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  1. As CCGs become more and more po[CENSORED]r, it's invariable that those holding the most mindshare in the space will iterate and try to stay at the head of the pack. And Hearthstone is no different. With Knights of the Frozen Throne, Blizzard has made a series of improvements to do just that. From Legendary Hero Cards that allow players to replace their heroes and hero powers to new mechanics such as Lifesteal that allow players to heal their Heroe The new single-player content in Knights of the Frozen Throne is loosely based on the World of Warcraft raid Icecrown Citadel. The missions are separated into three wings, with the prologue and Lower Citadel available to players at launch and the remaining two wings unlocking over the next two weeks. These missions are similar in structure to the adventures Hearthstone introduced in earlier expansions, but the primary differences here are that these new missions are free-to-play and do not unlock exclusive cards. Instead, they reward players with card packs as they progress. Overall, the prologue is a relatively brief experience, but full of the usual Hearthstone charm. Characters break the fourth wall in amusing ways while staying consistent with their established personalities and lore from the overarching Warcraft franchise. The Lich King, for example, threatens to disenchant players for arcane dust and exclaims, “Your ranking will suffer!” during this early mission, which coincides well with his character and lore. The writing here also pokes fun at World of Warcraft raids. The prologue features a raid leader that is late to the game (Tirion Fordring), as well as cards such as Eager Rogue (which deals no damage when attacking), and Terrible Tank (which does not taunt). While players that are not familiar with World of Warcraft may not get the jokes, the writing helps make the mission fun and entertaining. On the mechanics side of things, this first mission acts as a tutorial that introduces players to some of the new cards found in Knights of the Frozen Throne and provides a taste of what the single-player missions will be. After completing the prologue, the player is rewarded with a random Death Knight Hero Card. The Lower Citadel continues to display much of the same writing style found in the prologue. However, the difficulty is significantly higher than previous single-player Hearthstone content. This level of challenge will make it hard for new players to complete missions, as the strategies required essentially need a large card collection and multiple decks in order to succeed. The Lower Citadel rewards players with a Knights of the Frozen Throne card pack on completion. These results are roughly in line with the official probabilities that Blizzard released in China. Legendary cards should drop from roughly 1 out of every 20 packs, with epic cards coming from 1 in every 5 packs. The guaranteed legendary card introduced with this expansion will be useful for players that buy packs exclusively through in-game currency and for newer players. In larger sample sizes, it makes no appreciable difference for the drop rate. So overall, the packs seem to provide a good value for the price, but the experience of opening them is largely unchanged from previous expansions. The new cards and mechanics introduced by Knights of the Frozen Throne are still finding a place in the metagame. Prior to the expansion, several of the most common decks were highly aggressive. These typically focused on overwhelming opponents with a large number of low-cost minions early in the game. The new Lifesteal mechanic is a potential counter to these types of decks and was used against one of my own decks in exactly that way on launch day. The legendary Death Knight Hero Cards received a lukewarm reception from the community because although some of these cards fit immediately into existing deck archetypes and are already common in online matches, others are struggling to find a place on deck lists. Compared to the previous expansion, Journey to Un'Goro, the new cards and mechanics are well-executed. Knights of the Frozen Throne is less reliant on randomly generated effects like adaptions, and the Death Knight Hero cards, even if they are a little situational, are able to complement a deck instead of requiring a very specific list like the quest cards from Journey to Un'Goro.
  2. Revenge is a dish best served cold, the ancient Klingon saying goes, and nobody knows this better than penguins. Having made the interstellar journey to this dusty backwater planet alongside my rugged band of frontier fighters, the penguins quickly proved themselves admirable fighters in our war against the vicious psychic bugs who had showed up first. As my troopers fell prey to the insects' virulent battle vomit, the 10-foot penguins swooped in to tear the bugs apart with trisected beaks. Age of Wonders: Planetfall is the long-running fantasy series' sci-fi spin-off; the Alpha Centauri to Age of Wonders' Civilization II. Fans of the series will find Planetfall immediately familiar, as it maintains Triumph's now well-established 'faster 4X' dynamics peppered with XCOM-style tactical battles. What Planetfall has that's new is a cast of delightful factions that range from hyperintelligent jellyfish to a species that constantly rebuilds itself from the flesh of its fallen enemies. For newcomers to the Age of Wonders series, the bones of the games will be familiar from the Civilization series' vision of the 4X: arrive on the planet, establish a first city, research new technologies, explore and inhabit the surrounding areas, and build up a military force to deal with ambient threats and other players trying to do the same thing. Your ultimate goal is to either eliminate your competition or complete some world-altering achievement. But put aside the hex-based world map momentarily, and you find that Age of Wonders—Planetfall included—shares as much with the classic Heroes of Might & Magic series as it does with Civilization. Here, your heroes and the armies they command are genuine characters who gain experience, learn new skills, and can bring increasingly lethal equipment to bear on the battlefield. These characters all belong to factions that have starkly different playstyles, but by building alliances and working with local peoples, it's possible to mix and match units and heroes from across Planetfall's wide menagerie. And because it's an Age of Wonders game, that includes battle penguins. Planetfall's multi-thread story campaign serves as both narrative and mechanical introduction to the factions at play this time around. There's the Vanguard, a human faction that's recently emerged from two centuries in cryogenic sleep after the fall of the Star Union, which by most accounts was a brutal