Tag Archives: play

London dispersal order issued as Met fear ‘anti-social behaviour’ as England play Ukraine

The force tweeted: “Due to recent reports of anti-social behaviour we have implemented a section 35 Dispersal Zone in the #City until 7am 04/07/21. Anyone involved will be directed by officers to leave the #City, and may be arrested for not doing so.”

Police have confirmed this is due to reports of anti-social and not directly linked to the England v Ukraine Euro 2020 game.

Section 35 orders derive from the 2014 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

It grants police heightened, temporary powers to disperse and people, and confiscate items from those gathering in certain areas.

More to follow…

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Author: Steven Brown
Read more here >>> Daily Express :: UK Feed

‘Crucial Time’ for Cloud Gaming, Which Wants to Change How You Play

Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon are ramping up offerings on a platform that lets people enjoy high-quality games on any device.

Imagine video gamers, untethered from their computers and consoles, playing crystal-clear versions of their favorite games anywhere. They might traverse the futuristic world of the sci-fi shooter game Halo on their mobile phones while riding the subway, or dust off old MacBook computers and hop straight into the jungle of the battle arena game League of Legends.

That’s the rosy future promised by cloud gaming, a nascent technology that could reshape how people play games. And depending on whom you ask, that future might have arrived already.

On Thursday, Facebook announced that it had expanded the reach of its cloud gaming platform, which was released last fall, to cover 98 percent of the mainland United States. Also this week, Microsoft made its cloud gaming service available on more devices. And Amazon broadened access to its burgeoning cloud service, giving Prime members a free trial version during its Prime Day last month.

It has been a busy period for the small but growing cloud gaming industry, which is expected to surpass $ 1 billion in revenue and 23 million paying customers by the end of this year, according to Newzoo, a gaming analytics firm. Revenue is projected to grow to more than $ 5 billion by 2023 as the technology improves.

“After years of development, now is a crucial time for cloud gaming to gain mainstream prominence,” said Rupantar Guha, a gaming analyst at the analytics company GlobalData.

Cloud gaming, at its core, is the ability to separate the technical power required to play a video game from the device it is being played on. That is accomplished by using remote data centers, which harness a company’s processing power and stream a game directly to a user’s device.

That means games will no longer be tied to specific platforms or devices, so Halo could be played not only on an Xbox console but on a mobile phone or streamed directly to a television. Someone could use the power of the cloud to play a high-quality, graphics-intensive game on an older or weaker device.

That could lead people to spend less time and money on expensive video game consoles from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, and to turn away from pricey gaming computers. They could theoretically play new games instantaneously on any device anywhere.

It sounds great in theory. But cloud gaming, which is still in an experimental phase, is sometimes bogged down by glitches that frustrate users. And it requires a strong local internet connection.

Cloud gaming could also shake up the supremacy that Sony, Microsoft and other hardware manufacturers have enjoyed in video games. Instead, tech giants like Google and Amazon are barreling in and “see this as a breakthrough opportunity to get into the global games market,” said Guilherme Fernandes, Newzoo’s cloud gaming expert.

The road has not been smooth.

“Big Tech has a sense of arrogance that they can take over an industry segment and disrupt it entirely,” said Joost van Dreunen, a New York University professor who studies the business of video games. “So far in gaming, they all suck at that.”

Google was first big tech company off the mark in cloud gaming, releasing its Stadia subscription service in November 2019. For $ 10 a month, subscribers could play the initial library of 22 games on their phones, Google Chrome web browsers or televisions, with a controller. People who chose free access to Stadia could buy games individually.

The service was immediately criticized for poor performance and a scarcity of games. Jack Buser, Stadia’s director of games, said the service had stabilized over time and now had more than 180 titles.

The blockbuster game Cyberpunk 2077, released in December, was buggy on many older consoles.
Ina Fassbender/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“There hadn’t been a new major entrant in the gaming space in 20 years,” Mr. Buser said. “It does give us an advantage to do something different in this industry and push it forward in a way that consoles can’t.”

Stadia has since gone through other ups and downs. While the blockbuster game Cyberpunk 2077, released in December, turned into a buggy mess on many older consoles, users reported smooth sailing on Stadia. But in February, Google announced that it would stop designing its own exclusive games for Stadia, and the service’s top games developer, Jade Raymond, left the company.

