State of play


Regular readers of this blog will have observed I haven’t been posting many reviews of late.  Well, I’ve simply not been watching that many movies and concentrating, entertainment-wise more on videogames, what with recently buying the Nintendo Switch and having a great deal of fun with it.  Even my Xbox One and PS4 have become a little neglected as a result, even though I have been playing Persona 5 on the PS4 recently and getting some fun out of that.

Nintendo_Switch

Firstly I’ll report how much I’m enjoying the versatility of the Switch.  That simple idea of being able to play it like other consoles on my TV, and then being able to take that experience mobile and go play it wherever I like portably.  It’s pretty revolutionary and I’m guessing the big reason the console has been selling like hot cake since launch.  A month on I’ve clocked in over 60 hours in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and also had fun playing Graceful Explosion Machine and most recently, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.  To a lesser extent I’ve found indie titles like Snake Pass and Mister Shifty, intriguing but somewhat flawed and very frustrating.  However I’m mostly aiming that at Snake Pass which I doubt I’ll even pick up again it annoyed me so much.

Persona-5Going back to Persona 5 for a moment, I craved a traditional JRPG and with it’s lush anime style visuals and quirky personality, I jumped on this with excitement.  The opening hours though are very slow, dialogue driven and well, not much action and I could see it putting some people off.  However having stuck with it after what seemed to be a lengthy tutorial, the game did open up, the exploration restrictions and focus on dialogue relaxed a little and I could get more into the world, the game mechanics and the general vibe.  I cleared the first major mission after about 10 hours of game time and I’m intrigued to see where the story goes.  However it is a game that once you start playing, hours fly by and I realise I need to set some time aside each time I play to really get any progression done.  For now though I’m enjoying it.

Breath of the WildBreath of the Wild has been a massive, somewhat daunting experience but has all that unique Nintendo charm I’ve always admired, and this feels like the most fleshed-out and intricately detailed Zelda game I’ve played.  I wouldn’t call myself a Legend of Zelda aficionado by any stretch and have only really played through the Gameboy release ‘Links Awakening’ and the Gamecube game ‘Wind Waker’ whilst only slightly touching on ‘Twilight Princess’ back in the day, and although this has echoes of all those games, with an art style slightly resembling Wind Waker (but less kiddie more Ghibli), I have fallen in love with everything it has to offer.  Even 60 hours in I’m still finding new areas, uncovering side quests and well, have barely delved into the main missions (I’ve completed one ‘divine beast’ so far…) so still tons to do.  All I’ll say though now to conclude is that I’m very much impressed.

On the back burner some games have had to be placed.  It’s the nature of the beast I’m afraid owning three consoles now, and I need to focus on just a small amount or run the risk of getting bogged now with unfinished games.  So Dishonoured 2 which I’ve been really enjoying has had to be ignored for a bit, as has Watchdogs 2 and Mafia 3.  Phew that’s a lot of games but for now my time is best spent with Zelda and Persona, even though both games are reportedly so huge that It’ll be a while before I dive into much else.

Smaller games are an easy option though just for a bit of variety and some of those games, like Mario Kart and Graceful Explosion Machine are dip in and dip out experiences that I don’t need to dedicate hours.  I suppose I’m lucky to have the options that I have, and I don’t take any of it for granted even though I work hard to buy the things I enjoy.

My final thoughts on the above come down to one sentence:  It’s a great time to be a gamer.  Additionally I also have some movies I need to get reviewing so expect normal service to resume shortly.

That’s all from me for now.

Craig.

Advertisements

Nintendo Switch launch


Nintendo Switch

I can’t let today pass by without remarking on the release of Nintendo’s brand new console – Nintendo Switch.  I’ve had my eye on this ever since it was announced, and it’s come as a bit of a surprise just how interesting and clever an idea Nintendo has come up with.  Firstly, Nintendo have for many years ruled the handheld market … that cannot be contested.  The 3DS flew off the shelves and it’s various iterations – even in the advent of increasingly powerful mobile phone technology.  However on the home console front, they’ve been failing for a while even after the huge success of the Wii.  Yet now here comes a console that offers the best of both worlds and will attract both types of gamers; those that want to have their gaming on-the-go (I hate that term) and those that prefer the comfort of their sofa and a big screen TV.  Never before has a console offered both and offered it so seamlessly, as the video below will attest:

SwitchI won’t go into detail too much on the various things the Switch can do…I’m sure if you’re at all interested you’ll have read up on the machine already.  What I can give you though is my thoughts on why this is an exciting games system and why Nintendo are luring me back, despite my reservations in the past with Nintendo’s consoles (I had a GameCube, a Wii and a Nintendo DS back in the day).  It has a feel from what I’ve seen and read of a great secondary console.  It’s not rubbing shoulders with Xbox or PlayStation (something Nintendo has avoided for years) and has it’s own identity.  Plus I’ve really missed Nintendo’s game design.  Nothing on a PS4 or XB1 plays quite like Mario or Zelda.  There is a unique and stylish charm to their characters, and yes I have sometimes even looked to the ill-fated Wii U with jealousy because it still had those games.  However that machine had little to separate it from the Wii, whose motion-control gimmick faded with time and so it was clear Nintendo had to revise it’s approach to console design.  Therefore I’d say the Switch has delivered sort of a ‘best of Nintendo’ this time around in a well-designed and attractive package.  Only time will tell if the games can live up to the machine’s potential, if 3rd party publishers support it the way they do Sony & Microsoft.

