Tag Archives: Rare

A repetitive bashing

Yup, I will admit this upfront, that what I am writing is a little repetitive, yet when I stated it initially we were before the Bafta nominations and we were before the actual winners, now that they are out, the repetition sets in. 

So as we took notice of those who made it and those who did not, let’s be sure that being nominated is already a huge step forward, yet there can only be one winner, or in this case two. 

So when we see Nintendo with its switch and we see the wins that Hades and Animal Crossing New Horizons, we see groundbreaking moments in more than one way, Hades where dying is part of life and part of the game, which is a first, then there is the addictive Animal Crossing (I know, as I am as hooked to this just like the other 19,999,999 players), two games taking home multiple awards, yet that was not enough, Sony was there too, taking trophies for the Last of Us part 2, Ghost of Tsushima, Sackboy and Spiderman: Miles Morales. All great games, all getting awarded and in some cases Nintendo and Sony were vying for the same title, the moral of this story, Microsoft might buy all the talent (that $8.5B invoice) but in the end the story and originality are everything and the games that the two houses brought did just that. Microsoft (Rare Studios actually) had one win with Sea of Thieves and Ubisoft was absent, my predictions are in part seen in the Bafta’s as they are massively absent, it is the consequences of not comprehending your audience. My advice to Ubisoft? If you try to make a game that should appeal to all, you end up with a game that pleases none. It is a flaw they have shown again and again, yet I must also allow for a part that is not of my liking, it is Rainbow Six, it is not my cup of tea, but for those who do like it, they are raving, as such I was expecting to see them show up, because fair is fair, they have poured a lot of talent into a game that is showing appeal to millions, as such I was a little surprised. 

Another prediction I made was the fact that indie developers would become more and more important and Supergiant Games showed that, it took home 4 bafta’s, a company with 20 people took the limelight away from a multi billion company named Ubisoft, that has got to hurt. And as the media is all about the impact of lockdowns, they better realise that these games were there, lockdown or not, the games were about fun and in that regards both delivered, it seems essential that some of the players start to realise that small lesson, the fact that I (over a few articles) set the stage of a unique RPG game should tell these people that their time is up, they tried and failed (and now these software houses are dying), it matters because I never wanted Ubisoft to go under, I needed them to make gams better, because good games is what we all want, yet last week we were given ‘Ubisoft removes some new Assassin’s Creed Valhalla quests and decorations to address crashing issues’, we are till seeing these things all whilst the game was released on 10 November 2020, a week early because they were ready, well we know how that is ending, do we not? And as we contemplate “Based on the latest financial disclosure, UBISOFT ENTERTAIN has a Probability Of Bankruptcy of 36.0%, significantly higher than that of the Electronic Gaming & Multimedia industry” (source: microaxis.com), as such a software house that was nowhere near collapse is now regarded as a lace where their downfall is almost one in three, a stage that they did themselves, but I am not happy, like any other junk I hope for another AC Origins, another Far Cry 3 and I loved Watchdogs: Legion. But I also warned all last year that their next two products better be beyond good and Watchdogs: Legion was, the other (AC game) was not, so as we are treated to ‘Try Ubisoft+ for a week for free’ might be the last attempt by their marketing to stop the flow going somewhere else, but I think it might be too late, if they had a massive great announcement during the Bafta’s, there was a small chance, but when we see special forces comment on Breakpoint on Youtube to the degree I saw, they better realise that the gig is up. They had good game and then they got lazy (optionally Rainbow Six and For Honor excluding), not my kind of games, but I want to make sure that the truth as I see it is given to you as complete as possible. And as we see that subscription services are getting more and more sides, we might realise that Ubisoft is one of many and they are not in a good place at present. 

A stage they could have prevented years ago, if only they had listened to their gamers, things would be different, very very different. Together with Microsoft they are pushing gamers somewhere else and that I still important, You see, Sony is now great, but they became great because the competition was fierce and Microsoft forced them to become good, the gap between Sony and Nintendo is too large making me worry about the PS6 (a extreme future view), in addition, Ubisoft forced both to keep their game high and indie developers are less likely to do this as they often are set to a specific system (example Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch Productions, Guerrilla games, Santa Monica Studio), and I do not mind, but when there is no competition, the high enders tend to get lazy as well, not the software houses, they are competing with each other. 

