I have started this game several times over the last couple of years and one thing or another has pulled me away from it before I could finish it. That all changed recently when I decided to fill the gap before the new God of War released by playing Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider back to back. Today I'm here to talk about all of the ways Tomb Raider is amazing, and one way it isn't!
To start with the most basic element of any game, the core gameplay loop. In Tomb Raider you can break the game down into three main sections, exploring the world, raiding side tombs, and fighting enemies. Firstly the exploration of the world has struck a very good balance between a large, daunting, open world at the same time as providing enough incentive to go around a explore. This may just be because I have not been playing any games like this for quite a few months, but I was incredibly impressed with the freedom you have to climb around the world. There were very few occasions when I wanted to try and climb something and couldn't. The carrot on the end of the exploration stick is the looting of nuts and bolts that serve as the games currency and allows you to upgrade your weapons to have. This is on top of XP system that allows you to level up and earn any of the perks available to you at your current level. My only criticism of the perk system is that you are barred from unlocking the second tier of any of the three perk trees until you have reached a certain level. I would have preferred individual progression in each perk tree, on several occasions I was simply unlocking a perk in a tree I had no use for in order to get closer to unlocking the next set of perks I did want in the tree I wanted!
The second major part of Tomb Raider is the actual raiding of tombs, this is a far smaller part of the game that either I was expecting or the title indicates. Never the less there are seven optional tombs for you to raid as the game progresses, these vary from relatively simply to warranting a good head scratch and 15 minutes of your time to progress through. One issue of these side tombs is the rewards, they are usually rather underwhelming typically giving some nuts and bolts for weapon upgrading as well as a treasure map to the collectables in the local area.
The third part of the pie making up your time with Tomb Raider is combat. The main thing to note with the combat is that there are only 4 weapons in the game, however you can increase the capabilities of these weapons via two methods, firstly is increasing a specific facet of the weapon using nuts and bolts as I said before. The other method is finding 4 parts of a new weapon out in the environment by opening chests etc. once all four parts have been acquired then you get a whole new aesthetic to the weapon and all of the stats have been increased. I really like the feel of the combat in Tomb Raider, I played on the normal difficulty which meant that I could still take out all regular enemies with one head shot, either from a bow, pistol or rifle, the shotgun just deals a lot of damage generally. There isn't a vast variety of enemies in the game, the order in which you take your foes to their next life will more depend on their positioning, the AI governing them is decent and some will rush towards you with a shotgun while other will sit on high ground and rain arrows and grenades upon your head. My only criticism of the combat is that it felt to much like it was repeating time after time, for example after you have climbed some cliffs, explored for some loot, you would get a zone of the map that has a lot of enemies that you have to slowly make your way through. I would have liked more options in terms of being able to stealthy take out all the enemies, or in fact sneaking past the enemies all together. Many of the combat engagements involved starting with a small cutscene in which all the enemies saw you and started shooting at you, then the game would hand control back to you and you are left to carve your way through the area.
That covers all the fundamental points that comprise the game, I may have criticise several elements of the game, but I truly did love my time with the game. There are obvious comparisons drawn between Tomb Raider and the Uncharted series, my two penneth worth on the matter is that they are actually very different games. Though if I would have to say that the diversity of gameplay and different aspects that comprise the game lead me to conclude that I had more fun with Tomb Raider than I have with the Uncharted games, even if the visuals and to an extent the story, are superior in the Uncharted series.
I rate Tomb Raider, 9/10
Thank you very much for reading,
Staying with the apparent theme I've set myself starting 2018 of slightly horror/creepy first person games with a twist of the apocalyptic after playing Bioshock 1,2 and Infinite, then Prey, my attention naturally turned to two more games of this genre; Metro. I remember watching the Exodus gameplay trailer at E3 last year in being seriously impressed, so went out and bought the Redux collection. As if needing to fulfil my badge of a gamer it then went and sat on the backlog shelf for many, many months until over the Easter break I felt like knocking some more "short" campaign focused games off my list, and so the time in the disk tray had finally reached the Metro Redux. I've since finished both games and will now write about said thoughts for an unquantified amount of time. I suppose that time is quantified by how fast you are at reading, and whether you get bored half way through and don't actually make it to the end... as I say, unquantified.
Most of the things I want to talk about are related to the first Metro, 2033, as this is by far the superior of the two games, spoilers for my final verdict! I really did love my time with Metro 2033, the first few hours had me hooked, between the engaging gameplay and shooting mechanics and the real fear I had while walking round some of the environments, all rounded off with a highly intriguing story, that may lost some of the momentum in the middle, definitely picks up again towards the ending. As soon as you start the game for the first time you will be given the option to play it in Survivor or Spartan mode, the former balances the game to make every bullet you shoot count as well as fewer med-packs, on the other hand is Spartan mode which conforms the game to a more traditional FPS campaign with rare shortages of bullets and plenty of med-packs. I opted to both Metro games in Spartan mode, this is purely due to the number of games I had played just before Metro that similarly placed a lot of importance on each and every bullet. Specifically the previous day I had finished Prey in which I grew very bored with having to search every corner of the map to find enough supplies, and before Prey I played the Bioshock trilogy. I am glad I opted for Spartan mode, as it let me focus on some of the brilliant design decisions that went into making Metro 2033, specifically the tension which is perfectly balanced and maintained, as well as the core gun-play which I thought was very well done. My only criticism of the weapon system in Metro is that there is a modestly sized weapon customisation system which can change things like the weapon optic, recoil reduction, suppressor etc. On paper this is a fantastic addition to the game, however there is a rather large array of weapons to choose from along your journey through the nuclear Moscow. The result was that I had two weapons on me that I never changed and fully customised to my requirements, and the final weapon slot was given over to pick up weapons that I wanted to try out. I don't know how difficult it would be but I would have liked it if purchased attachments could be reapplied without buying them again if you swap out a weapon and pick it up again. This had a relatively minor impact on my gameplay experience, but it would have been a nice way to round out the weapon and combat system. My final note on Metro 2033 is that the rather trippy ending was fantastic, I really like the way the tension and weight of responsibilities grew as the game progressed and I think the final hour or so really ending it very well.