and corrupt hegemony that kept many non-human races in abject subjugation until its collapse. The Vanguard's laser-toting soldiers and helpful drones are the most vanilla and familiar of Planetfall's races. Over the course of the campaign you'll encounter and play as stranger and more exciting factions (all of which are available immediately in scenario mode). While the Vanguard were fast asleep, other groups were finding their way through the wreckage left from the destruction of the Star Union. There are the Dvar, Planetfall's version of dwarfs, this time sporting gas masks and vaguely Russian accents. The Dvar prefer explosive weapons and mining equipment, and their midgame units can tunnel beneath the battlefield or plow through enemy ranks. Later in the game they can actually demolish mountain ranges on the strategic map. The Kir'Ko are an insectoid race, perhaps the nerdier, more spiritual relatives of the bugs from Starship Troopers. They have the standard-issue hardened carapaces and slashing pincers of course, but they're als With each mission you'll also learn more about Planetfall's surprisingly deep setting. What at first seemed yet another stock-standard sci-fi pretext for dinosaurs with lasers on their heads quickly revealed a world I wanted to learn more about, and whose character backstories drew me forward through each subsequent mission. Planetfall flips the script on some long-standing sci-fi tropes in delightful ways. This time, for instance, the Kir'Ko 'bugs' are the victims of generations' worth of human oppression and enslavement, and we get to experience fighting off an infestation in the form of "sack bleeders" who they can't seem to be rid of no matter how far away they travel in the galaxy. In addition to the playable species, you'll also encounter several NPC factions scattered across each map. These native peoples can be either befriended or antagonized depending on your goals for a particular game. They have their own relationships with each other and your competitors. While you can't opt to play as them, building trust will allow you to recruit their unique units, which can include floating jellyfish mind-flayers and the aforementioned war penguins. There's a splendid array of units available and, as in the old Heroes of Might & Magic games, you're free to recruit, mix, and match as you see fit, discovering new synergies and technologies along the way. More than any other individual element, what keeps Planetfall feeling fresh and fun is its relatively brisk pace. Settlements tend to grow quickly, armies zip around the map, and territory is conquered in chunks rather than as a function of gradually bulging borders. Each procedurally-generated world you land on in Planetfall has its own pre-defined geography of territories, and you'll take control of these deliberately rather than simply waiting as your po[CENSORED]tion grows into them, per the Civilization model. Each colony will attract citizens as you build improvements, and once you've reached a certain level, you can choose to annex a neighboring territory. You can still build colonizer units, but these can't be used in adjacent regions. Instead, you need to expand by picking resource-rich nearby areas, waltzing an army in and announcing you're the new lord. This keeps the map-filling early game pleasantly brief, and within a couple dozen turns you'll generally find that most areas have either been snapped up or at least been spoken for. Once this has happened it can take several turns for you to gain control of an enemy's territory, which can make diplomatic options much more appealing. That increase in speed over the traditional 4X extends to most aspects of Planetfall. While you're free to fuss over each move in the tactical battles, you're can turn control over to the computer at any point, or have the AI adjudicate them altogether if the odds are wildly uneven or you aren't interested in that layer of the game. That would be a shame though, because Planetfall's tight tactics battles are a treat, and they quickly become much deeper than they first appear. Each unit on Planetfall's hex-based strategic map is actually an army that can hold up to six units, which then duke it out on three-dimensional maps when the conversation goes south. When I first encountered these an Age of Wonders or two ago, I made the mistake of thinking they were a fun but simplified version of XCOM's tactics battles. I was delighted to learn I was wrong then, and Planetfall's broad array of units, weapons, and status effects means battles are even more varied this time around. The battle maps themselves are lovely to look at and as varied as the planetary terrain where they unfold. There are bombed-out highways, jungle temples, industrial parks, and snow-covered alpine landscapes. Some maps are littered with spiny black shards and dimensional rifts. Perhaps you've leveled up a captain with perks like Ranged Expert and Deadeye, and given her a sniper rifle that shoots extra-dimensional void projectiles. You can perch her up on an embankment overlooking the gully where your Kir'Ko rivals are bound to flood in, while you send in troopers with laser rifles and set them to overwatch for when the bugs inevitably rush to melee range. Or perhaps you have a Dvar hero with the piloting and juggernaut perk: pop him into hulking excavator tank and tunnel underneath your foes while your Trencher line units pop up fortifications along the line. Every unit—penguins included—can be outfitted with custom modules that you can research or discover, and endlessly experimenting with different unit compositions and loadouts is a ton of fun. Well, it's usually a lot of fun. There are a couple space flies in Planetfall's space ointment, and one of those is that information you need can be strangely difficult to find at first. Figuring out what various combat status effects actually mean in terms of gameplay can be puzzling, and the in-game Codex isn't always helpful. It can be annoying to figure out what to click in order to bring up key information about a territory you're considering annexing, and the research tree is initially opaque. It took me a few games before I had a firm notion of what I tech I wanted or needed, and those change for each faction. While the tutorials throw a lot of information at you at first, it's sparse in a few areas where Age of Wonders departs from the Civilization template. My complaints, though, are minor. Age of Wonders: Planetfall offers not only a welcome change of scenery from the fantasy landscapes of its forebears, it manages to use its sci-fi setting imaginatively and meaningfully. With a fun story campaign and highly granular customization options for one-off scenarios, there's plenty here into which to sink your teeth—or chittering mandibles, as the case may be.
