Tag Archives: Ares

Standing by my point of view

I have looked at games for almost 30 years, and so far in the mode of gaming I have been in, I tend to stand by my position. It has nothing to do with stubborn, or with some kind of elevated sense of correctness. Time has proven me right again and again. Even now as SuckerPunch is regarded as the gospel of gaming  (these things happen), I tend to see how things fair and so far I agree with the many voices, but this too made me realise that there is another path. To see this, we need to go back to 2014, a new Infamous was launched. Now, I still stand by my original view, is was above average, but it had failed to be great, even as all the elements were there. Two massive elements influenced it. The game was almost tediously linear and after the final fight you do not get to use the concrete powers to the degree I had expected. These two parts make the game good, but not great and that was a shame. Yet that is not the issue, I reinstalled it today to play it again for a few hours, even as I had completed it 100%, and in almost record time well over a third of the game had been done. This is not due to memory, I had forgotten most of it, it was due to linearity, but that was not the surprise, I know I had updated the game on day 2 or 3 and now another update was there. Over 6 years the game had seemingly seen 7 updates (It installed 1.0.7), the final update and the only one I had to install was less than 4 GB, for a PS4 game that is decent, and here we see the first issue, Ubisoft sets games to dozens of GB’s per game per update and this game from the early days does a mere fraction of this. I personally see this as proper testing was done at Sucker Punch, and Ghost of Tsushima shows this again (and again and again). A good developer will always win and innovation in gaming (a thing Sucker Punch has shown a few times) will always beat iteratively thinking Ubisoft. 

Even as I still stand by the view I had, the game was still as enjoyable as the first time I finished it. That is the power of a decent game and this game if not hindered by the two flaws might have remained on the legendary games list. Still, this does not stop Sucker Punch from creating a decent game, an innovative game and this is the issue, no matter how I see this game, I recognised it as innovative gaming, when I revisit this old game, I see just how powerful innovative thinking is in gaming. And whilst we consider just how correct I am, Google Search is filled with all the game magazines that are trying to use Sucker Punch as much as possible, Forbes even states ‘‘Ghost Of Tsushima’ Is The Game Of The Generation’ and it is hard to disagree. They also give the additional text “I am more glad than I expected to be to have a game like Ghost of Tsushima. Rather than giving us innovation, Sucker Punch has given us care and craft with the things we already know. It is a comforting thing to have, here in a moment when my country is still grappling with its failure to contain coronavirus and when the future seems less predictable than it ever has before.” In this I am not sure if I completely agree, I personally see this game as innovative, as such I partially disagree with ‘Rather than giving us innovation’, yet when we look at the separate elements, Forbes might have a case, it is the ‘Sucker Punch has given us care’ that is true, but proper testing tends to get us there (often enough), no matter how we see it, we see that compared to a player like Ubisoft it is a mere dwarf, a dwarf that creates titans, so whilst the news is full of all the things going wrong at Ubisoft, I have stated (for some time), that they have bigger issues, and perhaps these events we see hit the news now is a consequence of stress and taking it out internally. And even as we see the news on all kinds of statements and promises, we see that Ubisoft has a rather large problem, one that Sucker Punch never had, or fixed well over a decade ago, properly testing games. That is the heart of the matter and they do know how to do that. No matter how I see Black Flag, it was near perfect and so was Origins. So as such, I cannot fathom why they cannot hold the rudder right, Sucker Punch shows how it can be done and they have done so for a very long time. 

These two players need to be shown for the mere reason that one player relies on hypes and marketing, all whilst the other does not and gives us great games. So whilst I am getting a little weary of messages like ‘Ubisoft teases us with…’, I would rather see that they cleaned their company from top to bottom, because no matter what we see on certain people, the failings there go to the very top. It angers me, not because of whatever, the fact that they had good games and they wasted 2-3 franchises is a real drag, all whilst the products show that there is graphical talent and the music as applied is close to legend. As a gamer, does that not upset you? And even as I remain cautious on Far Cry 6, does it not sound like something we played before? Now, this is speculative so do not treat this like gospel, but what the internet gives us is apparently nothing more that Far Cry 4/5 in a Far Cry 3 setting. I hope that I am completely wrong, but Ubisoft does not have the greatest track record when it comes to innovation, all whilst my idea on WatchDogs 4 is a setting that is completely innovative and I wonder if all that innovation would fit into a new console (I just do not know) but is that not the foundation of gaming, to be on the edge what is possible and see if it can be done? MGSIV in the beginning of the PS3 and the Last of Us at the very end show me to be correct, In that same view Black Flag in the beginning of the PS4 is in that same foundation, so why are these franchises developed too short for their own good? 

Even now, games like Breakpoint might ‘sell’ high end graphics, but it lacked joy, joy that a GameCube game (Metroid Prime) had in abundance. Even now 8.5 years later, I can still find joy in Skyrim (originally released 11.11.11), apart from AC Origins, what Ubisoft game released since 2017 has that (I am personally not considering Rainbow Six as that is not my kind of game). When you see how short that list is and how many games Ubisoft released, we see the flaw of iterative game releases. And this is not merely Ubisoft, how many think fondly back to the Mass Effect Andromeda, after the release? All issues that proper testing could have avoided and it took less than one day to come up with Mass Effect based IP that surpassed Andromeda, it is that flawed and we need to get angry, because a life of good gaming depends on it, for all of us. 

