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Want to Experience a Newspaper Publisher’s Struggle? You Should Play This Game

For the media, censorship has long been a contentious issue and not just top down censorship by a government that wants to curtail free speech. Market forces and currying favour can lead to a situation where companies take the path of self-censorship, where a media house chooses not to air or publish content that may be deemed offensive or obscene. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the constant struggle between publishing the truth and fighting censorship, you should play The Westport Independent.

The game is set in the fictional town of Westport in 1949, under the fascist rule of the Loyalist Party. The party passes a law that promotes censorship, which is to come into effect in 12 weeks. Your goal is to ensure that your publication doesn’t get shut down in the meantime. Since you are in the shoes of the editor-in-chief of The Westport Independent, you’ll be choosing the stories to be published, and making decisions on whether to take a pro-Loyalist or a pro-rebel stance in your coverage, while balancing that against the news your readers are interested in, to keep the circulation up.

After you clear the first stage in the game, your marketing agency will be shut down by the government so you will also have to do the marketing of the paper on your own. This involves choosing how much of your marketing budget you want to spend on the four districts of Westport. Choice of news reports combined with marketing spend will determine how much your paper sells in each district. If your paper is very popular in a district, you can influence public opinion.

The game has a very vintage feel to it, thanks to a sepia-ish theme to the art. This works well to create a post-World War II look. The Westport Independent is played through a series of simple menus with plenty of text to read, and not much else. This game will remind you of Papers, Please and that’s not surprising considering its developer Lucas Pope gets a special thanks mention in the end credits. Pope also made a game called Republia Times, which is closer in theme to The Westport Independent.

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Papers, Please links your pay and family’s well-being to the number of applications you processed every day, and this gave the game a level of intensity that’s lacking in The Westport Independent. Adding a bit of deadline pressure would definitely have helped The Westport Independent put you through the challenge editors face every day.

In an ideal world, you’d expect newspapers to print the truth and help shape public opinion. But Westport’s world is far from ideal. Here, the government starts pressuring you to print pro-Loyalist articles and threatens to take your employees into custody if you don’t toe the line. Printing the absolute truth about either the rebels or the Loyalist Party each has its consequences, presenting you with a weekly quandary.

If you want to survive in the game prepare yourself for a tough balancing act between running your business and publishing the truth. Every headline has one boring and one sensationalist variant, while you can easily use the articles to promote your agenda through censorship. Remove one key quote from an article and the story becomes lopsided.

As a journalist who’s worked in a newspaper before, you’d think that the game would be pretty easy for me. I’ve worked under various editors, and all of them have always encouraged me to steer clear of publishing just one side of the story. Similarly with headlines, it’s better to err on the side of being boring rather than picking a misleading headline. I used all of my experience as a journalist while playing The Westport Independent and the result was one of incredible frustration and disappointment.

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In my quest to highlight the fictional Loyalist Party’s anti-poor, anti-immigrant policies, and to expose the anti-labourer measures adopted by Westport’s industries, I ended up selling very few copies of the paper in rich districts of the city. That’s not to mention the constant in-game hounding by the government, taking my employees into custody, and one of my employees leaving because my stance was apparently too anti-Loyalist, leading to the eventual closure of the newspaper. I must add that I never really supported the rebels either (would you, if you knew that they bombed the president’s rally, killing several innocent civilians?). But that didn’t do me any favours either.

Your choices in The Westport Independent’s world will sway people towards the government or the rebels, both of which have serious problems. While I tried my best to highlight the problems with both sides, I couldn’t ensure that my newspaper survived for 12 weeks. In another playthrough I was a little more conservative and began printing the truth only towards the latter stages of the game. This led to rebellion in two districts and an ending that I can only describe as mildly frustrating.

If you’ve ever worked in a newsroom, you probably know that there’s no such thing as unbiased reporting. Every story has an angle and our job as writers is to ensure that all parties in the story are well-represented. The reports in The Westport Independent are often in line with this basic tenet of journalism but it’s on you to follow or ignore this rule when you’re playing.

You can’t give Westport’s poor people a voice without incurring the wrath of its fascist government. You can’t make the paper sell unless you adopt sensationalism. The rich districts will only buy your paper if you publish news about celebrities, while the poor also need to know about the industries they work for. This is the tightrope that you must walk in order to survive in the world of journalism, and a few embarrassing typos aside, The Westport Independent does a pretty good job of simulating it.

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Version 1.0 of the game has a few annoying bugs on iOS. When my newspaper got shut down by the government, the only way to start a new game was to force close the app. Similarly, when I’d resume playing the game after checking a few messages or mails, quite a few elements in the game would turn black, making them unreadable. Barring a few such technical issues though, the game performs well, and is very accessible on the iPad’s touchscreen.

