Playerunknown's Battlegrounds has taken the gaming world by storm since it's Early Access release in March 2017. Currently Battlegrounds is only available in the PC but during E3 2017 we learnt that Playerunknown's Battlegrounds will with launching with the upcoming Xbox One X later this year. Rumour has it that Battlegrounds will be landing on the PS4. Let's hope we can get some solid confirmation of that soon!
If you've been sleeping under a rock for the last few months then there's a chance Playerunknown's Battlegrounds wont be on your radar. Battlegrounds is a 100 person Battle Royale game mode and currently playable on one huge map. Battlegrounds can be played solo, with a partner (duos) or in squads of up to 4 players. The last man/woman standing is rewarded with a Chicken Dinner title in the caption of Winner Winner Chicken Dinner. Catchy right? Although not if you're vegetarian.
Battlegrounds for many gamers has become a complete addiction. Brenden Greene, Playerunknown himself recently tweeted that his game now had the highest player count of a non-Valve game. Not too shabby for a game that is yet to launch in full release. This makes me question what greatness is yet to come from Playerunknown's Battlegrounds. Exciting times.
Often there are games that have immensely negative press prior to release. It can be crippling. On the other hand I’ve seen huge build up to games that simply flopped on release. Take the case of No Man’s Sky. Never before could I recall a game that re-filled the shelves of pre-owned sections of CEX so fast. No Man’s Sky was built on lies and shattered promises. Luckily Hello Games mildly redeemed themselves from total failure with the release of patches that added cool features like base building. So what does all this have to do with Prey? Arkane Studios latest title to accompany last years release of Dishonored 2; Prey, is a solid stealth action adventure game. Prey (PS4, Xbox One and PC) seemed plagued with negativity from gamers all over the globe in the run up to release. As I read the comments on early gameplay videos it became clear that people disliked graphics, weapons, environments and enemies which left me feeling bewildered and confused. How can we fully judge a game before release? We cannot. If No Man’s Sky is anything to to go by then we should be careful in setting our expectations of any upcoming video game?
Morgan You is the main protagonist in Prey and we are able to choose our gender before the goings on start to unfold. Right off the bat this seems like something that is super cool. Whilst we are unable to change the look of our chosen Morgan I think it’s nice little extra. We start out in our apartment and proceed to make our way to a training station. Once there it takes no time for one of the researchers to be attacked by a Typhon; a hostile alien life-form. It’s here that Prey began to take a turn which seemed odd given that this was less than one hour in to the game. Admittedly I was expecting Prey to be a boxed standard first person shooter but this early twist set my gaming tastebuds in to overdrive. For those of you who haven’t played Prey there is going to be a mild spoiler here: The opening scenes were all a simulation! The apartment was not real. The training station was not real. At this point Prey seemed to open up very quickly and I became hooked on the experience. All of the negativity during the build-up seemed irrelevant now.
Barely two years after Red Barrels studio was formed in Canada Outlast was thrust upon the Playstation Network as one of PSN’s free games. I’ve always been a huge fan of horror games as far back as the first Resident Evil on the PS1. The twisted corridors of the mansion that were wrought with zombies and flesh torn dead animals. Resident Evil 1 changed a lot back in the day and I’ve been hooked on horror ever since. Outlast also had its fair share of crazy corridors but we were a long way from Racoon City. I played through the game on release and then again on live stream in preparation for the launch of Outlast II. Prior to the release of Outlast II I was hoping for more jump scares than ever before. Outlast had so many that I’d go as far to say that it is one of my favourite horror games alongside the unbelievable Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. I wondered if Outlast II would be up there too?
Outlast II is much more open that its predecessor; Outlast. I don’t want to dive in to the story all that much but the general scenes are outdoor farmland and shacks: lots of shacks. It reminded me very much of how The Field of Dreams would have looked if a swarm of Satanic worshippers had crashed Kevin Costner’s farm. During the first couple of hours in Outlast II this setting felt great. It’s fresh and super creepy. At times I felt a sense of Alan Wake with the narrow wooden paths and half bent lampposts. Outlast II felt prefect.