  3. Released alongside the launch of the Nintendo Wii, Rayman Raving Rabbids took Ubisoft's mascot platformer hero, Rayman, and shoved him into a world filled with bizarre minigames and evil, screeching bunnies. Not that the Wii launch was hurting for minigame collections, but Raving Rabbids was a success, simply because it combined its hilariously strange characters and the Wii's motion-sensing technology into a highly playable, and goofily enjoyable, game. Now Raving Rabbids has made its way to the PC--though a bit worse for wear. This is still very much a minigame collection, but all the motion-sensing controls have been replaced by keyboard-and-mouse controls (or, if you have a dual analog controller, analog stick movements). The result is a more conventional, and ultimately less engaging, series of minigames that still succeeds in spite of the control shift, due almost entirely to the still-hilarious personality of those nasty rabbids. When Raving Rabbids opens, Rayman is having a picnic with some of his globox pals. Suddenly, the happy picnic is interrupted by a violent rumbling. This turns out to be the tunneling of several rabbids--vacant, buck-toothed bunny creatures that apparently want to take over the world. Rayman and the globoxes are kidnapped, and Rayman is forced to entertain the masses of rabbids by performing in gladiatorial combat. Of course, gladiatorial combat in this case means playing a variety of silly, utterly random minigames for hours on end. Every single minigame in Raving Rabbids involves some combination of mouse movements and button presses, or alternating key presses on the keyboard (the game almost never combines both keyboard and mouse controls at the same time). Trying to list them all would be an exercise in excess. To toss out a few ridiculous examples, one game tasks you to draw over an outlined image on the screen, which then creates some kind of food for a hungry rabbid, like a can of sardines, or perhaps a baseball; another is basically a game of whack-a-mole, where several rabbids sit inside multiple bathroom stalls, and you have to repeatedly move the pointer back and forth across the screen, tapping the left mouse button to shut them closed; yet another is a Dance Dance Revolution-style musical sequence where you use the right and left mouse buttons to hit in time as various bunnies dance onto the stage and hit timed markers; and another still is a hammer-throw minigame where you spin the mouse around in a circular motion, while onscreen, Rayman violently spins a cow--not a hammer--around and around, attempting to time the release to hit the playing field and gain as much distance as possible. All these same games appeared in the Wii version of Raving Rabbids, but they employed the more tactile movements of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk instead of buttons and mouse movements. This is a game in which motion controls are definitely the preferred control method. It's not that the PC controls are bad, but they're just not as engaging. For instance, in the dancing minigame, simply alternating button presses makes the game really easy, even on the harder difficulty levels. However, on the plus side, the keyboard and mouse controls are markedly better than the analog stick controls found in the PlayStation 2 version of Raving Rabbids. Sure, the PC controls make the majority of the games easier than they were on the Wii, but that's probably better than making them stupidly harder, the way some of the analog stick-heavy games in the PS2 version did. As fun as the minigames are, the comedy of the game is what sells it, and this aspect remains just about as good as ever on the PC. The rabbids themselves are almost exclusively responsible for this, as they are, without a doubt, hysterical. They're adorably designed, with their dumb stares, high-pitched shrieks, and penchant for taking comedic bumps. For some reason, they're totally obsessed with plungers and will often use them as a weapon against you. The best parts of the game, both from a gameplay perspective and a comedy perspective, are the first-person rail-shooting missions that take more than a few cues from on-rails light gun games like The House of the Dead and Time Crisis. Each stage is themed after one thing or another, like an Old West ghost town or a creepy cemetery, and the bunnies often take after these scenes, coming after you with cowboy hats and plunger six-shooters, for example. Or, sometimes, the bunnies just go in totally random directions, like the Splinter Cell-styled bunnies that sneak around wearing Sam Fisher's token night-vision goggles. All the