Moving on to Metro Last Light and I have significantly less to say about this game. Sadly is just wasn't nearly as fun or enjoyable for me to play as it was going through 2033 for the first time. I will say right now that some of my issues may be related to the fact that I played both games back to back in little over a week. The other thing to bare in mind is that because it is the Redux version of both of these games it is possible that they were made to feel and play the same as each other, and this is my first big problem with the game. Almost everything is exactly the same in Last Light compared to 2033, the weapons mostly look and feel the same, every scrap of the UI and menu system is almost identical. Having recently played the Bioshock games back to back I was expecting a similar level of progression and expansion in the sequel, but quite frankly I wouldn't have been surprised if you had told me Last Light was a fan project using the same assets as 2033. So the core minute to minute gameplay was far to similar to 2033, but there are two main areas where Last Light is simply worse than its predecessor. Firstly the more minor of my two issues is with the horror, or spooky elements, to put it simply there aren't any. I may be wrong but I don't think there was a single time during Last Light that I felt in any way scared or worried about what was around the corner. This may in part be due to the fact that all of the enemies are predominatly the same as those I had just fought in 2033 and so the fear of those enemies had been reduced simply by fighting them for too long. My other main issue with Last Light is the whole damned story is just bad in my opinion, it is hard for me to explain why without spoiling the end of 2033 which I refuse to do. Suffice to say the main aim in the first game is then flipped on its head in Last Light and those who were just your enemies, are now the sole drive of the campaign, but this time trying to help and save them. This would have been an acceptable option if the game had any dialogue options or a branching story, but the game forces me into actions that I simply didn't want to do, especially hot of the heels of 2033. All in all I woulnd't say I had a bad time with Last Light, it was simply a disappointment after playing 2033 which really grabbed me and didn't let me go.
The final point I would like to make is one that covers both games, and that is the waypoint system in the games. Put simply there were several occasions in both games when I had no idea where to go or how to get there. The only assistance the game offers you is a compass that you can use at any time and points you in the direction you need to be going. This doesn't take into account the fact that many of the maps are twisting and turning, so there are times when you need to briefly go in the complete opposite direction to where the compass is telling you, to find a side tunnel(or such the like) to be able to travel in the correct distance. There was also one instance when I simply had to wait and kill some enemies before assistance arrived, but the game didn't tell me that and I was frantically trying to avoid the enemies while running in circles trying to find some intractable to progress the mission. I only found the correct thing to do was wait after I simply spent enough time until eventually I got sick of running from the enemies and decided to fight back.
There you go then, my concise-ish review of both Metro games that make up the Redux collection. All things considered especially baring in mind the price you can get these two games for these days I would highly recommend the collection to anyone who wants to maybe try something a bit different. My scores then.
Metro 2033: 8.5/10
Metro Last Light: 5.5/10
Metro Redux: 7.5/10
As always thank you very much for reading, I will be back soon with more reviews and content!
The start of all recent years has heralded me promising to myself that this year I would finally and properly play and complete games from my backlog. It has become somewhat of a tradition for me to forget this promise to myself as soon as an "endless" game releases, such as Destiny or Overwatch, when there is no line in the sand of "okay I've finished this game time to move on". Without wanting to prematurely count my eggs I believe that 2018 is finally the year when I can haul some of that backlog out from the shadows and take their rightful place in my PS4 disk tray. So far in 2018 I have completed all three Bioshock games, Horizon Zero Dawn, both games in the Metro Redux, Tomb Raider(2013) and naturally Prey. So today I want to review Prey for you, preferably without creating a wall of text so daunting that no one reaches the bottom... let's see shall we!
I feel the start of the game is the best place to begin this review and I was mighty impressed by those first few hours. The world of Talos 1 as well as the introducing hour and a half blew me away. The gameplay freedom that was given to you from very early in the game left me with an intoxicating feeling that this was going to be a very special game to play. This feeling only grew in intensity during the first 4-5 hours of play, wherein the characters of Talos 1 and the story that led to where you stand was unveiled. This was made even better by an increasing number of weapons and gadgets to help you along your way and either give you fun side activities to focus on, such as scanning enemies for data, or increased the options you had in gameplay, such as a rip-off nerf gun that could distract enemies. It was sadly around the 6 hour mark that the wheels started to fall of the proverbial wagon for me, it boils down to two things, the fatigue set in with the repetition of the game and the annoyances of the game grew ten fold.
Firstly the fatigue, essentially this was caused by a lack of innovation in the game. It had very much levelled out and began to feel stale due to the fact that there were no longer interesting weapons or gadgets being introduced and the side quest system began to be so complex that I stopped doing them all together. This is where the annoyances really started to ware me down and the majority of my enjoyment of the game had dried up, suffice to say the last 2-3 hours of the game I was purely playing to see the story to its conclusion. The way the side quests are implemented into the game felt very confused to me, I genuinely don't know how the developers intended you to play them. In the traditional sense you would receive a side quest then go off and complete it between main missions. However this idea falls apart in Prey, because while there is a linear mission structure they very much run from one into another. This issue with side quests is brutally compounded by the fact that many of the steps in the side quests after the first few hours of the game, require you to advance to a part of Talos 1 that you haven't been too before, and often are unable to go to without advancing the main story. It boils down to the fact that I had about 11 side quests active that I was attempting to juggle, completing bits of them as I passed during the main story, but in many cases the side quests would then want you to abandon the main missions to return to a previous area, which I was unwilling to do as I was very uncommitted to them due to the confusing way they are presented to the player. The icing on the cake for the myriad of issues with how side quests are done in this game comes around half way through the game when you are give a choice that is obvious will radically change the way the game ends. I refuse to spoil anything, but suffice to say the option I was dead set on completing meant that my emotional attachment to any of the characters onboard Talos 1 was non-existent. I apologise if I confused you during that little rant of my, in all honesty it is very hard for me to explain all of the ways in which the side quests are so awfully implemented, and the knock on effect they have on the main missions.
