Video Games / Editorials

The Worry Over Uncharted 4

The Worry Over Uncharted 4

As a huge fan of Uncharted, the second one being the reason I bought a PS3, Uncharted 4 has me conflicted. I was well aware that the PS4 would see a new Uncharted game, it hasn’t stopped me from pondering about the games place in the franchise. For the most part, Uncharted has had a pretty compact storyline. The only deviation from the main storyline has been the PS Vita’s Golden Abyss. By the time Uncharted 3 closes, everything is neatly wrapped up, there’s no questions lingering and everyone has reached their end game. The way in which Uncharted 3 ended so ‘completely’ is the reason why I’m a little cautious about Uncharted 4. I’ve already seen Drake go from a pretty selfish thief to a selfless…thief. We’ve seen him chase fame an fortune, find love, come close to losing his best friend, we’ve seen it all. What can Uncharted 4 really give to the character? What else is there to really explore?   Given the departures from Naughty Dog, mostly notably writer Amy Henning, there’s also worries about the quality of the story. In a strange sense of loyalty to the characters, I almost feel anxious Uncharted 4 could feel like a tribute, rather than the next step for the franchise. One of the strong points of Uncharted was the interaction between the characters, without one of the key writers there’s a slight worry this may be go missing during Thief’s End. When franchises continue to go on and on, with changes behind the scene, the identity of the franchise can become lost. Given how strong the core cast of Uncharted has become, loosing their identity would be a disaster. Across three games, the cast has evolved and progressed in a manner which felt organic, almost relatable (as odd as it sounds). Even a slight change to already established character traits would have a impact. It’s confusing that a game I’m truly excited for is also the one I’m most worried about. Naughty Dog are on a hot streak with their games, but Uncharted is the only consistent franchise that holds such prestige. There’s a lot riding on the shoulders of Uncharted 4, even more so given it’s seen as one of the PS4′s main exclusives. Things felt pretty final with Uncharted 3, perhaps Thief’s End could either be the very end, or the start of a new direction. In a perfect world, especially given the name, Uncharted 4 would be the last in the numbered franchise. Drake isn’t getting any younger. and there isn’t much left to explore.  ...

Does The Pre-Order Need To Die?

Does The Pre-Order Need To Die?

2014 was a pretty rough year for video games. Culture wars, shady business practices , a whole host of delays. The year felt like a true transitional period. In terms of the quality of games, 2014 was fair, and quite diverse. 2014 was also the year of broken games, so broken that the consumer started express frustration. If there’s one thing 2014 proved, at least to me anyway, it was that pre-orders need to die. The current state of pre-orders has became a worm eating away at the core of the industry. The shady dealings surrounding them has created such a strong sense of distrust among the consumers. It’s a distrust that continue to grow with each year, and could easily usher in a huge amount of problems for the industry and those working within it. Pre-orders have became so important to publishers that games can been classed as a success even before the game has shipped. The consumer is placing faith into the product, they’re buying into the PR/Marketing hype, but 2014 proved that we’re being sold lies. The past few years have seen a few games promise one thing and deliver something totally different. The most glaring example of this was 2013′s Aliens: Colonial Marines. The version shown at various events was a far cry from the retail version. While the game was poor, the fallout around the lies pumped out to secure pre-orders became a focal point. It truly felt like the first time the consumer became aware of the lengths publishers were willing to go, all in the name of securing pre-orders. The same could be applied, at least in part, to Watchdogs. Ubisoft showcased a fancy version across various events, only to downgrade the game when it came to shipping time. While it’s not half as bad as the Aliens fiasco, it’s still a example of selling a game via a lie. Ubisoft aren’t strangers to shady dealings in 2014, their behavior with Assassins Creed: Unity being utterly spineless. The sheer state of Unity upon it’s release was unacceptable. Factor in Ubisoft’s strict review embargo being set a whole day after the game released, and it all makes for a troubling thoughts. Ubisoft were well aware of Unity’s issues, there was no real logical reason to why the embargo was so late, other than to protect pre-orders. It’s disappointing that Ubisoft were so willing to disrespect their customers in such a way. 2014 was truly the year Ubisoft out EA’d EA. Pre-order bonuses are increasingly becoming more intrusive, as developers cannibalize their games to sell as pre-order bonuses, often as exclusives to the prices retailers. It comes to something when the first thing you see after opening a game is adverts for DLC sold as pre-order bonuses. It’s bizarre that this is even a ‘thing’ now. There’s no other industry that actively cannibalizes the product in order to obtain a pre-order. While pre-orders used to mean maybe getting the game a littler earlier, or getting a nice key chain, they’ve now become a growing problem. The way in which publishers now seemingly prioritize pre-order success is negatively effecting the consumers experience, and publishers/developers/franchises reputations. The chances are 2015 wont see any changes for the better. As ‘Triple A’ title cost more to make, the risks are natural increased, thus making finical success even more of a requirement. The practices Ubisoft have used (referring to the Embargo date) will most likely become common place. Pre-order bonuses will most likely become far more intrusive, and selling lies will became more common. Pre-orders still a serve a purpose, it’s just that purpose has now been twisted and lost in a sea of profit margins and spreadsheets. There’s still hopes that not all publishers will set such a dangerous focus on pre-order, instead aiming to make sure the final product is quality rather than a quick buck.    ...