while, you're guiding an aiming reticle and firing off plungers at advancing rabbids. These sequences are a great bit of fun, even if they do repeat a few of the same gags a few too many times.The dancing minigames are some of the best fun you'll have in the game, due in no small part to the totally insane soundtrack. In fact, the single-player mode tends to get a bit repetitive when you move into the later stages, because the game starts tossing in variants of the same minigames you've already played. The process of getting through the single-player game also has a very lather-rinse-repeat kind of progression to it. Each segment is broken out into four available minigames, at least three of which you have to complete to unlock the final game, which is usually one of the first-person-shooter sequences or a race of some sort. You keep going through these chunks of games over and over again until you've beaten them, and that's about it. That will take at least a few hours, but once you're done, you probably won't want to go back to it. It's good, then, that the game supports the ability to go back to individual games you are rather fond of, as well as multiplayer. To be clear, not every minigame in Raving Rabbids can be played in multiplayer. Many of the games are sequenced multiplayer, where players take turns and try to get the highest score, and others are exclusively for two players. However, the good news is that the ones that do work simultaneously are quite fun when played with friends--though not as fun as they were on the Wii, since multiple players are relegated to using analog gamepads on the PC version. Additionally, sometimes the directions for the games aren't clear, specifically in explaining how a game differs in multiplayer versus single-player, but this is one of those games where fumbling around like an idiot often leads to inadvertent fun. And it's not as if anything this game does is complicated. The PC version also includes an exclusive family mode, where multiple players have to cooperate to play some of the games, with one player doing something on the keyboard and the other on the mouse, for example. Only a handful of the minigames support this mode, but it's a neat addition all the same. Less neat of an addition to the PC version is a less-than-stable overall game. Raving Rabbids has a tendency to crash at seemingly random intervals. It only happened a few times, but it was often enough to figure that the game just doesn't run as well as you might like. Additionally, installing the game proved to be quite a chore, as it took three or four installs on a high-end PC to actually get the game up and running. Raving Rabbids does have a lot of visual charm, simply because of the character design and the way it's animated. The rabbids are bloody adorable, and with the way they constantly fall all over the place, run around like screaming lunatics, and generally do silly stuff, it's hard not to fall in love with them. The game also does some nice stuff with level designs, creating some colorful scenery that backdrops the action nicely. The PC version (provided you're running the game on a resolution higher than 800x600) looks considerably better than the Wii and PS2 versions. Everything has a much sharper overall look to it. Character models are more detailed, environments have a brighter, less-muddy look to them, and it's easier to discern smaller details. You couldn't exactly call it a great-looking game by PC standards, but it's certainly the most impressive of the three versions currently available. Raving Rabbids' cheery in-game music and the rather strange but totally captivating licensed soundtrack (with versions of "Misirlou," "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," and "La Bamba," among others) do a lot to keep things interesting. The totally wacky screams of the rabbids are also oddly amusing. Normally stuff like this comes off as grating, but whoever did the audio for the rabbids totally nailed it. If you don't own a Wii and want to engage in some rabbid-themed minigames, Raving Rabbids for the PC fits the bill. The new keyboard and mouse controls aren't necessarily a good substitute for the motion-sensing controls of the Wii version, but they're a better substitute than the PS2 version's controls were, and the minigames are still a decent bit of fun--thanks in no small part to those wacky rabbids. It's also worth mentioning that the PC version is considerably cheaper than both the Wii and PS2 versions, costing a mere $20. Seek out the Wii version if you can, but all told, the PC version is good enough in a pinch--especially if you're on a budget.