A few final points, this game is quite naturally compared to Bioshock and I can completely agree with those comparisons. I believe the downfall of Prey is that it tries to take all of the elements of Bioshock and crank them up or introduce new versions of them, in some ways they succeed but sadly in all too many they fail. In a heartbeat I would recommend Bioshock over Prey, and completing Prey only made me more fond of the Bioshock series. Another point I would like to make is the enemies, the game's marketing was very much based around the mimics, which disguise themselves as everyday objects and the leap out and attack you. These enemies were absolutely incredible for the first few hours of the game, every room and corridor had an incredible tension to it as you try and spot any out of place objects that may be mimics. As the game progresses a perk can be unlocked that reveals disguised mimics, taking away any and all tension or horror element from the game, the quantity of mimics is also reduced drastically as their place is taken by a cast of increasingly hard to fight enemies. These new larger enemies are usually simply humanoid masses of black goop and are very unsatisfying to fight, any foes that differ from the humanoid have a various range of abilities that make it a challenge and an annoyance to fight them. The result of these changes over the course of the twelve hour game is that for the last several hours I simply ran past every enemy the story didn't require me to kill in order to save the little ammunition that I had.
In an effort to keep this review from stretching out into the horizon I shall end it here. The first half of the game was a fantastic and unravelling adventure, but the second half takes so much of the fun and mystery out of the game that I was incredibly glad for it to be over. If you are looking for a game with large levels and an obscene amount of player options, then I would be far more inclined to recommend either of the Dishonored game in place of Prey. I rate Prey: As always, thank you very much for reading. In the near future I will be reviewing some of the other games I have played recently that I listed at the top, I do hope you have enjoyed my review of Prey.
As always, thank you very much for reading. In the near future I will be reviewing some of the other games I have played recently that I listed at the top, I do hope you have enjoyed my review of Prey.
A mere 11 years after the game first was released, brining with it the sunken city of Rapture, I have finally wiped Bioshock 1 from my pile of shame and I enjoyed it so much I went right along and completed Bioshock 2. As of writing this I've also finished the Bioshock 2 DLC Minvera's Den and I started playing Bioshock Infinite yesterday. Today I want to talk to you about my first double bill experience of Rapture.
My journey started, as everyone else's did, with a plane crash. Landing in Rapture for the first time was quite a strange experience, even now I don't think it is common at all for a AAA game to release you into a game world without you really know what is going on. You get this type of experience quite regularly in the Indie scene, but not so much in AAA games. Despite how famous and incredibly popular this game is I knew relatively little about it thankfully, the extent of my knowledge was that it was an underwater City and some people with Drills protect little girls. As I started exploring the city of Rapture it soon drew me under its spell. This is one of the finest examples of world building I have ever seen in a linear game, the difference being that I see world building as a very different skill in open world games. From the plasmids that give you what can only be described as magical abilities, to the drug riddled enemies you fight called Splicers, this all together would fall down flat if it wasn't supported with a highly intriguing story and stellar cast of fleshed out secondary and tertiary characters.
I only have one problem with this game, and that is the way the story is portrayed to the player. What I mean by that is the fact that there were a lot of small chunks of the game when the main story wasn't being progressed, but little side characters were being developed mainly through audio diaries you can pick up. This may have been a bigger problem for me due to my play style, which was to clear every last corner of the map before moving on, so it is possible that I was playing at a slower pace than was intended. However I would spend as much time as I wanted searching the map for extra ammo or cash etc. then proceed with the objective and felt like I was picking up the main story again after listening to a lot of audio diaries, thus be slightly confused with what people were referring to. I will say now that I had this same problem in Bioshock 2, so it may be the fact that I played it slowly, or it could be a design floor that the snippets of conversation that makes up the main story were punctuated to frequently by lore building audio diaries that gave the story in the exact same way by people talking to your radio. There are no cutscenes in Bioshock 1 apart form to start and finish the game so there is also the fact that sometimes when people are speaking to you, progressing the story in some way, it is possible that you are in the middle of being attacked by Splicers, meaning that you aren't paying attention to what is being said. Lastly I want to quickly mention the plot twist that occurs in Bioshock 1, which I will not be spoiling, which I absolutely loved, it changed the aim of the game and also totally surprised me which isn't often the case with plot twists in games.
Moving on to Bioshock 2, I had no idea what to expect from this one, as it felt like Bioshock 1 had been wrapped up very neatly, but the way they reintroduce a more dilapidated Rapture, 8 years after the first was a very interesting premise. The first few hours of Bioshock 2 and I was ever so slightly disappointed, the experience at that point felt very much like Bioshock 1, with a lack of innovation or meaningful change. I can't say for sure whether I simply accepted this fact and got on with enjoying the game, or whether the game slowly changed further and further away from Bioshock 1. By the time I finished Bioshock 2 I was totally convinced that I had enjoyed this more than the first.
