Video Games

Why Does The Video Games Industry Hate It’s Consumers?

Why Does The Video Games Industry Hate It’s Consumers?

The video game industry, at least in it’s modern state, seems to hate it’s consumer…and we just accept it. It’s utterly bizarre that a industry which shows such disdain for it’s customers is still reaping the rewards. It’s hard to suppress the cynical side when you sit and look at the industry on the whole, be it those hopefuls on Steam Greenlight, to those big names pumping out ‘Triple A’ games. The recent release of Arkham Knight, one of this years biggest games, was yet more fuel to the fire. Warner Brothers, and Rock Steady, willingly shipped a broken product into the public retail space. While the console version has faired well technically, the 12 man team made PC port has been a utter train wreck. Spare me your system bias, for this is a matter that concerns the state of the industry as a whole, and not just your little corner of it. The PC version of Arkham Knight is a prime example of the mistreatment of the consumer. The product barely works, it under-performs in all most every aspect. Capped at 30 frames per second, stutters and spurts on high end systems, includes hidden DRM, all capped off by Warner Brothers pulling the game from sale. This is a huge spit in the face for not just PC users, but video game consumers. The game’s altered footage was used to sell Nvida hardware, footage that lied to the consumer. Look around at modern video games, so many of them are full of business practices you wouldn’t expect, or accept, else where. Buy a game at £40, open the case, see a advertisement for downloadable content, play the game, discover half the content is missing, this is the modern way. Titles like Destiny are a perfect showcase for how the industry is becoming increasingly toxic towards it’s audiences. Bungie/Activsion shipping half a game, and releasing the rest through £20 packs. Less than a year later and a new expansion is announced with a hefty tag of £40. The Destiny scam doesn’t stop there, new players wishing to enter the game can purchase the core game and all the DLC for £70, while veteran players (who supported the game from release) will have spent £140 collectively via buying each DLC. This would not be acceptable anywhere else. The craziest thing about all of this is the fact Destiny somehow manages to maintain positive press coverage. Fresh off the back of  it’s ‘Game of the Year’ BAFTA, Destiny continues to a presence on major sites, while the business practices are largely ignored. Does anyone even care about the players? The consumers? In all fairness, should we really expect the press to care about anyone but themselves? This is the same press that killed off gamers only last year, and enjoyed profiting from two ugly sides going toe to toe in a war of social media and pateron. Even video game culture is no longer safe from profiteering leeches. The regular release of broken games from big names, Ubisoft/Konami for example, is worrying, in fact it’s terrifying. The lack remorse shown towards the market and it’s consumers is alarming. Broken games are released with DLC plans and seasons passes at the ready, in some cases games are straight up abandoned in order to flog DLC (Warner Brothers/ Arkham Origins). Main stream video games are no longer a experience, but a exercise in how to give customers as little as possible, while selling them as much as possible. Buy a core game, get sold everything else after, the DLC way. The argument of ‘you don’t have to buy the content’ was a fair point back in 2006, but that was when DLC was a fresh new concept, and not a stick used to beat consumers. The truth is, DLC has become abusive, intrusive and dangerous. Instead of things getting better, they’re only getting worse. Micro-transactions started life as a valid option in most free-to-play titles. Play a game for free, get the core experience, if you like what you see, pay a little bit of money. This was, and for the most part, still is the beauty of free-to-play. The issue is, micro-transactions are no longer just a free-to-play thing, they’re now making a home in numerous retail games. Content once unlocked by, you know, playing the game is now hidden behind a pay wall. Want a different skin/costume for your character? There’s a microtransaction for that, want your weapon to look a little nicer? There’s a microtransactiuon for that. It’s disgusting that this is becoming common place in major games, and now we hardly look twice when a game contains them. It’s just another exercise of reducing content while maximizing profits.   These microtransactions aren’t just part of some games, they’ve spawned their own culture. EA’s Fifa games have become defined by it’s Ultimate Team mode. What initially started as a enjoyable, and fresh, concept of collecting players from around the world to form a dream team, has no became a question of whoever spends the most money (much like real football). Players are gained by buying packs with coins, which are earned by playing the game or selling players. These coins are slow to grind by playing matches, thus EA offer the option to buy packs with real money. Transferring real money into Fifa points, which are used to buy the packs, has created a truly grim culture of hyper-consumerism. Buying packs with masses amount of coins has now become a event within the Fifa culture. Player blow hundreds, I dare say in some cases thousands, on Fifa points in order to get the best players. This trend of ‘unpacking’ player packs has became a hot event for Youtuber and twitch. The problem is, this creates a severe gulf between the player base in Ultimate Team. EA happily influx their game with special player cards with buffed stats, which are only available at certain times, this of course is a huge incentive for those Fifa point happy players to go buy more packs. EA are actively killing their games community by promoting huge investment in Fifa points, and they don’t care. Sure, you may not care about Fifa, but the issue of pay-to-win is seeping into other games. Battlefield and it’s ‘packs’ offer advantages and short cuts to those willing to pay, and has done for the past three entries. Their greed, is detracting from games, the experience and the product. Why should a customer be at a disadvantage just because they aren’t willing pay as much as someone else? Why are they punished for not spending more money? Kickstarter is also becoming a weapon, at least when it’s handed by certain industry ‘icons’. Peter Molynuex’s infamous Godus project, which was built upon lies and broken promises. Tim Schafer’s Broken Age, which received $3 million in funding (far above the requested amount) only for Scahfer to turn around and ask for even more money. Both Molynuex and Scahfer used their standing in the industry to mislead their fans and supporters. Molynuex left Godus before it’s complementation, and Broken Age turned out to repeat various assets throughout each episode, proving that not even ‘heroes’ of the industry care all that much about the their consumer. Even Nintendo has shown a sly grin of it’s pointy teeth to it’s customers. Amiibo fever produced huge amounts of money for Nintendo, mostly thanks to their artificially created supply and demand nature. Nintendo happily produced small amounts of certain Amiibo in order to create a false sense of ‘rarity’. It’s sad when a company like Nintendo stoops so low in order to ensure their new product is a success. The Amiibo stock has be addressed, and they seem to be making amends, but we shouldn’t forget what they did. It’s not all doom and gloom of course. There’s still a number of developers and publishers trying their hardest to please their customers. The Witcher 3′s stream of patches and free DLC is a great example of this. Cd Projekt Red are the shinning light in how to do big budget games right. Their approach to fan feedback, their views on DLC and their general business practice is admirable. When the industry was in amidst of intrusive DRM methods. They are one of a slowly growing number. Can the industry truly afford to mistreat the consumer? Who will truly speak up for me, you, and everyone else involved with the interest, and the culture. We can’t rely on the press, who cheer when being littered with gifts E3 2010 style, or Youtubers who take a paychecks for plugging a game, or a ‘donation’. The consumer dedicates the market, not the producer. If supply and demand is truly the way forward, let’s demand better treatment, demand complete, and functional, games. Demand a better industry, supply discussion, just don’t supply abusive companies you money.     @linko64...