What Makes A Game The Worst Of Its Year?

What Makes A Game The Worst Of Its Year?

2014 had a number of bad games, and even more disappointing games. From the broken wrecks, to the sheer awfulness like Rambo and a number of titles that slipped out onto Steam. After doing a list of the best games, and the worst, I decided to focus on a single game. This one game would be the game I pointed to as the worst experience of the year, for me at least. My choice was a title that was set to revive a genre, bring it back to basics, created by one of the key figures in video game history. The Evil Within was primed to set the world alight. The Evil Within started off well, setting the scene, inserting the player into the universe, setting an effective tone. It’s a shame that same tone is thrown out the window within the first five minutes. My main problem with The Evil Within was it’s identity crisis. Manically shifting from survival horror, to action horror to straight up chaos. It’s tricky to nail down what exactly The Evil Within was going for. The attempts at scaring the player fell victim to tropes seen in modern Western horrors, such as jump scares and excessive gore. The action was frustrating due to ineffective weapons, low ammo, and far too many enemies.   At times it felt like the game was being developed by two different teams, one aiming for horror, the other for action. There was barely any cohesion between the two styles, instead, the game stumbles around, rarely finding it’s feet. This is a feeling that continues throughout, towards the later stages of the game things become more humorous than horrifying. Factor in the odd decision to give the game borders, obscuring the players view, and the gameplay becomes utterly frustrating. Horrendous plot and question gameplay choices aside, The Evil Within was a semi-ugly mess, somehow running into frame rate issues. If avoiding barely visible traps on sharp turns wasn’t fun enough, jittery frame rates made the game even more of a pain just to play. There are moments when the game shined, but these are firmly submerged into the slew of before mentioned issues. All these factors made The Evil Within my worst video games of 2014. It wasn’t the worst I’d played, that honour goes to Rambo, yet I still give it the label of the worst.   It made me ponder what exactly the criteria is when it comes to ‘worst game of xxx’. A simple search of Google and YouTube provided me with various sources to checkout. It became clear that the criteria is much more diverse than you’d initially expect. The last few years have saw the criteria evolve into a much more aware concept. No longer are we judging games purely on the content, we’ve began to look at business decisions, company behavior, PR and more. While the core principles still matter, audiences are now far more aware of the bigger picture. Assassins Creed Unity isn’t a ‘bad’ game, but the sheer amount of bugs, and the slack nature to way Ubisoft addressed this, led to Unity ending up on a vast number of ‘Worst of 2014′ lists. The same can be applied to Drive Club and The Crew. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeros is a ‘good’ game, but the business decision it represents has seen it enter the worst of 2014.    Back in 2013, The War Z (now know as Infestation: Survivor Stories) was badly received, partly due to it’s dull gameplay. Another big reason why the game was shunned was down to the developers behavior. Banning anyone who dare point out criticisms from the games official forums, reacting to reviews in a hostile manner, selling lies, stealing terms and conditions from other games…all the good stuff. The actions of the developer took a game that would have been mostly forgotten about, and placed firmly near the top of many Worst of lists. Perhaps the change in criteria is linked to the likes of Steam Green Light and the continuing growth in the indie game scene. It would be far too easy to populate Worst of lists with cheap Greenlight/Indie games. Expectations of well known developers, more awareness of how willing the industry is to rip off their customers are all elements that could be linked to the change in how we pick our worst video games of the year. As video games and their players continue to grow and change, surely it’s only natural for our critical eyes to change with the times? It seems like a natural progression. Will 2015 see this change even further? Hopefully, and hopefully the industry will take notice of how aware the modern consumer is continuing to become.  ...

