaning I’m running it full speed at all times and restricting its air intake doesn’t really change its acoustic properties. Air pressure is slightly lower as well as air flow, but if I have to trade that for silence, I’d do it any time. And I have.

Pros and cons for Noiseblocker XM-2:

+ attention for details (maybe not Noctua level, but still very good)
+ standard 40mm size
+ amazingly silent at full 3800 RPM
+ pretty color scheme
+ reasonably priced
– slightly lower air pressure and airflow compared to Noctua


If you don’t have to look at the ugly fan and you just need a high performance 40mm fan to cool system chipset or VRM, Noctua is certainly an amazing option. But if you want a high(er) performance 40mm fan that is also really super quiet at 3800 RPM, go with Noiseblocker XM-2. I’ll one day have to check out that Gelid, but for now, XM-2 is still my favorite fan. It’s just a better balanced product compared to Noctua which is amazing in some aspects, but also absolutely terrible in others.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided pre-ordering…

DeusExMankindDividedPreOrderSay hello to one of the biggest bullshit pre-orders. And I wouldn’t even give a damn if it wasn’t for one of my favorite game franchises. Remember the original Deus Ex, that uber spectacular niche RPG-FPS hybrid with jaw dropping story, advanced game mechanics and multi-path, multi-choice levels and missions? Well, the game is not niche anymore, it has been blown to the masses and it’s now getting riddled with the usual money grabbing bullshit.

And I used to take Eidos and Square Enix as honest developers/publishers. I guess the default stance of every gamer should be “All developers and publishers are scum”…

Cutting out content and selling it back as “bonus”

They are again taking out content and offering it to you as “bonus”. How about providing that content to all buyers of your game and encourage people to go the honest path of actually buying the game, because they’ll be actually rewarded for it. Or has everyone already forgot about The Witcher 3 and its countless free DLC’s? Maybe they were taken out or actually made as extras, bottom line is, they are free and everyone is getting them whether you pre-ordered or purchased the game on actual release day. And game sales speak for themselves. Even on PC which is constantly being trashed around as piracy heaven. Respect the gamers and they’ll also respect you.

Pre-order bonuses encourage piracy

Instead, this bullshit pre-ordering is only encouraging people to be even more cautious about spending their money and potentially leading into them just pirating the game. After all, it’ll be free and they’ll get ALL the extras. Where if you’re a honest gamer and you want to support the developer by actually paying for a game, just not by pre-ordering it, you’ll get screwed by missing actual game content like entire missions!

Bonuses ruin gameplay experience

I also absolutely hate it how developers and publishers babysit people who pre-order with aids for faster progress. I’ve first seen this nonsense on large scale in GTA5 and it made me not want to pre-order a game just because of that. If you pre-ordered GTA5, you got 500.000 of in-game money. Why the hell bother and even play the game when you get half a million handed to you from the start. That’s like getting BFG in the first level of Doom/Quake. It’s pointless and retarded. Sure, give me this kind of goodies AFTER I finish the game. I loved going all crazy with weapon cheats after I finished games, but getting it on first play through, that’s just retarded and entirely ruins the whole point of progress in games. Cosmetic, fine. But goodies affecting gameplay, sorry I just don’t want them. Even if I’d pre-order the game, I’d want to play the game as it was initially designed and use these goodies on second run only. Something I bet won’t be available as an option to the players who pre-order Mankind Divided…

A no win situation for players

It’s a now win because you have to go in blind. I’ve tackled this before in some of my blog posts and I’ll mention it again.

If you want to see how game looks and plays, you have to look tons of developer trailers, videos and gameplays prior to game release to see if it’s any good, so you can be sure you’re spending your money well. However, by doing so, you totally ruin your game experience. I’ve been doing this for few years until Alien:Isolation where I turned a new page. Yes, I’ve pre-ordered the game, sorry father for I have sinned, however I’ve purposely avoided all gameplay videos, because if I’ve learned anything from the past, gameplay videos totally ruin experience. Only thing I’ve watched were developer commentaries where I haven’t watched any actual video, just voice, so I didn’t even know how alien actually behaves in the game. When you enter the game after watching bunch of such videos, you know tons of stuff about the game and it’s just not the same. Especially watching someone else play it is wastly worse than playing a demo yourself. And that’s why I’ve enjoyed Alien:Isolation so much. I’ve never experienced such gut wrenching sensation as first meeting alien in that lobby where it slays few humans. I was genuinely scared for my life. But making sure you experience games this way, you have to avoid all the videos and buy the game blind. Meaning it’s a no win situation for you. You have to either sacrifice game experience and watch all the resources about the game or you ignore all that and potentially piss away 50+ € for a game that you’ll hate…

