Dee Two

The Destiny 2 beta is here, and people have flocked to play it. Those with the pre-order codes (and those who have good friends) have some “early access” (or does everyone else have late access?). The PS4 closed beta started yesterday, 18 July, and the Xbox One one (heh), starts today some time.

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to any reports, but my experience was smooth sailing in terms of server connections and latency.

I had the opportunity to play the opening mission, the beta strike, and some PvP. My initial thoughts are far more “meh” than “wow”. I’ll play a bit more of the beta, but it might take some convincing to actually buy this game on launch at this stage. I didn’t hate the first Destiny. I just arrived late. I don’t have a particular love for the game either. More of the same doesn’t appeal to me, and so far this is just past familiar and just short of identical. Some new sub-classes, new icons in the menus, and some more cinematics don’t have me convinced just yet.

All that said, I’m willing to sit on it some more. Yet, with the packed gaming schedule, I’m probably going to prioritise other titles.

More tomorrow (probably).

Advertisements

Many Movies

Yet another slow news day for gaming. So let’s talk about another interest of mine, albeit far more casual: movies. I think I like movies as much as the next person, I’m far from a cinemaphile. Still, I have my opinions on certain movies. Well, most movies.

This year has already had some great films come out, and some not-so-great ones. Noteworthy titles so far have been LoganGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Wonder WomanThe Mummy, and John Wick 2.

Probably the one I have my doubts over the most, and I need to see it again for a better opinion, is Wonder Woman. I adore Gal Gadot, purely because she’s drop dead gorgeous. She’s got decent acting ability, but I think my judgement is clouded. My reservations over the film come from various angles, one being the concern that as a DCEU film, it was more enjoyable because the other offerings have been rather poor.

That said, Wonder Woman was enjoyable to watch, and didn’t have my distinct disdain like Ghost in the Shell. I’m still extremely grateful that I didn’t pay to see that.

I still have some movies I’m looking forward to for the second half of the year, in order of anticipation: Star Wars VIII: The Last JediSpider-man HomecomingKingsman the Golden Circle, and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

I consider myself a Star Wars fan. Maybe not an uber-fan, but a big one nonetheless. I’m somewhat surprised at the lack of excitement for this year’s instalment. I understand that this is the third year in a row with a Star Wars film, but surely I can’t be the only one excited to see what’s next for the new generation of the saga. We’ll be getting an older Luke, one who seems to be done with the Jedi (what does it mean, Gray Jedi? No Jedi? WHAT). We’ll hopefully see Finn wake up from his coma, otherwise this is John Boyega’s easiest pay-cheque ever. There’s a lot to bring together and to leave hanging for Episode IX. Hopefully we’ll get an iconic moment of shock.

Spider-man Homecoming is out this Friday, and as a Spidey fan I’m extremely optimistic about this third version reboot. Tom Holland’s portrayal was the only redeeming factor of the forgettable Civil War (which I still think of as Avengers 3). While I’m optimistic, I am realistic. There is a lot of room for disappointment. So here’s hoping.

Kingsman the Golden Circle has me excited, but also somewhat cautious. The first one was phenomenal. It wasn’t perfect, but it’s easily one of my favourite movies of all time. Top 25, easy. This one looks like it will be star-packed, which could go either way. Some movies with this many big names are over-loaded, a bit like Queens Park Rangers from the 2013/2014 season. Some do well. This one has already spoilt the return of Colin Firth’s character, so hopefully it blows us away, instead of making us regret that they made it.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a Luc Besson film, and that’s enough to get me to see it. Ignoring the filthy abomination that was Lucy, I trust him as a director. Léon: The Professional is, to date, one of the best films I’ve ever watched. Pure genius, made exceptional by three superb cast members. The Fith Element was great, but I watched it as a kid and it never left much of an impression. The Family, with Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Dianna Agron was completely underrated. Hopefully this is more of the same, rather than the pure trash that was Lucy.

And to leave you off, with maybe some hype about the upcoming movies I’m hyped about, here are the trailers:

PS Plus July 2017

It’s a bit quiet on the news front. It’s post Crash release hype that’s winding down in the form of opinion pieces and reviews, some talk about other games, a bit of hype for Lawbreakers, and other waffle. Nothing groundbreaking. Today is also the day PSN refreshes and we get this month’s PS Plus titles.