The Worst Of 2014: Broken Games, Broken Promises & Rambo

The Worst Of 2014: Broken Games, Broken Promises & Rambo

While 2014 has been a pretty solid year for video games, it’s also had it’s share of disappointments. Be it games that didn’t live up to the hype, games that didn’t work or even games that were barely finished, 2014 produced a few groans. The following is a list of games that fed into the worst parts of 2014, be it the quality of the game or a questionable business practice. From broken games to £30 demos, these are the worst of 2014.     Ubisoft – The Whole Company Ubisoft has been improving year after year, 2014 saw all their hard work hit a wall. Assassins Creed: Unity was released in such a poor state that the season pass ended up being canned. After a number of huge patches, the game still struggles to work. Clearly rushed out for the holiday season, along with the vast amounts of Unity merchandise, the game was a steaming mess. The fact the game contains a number of microtransactions was the icing on the barely working cake. Ubisoft did themselves no favors, tarnishing the name of their biggest franchise. Things didn’t get much better with the troubled release of The Crew. Bugs, performance issues, and the game just being rather average, The Crew was another messy Ubisoft title. Watch Dogs was another game that failed to live up expectations. While it was a commercial success, the game itself left a number of people feeling rather uninspired. Repetitive mission/side mission structure, over reliance on the pretty shallow hacking gimmick, and a poor story. The whole ‘affair’ over the down grounded visuals topped off a rather disappointing product. 2014 was a year to forget for Ubisoft, with Far Cry 4 being it’s only true highlight, and even that felt a little too close to Far Cry 3 at times. With the likes of Rainbow Six and The Division set for 2015, Ubisoft would do well to learn from their mistakes in 2014. Not ripping off their customers with broken games would be a good start.     Destiny – Bungie (Released on pretty much everything, including the 3DO)   Oh how the might have fallen. At it’s core, there’s a good game within Destiny. The problem is, Bungie released barely half a game. The ‘Kinda MMO, but not really’ nature of the game leaves Destiny awkwardly floating around between various ideas and concepts, rarely getting any of them truly right. After all the hype, all the marketing, all the promises, you’d expect at least a finished product. What we got was a taster, with DLC advertised from the first day of release. Playing Destiny is a truly odd experience. You’re thrown into the games world with no reason, no explanation, and told to walk forward and shoot things. There’s literally no story to truly speak off, leaving the already repetitive missions feeling like chores that need to be done before you can play the better stuff. The problem with Destiny is the sheer lack of content, and the lack of features that have become industry standard for online games. Running around a planet doing missions that all play the same is stupidly dull. The Strike missions are nothing special, normally ending with pretty poor boss battles. The loot table makes no sense. The end game is primitive, even more so given a large part of it is locked away given the lack of public match making. The PvP, while fun, has major balance issues between it’s classes, with the Hunter dominating everything in front of it. Destiny could have been great, if it wasn’t for the game being butchered into huge chunks and sold as ‘DLC’. Destiny felt like the biggest scam in modern video games, tarnishing Bungie’s pretty spotless record. A real shame, and a fantastic example of how greedy companies cannibalizing their product can affect it’s quality profoundly. The real worry is Destiny did fantastically well in terms of sales, with a follow up already in production. If less than half a game can do so well, it’s truly bad news for the consumer.       Rambo: The Video Game (360/PC/PS3) A full price on-rails shooter than looked and played like utter garbage. There’s honestly not much you can say about the game. It’s bizarre that it even managed to get released, a on-rails full retail film license game in 2014? very odd. The gameplay (if you can call it that) is a clumsy mess, rarely satisfying to play. Gun your way through all the Rambo films by holding your finger down on the trigger, that’s the game in a nut shell. The production value is god awful with the voice acting sounding totally alien from the rest of the game. The only redeeming factor of the game is the hilarious render of Rambo’s face and hair. How this game came with a full retail price is mind blowing.         The Evil Within (PS4/Xbox One/ PC/ PS3/ 360) Hailed as the ‘savior’ of triple A survival horror, The Evil Within had the world at it’s feet before it’s release. The problem is, The Evil Within is a hot mess of ideas, concepts and clumsy attempts to scare. While the game starts well enough, building tension, placing the player in a vulnerable state, it nose dives off a cliff soon after. The tone of the game seems to switch every five minutes, but the tone is never ‘scary’ or even slightly survival horror like. The Evil Within relied far too much on gore as a means of horror, gore and head shots. The Evil Within has it’s moments, be it a few of them, but the game just chugs along, it felt far too forced and padded. The clunky controls, combined with the below average visuals (for the most part), made the game feel dated, and not the nostalgic kind of dated. The story was a utter mess, rarely making sense of even appearing all that interesting. By the end of the game, it becomes clear The Evil Within is the equivalent of a ghost train. The story acts a extremely loose reason to put the player in the various environments. Jump scares and gore, clumsy controls and a awful story. The Evil Within wasn’t utterly terrible, but it underachieved in almost every department. The poor performance of the game is also a major issue, even on the PS4/Xbox One. A true shame, thankfully survival horror was well represented by Alien: Isolation leaving The Evil Within a good budget bin option.       Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC) It’s the concept that makes Ground Zeroes a problem. Charging £30 for a demo is a pretty bold move, and it’s a move that paid off. Taking advantage of the lack of games at the time of it’s release, Ground Zeroes is a short run through the new Fox Engine. While the game looks and plays wonderfully, the lack of any real content is hard to look past. Acting as a prologue to Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes offers a extremely short campaign and a few game modes to play through. It’s not a ‘bad’ game, but it is a demo. Charging for a demo is a worrying concept. There’s arguments that it’s a concept already in full use on the PC with the likes of early access, but early access grants the full game in the end.     Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)   The sheer amount of content on offer is staggering, it’s just a shame the product is pretty badly broken. With a broken multiplayer, and game breaking bugs in single player, it”s hard not to point out The Master Chief Collection as a low point in 2014. One of the Microsoft’s big hitters for the Xbox One, The Master Chief collection had a big responsibility on it’s shoulders. The broken state of the game must of came as huge shock to Micosoft, as well as 343 studios. The constant updates and apologies suggest there’s genuine effort going into fixing the game. It doesn’t excuse the fact people paid full price for such a broken product.   The Master Chief Collection was yet another example of a big name game being released in a awful state. It’s been a rough end of the year for the consumer, it’s hard to recall this many big budget games being released in such poor states.      ...