Mr. Buser declined to comment on February’s changes.

Amazon also unveiled a cloud service, Luna, in September. It is so far available only to invitees, who pay $ 6 a month to play the 85 games on the platform. The games can be streamed from the cloud to phones, computers and Amazon’s Fire TV.

Like Google, Amazon has struggled to assemble a vast library of appealing games, though it does offer games from the French publisher Ubisoft for an added fee. Amazon has also had trouble developing its own games, which Mr. van Dreunen said showed that the creative artistry necessary to make enticing games was at odds with the more corporate style of the tech giants.

“They may have an interesting technological solution, but it totally lacks personality,” he said.

Amazon said it remained dedicated to game development: It opened a game studio in Montreal in March and, after a long delay, is releasing a game called New World this summer.

Even console makers have jumped into cloud gaming. Microsoft, which makes the Xbox console, released a cloud offering, xCloud or Xbox Cloud Gaming, last fall. For a $ 15 monthly subscription, users can play more than 200 games on various devices.

Sony also has a cloud gaming service, PlayStation Now, where games can be streamed to PlayStation consoles and computers.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, said in an interview last month that he did not think it was possible to be a gaming company “with any level of big ambition” without cloud gaming. Sony declined to comment.

Other companies have waded in, too. Nvidia, the chip maker that produces gaming hardware, has a $ 10-a-month cloud program, GeForce Now.

Phil Eisler, a Nvidia vice president who leads GeForce Now, said the service was still not as fast as a powerful gaming computer.

“We think it’s the way of the future,” he said. But “we don’t know exactly when the future’s going to come in terms of everybody’s going to switch over.”

Facebook has also dabbled. Unlike other companies, it has eschewed a subscription service and focused on making games load instantly within the Facebook app and website. That way, people may spend more time on the social media platform.

Facebook also used cloud technology to test a twist on video gaming: From December to March, it hosted a type of interactive reality television game, Rival Peak, where millions of viewers could vote on how characters should act and interact.

Vivek Sharma, the vice president of Facebook Gaming, said cloud gaming made it easier for people to immediately jump into games with their Facebook friends.

“The whole point of cloud is, ‘Dude, let’s chill out, now!’” Mr. Sharma said. “If things are easy and simple and fast, people will do it.”

Many of the cloud programs have not been as easily available because Apple has essentially barred them from its App Store. Apple, which prohibits apps that offer a library of games, declined to comment.

Elijah Dolosa, a professional video game player for the e-sports organization XSET, has tried Nvidia’s GeForce Now service and said he was “excited and optimistic” about cloud gaming.

Other gamers were more cautious. Patrick Riley of Cincinnati, who has used Stadia, xCloud and Luna, said technical glitches would keep many people from embracing cloud gaming for several more years.

“I have not had any luck finding any of the services playable at this moment,” he said.

Author: Kellen Browning
This post originally appeared on NYT > Technology > Personal Tech

Sony PlayStation State of Play event: HUGE PS5 gameplay reveal to take centre stage

Sony is reportedly getting ready to hold a big State of Play event for the summer.

The next State of Play event is rumoured to take place in the coming weeks, and will focus on upcoming PS4 and PS5 games.

Fans can expect plenty of new game reveals, as well as updates on previously announced releases.

And if the latest reports are to be believed, this will include a first look at PlayStation exclusive God of War Ragnarok.

That’s according to respected leaker @Shpeshal_Nick, whose track record with Sony leaks is not to be scoffed at.

“I’m being told we’ll see our first gameplay of the new God of War at Sony’s show too. Will be exciting to see,” he tweets.

As a reminder, God of War Ragnarok was announced during last year’s PS5 release date event.

God of War Ragnarok was initially expected to launch in 2021, but was later pushed back until 2022.

Ragnarok is the sequel to 2018 release God of War, which was one of the finest games to grace the PS4.

Without delving into spoiler territory, plans for a sequel were teased at the end of Kratos and Atreus’s adventure in God of War.

The game is free for PS Plus subscribers, as part of the PlayStation Plus Collection on PS5.

