Outlast creeps me out


Before any long-term readers start thinking this is turning into a gaming blog, I do actually intend to post some new movie reviews in the next week or so, rest assured.  But for now, on with the gaming!

outlast

I downloaded today after reading many good things and seeing some interesting looking gameplay footage, the game ‘Outlast’ which was released last week on Xbox One.  Formerly available for PS4 and PC, this is a very raw horror experience, where you play as a reporter who is investigating mysterious goings on at an insane asylum.  Typical horror subject matter, but originality isn’t why I was attracted – more the fact it’s meant to be damn scary, something I have only really experienced in a videogame once or twice before (the best being Silent Hill 2).  So just a few minutes of this, with your protagonists heavy breathing, doors that slam! and eerie corridors and NO WEAPONS but for a camcorder and night vision mode … I confess I was actually wondering if I’m too wimpy to carry on playing this way-to-effective videogame.

Only time will tell. 

Watch Dogs … room for improvement?


This is the last post I’ll be writing on this heavily hyped and popular game now I have had more time to really get to grips with it.  So there are a few things I’ve noticed and a few things I wish had been implemented better … or at all.

Ubi Soft have done a great job with this recreation of Chicago and its a blast to explore, especially with all the extra side missions and wealth of people and things going on. What did puzzle me was the amount of bus shelters – but not a single bus! Also why aren’t there any Taxis in this city? Just seems like a complete oversight by the developers. Also strange that Police seem to be absent for the most part until you do some sort of crime. Shouldn’t they be on patrol anyway?  Then the pedestrians which at first glance are well done and individual, it soon becomes apparent that there are a ton of repeated lines of dialogue like ‘what is going on in Chicago’ and ‘she has a crazy perfect ass’ but spoken by different pedestrians and in different areas of the city. A tad lazy for an apparent next-gen experience.

Watch-Dogs-1

The weather system is at first impressive and I can’t fault the thunder / rain effect. Even the slight smoggy look at certain times of the day is impressive, but wouldn’t it be cool if there were other effects catered for, like snow? As seen in The Division, but perhaps time of year is a factor, so a wintery sequel? Hmm.  Building interiors lack some detail and I think they could have had a few more areas you can go inside and explore. It doesn’t feel as interactive as GTA V and that was a game on last-gen hardware. Oh and why is this city, like many open world games completely unpopulated by children and animals? I get it, we don’t need to see a child run over by a crazy gamer or shot at point-blank range, but hey – not very ‘real’ either, is it? Couldn’t it be implemented so that such incidents would have a much bigger impact on your reputation compared to regular pedestrians? Just a thought.

watch-dogs-2

The cash system is far too generous. I haven’t once during the time I have played, lacked money – I either pick it up from fallen foes, steal it off pedestrians or its just plain given to me … lots of it. Makes the whole buying weapons, pills, clothing part of the game a bit boring if its so easy to come by. Oh and as for weapons, getting hold of high powered items like the grenade launcher, very early on, makes many of the missions rather easy. Shouldn’t such hardware get unlocked the more I progress, or as I have mentioned, wouldn’t more of a lack of cash make such cool weapons worth ‘saving up’ for etc… with cash earned perhaps during side quests? I actually had the grenade launcher around the start of the game. On the subject of weapons, how about customization and individual weapon mods, like perhaps a silencer on a sniper rifle…?

The game has some very cool ideas though. The way you can hide in your car following a police chase feels very cop thriller territory, and the story itself, whilst very serious in tone, has the feel of a cool high tech TV series or a movie, with characters that feel real – to me at least. I love profiling pedestrians for some of the weird job titles etc. Also getting hacked during my game is very clever and fun to track down the hacker and blow him away…lol. Some have said the driving is a bit off. I disagree. This depends on the car you use, and feels believable to how real world cars react, as in over-powered ones spin out very easily etc. The bikes are awesome, by the way.

watch_dogs_3

That extra six months of development, I do wonder where it went . . was it getting the core gameplay principals just right, or adding silly (but fun) diversions like digital trips and cash runs? Personally the time given to such mini games could have been better put to use on limiting the repeated dialogue, giving us buses and taxis to ride (not just trains…) and general polish (yes the game has bugs…). Oh and don’t get me started about the radio… firstly no stations and no DJs? Granted this is Ubi Softs first stab at this sort of GTA-like game, but really? It’s been a stable mate of this style of game for years.

So for the inevitable WD #2 I hope we don’t just get more of the same, but Ubi Soft dedicating themselves to delivering a fully immersive, open world experience with all these little details intact – believe me they matter.

X1 kicks off E3 2014


Well it’s day one of the E3 event in Los Angeles, an annual gaming event where publishers and game developers showcase all their big games for the next year or so.  My verdict so far?

e3logo

I watched the Microsoft event that showed off the upcoming games for the Xbox One and well, some underwhelming announcements… ‘Fable Legends’, ‘Phantom Dust’ (??) but games such as a new ‘Crackdown’ and the new exclusive from Platinum Games ‘Scalebound’, look very promising.  Indie platformers ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’ and ‘Inside’ both look great also.  The trailer for ‘Forza Horizon 2’ looked decent too, with some cool-looking weather effects.

Xbox-One-console1-640

Multi-platform titles showcased included ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’, ‘The Division’ and ‘Assassins Creed: Unity’ … all of which looked lush, even if UbiSoft’s reputation for showing off gameplay footage running on high end PC hardware passed off as in-game Xbox One or PS4 gameplay is a concern, even if the controversy over the visual downgrade of Watch Dogs was a bit of a storm over nothing.  The game still ended up looking awesome in my opinion.  So we’ll wait and see.  A brief trailer for ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ got me rather salivating though, I must admit.  Love me some Lara Croft.

sunset

The other news coming in is that the new development tools given to developers to utilize the reserved graphics power for the Kinect, will mean better resolutions and visual performance for X1 games, which has to be a good thing.  Oh and another trailer for ‘Sunset Overdrive’ got me, if possible even more excited.

So final thoughts, this was a good day for the Xbox One.  No major showstoppers, but some very interesting announcements.

a small update


I think we as bloggers or simply as movie fans can go through a bit of a dry spell.  I suppose with work, life, personal stuff I’ve not really been in a movie-watching mood … but rest assured viewers, that is going to change soon!  I have a few things on the horizon, of which I wont spoil for you here, and have also been playing a lot of Titanfall with the newly released ‘expedition’ map pack which is proving a great deal of fun.  What I hear you ask are my thoughts on the recently announced kinect-less Xbox One?  Concern really.  Yes Microsoft’s machine has been flagging behind Sony’s PlayStation 4 sales-wise as well as technically … but its still been a huge success, and I for one think Microsoft should have stuck to their guns and kept Kinect as part of the package.  These rumors of a performance boost is also puzzling considering there is already an installed user base who will have the Kinect sensor attached … what does a performance boost mean, that the machine will work better without the sensor attached, or just that developers can choose to disable Kinect to use that extra 10% of GPU power?  If so then what of Kinect functionality like ‘xbox record that’ … will that just not work?  It all sounds very problematic.

On a plus announcements like Halo 5: Guardians and a stronger games with gold line up, including price cuts and free games can only be a good thing, and like the 360 it is good to have two different purchase options, as in the console with or without Kinect … opens up the potential sales to those that don’t agree with the higher price over the PS4.

I will be watching these developments and everyhting Xbox related with much interest.