Even as we need not worry on Sony and Nintendo, a Microsoft pushing boundaries would keep Sony innovative, that too is a given, when there is no competitor the remaining players tend to relax, history has shown that part a few times, so I prefer that Microsoft wakes up fast, but reality is not in my favour, as such here is every chance that after the PS5, the PS6 might not be as advanced as we hope (unless Nintendo really changes the game). 

If we look at the past, many have heard of Melinoe and the nightmares she brings, but who remembers Makaria? When we consider Makaria and according to the scrolls of Nikolaos of Damascus her meeting Ares, what was the result? When we see all these greek god based games, we tend to see the big three and the direct dependants, but what of some of the others? With the exception of series like Xena (PS1 game) all based on Lucy Lawless and her formed fanbase of life under greek god reign, nowadays we see covers of ancient greek books, but we forgot to pick them up and read them. Yet the foundation of RPG and sandbox games is larger than that and I see a lack of grasping the unexpected by many developers. 

And this is not some console war, a game war can be fought on many fronts, as such the setting of google Stadia versus Apple Arcade is not over, not by a long shot and these systems have limitations, it matters, because the days of the CBM64, a system with 38Kb of RAM, a 64Kb system showed an entire generation how cool gaming could be, 10-17 million units sold and 99% bought it for the games, no matter what excuse, like ‘I want to learn to program’ they gave (I was one of them). Innovation comes with limitation, and that is where true treasures are found. I feel certain that browsing through the Amiga 500 list, I will find at least half a dozen that will make it and become successes on a system like the Google Stadia, in this, even Ubisoft has a few titles, neglected titles that would be a good match to the iPad, a system at times forgotten for the games it can play and if it does it there, it will be wanted on the Google Stadia and the Apple version. Even later than that, anyone who remembers the Microprose titles would instantly try them on these systems in a new jacket, games born from limitations and they could be upgraded to fit a whole new generation (and please the previous generation as well). 

I stand by my point of view and as I see Ubisoft buckle and Sucker Punch become one of the most revered software groups, I see the options of games and how they can be on several systems between now and 2023. Time has proven me correct a few times now, I wonder when some developers wake up, as I see it, they have little time left.

 

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In awe of Ares

The independent is throwing its readers a curveball with ‘The survey comes after it was revealed that a new political party with access to up to £50m in funding has been secretly under development for more than a year‘, it is change, change of a kind that makes us wonder if politicians are getting there ‘inspiration’ form somewhere else. This is not about that, this is absolutely not about politics. This is about the curveball.

Santa Monica Studio, they awed us two years ago at the E3, where we were treated to a teaser, one that made our jaws drop and we were nowhere near ready to see the real deal. That happened 48 hours ago, 48 hours since we woke up, in optionally the most overwhelming way. If you missed it all, you missed a lot. For those not entirely aware, let me explain, let’s take you back to 2013, when the people on the PS3 were treated to ‘the Last of Us‘. It was a game that surpassed whatever came before, the end of a console treated to the diamond of diamonds. Now take that feeling, multiply that by 3 and that is what you will feel with the normal God of War 4 edition on a normal PS4, I haven’t even seen it on a Pro with 4K yet. The beginning is simple yet still overwhelming, the graphics are beyond awesome and the music and sound effects give it an entirely new dimension.

So here we are he who took the powers of Ares, god of war. Now we are in the setting of Norse mythology. The initial intro to the game, the movement, the draughr, Balder and a few others are just overwhelming. When we dig deeper into the game we get to certain points that this is still very much a God of War game, yet there is also evolution. even as button mashing got you most of the way previously, this time around you need to be a little clever, button mashing gets you killed again and again (and again). It has the chests and it has health parts, slightly different, but still in spirit basically the same. Some chests now come with puzzles and a few are a little trying. It is all a step forward. The graphics throughout the game remain overwhelming and are beyond awesome. The tactics are a little more essential, yet it remains a God of War game. Christopher Judge, the (in)famous Teal’c from Stargate takes the axe from the predecessors and gives Kratos soul in a way that is amazing, the deepness of voice and the entire embodiment of Kratos slayer of gods comes to life with Christopher Judge, a stellar performance.