E3 2015′s Biggest Moments – From Vikings To Remakes

E3 2015′s Biggest Moments – From Vikings To Remakes

With E3 2015 over and done with, it feels fitting to look back at event event and pick out the stand out games and moments. E3 2015 will most likely be remembered for two announcements, both of which felt like the ultimate fan service, but never the less added to E3′s history and legacy as the biggest event in the video game calender.       Nintendo Reminds Everyone That Games Are Fun The World Nintendo Championship was a utter mess, but a wonderful mess. The presenters never seemed in control, players repeatedly entered the Wii U home screen and the pacing was all over, but it all gave the event a sense of genuine charm. It’s gleeful expression of Nintendo indulgence was brilliant, even if some of the plays made by the contestants was sloppy. The big star of the show was Super Mario Maker. Watching players franticly bomb through various levels exposed the potential for Nintendo’s latest experiment. The challenge, the genius, the trolling, Super Mario Maker landed looked fantastic. To top the event off, modern industry icon Reggie Fils-Aime took to the stage to do what he does best, play games badly and crack jokes.   Bethesda Sets The Tone For their first ever E3 showcase, Bethesda knocked it out of the park. The first gameplay of Doom was slick, brutal and enticing. Classic first person shooter action is exactly what the industry needs right now, and along with Snapmap, Doom could be a game changer in a market that likes to create and share. Bethesda showcased a number of Fallout 4′s features, but the crafting and settlement system was easily the most exciting. Fallout 4′s sheer scope is insane, with the potential game time seemingly becoming infinite. The reveal trailer may of set the hype train rolling, but the E3 showing gave people more reasons to truly buy into the product, as well as the Fallout universe. Bethesda’s well paced showcase did a fantastic job of revealing new games, even if they were leaked, while keeping people well aware of previously known games.   Microsoft get Over The E3 Hump: Known for their inconsistent E3 showcases, Microsoft finally hit their stride this year. With a number of reveals, and premiers of gameplay, Microsoft managed to set up a promising future for their Xbox One system, but still struggled to make the big black box look like an essential purchase. The showcase had a pretty solid spine of games on display, with few curiosities on the way. Halo 5: Guardians oddly looked like a sequel to Star Wars: Republic Commando, which instantly made it more appealing than past Master chief vehicles. The rest of games and trailers shown weren’t bad, but they weren’t earth shattering. The oddest reveal was Day Z coming to Xbox One…mainly given the creator long since jumped shipped before the game was complete. The real triumph was Microsoft managed to finally put together a E3 showcase that flowed well, and got people talking for the right reasons, early access aside.   Ubisoft Are Apparently Forgiven For Their Sins, Thanks To Vikings Recent times have not been kind to Ubisoft, or to be more honest, Ubisoft have not been kind to their consumers. Even after launching broken games at full price into the wild, Ubisoft seemed to get away with it given the reaction to their E3 showcase. Tom Clancy may no longer be with us any more, but his name lives on via various new games. The real reason Ubisoft stood out, apart from Usher light’s performance, was down to For Honour and Ghost Recon: Wild Lands. For Honour is the first ‘big’ game from Ubisoft in some time that doesn’t involve terrorism, assassinations or Tom Clancey. In what looks like a mix between MOBA/Dynasty Warriors and Deadliest Warrior, For Honour pits Knights, Samurai and Vikings against each other in team based combat. The concept is mouth watering, even if very little of the game was shown. Ghost Recon: Wild Lands was the surprise reveal of the showcase. Ghosts versus Mexican drug cartels, complete with numerous tactical options, vehicles and all the co-op action you could want. Ubisoft did well to banish memories of their recent shoddy products, but one question kept popping up throughout the showcase, will any of these games actually fully work?     Martin Sahlin Makes E.A Human After years of E3 showcases fronted by corporate suits, TV/Internet personalties and media trained big time developers, Martin Sahlin came to the stage shaking like a leaf. Talking about his game, Unravel, he stuttered, he shook, he sweated, he won over the masses. In what felt like a rare genuine moment of passion (not in that way), Sahlin talked about the origins and creative process of Unravel. The game it’s self looks amazing, with some truly breath taking animation, but it’s time at E3 will always be remembered for the little guy hitting the big stage, and seeming utterly human. Easily one of the nicest moments of E3 2015…then EA followed it up with a man dressed as a Zombie.       The Battlefront Hype Train Truly Rolls Out EA knew exactly what they were doing, after covering all their sports games, they woke everyone up with a gameplay video of Star Wars: Battlefront. Sure it wasn’t live play, and the sheer amount of choreography was insane, but it was hard not to be blown away. Everything about the footage screamed Star Wars. Social media went crazy, Battlefront’s hype train officially pulled out of the station. If there’s one element that stands out throughout the footage, it’s the sound effects. Everything, and I mean everything, sounded perfect, this is what truly gave the footage that Star Wars feel, that and the closing shot of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker facing off.   Sony Steal The Spotlight…With A New IP At this point, everyone knows ‘how good’ Sony’s showcase was at E3 2015. The Last Guardian popped up again, Final Fantasy 7 is being remade, people celebrated, cried, filmed their reactions, cried again. Shenmue 3 is coming, subject to a Kickstarter that was never going to fail (it’s presence of Kickstarter being a whole different topic of discussion). Two of the biggest fan service reveals in the history of E3, which is what Sony ‘s showcase became known for…which is slightly unfortunate. Sony may of revealed the next big thing in the shape of Horizon Zero Dawn, but the attention has mostly fallen to the three previously named games. A completely new IP from Killzone developer Guerrilla, who recently took a intake of ex members of the team behind The Witcher franchise , Horizon Zero Dawn looks stunning. While the trailer didn’t give too much away, the footage shown was mind blowing, and not just because it featured robotic dinosaurs. The sheer pedigree behind the game should be enough to get anyone excited.   Fan Service Gone Wild Regardless of where you stand, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a big deal. The last five years have seen calls for this game to be reality, and Sony revealed that’s happening. It shouldn’t of came as a huge surprise, the Final Fantasy brand is hardly in a great place at the moment, nor is Square Enix, and Final Fantasy 7 is easy money (hence the amount of re-releases they’ve thrown out there). The news was greeted with cheers, tears, and reaction videos, a deadly combination. E3 2015 will most likely be remembered for the announcement of Final Fantasy 7 Remake.     Kayne West & Cup Head: Kayne West played Cup Head, proving he has a more varied taste in video games than most people covering video games....

