Asus ZenFone Max Review

Asus ZenFone Max Review

The last few months have seen an increasing focus on battery size, in a bid to answer the growing demand for devices that won’t shut down on you before you go to bed every night. Apart from many mid-range and high-end phones offering batteries with capacities in excess of 3000mAh, smartphones such as the Gionee Marathon M5 (Review | Pictures) and Lenovo Vibe P1 (Review | Pictures) have gone above and beyond the norms with 6020mAh and 4900mAh batteries respectively.

Not one to miss out on the current trends, Asus has launched the ZenFone Max, a phone thatannounced in August last year. This lower mid-range smartphone costs Rs. 9,999 and is distinguishable by its large 5000mAh battery. It’s considerably cheaper than the Marathon M5 and Vibe P1, and has a specification sheet that is geared towards achieving maximum power efficiency. Is the ZenFone Max the energy efficient Android smartphone that you need? Let’s find out in our review.

Look and feel
The ZenFone range from Asus is known for uniformity, and the ZenFone Max sticks to the aesthetic formula that makes every Asus smartphone instantly recognisable. From the distinct concentric circles design on the chin to the off-screen capacitive soft keys, the Max sticks to the brief and does practically nothing to stand out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it makes it harder to tell the difference between a premium Asus device and a budget one such as this.

The ZenFone Max is available in two colour variants: black and white. The white variant has a dull, smooth finish at the back, while the black variant has a leather-like texture. The phone has a rounded gold plastic strip running along the sides, with a slight rounding off on the back panel which helps with grip and feel. The 3.5mm socket and Micro-USB port are at the top and bottom respectively, while the notification light is at the front, just next to the earpiece.

asus_zenfone_max_top_ndtv.jpgMany other Asus products including the identically priced ZenFone 2 Laser (Review | Pictures) have the power and volume keys at the top and back. This strategy was a bit of a hit-or-miss, and users either loved it or hated it. With the ZenFone Max, Asus has adopted a safer approach and gone with traditional button placement on the right edge of the phone. The back panel is removable, and the SIM and microSD slots sit under that. In another departure from typical Asus design, the battery is not user-replaceable, although it is visible under the hood.

Due to the shifting of the volume keys, the back is now plain looking, with the speaker grille at the bottom and the flash, camera and laser autofocus window at the top. The Asus and ZenFone logos are printed on the back for the white variant, while the black variant has the Asus logo embossed. We prefer the look of the black variant, because of its texturing.

asus_zenfone_max_battery_ndtv.jpgThe screen of the Asus ZenFone Max is a 5.5-inch 720×1280 pixel affair. Although the screen itself is decent in terms of brightness and colours, at this size the lack of detail and sharpness is visible because of the lower pixel density. This has presumably been done to keep the costs down and ensure energy efficiency, since it takes considerably less power to run a 720p screen than a more detailed 1080p one. For basic users who are more concerned with battery life, the screen should prove to be more than adequate.

Also included with the Asus ZenFone Max is a 1A/5V charger that is horribly inadequate for a phone with a battery of this size. The phone takes over five hours to completely charge up from zero to 100 percent, and supplying a fast charger or incorporating some form of fast charging technology with high-capacity phones such as this is absolutely necessary in our opinion. We’d recommend that you buy a reliable high-speed charger if you choose to buy the ZenFone Max.

asus_zenfone_max_chin_ndtv.jpgSpecifications and software
On paper, the Asus ZenFone Max is identical to the cheaper ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE550KL) variant, with the notable exception of the larger battery. This includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage and dual-SIM connectivity. The primary SIM slot supports 4G connectivity (Indian bands supported), while the secondary slot is limited to 3G connectivity. The expandable storage slot supports microSD cards up to 64GB, and the phone also supports USB OTG. Although the ZenFone 2 Laser and ZenFone Max are practically the same size and thickness, the latter is much heavier at 202g.

As mentioned, the only major difference between the two is the larger battery, which is the signature feature of the ZenFone Max. The 5000mAh battery on the Max is a massive improvement over the 3000mAh unit on the ZenFone 2 Laser, and coupled with the efficient Snapdragon 410 SoC and HD screen, promises excellent battery life.

asus_zenfone_max_speaker_ndtv.jpgThe Asus ZenFone Max runs Android Lollipop 5.0, with the company’s faithful ZenUI skin on top. We’ve stated before that this is one of the better Android user interfaces in terms of customisability and controls, and its remains so with the ZenFone Max. There are lots of ways to set the phone up to your liking, from motion gestures to quickly wake the phone or launch apps, to various power management and UI display settings.