The-Legend-Of-Zelda

I hope to get one at some stage myself and will report more on the machine when I’ve actually spent some time with it.  Until that day comes let’s send congratulations to Nintendo on the launch of their new console and wish them plenty of success in the future.  I think it’s their turn, don’t you?

My gaming history – Part 2


In the early nineties, I was in possession of two more gaming systems, firstly the much famed Sega Megadrive (aka Genesis) as well as another micro-computer, the Commodore Amiga 600.  Now for a long time, along with the Amstrad CPC 464 computer, I had found my gaming hobby growing, mostly down to having friends who had the same systems as me (mostly the Amstrad), and borrowing games and building a collection.  However it was time to movie on and if memory serves me correct, my parents got me a Megadrive for Christmas one year.  The only real issue with such a console was that compared to what I had been used to with the Amstrad, the games were much more expensive, and well let’s say the at the time bundled ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ was my only game for the system.  Not that I was complaining – I’d never seen graphics like that in my life and it was a firm favourite.

megadrive

I later with some saving and borrowing was able to get hold of games like Revenge of ‘Shinobi’, ‘Road Rash’ … as well as being able to rent some titles from my local video rental store.  One firm memory I have of this era though was the rather guilty confession of seeking out ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’, which was a later Christmas present and I remember finding it when looking for prezzies in my parent’s bedroom, and having a cheeky play on it when they weren’t at home…then putting it back and acting all surprised Christmas morning.  No, I’m not proud of myself but I was only about 14!.

Road Rash    Sonic the Hedgehog

I think I had the Commodore Amiga 600 a little after the Sega Megadrive and it was one of a series of computers that were all the craze at school amongst my friends.  When I had the Amstrad everyone talked about the Amiga (and it’s nearest rival at the time the Atari ST) both home computer’s which were like a more user-friendly, cheaper alternative to the PC which was more an office system back then and not as widely available.  The micro-computer boom fizzled out in the mid to late nineties when consoles and PCs became more popular (with the success various Sega and Nintendo systems ruling the nineties).  Yet despite owning a Megadrive, to have an Amiga made me feel like I was finally a part of a bigger, more respected crowd, and it was a system I really enjoyed.  I would buy, borrow and (ahem…copy) many games for the system and firm favourites were ‘Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge’, ‘The Chaos Engine’, ‘Alien Breed’, ‘Turrican’ (1 & 2), ‘Formula One Grand Prix’ and ‘Syndicate’.  I formed a friendship with a friend of mine that worked in a shop and both owning an Amiga developed a friendship that still exists today.  Good times.

Amiga 600

Monkey Island 2  Turrican 2

In part 3 I’ll be taking a look at the advent of PlayStation … the console to get that was marketed quite unlike other consoles before it.

The Definitive Lara


Look what popped through my letterbox this morning…

TombRaider_1

Although having played, loved and completed last year’s Tomb Raider on the PS3 … as a long time fan of the series and with a bit of a gaming drought at the moment on XBOX ONE I thought it was a great excuse to dive back into arguably Lara Croft’s greatest adventure.

Taking advantage of the extra grunt inside Microsoft’s new console this new version carries over all the DLC that was made available originally, along with concept art, a digital comic book and in the limited edition I ordered, a very nice digi-pack art book.

The game itself has been enhanced with higher Tomb Raider_2_editedresolution textures, improved particle effects on weather, fire and water etc., better lighting and it all runs in native 1080p.  The XBOX ONE version apparently supports a 30fps frame rate compared to up to 60fps on the PS4 but is reportedly more consistent than the varying frame rate on the rival console … but I think this is only an issue for those that look for such things.  Playing it, and I have only had a short time with the game, it feels very smooth and looks superb – an extremely detailed forest / island environment and bags of atmosphere.

I am looking forward to experiencing Lara’s adventure again throughout (something I normally don’t do a second time) as it was a fun game with a good story and plenty of ‘wow’ moments.  Is it really worth double dipping if you’ve already played the first game?  Probably not but if you’re hankering for a decent game on the XBOX 1 (or PS4) until big hitters like Titan Fall and Watch Dogs arrive … you could do much worse.

Gaming 2010


Well, I went and done it.  I now have a Playstation 3.  I went for the new ‘slim’ redesign (pictured), and have to say am very impressed with it, aesthetically.  My impressions of the machine, is that as far as online goes, I haven’t had chance to try out what multiplayer is like yet, but the Playstation Network, with the store etc is very impressive and easy to navigate.  The wealth of content here too is to be commended.  As a fan of XBOX I’m not going to compare the services, as I don’t want to knock either system (yes, splinters in my ass from sitting on the fence).  Other than that the design of the user interface is well done and there are lots of options to tinker with.  Playback of Blu-ray content can not be faulted either and access to BD-Live functions is a valued extra feature you may not normally use on a stand-alone player. 

Games-wise I have been playing Ratchet & Clank: Tools Of Destruction and download game Pixel Junk Shooter, and both have impressed me.  I also checked out the demo for Kill Zone 2 and was suitably astonished by the graphics and atmosphere, even if the sluggish controls will take a bit of getting used to (the PS3’s duel-shock controller, as with the controllers on PS1 & 2, never really suited first person shooters in a way the XBOX & XBOX 360 controllers do).  But this is early days, and I have much to look forward to, especially the likes of Uncharted 1 & 2, and in the coming months, Final Fantasy XIII.

Thats not saying that the 360 is going to be overlooked.  I am still playing Shadow Complex, and aim to get hold of Bayonetta in the coming weeks.  I am also looking forward to Bioshock 2 and Alan Wake this year.  So looking to the year ahead, I feel I am in for some real treats.