  4. Mark-x

    [Review] Splasher

    Splasher is a love letter to the twitch platforming genre, and it wears its influences on its sleeves proudly. The shadow of Super Meat Boy can be felt in almost every aspect of this game, but it introduces enough new mechanics to really make itself stand out from its inspirations. The head honcho on the development team, Romain Claude, previously honed his chops as a level designer for both Rayman Origins and Legends. There are a ton of subtle nods to the franchise, among many others, as well. This may be Splashteam’s first game, but they’re hardly a bunch of amateurs. The level design is absolutely outstanding, and there’s always small introductions to mechanics before you’re actually expected to use them. Even in the game’s hub world, you’ll often have to learn some new trick in order to reach the next chapter’s doorway. This new skill will be essential once you get there. There’s no overt tutorials, and the progression feels like a natural evolution of everything you’ve been taught by past experiences. The main distinguishing feature here is the protagonist’s use of a gun that allows you to shoot water and two types of paint. The pink stuff allows you to stick to walls, ceilings, and floors. The yellow goo turns these same surfaces into slimy launching pads that catapult you into the air. The blue liquid, water, is capable of cleaning up the yellow and pink slop as well as dispatching most enemies. These are mapped to the X, Y, and A buttons. You will, eventually, have to use all of these skills in tandem while switching liquids at a moment’s notice. Don’t worry though. The game starts you off pretty slowly and gradually eases you into the process. In later levels, there is a good deal of trial and error, and you will die countless deaths, but the game springs you right back into action from the nearest checkpoint. You’re never set back more than 10-15 seconds after any given death. However, every movement and action matters in your pursuit of success. You’re dodging saw blades and acid pits when jumping between small platforms as well as making sure that you are shooting the right liquid before you land. One wrong move and your ass is grass. It can be frustrating at times, but it’s always your fault when you die. Anyone familiar with Super Meat Boy’s dark worlds will feel right at home here. Honestly, I wish Splasher had taken things a bit further in its difficulty. The last two levels start to approach the intensity of Meat Boy’s final chapters but never quite reaches the same demanding precision required. As a result, however, this is a great entry point for newcomers to the twitch platforming genre. It’s all very accessible, but there's still plenty here to entice folks looking for a decent challenge. Once you complete the standard story mode, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to go back and pick up any of the missed collectibles throughout each level. Although, if you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, the game offers two forms of speedrunning modes as well. One is the standard where you play through each course normally while attempting to gather collectibles and beat your best time. The other, titled Selfish Speedrun, is completely stripped of extras with the sole goal of finishing as quickly as possible. Both of these are fantastic additions. There are even online leaderboards for each level, where you can compete against your friends and strangers. I’ve never been much for this sort of thing, but Splasher makes a great argument for how much fun they can be. The whole game was built from the ground up with speedrunning in mind, and it really shows just how mechanically sound and memorable each level is when you’re tearing through them at top speed. Then, of course, there’s the soundtrack. The damn thing is just wonderful. I can’t stress this enough. One of my biggest gripes with the newest release of Super Meat Boy is the altered soundtrack. It just doesn’t have the same amount of life as the original Xbox 360 release. Luckily, this game gets it [CENSORED] right. There were times that I just wanted to set my console down and indulge in impromptu, solo dance sessions, and I’m not ashamed to admit that eventually happened. It’s enjoyable enough at first, but I grew attached to it by the time I completed my playthrough. While I do wish that there was a bit more of it, what’s here is phenomenal. This is a game I’ll definitely be revisiting for the foreseeable future. It manages to take a grab bag of various mechanics, lifted from its influences, and turn them into something totally fresh and unique. Splashteam knocked it out of the goddamn park with this one, and it’s absolutely criminal that I never got around to playing it on other consoles before this. This is an essential release for genre fans and a great introduction for newcomers. The Switch may be jam-packed with quality eShop titles right now, but Splasher is genuinely something special. It would be a shame to see it lost in the crowd.
  5. The idea behind the Hello Neighbour series of games is ingenious. A stealth horror game that actually learns from you, making each attempt progressively harder? It’s a game concept that is so blindingly obvious, and yet few had attempted it prior Dynamic Pixels; 2017 hit ‘Hello Neighbour’ – fast forward to 2018 and we have the release of Hello Neighbour: Hide and Seek, a prequel to the main game, that delves deeper into the life of the formidable Neighbour – but sadly ‘Hello Neighbour: Hide and Seek’ struggles to hold up to the brilliance of its predecessor. ‘Hello Neighbour: Hide and Seek’ shifts the focus away from the main antagonist of Hello Neighbour, instead focusing on the seemingly child-like antics of the neighbour’s children: Mya and Aaron. You play as Mya, as you and brother play an innocent game of hide and seek. In the first stage, Mya must run around a savannah collecting toys and other cuddly animals while avoiding a wild lion, also known as, Aaron in dress up. It’s an innocent premise that becomes increasingly darker as the player progresses through the story, uncovering the dark and depressing story behind the Neighbour’s family life. Players of the original Hello Neighbour will find the gameplay very similar. The controls are simple – you traverse across the maps (which are admittedly significantly bigger than the house from Hello Neighbour) collecting toys and other items that help you solve puzzles. You must be on constant watch, however, as your brother patrols the map in search of you and will quickly pursue you if you’re sighted – sadly, there is very little challenge when escaping your brother. I was routinely able to walk directly up to Aaron, run away and hide in a bush and never be caught, despite doing it intentionally obviously and in plain sight. When your pursuer is easy to escape and generally not threatening, it makes the game significantly less enjoyable. Hello Neighbour was exciting as the Neighbour was unpredictable and could crop up anywhere at any time – seeing him skulking around through windows was genuinely terrifying and made you have to plan your route meticulously. In Hello Neighbour: Hide and Seek, it’s not as challenging. Due to the open world that the game inhabits, you can easily spot Aaron from around the map and it makes him easy to avoid – not to mention the eerie music and visual effects that are thrust upon the player if you even dare to look in Aaron’s direction.On the topic of the environment, however, Hello Neighbour: Hide and Seek have absolutely nailed its level design – the one level I played through was clearly set in the house’s living room but from the perspective of a child. Large cliff faces were created out of pillows, a large Ostrich was constructed out of a chair and sticky-tape and many of the obstacles you needed to get through were made out of other household appliances and furniture. If there’s one thing Hello Neighbour: Hide and Seek managed to retain was it’s sense of imagination, continuing the surreal and often impossible design of the house from the first game.