Unfortunately, the interface is still full of Asus apps and other bloatware, which makes the phone feel excessively loaded and bloated. As a result, about 50 apps needed to be updated on start up, and the interface splits even basic phone functionality into various apps that can be updated separately rather than keep them tied to the interface. Functions such as the dialer, camera, contact list and gallery all have separate apps with their own update schedules This means that the software and its apps will need updating far more often, but is lighter on the system and allows for better efficiency. From a user’s point of view, apart from a bit of work at the start and regular updating of apps, the software is capable and efficient enough.

The similarities between the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser and ZenFone Max don’t stop at the specification sheet; the Max uses the same 13-megapixel camera and laser autofocus system as the ZenFone 2 Laser. The 5-megapixel front camera is also the same, and both cameras are capable of recording 1080p video. The rear camera has a dual-tone LED flash as well. This essentially makes the ZenFone Max a ZenFone 2 Laser with a larger battery, and considering both phones cost the same, it makes the older variant redundant at this point. This might point to why Asus has chosen to launch this device only now, despite announcing it back in August 2015.

The camera app, too, remains unchanged from what we’ve gotten used to seeing on Asus devices. There are plenty of camera modes and manual settings for both stills and video, and effects such as slow motion, HDR, time lapse, panorama and beautification continue to offer plenty of great options for camera lovers. It might be a bit too complicated for some, but auto mode simplifies everything to reasonable levels. Additionally, video recording, flash toggle, and camera switching are easily accessible from the default screen.

asus_zenfone_max_camerashot1_ndtv.jpg(Tap to see full-size image)The camera itself is, as expected, identical in performance to the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser. Pictures are decent in indoor settings, be it well-lit or dark, and outdoor shots tend to be washed out with regard to brighter areas. Heavily sunlit areas often appear completely white, but the rest of the colour spectrum is accurate and clear, with pictures being sharp, detailed and dramatic when properly composed.

The laser autofocus system continues to work wonders when shooting close-ups and indoor shots, quickly and accurately focusing on the subject matter. Within a closed environment, pictures are incredibly detailed, and the camera quickly adjusts to slight movements and shakes. Taking the camera outside renders the laser autofocus somewhat ineffective, but as with the ZenFone 2 Laser, the Max reverts to contrast detection methods to focus. The front camera is satisfactory for most basic requirements as well. On the whole, it remains a competent camera indoors with slight weaknesses when shooting outdoors.

asus_zenfone_max_camerashot2_ndtv.jpg(Tap to see full-size image)Performance
Even though the Asus ZenFone Max has a budget SoC and basic specifications that are aimed at achieving energy efficiency, it’s still a decent performer, especially for the price. Games such as Dead Trigger 2 and Real Racing 3 ran smoothly, and typical battery drain and heating were lower than usual as well. Our test videos ran smoothly as well, and the interface is acceptably decent to use. Swiping between screens and settings, as well as opening apps are all done satisfactorily.

Benchmark figures are nearly identical to the numbers we saw on the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser as well. The ZenFone Max produced scores of 24,683 and 14,494 in AnTuTu and Quadrant respectively, along with 9.3fps and 5264 in GFXBench and 3DMark Ice Storm. As we’ve already mentioned in this review, the ZenFone Max is essentially a ZenFone 2 Laser with a larger battery.

asus_zenfone_max_main_ndtv.jpgThe phone’s basic functionality is simple and effective, with decent call quality, ability to hold a signal and audio quality from its single speaker and through headphones. Finally, touching on the key feature of the Asus ZenFone Max, the phone ran for nearly 25 hours in our video loop test, falling slightly short of the current record holder, the Gionee Marathon M5. This is despite the fact that the 5000mAh battery on the ZenFone Max is significantly less that the combined 6020mAh capacity of the Gionee’s two batteries. This is thanks to the efficiency of the Snapdragon 410 SoC and the general tuning of the phone, which has been geared towards achieving as much usage time on a full charge as possible. In ordinary use, the phone is capable of running for three to four days on a full charge.

