Alvin Thomas sits down for some serious gaming to find the best consoles on the market today.
It’s quite astonishing how the Nintendo Wii U has been on the market for almost four years now but has almost gone unnoticed since its release. The reason? More powerful and interactive consoles from Sony and Microsoft. The truth, however, is that, the Wii U is an excellent console for families and even causal gamers. It is also reverse compatible meaning you can use older remotes to play games on the Wii U. But the finest feature on the console must be the amazing handheld gamepad, which offers portability. This, along with the fact that Nintendo will soon cease production of the device means it’s on its way to becoming a future classic like the NES or even the Nintendo Gameboy. You can buy the Wii U from all leading gaming stores, for around RO120.
Sony answered the prayers of millions of gamers worldwide when they announced their plans for a virtual reality headset solely for gaming. Three years later – and a lot of speculation later – the VR headset finally made its way onto the market as an accessory to the PS4 console. It is expected to be compatible with a range of games, including Batman and even Gran Turismo 7. The PS VR tracks the movement of your head and uses the PlayStation Camera, in combination with your regular PS4 controller or PlayStation Move motion controls, to present the VR experience. It is currently only bundled along with a PS4 console but should be made a standalone product soon. Yours for a hefty RO154.
There’s no denying: the Xbox has fallen victim to the PlayStation since its inception in 2001 solely because… well… Sony did it first (in 1994). Despite that, the Xbox One S is an absolute gem of a machine with tonnes of storage (2 terrabytes), 4K resolution support (but no 4K gaming) and now comes with a slimmer and compact footprint. The Xbox One S also comes with excellent internals and a spec sheet that will put most gaming computers to shame. Yours from RO158 at Lulu Hypermarket.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s welcome the all-new PS4 Pro to the arena. Codenamed the “Neo”, the Sony PS4 Pro is truly the very best of what you can purchase today and is a must-have if you’re looking for some next-level hardcore gaming performance from a console. While the PS4 Pro is merely an updated version of its predecessor, it still comes with improved hardware, complete with an upgraded GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and an overclocked CPU clock, meaning it’s going to be extremely slick. All the existing games should work with the PS4 Pro in 4K and some will also show an increase in performance. This amazing gadget is all yours for a hefty RO160 from all leading gaming stores in Oman.
App of the Week
Are you fed up with Netflix and your satellite TV company? Don’t worry. PlayStation is here to the rescue – again! PlayStation Vue is an application that allows you to access television services through your PS4 console. You can access channels such as ESPN, CNN, FOX and more using the app. Vue should be installed on your PS4 as standard for free but accessing channels may require additional payments.
As consoles continue to raise the bar in computing power, it seems only right to compare two of the world’s greatest gaming consoles: the original PlayStation and the recently-launched PlayStation4 Pro.
To do that, however, I’ve had to find a game series that spans two decades. And fitting into that very criteria is Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
First launched in 1996, I still remember playing the original game on the PlayStation. Even with its jarred graphics and tacky gaming engine, it was always a delight and definitely spooky – thanks to its dark-themed streets and houses. Despite its lack of graphical finesse, it was still one of the most advanced games of its time, too.
Apart from that, the storyline was quite complex: it followed Lara Croft’s expedition into various picturesque locations to recover a mysterious artefact called the Scion, which was buried under the desert in New Mexico after a nuclear test went wrong.
The animation was truly mind-blowing considering how premature our graphic processing technology was. Earlier models of the PlayStation took minutes to process certain cut-scenes, leading to a great deal of lag and potential crashes. But there’s no denying that despite its shortcomings, it was sensational.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve got my hands on the latest – Rise of the Tomb Raider – the 17th game in the series. Eidos Interactive (through subsidiary wing Crystal Dynamics) is still the developer of the game so everything (the interface and even the commentary) is similar.
Of course, there is much improvement in terms of gameplay and graphical interface, thanks to the amazing graphics processor of the PlayStation4. However, it is the overlying storyline and the intricate attention to detail that links the two games together.
Just like its predecessor, the game follows on survival and combat but the players can now use Croft to explore surrounding areas too – something that was necessary in the earlier editions but let down by tacky graphics.
In the new game, the storyline takes Croft into Siberia, where she has to singlehandedly fight paramilitary forces to “find the source for immortality” before her enemies do. Of course, she is also smarter now so you can create bespoke weapons using elements found in your surroundings.
The new Tomb Raider game is miles more sophisticated than its predecessor. But this is the underlying fact: 1996 or 2016, Lara Croft is still the ultimate female protagonist to walk the face of the virtual world. And the cut-throat action scenes are good enough to give you goosebumps.