  6. Android smartphone users have been warned to watch their mobile security this Christmas after a new report warned of a range of dangerous new threats.Researchers from security firm Barracuda Networks found thousands of Christmas-themed mobile apps also hid significant security flaws.These included apps that were able to steal user details, infect a device with malicious adware and others that were able to exploit permissions in order to gain control of a phone's functions Overall, it found seven apps exhibiting malicious behavior, such as replacing the app with a version downloaded from the Internet via a command-and-control server, 35 apps containing adware, which displays more invasive and potentially malicious advertisements than standard ad-enabled apps.165 apps were also detected sporting excessive or dangerous combinations of permissions, meaning that they could be used to gather and steal a user's personal information. Barracuda is urging users to only download apps from official recognised marketplaces, and check the details of apps (including information such as when it was first uploaded) before choosing.Users should also consider why apps would ask for certain permissions e.g. allowing a shopping app the ability to send text messages or make phone calls, and ensure parental controls are set up on any devices used by children
  7. The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics card has been spotted once again in listings of several of its custom variants on ECC by Videocardz. The graphics card is expected to launch early next year and would be sliding in between the Radeon RX 5500 XT and the Radeon RX 5700 which means we can guess where its final performance would end up. The AMD Radeon RX 5600 series would be the newest addition to the Navi family. However, we have known little to no details about the upcoming lineup but new listings show some unusual specifications for the lineup. So far, we only knew that the Radeon RX 5600 XT existed and that features 6 GB of GDDR6 memory but now, there are two different models showing up with two different sets of memory configurations. Now, the previous reports have indicated that the AMD Radeon RX 5600 series would feature 6 GB GDDR6 memory across a 192-bit bus interface so 8 GB sounds unusual because not only does that mean that we will have two different specifications for the same card but also a different memory configuration for both cards. The 8 GB GDDR6 memory configuration would indicate a 256-bit bus interface or a lower 128-bit bus like the RX 5500 XT which doesn't make sense. It is stated that the RX 5600 series lineup from Gigabyte also mentions 6 GB GDDR6 memory so this might just be a listing error for ASUS. Also, we now know that there would be two cards in the Radeon RX 5600 series family. The Radeon RX 5600 XT and the Radeon RX 5600. The Radeon RX 5600 XT would be the faster variant while the Radeon RX 5600 would be a slightly cut-down and price-effective model. The non-XT would also be available to consumers unlike the Radeon RX 5500 (Non-XT) which is only kept exclusive to OEM but offers the same specifications as the Radeon RX 5500 XT. This is evident from the fact that the Radeon RX 5600 (non-XT) also has custom models being prepped up. Where exactly do these cards lands and what kind of performance should we expect from them? The AMD Radeon RX 5600 series could go two routes, either they feature the full Navi 14 GPU die, offering more performance than the RX 5500 lineup. The performance gain, however, won't be that impressive and the RX 5500 XT is already available in 8 GB variants so a 6 GB memory on the RX 5600 XT, even if it comes with a bigger bus and higher bandwidth, would make for a really weird card. What could happen is that we could get a new die or a further cut down version of the Navi 10 GPU, offering 1792-2048 stream processors which would ideally position the Radeon RX 5600 series against the GeForce GTX 1660 series family. The GeForce GTX 1660 series family also comes with 6 GB GDDR6 memory across a 192-bit bus interface and offers higher performance than the RX 5500 XT series which means that AMD doesn't have a true answer for them at the moment. The Radeon RX 5600 series could be priced north of $250 US since the RX 5500 XT covers the $199 US (8 GB) and the $169 US (4 GB) market. Expect more information at CES since the card is expected to launch in January.
  8. Right after Pak Suzuki increased the price of its bikes, the company has now jacked up the rate of its newly launched 4th generation Jimny. The new price of the vehicle is PKR 3,990,000/-. Note here that the previous rate of the Suzuki Jimny is PKR 3,890,000/-. There is an increase of PKR 1 lac in the price. It is also mentioned in the circular that the above price is subject to change without notice and the price prevailing at the time of delivery shall apply. Any government tax applicable will be charged to the customer. Moreover, one can book the car with a tentative delivery time of 120 days. Aside from the Suzuki Jimny, the company, as mentioned above, also increased the rate of its bikes from December 2019 by up to PKR 8,000/-. Moreover, Pakistan Automotive Manufacturing Association (PAMA) has released the sales data of local automakers, and it doesn’t look good in any way. In 2018, 15,334 units were sold in November compared to 8,524 units sold this year in November. There is a decline of 44.4% in sales on a year-on-year basis. The biggest decline in sales has been faced by Suzuki Wagon R, which is 91% from 3,232 units in November 2018 to only 291 units in November this year. Suzuki Cultus faced a decline of 68.12% from 2,287 units to 729 units. Sales of the newly launched Suzuki Alto also dipped from 4,945 units to 3,213 units from October 2019 to November 2019 this year.