I miss demo games…

What I really miss are demo games (this explains how old of a dinosaur I really am). A playable presentation of the first game level. Or even how Valve did with original Half-Life, a game level that doesn’t even exist in the game released later. However I wish it was included since it was same gut wrenching experience as with Alien:Isolation. Walking those corridors in the beginning with just a crowbar and headcrabs jumping up your face, meeting brutal commandos in that hangar for the first time, meeting zombie scientist down in the dark sewers and vortigaunts terrorizing those commandos, the experience was just incredible. Or the System Shock 2 and original Deus Ex where demo presented the first game level to the player and then leaves it with a massive cliff hanger. It’s the best way to hype the players, give them the actual feel of the game and not ruin them game experience since it’s the first level which often leaves so many things unexplained (especially in the mentioned two games). That’s why I’ve enjoyed those games so much and I haven’t enjoyed many others later for which I watched gameplay videos taken out from the middle or even end of the game. It’s ridiculous.

Demo games are in my opinion the best way to present a product to the players with no downsides. And trust me, playable demos hyped me for the games far more than ANY gameplay video to date. Ever.

So, when would I pre-order the new Deus Ex?

I’d pre-order it if I could experience the gameplay of the first level myself (in person, not watching someone play it on video). It would be a good indication if game has the same good feel to it as Des Ex Human Revolution which I played and am familiar with. If Mankind Divided felt very similar, I’d pre-order it. If it felt more like original Deus Ex, I’d also pre-order it. But if it would feel more like a game that is just clutching on to legacy of predecessors and running with a cheap gameplay, I wouldn’t buy it. That’s why I only bought Deus Ex 2 when it was really cheap years after release. What does this tell you as a game developer or publisher?

Make a good game that won’t let me down and I’ll gladly hand over my money and be your loyal customer even in the future, because I’ll know you actually respect me as a customer and that you strive for quality and perfection. But using dirty tactics like these pre-orders only do one thing. Make me not want to buy your game. And this is exactly what I’ll do with Mankind Divided. I’m a hardcore Deus Ex fan, but I’m not going to support this bullshit even if it means I’ll be punished by missing out a whole game mission. Respect has to be mutual and I’m not sensing it here…

Short Game Review: Bulletstorm


As the name suggests, the game will make you go guns blazing and corpses flying. In first person. It’s made by people who delivered us Painkiller and it’s also heavily inspired by it. It’s powered by Unreal Engine and it delivers some really amazing visuals. People behind world design really delivered the most breathtaking environments I’ve ever seen. They are massive, bright, colorful and just look absolutely jaw dropping. Story in this game is there just so you can’t say there isn’t one. It’s OK I guess, but don’t really expect much from it. Combat is also fun in a way, particularly in the second half of the game when you get slightly more powerful and interesting weapons to work with. Doing combos, kicking enemies around and leashing them becomes really fun. But there is always that “however” and in this case, it’s quite big one…

The only thing that holds this game from grabbing “really fun game” title are the weapons. For the love of god, why have they designed weapons in a way you can only carry 3 of them at a time (out of which, the basic rifle is non-configurable) and that they only hold 20 or 30 rounds of ammunition when they are fully upgraded. 30 in a game where you’re expected to blow shit up, constantly!? This forces the whole game tempo to slow down, you’re constantly dependent on fiddling with moronic Drop Pods. Completely unnecessary. Sniper rifle with guided bullets is fun as hell, but they yet again ruined it by enemies instantly knowing bullet is flying at them and they always start to run sideways. ALWAYS. Why!? It’s so annoying and kills the fun of being creative with the sniper rifle.

Bulletstorm is an example of a game with huge potential ruined by silly game design decisions and when you manage to mess up one of the most important core elements of this kind of game, the desirability drops dramatically. More enemies, more ammo to carry around, elimination of silly Drop Pods, ability to carry all the weapons at once and the game would kick ass. People Can Fly, if you’re making Bulletstorm 2, make sure you’ll address this! Otherwise, don’t even bother releasing the sequel…

Oh and stop being bloody lazy with the FOV settings developers. This game is almost unplayable without FlawlessWidescreen tool. Instant headache guaranteed with its idiotic narrow FOV…


It’s OK when you want to admire amazing levels while shooting and blowing stuff up, without worrying about complex game mechanics. But all those bad weapon design decisions really ruined it for me. It’s a real shame, this could have been an amazing Serious Sam/Painkiller inspired game… I still recommend it, if you can overlook the silly weapons limitations and you’re willing to wait for a decent discount deal…