What Makes A Game Of The year?

What Makes A Game Of The year?

With the end of the year drawing ever closer, people begin to create their ‘Game of the Year’ lists. The majority of the time there is always at least a group of people who will question anyone’s choices. This is all fair and good, but everyone has their reasons for selecting a game, or games, as the best of that year. But what makes a game of the year? Is it based purely on merit of quality and technical finesse? Is it how successful the game is commercial and critically? Or is it something more personal? The core ideology of the concept of ‘Game of the year’ is that the said game is well made and well rounded. It should be of a high standard in each area, it should be a quality experience. Examples of games that cover this (that are often considered game of the years in their respective years) are Halo 3, Red Dead Redemption and Uncharted 2. All of these games hold the qualities previously mentioned and have thus been awarded for them, but can we judge games on personal merit through memories and attachments we have to them.    If a game is not made particularity well, at least compared to others, does that mean it should be discounted as a Game of the year contender? One of the miracles of any creation is we can forge connections through various means, even if the creation is ‘bad’ by either technical term or by general consensus. This is especially true with video games, you can make what you want to out of them, to a degree anyway. A personal example of this was 2012′s Zombi U, a clunky, ugly, fiddly survival horror on the Wii U. On a technical level it’s controls weren’t great, it’s textures were kinda shoddy, yet this didn’t matter to me because of the experience. Zombi U was the only recent title I can recall that truly made me panic when playing the game. The clunky controls and rough movement enhanced the experience, it made it feel more real, more intense. Playing the game in the dark while my father chirped in with random comments, sometimes minor screams due to zombies, made the game feel whole heartedly more fun. Zombi U did not do too well in terms of commercial success or critically, yet I put it high up my game of the year list and championed the game. Technical ability perhaps doesn’t play as big as factor as many may think. There’s nothing wrong with selecting games based on their technical accomplishments, or popularity to a degree, after it’s a opinion at the end of the day. The whole notion of Game of the Year is utterly arbitrary after all, but they do allow us to champion our favorite games, and that’s brilliant. The concept of Game of the Year is often a great way to see how ranged peoples tastes are, how much the video game industry has on offer in terms of creativity . Everyone judges on their own criteria, their own experiences, lets sit back and discuss peoples selections, not belittle them....