Dear Anita Sarkeesian & Jonathan McIntosh E3 Is Not Your Soapbox

Dear Anita Sarkeesian & Jonathan McIntosh E3 Is Not Your Soapbox

After a good solid year and a bit of refusing to cover the topic, Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathan McIntosh have became a problem. They may have been at the forefront of a movement that has brought in change and awareness, but that message has long been tainted by those few looking to further their name, and salary, rather than their cause. I don’t speak for anyone but myself, I don’t subscribe to any movements across social media, I’m just another quiet voice on the internet, merely expressing a concern and distrust. For those who have followed the astronomical rise of Anita Sarkeesian, it’s hard to not have a opinion on her. Some see her as modern day icon, others see her as a false prophet. However way you look at it, she has power and influence, the problem is, she’s wasting it for further herself and not a cause. Her Tropes Vs Women In Video Games video series is where she made her name. Slated as a in-depth look at how women are portrayed in video games. This series was successfully funded, and only some of the videos followed.   The series resulted in both Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathan McIntosh being placed in a position of influence, with immunity from criticism and question. This was the case until recently, both Sarkeesian and McIntosh have started to take liberties with their offence, showing their lack of knowledge or interest in the media at the same time. With every big release, or reveal, both of them would take to twitter to project how said game was furthering some kind of social issue. The Witcher 3 was a recent target for McIntosh who showcased a huge lack of knowledge of the franchise, resulting in social media (his most powerful tool) being turned on him. Both McIntosh and Sarkeesian have bee suspected of telling lies when it comes to their connection with video games. Videos have been floating around the internet now providing proof that they had no prior interest in the media, this has became increasingly more evident. While E3 is seen as a time for celebration for video game consumers, it’s seen as another marketing opportunity by Team Fem Freq. Bethesda kicked off E3 with a wealth of fantastic showings of their most popular franchises Fallout and Doom. Both games are 18 rated, both games have a legacy. Doom is known for it’s gore, it’s demonic themes, the balls to the wall shooting. This was unacceptable for Sarkeesian, who blasted the violence on show, as well as looking down on those who cheered at the brutality on screen. This was the first of many complaints she projected, but the Doom jibs resonated with me the most for various reasons. Doom is what Doom has always been, to expect anything else is stupid. It’s the same as turning up to a Saw film and expecting to see a romantic comedy. The main reason I hold such disdain towards her tweets was the fact she started to look down on the people who enjoy Doom. As someone who enjoys a number of things that are often judged as ‘lesser’ entertainment (MMA, grind house cinema, horror films) I’m well aware of how snooty people can be. Anita is looking down at people because she sees them as lesser beings, purely because they like something she does not.     Her reaction to Doom was not that of simple dislike, it was much deeper, much more venomous. She didn’t simply just look past the game as something she is not interested in, she targeted it as a harmful creation. The snobbery is palpable, you can almost feel her sneering at those enjoying action displayed on screen. This wasn’t Doom, this was a ‘problem’. It’s bizarre to think that anyone in 2015, who claim to have a long running interest in video games, can still be shocked by Doom’s violence. Anita is constantly in a state of flux with what she’s actually offended by, but one thing is clear, if it’s an adult game, then it’s inherently ‘wrong’. That’s the key thing in play here, Adult games do not sit well with both McIntosh and Sarkeesian, and neither do a lot of ‘kid’ games. If it has blood, a male character that has any ounce of masculinity, then the game is looked down on. Doom is not trying to make a statement on modern society, it’s not a analogy, it’s a video game where you battle Hell with shotguns and chainsaws. It’s fine to not enjoy violent video games, but claiming they’re ‘not normal’ while looking down at their fans, that’s ignorant. Violence without context is worthy of criticism, but Doom’s violence has context, which is fact that is lost on Team Frem Freq. It’s frustrating that Anita does not seem to understand the appeal of Doom, or what Doom is, or even has a ounce of respect for Bethesda/ ID. The lack of respect is running theme throughout Team Fem Freq’s feedback on Bethesda’s E3 showcase, and a running them of theirs in general. There’s a chilling touch of Mary Whitehouse to the reaction to Doom, a genuinely creepy similarity between the two ‘figures’ of pop culture of modern times and the past. As they, history has a habit of repeating it’s self, and this seems especially true, with both of them amassing the same levels of vocal detractors.   Dishonored 2′s inclusion of a female lead was also bemoaned, purely because the game offers a choice of genders to play as. This was the lowest of the low, a true white flag in the sinking Fem Freq ship which resulted in a number of replies on twitter. Once vocal supporters of Fem Freq even began to question her. It seems like nothing is ever good enough, unless it fits her exact criteria for is, or isn’t, sexist. This was Dishonored 2′s official reveal, on the biggest stage of them all, and the female lead took center stage, but all because the player had a choice between playing a male or female, it was considered a ‘saddening’ reveal. You can have your cake, eat it, and still be utterly displeased it would seem. Anita’s reactions towards Fallout 4 supports the concept she struggles to accept adult video games. After the crafting system was shown in all it’s glory, her first port of call was to instantly relate back to video game violence. With a sly backhanded compliment she tweeted ”The #Fallout4 crafting system is cool. Imagine how much cooler it could be if it wasn’t SO focused on building stuff to kill other stuff.” It’s not yet clear if Fem Freq has ever played a Fallout game, let alone even seen one before E3, but the core concept of the game is apparently lost on her. One of the primary themes of Fallout, from day one, is survival. The world is ravaged, people are on the brink, supplies are limited, it’s human nature turn primal in this environment. It all comes back to the point about the violence having context. You can’t talk a Deathclaw out of mauling you, regardless of how high you speech level is. You can’t sit down and debate the ethics of killing with a fire ant. You survive by killing these creatures, you can also survive by talking your way out of situations, a fact she blissfully ignores, or is unaware of.   These last two tweets sum her up perfectly. She makes bold statements, and uses a social issue a shield to fend away legitimate criticisms. There’s plenty of video games that focus on human interaction, with little to no violence. Did she honestly expect the likes of Doom and Fallout to drop their weapons and became some sort of bizarre ‘talk it’ simulator?  Her tweets, much like McIntosh’s, display their lack of familiarity with the games, as well as their biased approach to adult titles. Bethesda made no secret of what  they were showing at E3, yet Anita still came armed and ready, complete with a dislike towards violence in video games. To her, this was not a opportunity to see these games running, it was merely a business opportunity she could exploit, like a leech, sucking the blood from actually talented people. When your career and relevance solely relies on how many issues you can create, should we be shocked by Anita Sarrkeesian and Jonathon McIntosh’s behavior? Neither of them want to progress the industry, nor do they want a better product for me, you, or anyone else. They want to keep creating the issues, keep creating the sensationalism. They are not people who enjoy games, they are people who enjoy power and accolades,  even if that means stomping on the hopes of a movement, while dehumanizing anyone who dare question them. E3 is not your soap box Anita Sarkeesian, it’s not your next pay day Jonathon McIntosh.      ...