The “free” monthly games have certainly had their share of controversy among gamers. In fact, I mostly hear whining and complaining about it. If it’s not that we’re not getting AAA releases, it’s because we already have the AAA games offered this month. It gets old fast, all this nagativity from gamers. No, that’s not a typo.

I’ve found lately, and maybe this is because I frequent Reddit more often, that gamers are both considerably negative, and extremely whiny about their views. Opinion is fine, but this sense of entitlement is just too close to what the “real world” is full of for my tastes. Gimme gimme gimme. Me me me. (Me monsters.) However, I came here to talk about this month’s PS Plus free games, not contribute my own nagging to the gamer nagativity (it’s an epidemic).

Last month’s lineup was excellent, including Killing Floor 2 and Life is Strange. While I couldn’t give a rusty fig about Square Enix’s high school drama adventure, I see its inclusion on the list as a major positive. Killing Floor 2 is a fun, but maybe a bit simple, co-op shooter I spent a few enjoyable hours on. It’s about the stature and quality of the games included.

This month, we’re getting more bang for our buck! Until DawnGame of Thrones a Telltale Series, and That’s You all feature in what is probably one of PS Plus’s better months. Now, I’m not one of those who will say that PlayStation Plus is about the free games, those are bonus as part of a subscription to an online service. That said, I am impressed when they make the effort to include titles like these. You know, the kind to improve the perception of some that PS Plus games are stuffed with worthless indie titles and shovel-ware. I still have zero desire to play a Telltale game, I probably won’t play Until Dawn soon, and party games are a thing from the PS2 era for me, but the stature of these games shouldn’t be ignored, especially something like Until Dawn.

Still, I have seen complaints that people already have Until Dawn, so they should get a substitute game instead. I find that hilarious! The sense of entitlement is disgustingly un-ironic from the source, yet tragically ironic in reality. I could probably dedicate a whole rant-filled post to that. Thankfully, not today.

Yet, I think I can try see where some of these people are coming from. When PS Plus launched during the  PS3 days, it was built around this free game system. A lot of people still think about it as such. A subscription wasn’t required to play online multiplayer, and Plus was entirely optional. With the advent of the PS4, however, things changed. Sony made it that PS Plus was required to play online multiplayer. It transformed into a subscription that pays for the PlayStation online services, with a bonus set of “free” games every month. Clearly a lot of people haven’t made the mental transition yet, even four years after it was announced.

I’ll admit that there is still more to the argument, especially when you bring up the actual infrastructure of the online service and its quality and maintenance, but that’s branching into another aspect of the discussion. Subscription purpose vs rewards, for example.

And that’s it. Great PS Plus offerings this month. Since I’m not an Xbox man, but maybe I can have a look on that side and discuss their lineup at Games with Gold. Especially since the Plus argument is usually done in comparison to what they have over there. Until next time.

Crash! Bang! Boom!

 

It’s been a while again! My blog discipline needs some work. As such, I’m putting out a quick one today to get back into writing (briefly).

Crash Bandicoot The N. Sane Trilogy released this previous weekend on PS4, and boy was it popular.

I’ve spent most of the weekend either playing Crash, or steadfastly avoiding it. It’s probably the best example of a remaster available, and the originals have been translated excellently onto current-gen software. The problem with this is that I’d forgotten how punishingly difficult these games are. Well, at least the first one. I think I’ll put a proper “review” of the trilogy together when I’ve played more of the second and third games, for now I’m completing a task 21 years in the making.

I first played Crash Bandicoot on the original PlayStation at a friend’s house. The lack of a memory card, and the fact that we were little kids, meant that we didn’t really progress far in the game. We spent most of our time with Warped later on, seeing it as easier and more fun.

I think many of us have forgotten how difficult games used to be. It’s possible that difficulty has been watered down for the masses, which makes sense. Games has supposedly become an industry more lucrative than the film industry (I can’t find the numbers, remind me to research this later). Even if games aren’t bigger than movies, certain numbers don’t lie. Over 60 million PlayStation 4s have shipped since the console’s launch. That’s a massive number. The Xbox One number might look small in comparison (probably 30 million), but that’s still a hefty total. That’s about 90 million current-gen consoles out in the wild. Even with overlap of ownership, that’s a lot of people buying games that cost anything between $1 and $90 (remember those collector’s editions and Season Passes). That’s big.

