Looking within…


Well this past week or so I have been playing The Evil Within.  This is Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami’s latest foray into the world of survival horror and marks a return to form for the genre following the poorly received Resident Evil 6 and the cut & paste Silent Hill reboots.  I am enjoying it a great deal and it really feels suitably freaky and gruesome.  Mikami is a master at videogame design and pacing and this has it in spades.

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Atmosphere is superb and the story, for what it is … is fairly vague and trippy (the game jumps from one hallucination to the next and levels don’t follow a linear path as far as narrative is concerned).  There is a hub level where you save your game but this is also weird … a hospital or mental asylum where only a single (sort of attractive) nurse keeps you company and you go back and forth from the various levels by looking into a mirror.  You can also upgrade your abilities and weapons here by sitting in a chair that locks you in securely and clamps some sort of thing on your head … very Saw.  This game borrows heavily from various sources but has influences from Saw, Japanese horrors like The Ring and The Grudge and even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  It’s like a greatest hits of horror – and I am loving it.

Take a look at this gameplay demo for a good idea of this game’s tone:

The game is fairly lengthy also and I am in chapter 7 so far and know there are at least 11 chapters in total along with a new-game plus mode which I’m guessing lets you replay chapters with all your upgrades intact.  The game keeps to the Resident Evil formula with you having very limited ammo, getting weak from running, you can die very easily and you need to scavenge for supplies by opening boxes or breaking crates.  There are also a few basic puzzles to keep you occupied.  The main draw here though seems to be the boss battles, something Mikami is especially good at, and so far I’ve faced such creations as a chainsaw wielding psychopath, a freaky spider-lady and a rabid mutant dog … shudder, all brilliantly staged with plenty of clever foreshadowing (you get to creep past the dog’s massive cage in one sequence as it sleeps, leading up to a very tough encounter with the angry mutt).

If you’re after a game that’s a real throwback to the heyday of survival horror but with the big-budget stylings of Hostel or Saw … this has it.  It’s not easy, will challenge you but if you enjoy this style of game you’ll love every second.

Destiny impressions


Well I have had a few days with the most hyped game this year, namely Bungie’s much anticipated open world shooter / MMORPG hybrid ‘Destiny’.  Now I won’t review the game as such, as I am still touching the surface, but my experience playing this game has been fairly positive so far.  I think the fact you are always around other players, playing their own missions and if you want you can just join in, or instead go about your own business is fairly revolutionary for a console game.  Yes it has been done before, most notably in Sega’s Phantasy Star Online, which I played briefly   Yet for the most part MMORPGs have been the stalwart of PC gaming … but with this online-focused generation, it’s becoming the norm more and more in many new games … see the forthcoming The Division.

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As a game it blends aspects of space RPG Mass Effect, as in your character customization and the hub world of The Tower … but on missions it is more like Halo, with a large influence it seems from Borderlands.  For me the general shooting is excellent.  Upgrading weapons, adding to your character, meeting other players and discovering different locations and enemies makes for a great deal of immersive fun.  I wouldn’t say it’s a game I play for the story – it’s vague at best but I am only just starting with that … I play it for the feel, the gorgeous vistas, the satisfying gunplay and the general slickness of it all.  As with Phantasy Star it feels a little repetitive, basically going on a variety of horde-style encounters, surviving until they’re all dead, or your ‘ghost’ scans something and an exit opens up.  Your ghost is an a.i. companion that generally leads the way and comments during the story-based missions, but also comes in handy for scanning the environments for interesting locations or summoning your hover-bike which is another cool aspect and a welcome mode of transport considering the often immense environments.

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Outside of the main game there is also The Crucible, a more traditional multiplayer mode not unlike Halo or Call of Duty but I haven’t played that mode yet.  Probably dip into it later.  I have the Xbox One version of the game and am very impressed with it.  It feels like one of the smoothest games I have played with a rock steady 30fps and a gorgeous 1080p full HD resolution, putting it on pretty-much equal parity with the PS4 version (yes, I’ve read up on that to confirm).  I think anyone who enjoys social-based games or even Halo or decent first person shooters, Destiny is worth a go.  It will only grown in time with Bungie’s ambitious plans for the game, and can see the initial universe expanding to a larger selection of planets … meaning more to explore and more enemies to send back to their makers … most likely at an additional cost.

The game is out on both Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – so what you waiting for?

Ramblings…


Well it’s a bit of a lazy Sunday so thought I’d write something on here.  This past year has had a few ups and downs … personally I’ve gone through some depression.  However I think I have overcome most of it, and looking to a future where such a thing isn’t at the forefront of my thoughts (at least not as much).  I’m concentrating on more positive things, like friends, family and my job, hobbies etc … things that make me happy.  I suppose it’s all about appreciating the good things in life, rather than focusing on what’s missing from it.

