Saturday, April 17, 2021

Oddworld: Soulstorm Review – A NEGATIVE Batch Of Brew

Playing Oddworld: Soulstorm is as arduous as Abe’s quest to liberate his Mudoken brethren from slavery. Each step is a supreme test of patience as you methodically guide your followers through challenging hazards, sweating over the fact that one slip-up could unravel all your effort. If you enjoy putting up with that old-school challenge, you might love this journey. However, if you’re a newcomer or a fan that believes this style of platformer hasn’t aged very well, turn back now. Soulstorm doesn’t do enough to modernize the series’ tedious gameplay, and a litany of severe technical hiccups spoil Abe’s attempted comeback. A reimagining of Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus, Soulstorm’s gameplay remains largely the same: you recruit and guide followers through 2D platforming stages littered with dangers. As charming as the classic Oddworld games are, they can be frustratingly difficult and that hasn’t changed much in Soulstorm. Most Slig enemies and other hazards mow Abe down instantly, and I was infuriated by how little wiggle room I had to correct course when things went sideways. Abe drops so fast that it makes the health meter seem like a cruel tease. While playing Soulstorm, I often felt like I was walking on eggshells because of that high price of failure, retracing every step, re-recruiting every Mudokon, and carefully guiding them through a gauntlet of foes is soul-crushing when it all falls apart in seconds. Dying to unexpected perils, like being suddenly gunned down by off-screen enemies, feels cheap and happens way too often. A crafting system serves as Soulstorm’s biggest addition, but it doesn’t feel necessary. You must repeatedly gather the same ingredients every time you die (by searching lockers, trash cans, and fallen foes), which wore me down in a hurry after repeatedly replaying certain sections. The crafted tools themselves, like proximity mines, smoke screens, even a flamethrower, do add a welcomed element of flexibility and improvisation to gameplay. Dropping smoke screens to create hiding spots anywhere is nice, but I wished I didn’t have to make these items myself and grew tired of digging around the same spots over and over.   Even when Soulstorm’s difficulty eases up, the gameplay is bland. The action feels largely the same from previous games in the series, and that formula doesn’t evolve significantly beyond the first few hours. Even the more interesting sequences, like facing down a giant mech aboard a speeding train, are far too punishing to be fun. I’m glad that Abe controls better now (he even has a double jump), but the controls still have a mushy unresponsiveness that makes entertaining actions, like possessing Sligs, feel like a hassle. The controls also lead to additional deaths because Abe doesn’t act as swiftly as you need him to, especially during the ill-fitting, overly demanding combat arenas that pit you against waves of baddies while you try to protect fleeing Mudokens. Soulstorm would be a tough recommendation for anyone outside of diehard fans if it performed flawlessly, but I encountered several progress-sabotaging bugs (even after installing the big day-one patch) that should scare off even those players. When I died, Mudokens sometimes failed to respawn alongside me even though my tally indicated they were still alive and under my command. That meant I lost out on turning in followers that I’d spent ages trying to safely liberate, which negatively affected my overall quarma – a vital metric in determining which of the four endings you get.  Abe occasionally gets stuck in environmental geometry, forcing a restart. At one point, I fell into an infinite loop. One escape portal permanently vanished once I reached it, forcing me to abandon followers. A gun in a late-game turret sequence failed to shoot despite working fine in previous segments. After multiple restarts, I randomly discovered that clicking the right stick “fixed” the weapon for some reason, allowing it to fire. I spent over an hour trying to lead a large group of followers through a particularly challenging area, but once I opened the exit door an invisible wall prevented me from moving forward. I was forced to restart this entire, lengthy sequence twice before the exit worked properly. Soulstorm’s gameplay pushed my patience to its limits, but these bugs sent me over the edge and made me nervous every time I started a new level. “What on Earth is going to screw me over this time?” I regularly asked myself. Soulstorm’s faults are a shame because its narrative and presentation brought a smile to my face. Abe and his pals are goofy, delightful underdogs I couldn’t help but root for. The enjoyable story is packed with heart, and the cutscenes look great. I wanted to welcome Abe into a new generation of gaming with open arms, but Soulstorm fails to make a case for why its brand of cinematic platforming works today. In fact, Soulstorm only reaffirmed that Abe’s past adventures are best viewed with rose-colored glasses.
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    Has been connected to a Handspring Visor for reasons uknown twitter