I digress. Gaming is big, it’s popular, and there’s reason to believe it’s growing. Of course, if you’re selling games, you want it to be accessible when you’re dealing with these numbers. All that to say that it seems reasonable that games have become less difficult. Talk about a long walk for a short drink. Geez.

It turns out Crash Bandicoot was made in an era when game devs were evil sadists, and gamers willing masochists. And we still adore them for it. We remember those torturous sessions fondly, and releases like this fall into “nostalgia”. Probably the best example of Stockholm syndrome I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, Crash  has been hard. And while I have been tempted to squeeze my controller into fine dust at times, I’m enjoying returning to a series I haven’t touched for years (see what I mean about that syndrome business?). I guess I’ll leave the detailed impressions for another post.

Until later, alligator.

Wake up! E3 2017 Thoughts

Wakey wakey me. It seems I’ve fallen asleep at the blogging wheel.

I enthusiastically started a “new” blog, picked out a theme, and wrote a post — over a month ago.

It’s been both a chilled and eventful month. I’ve savoured not working my previous job, with the hours and other baggage. It’s been an extended relief. But let’s get over the boring stuff, last week was quite eventful.

E3 2017 has come and gone. It didn’t blow anyone away, but it was a great show nonetheless. It was great in the sense that it didn’t have any obvious incidents or controversies. One could say that the various gaming behemoths played it incredibly safe. I’m going to comment on one or two of the topics that stood out for me, and I’ll probably ignore and forget most of the events.

The pre-conference was kicked off on Saturday, 10 June by EA. Oh Electronic Arts. I feel like you might be the most complacent games publisher out there. Your show was slightly awkward and largely forgettable except for one or two redeeming factors. The first being the presence of Men in Blazers (they do a great footballing podcast) speaking about FIFA. They brought some personality to the stage, and it’s really the only non-game trailer that I remember. Except maybe Patrick Söderlund’s expressionless and intensely awkward moments in the spotlight.

One of my only interests in EA this year is FIFA 18‘s continuation of their story mode. Not many details were given during that press conference, and I expect them to not change much there mechanically.

The other is a bit more dear to my heart, and that has me positively vibrating with excitement: Star Wars Battlefront II. It would appear that EA and DICE have taken the criticism from the first game on board, and the inclusion of a single-player campaign is exciting. Far more interesting to me though is the revamp of multiplayer to include a class system. A game with the scope that Battlefront has, with such large-scale battles, suffered greatly without classes. It was still fun, but this will put a greater emphasis on team play and seems to display how they might be making the game less “accessible” and more skill-based. Yummy.

More on that later this year.

After dear old EA, we got Microsoft. Project Scorpio’s real name is the awful Xbox One X. This naming choice is reflected perfectly in this image:

Beside being cringe-worthy, it’s possibly confusing. Imagine an old lady who is looking for a Christmas present for the grand kids. Sent on a shopping trip, clutching a hastily-written post-it note, with minimal information. Both Xbox One S and Xbox One X will be on the market. Imagine the confusion with an “S” and an “X” over a phone? Fun times ahead for retail staff and uninformed family members ahead. My suggestion? Xbox One Sierra and Xbox One X-ray.

Forgetting awful names for a second, I think Microsoft’s show was spectacular. And if Sony had failed to show up, would have walked away with “Show of E3 2017”. They dispensed with most of the useless chatter, and showed us what mattered: scores of games. Like, literally scores. It was alike 40 trailers or something. The next Metro title looks fantastic, and will get me to finally play the Metro Redux sitting on my shelf. Sea of Thieves doesn’t have me convinced, but I adored whoever did that voice over work.

Overall, I’m not completely convinced I’ll buy the console early, but my interest is piqued. And when it comes out, and if I can afford one, I’ll probably buy it.

Next we had Bethesda on Monday morning locally (late Sunday night there). There was some milking of older titles, some waffle, and finally the good stuff: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Finally. A year after they teased the title, we got the game confirmed to us, along with a release date. Come 27 October, and I might not be found.

Next: my least favourite show of E3. I hated Ubisoft’s show for three reasons: 1) There was no Aisha Tyler, or charismatic equivalent. 2) They started the show with what felt like an eternity of that horrendous cross-over game they have. 3) Splinter Cell was notably absent. In 2014 we were assured that we’d hear more of the franchise in 2016. A year after that promise expired and nary a word about the series for FOUR years. Ubisoft were asked about it after the show, and they assured people that they haven’t forgotten about the franchise, in that same unconvincing manner a distracted parent says “that’s nice dear” to the kid desperately doing flips for attention.