With more and more users getting concerned with deteriorating battery life on their smartphones, the idea of the big battery smartphone has gained popularity. Recent efforts from Gionee and Lenovo have proven to be capable, but Asus has the distinction of being the first manufacturer to offer a decent super-battery smartphone at under Rs. 10,000. The ZenFone Max is designed around optimizing energy usage, and apart from being significantly heavier, sticks to the ZenFone aesthetic in all other ways.

This is a phone that offers a decent design, acceptable performance for the price, a decent primary camera and absolutely stellar battery life at a competitive price point. The only significant weakness is the fact that the supplied charger is weak and slow to charge the phone. But if you’re on a budget and need a smartphone that you can count on to power you through your day, look no further. The Asus ZenFone Max is your answer to battery issues.


Onida i4G1 Review

Onida i4G1 Review

Onida is a well-known name in the Indian electronics market, and one that is highly associated with televisions. One of India’s earliest home-grown manufacturers of TV sets, the company started its operations in the early 1980s in Mumbai and has now grown to become a respected name in home appliances alongside its traditional strength base in televisions and home entertainment.

As with any company looking to grow, Onida has made its way into the competitive but highly lucrative smartphone industry. The company’s current flagship device is the low-cost Onida i4G1. Priced at Rs. 8,999, the Onida i4G1 hopes to offer budget users a quality Indian option with good specifications. Whether or not it lives up to expectations is the question that we hope to answer with our review.

onida_i4g1_back_ndtv.jpgLook and feel
When it comes to looks, the Onida i4G1 doesn’t break any new ground and is far outmatched by lower priced competitors. At the front, the phone looks plain and ordinary, with no real styling or form to speak of. The Android keys are off-screen and capacitive, while the front camera sits to the left of the earpiece. We did however like the fact that the capacitive keys are backlit. The device comes with a factory-fitted screen protector film, which had been poorly applied on our review unit. As a result, there was a large air bubble, as well as specks of dust trapped under it.

The sides of the phone are plastic, and look cheap and flimsy. Additionally, the sides curve inwards, which makes the device rather uncomfortable to hold. The power key is on the right near the top, while the volume keys are on the left. The 3.5mm socket and Micro-USB port are at the top. This is a rather inconvenient position for the latter, and makes it a bit hard to use the phone when it’s charging.

onida_i4g1_ports_ndtv.jpgThe back is part of the same removable panel as the sides, and as such has the same cheap and flimsy feel. It gives the impression that the phone is much cheaper than it really is, and bends quite easily in your hands. The exterior buttons are attached rather delicately to the panel, and inspire no confidence at all. Under the panel are the SIM slots and microSD slot, as well as the removable 2300mAh battery. Our review unit was black, but the i4G1 is also available in white.

The device has a 5-inch 720×1280 pixel display with a density of 294ppi. It’s decent in terms of brightness, colours and sharpness, and offers acceptable performance for watching videos and when navigating around the interface.

The Onida i4G1 also includes a 1A/5V USB charger, a standard cable, and a basic pair of earphones that sit outside the ear and offer no sonic isolation, comfort or fidelity whatsoever. Also included is a plastic protective case, which has a slightly better texture and feel than the back and sides of the phone, and makes it a bit easier to grip. The phone is slow to charge though, and 1.5A/5V chargers should really be the bare minimum offered with devices today.

onida_i4g1_screen_ndtv.jpgSpecifications and software
With typically budget specifications, the Onida i4G1 matches some of the options in its price segment and falls short of others. The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC, and has 8GB of internal storage and 1GB of RAM. The device supports expandable storage, and has been tested and guaranteed to work with microSD cards of up to 32GB. It also supports 4G connectivity on Indian bands on both SIMs.

The device features a 2300mAh user-replaceable battery, which when combined with the efficient Snapdragon 410 SoC, is expected to offer good battery life. Although Snapdragon 615 SoCs aren’t unheard of at this price point, the Onida i4G1 should still be fairly competent when it comes to performance and usability.

The device runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop, with a user interface that strangely enough resembles stock Android KitKat in many ways. Fortunately, there’s very little bloatware pre-installed, and the apps that are present are useful and likely to stay where they are. The Settings app offers plenty of information and options, including customisable capacitive keys, detailed battery consumption data, and system profiles. It’s a fairly simple and standard interface that is efficient and easy to use.