2014′s Best Games: Witches, Karts & Nazis

2014′s Best Games: Witches, Karts & Nazis

2014 has been a fair year for video games. It saw Nintendo hit a good vein of form, Sony contuine to progress and the Xbox One boast a great exclusive, only for it to go multiplatform. The year has seen some major games hit the market, with most of them offering something different. This year also saw the release of barely finished games, mostly from Ubisoft. The following is my picks for the best of 2014.     Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4/Xbox One/ PC) Some shooters want to change the world, rewrite the book, a whole new experience. Wolfenstein just wanted to have fun, and it more than pulled it off. After a run of poor reboots from various game franchises, Wolfenstein came as a surprise. The story was a joyful jaunt though a alternative time line where the Nazis won World War 2 and went onto global domination. Set in the 60′s players blasted through various enrichments and enemies, all with a wonderful B-movie feel to them. From the streets of France to a Nazi Moon-base, Wolfenstein felt like a true journey. The gameplay was extremely tight, with some of the most satisfying gun play around. Nothing fancy, just straight up fun, Wolfenstein was one of the finer video games of 2014.   Telltale Games – The Walking Dead/The Wolf Among Us/ Game of Thrones/ Tales From Borderlands This pick is cheating, but Telltale just can’t seem to put a foot wrong. The Walking Dead continued to be strong, if not a little too depressing for the sake of it. The Wolf Among Us was a enjoyable walk through a fresh world based on a cult comic classic. Tales of Borderlands and Game of Thrones are still relatively new, but both are top notch pieces of work. Everything Telltale touches these days seems to turn to gold, and 2014 was their best year ever. It’s hard to recommend just one series, so I picked them all.     Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (Xbox One/ PC/ PS4)   Who would of guessed the spin off to Plants Vs. Zombies would be one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year? This class based game had brilliant balance between each class, allowing each to player to feel like they were playing a part in the game. The ability to customize each class with various weapons and skills gave the game a sense of depth. There’s very little that’s new within the game, but everything is so finely tuned it feels as fresh as ever. Garden Warfare is arguably the best multiplayer experience on PS4/Xbox One, there’s little that rivals it in terms of all out fun. The map design and game modes do a brilliant job of complimenting each class and play style. It’s rare a game can remain fun while being on the losing side, but Garden Warfare is exactly that. The dark horse of 2014, and easily one of the best games released this year.   Alien: Isolation (PS4/Xbox One/PC)   The best game to feature a Xenomorph since Alien Vs. Predator 2. The sheer intensity felt in each second of Isolation is enough to put anyone on the edge of their seat. A genuine survival horror that doesn’t resort to giving the player all the power, this game as a utter success. The story may slightly weak, but the gameplay and presentation make it unmissable. As a huge fan of the Alien franchise, Isolation felt like the closest representation to the source material, by the fans for the fans. Each nook and cranny felt like it had been covered with a eye for detail, a labor of love. The ships design, the sound effects, the distinct ’80′s sci-fi’ look and feel, it was all recreated perfectly. The little touches made the game that much better. The ability to use the Kinect/PS4 camera to peek around corners, the PS4 pad pinging out that iconic motion tracker sound, it was all superb. The hide and seek gameplay won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but the sheer attention to detail showcased in Isolation makes it hard not to like. The Best Alien game made, fans MUST experience Isolation.   Shovel Knight (Wii U/3DS/PC)   The trend of trying to recreate old platformers continued in 2014, Shovel Knight stood head and shoulders above the rest. The gameplay is perfect, responsive, tight, just perfect. The whole game shines with confidence, each stage is as thrilling as the last. There’s various tricks shovel Knight has under its sleeve, all of which enhance not just the game, but the genre. Not many games truly raise the bar, Shovel Knight did exactly that. Gameplay aside, the music is a key reason to why Shovel Knight succeeds. A beautiful homage to games of yesteryear, each stage plays hosts to kick ass track. It completes the whole experience, almost tricking the player into thinking they’re playing a classic on the Virtual Console. It may of took nearly a year to hit the Wii U/3DS in Europe, but it was worth the wait. A modern classic in every sense of the word.   Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4/Xbox One/PC)   After the train wreck that was Dragon Age 2, Inquisition came as a pleasant surprise. While the game starts off at a snails pace, the bulk of the game is hugely enjoyable, even if it’s missing the finer parts of Origins. The gameplay is fair mix of Origins and Dragon Age 2, with a more accommodating use of console controllers.The MMORPG like design of the core game can become a rather annoying, but the main story quests make up for it. The overall experiences feels well rounded and much closer to the ethos of Dragon Age, putting Bioware back on track.   Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)   Nintendo finished off 2014 strongly, and It all seemed to truly get going after the release of Mario Kart 8. While the Battlemode is pretty poor, the rest of the game is sheer bliss. Mario Kart 8 showed that the Wii U could render beautiful visuals, while entertaining the player to no end. There’s nothing that matches the sheer enjoyment of battling for first position across classic Mario Kart tracks. The online mode is spot on, with very little lag to speak of. Kicking back and blasting off turtle shells, drifting passed your rivals, being wiped out by a jumping fish, it’s always a beautiful experience. Pure, innocent, video game enjoyment. Mario Kart 8 stands out in a year that offered very few racers.     Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4/Xbox One/PC) The surprise hit of 2014, Shadow of Mordor was brilliant. It’s honestly refreshing to see a more mature take on Middle Earth, free from the restraints of the films. Shadow of Mordor took what other games had provided in the genre and perfected them, while adding the nifty Nemesis system. The concept of enemies increasing in power and political status via player/in-game actions, gave Shadow of Mordor a huge sense of depth. The Nemesis system works so well the player can use it to forge their own unique experience. The plot wasn’t much to talk about, the Nemesis system was the key to the games success. Players could share stories of how the system impact their experience, with each player normally having a different experience. The core gameplay as silky smooth, the combat near perfect. Shadow of Mordor was nothing short of fantastic.     Super Smash Bros (Wii U) Smash Bros is simply fun, in every sense of the word. The ultimate fan service, it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with the sheer chaos on screen. Nintendo know how to create fun video games, and Smash Bros is a perfect example of this. Easy to pick up, hard to master, there’s a hidden depth behind the game that keeps players coming back for more. There’s really not a whole lot to say about Smash Bros without repeating the word ‘fun’ about twenty times. There’s cases when you sit down to play a game and you can feel a smirk just engrave on your face, sheer joy, Smash Bros does that every time it boots up. The recent Amiibos give the game a more personal touch, as well as giving the game a unique ever growing scale of challenge.     Bayonetta 2 (Wii U) Oddly, Bayonetta 2 became the target of misplaced claims of sexism, denting some of the games hype. Agenda pushing and ignorance aside, Bayonetta 2 was the game the market needed, as a exclusive on a system no one expected at one point in time. Bayonetta 2 is possibly the best example of video games being sheer madness and fun. It’s hard not to crack a smile when summoning giant creatures to finish off even bigger bosses. There’s little to complain about throughout the experience, bar the slight reduction in challenge on normal mode. The wonderful gameplay that made Bayonetta a star in the first place returns in Bayonetta 2. It’s hard to find another game that matches such a fast pace with such tight controls that give the player a real sense of satisfaction. The set pieces are truly outstanding, often leaving the player in a sense of awe and wonder. In a world of super serious games, Bayonetta 2 was the perfect solution. One of the best games of 2014, even with unjustified accusations thrown at it.    ...