Bonus reason: I have no interest in Beyond Good and Evil 2, especially since it seems aeons away from actually being a game.

Ubisoft. You are almost dead to me as a game’s publisher. Yes, Far Cry 5 and Assassin’s Creed Origins look vaguely interesting, but you ain’t got no games I want. Where is Splinter Cell or even some news of it? Maybe a revisit to something from Prince of Persia? No? Fine.

After this, Sony went and almost pulled off what they did last year. Except this year two things let them down slightly, most important of which: no definite dates were given. The only titles we’ll see this year are the expansions for Uncharted and Horizon Zero Dawn. Everything else had a vague “2018” attached at the end. No definite dates? Not assuring. The other slight letdown was the lack of many new IPs that we haven’t seen before. That’s largely fine, but even though the new stuff is still future, after a year of speaking about them, they’re not that new any more.

The part of Sony’s show that I came away most excited for was Spider-man. Insomniac are proven as devs, and after that gameplay footage, I’m convinced we’re getting the true successor to the PS2 era Spider-man 2 based on the film with the watery-eyed bloke. Another non-committal “2018”, but will be well worth the wait.

And that’s where my E3 ended. I have no interest in Nintendo. No offence to the Nintendo fans out there, but I’ve never owned any of their systems, and none of their IPs have remotely interested me.

Overall, this E3 left me happy with certain titles coming, unhappy that certain IPs have been neglected, and overall feeling like it was a good show, but slightly worse than last year. It was safe, and we got safe announcements and confirmations. What carried this year’s show was a combination of two key ingredients I think: this year’s lineup of games is, quite frankly, excellent. What a gaming glut. The other reason is that most of the companies have cottoned on. We don’t want you standing there boring us to tears with your exec’s nervous blubbering, we want games. And we got games and their trailers aplenty. I expect more of the same next year, if not better.

Bonus material — Devolver Digital’s Big Fancy Press Conference 2017.

Mayday May Day

Today is a day of firsts.

It’s the first day of May. That’s both May Day and Worker’s Day.
Is it ironic that Worker’s Day is a holiday? Maybe it’s appropriate.

In another “first”, welcome to my “new” old blog. Hopefully I’ll have something consistently interesting to say.

Gaming, football, reading, writing, and entertainment; these things interest me, along with a smattering of other topics. So I’ll write about them.

For today only, let’s not speak of the unspeakable horrors of the North London Derby. It was awful.

In other news: the Prey demo is live, and I’ve spent about 20min with it. Not entirely sure what my impressions are on it just yet. Hopefully I’ll have fully-formed thoughts on it at a later stage. So far I’m caught between liking and disliking the visuals. There are only so many games various Bethesda studios can make in a certain visual style before I start questioning it. It’s not ugly, it’s just… not as well-polished as I was hoping. Dishonored had a visually distinct style that suited it, and it aged remarkably well. I’m not sure if Arkane were emulating something like that here, but I’ll digress. Visuals aren’t the be-all and end-all of games (but they are important).

The gameplay itself is smooth. Some quality of life choices might take some getting used to, though. Especially the choice to put the”quick menu” for equipment on one of the face buttons on PS4. Pressing Triangle to get to your radial menu just isn’t intuitive. The top shoulder buttons are occupied by the lean function, which could make some sense, but seems a bit uneconomical to me. There are better ways to apply a lean mechanic, unless it proves to be far more vital during the course of the game.

Despite those niggles, the story is somewhat intriguing. If you’ve been following the game’s promotion, you’ll already be familiar with the story. The intro level I’m playing doesn’t exactly reveal anything surprising. The story will provide a good context for your actions in this game, but it will be the gameplay that determines whether Prey is successful or not. Much like Dishonored 2, this looks to be built around your powers and the cool combos you can create with them. The devs have said: here’s some fun abilities, use them.

Well, if that’s not fully-formed thoughts, I guess I could go on at length about this game. Is it a day one purchase? Probably not for me. The only Bethesda-made day one purchase I could ever justify is any Wolfenstein game. Any. I’m willing to eat my words one day. (By the way, let’s keep an eye on E3 this year. I predict some Wolfenstein news.)

Let’s wrap the first post up there. I’ll have more tomorrow.