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Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart review | The boys are back in town and they truly bring the PS5 to life- Technology News, Firstpost

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I’ve always found the word ‘moreish’ to be one of the clunkiest and clumsiest creations in the English language. It’s not even about slang or colloquialisms. Had that been the case, the likes of the cringe-inducing ‘hench’ or the frankly stomach-churning ‘pash’ (Thank you, Australia) would’ve been high up the list.

No, this is about regular garden variety English words that are just plain inelegant, heavy-handed and exasperating; like the word ‘nonplussed’ — a word that actually means the opposite of what it sounds like it means. Moreish, on the other hand, means exactly what it sounds like: Something that makes you want more.

It’s a terribly literal word that’s been around for over 300 years, and despite sounding like fingernails down a chalkboard, it actually best describes Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. It’s really hard to get enough of it. We’ll return to this point shortly.

Screen grab from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PS5

The PlayStation 5 exclusive is the first new game in the franchise since 2013’s Into the Nexus on the PS3. The PS4 did see the release of a Ratchet and Clank game — the eponymous 2016 title, but it was a reimagination of the original 2002 game on PS2. In other words, not technically a new game in the strictest sense of the term.

What this essentially means is that after 14 or 15 releases — spanning original titles, spinoffs and collections — on the PS2 and PS3, the series seemed to have gone into hibernation, emerging only very rarely to wave a furry paw. It’s worth asking then: Will the duo have the same impact in 2021 as they did back in the heyday of the PS2 and PS3?

On the evidence of Rift Apart, the answer seems to be a resounding yes.

Screen grab from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PS5

Screen grab from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PS5

I should probably preface my thoughts on the game by admitting that this is my first foray into Ratchet and Clank’s universe; ergo, my first brush with its gameplay mechanics, its array of intriguing characters and its lore. And so, if I come across like a grown-up man seeing a car for the first time, you’ll know why. Consider yourself duly warned.

A third-person action-adventure game — much like its many predecessors, Rift Apart is a fast-paced, run-and-gun title that makes fantastic use of its numerous gadgets and gizmos. The combination of weird and wonderful projectile weapons and the Omniwrench (Ratchet’s melee weapon) makes for a shooting-melee hybrid combat experience that’s almost as smooth as anything the Devil May Cry series has to offer.

Watch the Tech2 Breakdown to learn more about combat mechanics, basic plot and more:

We could spend all day talking about the amount of work that seems to have gone into making Clank’s shiny noggin extra-shiny (enough to justify all the new ray-tracing technology) or how fluffy Ratchet’s fur is (as also, how it gets all matted when he gets splashed by a puddle of water), or how beautiful the rest of the game looks.

We could equally spend hours talking about the concise and well-crafted plot that lends itself to a tight 18-hour-long adventure. Hell, we could even talk about how the voice-acting is largely very solid. I’d go on, but there’s a lot we could discuss about Rift Apart, but none of those are the real story here.

Screen grab from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PS5

Screen grab from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PS5

There are two particularly standout aspects of the game that I feel need to be highlighted more than others, and the first of which is its ‘resemblance’ to a certain subversive franchise of animated films that made its debut 20 years ago: Shrek. Just as Shrek successfully disguised a tale replete with reasonably grown-up themes as a cute and cuddly animation, so too does Rift Apart package a tale with reasonably grown-up themes and action as a cute and cuddly game.

Underpinned by the twin themes of brokenness and searching for a sense of belonging — themes that aren’t particularly hard to identify with these days, Ratchet and Clank (who are separated at the very start of the game) take very different journeys to find each other and themselves by the time the credits roll. The two new characters the game introduces — Rivet (a lombax like Ratchet) and Kit (a robot like Clank) — are well fleshed-out and do a great job of pushing the story forward.

But it’s not just in the story that Rift Apart proves to be rather Shrek-like. While the 3D platforming and puzzles are quite facile, the action is competent and challenging (if you set the difficulty sufficiently high) enough to belong in a more brutal and ‘grown-up’ (for want of a better word) game.

Screen grab from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

Screen grab from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

The other outstanding aspect of Insomniac’s latest offering is its moreish (there’s that word,… unfortunately) nature. Sure, the story is engaging and full of moving beats, and the game is packed with enough jaw-dropping set pieces that will make you go, “Uncharted, who?”; but the real appeal of Rift Apart is in the fact that it keeps calling you back for more.