There are several key differences between Bioshock 1 and 2, they are the combat, the map size and the lore. Firstly the combat is different by the fact that you don't need to change between being able to use a Plasmid and a Weapon, rather you are able to use both at the same time. This seemingly simple change had a huge impact on the way I approached combat in the game, in the first game I barely used Plasmids, as my weapon of choice simply was more effective than swapping to use a Plasmid. It felt so refreshing to be able to adapt the plasmid I was using on the fly at the same time as firing my weapon. The flip side to this fantastic change to combat is the lack of innovation as far as the weapons are concerned, in Bioshock 2 you are basically using the same weapons as in Bioshock 1 just with a different aesthetic. This definitely did disappoint me, but I was thrilled to see the new weapon upgrade system in Bioshock 2 which felt like the upgrades had more meaningful changes than in the first game. This is also aided by the revamped Tonic system, in Bioshock 1 you can only equip a maximum of 5 of any one category of Tonic. In Bioshock 2 you are still limited in the number of Tonics you can have active, but no longer limited by their category, meaning that I can use more combat focused Tonics in 2 than 1, thus giving me a greater sense of freedom in terms of how I want to approach the combat. On one quick final note partly related to the new Tonic system, the hacking in Bioshock was so unenjoyable that I never did it, I either bought the Hack off, or just moved of. In Bioshock 2, the Hacking was so much more enjoyable and resulted in me hacking everything I wanted to!
The next two major changes are very closely linked, the map size and better lore. The size of map has both increased in terms of scale, from one end of the map to the other, and also the density, with it being quite common to have multiple floors to a building. This increased density means that there are more places to hide Audio Diaries, which I genuinely had as much narrative fun listening to as the main story. There are far more Audio Diaries hidden away, to fill out the new sized map, some of which are stand alone tales of people who lived in Rapture. Some are linked to the main characters of the story, some are incredible links back to the events of Bioshock 1, and some are connected to other Diaries, meaning that by finding the Diaries you are effectively uncovering a side quest of story content. There is a trophy that I earned close to the end of the game for listening to 100 Audio Diaries, just to give you an idea of the quantity.
Well then, I think I have written quite enough about these two games for one day, the TLDR of it is that I love both of them to bits, and once I have finished Bioshock Infinite I am confident I will look back at playing all three games back to back as one of my favourite gaming experiences ever. It annoys me greatly that I have been a gamer for so long without experiencing these incredible games, if you are like I was, having never played a Bioshock game, I urge you to try the Bioshock Collection for yourself!
As always thank you very much for reading,
The New Year has come and gone, and so it is time to start looking ahead to all of the amazing games that will be released this year, today I want to walk you through the games that I am most exited about. Though as a warning, quite a few of the games I want to discuss are simply labelled for release in "2018", and some of them I highly doubt will actually release this year. That not withstanding, let's begin!
Monster Hunter World, launching January 26th on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with a PC release coming "Autumn 2018". This is a game that I'm not 100% convinced by, I played both Beta releases and I enjoyed the second one, but struggled a bit with the first. That isn't to say that anything major changed between the two Betas, just that I understood the game more and had a more enjoyable time with the game. This is not a game that I'll be storming out of the house for in the first week, but it is certainly one that I may play later in the year if there is a dry spell of releases.
Shadow of the Colossus, launching February 6th as a PlayStation 4 exclusive. I never played Shadow of the Colossus when it was released on the PS2 or PS3, so I feel it necessary to play it now, with its very shiny new coat of paint. I've never even played an Team Ico game, though I do have The Last Guardian staring at me from my backlog shelf of shame, so between the two PS4 releases, I would like to have completed both of them by the end of the year!
Dynasty Warriors 9, launching February 13th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. This is a franchise that has a bizarrely high level of nostalgia for me personally, having played Dynasty Warriors 5 back in the glory days of the PS2 I am incredibly excited for this new Open World iteration of the franchise. Whether it is a critical success or not, I feel my nostalgia for the series leaves me no choice, I must play this game!
Devil May Cry HD Collection, launching February 13th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. There are a few series of games that I am yet to play at all, Metal Gear Solid being one of the most noticeable, DMC is up there as well. With this collection including DMC 1, 2 and 3 it will be a hard package to turn down! I would also be intrigued to fully understand the controversy that arose when the aesthetic of the protagonist was completely changed in the series reboot a few years ago!
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, launching February 23rd on PlayStation 4 and PC. This is one of my most anticipated games of the year(that we know will release this year). Having missed the bus on the first game I am saddened there is no PS4 port of Ni no Kuni, but I am happy to join the series in its second iteration. I am on the fence about Studio Ghibli films, but I truly in love with the anime-esque style that is the core of this games aesthetic!
Far Cry 5, launching March 25th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. I've only every played Far Cry 4 from this series, but I fell in love with it. Certainly there were issues with the game, but the freedom and combat the game served up for the player was, and still is great fun. By all accounts Far Cry 5 is looking to return to these staples of the series, there also sounds to be a very interesting story to boot. Tackling religious zealots and cultists is usually a plot point saved for small side quests in AAA games, but here it is front and centre and I applaud it for that!
Brief interlude to say that they are all of the games I'll talk about today that have firm release dates, the next segment will be on games that are simply slated for 2018 release dates, some I believe are guaranteed to release this year, while other games I think are bound to be pushed back to 2019.
God of War, launching on PlayStation 4. I start this section with this game, not because it is my favourite of the games on this list, but because it is going to be releasing relatively soon, it was recently leaked via the PS Store that March 22nd is the release date, time will tell if this is accurate. The God of War franchise is another series that I have never played, so for this game to be the start of a new story, featuring Norse mythology as opposed to Greek mythology has me very excited. I've heard tell of the fluid and bloody combat, and I look forward to seeing for myself this year!
Detroit: Become Human, launching on PlayStation 4. Staying in the vein of PlayStation exclusives, this title is also currently slated for a Spring 2018 release, more solid detailed should emerge in the coming month or two. The latest release from French studio Quantic Dream has attracted a fair number of headlines, both for the realistic looking graphics as well as widely branching story, but also for one of the recent trailers portrayal of child abuse. Only the release of the game will tell the full story of these issues, but I for one am very excited to see the latest game from this iconic studio.