Alien Rage game review

Alien Rage. Probably one of the most overlooked first person shooter games (considering how I managed to entirely miss it since release back in Sep 2013!). But here and there, people come across them and this time, it was me. I picked it up on Steam at the beginning of January 2015 since it was on the deals list (otherwise I probably wouldn’t even notice it) and it kinda looked interesting. So I gave it a try. And man I’m glad I did…

To kick things off, Alien Rage runs on Unreal Engine 3 engine, so I don’t really have to brag about graphics much. It looks properly good. It’s all neon bright, glowing, sparkling and filled with amazing massive world scenes. It even has minor world destruction involved where cover objects get slowly disintegrated by the weapons, forcing you to move around a bit and not just stay behind one cover. Player movement is also typical for Unreal Engine based games which is also a very good start. I too often started a game just to find out aiming is totally awkward and that you move around like a giant wooden barrel. But not here. If game doesn’t flop on this point, it still has chances, but if they screw up this very foundation of a shooter, then it’s a real pain to play. Luckily, Alien Rage feels great in motion.

You can wield weapons from human and Vorus side, ranging from basic pistol with unlimited ammo to submachine gun, rifle, shotgun, RPG and sniper rifle or multibarrel chaingun. The Vorus side has more alienated weapons that are sort of equivalent of human weapons, just without any reloading and different behavior as well as a chance to operate Vorus vehicles (which was jolly fun!). Each weapon comes with two fire modes and all weapons also employ iron sights/aiming mode which is somewhat odd for a fast paced shooter like this one, but it integrates in to the game surprisingly well, especially since accuracy and usage of environment greatly rewards you. Either by making deadly explosions by targeting explosive crates or by doing headshots. And this is probably one of very few games where basic weapon, the pistol can be used through entire game. With good aiming, you can take out even heavy enemies or make deadly long ranged kills not possible with other short and medium range weapons.

And the main reason why pistol works so well through the entire game are player perks (especially the last tier!) that get unlocked through the game by doing combos, picking up bonus pyramids and just earning score points. When you have enough of them, you’ll gain a set of 3 perks out of which you can assign just one to your player slot (you have 3 slots). The game will give you 12 perks in total to choose from, so you can buff yourself up. I’m not gonna tell you what exactly you get because that’s the main charm of this game, knowing in advance will just ruin the urge to progress further. Trust me on that one. I can just tell you that they are very useful and make a huge difference and can also be freely re-assigned on-the-fly for various combat situations.

Especially because Vorus are a bit dumb, but they come in large numbers and some are really deadly, especially up close. And let me tell you, you will die a lot. And by a lot I mean A LOT if you won’t be careful. Your health regenerates in a similar way as it does in Call of Duty games and when you run out of it, well, you die. Game uses checkpoint system and sometimes these checkpoints are quite widely apart which means you’ll sometimes repeat same segments of the game even up to like 6 times. But for some really odd reason, despite me smashing over the keyboard and screaming quite often, I constantly had that need to beat the crap out of the Vorus and get over it. And I did. And when you do it, it’s so rewarding and you feel awesome to beat what it seemingly looked like an unbeatable level. I’ve played it on Hard which is actually the medium setting, but it was still seriously challenging game. So, if you want challenge, this shooter will certainly deliver it.

Another decent thing about this game are the Vorus. They come in the usual bunch of cannon fodder grunts, but unlike most games which throw you like 1 up to 3 bosses, hell no, Alien Rage will constantly throw massive bosses in your face. And they aren’t just shoot ’em till they die, you sometimes have to think how to take them down. It kinda brings back the good old times of first person shooters. And let me tell you, the bosses are really majestic most of the time. I mean, they are like these 15 or 20 storey buildings and you stand in front of them like a tiny ant. Good ol’ times.

Story, well you can get the glimpse of it in the trailer above. It’s not gonna win any Oscar’s, but it’s engaging enough and you get more of it through in-game audio logs left behind by a member of Vorus greeting party and a lab scientist who worked with Vorus. It’s all right. The point of game really isn’t story, as it is more along the lines of Serious Sam than lets say System Shock 2 or Deus Ex…

Oh and I have to compliment the dev team behind this game for one monumentally important and cool thing about this game. It has a FOV setting in the graphics menu. A properly functional FOV setting. Can you freaking believe that? Some Polish game developer and publisher managed to integrate this thing properly into a game that other multimillion game corporations apparently can’t. Do you hear EA, Activision, 2K and all you lazy bastards who force shitty narrow view angle on us PC gamers!? This is how you do it! So I don’t have to hack the entire game apart through game and config files just so I don’t get a gigantic headache after 5 minutes of gameplay. I was literally shocked to see this setting in the menu and also very happy at the same time. Thanks CI Games for this!