Bethesda Goes Big At E3, Doom Emerges As Potential Game Changer

Bethesda Goes Big At E3, Doom Emerges As Potential Game Changer

It’s beautiful, it’s gorey, it’s Doom. The gameplay shown was pretty much exactly what most die hard Doom fans wanted. It’s literally a jaunt through various corridors making a utter mess of the various hell spawn the Marine encounters. Gun porn was also included, as too was some cheerful chainsaw footage. It started violently, and ended violently. Doom, much like the original, is a complete package. Single player, old school multiplayer (power ups, rocket jumps, no dial up internet), editing tools. This is a modern Doom in every sense. Snapmap could the difference between the game being a flash in the pan, or online power house. Doom showing closed with a showing of Hell, it’s as grim as you’d expect. The smoke effects seemingly went unappreciated, but they do set off the environment perfectly. Overall, Doom maintains it’s classic DNA, while splicing it with modern day features and more open levels. Personally, I find Doom to be a much more interesting prospect than most other games we’re aware of. One slight concern, Doom’s old school approach may be jarring for the modern day console player. They’ve come to expect cinematic story driven games, blitzed with QTAs and cut scenes. Doom says ‘fuck that’ and throws you a shotgun. Battlecry is one of those games that has never truly felt like it’s doing anything ‘big’. There’s still questions over exactly what it is, even with a decent amount footage being out in the wild. It’s going into world wide Beta, it still looks like it could be fun, but nothing that’ll set the world alight…even more so given competition in the same space. Dishonest 2′s big reveal was ruined after they ‘accidentally’ mentioned it during a stream that was ‘accidentally’ broadcast. In truth, Dishonored feels like it came out years ago. With the Thief franchise all but dead, Dishonored fills the gap nicely. One of the new leads is a female, so Polygon will surely be creaming themselves before ranting about the character not being conflicted enough about her gender/sexuality. The penis bearing character option still exists, so don’t worry. Elder Scrolls Online takes front and center. It’s boring, as in truly boring. Think of all those MMORPGs that came out in 2001-2002 that had no quality of life features, awful questing mechanics and no real reason to party up for the most part, that’s Elder Scrolls Online. The flower picking system is good however. But brutal honesty aside, it’s a decent enough experience now it’s gone free to play, but there’s much better on offer in terms of MMOS both on PC and console. Elder Scrolls Card game (Legends), because you know, Hearthstone and Magic The Gathering are making card combat ‘cool’ again. Hard to see them knocking off Hearthstone from the Card Combat throne, but what ever, the more the merrier. Fallout 4, the game we all knew was coming (at some point), then all acted surprised when it was announced. Even after the years of wanting Fallout 4 to be real, people still moaned when it became reality. Concept art was shown, there was a ghoul pirate which looked pretty radical (get it? RADical?). Fallout 4 goes into the unexplored Pre-war, which feels a little off , mainly due to the showed content feeling like fan service. The complaints about the visuals some people had come off even more silly, Fallout 4 looks beautiful, the art style fits the tone perfectly. All the characters are fully voiced, with dynamic dialogue. Pip Boy is all fancy, mini games, holotapes, 3rd renders of items, it’s like the Iwatch with a actual point. There’s a collectors which will no doubt sell-out, and be sold on e-bay for five times the RRP. Fallout Shelter, a mobile game for people who love the Sims, love Fallout, and cramp riddled necks. Micromanagement with a Fallout twist. It’s free, no pay wall, no internet connections, it’s almost like free-to-play actually exists. The most interesting feature of Fallout 4 is the ‘re-building’ feature. The player can build settlements, which attract other NPCs to live in, which in turn increases the size of the settlement. Build defences, market stalls, caravans. This is how you add infinite replay value. The crafting systems scope carries over to weapon customization, the sheer amount of options at hand is staggering. Power armor is fully customizable, it’s almost like Bethesda want you to give up your social life…and job. Fallout 4 looks like the next step in the franchise, genuine progression for the series, and the industry. If the Devil is in the detail, Bethesda are covered in virgin blood and blasting out Swedish death metal. The release date is this November, but there’s always a hint of cynicism when it comes to release dates and E3.     