I still fear a lull in Sony because Microsoft consoles might fall away in 2022/2023, that part is seen as they are more and more promoting streaming gaming on your mobile, it seems that they are trying to get their streaming solution on PC, Android, iOS and other places (not on my system they will), and in all this other sources give me an implied state that sales of Xbox to PS5 is 1:2 moving towards 1:2.5, so I have reasons to doubt the existence of a Microsoft console in 2023, all because (my personal speculation) because the makers were asleep at the wheel from 2012 onwards, all the pushy games they played with their always online whilst that adjustment should have been fixed no later than 2014, that is now 7 years ago. They lost the field and I am actually not that happy, because it optionally takes the fire away from Sony in the longer run. Yet for now, all we can do is be happy for the Bafta Winners and enjoy the games they made, I am still missing Sackboy, but I have all the rest, so I am good for now and as I am replaying God of War in easy mode, so I can focus on exploration and the story this time around, that is besides the amazing views the game gives and lets not forget that this game is almost 3 years old. As such, I end this article hoping you all have a great day and I hope you will enjoy a game or two on whatever system you prefer. 

Have a great weekend!

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Reflections

These are the days where a lot of people reflect on choices made and I am not any different. I was at the foundation of gaming, when gaming was young, when people thought that this was the sport of nerds and I did not care. I reviewed games for 13 years and I never regretted it. I was there when Commodore release the CBM64 and the Amiga 500. Sony released the PlayStation, I was there when Nintendo released the N64 and the GameCube. I had the Sony PlayStation 2 on day one, I saw with amazement when the SEGA Dreamcast was released. I saw an amazing range of games and systems, even now I think back to how great gaming was in those days. Even now we see how some makers misrepresent their games on how unique their game is whilst in the end it is merely another version of Candy Crush or Bejewelled. The hide behind quick animations and we see some Zombie game and the list goes on, they all need to make a game that is quick so that it is downloaded, their name depends on the amount of downloads, the sheep that play games follow the games that have a lot of downloads, yet they miss the larger stage. A game is something larger, it keeps you interested, it offers a larger stage and there is no denying that Microsoft Game Pass might actually entice people who call themselves gamers will actually end up playing actual games. Yet there is a danger there too. I personally believe that Microsoft is in it for the soft money, the micro transactions and it makes sense, micro transactions represents billions a year in revenue, and there mobile systems are the biggest source of micro transactions and that too is a reason why Microsoft wants Apple access. 

It is time that this stage changes and if there is one stage we want to protect then it is the gaming stage, that stage gives direct access to the younger players. Even as these ‘critics’ proclaim loot boxes are ‘gambling’, there is no status on games like Candy Crush and all others designed to drive gamers to spend money, the addiction of achievement. Yet we see a lot less on that part do we? I remember playing the very first Lemmings, from the first hour I saw just how addictive it was, I still have great memories on Magic Carpet, I saw amazing games from Mirrorsoft, Microprose, Psygnosis, Rare, Westwood, Bullfrog and too many others to mention. Even then the creativity outranked corporate types and the gamer won. That field has changed!

Even today, I remember playing games like Millennium 2.2, Lemmings, Covert Action, Ultima 3, 4, 5, Eye of the Beholder, and that was long before PC’s started to take gaming serious. One title I am leaving for last, In 1987 FTL (Faster than Light) created Dungeon Master, it changed the way people looked at RPG games. It was only surpassed by Dungeon Keeper because Dungeon Master paved the way and created the love of the RPG game, Dungeon Master became the best selling game of all time for the Atari ST, others would follow and Dungeon Keeper would push the love of RPG to even greater heights, in the end 700,000 copies would be sold and it is there where we see what we can gain, in those days 700,000 copies were sold, in this day it would be 10 to 50 times as much. And we overlook the playability of those games now, yes we see the hypes created (and the games EA screws up), yet they also had there share of successes and underestimations. Who remembers ShadowCaster and Black Crypt? Upgraded they would make interesting games and in that same setting EA has close to half a dozen games that could raise the setting for Google Stadia. So what happens when we tinker Magic Carpet to become larger and multiplayer? And that is only the tip of the iceberg, Microprose has even more titles and that is all before we look at the near future and see what else we can do to set a larger stage of games that people either cast aside or ignored in the first place. An excellent example of that is Microprose’s 1990 release of Knights of the Sky. I loved the game and many others did as well, but the larger group seemingly forgot about this game, a game that could be upgraded and work on a whole range of systems, including Google and Apple systems. We need to take another look at these games, games produced in the era spanning from 1985-2005 gives us close to 100 titles spread over half a dozen systems and we forgot about them. Why is that?