    In a curiosity that appeals to all seven people who still have a working Handspring Visor PDA, Gizmodo points out that developer Jorge Cohen has worked out a solution bringing Twitter to the PalmOS device via its HotSync cradle. Sure it's "kinda buggy," but like watching Tenet on a Game Boy Advance, some issues can slide considering it's running on a device released back in 1999. How old is the Visor? Within a year of Engadget's launch, we were already writing articles about the "old" device back in 2005. Still kinda buggy, and tweeting/liking/etc still WIP, but I’m pretty happy with it. — Jorge (@JorgeWritesCode) March 10, 2021 The like/retweet counters are janky I think the desktop part is messing up the database, but should be easy to fix. Anything with an emoji looks bad, I’ll probably create a custom font with the most used emojis and do the text drawing manually. — Jorge (@JorgeWritesCode) March 10, 2021 The Visor appeared as a spinoff of the Palm family way before social media sites connected the world and even before WiFi or cellular connections were a standard feature. While modems were available as a hardware option that plugged into the device's expansion slot as a backpack, it was built for an offline world — I'd download the day's news stories on mine before I left for class in the morning and not get any more updates until I returned in the evening. In the year 2000, that still worked as a way to stay well ahead on the day's news without being tied to a radio or TV. Now the blessing/curse of real-time information flow has invaded even this monochrome device, proving that nothing can stay pure forever and giving me a reason to figure out where I put the handheld's dock. Unfortunately, this madman won't stop there — the MessagePad 120 and Apple Newton are next.

    Twitter tests full-size images previews in your prey on Android and iOS

    The next time you’re browsing through your Twitter timeline on your phone, you may notice a small but impactful change to how the service handles images. With a small subset of iOS and Android users, Twitter has started testing full-sized picture previews, allowing users to see timeline images in their original aspect ratio. Before starting today’s test, Twitter cropped all non-16:9 images to maintain uniformity on your timeline. Provided a tweet only includes one image and it’s in a relatively standard aspect ratio, the change will make it so that you don’t have to tap on an image to see it in its entirety. In theory, that should make the experience of browsing through your timeline more streamlined. Additionally, the company announced that it’s also testing a feature that allows people to upload 4K-quality images from their iPhone or Android device. In the “Data usage” section of the settings menu, you’ll see a toggle to enable high-quality image uploads. It might seem like a small thing for Twitter to change how it displays images, but it’s a significant one all the same. Over the years, there have been a lot of complaints about how the service handles images. Those came to a head last year when people found that Twitter’s image-cropping algorithm was focusing on white faces over black ones. “With this test, we hope to learn if this new approach is better and what changes we need to make to provide a ‘what you see is what you get’ experience for tweets with images,” said Twitter Chief Design Officer Dantley Davis of the test. Twitter hasn’t said when the cropping change could make its way to all users. As with any test, the company could decide to keep things the way they are.

    Will label tweets with misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines twitter

    Twitter has introduced new rules to prevent the spread of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines. Under the new policy, the company will label tweets with “misleading” information and ban accounts that repeatedly break the rules. Twitter had previously banned “harmful” misinformation about the vaccines, such as claims that the vaccines are harmful or unnecessary. Under the new rules, Twitter will add prominent labels to tweets with “misleading information.” There will also be stricter penalties for accounts that repeatedly share such claims. The new labels look similar to the ones Twitter used around the election. “This tweet is misleading,” it says. “Find out why health officials consider COVID-19 vaccines safe for most people.” Other users will also be prevented from retweeting the labeled tweets, though Twitter will allow quote tweets. The labels may link to Twitter Moments with "official public health information." The company is also introducing a new strike system that will allow it to punish repeat offenders. After the first strike, users will face temporary suspensions for sharing vaccine misinformation. A fifth strike will result in a permanent ban. “Through the use of the strike system, we hope to educate people on why certain content breaks our rules so they have the opportunity to further consider their behavior and their impact on the public conversation,” Twitter wrote in a blog post. Twitter is the latest platform to crack down on vaccine misinformation. Facebook recently announced that it was banning misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as claims about other vaccines more broadly. TikTok and YouTube have also introduced policies to curb the spread of false claims about the vaccines.