After a few hours I started to feel a little irritated at the repetition and monotony of the environments. There were some marginal redemption points in which our main protagonist is pulled in to a Catholic school which is still very dark and scary but a welcome break from the cornfields and shacks. More often than not Outlast II failed to thread the story together quick enough. The jump scares also LACKED significantly. Don’t get me wrong Outlast II got my pulse pounding in parts but not as much as I had hoped. I genuinely felt a little anxious going in to Outlast II but those feelings evaporated very quickly. If you asked me which game was scarier between Outlast and Outlast II I’d go with the first; Outlast without a doubt. I wanted to expand on scary experience but sadly I didn’t.
It’s hard to forget the disappointment No Man’s Sky brought to thousands of gamers back on release. The blatant lies from Hello Games’ main man Sean Murray with the promise of discoveries such a huge mechs and the ability to create bases. I avoided the hype surrounding No Man’s Sky so fortunately I didn’t feel as disappointed with the unfinished product. Fast Forward to March 2017 and Mass Effect: Andromeda finally got released in to the wild gaming jungles, namely many living rooms and game rooms alike. As I type this Mass Effect: Andromeda is sitting at a Meteoritic average score of 74 (critics score) and a 4.8 user score. That’s around a 25% difference between the two review groups which is startling. So why is there a large difference between the score groups. User scores/reviews are from the hardcore Mass Effect fan base or so it seems. A lot of attention has been paid to details such as naming specific NPC’s. If you care about details then Mass Effect: Andromeda may not be for you. In fact don’t buy it. If fluid animations and life-like textures contribute towards your gameplay experience then stay away from Mass Effect: Andromeda. It is clear from reading the user reviews of Mass Effect: Andromeda that it’s been a serious issue.
Last week, Bioware released patch 1.05 that really boosted the facial details on NPC’s and overall eradicated some of the blocky animation of the characters facial expressions. You can see it here from Twitter user Shinobi602:
The horror genre is often praised within the gaming community for its high intensity jump scares, pulse racing moments and sheer immersion. Never before has a genre made grown men scream during their live streams; making this genre one of the most entertaining to watch on YouTube and Twitch. Resident Evil VII: Biohazard completely changed the foundations of the Resident Evil franchise with not one single zombie appearing in the game. Let us not forget the Virtual Reality mode too. Resident Evil 7 was reportedly made for VR mode. I have not played it in VR mode but I can understand the immense appeal for some gamers. Did Capcom make that right move in changing the direction of the franchise? Sure we had a mansion and plenty of puzzles to taint the way and let’s not forget the twisted folded beings of the basement! Resident Evil VII: Biohazard was a bold move indeed. Here’s why it worked.
The P.T Effect
Nobody will forget the P.T demo on the PS4. The creepy hallways, the bloodstained bathroom and that phone! The Silent Hills game that never got as far as the P.T demo. Thanks Konami! I wonder how many people out there still believe Capcom copied the vibe of Hideo Kojima’s masterful demo with Resident Evil VII Biohazard? Do you believe it? Both RE7’s producer and director confirmed that the likeness was a pure coincidence. Resident Evil 7 was in development long before the P.T demo surfaced on PSN.
"When PT surfaced we were already into development and we were surprised to see it," Kawata said. "I'm worried about how my jokes come across but I hear Brits like black humour. So, out of everyone, we were the most relieved when PT didn't come out."
Resident Evil VII has a clear likeness to P.T and we know it was not planned that way. Personally I believe RE7’s new and Zombieless direction is fresh and I’m excited to see what’s to come from the franchise.
So, another year, another Pokemon game. How does this one stack up to previous entries in the series? Given all that was shown off on the run up to the launch, is it all just fan service? I plan on answering these questions and more during the course of this review and I’ll also try to remain as spoiler-free as I can.
Pokéballs at the ready...
The game starts off by first asking which language setting you want and then warning you that you can’t change this after this point. After that you receive a video message from the new professor for this generation who gives you a short introduction to the game. Fans of the series will recognise this sort of intro as what we’ve always had but on a much prettier level this time. The Professor shows you a map of the new Alola region in this sequence, showcasing the islands that you will see on your journey throughout the region. As we all know, Alola is based off of real-world Hawaii and features lots of scenery and other elements that display this inspiration. After the map, you’re introduced to one of the new Pokemon for this region, a Rockruff, who seems to be quite the playful little character. Next you get asked which photo you want to use for your Trainer Passport. This is the part where you get to select the gender of your trainer, as well as skin tone and hair colour, from eight possible options.