So Bethesda started off the E3 showings with a bang. Doom is setting up to be the dark horse of their line up. The gameplay won’t be to everyone’s taste (history shows this on consoles) but the Snapmap feature could place Doom as a long term success, and not just a flavor of the month. Fallout 4 is Fallout 4, it’s going to sell well, the hype is already there, people want it. The scope of the game is insane, the release date is still a little suspect but either way, it’s Fallout 4. Dishonored 2 was only shown in trailer form, and it’s oddly went under the radar across social media. The market needs Dishonored 2, the lack of stealth games is hugely apparent, and the recent demise of the Thief franchise has left the door open for Dishonored 2 to take it’s seat of power. Bethseda paced their showing perfectly, moving from game to game. They gave facts, and not promises, smaller reveals were covered quickly and precisely, never out staying their welcome. Fallout 4 will obviously be the game on everyone’s lips, but Doom is the game to watch, purely down to Snapmap, that feature could change the console scene for the better.                ...

Splatoon’s Main Problem Is Amiibo

Splatoon’s Main Problem Is Amiibo

Splatoon is great, it’s a triumph in almost every sense…but there’s one nagging issue. Every time I boot up the game I’m treated to a instant reminder of this issue, it’s always there, it can’t be avoided. Who would of guessed a piece of plastic would be the only fault Splatoon truly suffers from, them god damn Amiibo. While Amiibo’s are merely a novelty in other games, Splatoon treats them with more respect, perhaps too much respect. The three Splatoon Amiibo’s unlock challenges, which in turn unlock items. These items just so happen to be some of the best items in the game, and not just cosmetically. The way in which clothing works in Splatoon affects the gameplay resulting in the Amiibo awards feeling a little irritating.   Each item of clothing carries a perk, enhancing a certain aspect of a characters abilities. The higher tier items offer four perks, the Amiibo gear falls into this tier. Looking past the fact the items look far better than anything else In the game, the advantage they give players early on is annoying, and unfair. Having content that is only unlocked by purchasing ‘other’ items outside of the core game, be it DLC or related promotions (Mass Effect/ Dr.pepper promo for example) is nothing new, but the Amiibos are a different beast. What started out as a nice collectible, with some extra uses within certain games, has now become a bit of a farce. Amiibo are the modern day version of Cabbage Patch Kids/Thunderbirds, stock is low yet demand is high, really high. Each wave of Amiibo always has at least two Amiibo everyone wants, yet no one can find. People invest into the supply and demand culture, selling the rarer Amiibos for double/triple the price they paid for them. To make matters worse, even the stores are starting to scalp. GAME increased their prices from £10.99 to £15.99, Shopto went one step further by going from £10.99 all the way to £19.99. The Splatoon Amiibos were initially tricky to get a hold of, but recently the boy and girl inkling have became quite common…but the Squid is a whole different story. Sold as part of a bundle with the core game, the Squid Amiibo is a tricky thing to track down outside out e-bay. Content is essentially out of reach, all down to a piece of plastic. As a collector of Amiibo, even if I refuse to take them out the box, I can still see the issues. I may own all of the Amiibo released in Europe at the moment, but I can sympathise with people who just can’t get their hands on certain Amiibo, the Squid included. Having content tucked behind a pay wall is awful sin of modern gaming, but trapping it behind a pay wall that’s also a effort to obtain, that’s inexcusable. As much as I love Nintendo, their implementation of Amiibo in Splatoon is worrying. For years now Nintendo has generally stayed away from the dirty business practices other big names indulge in. Buying a Nintendo game has always meant getting a full, complete, video game in your hand. Splatoon, and it’s Amiibo support, bucks the trend and creates a small shroud of doubt. Hopefully Nintendo does not continue to go down this path, or at least doesn’t hide too much content behind their Amiibo line. It’s a shame the main fault of Splatoon is partly due to Nintendo’s newest success story.      ...