If you haven’t already, God of War is well worth checking out, if only to witness the new gameplay style and unique story.

“Living as a man outside the shadow of the gods, Kratos must adapt to unfamiliar lands, unexpected threats and a second chance at being a father.

“Together with his son Atreus, the pair will venture into the brutal realm of Midgard and fight to fulfil a deeply personal quest.

The game features various creatures and characters from Norse mythology, including Baldur, Modi and Magni.

The sequel is expected to introduce even more characters, including some of the more iconic beings from Norse mythology.

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Entertainment Feed

Wimbledon schedule: Order of play for day one including Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray

Wimbledon returns after an absence in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic and keeps with the tradition of the men’s defending champions kicking things off on Centre Court. Novak Djokovic will get proceedings underway against young Brit Jack Draper, but 2019 women’s winner Simona Halep will skip the tournament due to injury so Sloane Stephens takes on Petra Kvitova second on the main stage. Play is completed with Andy Murray making his return to the singles draw.

Wimbledon order of play

(all times in BST)

Centre Court

13:30: (1) Novak Djokovic (Ser) v Jack Draper (Gbr), Sloane Stephens (USA) v (10) Petra Kvitova (Cze), Andy Murray (Gbr) v (24) Nikoloz Basilashvili (Geo)

Court 1

13:00: Monica Niculescu (Rom) v (2) Aryna Sabalenka (Blr), (3) Stefanos Tsitsipas (Gre) v Frances Tiafoe (USA), (7) Iga Swiatek (Pol) v Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe)

Court 2

11:00: Fiona Ferro (Fra) v (11) Garbine Muguruza (Spa), Federico Delbonis (Arg) v (5) Andrey Rublev (Rus), (22) Dan Evans (Gbr) v Feliciano Lopez (Spa), Mihaela Buzarnescu (Rom) v Venus Williams (USA)

Court 3

11:00: Katie Swan (Gbr) v (23) Madison Keys (USA), Xin Yu Wang (Chn) v (4) Sofia Kenin (USA), Marco Cecchinato (Ita) v Liam Broady (Gbr), (10) Denis Shapovalov (Can) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger)

Court 4

11:00: Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera (Chi) v Kevin Anderson (Rsa), Varvara Gracheva (Rus) v (26) Petra Martic (Cro), (22) Jessica Pegula (USA) v Caroline Garcia (Fra), Pierre-Hugues Herbert (Fra) v Pablo Andujar (Spa

Court 5

11:00: Jodie Burrage (Gbr) v Lauren Davis (USA), MacKenzie McDonald (USA) v (25) Karen Khachanov (Rus), Dusan Lajovic (Ser) v Gilles Simon (Fra)

Court 6

11:00: Polona Hercog (Slo) v Danielle Collins (USA), Roberto Carballes Baena (Spa) v Vasek Pospisil (Can), Soon Woo Kwon (Kor) v Daniel Masur (Ger)

Court 7

11:00: Denis Kudla (USA) v (30) Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (Spa), Marie Bouzkova (Cze) v Vera Zvonareva (Rus), Ann Li (USA) v Nadia Podoroska (Arg), (21) Ons Jabeur (Tun) v Rebecca Peterson (Swe)

Court 8

11:00: (32) Ekaterina Alexandrova (Rus) v Laura Siegemund (Ger), Oscar Otte (Ger) v Arthur Rinderknech (Fra), Pablo Cuevas (Uru) v Laslo Djere (Ser)

Court 9

11:00: Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (Col) v Anna Kalinskaya (Rus), Pedro Martinez Portero (Spa) v Stefano Travaglia (Ita), Donna Vekic (Cro) v Anastasia Potapova (Rus)

Court 10

11:00: Andreas Seppi (Ita) v Joao Sousa (Por), Lloyd George Harris (Rsa) v Ricardas Berankis (Lit), Ludmilla Samsonova (Rus) v Kaia Kanepi (Est)

Court 11

11:00: Facundo Bagnis (Arg) v Miomir Kecmanovic (Ser), Irina-Camelia Begu (Rom) v Katie Volynets (USA), Tereza Martincova (Cze) v (28) Alison Riske (USA), Zhizhen Zhang (Chn) v Antoine Hoang (Fra)