Days Gone, launching on the PlayStation 4. Another PlayStation exclusive now(sorry, there will be more!), this game has intrigued be constantly since it was announced. From the incredible graphics, to massive hoards of zombies shown on screen at once, Days Gone is a game that will attract, and has attracted a lot of attention. I couldn't bank on it releasing this year, but stranger things have happened.
Spiderman, launching on the PlayStation 4. This is by far my most anticipated game of 2018(working on the basis TLoU II isn't releasing this year). Everything about the game that has been shown thus far excites me to my core. I have so many fond memories of swinging round the city landscape back in the PS2 Spiderman game, and if this release from Insomniac Games comes even close to how much fun that used to be, we are in for a treat. I'd personally put odds at about 50/50 as to whether this game will actually release this year, and while I'm very impatient to get my hands on the game, I'd rather Insomniac take their time and release the game as good as it can be next year!
Dreams, launching on the PlayStation 4. The next game from Media Molecule has been the source of much anticipation for me ever since it was first announce back in 2015. The principle is one of pure creativity, allow the players to create whatever they want, and be able to link them together in the form of dreams. Suffice to say, having put a lot of time playing user made content from the Little Big Planet series, to Trials Fusion, or even Trackmania, I know how creative gamers can be when given the right tools, and a game has never given players more tools to make what they want that Dreams appears to. Pure child-like excitement fills me when I think about the possibilities of this game, I do so hope it lives up to that excitement!
Death Stranding, launching on the PlayStation 4. I don't feel in any way alone when I say that I am excited for this game, but I don't fully know why. Of the various trailers that have been released no light has truly been shed on what the game actually is! Whatever the final product, I'm sure Kojima is working on something that will be talked about for a long time after it has been completed! Don't rule out a release in 2018 either, with Kojima recently hinting that this is possible!
The Last of Us Part II, launching on the PlayStation 4. How could I possibly make a list of the best games that might release this year, without included The Last of Us Part II? I simply couldn't. The first game is my third favourite game of all time, and my absolute favourite story, and linear game ever made. Naughty Dog put the skills of their studio to use to strike gold with the first game, I know many people are with me in hoping that they can make lightning strike twice. If any studio can, it's Naughty Dog. Though the chance of a release in 2018 is incredibly slim in my opinion, I wouldn't be surprised if the inevitable trailer that either opens or closes the PlayStation conference at E3, ends by saying "Coming 2019"!
Shenmu 3, launching on PlayStation 4 and PC. The first of a few games I want to quickly give mention to, I'm both sceptical that this will actually release this year, and also not excited at all for it. I've never played Shenmu 1 or 2, so this will be a pass from me in all lightly hood, though I appreciate that a large number of people are incredibly excited for its release!
Beyond Good and Evil 2, launching on unknown platforms. Another game that I would put money on not releasing this year, this game was quite probably my most exciting reveal of E3 2017, and I'll be paying very close attention to it as we move closer to the, probably, far of release date.
Red Dead Redemption 2, launching on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I only mention this game briefly because I'm intrigued by, but not excited for the game. I was impressed by Rockstars last release, the small indie release of 2013 GTA V, but it didn't draw me in for the long game with the introduction of GTA Online. I'm sure this will review very well, and I'll more than likely play it at some point, but a launch game for me, it is not.
Anthem, launching on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. This could have been my favourite game shown at E3 2017, were it not for my own pessimistic thoughts that the final release will be far cry from the amazing trailer we were treated to. Time will tell, but this could be truly incredible, or the next game to be thrown on the disappointing and downgraded rubbish heap!
Honourable mention to finish this list off, Sea of Thieves on the Xbox One and PC looks to be an incredible game, and I hope it does very well. However by not owning an Xbox this will be a pass for me!
There you go guys a list of my most anticipated games of 2018, and probably beyond. If a lot of these release this year, I predict it will be one of the best years for gaming, and specifically PlayStation, in recent memory!
Thanks for reading,
Recently Bungie took the relatively bold step to cancel the third and final stream advertising various aspects of the upcoming DLC Curse of Osiris. Instead of this stream they opted to put the minds of the community to rest by speaking on several key topics that have been extensively requested over the 3 months since Destiny 2 released. I want to talk about my problem with how they are releasing all of the changes they detailed.
In their blog post detailing all of the changes we can expect to see in the update on December 5th, 12th and “early” next year they impressed upon their readers that this was the start of the conversation between the community and Bungie about the direction the game will be taking from now on. This is good new; isn’t it? On paper yes I think this is good news, my problem lies with the fact that firstly we are three months into the life cycle of the game, how can this conversation only just be starting? Secondly we are now in the fourth year of the journey of Destiny, the problems that a lot of the community have, were created in Destiny 2, where they were’t present in Year 3 of Destiny 1, such as repeating end game and enjoyable Strike Playlist to name two. I don’t want to go off the point too much, as this topic of game system regressions is one that I could spend all too much time ranting about, so I digress. Let us then embrace the fact that they are starting this conversation at all, and ignore the fact that they are far to late to this party. My main issue with their blog post is that it is just too big. Let me explain.