Insomniac is no stranger to the art of making games with the sort of addictive gameplay (traversal and combat alike) that makes you want ‘just five more minutes’ or ‘one last try’. Take Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, for instance. And with Rift Apart’s variety of different weapons and methods of traversal to augment the experience, and decent (but by no means overwhelming) array of collectibles to keep you interested, Insomniac has struck gold once more.

However, it’s more than just game design that shines here; it’s also a perfect understanding of the hardware that comes to the fore. Rift Apart makes good use of the DualSense controllers for its vast array of projectile weapons and decent use of the PS5’s 3D audio — although not to the same extent as Returnal. The feature that Ratchet and Clank’s latest outing takes most advantage of though is the console’s SSD drive.

Screen grab from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PS5

Screen grab from Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on PS5

The speed of the SSD (particularly when compared with HDDs of old) particularly comes to the fore in the game’s ridiculously tiny load times and the way it generates scenery and NPCs when you jump from one dimension to another. And while the seamless dimension-jumping makes for an excellent gameplay mechanic, it’s the near-non-existent load times that enable and enhance the game’s ‘moreishness’.

If I had to express a gripe, it would be that playing as Rivet isn’t at all different when compared to playing as Ratchet. But that’s a tiny quibble in an otherwise blemish-free report card.

Taking its accessibility, fun factor and addictiveness into account, it’s easy to draw one major conclusion: If Returnal truly kicked off the latest generation of games consoles, Rift Apart makes the PS5 a whole lot of fun.

Game reviewed on PlayStation 5. Review code provided by publisher.


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Steam Summer Sale: 10 discounted PC games to buy now

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EA

Amazon Prime Day is out, Steam’s annual Summer Sale is very much in. There are tons of PC games with huge discounts on the Steam store at the moment, such that the store has a choose-your-own-adventure style menu to help you browse through them all. It’s worth taking time out to explore it all, especially if you’re into indie games. 

To help get you going, we’ve picked out 10 fantastic games that are discounted on Steam. This include brand-new titles like Mass Effect Legendary Edition as well as games that are slightly older but still great. 

Steam Summer Sale lasts until July 8th, and we’ll update this post as new titles are added or new gems unearthed. 

Valve

Half-Life: Alyx isn’t just a new Half-Life game — which is like purified air at this point — it’s also the best reason to invest in VR yet. A fully-fledged AAA developed from the ground up for virtual reality platforms is exciting, especially when it comes with a pedigree like Half-Life. 

BioWare

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is just over a month old, yet here it is in Steam’s Summer Sale. It’s $10 off, a 17% reduction, at $49. That’s some amazing bang for your buck when you consider the hours and hours and hours (and hours) of content here, which includes the three main Mass Effect games plus all their DLC content. 

Supergiant Games

Hades won many Game of the Year Awards in 2020, and now is a fabulous time to see why. It’s a stylish game in every sense, from the art to the combat, and includes many memorable characters. It’s absolutely worth playing — especially for just $17.50. 

EA

Battlefield V is the most recent game in the storied franchise, launching back in 2018. It’s gotten a bunch of expansions and DLC content, which is all included in the Definitive Edition. It’s massively discounted, at just $12.50, and will serve as good target practice ahead of Battlefield 2042. 

Capcom

Video game remakes are very hot right now, and Resident Evil 2 is arguably the best one yet. It’s a faithful remake of the PlayStation 1 original (unlike Final Fantasy 7 Remake, which is more of a reimagining), and it’s a fantastic one. Racoon City is horrifying, but worth a visit — especially at $16. 

Square Enix

Final Fantasy was a console exclusive for many years, so many PC diehards probably missed out. If you’re curious about the franchise and looking for an in, Final Fantasy X is as good a place as any. The remastered combo of X and X-2 are 50% off.

Microsoft Studios

Forza Horizon 4 is on Xbox Game Pass, so you should play it through that service if you haven’t already. If you’re not into subscriptions though, the excellent open-world racer is 50% off right now. 

Giant Sparrow

What Remains of Edith Finch is a narrative-based game that you can breeze through in about three hours. It explores the traumas experienced by the Finch family and the story of its eponymous character through a series of minigames. That may not sound too exciting — but it’s a three hours you won’t forget. 

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Windows 11 will change how you use your PC

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People who want to jump between entirely different desktops can do that, too. Not only can you have different desktops for home, school and work, but they’ll also follow you around to whatever Windows 11 computer you’re using. Your different computers can sync up over the cloud: Leave work, open your laptop at home, and your screen should be just how you left it — windows, tabs and all. The Start menu even saves your most recent files, so you don’t have to click around to reopen them.