Court 12

11:00: John Millman (Aus) v (8) Roberto Bautista Agut (Spa), Christopher O’Connell (Aus) v (13) Gael Monfils (Fra), (8) Karolina Pliskova (Cze) v Tamara Zidansek (Slo), (15) Maria Sakkari (Gre) v Arantxa Rus (Ned)

Court 14

11:00: Svetlana Kuznetsova (Rus) v Lesley Kerkhove (Ned), (27) Reilly Opelka (USA) v Dominik Koepfer (Ger), Kristina Mladenovic (Fra) v (18) Elena Rybakina (Kaz), Sebastian Korda (USA) v (15) Alex De Minaur (Aus)

Court 15

11:00: (29) Veronika Kudermetova (Rus) v Viktorija Golubic (Swi), Misaki Doi (Jpn) v Claire Liu (USA), Marc Polmans (Aus) v Yen-Hsun Lu (Tpe), Shelby Rogers (USA) v Samantha Stosur (Aus)

Court 16

11:00: Jiri Vesely (Cze) v Yannick Hanfmann (Ger), Madison Brengle (USA) v Christina McHale (USA), (17) Christian Garin (Chi) v Bernabe Zapata Miralles (Spa)

Court 17

11:00: Danielle Lao (USA) v Katie Boulter (Gbr), Egor Gerasimov (Blr) v Jay Clarke (Gbr), (9) Diego Sebastian Schwartzman (Arg) v Benoit Paire (Fra), Lin Zhu (Chn) v Mona Barthel (Ger)

Court 18

11:00: Marton Fucsovics (Hun) v (19) Jannik Sinner (Ita), Kristie Ahn (USA) v Heather Watson (Gbr), (26) Fabio Fognini (Ita) v Albert Ramos-Vinolas (Spa), (13) Elise Mertens (Bel) v Harriet Dart (Gbr)

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Serena Williams says she will not play at the Tokyo Olympics

She was asked about her Olympic plans during a pre-Wimbledon video conference with reporters Sunday.

Serena Williams said she will not go to the Tokyo Olympics, but did not want to say why during her pre-Wimbledon video conference with reporters Sunday.

“I’m actually not on the Olympic list … Not that I’m aware of. If so, then I shouldn’t be on it,” Williams said.

The 39-year-old Williams has won four gold medals at past Summer Games for the United States: in both singles and doubles at the 2012 London Olympics — which held the tennis competition at the All England Club — and in doubles at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

All of her doubles golds were won with her older sister, Venus, as her partner.

At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, Serena Williams lost in the third round of singles to Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and the siblings were beaten in the first round of doubles. Before that, they had been 15-0 as an Olympic doubles team.

“There’s a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision,” Williams said Sunday, the day before the start of main-draw action at Wimbledon, where she will try to collect her 24th Grand Slam singles title. “I don’t really want to — I don’t feel like going into them today. Maybe another day. Sorry.”

Asked what it will be like to sit out the Summer Games, Williams replied: “I have not thought about it. In the past, it’s been a wonderful place for me. I really haven’t thought about it, so I’m going to keep not thinking about it.”

Other top tennis players such as Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem also have said they’ll skip the trip to Japan, where the Olympics open on July 23, a year after being postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Roger Federer said Saturday he hasn’t decided whether to participate in the Tokyo Games and will figure that out after he sees how things go at Wimbledon.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Author:
This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Borderlands 3 Cross Play Update Now Available

Brace yourselves, Vault Hunters, because Borderlands 3 cross play is here!

Thanks to today’s free update, cross play is now available for Borderlands 3 across Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Mac, Stadia, and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store. There has never been a better time for you and your friends to experience the shooting and looting mayhem together! More details on how to enable cross play are available on the game’s official website.

Today’s update isn’t just about cross play, though. You’ll also find a slew of other events and features, including the return of a fan-favorite seasonal event, permanent seasonal event toggling, and a level cap increase.