Ever since the launch of Destiny 2 on September 6th, there have been a total of 10 hot fix patches released for the game, these fixed nothing more than bugs such as emotes allowing access to unintended places. There was a “proper” update for the game released on September 25th which contained the Faction Rally event, which as many players will attest, held little reason to return to the game if you had already moved away from it. Back to my point that the blog post was too big, there are 10 major new additions or tweaks to the game announced, ranging from the new Masterwork system for weapons, to purchasing Legendary Engrams for Legendary Shards. There was a very exiting list of additions that will hopefully be the start of the road towards making the game that Destiny 2 arguably should and could be. My problem is that this is a veritable avalanche of highly requested features that will be dumped upon the heads of players in one go, after receiving nought from Bungie for three whole months. Taking aside the fact that these features would have been very welcome when the game launched, why couldn’t Bungie have drip fed these changes to us over the last three months? The community is complaining about set rolls on all weapons? The next This Week at Bungie(TWAB) should have roughly outlined the Masterwork system they were working on, and said they would be able to deliver it within the next few weeks. Next week people are crying out for different things to spend their Legendary Marks on, the ensuing TWAB should again outline the ideas they have for new ways to spend Legendary Marks and pledge that these changes will be implemented into the game by the release of the first DLC at the very latest. I could repeat the same point for all of the major changes they have outlined but I’m sure you get my point. For a company as large as Bungie, and a game that once was, and will hopefully return to the millions of people who have played Destiny 2, their lack of communication both feels like a slap in the face to the devoted fans of the game, but also highly detrimental to the game itself. I can say with the utmost certainty that I would not have put the game down after “only” 100 hours if some of these changes had been added to the game sporadically over the last few months.
Both the game Destiny, and the developer Bungie can get better, and I truly hope do get better. I have tried to be constructive and offer ways in which Bungie could better serve the community of Destiny fans. As always I would very much like to hear all your thoughts on the issues I’ve raised above, either in the comments below or on Twitter.
Thanks for reading,
September the 9th 2014 saw the launch of Destiny which was, at the time, disappointing for the majority of people who played it, this is unfortunately the beginning of the history of Destiny, but it is the truth that even die hard fans such as myself must accept. Many people left the game for ever soon after the launch of the game, some people left for varying periods of time, destined to return when future expansions were released. Then there are some who have stuck with the game through thick and thin and played through the best times of the game, but also the worst. I would consider myself in the third group of players who have never really stopped playing it, over the last three years I have amassed over 500 hours and have seen this game evolve on such a spectacular scale over there last three years. I come to you today, mere hours before the release of the much anticipated Destiny 2, to look back on Destiny as a whole, to look at the state of the game after the updates and expansions have finished. Destiny has been updated for the last time, and so I can give you all today, my final review of Destiny.
I would firstly like to start of by talking about the developing story Destiny players have witnessed over the last 3 years. The story of Destiny is regarded by many as worthy of nothing more than being the laughing stock of modern narrative gaming; and whilst it did begin, at least on the surface, with a note that still makes very little sense or impact today, the ensuing additions to the story and characters of the world of Destiny are something to behold. It is undeniable that the best stories of Destiny are locked away in the Grimoire cards that are collected in game, yet read elsewhere. Taking some time to either read these cards, or allow others to summarise the important parts, will reveal a depth to the characters and world that I hadn't thought possible before further seeking the lore of Destiny. For those who choose to learn it, Destiny holds some incredible rich stories and a vivid cast of characters. It is unfortunate then, that within the game itself these assets of the story are put to very poor use. Even in the two major story expansion packs, The Taken King and Rise of Iron, which both do well to expand the story, yet feel highly confined by the narrative groundwork layered out from the original release of Destiny. It has been this poor start to the story of Destiny that has resulted in follow up stories still hiding their greatest stories and narrative teases in places that most players will never look. You would be a fool to say that the world of Destiny has no story, but a scholar to suggest that these narrative feats are immeasurably weighed down by the chosen method of delivery.
Next I would like to talk about the Strikes in Destiny, these are 15 to 20 minute activities that I would class as the primary method of levelling up your character to reach the end game. For example you can currently level up to Light 390 with end of strike rewards, it is the final push from 390 to 400 that require different levelling tactics other than playing strikes over and over. I have played on average each strike 92 times, and I think is incredible that they are still enjoyable for me. This is baring in mind the fact that I haven't needed to play strikes to level up for a very long time, I have simply continued to play them because I enjoy them! Part of this enjoyment stems from the modifiers that are featured on the Strike Playlist on any given week, it is clear to me that the more enjoyable boons that buff your character, making the strike easier, are the times when I play Strikes more. However if the random modifiers for the week are such that they reduce the power of the player, thus making the activity less fun for me, I will play far less.
Now I want to talk about the Raids of Destiny, arguably the jewel in the Crown of the game, these are the hardest activities available to the player, but they also offer some of the most prestigious loot. Walk around the Tower equipped with armour from the latest Hard Raid and heads will turn. There have been four Raids released over the last 3 years, The Vault of Glass, Crota's End, Kings Fall and Wrath of the Machine, all of which have their own unique mechanics as well as high points and low points. Each raid is made up of 3 core encounters, each of which usually provide slightly greater difficulty than the last, until you reach the final boss which have 2 phases to them. These final bosses grant the best rewards from the Raids, in the form of Primary weapons as well as the elusive Raid Helmets. In all my years as a gamer, nothing has ever quite come close to the feeling of seeing that last sliver of health disappear from a Boss in a Raid. It is both a celebration for having beaten one of the hardest parts of the game, but also a time to hold your breath and hope for the rewards you want. A Raid is the most distilled version of Destiny you can find, all the fat has been cut off the game here, the environments are beautiful, the bosses difficult by demanding constant coordination between your team and then the music accentuates the ebb and flow of the fight. I know many people have never completed a Raid in Destiny, but I can truthfully say that it feels to me as though beating a Raid is reaching the precipice of the whole game.