(PC) Kholat | Review

(PC) Kholat | Review

Kholat is a horror game developed by IMGN.PRO. The game is based on the true-event known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident (click the link if you want to know more about said incident). In Kholat players take on the role of some person walking through the mountains and collecting notes and avoiding some teleporting/slow-moving entity (very similar to Slender) all while being narrated by the ever-famous, man who always dies, Sean Bean. The notes you are collecting are supposed to reveal the story and events around the Dyatlov Pass Incident but there really doesn’t seem to be much of a story present in Kholat and it feels more like the developers didn’t exactly know what they were doing and decided to just adopt the tired, and stale Slender formula we’ve been seeing in indie-horror titles as of late, which is a huge bummer coming from Kholat. Basing a game around the events of the Dyatlov Pass Incident should be a solid premise, and make an amazing horror game but that doesn’t exactly happen when you dip into Kholat. Instead you get a pretty boring, and frustrating game that feels like a chore to progress through, and doesn’t offer much in terms of excitement or enjoyment. You’re thrown into an ‘open-world’ environment that looks gorgeous, I won’t deny that. Kholat is one damn good looking game, thanks to Unreal Engine 4 and the amazing environmental work that was done on the game. The mountains look foreboding, and unnerving especially when I came across two giant skulls carved into the face of a cliff. Sadly, that’s about all that Kholat really offers in term of a horror experience. Through-out my time spent with the game I really only found myself feeling creeped out by certain parts of the environment. The enemies weren’t exactly terrifying, and were more so frustrating, or downright annoying to deal with. They work pretty similar to how Slenderman works. A slow-moving, possible teleporting (it seems like they can teleport in front of you which is downright annoying) entity that stalks you the entire time while you collect notes. Seem familiar? That’s the core concept of Kholat in a nut-shell. Explore a creepy environment, collect notes, and avoid the entity that is stalking you. Even the entity seems to be confused during the game as well. I often found myself watching the entity stop chasing me and just stand still, or change direction and start walking away from me. Where’s the fear in that? And you’re most likely to be killed by the environment, which offers no sort of warning when you could die. It’s more like a random, gotcha sort of incident which is horrible. Kholat doesn’t exactly bring anything fresh, or new to the table in terms of an experience, which again is a bummer considering how good Kholat could of been. The game also allows you to fast-travel at campsites that you discover which is a glorious feature that I’m glad was implemented due to how agonizing, and boring it is to traverse the environment after a while. This mainly stems from doing a ton of backtracking, and walking in circles. Then again, this could be intentional due to the disorienting environment and this could possible be what the victims of the real-life incident felt before their untimely demise. Sadly, it doesn’t work and just makes the game boring and again, feel like more of a chore to play. That and the entire movement system in the game is pretty godawful. You can sprint for what is maybe a few seconds before tiring out and moving at an extremely sluggish pace and it takes a fair bit of time to be able to sprint again. It makes the moments where you need to run-away from the entities, and the “orange fog” that tends to chase you to be frustrating. It feels like this was intended to make players feel tense and scared but all I felt was severe annoyance, which isn’t a good thing. You want players to have fun, and feel terrified. Not annoyed, and angry at poorly designed mechanics. I’ve only put around 3 hours into Kholat and I can tell I’m nearing the end-game area. The story seems to be expanding, but is still extremely convoluted with no real direction. What am I doing in the mountain? Why did I decide to come here? Who the hell are these entities walking around? The game offers really no explanation for anything, and even Sean Bean seems like he didn’t want to be there, and maybe even he too was confused by the entire ordeal. In the end, would I recommend Kholat? That depends. At $21.99 (currently on sale for $19.79) I wouldn’t. Maybe if the game were to drop to around $10 I’d be happy telling people to pick it up, but I don’t feel comfortable recommending a bare and a non-enjoyable experience like this for that kind of a price-point. Kholat had a solid premise, and some unique concepts but it sort of failed to deliver. It has amazing visuals, and the setting is great but it really just falls flat on delivery. Pros Awesome setting, and based off of a spooky real-life event with the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Gorgeous visuals, and at times can feel really uneasy while traversing through the snow-ridden, blizzard like environments. Sandbox-ish? Cons Not much meat to the game. More of a Slender clone by walking around, gathering notes, and avoiding some slow-walking/teleporting entity. Sean Bean’s narration feels a tad phoned in. The story is extremely convoluted, and the game doesn’t really have any sense of direction. The game is more frustrating then it is fun. The deaths you experience are more so random, and put on a more luck-based feel. Maybe you’ll randomly get killed by the environment with no warning. Doesn’t exactly feel like a horror game, and more so feels like an adventure narrative sort of experience in the veins of Dear Esther. Sadly, Kholat just isn’t all that great of a game and for that price-point I’d recommend you check it out if it gets a price drop. I was really excited for Kholat as I’m super into the Dyatlov Pass Incident, but the game didn’t fully utilize what it could of with these events and sort of just falls flat.      ...