In The Revengence of Revenge of the Cartels seasonal event, you’ll be tasked with eliminating Cartel Operative enemies, who can be found in areas from both the base game and campaign add-ons. Slaying Operatives activates a dead-man’s switch that warps in some Cartel Thugs keen on avenging their blasted buddy. Once you’ve dispatched enough of these thugs, and collected Hideout Coordinates from their corpses, your Saurian pal Maurice can open a portal to the main event: a showdown at Villa Ultraviolet against the Eridium Cartel kingpin himself, Joey Ultraviolet.

Speaking of seasonal events, with today’s Cross play Update Vault Hunters can now take part in Endless Seasonal Events! You can access any of Borderlands 3’s themed seasonal events – Bloody Harvest, Broken Hearts Day, and Revenge of the Cartels – whenever, and for however long, you’d like. A new option on the Main Menu lets you select which of these three events you want to toggle on or off, allowing you chase event-specific loot and enjoy previously seasonal content whenever you like.

Today’s update also brings with it the finale of the True Trials mini-events and a new level cap increase. Starting now through July 1 at 8:59 AM PT, the effects of all six True Trials mini-events will be active, giving you one more week to take down the six heavily buffed bosses in pursuit of their designated Legendary drops. And finally, the level cap has increased by seven levels to a max level of 72, meaning you have more potential skill points than ever before.

Even more mayhem awaits, so get to work, Vault Hunters!

Xbox Live

Xbox Live

Borderlands 3

2K

☆☆☆☆☆ 385
★★★★★
Xbox One X Enhanced
Xbox One copies of Borderlands 3 include a digital upgrade to the Xbox Series X|S version! On Xbox Series X, experience the game in gorgeous 4K resolution at up to 60 fps in single-player and online co-op. Add more couch co-op mayhem with expanded local splitscreen support for up to 4 players. The original shooter-looter returns, packing bazillions of guns and an all-new mayhem-fueled adventure! Blast through new worlds and enemies as one of four brand new Vault Hunters – the ultimate treasure-seeking badasses of the Borderlands, each with deep skill trees, abilities, and customization. Play solo or join with friends to take on insane enemies, score loads of loot and save your home from the most ruthless cult leaders in the galaxy. A MAYHEM-FUELED THRILL RIDE Stop the fanatical Calypso Twins from uniting the bandit clans and claiming the galaxy’s ultimate power. Only you, a thrill-seeking Vault Hunter, have the arsenal and allies to take them down. YOUR VAULT HUNTER, YOUR PLAYSTYLE Become one of four extraordinary Vault Hunters, each with unique abilities, playstyles, deep skill trees, and tons of personalization options. All Vault Hunters are capable of awesome mayhem alone, but together they are unstoppable. LOCK, LOAD, AND LOOT With bazillions of guns and gadgets, every fight is an opportunity to score new gear. Firearms with self-propelling bullet shields? Check. Rifles that spawn fire-spewing volcanoes? Obviously. Guns that grow legs and chase down enemies while hurling verbal insults? Yeah, got that too. NEW BORDERLANDS Discover new worlds beyond Pandora, each featuring unique environments to explore and enemies to destroy. Tear through hostile deserts, battle your way across war-torn cityscapes, navigate deadly bayous, and more! QUICK & SEAMLESS CO-OP ACTION Play with anyone at any time online or in split-screen co-op, regardless of your level or mission progress. Take down enemies and challenges as a team, but reap rewards that are yours alone – no one misses out on loot.

Author: Mario Rodriguez, Producer, Gearbox Software
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Free Play Days – Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, Overwatch Origins Edition, and Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Play like a Boss, as extraordinary heroes, or as fellow rat-smashers. Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, Overwatch Origins Edition and Warhammer: Vermintide 2 are all available for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play from Thursday, June 24 at 12:01 a.m. PDT until Sunday, June 27 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.


How to Start Playing


Find and install the games here on Xbox.com. Clicking through will send you to the Microsoft Store, where you must be signed in to see the option to install with your Xbox Live Gold membership. To download on console, click on the Subscriptions tab in the Xbox Store and enter the Gold member area to locate the Free Play Days collection on your Xbox One.


Keep the Fun Going


Purchase the game and other editions at a limited time discount and continue playing while keeping your Gamerscore and earned achievements during the event! Please note that discount percentage may vary by region.