Pros

  • Good story
  • Multiple endings add replay value

Cons

  • Too verbose for some
  • No deadline pressure
  • Random crashes and bugs in v1.0 on iOS

Score (out of 10): 8

We picked up a retail copy of The Westport Independent from App Store (Rs. 300) for review. It’s also available on Google Play (Rs. 299), and Steam (Rs. 369)

Original Article

Samsung Patent Hints at Smartwatch That Scans Veins to Verify Identity

Samsung Patent Hints at Smartwatch That Scans Veins to Verify Identity

Until now, we have seen several ways tech companies have made their smart devices capable of recognising users, from face recognition, fingerprint sensors, voice recognition, and even iris scanners. Now a newly published patent suggests Samsung to go even deeper inside a human body for recognition. The patent hints towards a future smartwatch that could use our veins for identity verification.

In the patent published by the USPTO titled “Wearable Device and Method of Operating the Same”, the company describes a method to identify users that takes a scan of the registered user’s vein layout, and then compares it to the layout of the person trying to authenticate themselves in the future.

“A wearable device comprising: a sensor configured to capture a vein image of a user; and a processor configured to: in response to a function or an application being selected by the user, control the sensor to capture the vein image of the user wearing the wearable device; identify the user by comparing the captured vein image with at least one registered vein image; and in response to determining that the identified user has an execution authority for the selected function or application, execute the function or the application,” says the patent, which was filed in July last year.

As with all patents, it is not necessary that the company granted the patent will use the technology in an actual production device. So, while we may never see Samsung bring the vein scanning functionality to future smartwatches, we at least know the technologies the company is exploring.

In December, a patent published by the USPTO hinted that the company might be working on a smart ring under its wearables segment. The patent describes how the ring will work and what functions it might carry.

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Original Article

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Is Real and It’s Spectacular

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Is Real and It's Spectacular

Metallic Gear Strong V: The Phantom Ache has been within the information for every thing however the recreation itself. There have been allegations of mistreatment of employees and a hovering growth finances of $80 million; the spectacle behind collection creator Hideo Kojima’s remaining recreation at Konami is palpable.

In a method, it is type of tragic to see a recreation like this being overshadowed by the actual life drama surrounding it. At Gamescom 2015 NDTV Devices managed to get a prolonged hands-on with what gave the impression to be a remaining construct of Metallic Gear Strong V: The Phantom Ache. From what we skilled, this might very nicely be the perfect recreation you play this 12 months.

Play your method, irrespective of how ridiculous it could be
The mission out there for preview concerned infiltrating a base within the desert. We needed to discover the commander of the bottom and kill him. The primary time round, we performed the mission like rank newcomers, operating in the direction of the bottom on the pace of sound. Clearly, alarm bells went off and we discovered troopers surrounding us at each nook. Due to the intuitive management scheme and wealth of devices at our disposal, we nonetheless managed to defeat these foes with relative ease.

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The sensation of firing the weapons is lifelike, with pistols and rifles sporting the requisite heft and recoil you’d count on from a collection that’s infamous for consideration to element. The sport’s quick melee fight ensured a fast finish to troopers who have been unwise to stroll close to us. Digging via our choices within the recreation’s menu we could not cross off a chance to summon an airstrike after which a robotic. Sure, we managed a bipedal robotic with a gatling gun (or a ‘walker’ because the collection refers to it) in a stealth recreation. The end result was an entertaining romp which might make most summer time blockbusters appear to be low-rent day time cleaning soap operas.

Play it the best way it needs to be meant
We performed the identical mission a second time, with the intention of enjoying it like ninjas would; silently and stealthily. Because the mission takes place in an arid, desert area, we stayed near the bottom, fastidiously utilizing the sport’s tagging system to mark out the place enemy troopers could be patrolling. As an alternative of operating and gunning with deadly firearms and explosives, we used a tranquilliser gun as an alternative, utilizing it solely twice. Fairly than laying waste to all the camp, we managed to tag our goal and monitor his patrol route. And as an alternative of killing him like the sport wished us to, we determined to render him unconscious to be whisked away by the sport’s Fulton restoration system.

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Amass a military by making kidnapping troopers
Metallic Gear Strong V: The Phantom Ache helps you to handle Mom Base, your location of operations. To take action, you want troopers. And to do that, you want render enemy troopers unconscious via fast melee assaults, stun grenades or utilizing a tranquilliser gun, after which you’ll be able to kidnap them with a faucet of the button to make use of the Fulton Restoration system – an actual life technique that lets you strap a harness and a self-inflating balloon to unconscious troopers. They’re then whisked away to Mom Base, and put to work as cooks, cleaners, and even counsellors. Mixed with the assets you will discover in missions that can be utilized to enhance your base additional, build up Mom Base turns into greater than only a gimmick.