Fresh, Fun, Pure Nintendo – Splatoon Review

Fresh, Fun, Pure Nintendo – Splatoon Review

Nintendo isn’t exactly known for creating all new properties. Often relying on their classic cast of characters, Nintendo like to experiment with new games and genres, but always front their games with the likes of Mario and Link. Splatoon marks a break through moment for Nintendo, and indeed the Wii U, as their first completely original release in some time. Splatoon is typically Nintendo in tone, yet a whole new adventure for the industry veterans. At it’s core, Splatoon is third-person shooter that tips the industry standard on it’s head. Only Nintendo could take a concept known for it’s focus on kills and turn it into a exercise of innocent fun. The real success of Splatoon is not what is, but what it does.   The 4 v 4 team based action on offer is far from the expected standard fair. Teams battle it out to cover the map in their respective teams ink colours with various weapons and gadgets. While other games focus on racking up kills, Splatoon frolics around encouraging players indulge in the simple act of mass vandalism. Complete with a interactive player city hub, Splatoon feels extremely old school, but with all of the modern flare. If there’s one thing that could have killed off Spaltoon early on it would be the controls. Motion controls still carry a stigma to theme, even more so when it’s a vital element to the gameplay. The way in which the Wii U’s motion controls are utilized is such a smart, subtle, and none-intrusive manner that it easy to forget they’re even there. Player directional movement is dictated with the Wii U pad’s analogue sticks, while the aiming is exclusively controlled via motion controls. Initially, aiming is fiddly, but quickly becomes second nature. The camera can be re-centered with a simple push of a button, a hugely important feature that oils the motion controls resulting in the whole scheme feeling like a genuine victory for the Wii U’s pad.   Splatoon’s lack of class roles is a true deviation from the modern standard, but it’s a deviation that suits the game perfectly. Players, after creating their ‘kid’, can purchase clothing and weapons that affect how they play. The play style of each weapon is where Splatoon’s true depth can be found. The distinct difference between the tools on offer is what keeps each session feeling fresh, even more so with certain maps encouraging the use of mixture of weapons. They all have their trades off, they all have their advantages and counters, for a ‘kids’ game Splatoon has a true hidden depth. Players can further customization their play style by purchasing items of clothing, all of which come with various perks. Each item is rated in terms of it’s quality on a four star scale. For every star the items posses, there’s a perk to unlock. The perks range from the likes of damage increases, speed boosts and reduced spawn times. Saving up the coin in order to buy both weapons and clothing forms the spine of the replay value. Battling through a number of games, earning the coins, buying the items, leveling the items, it’s a constant cycle that rewards.   With a number of big budget ‘Triple A’ games trying to redefine online shooters, it’s bizarre that Nintendo’s first attempt is so simple, yet so successful. The primary goal of Splatoon is to cover each map in your teams coloured ink. This is achieved by spraying said ink all over the environment, or by ‘splatting’ opposition team members (it feels wrong to call them enemies). The ink it’s self is not merely a means to victory, it’s also a unique method of transport and strategic resource. Splatoon’s main selling point is the way in which players can switch between a humanoid kid into a squid, allowing them to dive into the ink splattered around the environment. While it may sound like a cheesy gimmick, it’s actually a slick mechanic that opens up a tactical edge to player movement. It’s a genuinely smart feature that Splatoon makes perfect use of, enhancing the core gameplay tenfold. Firing ink up the wall, turning into a squid, and swimming up the wall to reach a advantage point produces undeniable giddy moments. Nintendo’s lack of experience with team based competitive shooters does show in places. The recently added ‘Ranked Mode’ features a game mode similar to King of the Hill in which player battle to control a point on the map. Some of the weapons and gadgets become far more useful than others, resulting in the game being all about who has the most rollers or sprinklers. Given players can’t change their loadout mid game, there’s a certain element of luck attached to Ranked mode that detracts from the sense of ‘free flowing’ fun. The mode it’s self is fair, but is inconsistent depending on the map it’s hosted on. Splatoon’s most surprising feature is it’s short, but sweet, single player experience. Beneath the player city hub, the five single player zones can be found. Each zone offers a number of challenges along with a final boss battle. The challenges mostly consist of using the Squid/Ink mechanic in various clever fashions. It may only be a brief distraction, but the single player portion is genuinely enjoyable, even if it does result in a longing for more. By the time the single player comes to a close, new items are unlocked and fun time is had, it begs the question of what else could be achieved if Nintendo spent more time on the singe player aspect.   All the hallmarks of Nintendo can be seen and heard in Splatoon’s visuals and soundtrack. The bright environments, the beautifully adorable character models, the oddly engaging music, it’s all typically Nintendo. The Wii U isn’t known for it’s power, but it’s more than capable of looking beautiful, and when the ink is flying, and the squids are leaping, it’s hard not to enjoy the visual splendor on display. Nintendo’s bold has paid off, they’ve created a wonderfully solid game with plenty of room to grow. The staggered release of DLC is good idea, allowing players to come to terms with how Splatoon works and plays. The simple nature of Splatoon is what separates it from other games in the same space. The core gameplay elements, the impressive player ink/squid mechanic, the sheer joy on offer, it all result in Splatoon being such an appealing experience. The only true sour note is the fact the Amiibos unlock high end gear and more single player challenges, which is annoying given the current state of Amiibo availability. It’s not a huge problem, but it’s still a niggling annoyance.   Bold, bright, fresh, enjoyable, Splatoon proves you can teach a old dog new tricks.   8/10      ...

Will Lego Dimensions Fall Victim To Scalpers?

Will Lego Dimensions Fall Victim To Scalpers?

