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Categories Video games |

Hit the ice with NHL 22, order your Xbox mini fridge today, and the International prize pool was $40 million, the biggest ever.

Superstar players bring something more to NHL 22

Hockey’s back in more ways than one. The new NHL season kicked off last week, and so did a new version of EA Sports’ hockey sim with the release of NHL 22.

Every year the developers at the campus in Burnaby find ways to improve on how we play as our favourite hockey stars.

This year, this comes in the form of what they are calling the X-factor.

50 of the league’s elite players have special abilities that can be triggered under the right conditions and can lead to them dominating the play.

From Connor McDavid (Wheels: beat anyone, anytime with the puck) to Connor Hellebuyck (Dialed In: boosts reaction time and save ability), from Elias Petterson (Third Eye: no blind spots; make impossible passes) to Auston Matthews (Shock and Awe: a successful deke grants shooting power and accuracy).

Not every team has an X-factor superstar, though. Sorry Calgary Flames fans.

NHL 22 includes the usual modes including being able to create your own player and see if you can level them up to having those superstar abilities. You can also take part in an expansion draft to create your own lineup for the Seattle Kraken or your own team.

The game looks better than ever, especially on the next-gen consoles, with dramatic improvements to the visual aspects of the game from more detail in the uniforms and ice shavings, to the player animations and game physics.

NHL 22 is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S. The X-Factor Edition, which includes some Ultimate Team packs and cosmetics, is only available on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

Try Riders Republic for free this week

Riders Republic, the open world extreme sports game from Ubisoft, releases on October 28, but starting October 21 you can try the game for free for four hours.

And if you end up purchasing the game, you can keep any progress you made during the trial.

Available for PS4, PS5, Windows, Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S, Riders Republic has you crashing down mountains on bikes, skis, snowboards, and wingsuits in races with up to 49 others.

The International Dota 2 Championsips awards more than $40 million in prizes

In Bucharest, Romania over the weekend the International 2021 came to its conclusion with Russia-based Team Spirit winning the Grand Final.

Teams secure invites for the International by playing in qualifying tournaments that are part of regular esports leagues.

This was the tenth edition of the esports championship, and in that time the total prize money has increased from a million in 2011 to over $40 million this year.

What makes the International prize pool unique is that most of the money is raised from sales of subscriptions and cosmetic items for the free-to-play game.

Dota 2, from Valve, is an acronym for Defense of the Ancients, but the full title is never used by the industry. It’s a multiplayer online battle arena game, a MOBA, which pits two teams of players against each other in a battle to destroy the other team’s base.

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Categories Consumer technology |

Apple brings its silicon to new MacBook laptops, Samsung brings customization to more of its products, and the Mirror fitness device comes to Canada in November.

Apple reveals new MacBook Pro models, upgraded AirPods, stylish HomePod minis

In a press event on Monday, Apple revealed the latest updates to its internally manufactured computer chips. Only one year after introducing the M1, the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips are 10-core CPU units with 33.7 billion and 57 billion transistors, orders of magnitude more than the M1.

This means faster processing at a dramatically reduced power cost.

The new M1 Pro and M1 Max are embedded in new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros which are available to order now, starting at $2,499 and $3,149.

Apple also announced the latest AirPods (3rd generation), which are smaller and contoured, and include the spatial audio functionality that is in the AirPods Pro. The new AirPods are $239 and will begin shipping next week.

Finally, there are three new colours of HomePod mini now available. In November, the spherical smart speakers will be available in blue, orange, and yellow for only $129.

For their size and price, Apple’s HomePod mini delivers the best sound you can get.

Samsung brings customization to mobiles and wearables

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Samsung had a new line of refrigerators that customers can customize.

Now Samsung is rolling out the Bespoke experience to the Galaxy Z Flip3 and Galaxy Watch4.

The Galaxy Z Flip3 Bespoke Edition starts with a black or silver frame, to which customers can select the front and back colours from black, blue, pink, yellow, or white. Pricing starts at $1,400.

You can choose the colour, size, and strap style of a Galaxy Watch4 through the new Bespoke Studio experience, with pricing starting at $330 for the 40mm and $460 for the 42mm.

The Bespoke Galaxy Z Flip3 and Galaxy Watch4 from Samsung are available to order now.

Mirror fitness device launching in Canada on November 22

Lululemon will begin selling the Mirror fitness product in Canada next month, both in stores and online.

The device resembles a floor mirror in which you can see yourself, but it’s also a connected display through which you can see instructors who are delivering a variety of workouts including cardio, strength, and yoga.

Because you’re working in front of a mirror, you can see your movements and because there’s a camera built into the device, trainers can actually provide direct feedback and motivation to you during live workouts.

The Mirror costs US$1,500 with a monthly subscription fee of US$40. You can also purchase personal training sessions.

Lululemon is offering “our best price ever” and a $250 gift card with purchase to anyone who signs up for the waitlist.

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Categories Video games |

The debate over game difficulty sparks up with the release of Metroid Dread. Also, Ghostrunner comes to and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy’s soundtrack is revealed.

Engaging Metroid Dread provides challenging exploration

Metroid Dread, the latest chapter in the story of bounty hunter Samus Aran, is clever, challenging, and thrlling. It’s also perfectly demonstrates why “metroid” became more than a video game; it’s a genre.

