Friday 23 February 2018

Digital: Huawei has another thin coming

Review: Huawei Ascend P6

Huawei Ascend P6 smartphone
Huawei Ascend P6 smartphone
Hotline Miami: PS Vita game
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Imitation might be considered the sincerest form of flattery, unless you're a multi-billion corporation that earns its crust at least partly from its iconic designs.

Then you might get narked when all and sundry "pay homage" with products resembling your laptops and phones.

Apple doesn't have a monopoly on great design, of course, but it just seems lazy when rivals' products end up looking very similar.

The new Huawei Ascend P6 is billed as the world's thinnest smartphone – which no doubt it is – but some people will simply mistake it for an Apple handset that fell briefly under a steamroller.

From its angular black casing to its segmented steel bands around the edge, Huawei has hardly deviated from its inspiration. On the plus side, the upshot is a robustly constructed Android with familiar good looks and – yes – pleasingly skinny.

Huawei's game plan versus Android rivals has been to offer mid-market phones at basement prices, but the Ascend P6 moves upscale to the tier just behind the cutting edge of the Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One.

It doesn't have quite the horsepower, the crispness of screen nor the camera accuracy to play with the big boys, but many punters will be more than satisfied. Personally, the awkward location of the headphone jack (on the side and thus pocket-unfriendly) drove me a little batty, but your mileage may vary.

Notionally, its scant girth is its unique selling point, but really it's the prospect of a high-end phone at a reasonably low price that will shift the P6.

O2 has the exclusive on the P6 initially, punting it for €330 on pre-pay or €170 on a typical one-year contract of €45 per month.

www.o2.ie

 

GAMES

Hotline Miami

PS3/PS Vita

****

How many murders have you committed? Me? Probably millions. From the crudest stick men to the most graphically realistic soldiers, my gaming career has left many corpses behind and it's hardly cost me a thought.

Hotline Miami is one of the few games to question this slaughter, while simultaneously inviting you to be a participant in relentless ultra-violence.

So is it a post-modern 1980s satire or a garish exercise in poor taste when sinister men in animal masks ask you bluntly: "Do you like hurting people?"

While you're making your mind up, Hotline compels you to navigate a maze of rooms, bludgeoning, shooting and maiming a procession of thugs.

It's brutal, unremitting yet strategic, because it's one-hit, one-kill for you and the enemies, leading you to devise trial-and-error tactics to clear the room.

Then it confronts with your cold-blooded massacres by forcing you to walk back through the trail of bodies to complete the level. By turns funny, addictive but a little nauseating, Hotline Miami makes a serious point with a piece of entertainment.

Epic Mickey 2: the Power of Two

PS Vita

***

This sequel bombed on its initial outing, shutting down its developer in the process. This PS Vita port is unlikely to fare much better, despite the promising set-up drawing on Disney's heritage.

Lacking online multiplayer, you're stuck with an idiotic AI companion who regularly fails to help Mickey when required in his platform adventures.

Patient youngsters might enjoy wandering through the loopy levels, but for the rest of us it's just too much hard work.

Tour de France 13

X360/PS3

**

Le Tour is drawing to a close and the riders have a few climbs yet. But none face the mountain the developers did in keeping a cycling game interesting.

Alas, your interest will expire long before the Champs-Elysees, unless you're a total wheel nut. TdF13 invests a lot of resources in capturing the feel of Le Tour, with copious detail and thousands of (presumably accurate) miles of countryside.

But it's the mechanics of actually cycling for hours at a time that fail to spark the imagination. Holding down the trigger continuously conveys none of the inhuman effort and strategic battles of the real thing.

Irish Independent

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