Hatred: Truly Disgusting? Or Overreaction

Hatred: Truly Disgusting? Or Overreaction

Hatred has generated discussion and debate since it’s trailer popped up online. Cries of disgust, condemning comments were made, customers created. The fact is, Hatred’s concept is taboo, it’s highly taboo in fact, and given the environment the game is being released into, it’s created a boiling pot of opinions. Some want the game to be banned, others argue that it’s just a game and should be released. There’s even a group of people who have became self appointed judges, claiming anyone who buys the game is ‘sick’ or ‘a bad person’. Hatred is slowly turning into the biggest game of 2015, but not for the traditional reasons. Given the current climate of gun crime, racial tension and general nastiness infesting modern society and the news, Hatred seems destined to be hated. The game’s trailer took the video game world by storm, lighting a fuse that most ‘small’ games could only dream of. The bleak, uneasy, trailer is nothing but a grime jaunt through a series of grisly imagery and murder scenes. It’s quite clear the trailer is trying to shock the viewer, it’s over the top…it’s exploitation. The concept of mowing down civilians and the police is nothing new to video games, it hasn’t been for sometime now, but the sense of ill will is what separates Hatred from other games. The lack of plot and direction is also a key point to why Hatred is different from say Grand Theft Auto. Gunning down civilians is a option in Grand Theft Auto, it’s not the main objective. Does this mean Hatred should be banned? No, of course not. It’s a form of entertainment, a dark form but a form never the less. Hatred is trying to push any agendas or beliefs, it’s not trying to question morality or ethics. Sure it’s content is distributing, and it’s hardly a game you’d introduce to someone whose not into video games, but the same could be said about various media. You’d hardly sit down and show someone you didn’t really know Cannibal Holocaust. Hatred is a niche game for a niche market, it’s certainly not to everyone tastes. The real problem with Hatred is how it’s highlighted a group of people who want it banned, and wish to judge all those who buy it as ‘bad’ people. Twitter has been full of various people condemning the game, it’s creators, and it’s would be customers. The fact that these people feel so enraged that there’s a number of people who don’t find thins game offensive is worrying. While the game is taboo, it’s not exactly forcing anyone to experiencing it. Hatred is hardly all over TV, printed media, website banners, it’s easily avoidable. Those wishing for it to be banned strike me as the type looking for another conquest to impose their tastes onto everyone else, and that’s worrying. The outrage would be understandable if Hatred was based upon a real life killer or event, but it’s not. Hatred is simply a video game, it’s there to be played (or not to be played) and nothing more. I’d submit the likes of Postal and Manhunt are far worse than anything seen in Hatred’s trailer. I’d submit there’s films, books, comics, TV, music/ music videos that have worse content in them. Hatred isn’t anything new, it’s violence isn’t anything new, oddly the outrage is…and it’s the perfect marketing tool. As fully grown adults, surely we’ve reached the point where we can decided what we want to play, and what we don’t want to play. Both sides have their valid points, vote with your wallets, not with your tweets.          ...

Amiibo Wave Two: Chaos At Retail, Profit On E-bay

Amiibo Wave Two: Chaos At Retail, Profit On E-bay

There’s utter chaos, no one knows exactly what is going, or why it’s happening. It’s hit like a ton of bricks, leaving people confused, disappointed, just searching for a answer. The second wave of Amiibos has hit, and the retail space has went crazy. While the official EU release isn’t till the 19/12/2014, GAME have been flogging them since mid last week, at a inflated price. Pre-orders for wave two started being processed this week, but most orders have been cancelled without explanation. GAME customers were treated to as e-mail informing them of a refund, but that’s it. Zavvi customer had the same, with a few customers being told it was down to a ‘price change’.   It’s left a lot of people in a desperate rush to try and find a site/store to get their Amiibos from. While some of wave two are easy enough to acquire, there’s a few Amiibos that have already became rare. Little Mac and Pit have already became the ‘must owns’ of wave two, and the retail space reflects that. Both Amiibos are either listed as sold out, or aren’t listed at all. Little Mac is currently on e-bay, with bids hitting upwards of £35. The average customer/collector is increasingly falling under the hammer of the ‘e-bayer’. The guy/girl who buys a item purely with the means to sell them at a spiked price. The Amiibo has became the ultimate e-bayer item, and given retail seem all to willing to spike their prices as well. The consumer is at the mercy of spiked prices and sharp e-bayers, this in itself threatens the whole concept of Amiibos. As each wave becomes a target of e-bayers, the chances of getting a full collection (without paying far above the items value) become slimmer and slimmer. It’s a genuine shame, but it was always to be expected. With retailers seemingly unable to be reliable, or even consistent with pricing, the Amiibo may be a victim of it’s own success....