I get it, some people moved on, they moved on to other things and that is fine, but there is an entire generation of people that is limited in its view of games and it is limited to match three shapes. That is not really gaming and we need to make sure that this does not happen. For a system like the Google Stadia, it is the difference from being in the game and setting a goal towards being the 4th system in gaming, from there the sky is the limit. There are enough games, the question becomes where do they (or Apple) want to go, offering a system or committing to a system. It is a small but distinctive difference, one is seemingly going that way (it doesn’t matter who), yet it opens up a larger stage. A stage where people can optionally now play a larger and repaired Mass Effect Andromeda, a game that is game 1 and game 2 together. A stage that Google Stadia and Apple allows for and that is good, perhaps the others will catch on, but that is not a given and perhaps not even required. Hardwire gives options, but when did all systems need to offer everything? I believe that Nintendo and Sony can work side by side, I feel certain that either Google or Apple will be the third system, there is a chance that people will select EITHER the Google or the Apple system, but I cannot be certain of that at present. And it does not matter, like Android and iOS, people will make a choice giving Google an edge but at present not a given victory, time will make determination, yet in time and over time we need to revisit the old games, the fact that we see more and more remasters is because the old jewels remain jewels, some of them merely need to get dusted, others need polish, but they remain jewels and the sooner some see that, the better their hardware will fare. 

 

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You decide!

I have spoken out against the (bad) choices that Ubisoft has made in the past. On November 16th 2014 in the blog ‘How the mighty can fall‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/11/16/how-the-mighty-can-fall/), I wrote “Gamers are about done with Ubisoft, ratings that seem decent, but game expectations had not been met. Watchdogs fell short of expectations (rated 8 out of 10); Bug fest (we mean Assassins Creed Unity) launched on all major platforms. (7 out of 10); The last one became Far Cry 4 with 7 out of 10”, issues from gamers and other not so small considerations, Ubisoft failed to deliver a legend status for all of their AAA game. 2014/2015 is to be considered a disaster. Now at E3, we see that some parts are getting delivered, the Division is now a 2016 release (which is not that much delayed when you consider this to have been a 2015 release), yet, again, Ubisoft does present their games really well, which gives them time, yet, relying in a place like the E3 on DLC’s for a 65% game is not a good thing either. I refuse to be negative on a game like ‘Just Dance’. It is not my game, but plenty of youthful gamers (some not so youthful too) reserve a place in their heart for Just Dance, which is fine by me. Questions on the phrasing on the interaction with mobile phones need to be made, as no one (at present) have asked the questions involved. What is novel is the option that could propel the game forward are the streaming service on PC and Nextgen, even though no pricing information is given, it should not be about the price, it is about keeping a game novel and Ubisoft delivered that with this title.

Yet, did anyone else notice that the applause in the audience during was good, but not great? Compared to Bethesda, who blew the roof off the house! We saw many introductions with cut scenes, and even if the Division showed game play, with an interesting closing twist, which makes the entire view great. Also, the gameplay on ‘For Honor’ (4×4) was very good, but what if online play is not your thing? In addition, it is competing with Evolve, which is an excellent game. That does not diminish For Honor. The people saw gameplay and a smooth one at that. I liked the act that I had stayed away from any gossip or screens on that, so it was all new and it did not disappoint. The same could be said for Rainbow Siege. It is better, more realistic tactically speaking (as far as I saw) and graphically far above the norm. It will not be out until the end of September, but so far it looks like a good product. Just this is also the issue with Ubisoft. The presentations were good, not amazing! It did not blow me away like Bethesda did, more than once I might add. And off course there is Assassins Creed Syndicate. It looks smooth, but what the demo also shows is what we have seen too often in the previous moments. The game story depends on too many scripted moments. The coach chase, the tumble over the bridge then the train, a too strong a smell of scripted events. So as Yves Guillemot closes the presentation with the introduction of ‘Ghost Recon Wild land’ with an awesome movie, we need to consider that the words from Yves “surprise you with revolutionising our beloved franchises“, this sounds nice in theory, but that has not been achieved. Some are a strong step forward (Rainbow 6, Ghost recon), some are more of the same but as I see it, none showed true ‘revolutionising’ steps. A quote from a marketing department that now hangs like a chain around the neck of Yves Guillemot with the weight of a tombstone.