I’ve never been one for Lego, but the recent reveal of Lego Dimensions got my attention. Where Skylanders started, and Disney Infinite grew, and the Nintendo seemingly took over, the game-toy market is pretty insane. The combination of family friendly video games, fueled/complimented by toys is a money making machine. Much like Disney and Nintendo, Lego are a firmly established brand with the unique ability to appeal to all ages. The licenses Lego own, the fan base they have, the significances in pop culture they posses, Dimensions should be easy money. So why bother talking about it? Well there’s one tiny issue that has cropped up, mainly the price point. The starter pack is a hefty £99.99 (89.99 on last gen systems), this includes 3 figures, a vehicle, copy of the game, bricks to build the gateway and the toy pad. The price point, as mentioned before, is pretty big considering it’s nearly the same price of some consoles. ‘Fun Packs’ cost £14.99, and include two characters, this seems like a much fairer price, even more so with Team packs (4 figures) popping at £29.99. Lego have, for the most part, created a fair price point…but it’s only fair for now. If there’s one thing we have learned from Amiibo it’s that scalpers adore these kind of products. The sheer level of love people have for Lego will surely result in scalpers diving into the Lego Dimension market in the same way the mined the Amiibo market. The main difference between Amiibo and Lego is the size of the respective ranges. Amiibo launched with 12 figures, Lego Dimensions are launching with 13 fun packs, 1 level pack and 1 team pack. That’s a whole lot of product for a first wave, a whole lot of product to be snapped up by would be scalpers, hot on the heels of their Amiibo success. Much like any other of the toy based video games, the chances are Lego Dimensions will feature exclusive figures, a concept Lego often explore with their other products. This is where things could start to get tricky for collectors. The sheer range of licenses held by Lego could result in some majority spiked prices for certain figures. The likes of Marvel, DC, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Back to the Future could become the hottest of the Dimension properties, especially among older collectors. Rarity + collect-ability + big brand names = the perfect scalp. Lego Dimensions could quite easily become the hottest scalping product, even surpassing Amiibo. Nintendo has it’s loyal fan base, but they only cover video games. Disney may have the Marvel license, but it’s not packing the brand love that Lego has, or the umpteen other licenses under their banner . Lego games extended beyond the typical demographic, add in the physical toy product and their reach far exceeds that of Amiibo, Infinite or Skyline. As a result of this, the scalpers potential customer base is increased, and people are more than willing to give scalping a shot after seeing the money made by others. This is all theory, for now anyway, but Dimensions could easily turn out to be a scalpers paradise. The reach is much larger than anything of it’s kind previously released. Potential for exclusives exceeds that of other lines. The fairly cheap price point, beyond the starter pack, is much more appealing for bulk buying. Lego Dimensions, without fair regulation from retailers, might just be the next collector headache, and a scalpers dream.     @linko64...

Splatoon Adds New Mode,Map & NES Zapper Gun Tomorrow

Splatoon Adds New Mode,Map & NES Zapper Gun Tomorrow

Ranked Battles are set to unlock tomorrow, along with the addition of a NES Zapper and a new map. Nintendo are seemingly lashing on the content early on for Splatoon, much to the joy of it’s players. The one fault Splatoon truly suffers from is a lack of maps and modes, and this issue is already starting to be addressed. The new NES Zapper gun will surely result in feverish fan boy sweats, while the new map and mode will keep people hooked. Are you a kid? Or a squid?...

The Best So Far, But Not Yet Great – Game of Thrones Ep4: Sons of Winter Review

The Best So Far, But Not Yet Great – Game of Thrones Ep4: Sons of Winter Review

TellTale’s Game of Thrones series has been their weakest work since Jurassic Park, but there’s always been a since of hidden potential just waiting to burst through. The firs three episodes have plodded around, often looking for a real direction, with the intention of setting the pieces into places. Episode four, Sons of Winter, marks a turning point for the series, welcoming back TellTale’s ability to tell a story while engrossing the player, but it’s not without it’s faults. By the time Sons of Winter rolls around, the core cast of characters all have their defined goals, traits and ideals. Each story arc has a distinct tone in keeping with themes often covered in both the books and the TV show. Family values, honour, responsibility, tradition all continue to play key parts in each respective character’s story. The theme of revenge remains prevalent throughout Sons of Winter, only this time it comes into conflict with the concept of a ‘the greater good’. Sons of Winter is much more direct episode in the series, with the action coming at a steady pace. The constant small talk of the previous episodes is replaced with action scenes and plot progressing interactions. This new found flow allows the episode to feel much more compact, never allowing the player to settle into a lulled sense disenchantment. The storyline around the Forrester/Whitehall stand off benefits most of the change of pace, becoming a much more engrossing tale. The conversations between key characters carries much more weight than initial episodes. The lack of small talk frees characters, allowing them to command a presence in their respective scenes. Both Mira and Rodrik Forrester’s once staggered stories are now a interesting mix of political intrigue and intense tension. Rodrik in particular shines thanks to a number of intense stand offs and decisions. Mira’s section is a much more subtle affair, akin to her character. Her weapons are not physical, but verbal, as she adopts to the game of lies played across Kings Landing.   Asher plays a pivotal part in Sons of Winter, presenting some genuinely interesting back-story and filler during events shown in the TV series. His continued tale of avenging his family leads him to running into Daenerys Targaryen on the even of her conquest of Meereen. While the TV series featured the outcome of her conquest, Sons of Winter shows the beginning with Asher and Beskha on the front line. The simmering tension between the two friends continues to boil, with Beskha growing increasingly frustrated with Asher’s willingness to obey others. The relationship between the two characters becomes to focal point for the episode, with one of them revealing some genuinely interesting back story. As ever, one story is sacrificed in terms of how much spot light they receive. Gared’s exploits at The Wall are significantly cut down, leaving his story to be left in the dust. His section mostly consists of quick time combat events, with one or two minor interactions in between. In truth, the Gared storyline was starting to lose it’s momentum during episode three, that momentum is essential dead by the close of Sons of Winter. Telltale have almost written themselves into failure with Gared’s quest to reach the grove. His story feels slightly hoakey when compared to the deadly game of wits and brawn present in the other Forester family tales. The main issues Sons of Winter suffers can be found in the shape of the inclusion of the Queen of Dragons. Her demeanor is jarringly hostile, nothing like her appearances in the TV series. Her inclusion in the episode feels slightly like fan service more than a means to drive the plot. Emilia Clarke’s wooden acting does not help things, but does suit the robotic nature of the character models. TellTale’s engine is seriously showing it’s age now, muddy textures, robotic animation and some utterly bizarre facial movements are the main issues to be found. Sons of Winter is easily the best of the bunch so far, suggesting the series is finally ready to hit it’s hot streak. Compact story telling, interesting revelations and some top notch pacing results in a hugely enjoyable experience. While the games are starting to look aged, the core elements all work together neatly. All of the pieces are in place, with three of the four stories at boiling point, episode five is already looking promising. Engaging, intense and utterly enjoyable, Sons of Winter is everything the last three episodes failed to be....

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