The Onida i4G1 features an 8-megapixel primary camera with a single-tone LED flash, and a 5-megapixel front camera. Both cameras are capable of recording full-HD video, and while the rear camera has a variable focus lens, the front camera has a fixed focus. The camera app allows you to select the photo resolution and video quality, and there are plenty of capture modes such as panorama, continuous shot, and HDR.

The app also lets you quickly toggle between stills and video, HDR mode, and filters. Other camera modes such as night, beach, backlight and auto are also easily accessible from the main screen of the app. Useful settings such as the flash and countdown timer are accessible through the settings menu, and recording video is a two-step process. On the whole, it’s a decent camera app that gives you enough control over the camera and its settings.

onida_i4g1_camerashot1_ndtv.jpg(Tap to see full-sized image)The camera, while not fantastic, is certainly acceptable in quality. Pictures are decent in terms of colour and contrast, while sharpness is just a bit lacking when you zoom in close. The camera is weakest when there are both near and distant elements in the same picture, and tends to focus only on the close objects. Things in the distance tend to lose sharpness in this case, but pictures are not quite as bad when shooting distant objects on their own.

Video is also acceptable, while selfies are just about good enough to be useful. We were impressed with the ability of the camera to capture colour and lighting accurately. Low light photography, while visibly weak, is still satisfactory, and pictures are certainly usable. All in all, the Onida i4G1’s camera does a decent job for the price.

onida_i4G1_camerashot3_ndtv.jpgonida_i4g1_camerashot2_ndtv.jpg(Tap to see full-sized images)Performance
When it comes to performance, the Onida i4G1 falls terribly short and was a massive disappointment for us. The device failed to play our heavily encoded videos, and showed signs of struggle even with regular video content. Additionally, we weren’t able to play Dead Trigger 2 for longer than 5-10 minutes without it crashing. We haven’t experienced these issues with any other Snapdragon 410-powered devices, so the experience was rather alarming.

onida_i4g1_openback_ndtv.jpgThe problems continued when we ran our usual suite of benchmark tests. The device failed in all three of our typical browser-based benchmarks, causing the browser to crash before a score could be generated. Additionally, AnTuTu would simply not run, due to compatibility issues that prevented us from installing the 3D benchmarking companion app. Of the tests that did run, GFXBench and 3DMark Ice Storm returned scores of 9.3fps and 5243 respectively, while Quadrant returned a score of 13709 overall. All of these are fairly low for a Snapdragon 410-powered device with a 720p screen.

Basic functionality was acceptable, however, with the device working fine on 4G networks. Voice quality in calls was also decent, but sound quality from both the speaker andheadphones was poor and also not loud enough. The only silver lining was the expectedly decent battery life, with this phone running for 11 hours, 16 minutes in our video loop test. In ordinary use, the phone easily lasted us through a full day.

The Onida i4G1 has a few things going for it, but is a complete let-down when it comes to some important aspects. While the camera, display and battery life are decent, the phone’s looks, design, and performance are all poor. This is an unattractive phone that is poorly designed and inconvenient to hold and use. Most importantly, its unreliable performance makes it hard to imagine using it for even the most basic smartphone tasks.

All things considered the Onida i4G1 is overpriced, and there are better phones available for much less. Options such as the Yu Yuphoria (Review | Pictures) and Lenovo A6000 Plus (Review | Pictures) offer far better value at lower prices, and are recommended over the Onida i4G1. This is an average phone that we can only suggest you consider if your smartphone needs are absolutely basic.


New Nasa Cargo Craft Based on 50-Year-Old Russian Space Shuttle Design

New Nasa Cargo Craft Based on 50-Year-Old Russian Space Shuttle Design

In what can be termed as an ironic twist of history, US-based Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Nasa-contracted Dream Chaser cargo spacecraft has a design rooted in the Soviet Union’s space “shuttle” of nearly 50 years back.

Dream Chaser, being developed for delivering cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), is a winged spacecraft that resembles a mini space shuttle and traces its heritage to the Soviet BOR series, reported.

The concept for BOR series was derived from a 1965 space plane concept, the Soviet MiG-105.

“The BOR-1 was first tested in 1969, launching to an altitude of 100 km as the Soviets sought to study various heat shields for a winged vehicle,” the report added.

The Soviets continued a series of test flights leading up to the BOR-4 vehicle and it began flying in 1980. In June 1982, a test flight of the BOR-4 vehicle captured the attention of the US.