The IP they have is diminishing, trying whatever they can to revitalise the games that have missed their target. It will soon be about the reception of new IP (For Honor), it is holds up, that would be great for Ubisoft, if it falls short (gamers can be a merciless audience), the value of Ubisoft will take another pounding. It is not done yet. The consequences of AC: Unity are still felt. When we read (source: Softpedia and several others) “The latest thing to come out of Ubisoft’s riot machine is the announcement that the upcoming instalment in the publisher’s acclaimed action adventure series Assassin’s Creed, titled Unity, will run at 30 frames per second and in 900p resolution on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Of course, this type of polarizing announcement can only widen the gap between the fanbases of Sony and Microsoft, and so it did“, or Forbes where we see “Ubisoft is at least saying something regarding the tech/embargo issues. In terms of technical fixes, Ubisoft didn’t go so far as to apologize to fans for the early troubles, but they did say they are working on fixes past what was already fixed during the day one patch. In another fix patch, they’re taking on glitches like Arno falling through the map and getting stuck on things, and in future patches, they’ll turn to collision problems and framerate issues“, an apology came too weeks later. Yet, this is not about slamming Ubisoft (yes slamming a billion plus company feels good on the ego). This is about the future of gaming. Microsoft has also been active, the XB1 is now backwards compatible with a twist. there are downloadable titles and they did clearly state that you need not pay for titles you own, so that might sound great, but now consider that ‘live’ implies downloading a full game, which means that your 500Gb hardrive will fill up really fast, apaprt from the question is, whether ‘your’ game is on that list. It is still a step forward, but at 4-13 Gb (6 Gb being the average size of a game), with around 250Gb free for content, and of course space needed for other games, you are looking at perhaps 40 games, which of course need to be downloaded too. It is still a nice option to have, but let’s face it, why let go of your Xbox 360? This is about market growth and the Xbox one, which is increasingly hard as Sony v Microsoft consoles is currently set at 2:1, so two PS4’s for every Xbox One. The release day scare tactic (as I saw the Xbox One announcement in 2013) has hurt Microsoft a lot, the fact that they only realise almost two year later that their 500Gb, just does not hack it is equally unsettling.

So where do you the gamer stand?

I personally believe that it has never been about the hype, but about great gameplay. This is exactly why Infamous Second Son came up short, while it had all the elements to be truly great. It feels such a shame to see an 80% game, which could have been a 92% game. Watchdogs has similar issues, but in that case, it is a new game, a first, like Assassins Creed 1, the second game of that IP could blow us all away, it takes only one visionary!

Tomorrow will be the defining moment. Bethesda delivered and exceeded, Ubisoft did not and Microsoft stayed on par, showing a few exclusive teasers, so now it will be up to Sony. If they blow the roof, Xbox will lose a lot of ground, yet we must not forget that Microsoft delivered last year and it still surprises, that part is seen in the game beyond eyes, which could indicate that the exclusivity on Xbox is more than a delay for Sony, it could be reason for people to switch, or to get an additional console and buy games there. That view I hope to give tomorrow, but for today, I can only confirm that the bar set by Bethesda was not surpassed and their games are coming to PS4 (and Microsoft too). Yet, exclusivity is not a fight of Sony vs Microsoft, which is not set by Elite vs No Mans Sky, that part will only set the pace of getting the additional PS4 vs getting the Xbox One too. It is the still waiting population which gives us whether games like Ion and Elite will push the people towards Xbox One that will be partially settled tomorrow, the Tombraider presentation was too much of scripted sequences with times responses. It is the one part of Tombraider I never cared for, what was great, became average. No matter how I feel about Tombraider, you must decide what you like, where your gaming view resides. The upcoming challenge for Sony will be a harsh. They are equal to the task, but will they have the games to make it? You see Microsoft kept the best for last. ‘Rare Replay’ is the trump card from the left field. The very best of gaming that Nintendo 64 offered now on Xbox One resolution. Missing is the Donkey Kong parts with is Nintendo IP, but some of those games are not, which means 30 games for $30, which is a killer option!

To be continued!

 

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