    Twitter purged 70,000 QAnon accounts in three days

    Robert Nickelsberg via Getty Images Twitter says it’s purged more than 70,000 accounts for spreading conspiracy theories associated with QAnon. The company first began cracking down on QAnon over the summer, but now says it ramped up its enforcement following last week’s riot at the US Capitol. “Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon,” the company says. “Since Friday, more than 70,000 accounts have been suspended as a result of our efforts, with many instances of a single individual operating numerous accounts. These accounts were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service.” Twitter further notes that these actions “may have resulted in follower count changes in the thousands” for “some people.” The disclosure comes as a number of Republican lawmakers and others in Donald Trump’s orbit complained about losing thousands of followers over the weekend.  In addition to QAnon, Twitter also says it will further crack down on misinformation about the 2020 election as false election claims has been used to incite violence. The platform has updated its civic integrity policy to reflect that ”repeated sharing of Tweets that receive warning labels” may result in permanent bans. In this article: Twitter, Social media, 2020 Elections, qanon, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

    Twitter's changes since the June attack include requiring security keys

    Sponsored Links JasonDoiy via Getty Images Back in July, Twitter became the target of cyberattackers that hijacked high-profile accounts to run a bitcoin scam. Now, the company has published a post detailing how it’s keeping Twitter secure and making sure that incident won’t happen again, especially since it’s election season in the US. For starters, it has been strengthening the rigorous checks team members with access to customer data must undergo. As the company explains, some of its teams need access to user data to keep Twitter running. While it usually only grants them access for valid reasons, such as to help users who’ve been locked out of their accounts, it’s had to tighten its measures even further. In its first statement issued after the July attack, Twitter said the infiltrators staged a coordinated social engineering attack targeting employees with access to internal systems and tools. (A Wired report reveals what happened behind the scenes after the attack, such as the company having employees change passwords in front of their managers and having to prove they are who they say they are.) As an additional measure, Twitter started distributing phishing-resistant security keys to its employees and requiring its teams around the world to use them. Google implemented the measure in 2017 to great success: A year after making it mandatory for employees to use physical security keys for two-factor authentication, the tech giant announced that it has “no reported or confirmed account takeovers” anymore. Twitter required all new employees to go through security, privacy and data protection trainings, as well. Those who have access to non-public data had to attend additional mandatory training sessions on how they can avoid becoming phishing targets for attackers. The company also said that it’s been constantly improving its internal detection and monitoring tools that alert the company of possible unauthorized access attempts. As for its election-specific efforts, Twitter said it recently implemented heightened security measures for election-related Twitter accounts in the US. A few days ago, it started sending them in-app notifications on new security requirements going forward, such as enabling password reset protection for accounts by default. It also conducted additional penetration testing and scenario planning over the past months. From March 1st to August 1st, for instance, its cross-functional elections team performed exercises on how to deal with hacks, leaks of stole materials, foreign interference and coordinated online voter suppression campaigns, among other scenarios. As a closer to its post, Twitter promised to roll out improvements to its privacy settings in the near future: “We are continuing to invest more in the teams, technology, and resources to support this critical work. We also know that we can do more to make it easier for you to find and use the settings and controls we offer, so we’re working on rolling out improvements to the design and navigation of our privacy settings. You’ll see these improvements in Twitter soon.” In this article: Twitter, security, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Comments 60 Shares Share Tweet Share

    Twitter says its test to get people to read articles before tweeting worked

    Sponsored Links Twitter Twitter’s experiment that prompted people to read an article before tweeting it out has succeeded in getting more people to read before they tweet, the company said.  The company has been testing the feature since June, when it first started asking some of its Android users if they wanted to open a link before retweeting it. Twitter now says the prompt has been a success. The experiment has led to more people opening articles, and in some cases opting not to send the retweet after all.  📰 More reading – people open articles 40% more often after seeing the prompt 📰 More informed Tweeting – people opening articles before RTing increased by 33% 📰 Some people didn’t end up RTing after opening the article – which is fine! Some Tweets are best left in drafts 😏 — Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) September 24, 2020 Twitter says it will soon be pushing the feature out to all its users in an effort to encourage “more informed tweeting.” Once live, Twitter will surface a prompt noting that “headlines don’t tell the full story,” when a user retweets a link they haven’t opened in the app.  In this article: Twitter, Social media, internet, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Comments 205 Shares Share Tweet Share

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