Launched from the Kapustin Yar missile test range in Astrakhan Oblast of Russia, the BOR-4 splashed down in the Indian Ocean and was recovered by the Soviets.

Even after the Soviet Union shelved the BOR-4, the US showed interest in it and revamped it. BOR-4 vehicle was known as the HL-20.

About a decade ago, a space company SpaceDev announced to resurrect the HL-20 for sending crew to the international orbiting laboratory.

After Sierra Nevada Corporation acquired SpaceDev, the company joined the commercial crew bidding competition and won $20 million (roughly Rs. 135 crores) in 2010 to continue development of HL-20, now rechristened as Dream Chaser.

In the latest Nasa announcement, the Sierra Nevada Corporation will share the $14 billion (roughly Rs. 94,646 crores) in commercial resupply contracts with two other private US-based space firms – SpaceX and Orbital ATK.

Both SpaceX and Orbital ATK use cargo craft that are launched aboard rockets and return to the Earth.

In comparison, Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser launches aboard rockets but glides back to the Earth and lands on a runway like the former Nasa space shuttle.

The contracts guarantee a minimum of six cargo resupply missions from each provider.

The contracts also include funding ISS integration, flight support equipment, special tasks and studies, and Nasa requirement changes.

“By engaging American companies for cargo transportation, we can focus our attention on using this one-of-a-kind laboratory in the sky to continue advancing scientific knowledge for the benefit of all humanity,” said Kirk Shireman, ISS programme manager at Nasa’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, in the statement.

“These resupply flights will be conducted in parallel with our Commercial Crew Programme providers’ flights that enable addition of a seventh astronaut to the International Space Station. This will double the amount of crew time to conduct research,” added Julie Robinson, chief scientist for the ISS programme.

These missions will be vital for delivering the experiments and investigations that will enable Nasa and our partners to continue this important research, the US space agency said.


Lenovo ThinkServer TS140 and ThinkServer RD450 Launched in India

Lenovo ThinkServer TS140 and ThinkServer RD450 Launched in India

Lenovo has launched two new servers in India – the ThinkServer TS140, an entry-level Tower server, and ThinkServer RD450, an entry-level 2U rack server. This is the first addition from the ThinkServer portfolio to the EBG server range for Lenovo in India, post its acquisition of IBM’s x86 business in 2014.

The ThinkServer TS140 supports enterprise grade hard disk drives that have 3x higher MTBFs and can handle up to 10 times the workload as compared to entry-level servers that come with consumer-grade hard drives. The off-the-shelf TS140 configuration from Lenovo is powered with built in RAID 5 capability, and Lenovo claims the advanced thermal design in the ThinkServer TS140 also reduces overall system noise to close to 26 decibels. Meanwhile, the ThinkServer RD450 offers more memory capacity, improved systems management capabilities and range of Platinum/ Titanium PSUs.

“We are extremely happy to be launching the first ThinkServer in India – a small step as we move towards becoming a market-leader in enterprise solutions by 2020,” said Siddhesh Naik, Director of Enterprise Business Group at Lenovo. “With ThinkServer TS140 and RD450 we aim to take the legendary Think engineering to new age Indian small businesses who are looking to build their first DIY server compute cluster, or a software defined storage cluster, or even managed service providers looking for a whisper-quiet machine”.

Lenovo said it expects about 20-25 percent of its server revenues to come from the government vertical on the back of initiatives like Digital India. The company currently gets about 12-13 per cent of its revenues from the government sector in India.

“The government has initiated many projects and we are participating in many in areas like surveillance and eGovernance. We expect to get about 20-25 percent of our revenues from the segment in the next three years,” Lenovo Director Enterprise Business Group Siddesh Naik told reporters at the launch event in New Delhi.

He added that currently about 12-13 percent of its server revenues are coming from the government vertical, which is a “top priority” segment.

Naik said the company is part of three pilot projects for surveillance but declined to name the cities where these are being carried out.

“For us, enterprises segment (which has sectors like manufacturing, FMCG etc) is the largest, about 45 percent of our revenues come from there,” he added.


Samsung Begins Production of World’s Fastest 4GB DRAM

Samsung Begins Production of World's Fastest 4GB DRAM

Samsung announced on Tuesday that it has begun mass-producing the world’s first 4-gigabyte DRAMpackage that utilises the latest bandwidth based on the second-generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2) interface. The South Korean technology conglomerate claims that the HBM2 offers 256GBps of bandwidth, which is twice as seen in its previous High Bandwidth Memory. Samsung says that its advancements could substantially help enterprises and gaming industry.

