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.

Update


Frequent visitors to this page may think I’ve gone a bit quiet of late, with not much being posted.  It has been a stressful few weeks with work stresses, personal ups and downs etc … updating this blog hasn’t been a priority, or that of visiting other people’s blogs (sorry).  Of course I intend to fix that as I am away from work for a week starting Monday so will have a bit more time for leisure, watching movies, playing games etc.

What else have I been up to you may ask?  Well been watching two TV shows recently, that of the adaptation of the hit Coen Brothers movie ‘Fargo’ and the new Gothic horror series ‘Penny Dreadful’ both of which I am enjoying.  I don’t tend to report on TV much as I feel it can cause spoilers etc. which isn’t fun for anyone … but I do recommend both those shows anyway.

E3 as previously reported is in full swing and is looking good.  Enjoying the many internet videos of gameplay footage for such games as Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, The Division and even Nintendo games that I probably won’t get to play like the lush looking Legend Of Zelda.

Well that’s me for now.  Promise to report back again soon!

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

Watch Dogs fall-out?


Note: this article has now been updated (see below).

So, the most anticipated game of the year is finally out, after a stunning reveal at E3 2012 and following controversy over it’s apparent downgrade in graphics since then … what do we as consumers actually have now it’s available to buy?

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A big, at least visually, disappointment.  The game looks last-gen with a few better textures and arguably impressive night time rain / wet road effects … but visually overall it does not impress me.  I don’t currently own the game and am not sure if I will (but I may due to it’s unique gameplay alone) but as a much hyped title, the six month delay and the e3 reveal we are left as consumers with little more than a poor-mans GTA… and stylistically it doesn’t look much different to GTA 5 which was a real show stopper on last gen hardware.  For a game also being released on the PS4 and Xbox One – it is nothing special.  Textures, roads and buildings seem to lack a three dimensional appearance … what, no bump-mapping?  Why does everything look so flat and square?  It’s like a game from the early 2000’s.  That would be forgivable then, but we have come on considerably since.  For me the best looking open-world GTA-clone in recent memory was Mafia II, which looked amazing, especially inside buildings, with very impressive detail and great lighting and shadow effects.

I hope when I finally get hold of the Xbox One version I will see something I am not currently seeing … but for now consider me rather underwhelmed.

Some gameplay of the Xbox One version from You Tuber user ‘optic midnite’ can be seen below.  Now don’t get me wrong, the game looks fun – but after all the hype and the suggestion this was going to be a true ‘next gen’ show-piece, I’m not entirely sold.

On the new consoles and even on PC this doesn’t cut it, and considering what has been achieved I can only presume the more detailed hacking mechanics have prevented the developers really pushing this on a visual basis – like too many things going on in the background?  Either way the fact we have sub-hd resolutions on both the PS4 and Xbox One (worse for the XB1 being at 792p) is baffling if these consoles are meant to be considerably more powerful than hardware that’s now eight years old (PS3 & 360).

(Updated: 31/05/2014):  Well I went and purchased Watch Dogs for my Xbox One and what are my final hands-on impressions?  Much more positive.  I’d go as far to say this is probably the most interesting game I have so far on the XB1 and certainly one of the more unique open-world games I have played.  To touch on the visuals firstly, internet videos, comparisons between PC, XB1 and PS4 do this game no justice.  Its beautiful and very detailed … and goes for a very realistic interpretation of Chicago, with an effective day / night cycle and wonderful weather effects.  The wealth of people in the game are also believably animated, do interesting things to further enhance a living world atmosphere such as once I walked by a couple who the woman was throwing bags over a balcony much to the upset of her disgruntled boyfriend … and another time I passed some street rappers, and another a couple posing for a photograph being taken by another person.  Impressive.  Lighting is first class as is water and shadows and other details like tires on cars you can actually burst by shooting them, or realistic glass shatter as you plough into bus stops with your vehicle.  Some have said this game doesn’t look as good as the PS4 version, but from what I have seen, there is hardly any difference at all, and all the details and effects are intact … so XB1 owners hesitating over the reduced resolution … don’t worry one bit.

The game itself seems a very intriguing techno thriller, such as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and immediately grabbed me, all to do with main character Aiden Pierce searching for revenge after an attempted murder goes badly wrong.  It’s a great initial hook to pull the gamer in, and made me really want to unravel all the story had to offer,  The hacking is of course the big draw and it’s so well implemented that it makes the usual sneaking you’d find in games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid seem refreshing and new, and add to this first rate gunfight / shooting mechanics as well as well done driving and lots of vehicles and weapons to find … this seems the perfect marriage between the old and new to create something truly next-gen … at least in terms of giving the player a new take / spin on tried and tested game play.

I’m still early into this but so far many of my reservations and fears have been quashed.  Although some reviews have said the missions get repetitive, I am still very eager to see and play more … so would say this will be my primary game to play for a while yet.