  9. Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has been named the "UK's Official Number 1 Artist of the Decade" after a record-breaking run of hits, the Official Charts Company said on Wednesday.His global smash "Shape of You" - which spent 14 weeks at No. 1 in Britain in 2017 - was named top song of the past 10 years. And he scooped the "Official Chart Record Breaker" award for the most number 1 singles and albums from 2010-2019. In all, his releases spent 79 weeks in the top spot over that period, the company, which compiles Britain's weekly charts, added. "At the start of the decade, he was a little known (albeit highly rated) young 18-year-old lad from Suffolk - but his catalogue of achievements since then are genuinely remarkable," Martin Talbot, chief executive of the Official Charts Company, said.Sheeran first entered the UK charts in 2011 with debut single "The A Team". He has since had eight UK no. 1 singles. His four studio albums each topped the British charts.“Thank you to everyone who’s supported me over the past 10 years, especially my amazing fans. Here’s to the next 10,” Sheeran said in a statement about the awards. "Shape of You" topped the Official Charts Company's list of the top 100 biggest songs of the decade, followed by "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars.Two other Sheeran songs, "Thinking Out Loud" and "Perfect", also made the top 10 of that list. Adele's 21 and 25 took the first two spots in the top 100 biggest albums of the decade. The British songstress picked up six Grammys for 21 and five of the awards for 25, with both records topping charts around the world.
  10. Chelsea, who needed a victory to make sure of qualification, had gone five Champions League games at Stamford Bridge without a victory, their longest such run at home in the competition. They dominated almost the entire game yet Lille, who were already condemned to the bottom spot of Group H and fielded an under-strength side, scored in the 78th minute and came close to a late equaliser that would have eliminated Chelsea. Victory left Chelsea second in the group on 11 points behind Valencia, who won 1-0 at Ajax Amsterdam, consigning the Dutch champions to third place and elimination. Lille ended with just one point. After dominating the opening proceedings in a downpour and swirling wind, Chelsea went ahead in the 19th minute when U.S. striker Christian Pulisic darted forward to feed Willian and the Brazilian’s cut-back cross was turned in by Abraham. The Londoners doubled their lead in the 35th minute when Azpilicueta shook off his marker to score with a close-range header from a corner by Emerson. But what had looked like being a comfortable night for the Blues proved anything but once former Chelsea striker Loic Remy pulled a goal back for Lille with his shot going in off the underside of the bar. Remy then wasted a chance to equalise when he shot straight at Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga in injury time. Lille coach Christophe Galtier said his team had struggled in the opening 30 minutes to cope with Chelsea and the heavy rain and wind that swept around Stamford Bridge. “Chelsea seemed to play a bit less in the second half. We got more of the ball and we deserved to get our goal,” he said. “It made the match more interesting than what went before it. We could have scored a second goal.” The result meant all four English teams in this season’s Champions League - Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as Chelsea - have reached the last 16 of the competition. There was further good news for Chelsea as they welcomed back central defender Antonio Rudiger who had previously played only 45 minutes this season due to injuries. Liverpool advance to last 16 with 2-0 win in Salzburg: Liverpool moved into the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-0 victory over Salzburg on Tuesday as a potentially tricky encounter turned into a second-half cruise with quickfire goals from Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah. Juergen Klopp’s side needed a point in Austria to be sure of qualification and after missing several good chances in the first half, they ended up with a comfortable win which should have been by a more convincing margin. Two goals inside two second-half minutes from Keita and Salah, with the Egyptian finding the net with an exquisite finish from a tight angle, helped Liverpool finish top of Group E with 13 points. That was one point ahead of Napoli, who beat Genk 4-0, while Salzburg, who finished third with seven points, will continue in the Europa League.