The last major activity in Destiny is the Crucible, a game mode centred around pitting varying sized teams of players against each other to see who comes out on top. Whilst I have clocked up a fair amount of time in the Crucible in the years since launch, it has never been anywhere close to a priority to me when I have sat down to play Destiny. I have always preferred the PvE(Player vs Environment) content, such as story missions, strikes or Raids, to the Crucible. There have been various iterations of what is powerful in the Crucible, and the times when it has felt the most balanced and fun have undoubtedly been when I have spent the most time doing battle against other players. This is my core complaint with the Crucible since the game launched, the balance. There have been times where it has felt like even an average skilled player like me can do well with a sizeable array of weapons and perks. The worst times of the Crucible have been when it is far more difficult to do well within a match unless you are using a certain few weapons. I have always enjoyed the game modes that only have 6 players total, with 3 on each team, which I why I am very excited for the new Crucible of Destiny 2, wherein all matches are in a 4 vs 4 format, as opposed to the standard 6 vs 6 of Destiny 1. The Crucible has been a place where I have had wildly varying amounts of fun in, sometimes during events such as the Iron Banner, I have forced myself to play a bit more in order to reach Rank 5. Whilst other times the Crucible has been anything but fun for me, and I have avoided it at all costs, here's hoping the Crucible in Destiny 2 is filled with more high points than low points, unlike in Destiny 1.
All of these aspects of the game are all very well and good on their own, they all offer gameplay mechanics that are unique from each other, however these aspects of core gameplay would be useless on their own, if there was no reward for them. This is what I would class as the heart of the Destiny experience, the cement that holds the whole game together, the loot. The various items that are given as rewards for all of the above activities are what drives all players of Destiny to want to keep coming back after they have finished all of the content for the first time. There is always something to chase, whether it is a piece of armour that gives slightly better stat bonuses than what you currently have, or a weapon with the perfect combination of perks that will work perfectly for you. For example I recently completed my collection of Snipers and Shotguns, three of each type in all three elements, all six of these weapons have the perfect roll that I want for them, and so no matter what elemental burn is active during any given week, I am prepared for it. This is what many would class as min/maxing, to minimise damage taken and maximise damage dealt, which is to say that it is the final stage in the end game of Destiny. First I chased the ability to beat all of the most difficult content in the game, then I wanted to be able to beat said content with better gear, more accomplished gear than I had before. Then comes the grind where hours are sunk into chasing perk rolls that only give a miniscule advantage, and yet signifies that you have brought the game to heel, and has been conquered. As I said at the start of the article, I have played Destiny for over 500 hours over the course of the last three years, and I simply would not have come close to that figure, if there hadn't always been something I could aim for that would optimise my equipment that all important fraction more.
So there you go guys, my recap of all the major elements of Destiny from the last three years, suffice to say I have enjoyed this game perhaps more than any other I've ever played. I can not wait to start playing Destiny 2 and seeing all the experiences it has to offer and memories waiting to be made!
As always thanks for reading
The forested world is your oyster in the latest game I've played from the so called "walking sim" genre. I'm rather a big fan of games like Firewatch, the two that immediately spring to mind are Gone Home and Everybody's Gone To The Rapture, both of which have had a lasting impact on the way I view stories in games. The huge downside of this genre, is that the narrative must be superb, there is nothing for the story to hide behind, other than perhaps a visually arresting world. This I feel is the downfall of Firewatch, the heart of this game, the story, has such an underwhelming finale that since beating the game I have only thought about the narrative opportunities that it missed in the closing moments of this game; rather than some of the amazing dialogue and character building that came before it. I won't be spoiling any of the lacklustre ending, but I will say that for the first 5 of the 6 or so hours this game lasts I was in love with it. The game was asking questions of the world that I enjoyed guessing at, as well as a fantastic physiological analysis of the two main characters. I felt very connected to both of the characters, but especially Henry, who we play as, because we are given dialogue options throughout the whole game via the walkie-talkie communication between the two characters. This trend of choosing the what kind of man Henry is starts with the opening 10 minutes or so of the game being purely text based. Campo Santo, the developers, utilise this rare approach to opening a game to great effect, I was almost moved to tears with the emotions and choices the game gave me so skilfully and so quickly, setting the emotional tone for the first few hours of the game. I say the first few hours, because there is a very clever emotional shift that subtly occurs during the course of the game, I won't spoil the arc of this shift, but I can definitely recognise, looking back, that in a relatively short space of time, Henry evolves.
Why then is the ending such a let down? It is conceivable that I was looking for something in the game that was never on offer in the first place, yes I admit the fault could lay at my door, was I expecting a result from the story that was never built towards? This I can not answer until I play it again with the foresight of how the game concludes. At the time I felt like the mystery the story was setting up was heading in a certain direction, and because I played it over the course of 3 or 4 days, I had plenty of time in between playing the game, for my mind to run wild with where the story may go. The ending not withstanding, I want to mention briefly the voice acting, which is fantastic, though nearly the whole game takes place with just two people communicating back and forth with each other via a walkie-talkie. For such a simple system, the emotion that grows and connection with the characters that is established is incredible, whether it be the sarcastic quips or sombre moments that are almost too difficult to listen too, the way the lines are delivered are a triumph. The score also adds to this emotional feeling of the game, though to a more subtle note than the two main characters.
Traversal of the game is simplistic, with walking, jogging and ascending or descending rope lines being the extent of your movement options. This is mirror with the ability to pick up and inspect many of the items in the game, some have weight based on the story or dialogue at that time, others are simply there to successfully make the world feel lived in.
To conclude, this is a game that I am very glad I have played, and would also recommend you all play it, just try not to allow your mind to run wild with the possibilities of where the story may take you, that excitement will only detract from your enjoyment. To break this game down into three segments, the opening is sublime, and worth playing the game for alone, the middle built up the suspense of the story while expanding the characters I grew to feel very close to. Then the end is easily the low point of Firewatch, or at least it was for me, the end did its job in that it wrapped the story to a conclusion, but both left me disappointed with the narrative conclusion, and also wanting more at the same time.