UK Retailer GAME Increases Amiibo Prices

UK Retailer GAME Increases Amiibo Prices

Nintendo’s Amiibo line has hit the ground running. The figures are flying out of shops, with some of the ‘rarer’ ones entering ending up on e-bay and Amazon at a inflated price. The rumors and murmurs around some of the less popular characters being discontinued has spiked the market. The likes of The Villager and The Wii Fit Trainer have increased in value by a few pounds, while Marth has nearly doubled in value. With the collectors community going a bit mad over the Amiibos, UK retailer GAME have decided to spike the market themselves, by increasing their original £11.99 asking price to £14.99. This price increase only affects in-store prices, with the online asking price staying at £10.99. The question is, beyond trying to make easy extra money, why have GAME done this?   The question is easily answered from a business perspective, it’s a easy way to increase a stores profit with no effort required. It’s a solid reason, but when you take into account the time of year and the customers entering the store, things get a little off ethically. Stores everywhere will be visited by people who don’t spend much time looking into the video game industry. Be it parents, family or loved ones, a large portion of them will enter a store with little to no knowledge of what the going rate is. The desire to make sure Christmas shopping is done as quickly, and effectively, as possible is always the main goal of this shopping period. This is where customer service enters the fray, the key link between knowledge and a customer. GAME are supposed to be there to advise it’s customers, with the aim to sell products to them. As a large business, you’d expect to them to be consistent with their prices. The manner in which GAME suddenly increased the Amiibo asking price feels a little shady, even more so given their stock numbers rarely appear to be depleted. As customer buy the new Amiibos for the ‘new’ price of £14.99, they are never advised on the online price of £10.99. There’s a argument that it’s the customers job to look for the best price around, but on the flip side it’s the retailers job to least be honest with their customer,s not actively spike up a market for the sake of a few pound. GAME have history of doing this back with Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate. The release day price was £39.99, GAME were asking for £59.99, and even changed the online price to reflect this after it became clear the game had a small initial shipment in the UK. After looking into this, a local branch of GAME had went from having one copy on the shelf to having a number of them, all equipped with that new £59.99 sticker.   This is the kind of behavior you’d expect from a independent store, but from a huge retail chain? Not so much. It’s disconcerting when you sit back and think the amount of (for examples sake) parents who will be paying extra for literally no reason. The complete second wave of Amiibos will cost £65.94 if bought online on GAME’s site, in-store customers will be paying £89.94. While online prices normally differ from a few pound to that of the in-store price, GAME are just taking it to the extreme. From charging £11.99 one week to £14.99 the next, GAME are simply exploiting the fan fare around the Amiibos, as well as the less knowledgeable customers. Where will the price spiking stop? If Nintendo do discontinue a Amiibo, does this mean retailers such as GAME will hike up the price ‘just in case’?  It’s worrying that GAME are seemingly willing to spike up the prices in such a manner. There’s little to no excuse for the price change, the same way there was no excuse for their attempt to rip off and lie to customers with the Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate situation. Bottom line, don’t hand over your money to GAME without doing a little research, especially with Amiibos....