Oh btw, never heard of “CI Games” before? This is the old City Interactive, Polish guys behind a lot of rather mediocre games from the past. They’ve renamed themselves into CI Games and apparently, they have also turned a new page in games quality, because this one, despite not being a AAA title, it has a lot of qualities of those games. It looks good, feels good, is challenging and simply fun. It might be slightly short at only a bit over 7 hours, but at least it was all good within that entire time.

I can only say, give it a try and you might be positively surprised like I was.

Huawei Ascend P7 review


So, here it is. I’m well aware that this phone has been on the market for very long time now (since May 2014), but I still feel the need to write a review for it in case some people are still considering it as an option. After all, it’s a really amazing pocket rocket smartphone for a very affordable price. And I’ll also tell you how it is to actually live with this phone after having it for few weeks now. I have the white version. Lets begin with the review shall we…

Huawei decided for a similar construction and design as it was used on Apple’s iPhone 4 or some Sony’s Xperia Z models. A two sided glass sandwich with metal sides. Some may say Huawei copied those phones in a way, but I don’t care because they took it to a whole new level. The phone is ridiculously thin, but feels very strong and sleek while having very little weight to it. It’s incredibly light. Might be tiny bit difficult to pick it up from a desk, but I personally don’t really have great problems with that. Maybe I have more feminine fingers or something 🙂 It’s Gorilla Glass 3 on both sides and on the back, there is this very subtle, but very amazing texture underneath the glass that creates sort of shimmer when you move it around in the light. If looks are what you’re after, you’ll certainly enjoy this device. It was really one of the top reasons I’ve decided for this smartphone. And I actually feel kinda sad hearing Huawei is planning to drop this design for Ascend P8. Why drop something this gorgeous?

As far as external connectivity goes, it has a standard microUSB port for data and charging on the bottom, 3,5mm audio output on the top and volume rocker and power button on the right side along with microSIM and microSD slot which requires a “can opener” tool to push both out. After all, this phone doesn’t have an interchangeable battery, so that is a design requirement.

The heart
Inside of this device, there is a Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 910T chipset powered by a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor beating at 1,8GHz, supplemented by Mali-450MP4 graphics processing unit and 2GB of DDR3 RAM. Data is stored on 16GB of internal storage that can be expanded through microSD expansion slot. It’s not crazy fast in synthetic tests, but when it comes to real world usage, it’s butter smooth at anything I’ve thrown at it. Be aware that I’m not a mobile phone gamer so I can’t comment on how super latest 3D games run on it. I only play some basic 2D games here and there…

Screen is a traditional IPS with resolution of 1080×1920 which at only 5 inches gives a very high pixel density (441 ppi). The resolution is so high there is no way you can notice any distortions at super thin elements like icons and letters even when you look at it from ridiculously small distance. Colors are very nice and it seems that Huawei has fixed the default cool screen color temperature, because at least in my phone, display appears very neutral and not on the cold side like it was criticized in many bigger reviews. Only slight downside is that image does get a bit dimmer when you look at it from very extreme angles. But colors remain exactly the same, so it’s not really annoying or anything. Maybe that’s normal for IPS screens, but the one I had before was SuperAMOLED, so I might have lost a touch for screen viewing angles a bit with it… Outdoor visibility is very decent thanks to zero gap design (no gap between actual panel and the protective glass on the top). Just make sure you have auto brightness enabled, the phone will boost it to improve visibility in strong sun conditions. And it also comes with a nice feature called “Gloves mode” that boosts sensitivity of the touch screen, so it can be used even with regular gloves. Be aware that this mode drains a bit more battery…

Talking using this phone is always great as sound is always crisp and clear and others will also hear you great thanks to integrated additional noise cancellation microphone that filters out the noises from the surrounding environment. Mono loudspeaker is super loud and has quite some bass to it, however, Huawei made a slight design hash of it because if you place the phone on its back, the speaker will get significantly less loud. You can still hear it alright, but it’s nowhere near the loudness of phone being lifted or on its screen. So, if you want to be sure of hearing the alarm clock or listening to loud music, keep it with the screen facing the table…

As far as sound goes, it also has features that I’ve missed since owning HTC Wildfire. That is automatic ringing volume lowering when you pick up the phone and silencing of the phone by flipping it over. On CyanogenMod I needed extra apps and that was really annoying. But now I have them out of the box again 🙂

Still Camera
One of the major highlights of this phone are the cameras on it. Main camera is powered by a 13 Mpix Sony Exmor back illuminated sensor which in combination with very conservative noise filtering algorithm creates amazingly detailed photos. Some may dislike the lack of extreme image processing and at first it does feel a bit weird, but once you get used to it, it’s really great. Can’t really complain over image quality as it’s really good and up with the best smartphone cameras on the market. Camera is complimented with single LED flash which might not be the most powerful one, but does a decent job when it’s needed. Settings and controls are well laid out and offer fast and easy control without the crappy Google’s original “pie” button which I found to be rather clumsy. Here, controls are more like on traditional compact cameras.