After selecting your look and your name, you then see a glimpse of another new Pokemon for the region (a Pikipek) and then the video call ends. You’re then called by your mother to help with some boxes and another cutscene begins. You see a girl escaping from some guards, her bag fires out a large blue blast and then the camera pans up. Here is where you see the first difference between the two games as, in Sun this will show the Pokemon Sun title card and be during the daytime, and, in Moon you will notice that it is nighttime and you’ll see the Pokemon Moon title card.
From here the game follows some of the familiar processes from every previous generation, introducing you to some of the key characters that will follow you through the game, your home and the battle and catching systems. You also get to see that there is a mixture of both new and old Pokemon in this region from the outset and the first of many references to the Kanto region of the Red and Blue games. While showing off some of the new environments in this intro, by panning the camera around your room in particular, it does show that the Nintendo 3DS XL and New 3DS XL systems having larger screens will show more jagged edges to the textures and character models through the game.
The walking animations in this game can take a bit of getting used to too. The standard animation has your arms hang a little far out from your hips but when walking in tall grass, especially when walking slowly, you’ll notice your character moves a lot more deliberately which is a nice touch. Once you’ve been introduced to a couple of key characters and been involved in a sequence reminiscent of the original anime episode you will be able to pick your starter Pokemon. Those of you that have played previous generations may notice this is one of the longest introductions up to the point of getting your starter. As usual, the choices are grass, fire and water or Rowlet, Litten or Popplio respectively.
We have not seen the last of the Console Wars. The Xbox One Vs PS4, PS4 Vs PS4 Slim, The Xbox One S Vs PS4 Pro and let’s face it we could go on right?! A lot of people out there continue to moan about how unfair it is to compare the Xbox One S with the PS4 Pro due to the overwhelming power of the PS4 Pro over the Xbox One S. Okay so the PS4 Pro is missing a 4K Blu-ray player whereas the Xbox One S contains one but of course they are going to be compared. They are the latest video game consoles from each major camp and the Console War is very much alive just as it was in the 90s when we argued over the Sega Mega Drive Vs. Super Nintendo. Perhaps we should be saying the the PS4 Pro is only comparable to the Xbox Scorpio should we? For me I believe this to be a rather redundant statement considering the Scorpio is not out yet and we do not truly know how it will perform. Trusted Reviews rounded up the Scorpio’s graphical ability pretty nicely here and when it is finally released to the public then it would seem fair to start barking about making comparisons between the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio. Until then it seems completely uneducated to make a true comparison between a console on paper and the PS4 Pro:
In simple terms, the graphics core will be more than capable of going toe-to-toe with today’s top-end graphics card – comparison, the brand-new Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 has 6.5TFLOPs of performance. By the time Scorpio launches, it’ll be equivalent of a mid-range PC in 2017, which is how most consoles tend to launch.
We’ve all asked it right? Which game series do you prefer? Tomb Raider or Uncharted? I’m sure we’ve all answered it too. I know I have. I grew up with Lara from her launch: October 26th 1996 and it’s safe to say that I’ve played every Tomb Raider game since. Like it or not Lara Croft has been one of the most influential video game characters of all time not just for her on-screen presence but for changing the way girls talk about games. I know that she certainly gave me some welcomed confidence back in the mid-nineties. There was a time when I thought the Tomb Raider series had lost its was a little. Angel of Darkness was an all time low point for me. I remember trading my copy of Grand Theft Auto Vice City to get a copy and was left feeling rather underwhelmed. Angel of Darkness felt too Cosmopolitan. Too sure of itself. Too City Like. Needless to say I never finished it because it was not Tomb Raider.
Since then a lot changed in the gaming world. Nathan Drake came in to our lives to provide us with a new sense of adventure! Uncharted, unlike Tomb Raider has been very consistent in terms of gameplay, story, character relationships and authenticity. The entire Uncharted series feels alive. The global sense of adventure, and wonderment were believable. Nathan and Lara have travelled the world but who did the better job? Can you choose between Uncharted and Tomb Raider? The latest instalment’s; Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and The Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration served up remarkable gameplay mechanics but let’s un-pick this a little bit more shall we? I will not be focusing on the details of each games story, however but more about the overall pulling power of each game.
