Saturday 18 November 2017

Digital: Cheapo phones outsmarted by slightly bigger brother

Vodafone Smart 3
Vodafone Smart 3
Nokia Lumia 925
Remember Me - Xbox 360/PS3 game
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Just because you can buy a smartphone for €50 doesn't mean you should. Perhaps you feel left behind by the apps revolution, perhaps you don't want to lash out big-time on a fancy moby you won't use much.

Your first mistake may be to pick the cheapest option and dive in. But too many corners get cut in the race to the bottom. Trust me, spend a little more on the likes of the new Vodafone Smart 3 (€100) and you get far more bang for your buck.

Its predecessors set the benchmark for cheapo handsets but were suitable only for young 'uns. The Smart 3 feels like a grown-up's mobile by comparison.

It's no Galaxy S4, but thanks to a recent version of Android, a four-inch screen and a pleasingly solid design, smartphone newcomers won't be missing much.

Limited on-board storage (a Micro-SD slot is available), an underwhelming camera and a lack of sensitivity in the touchscreen are its biggest failings. But it comfortably outperforms anything in the bargain basement by a wide margin.

www.vodafone.ie

* Nokia means nothing to a generation who've grown up on iPhones. Having hitched their star to Microsoft's pretty but unloved Windows Phone software, the Finns are still flailing around trying to be relevant.

The Lumia 925 is Nokia's latest attempt to recapture the glory days, putting its bulky 920 on a crash diet and adopting a sleek half-metal design.

Though much lighter, it still manages to incorporate Nokia's superb camera from the 920 and adds a few nice software updates. Arguably, it's the flagship phone Nokia should have released in the first place.

But it remains hamstrung by Microsoft's unimpressive app store – not a patch on Android or iPhone, no Instagram for instance – and there are strong rumours Nokia has an even better camera in the works for a new Lumia.

The Lumia 925 costs €150 on a €35pm contract with Vodafone.

www.nokia.ie

GAMES

REMEMBER ME

X360/PS3/PC

***

With a plot stolen half-heartedly from Total Recall, or possibly one of half a dozen other Philip K Dick stories, Remember Me charts a convoluted course through sci-fi pulp fiction.

On the run in a dystopian society hell-bent on controlling everyone's memories, your adventures are more memorable for the garish vision of a futuristic Paris. Like Blade Runner's LA transplanted to France, it's a hellish place full of tramps, trash, neon and danger.

If only the action was a little more inspired, although kudos at least for resisting the temptation to introduce guns to the mix of brawling and platforming.

Upgrades enable you to construct combos to create your own style of combat but it's too easy to rely on a few favourites.

The signature feature – remixing cut-scenes to produce a different outcome – turns out a damp squib that feels like too much trial and error.

Remember Me has lots of forgettable elements but it's worth a look for the scenery.

GAME & WARIO

WII U

***

A collection of 16 mini-games, G&W is not quite the usual Wario fare, each extending to several minutes long instead of the fleeting but fun 10 seconds.

But only a few stand up to scrutiny in their extended form, with several just slight diversions that resemble an excuse for you to do silly things with the Wii U Gamepad.

Although there's little decent multiplayer action here, G&W still feels like a party game in which you pass around the controller to take turns flinging arrows, matching patterns or ski down a mountain.

But it's engagingly daft single-player events such as Pirates and Taxi that will keep the disc in the tray.

MARVEL HEROES

PC

**

Don't bother listening to me, try out this latest free-to-play massively multiplayer brawler for yourself. Although you might find it a curious knock-off of dungeon-crawler Diablo – except with superheroes.

Alas, the massively multiplayer element lends little to the gameplay other than a sense of confusion, as randomers complete your quests and you struggle to work out which of the five Captain Americas actually is you.

Irish Independent

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