And with current selfies craze, Huawei went big and integrated a massive 8 Mpix sensor camera on the front. I’m apparently already very old since I don’t like doing selfies, but some might and this can be an interesting factor. It also has interesting software support in terms of image filtering using beauty filter which smooths out your skin and imperfections so you look prettier.

There is one another really great feature only found on Ascend P7 as far as I’m aware of it. An “Ultra Snapshot” feature that takes a photo from a turned off display to a snapped photo in ~1,2 seconds. All you have to do is to configure this feature in camera settings. Then you just point the phone at thing you want to capture and double press the volume down button. The phone will instantly wake up, auto-focus, snap the photo and show it to you. In a bit over 1 second time! Brilliant feature to capture those special moments where every millisecond counts.

Video capture
Ascend P7 might slightly disappoint in this regard as it only shoots at 1080p @ 30fps, but it does well when it comes to that, so it’s not really that bad if you don’t need more than 1080p. I do have a 4K LCD TV and it would be nice to record stuff like that, but do I really need it? Frankly, I don’t. So far I’ve only made 2 Youtube recordings with a phone and I feel like 1080p is plenty. My upload isn’t fast enough to work with 4K anyway so 1080p feels like plenty for me. Good thing is that it records audio in stereo mode, so at least that’s pretty decent.

Like I said in the design segment, the battery is non user replaceable, but packs a 2500mA Li-poly unit, which at least for my usage can last to record 6 days and 8 hours and I still had 14% left. I’m not a super power user, but I quite regularly check e-mails, this blog using the app and browse internet. And I’m using a 4G network so that’s quite surprising considering I could never reach such long periods without charging with Samsung Galaxy S2 (even with CyanogenMod). There is also Ultra power saving mode available which disables all the features apart from calls and texting. Even the interface switches to a minimalistic mode with low brightness which should supposedly give you another full day out of just 10% of remaining battery!

OS and software
Phone arrived with KitKat 4.4.2 which is not the latest KitKat and getting to know Huawei a bit more, there is not much hope for Lollipop update. Still holding fingers crossed though, as I’d really like to see at least lollipop 5.0.1 on it sometime soon. And this phone, like so many others comes with heavily modified custom GUI which Huawei calls “Emotion UI”. It’s a really drastic modification which might not be liked by everyone, but I personally love it. It packs nearly everything you’ll ever expect from a phone out of the box. It also has no app drawer, so it works more like Apple’s iOS with everything placed on main screens. You can tweak so many things out of the box, including themes, icons, lock screens etc I didn’t really feel a single need to download customizations or power tools and tweaks. It’s all already there and Huawei went even as far as to provide you with tools otherwise only found on rooted phones. Like “low level” integrated task killer which ensures nasty power hungry apps never drain your battery, but also never kills apps that you want them to be running. Or a software firewall where you can control what apps are allowed to connect to 3G/4G, WiFi or neither. I only had that using avast! Mobile Security on a rooted phone and now I have it available by default on a factory phone. How cool is that. As much as I generally dislike heavy modifications, I actually really like Emotion UI. Took a day or two to get the hang of it from CyanogenMod and Apex launcher, but now I wouldn’t want to replace it with anything. It’s just pretty, smooth, super configurable and simply pleasurable to use. Can’t really ask for more.

While some will argue that it’s not really a proper flagship considering few shortcomings, it’s still an amazing device packed with really awesome goodies and price that is hard to beat. If you’re looking for a phone that oozes style and still delivers pretty much everything others do, for basically half the price, Ascend P7 is what you want to have.

– beautiful slim design
– very good display
– very good main and front camera
– quick Ultra Snapshot photo capture
– very loud loudspeaker
– heavily modified OS is actually very good
– very decent battery
– extra apps/features usually only found on rooted phones

– non replaceable battery
– quiet loudspeaker when phone is on its back
– only records 1080p videos
– might not get Lollipop update

If you have any other more specific questions about it, feel free to ask. I’ll try to answer all of them as detailed as possible.