PewDiePie, the most subscribed to YouTuber in the world isn’t shy when it comes to getting his name out there. With a subscriber base of over 48,000,000 Pewds has clearly earned a reputation for playing video games and screeching at the camera to adorning fans. More power to him. When it comes to releasing his own games it seems the master YouTuber, PewDiePie, knows exactly where to hit. Tuber Simulator saw a release this week and the internet went crazy for it! So much so that the developers, Outerminds, servers crashed after eager fans hammered the game to death! Not bad Pewds!
So exactly is Tuber Simulator? Think 8bit Isometric Art and Voila! You’ll have a rough idea as to the aesthetic style of this beautiful game. Tuber Simulator is available on mobile platforms only but I would not be surprised if we saw a console release later in the year. That’s a bold statement but it comes from a genuine place. Tuber Simulator really is that good. The aim of the game is pretty simple: create YouTube Videos, gain revenue, gain subscribers and build your Gaming Lair as vastly as your imagination will allow. I am not that far in to the game and I’ve already unlocked the NES. A NES! Something that I never expected to see in a PewDiePie game. Now that is class! There are additional unlocks to gain that provide unique design opportunities such as being able to have a fluffy desk that resembles a cat and a dog. It might sound crazy but it fits right in to the eccentricity of Tuber Simulator to which you cannot help but let your imagination run wild. This game will have you gripped and if you have not played Tuber Simulator then pop along to the App Store and download it even if you do not enjoy PewDiePie’s videos.
No Man’s Sky has not been without scandal. Is scandal the right word to use? Right now I am starting to think that No Man’s Sky is a big fat satchel of lies. Lies that have been uncovered by hundreds of very angry gamers since it was released less than one month ago. I’m very guilty of something though: I like No Man’s Sky. I’d go as fat to say that I really enjoy the hell out of No Man’s Sky. No Man’s Sky forces me in to a state of relaxation, contentment and gives me an odd sense of achievement. No Man’s Sky is a huge break away from the frantic First Person Shooter genre or the over stimulated, unjulating, pulse popping maps of a Call of Duty game. It is empty, it is solitary and it is captivating. No Man’s Sky is simple. It’s beautiful. It’s ambient. It’s peaceful. I never know what I am truly going to get when I pick up my PS4 controller and slap on my PlaySonic 3 headset. All I know is that when I dive in to No Man’s Sky I feel content. It’s certainly a thriving and rewarding experience albeit with gritted teeth.
I adore the distinction No Man’s Sky has given me. So why are fans so angry at Hello Games and in particular Sean Murray? It’s simple: He lied. He outright lied about gameplay features and mechanics. In an interview with Game Informer shown here Sean Murray was asked “will you be able to play with your friends?” He replied “yeah”. There were a ton of questions asked by the Game Informer editor Jeff Cork in which Murray’s answers were seemingly untrue. You cannot play with your friends and you cannot war with factions. You cannot join factions and nobody has found any mechs. What is going on?
I went in to No Man’s Sky without following the hype. I missed every interview Sean Murray gave and it was not until the final hour that I started to feel the excitement. I knew what I wanted to know about the game and I can honestly report that I am enjoying the experience this far in. Like many of you I was upset when No Man’s Sky got delayed and like many fans I put out a video to air my thoughts over certain Indie Developers feeling as though they can take the cake. There’s always a theme when our beloved video games get pushed back and it goes along the lines of we want more time to make the game as good as possible for the fans. Unfortunately this cannot be said for the now infamous No Man’s Sky. Sean Murray’s baby is getting ripped to shreds in the Twitter feed of Hello Games. On a blog post released by Murray on the No Man’s Sky website he liked the following:
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We're well in to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One and more recently the Nintendo Switch eras of gaming. Graphics had never looked so smooth and gameplay had never flowed so fluently. Let's not forget the triumphant last Generation of gaming with the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii; all of which I have a lot of time for.
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