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BuzzFeed Confirms Plan to Go Public

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BuzzFeed, the digital publisher known for viral content, announced on Thursday its plan to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, signaling a shift in the business strategy of the once high-flying media start-up.

BuzzFeed said it planned to merge with a publicly listed shell company, 890 Fifth Avenue Partners, in what is known as a SPAC deal. It will be valued at $1.5 billion, a decline from its 2016 valuation of $1.7 billion. As part of the proposed transaction, BuzzFeed will raise $438 million, with $150 million of that coming as debt financing.

BuzzFeed also announced that it would acquire Complex Networks in the deal for a total of $300 million, with $200 million in cash and the rest in stock. Known primarily for its pop culture coverage, Complex also hosts events on food, sports and sneaker collecting.

Jonah Peretti, the founder and chief executive of BuzzFeed, announced the merger at a news conference at the company’s Manhattan headquarters. “This is a very exciting day for BuzzFeed and a great day for our employees and our partners,” he said.

Once seen as the future of the media, BuzzFeed has become something of an outlier in an industry that has lately rewarded subscription-driven publications and newsletter platforms. If the investors in 890 Fifth Avenue vote in favor of the transaction, BuzzFeed expects to close the deal by the end of the year, and the shares will trade under ticker symbol BZFD.

Adam Rothstein, the executive chairman of 890 Fifth Avenue Partners and a venture investor known for investments in Israeli tech start-ups, will join BuzzFeed’s board. Made up of veterans from the worlds of finance and media, the board includes current and former executives at ESPN, NBC, Playboy, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Subversive Capital and the A&E cable network.

BuzzFeed’s institutional shareholders, which include media giants like NBCUniversal and venture capitalists, will be subject to a six-month lockup period after the deal closes, preventing them from selling shares immediately. But former BuzzFeed employees should be able to cash out any shares they may own as soon as the company goes public. Mr. Peretti said in an interview that he would have majority control over the new BuzzFeed once the merger closes through a special class of shares.

“To me it was important to have the ability to really focus on the long term of the company and balance all the constituencies and stakeholders and to have founder control was a way to do that,” he said. Other publicly traded media companies, including The New York Times, have similar arrangements.

Mr. Peretti’s growth strategy appears to hinge on acquiring companies — in part to gain leverage over major distributors like Google and Facebook, but also because BuzzFeed has yet to achieve the kind of needed scale on its own.

In 2018, he quietly sought possible mergers with competitors such as Vice Media, Group Nine and Vox Media. In November, Mr. Peretti orchestrated BuzzFeed’s acquisition of HuffPost, the site he helped found in 2005 with Arianna Huffington and the investor Kenneth Lerer.

With the addition of Complex, BuzzFeed expects revenue to grow 24 percent to $521 million this year with pretax profit of about $57 million. Next year, it estimates revenue will hit $654 million and pretax profit $117 million.

Still, that may not be enough.

“We’ll have opportunities to pursue more acquisitions, and there are more exciting companies out there that we want to pursue,” Mr. Peretti said during the news conference on Thursday.

When asked which companies he might look to acquire, he responded: “I don’t know. You have any ideas?”

Hatched out of a small office in New York’s Chinatown in 2006, when Mr. Peretti was the chief technology officer of The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed started as an experiment in creating content meant to be shared on the web. He left what is now HuffPost in 2011, after AOL bought it for $315 million, and ended up transforming his project into a stand-alone media company with the help of $35 million from investors.

BuzzFeed soon became one of the fastest-growing digital publishers, eventually raising $500 million, and was hailed as the future of news media. But in recent years, it has missed ambitious revenue targets, and some of its investors have agitated for a sale.

After a series of layoffs in 2019, BuzzFeed started to diversify its business, selling branded cookware and ramping up its product recommendation section, garnering a commission on each sale through affiliate agreements with Amazon and other companies. “Our model evolved,” Mr. Peretti said in an interview last year.

SPAC deals, once an arcane Wall Street maneuver, have become more common over the last year. Special purpose acquisition companies — shell corporations that list on a stock exchange — are usually created with the goal of buying a private business and taking it public.

Group Nine, the BuzzFeed rival, has gone a different route. It created a SPAC of its own in December, with the aim of finding a company to acquire before going public.

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