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(Additionally see: Fable Legends Exhibits You Do not Should Kill to be a Hero)

A way of scale
Konami claims that Metallic Gear Strong V: The Phantom Ache is 200 occasions greater than Metallic Gear Strong V: Floor Zeroes, the prologue chapter of the sport which was launched earlier. And so they’re not mistaken. The map we performed was enormous, sporting a different panorama, a number of encampments and you may even use a horse very like you’ll be able to in The Witcher three to traverse the area. There is a day and evening cycle too that impacts the way you strategy the mission and enemy AI behaves in another way too. With no loading screens inside the degree, you may by no means really feel a break within the immersion both.

It seems superb
Metallic Gear Strong V: The Phantom Ache is a deal with for the eyes. We performed it on a debug PlayStation four (PS4) console and it seemed incredible. From slick climate results, to the best way protagonist Snake runs, each inch seems pixel excellent, or at the very least near it. With the PC model due on Steam on the identical day because the console launch (September 1) and a bodily PC launch to observe, it is going to be fascinating to see how a recreation that appears this good on the PS4 utilises the surplus horsepower out there on PCs.

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With considerate design that enables for accessibility to newcomers who’ve by no means performed a Metallic Gear Strong recreation of their lives and stealth gameplay mechanics that might appease even essentially the most demanding fan, Metallic Gear Strong V: The Phantom Ache appears to be a deal with for followers and newcomers alike. Nonetheless, it is essential to keep in mind that whereas our preliminary impressions have been overwhelmingly optimistic, they’re primarily based on a single mission and never the sport in its entirety. Nonetheless, we will not wait to see how Metallic Gear Strong V: The Phantom Ache pans out, when it hits the cabinets on September 1.

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Original NDTV Gadgets

Cuphead Is Possibly The Most Beautiful Game You Will Never Finish

Cuphead Is Possibly The Most Beautiful Game You Will Never Finish

Regardless of its old-school Walt Disney cartoon-inspired appears to be like, Cuphead is something however lovely. The characters look charming, sporting expressions and animations that remind us of less complicated, care-free time, an period when TV was about Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. The precise expertise is a far cry from these days although.

At Gamescom 2015 We performed the sport at Microsoft’s press convention and got here again with our egos battered to submission. And we weren’t alone. Everybody who performed the sport earlier than us had hassle clearing a single degree. None of them might. Neither did we. Very like titles akin to Tremendous Meat Boy and I Wanna Be the Man, Cuphead is hard as nails, and that is nice.

With gameplay within the mould of classics like Contra, you will end up working and gunning from one boss or one other once you’re taking part in the sport.

Normally, you’d want that you could possibly progress by simply working as an alternative as a result of there’s a lot to absorb from the sport. The degrees are imaginative; one in every of them takes place in a bar like space, the place you sq. off in opposition to a duo of frogs in boxing shorts. They merge to kind a slot machine that spouts projectiles inflicting harm.

Sounds weird? This is not the one one. There is a boss that is a carrot with creepy third eye, and a chook whose head flies via a home and hurls eggs (presumably its personal) at you. There is not any scarcity of subversive parts that appear to exist for the heck of it. That’s in fact, till you knew the premise.

You don the position of the titular Cuphead, who actually has a cup for a head. Quite than having you run after a damsel in misery just like the Mario video games do, right here, you must repay a debt to the satan. In doing so you will end up up in opposition to the aforementioned bosses, with the ultimate recreation having round 30 of them. As you’ll be able to inform, the sliver we encountered had been subsequent to unimaginable to defeat.

Cuphead’s appears to be like masks arduous as nails gameplay. We might go so far as saying that the appears to be like preserve you taking part in regardless of the robust gameplay. Throw in some slick animations starting from lovable facial expressions of Cuphead, to the easy act of firing on an enemy (by pointing your hand as a gun in fact) make this maybe probably the most lovely trying recreation you will play. Whereas we’re positive there are strategies to defeat every boss with pitch excellent timing and reflexes or a couple of crafty stratagems or just a mixture of trial and error and luck, it is protected to say that many people will not go far in it. With the sport anticipated on Xbox One and Home windows in 2016, we can’t have to attend lengthy to seek out out simply how little will probably be accomplished of this nice trying title.

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Original NDTV Gadgets

Bloodborne Review: Death is Only the Beginning

Bloodborne Review: Death is Only the Beginning

The world of Bloodborne (created by Dark Souls and Demon Souls makers From Software) is a hostile place. Everything in its fictional city of Yharnam – where most of the action in Bloodborne happens – exists with the sole purpose of making your time in it miserable.

From axe wielding madmen to hulking, brutish monstrosities that take great delight in pummelling you to death, there’s very little solace to be had. Even the city’s crows and dogs were dangerous, and waste no time in tearing the bones from our flesh. It is the video game equivalent of having a bad day. The kind of bad day that begins with you losing your wallet, and ends with you getting fired. Along with getting disowned by your family, socially ostracised, and being dumped by your significant other.