In the coming months, as far as this blog is concerned, I have some stuff to look forward to.  On the gaming front Destiny is just around the corner … preloaded it on my Xbox One last week, and well it’s been agonizing waiting for it to unlock but it will finally be available on Tuesday.  I’ll report back on this long awaited, much anticipated game next week.  Also got Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare pre-ordered, along with Sunset Overdrive.  Both look amazing.

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The Netflix challenge has hit the skids a bit, as I was feeling like it was less about movies I wanted to see, and more about doing the challenge, so not sure if I will go back to it.  An interesting ‘experiment’ none the less.    Some movie’s on the horizon include reviews of the Blu-ray release of Spirited Away, one of my favourite Studio Ghibli movies … add to that Hayao Myazaki’s swansong The Wind Rises.  I also have the 15th Anniversary of The Green Mile pre-ordered, so will finally give my opinion on this much loved prison drama. 

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Towards the end of the year, it’s possible I may own a PS4.  Can see that happening.

In other news:  I have been closely following the news on my favourite band Garbage and looking forward to what they have planned for next year.  They intend to re-release their debut album to mark it’s 20th anniversary, as well as their sixth studio album that they have been working on for the past year or so.  Also a tour has been hinted at and if they make it back to the UK I have, to name one of their best tunes, made a ‘vow’ to see them this time around.  Exciting times to be into this band who seem to really be in their element these days.

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Well enough from me for the time being.  Please remember to check back often for movie reviews and general ramblings and I’ll make sure to keep the content coming.  I appreciate all my visitors and subscribers, those that press ‘like’ or offer their comments etc.  Makes this little blog really mean a lot to me.

Craig.

Gamescom gameplay stand-outs


I have kept a close eye on this week’s games convention in Germany, Gamescom and some of the gameplay videos that have surfaced really impressed me.  I think there were some exciting reveals, even if the increasing focus on Indie titles leaves me a bit cold (I tend to find these budget games get a bit boring after a few plays…).  But I’m all for the blockbuster franchises and games like Call of Duty Advanced Warfare and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looked very impressive.

My highlights though remain these two:

Quantum Break

Format: XB1

Developer: Remedy

 

Assassins Creed Unity

Format:  XB1 and PS4

Developer:  Ubi Soft

 

Sadly at the moment only AC has a release date (pencilled in for Oct 28) but Remedy seem to be keeping tight lipped about when we’ll get our hands on the very cool looking QB.  Either way, lots to look forward to for gamers.

The casualties of war


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More than at the recent E3 event, the big wigs of the gaming industry, Sony & Microsoft have really pulled no punches when bitching at each other’s announcements.  The big news of course was Microsoft securing Rise of the Tomb Raider as an exclusive for it’s Xbox platforms (XB1 and Xbox 360).  This has pissed off it seems a big portion of the internet with Microsoft rushing to clarify the announcement by saying they paid for a timed deal with Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics … which basically means Sony fan boys may see the much-anticipated title arrive on their platform eventually.  Sony’s response to this?  They offered a statement saying ‘they don’t need to pay for exclusivity in their games’. Oh, and so Xbox owners can expect Uncharted on their machine soon then?  Yeah … thought not.

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It’s all very petty and a bit juvenile.  Microsoft did kind of mislead people by not mentioning the timed aspect of their deal, but then again – aren’t most exclusives timed these days unless they are first party?  Also I don’t really get the uproar surrounding such news as Microsoft need to have a few more trump cards up their sleeves to grab customers in the wake of PS4’s popularity … it’s just good business sense.  Tomb Raider made a real name for itself on PlayStation, granted and also on PC so I can see the frustration, but this isn’t just about several machines all enjoying a piece of the pie – this is a war, and one a big company on the scale of Microsoft aren’t going to lose without a fight.  So grow up everyone and realise that first and foremost … videogames are a business.  If you don’t want to lose out in some way, buy all the consoles.  I love Mario but don’t own a Nintendo console … see me blubbering?  No.  So trust your loyalty to a particular format and deal with the disappointment instead of moaning about it on internet forums.  It actually makes you look a bit silly.

I am interested in getting a PS4 later in the year, and like the look of some of it’s exclusive games (especially The Order: 1886).  I can live without them at the moment as XB1’s announcements are good for my general taste in games (loving the look of Quantum Break’s gameplay), and yes if Tomb Raider had been said to go to PS4 instead, I’d be pissed too.  But then that is why owning both consoles is the way to go this generation.  I understand many will not be able to afford it (and I can’t really) so like I said … stick by your decisions and let the games speak for themselves.  Competition is good for the industry, bitching is not.  Simple as that.