Monday, 19 September 2016

James' Take: TGS 2016 Wrap up

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few days, you would know Tokyo Game Show 2016 was running from the 15th to the 18th of September. A lot of things were announced, so here's my wrap up.

Death Stranding
Death Stranding is looking up to being pretty hyped for me at least. It will be Hideo Kojima's first independant IP and he will be bringing Yoji Shinkawa (who worked as Metal Gear's Main Character and mechanical designer) to make Kojima's 'best work so far'. Death Stranding will have some small multiplayer and will be available 'before 2019'

Nier: Automata
Relatively short, there was some more Nier: Automata gameplay from Square Enix with a confirmed playable demo before the end of this year. There was also a release date announced: PlayStation in Japan on February 23rd and a North American and European release early next year on PC and PlayStation 4.

Final Fantasy XV
New English trailer for FFXV with a whopping 4 minutes long trailer. The game will have a hero name Noctis who was sent out of the city he is a prince to by his father, the King. Him and bodyguards set out in their flying car with their weapons and skills to find his kingdom in trouble. All this trailerdid was make me even more hyped for the game and hope even more for a PC release. (pls square enix pls pc release pls)

There was some more generic trailers like Call of Duty Infinite Warfare and Watch Dogs 2, and that was pretty much all I was interested in. I'm glad to see that Japanese publishers are smartening up and releasing for PC though, and I'm praying that Square Enix does for FFXV (plsplspls).

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Sam's Take: Why The PS4 Pro Is A Bad Idea

Image result for ps4

When rumours for the PS4 Pro first appeared, I was pretty sure that it wasn't true. "Surely," my younger, unwise mind of a couple of weeks ago said. "Sony wouldn't shoot themselves in the foot by attempting to divide its fanbase." But, alas, here we are, with all signs pointing to a more powerful PS4 console being released, and I'm here to tell you why I really don't think it's a good idea.
Let's start with why Sony would want to make a PS4 Pro. It's clear that it's a long way ahead of the competition sales-wise, so it would make business sense for it to make a more expensive console to capitalise on its big fanbase. Not only that, but Sony's consoles have always been flagships entertainment-wise: the PlayStation 2 could play DVDs, the PlayStation 3 started the Blu-Ray craze, and, if all goes to plan, the PS4 Pro should be able to play 4K Blu-rays, as well as stream 4K video from apps such as Netflix and Sony's new 4K service, Ultra.
However, it's very, very unlikely that the PS4 Pro will be able to play games in native 4K. Few PCs can actually handle the computational power required to play games in Ultra High-Definition at a sturdy framerate, and those that can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. Upscaling aside, then, any potential boosts to performance would presumably improve upon the 1080p experience that we already expect.
But this misses the entire point of console gaming: everyone is on equal terms. People buy consoles because they want a system that's good for four or five years – one that can play the latest games and ensure that it'll always offer the exact same experience as everyone else. This new PS4 Pro, if it does boast hardware improvements, would undermine that. What's the point of building a big audience when you're just going to split them up again?
I get that Sony has room to experiment – its considerable sales lead isn't slowing down anytime soon – but I feel like this is a step too far. Many PS4 owners aren't too happy at the moment for a variety of reasons: the PS Plus lineups are getting more meagre by the month and many of the features found on the PS3 have yet to be incorporated into the newer console. It's true that the Japanese juggernaut has yet to massively slip up this generation – but this could very well be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
With PSVR launching this year, as well as some of the brand's biggest exclusive franchises getting new instalments, Sony needs to work on keeping the fans happy in order to get them on board for experiments to come. I definitely trust Sony as a company to make good decisions, but I feel that the firm shouldn't fracture fans just yet.
After all, PS4 should be for the players – not for the payers.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Carlo's Take: What is Death Stranding - Speculation!

Ever since its reveal in this year's E3 Sony presentation (which had an amazing turnout of games), people have been speculating over what Kojima's next project, Death Stranding, will actually be. And with a Sony Conference right around the corner which could reveal more details on the game (or Red Dead Redemption 2, fingers crossed), there's no better time to talk about them.

Some have suggested a horror game, based on Kojima and Norman Reedus' previous (cancelled) collaboration project, Silent Hills. However, based on an article by Zam, Kojima has been quoted as saying:"It will be an action game if you really want to put a genre on it". That puts genre theories to rest, and probably saddens some of those hoping for a spiritual successor to Silent Hills.

An "Action Game" is a rather generalised genre though, so there are plenty of possibilities as to what the gameplay may actually entail. Any differences to previous experiences will be felt after the starting hours of the game, at least according to GamesRadar. Kojima likened it to how his famed Metal Gear franchise was considered an action game but had its now iconic mechanic of polished stealth and was bolstered by the franchise's equally recognisable story and lengthy Hollywood-esque cutscenes. .

So what will this game's unique mechanic/themes be? We have a few clues to work with.