Game Details


  • Saints Row IV: Re-Elected
  • Overwatch Origins Edition
  • Warhammer: Vermintide 2

Saints Row IV: Re-Elected
Saints Row IV: Re-Elected takes the saga to another level, with the Boss of the Saints now President of America trying to save the world from a deadly alien invasion. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds, but you’ll find yourself laughing along as you revel in the crazy characters and incredible in-jokes. With incredible super powers at your disposal such as hyperspeed, the ability to leap over buildings, and even telekinesis – become the Super Hero-in-Chief to save the day. Saints Row IV: Re-Elected also boasts all 25 packs of DLC.

Overwatch Origins Edition
Challenge your enemies in the ultimate team-based shooter game and take your place in the world of Overwatch for free now through June 27. Choose your hero from a diverse cast of soldiers, scientists, adventurers, and oddities. Play with friends across Xbox and other platforms with the launch of Cross-Play. Group up now for free and join the limited time in-game event, Ashe’s Deadlock Challenge, to unlock explosive rewards. Keep pushing the payload and purchase Overwatch Legendary Edition for 67% off now through June 28.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is an epic 4-player co-op game set in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle world. Fight together with your friends through waves of hordes and progress through the game to unlock new careers, missions, and weapons. This entry in the series expands the first-person combat with 15 unique careers, intense challenges in the all-new Heroic Deeds System, and breathtaking new levels set around Helmgart.


Don’t miss out on this exciting Free Play Days for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members! Learn more about Free Play Days here and stay tuned to Xbox Wire to find out about future Free Play Days and all the latest Xbox gaming news.

Author: Dean Shimabukuro, Sr. Marketing Program Manager, Xbox
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Review: Legend of Mana – The Best Way To Play A 21-Year-Old RPG Experiment

It’s interesting to see how the Mana series has been treated over the years, both by Square and the general public. Secret of Mana was widely considered one of the best RPGs of its time and even today carries quite a bit of clout, but many of the other titles either didn’t get localized or arrived overseas years after their initial release. Legend of Mana—the fourth entry in the series—was one of the earliest to be localized, but it was met upon release with middling reception. Now, over twenty years later, and following on from 2019’s Collection of Mana and the Trials of Mana remake the following year, Square has finally seen fit to bring this misfit classic back into the light, and while many aspects of it still hold up, it is unmistakably a very weird game.

The narrative of Legend of Mana is… confusing, to say the least. You begin as a nameless, self-insert character, and you’re tasked with effectively creating the world as you explore it. The story goes that the legendary Mana Tree burned down centuries before the events of Legend of Mana and the world of Fa’Diel was subsequently broken up into fragments called “Artifacts” which were then scattered. Broadly speaking, there are three ‘arcs’ to the story, but they can be experienced in any order you choose and are each comprised of a series of sidequests that can also be played in a very loose order.

Considering this non-linear approach, it’s certainly advised that you approach Legend of Mana with an open mind. If you come into this expecting a typical RPG story (or even a ‘normal’ story in general), you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Legend of Mana plays more like a collection of loosely connected fairytales all set in the same world, connected to each other in various thematic ways. And while you can tease out a ‘main’ quest over time, it’s so esoteric and airy that it could hardly be described as gripping. That’s not to say the storytelling is weak, however, as topics like love, war, genocide, and persecution are all explored in ways that can be shockingly hard-hitting.

Gameplay is much the same in its structure, which is to say that it’s often hard to grasp and poorly explained, but not necessarily low quality. The basic loop consists of placing “Lands” on various nodes of the world grid, which then allows you to enter that land and interact with any towns or dungeons that might be contained within. Every Land has at least one quest for you to fulfill, and most quests will award you with at least one new Artifact to place a new Land and repeat the cycle. As you can probably guess, this means that there’s quite a bit of player agency to toy around with. The flipside to this, however, is that there is next to no direction about what to do next.

Some quests are good about pointing you in the right direction, while others give only the vaguest of suggestions as to where you should go. In the latter case, it can then be quite frustrating when you basically have to trial and error your way through until you finally find the NPC you needed to speak with to get things moving again. This is by design, of course, as it’s clear the developers want to encourage you to engage with more of the world and really dig in, rather than simply sprinting from point A to B as efficiently as possible. Still, those of you who don’t have the patience for this more hands-off approach to quest design will find that Legend of Mana can more often than not be a challenging experience to parse.