The sidescrolling action platformer, a Nintendo Switch exclusive, is old school in many ways. There’s very little explanation or voice over and no formal tutorial. This is a game you figure out how to play by playing it.

Because the game is so tightly designed, though, you can figure it out pretty easily. When you need a new power, you get it, and you have to use it immediately after acquiring it. It’s how Metroid trains us as players, and teaches us how things work.

Metroid Dread is similar to other games in the franchise in that Samus starts the game by being stripped of her powers. Those abilities are added back to her power suit as you explore the map and discover the secrets. Each ability or weapon upgrade opens up new possibilities and routes through the map.

The maps – there are eight sections in the game – get a little confusing after you’ve exposed much of the area, and I got lost a few times, trying to figure out where I was supposed to go next. But I always figured it out im the end.

What’s different about Metroid Dread is the addition of a deadly antagonist, EMMI robots. Standard Metroid enemies are restricted to the screen they are on, but the EMMI robots can navigate through the map, and if they detect Samus they go on the hunt.

And if Samus is captured by an EMMI, the game is over and you pick things up from the last save point.

There’s only ever one EMMI to deal with at a time, and there is a way to defeat them, but while you figure out how to get that power, you’re going to have to run and you’re going to end up dying. At least a few times.

The tension that is so perfectly evoked by the game’s music and sound design ratchets up when you’re being hunted. This Metroid certainly creates a sensation of Dread.

There are eight areas to explore and seven EMMI robots to overcome, not to mention the game’s bosses, which are also difficult and require unique battle strategies.

Metroid Dread is challenging, to be sure, but for those players who can deal with experimenting with the combat and trying different things to see what works, it’s a blast.

Futuristic aesthetic flows through Ghostrunner

Ghostrunner has been released for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. If you’ve already got the game for PS4 or Xbox One you can upgrade for free.

The game combines parkour with sword fighting – you’re equipped with a katana – in a frenzied, quick-twitch experience that barely ever slows down.

In first-person perspective you navigate through a futuristic city, finding paths through the environment and slicing up the enemies trying to shoot you. You can make quick lateral moves to dodge some bullets while using your sword to deflect others, and you’ll be repeating sections over and over trying to find the right sequence of moves, because if you get hit once, you’re dead.

With a bass-heavy synthesizer soundtrack that befits the setting, Ghostrunner puts you into the future.

Here are the songs in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy game

Director James Gunn is the reason that music has become strongly associated with Guardians of the Galaxy, and the upcoming video game is no exception.

To be released on October 26, Square Enix has published the track list on Spotify

It includes classics from Motley Crue (Kickstart My Heart), Loverboy (Turn Me Loose), Billy Idol (White Wedding), Soft Cell (Tainted Love), Blondie (Call Me), and Pat Benatar (Hit Me With Your Best Shot).

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is releasing on Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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Categories Consumer technology |

The Internet Archive turns 25, Windows 11 is rolling out to computers now, and Acer’s got new laptops running Windows 11 including a new line made from recycled products.

Internet Archive celebrates 25 with online anniversary party

If you’ve ever needed (or wanted) to see what a website used to look like, you’ve visited the Wayback Machine, which grabs snapshots of billions of web pages and stores them.

This is a project of the Internet Archive, which also includes archives of books, software, videos, and more.

The Internet Archive was founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996, and he’s going to take us back to those days on October 21 as part of an online anniversary celebration, From Wayback to way forward: The Internet Archive turns 25.

He’ll be followed by Cory Doctorow who will imagine what things will be like 25 years from now in 2046.

You can get a glimpse now at the future Doctorow imagines with the Wayforward Machine. Spolier alert: it’s dystopian.

Register for From Wayback to Way Forward: The Internet Archive turns 25

Windows 11 is now available

The latest update to Microsoft’s operating system, Windows 11, is now available.

The upgrade, which is free for many Windows 10 users, will not necessarily work on any computer. You can check to see whether yours meets the minimum system requirements, which include:

  • 64-bit processor, 1 GHz or faster
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 64 GB hard drive storage

You can also download and run the “PC Health Check app” that will tell you if your computer is capable of running Windows 11.

Among the things that come with the new Windows are:

  • more and better accessibility features to support people with disabilities
  • better support for gaming
  • Microsoft Teams Chat in the taskbar
  • general performance enhancements

If you’ve got a qualifying Windows 10 computer, you’ll get Windows 11 delivered to your device sometime in the next few months.

Acer’s got new Windows 11 laptops including one made from recyclables

Timed with the release of Windows 11 are new notebook computers from Acer, including the Nitro 5 gaming machine, the Swift 5 ultralight, and the green Aspire Vero.

The Aspire Vero is part of Acer’s new line of Vero products that are constructed with post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics.

In addition to the general purpose Aspire Vero is the business laptop the TravelMate Vero (coming in January), the desktop Veriton Vero Mini, and the 27-inch monitor, the Vero BR277 (available in March).

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Categories Corus Radio Network | Consumer technology

This week on The Shift, Shane Hewitt and I talked about Far Cry 6, Diablo II Resurrected, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. We also discuss the Wendy’s phone and Microsoft’s new Surface devices, including the Surface Laptop Studio, the Surface Pro 8, and the Surface Duo 2.

My segment begins at 43:11.

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