Early in the game, we faced hordes of lunatics and beasts that fill up this once decadent city and barely made it by the skin of our teeth. Just when we thought we’d have a moment’s respite, we were pitted against the Cleric Beast, an enormous yet agile shrieking demon complete with horns. It towered over us, swiping and thrashing at every opportunity. This would not end well.

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As you could guess, the game is relentless in its approach. The story is minimal, the hints are sparse, enemies are tough as nails, and it doesn’t tell you what to do unlike most modern games. You’ll find yourself dying. A lot. We did. But we kept coming back for more, because the game is always fair. It’s hard, but it’s beatable, and you just need to puzzle out the right strategy in battle.

And as we mentioned in our preview the combat is addictive. The immense difficulty means that the lowest enemies in the food chain capable of killing you if you aren’t careful, and every encounter is a fight for your life. But you will enjoy the rhythm of combat, and each kill feels like an accomplishment.

This is backed up by a few simple rules the game tries to teach you from the start. Firstly, the dodge button is your friend. You see, unlike the developer’s previous games, Bloodborne has no shields (well, baring a single wooden shield that’s useless). You’ll be relying on sidestepping many an attack. Secondly, well-timed shots from your firearm will stun an enemy, allowing you to pull off a critical blow. And if you do get hit by an enemy (and you will), you have a limited window of opportunity to regain some of your health by counter-attacking.

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The payoff for paying attention to its rules is visceral and rewarding. Time and again, Bloodborne will pit you against seemingly insurmountable odds such as the Cleric Beast. We managed to defeat it by stunning it with a few hits from our pistol, that allowed us to rip out its skull in a fountain of blood and gore. Try to hack away at the Cleric Beast without thinking through the fight, and you’ll quickly become a slowly spreading bloodstain instead.

But Bloodborne makes combat more fluid than the From Software games that preceded it. The ability to transform your melee weapon into an alternate form makes the combat even more interesting, as each form has its own reach and damage, suiting different roles in a fight. Our favourite weapon is the Kirkhammer. In its normal form it’s a simple sword that lets you perform rapid, short range attacks. With the tap of the L1 button it transforms into a gigantic two-handed hammer that hits further and wider but slower. While the weapons are few in number compared to Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls, their secondary forms allow for greater variety in battle.

Similar to its predecessors, Bloodborne has an online feature that lets you help other players traverse Yharnam, hopefully with less deaths than you had. You can leave notes for them to either guide (or misguide) them on their way. Also, you can enter the game of a friend, to help them defeat some of the game’s tougher challenges – or just square off in combat online if you’re feeling bloodthirsty. You’ll find chalices in the game, and these send you to dungeons complete with bosses, these areas are randomly generated with a variety of traps to avoid, secrets to discover, and abominations to slay.

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In addition to this, these chalice dungeons can be shared online and even explored with a friend. For a game that’s already filled to the brim with content, it’s nice to see this mode added for free, at a time when most other enterprising companies would probably cordon this off as paid unlockable content.

Bloodborne gets a lot of things right but it isn’t without faults. Some boss fights are made annoying simply due to the environments they take place in, which can result in a lot of needless deaths. Most notable was our encounter with Father Gascoigne, which takes place in a cemetery. Its cramped layout made it a tougher than usual fight in a game that’s hard enough as it is.

This aside, the loading times are too long. You’ll be dying regularly, and getting back into Yharnam seems to take a lifetime. Sony has announced that it is working on a patch to rectify this, but for now, it serves to irritate. There are some instances where the game slows down. Bloodborne manages to chug along at a solid 30 frames per second in most places, but there are some areas where it drops below that. It’s slight but disconcerting all the same.

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Minor annoyances aside, Bloodborne is an intriguing game that will keep you entranced long after the first time you’ve played it. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but it is more approachable than its predecessors, while still delivering that incredible feeling of accomplishing something meaningful with each fight.

If you’re the sort of person who is up for exploring a grim, dark, and fatal world and has a high tolerance for failure, you’ll be right at home in Yharnam. It might be the video game equivalent of an extremely bad day, but it also gives you the means to fight back, making it more fun than it should be.

We played a retail copy of Bloodborne on the PlayStation 4. It retails for Rs.3,999 in stores and Rs. 3,499 digitally.

Pros

  • Unsettling atmosphere
  • Visceral combat
  • Enjoyable weapons
  • Immense sense of achievement
  • Fun stealth and non-violent options

Cons

  • Annoying design inconsistencies
  • Long loading times
  • Slight slow down
  • Environment lay out could be better in some places

Rating (out of 10): 9

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Original NDTV Gadgets