There will always be issues with any videogame, so has this game its little snippets of frustration, but the overall impact of the game is what I would regard it a 97% game, Metacritic gave it a 95% rating, what means that it should be regarded as a must for any PS4 owner. Even as you play the game, you feel a little lost at times, wondering where to go next. It is not a bad feeling, you get a clear view of your surrounding and it is close to breathtaking. The people at Santa Monica really outdid themselves, and not just them. In equal measure Bear McCreary, famous for his soundtrack work on Battlestar Gallactica truly shines. His music adds to the game in several ways. I wonder if anyone would be able to play the game on a TV with a sound bar, the music is that amazing. I am actually listening to it on YouTube whilst writing this. I hope that it will be a download option soon enough (or a soundtrack for sale). So in nearly all matters the game shines. So why am I using ‘nearly’? Well in the beginning as you have the options to better your character with outfits and upgrades, you are a little in the dark and in the beginning of the game optionally accidently wasting resources on the wrong parts and it is a merely a small loss, yet it makes for a great replay. This is perhaps the only small flaw in all this and it is so small a flaw that not heeding my words in this is just fine. Yet as you play the game you are almost overwhelmed by what you see and when you think that you’ve seen it all, you get introduced to Alfheim. If you consider that Midgard is the forest in midwinter, then Alfheim is the forest in spring and everything is in full bloom, a second whiff over being overwhelmed and I haven’t even seen the subsequent parts yet. Whilst I have been upgrading my skills and my weapon, the monsters have been becoming a lot stronger too, so the opposition is not getting easier and you the player are forced to thinking a little more tactics and no mash buttons, it is essential to making it through. It is almost like Santa Monica Studio saw the setting of Dark Souls and borrowed an idea or two, which is not a bad thing at all. In this, I found that the avoidance by Kratos is not completely flawless and it makes for a more challenging fight, all defence and no offence being pointless in the end. It makes a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things and God of War is more than the jackpot. If the next Last of Us is anything to go by, we are witness to a new level of gameplay, one that the Xbox cannot match, because Ubisoft will not be able to match it. That is not an attack on Ubisoft, it truly is not! They have shown with AC Origin to up their game by a fair bit. Microsoft was just not ready (read: awake enough) to up the game for gamers other than their ‘most powerful consolestatement. Now with the God of War first released, and the Last of Us 2 teasers making us desire more and that is whilst we know that there is every chance that Death Stranding will surpass them both, a Kojima special that does not ill to the other two titles, but we know that Sony is about to up the game for gamers a fair bit and that is merely the top of the 2018 iceberg.We have no idea what we will see in 7 weeks at the E3 2018.

That whilst Windows central ‘treats’ us to: “Ever since the Xbox One launched in 2013, Microsoft has revealed clothing items and other merchandise which were either E3 exclusives, competition rewards, or simply gifts for employees. Luckily, it seems like that’s about to change because a merchandise store is coming soon“, perhaps with a lack of exclusive games that is all they can offer?

Even as Bethesda has been giving us heaps of amazing options, the bulk of the gamer’s desires are set to Elder Scrolls 6 and an optional Fallout 5, and/or Fallout 4b. Bethesda is like Monica Studios and for the longest time they have delivered, even today Skyrim is still played, 6.5 year later, that is the trademark of the truly great and satisfying game and God of War 4 is a welcome addition. It is behind GTA5 the highest Metacritic rating ever and the people of Santa Monica Studio have all the rights, the reason and the ability to feel pride, be proud and enjoy the reverence they will receive for the rest of the year. In this they are sharing the warmth of reverence this year (optionally) with the makers of Spiderman for PS4, another exclusive title, which is now sold out on amazon. So the pre-orders of a game released in September 2018 are already sold out, so in that part Santa Monica Studios is just one player driving the Sony gaming force forward and the competitors have nothing even close to matching that.

Even as I am drawn to return to play God of War, I know that Santa Monica is likely to have a few interesting twists on their bow of confusion. So it will be essential to meet up with Morrighan, Crone of War. She can enlighten me to the opponents that Kratos may face. The Celts were always masters of the skull cleaver and I need to be alert and ready to whatever Santa Monica Studio will throw at me next. The life of a gamer, always trying to remain in synch with the game and with life to get the best results, only the truly great game makers allow us to do that.

When we consider the path that this game series has taken, the path seems obvious, but it is not, the upgrade and evolution of your weapon have options so it can enhance your strength or give power to the weaker side of you that in itself is also brilliant. If you are a range fighter of up close and personal, both have options to give you a much better chance of survival and in the end, you cannot really afford all the upgrades all the time, so choices must be made which makes the game even more challenging and rewarding when you get to the next point. That in itself is also a new victory for the series. The map reveals even more new sides, but I will steer away from that so you can experience that for yourself, making the impact even better.

In the end the God of War treated us to something special two years ago and now we are overwhelmed with what they have actually achieved, no small feat for any development studio, laurels well earned. Even if you are not into the hack and slash games, this game brings a new game, that overwhelms nearly all your senses that alone will be worth buying it for.

That is the curveball, the delivery of something special and again Santa Monica Studio surpassed our expectations, an art that politicians have been lacking for decades, perhaps they should actively listen to Kratos, Ares and Morrighan, nothing less will do at present.

There is one part that politicians can take away from all this. It is not the expected that makes you shine, it is the ability to exceed our expectations that truly matter, isn’t it funny that the one article that they looked down on for three decades (video games) have been able to deliver just that? I see it as the combination of art and imagination and God of War got it right on all counts.

 

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