The Double Edged Sword Of The Fighter Genre

The Double Edged Sword Of The Fighter Genre

With the recent reveal of Street Fighter V, I decided to look back on my experiences with the fighter genre. It’s a harsh genre, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The fighting game genre has always been a harsh mistress to me. For every happy memory I have of the genre there’s about 3 bad memories that shortly follow. From a young age I became interested in the fighter genre. My first experience with the genre was (unsurprisingly) Capcoms Street Fighter 2 on the Super Nintendo. From the first minute of the game I was hooked. The characters looked visually interesting, the environments dazzling and the action thrilling. Playing solo was fun but lets face it, fighters are meant to be played against people and not AI. Playing Street Fighter 2 against friends (and some times family) is still one of my most treasured video game memories. Booting up the game and selecting our favourite characters before arguing over which level to fight in was tradition. Button mashing in a desperate panic was also tradition. In the process of pressing all the buttons in any given order a special move would normally be unleashed, leaving me and buddy in a stunned silence. ”HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!” was often the question on our lips, and the answer to that question was ALWAYS ”no idea’. Even with a limited knowledge of the game and its controls each match was always a great slice of fun. These sweet natured days were numbered however as I began to grow up.     As time went on and I played more and more fighters, my longing for victory became stronger. Button mashing was no longer a style I felt happy to use, it had become ‘messy’. Instead I would try a few characters out and learn the move sets. By time I came into possession of Dreamcast I had a decent amount of knowledge of Soulcalibur. I wasn’t a master by any means but I had learned at least a few moves for each character. Suddenly playing against friends had become more of a practice session than just a few games in the name of fun. Losing felt a lot worse, victory felt less meaningful, it was a strange feeling. For the most part I would be able to take down most of my friends, this resulted in the game becoming a little boring to play for them. Understanding the game had ultimately led to the ‘fun’ of the game being drained away.   The likes of Capcom Vs SNK, Street Fighter 3 alpha and Marvel Vs Capcom had returned all the fun of fighters. I applied a much more laid back approach to these fighters in order to keep the game fun for my friends to play against me. By this time in our lives we preferred to learn the game rather than button mash, this led to competitive, but fun, matches. It seemed the perfect middle ground and a great time to enjoy some top class fighting games. The enjoyment of the genre (and fighting friends) hit its peek with Marvel Vs Capcom 2. Given the popularity of the PS2 all of my friends owned the system and Marvel Vs Capcom 2. This allowed everyone to stand a fair chance of learning the game and forming an effective team. Many a battle was fought, plenty a laugh was had, this was the highlight of my time with the fighter genre. There was always a giddy feeling when it came to each team being down to their last member. A single hit would decide the match, the aftermath involved boasting and looking back at the action.    I had went from casual matches with friends that were all about the fun to competitive games of knowledge and technique. One day (well when I got my own computer) I just stopped playing fighters. From 2004 to 2008 I honestly cant remember playing a fighter for more than a few days. I kept a eye on the genre, watched it develop, but I never got back into the swing of things. 2009 saw the return of the franchise that started it all for me, I am of course referring to street Fighter. The fourth entry into the franchise was a first day purchase for me. After a first few runs on arcade I decided to hit up the online options. This is where things got rough. A large segment of players from overseas had been playing Street Fighter 4 for roughly a week. This week earlier release date had created a huge divide it terms of player skill. Time after time I was matched up with players who had already learned the mechanics and moves of a number of characters. My arse was getting well and truly kicked. I was now feeling the way my friends did when they used to play Soulcalibur against me, it wasn’t fun. I tried to learn the game, learn some strategies but alas my efforts were met with more defeats. Only a few of my friends had bought Street Fighter 4, this limited my chances of just casual fun matches. When they did happen, more often than not, I’d end up winning purely because I had learned some easy moves of a certain character. My friends soon began to grow tired of playing me and I was once again forced into playing online. While I did improve my overall play the huge gulf in skill and experience was too much to overcome. I enjoyed Street Fighter 4 a lot, I kept it in my collection in order to play when friends came over or my father fancied a game. Online I was nothing short of a easy win for any given player. For a large length of time I kept my activity within the fighter genre strictly offline. Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat (reboot…or 9 as some wish to label it) became my fighters of choice. While Marvel Vs Cacpom 3 was a little light in terms of content Mortal Kombat was jam packed. With plenty to do in terms of single player I was more than happy to play Mortal Kombat offline. The lure of playing online is hard to resist however, and yet again I found myself being beat down by veterans. All the enjoyment I had experienced with Mortal Kombat offline was now being replaced with defeat and defeat. The sheer amount of spam I became the victim of was heart breaking. Seeing Stryker spam his ranged attacks over and over killed my motivation to play Mortal Kombat online, it was nothing short of brutal. I was awful at the game, but my lack of enjoyment online killed any motivation to improve.     Fast forward to EVO 2012. I’m sitting at my desk browsing Twitch TV, and I’m once again interested in fighters. After watching the majority of the Marvel Vs Capcom 3 tournament my interest in the game re-surged. I knew for a fact I was going to lose, and lose hard, but either way I was going to try my hand at the online portion of the game. My assumptions were proved to be correct, I did in fact get my arse kicked, but I didn’t mind. I oddly didn’t mind losing, my competitive nature had taken a back seat. With my rediscovered relax nature towards the game I began to sit and learn….how to lose. While defeat is never fun it did allow me to experiment and tinker with my team selection. Before I knew it I was presenting a viable challenge to some players, some times even winning. The thrill of the fighter genre rushed back, everything I remembered had returned. In a moment of nostalgia I dragged my father into a game and began to play. It was like being young again playing Street Fighter 2 for the first time.   My love affair with the genre had been long and eventful. It had highs and lows, at times I had fallen out with the genre only to make up with it some time later. Learning to handle defeat is key to enjoying the fighter game genre, expecting victory is a recipe for frustration. Remembering why I loved the genre in the first place was key to recapturing the thrill, enjoyment and fun that I had all but lost.  ...

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