Thanks for reading,
I'm back! It's been such a long time since I last wrote about gaming for you all, and it feels so good to be back! I thought I would run you through what I've been playing since my last post, for my return!
- Bloodborne; perhaps my most notable game during my absence has been Bloodborne. What a magnificent game this is! I played it after beating Dark Souls 2 and 3 so the genre and style of the games wasn't new to me, but this game still surprised me at every turn. From the faster style of combat where offence was as good a defence as is required, to the amazing Gothic visuals that never ceased to amaze me. I beat this game and then simply needed to play more, so I beat all the optional bosses, as well as carved my way through the Chalice Dungeons to come out with the Platinum! As of writing I have 11 Platinum Trophies, and not one of them comes close to Bloodborne in terms of the challenge as well as the rewarding completion. In the months since beating everything in the base game I have bought the DLC and am waiting for a spare few weeks to slice my way through the last droplets of one of my favourite games ever made!
- Indie Games; I've paid particular focus to finishing some of the indie games on my back log in these last few months, a quick list for you: Everybody's Gone To The Rapture(9/10), Tales From Borderlands(9/10), Gone Home(9/10), Day of The Tentacle Remastered(7.5/10),Hitman Go(7/10), Colour Guardians(6/10) and Deadly Tower of Monsters(4/10). Everybody's Gone To The Rapture and Gone Home have both been two of the very best stories I've ever seen in games, and have really opened my eyes to the hidden gems that rest in the Digital Store! I have also started playing Stardew Valley, and while I'm not far enough in to the game to form a final opinion, I can say that I'm enjoying my time with it immensely and I can't wait to see how my years progress!
- Watch Dogs 2, this was a real gem of a game, that while it didn't break the bank in any particular area, it did everything well. The world is fun to explore, the graphics are great, the music flows well, combat is solid and satisfying, finally the hacking is actually wonderful and easily leagues ahead of Watch Dogs 1! It is certainly the most I have enjoyed a Ubisoft game in quite a few years! I'd say this is an 8.5/10!
- Destiny, I need to quickly mention that I have, as I have always done, put a decent amount of time into Destiny. I did the new raid several times, as well as Vault of Glass and Crota's End at 390 a few times, generally just enjoyed the last burst of activity on Destiny 1, whilst also getting excited for Destiny 2!
- Overwatch, I've been playing an increasing amount of Overwatch in these last few months, ever since the Arcade Mode was added I have constantly been chipping away and now I'm sitting at Level 68! I love this game so much, I would easily say it is the best multiplayer shooter I've ever played, it is a pared down PvP masterpiece, where everything works beautifully together. To round it all out all the new content such as maps, modes and new heroes are added for free, there is no divide in the community a year after launch, when Call of Duty and Battlefield split their player base within a few months of release. A true breath of fresh air!
- Dishonored 2, I started and finished this since last we spoke, I'm rather torn on it I don't mind saying, there were elements that were fantastic, I would say that it is better than the first in nearly every way. However when I finished the first game I went on to play all the DLC, and start a second High Chaos Playthrough, but with Dishonored 2 I just haven't wanted to, even though I haven't played Emily at all. I'm just not excited by the idea of going back and playing it all again with slightly different abilities. My main problem is the unsatisfying method of unlocking perks, namely by using Runes that you collect in the large slices of open world that forms missions. For the first 4 or 5 missions I played very slowly and collected as much as I could, so I have a good range of Bonecharms, and quite a lot of Runes. There was an element of boredom on my part as I was being so meticulous to go to nearly every corner of the map to collect everything. Then it dawned on me, I'd pretty much bought every perk I wanted, and seeing as I was playing purely Low Chaos, Stealth, a lot of the perks there meaningless to me. So then for the last 4 or 5 missions, I didn't feel inclined to go in search of Runes and Bonecharms, as I had already got a build of charms and perks that did everything I wanted it too! So feeling like I had nothing left to do but the objective, the last couple of missions felt decidedly empty and often shorter than I would have liked. This led in to the final "boss" fight, which is horrendously designed if you are playing stealth, and made the very final moment of the game somewhat sour for me. This game started so well, but petered off more than I can forgive for a game that I had such high hopes for! I would give this game a 7.5/10
There you go then guys, all the big gaming moments that have taken place while I haven't been writing here, for you all. I'm sorry that I have been away for so long, I really have missed writing my thoughts on our world of gaming. I'll see you back here soon after E3!
Thank you very much for reading,
I've been away for quite a long time now. I never intended for a break of any length, but as I started the new University Year last October, I have been pretty swamped. As you will know if you follow me on Twitter, I haven't gone anywhere I just haven't been posting, not for a lack of ideas I might add. This year of my degree is Creative Writing which is the first time I've ever studied the art of writing in any kind of a serious way and there is a very big difference between how I write for my course and how I write to you all, here. I have been unhappy with the lack of content on this site for quite some time now. I have come to the decision that rather than force myself to write hear, at the expense of experimenting with creative writing, that I shall focus on what I am enjoying doing at the moment, which is creative writing. By no means does this signal the end of this website, I am very passionate to write about gaming and the games industry, just not for the next few months. Rest assured I will be back at an undetermined time in the future, despite it being a very, very large window of time I can only say that I will be picking up where I have left off this year. It could be a matter of weeks, it could be a few months, at this point in time I just don't know, and I apologise to you all for the lack of specifics, but I just ask your patience for a little while longer while I focus on my Degree.
If you want to stay up to date with what I'm playing and when I'll be writing, then Twitter is the place to be!
Thank you very much,
Friends of The Games Critic:
My name is Ed, I write everything here, covering all kinds of games, but I only play them on the PS4!