Samsung says that it utilises company’s 20nm process and advanced chip design that pushes the DRAM’s data transmission speed by seven times. The 4GB HMB2 package is stacked against four 8-gigabit core dies on top of a buffer die. The chip is largely aimed at server, parallel computing, network systems, and machine learning needs

Samsung is currently producing 4GB HBM2 DRAM, but it says that it would begin producing an 8GB HBM2 RAM later this year. The company adds that its new DRAM package will enable game giants such as Nvidia and AMD to save more than “95 percent” space on their graphics cards – compared to the GDDR5 DRAM – while also reducing power consumption and bolstering efficiency. This could, in theory, make gaming devices more compact and powerful.

“By mass producing next-generation HBM2 DRAM, we can contribute much more to the rapid adoption of next-generation HPC systems by global IT companies,” said Sewon Chun, senior vice president, Memory Marketing, Samsung Electronics. “Also, in using our 3D memory technology here, we can more proactively cope with the multifaceted needs of global IT, while at the same time strengthening the foundation for future growth of the DRAM market.”


Minecraft: Education Edition Announced

Minecraft: Education Edition Announced

Popular open-world game Minecraft will be available in classrooms from this summer. Dubbed Minecraft: Education Edition, it’s a special version of the game that’s been customised for ease of use in a classroom setting. Additions include enhanced maps with coordinates to let students and teachers find their way easily, a portfolio feature to let students take photos of their work, multiplayer allowing up to 40 students to work in tandem, login functionality as well as importing and exporting of worlds.

“One of the reasons Minecraft fits so well in the classroom is because it’s a common, creative playground,” said Vu Bui, COO of Mojang. “We’ve seen that Minecraft transcends the differences in teaching and learning styles and education systems around the world. It’s an open space where people can come together and build a lesson around nearly anything.”

Minecraft: Education Edition succeeds MinecraftEdu – a version of Minecraft for classrooms that’s existed since 2011. To make this happen Microsoft is acquiring MinecraftEdu. Minecraft: Education Edition will be available as a free trial from this summer. Pricing has not been announced yet but will be closer to launch. As a token of goodwill, current MinecraftEdu customers can use Minecraft: Education Edition for free for a year.

As is the case with most things Minecraft, there’s stress on community participation.

“In the spirit of the Minecraft community, we are dedicated to making sure Minecraft: Education Edition is shaped in the coming months by a growing community of educators online at,” the Minecraft site reads. “We’re also excited to also share that these community pages will host a variety of resources like lesson plans and a new Minecraft Mentors page that allows educators experienced in Minecraft to connect with those interested in trying it for the first time.”


This India Co-Developed Game for the Xbox One Is on Steam Greenlight

This India Co-Developed Game for the Xbox One Is on Steam Greenlight

Zenith, an action role-playing game (RPG) developed in collaboration between Hamburg-based Infinigon and Bengaluru-based Holy Cow Productions, was announced at E3 2015 during Microsoft’s press conference. At the time we spoke to Infinigon and Holy Cow who didn’t say more than Zenith being set for an Xbox One release “soon” with a PC and PS4 version to follow.

Right now though, Zenith is on Steam’s Greenlight program where you can vote for the game to be available on Steam.

Furthermore, publishing duties will be managed by Badland Indie. The company works with independent developers to bring their titles to commercial release. Prior to this it published 2015’s slick 2D cyberpunk sidescroller, Dex.

What this also means is you can expect the game to hit all platforms, PC, PS4, and Xbox One at the same time the developer tells us. Zenith stood out for its sense of humour and unique take on the RPG genre. Something the creators liken to Dr. House.

“The game is more about the humour. It is based in the cynical point of view of our main character and the way he engages conflicting situations,” Infinigon’s Cristian Pastor told us in an interview. “We like to use this as an example: Imagine the Lord of the Rings but this time it’s Dr. House, who needs to destroy the ring! What would happen then? How he is going to assume this terrible responsibility? How will he react in front of the classic situations of life or death? Argus is not quite like Dr. House but Dr. House is a fine example for this question since he has such a strong and bitter character that he redefines the whole story that happens around him by merely being there. And Zenith is the usual setting but full of very peculiar and strong-minded characters that live the story their own way.”