  11. According to a police document, a copy of which is available with DawnNewsTV, 52 lawyers were arrested in connection with yesterday's incident. They are expected to be presented before an anti-terrorism court in Lahore today. On Wednesday, lawyers had staged a violent protest at the PIC apparently on a mission to avenge a group of lawyers, who had been beaten up at the PIC a few weeks ago, soon after some video clips went viral on the social media showing some doctors making fun of the lawyers while recalling the incident. The outraged attackers, mostly young faces dressed in black suits and sporting neckties, spared no one present on hospital premises, where several serious cardiac patients are under treatment at any given time. The situation worsened when a mob stormed into the emergency department, seemingly in search of some doctors. In view of the approaching danger, the doctors fled the scene. As the condition of some critical patients deteriorated in the absence of doctors, three PIC patients, including a girl and an elderly woman, passed away.After hours of continued violence, police had arrested dozens of lawyers and unblocked the road. The Punjab government also summoned extra troops of Rangers personnel to maintain law and order. The First Information Report (FIR) registered on Wednesday on the complaint of the PIC at the Shadman police station named the general secretary of the Lahore Bar Association Malik Maqsood Khokhar, vice president of the LBA Ijaz Basra and LBA presidential hopeful Rana Intizar among those who were leading the lawyers, provoking them and giving them the instructions that anyone including doctors and medical staff who get in the way should be unable to get away safely. The FIR was registered on the complaint of Saqib Shafi Sheikh on behalf of the PIC under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and Section 322 (manslaughter), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging their duty),186 (obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions), 354 (assault or criminal force to a woman with an intent to outrage her modesty), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 337-H (2) (punishment for hurt by rash or negligent act) and 395 (punishment for dacoity) of the Pakistan Penal Code.According to the complainant of the FIR, at around noon on Wednesday, he was at his office when the chauki in charge informed him via the telephone operator that 200-250 male and female lawyers were approaching the PIC. After receiving the information, he told doctors (at the hospital) about it, who arrived at the emergency ward of PIC to alert security about the approaching lawyers.Approximately half an hour later, 200-250 lawyers, some of whom were carrying weapons and sticks, forcefully entered the PIC by pushing the large contingent of police posted at the emergency ward gate, which they also broke. As per the FIR, the lawyers divided into various groups, entered the various PIC departments including the intensive care unit, operation theatre and radiology department where they tortured the security guards, medical staff and doctors present in the vicinity.They also broke valuable hospital equipment creating fear among the patients at the hospital and their families. As a result of the destruction, they caused at the hospital, the treatment of patients was suspended which led to the deaths of three patients. Additionally, doctors' cars in the parking lot were also damaged. Two security guards posted at the hospital were tortured by the lawyers and after their condition became serious they were shifted to Services Hospital for treatment. According to the FIR, one group of lawyers also entered and vandalised the nurses' ward. The lawyer swore at and harassed the staff. The shirt of the nurses' ward in charge was torn and her locket was snatched.When the situation got out of control, an additional contingent of police arrived at the site and when they attempted to vacate the lawyers from the PIC, some of them started firing.According to the FIR, the incident lasted approximately two hours. It added that information regarding injuries and damaged equipment will be shared later. A second FIR, also including ATA sections, was registered on behalf of the police. According to the complainant Inspector Syed Intikhab Hussain, some lawyers with a pistol and sticks approached his police vehicle and with an intention to kill, directly fired on him. He added that realising the seriousness of the situation, he sat in the car to leave. During this process, his car climbed onto the footpath and lawyers surrounded it and started damaging it. He said that one of the protesters said to set the police vehicle on fire and to kill the police officials, adding that the protesters fired on the police vehicle and set it on fire. The case was registered on Wednesday under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and Section 290 (public nuisance), 291 (continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 353 (assault), 324 (attempt to murder), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc) and 186 (obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions) of the PPCA day after the protests, services at PIC remain suspended with the exception of the coronary care unit (CCU). Meanwhile, clean up at the hospital is underway. Patients have been shifted to other hospitals The Grand Health Alliance had announced three days of mourning on Wednesday and demanded that a security bill ordinance be put forward in the parliament within 24 hours. They also demanded that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat and Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid resign. Speaking to reporters outside the PIC today, Rashid said she had visited the hospital to show her support with the doctors. She said the government will try to ensure that all those responsible for the violence are given the appropriate punishment. Meanwhile, the staff of the Mayo Hospital held a walk against the incident. Lawyers are also staging a strike today against the arrests of those involved in Wednesday's attack and are demanding that they be immediately released. According to the Punjab Bar Council, lawyers will not be in courts today.A meeting of the lawyers' joint action committee against the arrests was also held today. The members are also meeting with the Lahore High Court Chief Justice designate Mamoon Rashid Sheikh. Witnesses had told Dawn there was chaos as beds were hastily dragged to hideouts, in a few cases the washrooms down the corridor away from the wards, after the mob carrying clubs and rods forced its entry into the government-run hospital.Prime Minister Imran Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar took notice of the violent protests. The protesters claimed that the legal fraternity was provoked by several video clips doing the rounds on social media. They showed some doctors making fun of the lawyers after some hospital staff had thrashed a group of lawyers over a dispute at the PIC. A more recent video clip that showed a young doctor speaking ‘boastfully’ about his encounter with the lawyers. In this video, he was talking about an FIR registered against doctors, paramedics and security guards of the PIC after they allegedly subjected some lawyers to torture and injured five of them. The lawyers had visited the PIC for treatment of a colleague on Nov 20.
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