Similarly, this isn’t exactly a game that we’d recommend to completionists, as there’s plenty of missable content along the way that you can unknowingly lock yourself out of if you don’t have a guide open on another screen. Again, this is by design, as it’s clear that Legend of Mana expects you to play through multiple times via new game plus if you want to see all that it has to offer. Not only are branching paths and dialogue options plentiful among the dozens of quests here, but the order in which you complete quests and place new Lands also affects the kind of content you can engage with later. This isn’t strictly a good or a bad thing, but it is at the very least an interesting one.

Of all things, combat is probably the most straightforward aspect of Legend of Mana. Enemies roam the map in dungeons and can trigger a live-action encounter that takes place right there. Once in battle, things feel a bit like an upgraded take on a beat ‘em up, as you string together myriad combos and special attacks to lay waste to your foes. If you have a friend nearby, you can also have them hop in and take control of one of your many party members, which can add a fun dimension of co-op to the experience.

The main issue, however, is that it’s rather clear that this title released a couple decades ago. The mechanics of the combat are good, but actually executing these moves feels quite rigid and clunky, which can make the moment-to-moment action feel sub-par. Now, the Mana series was one of the first notable examples of live combat in an RPG, so it’s hard to expect too much out of a pioneer, but it’s tough to look past the flaws when many years of iteration in other games have vastly improved upon this foundation. Combat is certainly playable and still fun, but we’d advise you to manage your expectations coming into it.

In case you haven’t yet gathered, Legend of Mana is consistently and amazingly strange in how it presents itself, but perhaps this is where our main criticism of the experience lies: it’s far too opaque for its own good. There’s nothing wrong with turning RPG tradition on its head and trying bold new ideas, but it’s critical that a game teaches the player about those ideas. Case in point, your stat growth via leveling up is strongly tied to whatever weapon you use most, but the player is never told how or to what extent. Outside of reading detailed guides from the internet, you basically just have to fumble along and hope that you aren’t making things needlessly difficult for yourself down the line when the enemies start hitting back harder. Legend of Mana is full of things like this, which can lead to a bizarrely disappointing experience when you realize hours later that you’ve been doing something wrong or completely missed a semi-important part of the gameplay loop.

One thing that’s impossible to miss, however, is the stellar audiovisual presentation Legend of Mana has to offer. Despite using pre-rendered background for most of the maps, it’s hard not to be awestruck by the thoroughly detailed vistas you explore. Whether it be a sprawling castle town or a lush jungle, the environments are colorful and positively packed with all manner of tiny things that make the world feel like a ‘lived-in’ place. This is all strongly supported by the similarly whimsical soundtrack by Yoko Shimomura, whose gentle and fantastical style perfectly matches the fairytale aesthetic here.

We feel it also needs to be mentioned that port developer M2 has done what it can to make this feel like the definitive version of this classic. Alongside the remastered soundtrack and touched up visuals, little quality of life things like the inclusion of autosave or the option to toggle enemy encounters on and off help to make Legend of Mana feel a little less dated. There’s even the Ring Ring Land mini-game thrown in, which was previously exclusive to the dinky Japan-only PocketStation peripheral.

While there’s no mistaking this version of Legend of Mana for a full on remake à la the recent Trials of Mana, this is nonetheless easily the best way to play this game now.

Conclusion

It’s easy to see why this was such a polarizing title upon release. There’s a lot to love here, but Legend of Mana can be tiring in how much it likes to play ‘hard to get’. All the ingredients and individual pieces of a strong, impressively innovative RPG are present, but it feels like the developers simply tossed all these ideas in a bag and shook it vigorously, rather than taking the time to lay out all those ideas in a coherent and curated fashion. We’d give this one a recommendation, but only to fans of the genre, specifically those who prefer more experimental titles. If that doesn’t describe you, there’s still a good chance you’ll find something to like about Legend of Mana, but just be aware it may be more of a mixed bag.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

Waterloo Park, Moody Amphitheater to open August 14; Gary Clark Jr. to play 1st concert

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s newest downtown park and concert venue will open August 14.