Firstly, it involves a metaphor Kojima revealed - ropes and sticks. Action games of today feature the use of "sticks", in order to keep enemies at bay, i.e. the use of guns, swords, etc. This new I.P seeks to implement "ropes" into the Action genre, to "tie people together".

What accomplishes that? Not something very simple to figure out- it isn't like one can just google "opposite of sword" or "opposite of gun" to discover what it could possibly be.  It could involve the mind however, as Kojima talks about how people are connected in terms of psychology, and how the aforementioned connection between peers is called "strands". Considering one of the words in the game's title is "Stranding" that could be a big clue. Or perhaps it's something much less subtle, like a survival game where you're alone, hence also "Stranding". While I think Kojima could produce a game of that nature, this just doesn't seem to be it.

No details about any multiplayer,other than it is a "new system". Not much we can go on there, but it could be any number of things, such as other players influencing your gameworld without being present, or seeing and interacting with the playerbase seamlessly.

Last but not least, Kojima looks to shake up the prospect of life and death when it comes to gaming. "In arcade games, you have this notion of dying, putting another quarter in." "In this game, life and death will be part of that, but I want to give a different twist to that notion". Now we have an idea of a possible that involves a twist on constantly resetting a level. Maybe it could have something to do with random generation or a different version on each life, think Silent Hills' resetting hallway loop, or switching perspectives somehow? In terms of themes, life and death were present in the reveal trailer, with the baby representing life, and the dogtags, fish corpses and possibly flying bodies representing death.

In the end though, it is very hard predicting what a mind like Kojima's can produce. The man made a psychic that could read your game saves, a man who's prosthetic hand actually possessed him by either nanomachines or psychic connection (two theories on that one), and gave gaming the biggest bait-and-switch of all time in the form of a certain blonde-haired now badass cyborg ninja. Who knows what he'll come up next?

One thing's for sure: he's had an excellent track record when it comes to games, and I for one am super hyped to find out what he has in store for his audience without Konami's input.

Monday, 5 September 2016

James' Take: Abzu

Abzu is a beautiful work of art from Giant Squid who are led by Matt Nava, the art director behind Flower and Journey. The game is currently being showered with praise and heralded as the Journey of the sea. I sat down one night with my mind open and opened this game, and it was one of the greatest 'experience' games I've ever played. By the end of the game I was sitting grinning dumbly whilst watching the credits.

The Good Stuff

First of all, the control scheme. On the steam store, it is highly recommended that you use a controller and I cannot stress enough that you should. The controller makes every move feel natural and flowing, which is perfect for a game type such as this. You will find yourself being able to pull off the boost into a flip naturally by the end of the game.

The atmosphere that is created during the game is also masterfully crafted. There are areas where you can meditate whilst looking at all of the different species of sea creatures swimming around you and others where you will come across the main 'antagonist' of the game which genuinely do give you a sense of risk and danger. There are areas where the game's soundtrack flourishes as you swim through a current and others where it is solemn and reflective.

The soundtrack. Simply amazing. There seems to be a full orchestra that have made the soundtrack with a mix of vocals and strings which are done just right to add to the atmosphere of the area. Genuinely one of the best soundtracks in a game by far for me and I cannot praise it enough.

The art style of the game is also very well done. It has a very broad colour palette in the areas closer to the surface such as in the picture below and a large amount of deep blues in some of the areas where you dive deeper into the ocean.

I have to applaud the large amount of species of fish that are in the game too. It's a small detail, but as you watch the bigger fish eat the little fish as you go along and see the rest of the school frantically swim away, it really adds to the immersion.

The not so good stuff

I only have one complaint about the game, however I can see why it is the way it is. I finished this game in just over 2 hours and I ended up going back just to look at all of the species of fish again and take in the scenery. However, I can see why this decision was made as the end product is very very good.


Why haven't you bought this game yet? Here click this and checkout. Jokes aside though, I would highly recommend this game and advise you to sit down with a good drink and just play this game one night. This is defiantly an essential game to play

"I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed Journey or Flower or anyone who just wants a relaxing game to play"

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Community Shoutouts- SWTOR Central Dance Event!

Community Events can be the lifeblood of a game. 
It's one of the reasons many people still play and often adds something new to hook a player in. This is exactly the same when it comes to MMO's and SWTOR is no different. These events give us a reason to keep playing, even when there is content lacking from the game itself. Which brings me to the event that I attended this week. This event took place on The Red Eclipse server and was hosted by SWTORCentral. A youtuber who provides a wide range of Old Republic themed content such as. 'Beyond the Wall' exploration videos.

This was a dance event and giveaway done by SWTOR Central as part of the SWTOR Olympics event hosted by Kid Lee. Events such as these help to make MMO's more interesting and are important parts of gaming itself, it helps to get the community involved in a game and can lead to people playing the game more frequently as well as being something different from your day to day playtime. Equally, it's important to give recognition for these events which is what this post is about. Recognising extra effort that the community has put in to make videos like these.

Any other events coming up in SWTOR? Let us know and we'll give it a shout-out too!