Saturday 17 March 2018

Digital: BlackBerry makes a fruitful comeback

Review: BlackBerry Z10 phone

BlackBerry Z10
BlackBerry Z10
Year Walk for iPhone/iPad
Crysis 3
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow — Mirror of Fate
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Perhaps one day BlackBerry will be a business case study in how to throw it all away. Paralysed by hubris and lack of vision, BB maker RIM went from being king of the hill in corporate cool to an also-ran tired old horse.

It’s simplistic to pitch its latest phone as a last-ditch bid for survival, but executives must surely be nervous about the reception for the BlackBerry Z10.

A complete rethink of the email-centric BlackBerry experience, the Z10 abandons the physical keyboard and roots itself firmly in the touchscreen iconography of iPhone/Android/ Windows Phone. Not that it hadn’t tried something similar — unsuccessfully — before, but finally BlackBerry has an interface of which to be proud.

Email fiends will be most pleased with how BB has created an excellent touchscreen keyboard — together with intuitive word suggestion to save on typing. It combines that with a smart notification system grouping all texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter and calls in a Hub screen just a couple of swipes away from any app.

Such gestures are at the heart of the new BlackBerry set-up, one that will be familiar to iPhone/Android users. You couldn’t call it overwhelmingly better — in some cases, it’s worse than Apple/Google’s efforts — but at least it’s competitive.

It’s all housed in an understated (think: corporate) phone that’s reliably built, pleasingly fast and on a par with rivals spec-wise.

Unfortunately, BlackBerry may have left its comeback too late in terms of persuading developers to support the platform.

App makers are already under pressure to develop for iPhone/Android/Windows Phone, so BB may never get the same breadth of choice.

Corporate customers may not care because the Z10 probably hits the mark for information warriors. But ordinary consumers will take a lot more persuading that BlackBerry can keep up with Apple and Google.

The Z10 is exclusive to O2 for March, costing €280 on a €50pm 18-month contract or €560 on pre-pay.


Crysis 3



Beauty meets brawn again as possibly the most gorgeous-looking game ever made — on PC or console — reunites with the super-suited soldier for a fresh round of military combat.

We’re following a well-trodden narrative here — carving a path through a ruined city crawling with enemy troops and aliens. With the aid of the super-suit, which grants either near-invincibility or full invisibility, the task isn’t so much a challenge of reflexes but one of careful planning.

The story lacks staying power and the gruff Jason Statham-esque sidekick never grows on you. But new weapons such as the crossbow encourage a tactical approach.

The original game presented the player with a sandbox and a set of weapons with which to “solve” the situation.

Crysis 3 grants much less freedom to explore and conquer under your own terms. But it remains a spectacle worth seeing and its multiplayer options go beyond the usual to save Crysis 3 from an early trade-in.

Year Walk



Strange people, those Scandinavians. Strange but intriguing. We already knew that from The Killing, Borgen, etc. Year Walk is apparently based on Swedish folklore, something about spending a full day in a darkened room so that you may see the future.

Naturally, that invites a sense of madness, which is where the game comes in. With little or nothing to go on, you explore a snowy wilderness populated by strange creatures. Arcane symbols, obscure puzzles and a maze of paths conspire to produce a creepy, unsettling experience.

Yet it’s one you feel compelled to persist with, knowing there’s nothing else like it on iOS — or any other platform. Think Blair Witch meets Edgar Allan Poe.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow — Mirror of Fate

Nintendo 3DS


Forget the disorienting 3D, wallow instead in a masterful side-scrolling hack-n-slash in the fine Castlevania tradition.

As always, you face off against a horde of dumb monsters while exploring a multi-level castle dungeon.

But this 3DS version never lets up, with its crisp art style and frantic action-adventure as the vampire-hunter slashes his way through a menagerie of beasts.

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