Fan Remake of Original Metal Gear Solid Proposed for PC

Fan Remake of Original Metal Gear Solid Proposed for PC

It’s been 16 years since Metal Gear Solid arrived on the PC, but a fan of the series is interested in creating a modern port of the game with Unreal Engine 4 only if publisher Konami is okay with it.

Alongside a bunch of people, Dublin-based 24-year-old Airam Hernandez Alvarez is hard at work on an unofficial recreation of the 1998 stealth game – called ‘Shadow Moses’ and has produced a trailer to gauge community interest and corporate reaction.

Writing on the game’s Facebook page, Hernandez said:

The team behind Shadow Moses is clearly wary of how these things generally end. It’ll be interesting to see how Konami reacts to this, though if the Silent Hill – P.T. debacle is anything to go by then expect the Japanese company to nip it in the bud.

Or they might look at this as a way to change their outlook. With the amount of bad press the publisher has received from the disillusioned gaming community after the abject treatment of Hideo Kojima – terming his departure as him being on vacation and then barring him for attending The Game Awards – Konami might be interested in showing they still care about the audience they have served and been loved by for decades.

And despite Kojima finally leaving last month to start his own studio and Konami’s announcement it would shutter its Los Angeles studio, the publisher is moving forward with development of a new Metal Gear game and is hiring for its Tokyo location.


Square Enix’s Lack of Faith in PS4, Xbox One Led to a Host of Problems: Report

Square Enix's Lack of Faith in PS4, Xbox One Led to a Host of Problems: Report

A lack of faith in current-gen consoles is to be blamed for Square Enix’s roster of games for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, according to a new report.

Citing people familiar with the matter, British freelance video game journalist Jim Sterling reportedSquare was “convinced” that the age of console gaming was coming to an end along with other video game publishers. Before the launch of PS4 and Xbox One, they reportedly thought both of them would be a flop.

“Free-to-play games, mobile games, and the PC were considered the future. Nobody wanted to invest in new intellectual property, and Square Enix especially wanted to make its old IP online-only experiences, expecting micro-transactions and piecemeal episodic content to be the only way to go,” Sterling added.

So much so, that both the upcoming stealth game Hitman and recently released open world adventure Just Cause 3 were initially planned as online-only experiences for the PC with no single-player campaign to boot. And owing to the zero confidence Square Enix placed in current-gen consoles before their arrival, the studio struck down multiple games in the planning stage, Sterling added.

But after the PS4 and Xbox One turned to be successful, Square went back on its word and rethought its strategy. Just Cause 3 was given a campaign as is now clear, while the Hitman reboot too has a single-player mode though still being episodic like before.

“This is the result of the publishers having no faith in consoles because sales were down towards the end of the last generation,” Sterling remarked. He went on to say that the commercial success of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Fallout 4 has been responsible for convincing the publishers – including Square Enix – otherwise.


GTA V’s Michael Knows Nothing About Single-Player DLC

GTA V's Michael Knows Nothing About Single-Player DLC

Adding to last week’s Instagram picture by Shawn Fonteno, the actor behind Franklin Clinton in Grand Theft Auto V, Ned Luke has elaborated on his earlier extremely short and ambiguous reply over on Twitter.

Luke, who lent his voice and similarity to Clinton’s partner-in-crime Michael De Santa, was speaking to his fans via his Facebook page. The actor said he has no clue on Rockstar’s position when it comes to adding new downloadable content (DLC) to the single-player Story Mode section of the studio’s sprawling and famous open world adventure which first released in 2013.

“EVERYBODY wants single player DLC…I know NOTHING about that,” Luke said on Facebook. “Don’t know when it’s gonna happen or even IF it’s gonna happen. But I do know the [boys] are gonna try to get out to some conventions this year so we can finally meet so many of our fans that we have been unable to meet in the past.”

This follows Fonteno’s photo over on the social photo-sharing service last Tuesday that gave fans the impression he was recording new work for GTA V, since he appeared in a motion capture suit in what seemed like an office of Rockstar North.

That in itself came after an expert data miner dug through publicly unavailable game framework to reveal the potential existence of story mode DLC. For what it’s worth, Rockstar hasn’t commented on the topic since September when the company said it was putting all its resources on the development of GTA Online.

It seems sometimes a rumour mill is just that, a rumour mill.