Waterloo Greenway Conservancy officials teased the opening of Waterloo Park in May saying it would open “in August,” but they announced the specific date Wednesday morning.

When the park opens, the conservancy and the City of Austin will hold a CommUNITY Day, a free and family-friendly event with live performances and activities for an all-ages crowd.

There will also be a “Taste of Austin” concert at the amphitheater with Austin-based musicians.

To celebrate the opening of the park and 5,000-seat Moody Amphitheater, Austinite and Grammy Award-winning blues rocker Gary Clark Jr. will play the first ticketed concert at the venue August 21. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. June 25, but 100 free tickets will be available via a lottery system.

“Waterloo Park is an exciting addition to Austin’s treasured outdoor destinations, one that underscores our community’s love for nature, music and the arts,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Natasha Harper-Madison. “Particularly as we emerge from the challenges of the pandemic, we know just how valuable outdoor spaces are to our health and wellbeing. This park will connect our community not only to the rich history of the land, but to one another, while creating a safe, inclusive space that supports a more equitable Austin.”

The 11-acre park is just the first phase of the overall plan for the area, officials say. The entire system spans from 15th Street to Lady Bird Lake. A 1.5-mile hike and bike trail is nestled within the park, along with sprawling lawns and playscapes to showcase the Waller Creek habitat, officials said.

Along with Harper-Madison, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and conservancy leadership will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the park.

Author: Billy Gates
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Android warning: Notorious malware returns to Google Play Store – delete these 8 apps NOW

The Joker malware is back once again, putting Android devices at risk after making its way back onto the Google Play Store. Security researchers have pinpointed eight Play Store apps that had the nefarious malware loaded onto them. The dangerous malware, which is capable of stealing sensitive information from Android devices, was hidden away on apps downloaded thousands of times.

The latest batch of Android apps infected with the Joker malware were discovered by researchers at Quick Heal Security Labs. The Indian cybersecurity firm reported the compromised apps to Google, who have now taken the infected programmes off the Google Play Store.

However, if you’re among the thousands of people who download these Android apps before they were delisted you’ll need to act quickly to remove them from your device. Here is a list of the eight offending apps: Auxiliary Message, Fast Magic SMS, Free CamScanner, Super Message, Element Scanner, Go Messages, Travel Wallpapers, Super SMS.

The Joker malware has in recent years become one of the most common Android malware threats. The nasty malware family is able to secretly sign Android users up to paid-for subscription services, which if undetected can leave victims seriously out of pocket.

READ MORE: Popular Android app could have exposed your web searches and texts

To add insult to injury the Joker malware is also able to steal sensitive information such as SMS messages, contact information as well as details about a victim’s device.

In a blog post online outlining their findings, Quick Heal Security Labs looked at one of the recently discovered apps that spreads the Joker malware.

The Play Store app, known as Element Scanner, when first booted up asks for a number of permissions. It asks for Notification access, which may seem like an innocuous request.

However, this is used to take SMS data from notifications. The app also asks for Contacts access and the ability to make and manage phone call permission.

These permissions don’t seem necessary for a simple document scanning app, and should be red flags to Android users. Afterwards, the document scanner works without showing any visible malicious activity to the user.

However, in the background two payloads are downloaded – the first payload is found in the original app located on the Play Store. This then leads to a second payload being installed, which is the notorious Joker malware.

A final payload is then downloaded for collecting received SMS data. Advising Android users on how to stay safe, Quick Heal Security Labs said: “Malware authors spread these malware applications on the Google Play Store in scanner applications, wallpaper applications, message applications. These types of applications can quickly become a target. Users should try to avoid such applications and use such kinds of applications only from trusted developers.”

They also offered some simple advice on how to stay clear of any other malware threats. This includes…

• Download applications only from trusted sources like Google Play Store

• Learn how to identify fake applications in Google Play Store

• Do not click on alien links received through messages or any other social media platforms

• Turn off installation from the unknown source option

• Read the pop-up messages you get from the Android system before accepting/allowing any new permissions

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed