Tag Archives: Square Enix

WYSIWYG?

What you see is what you get, that has been around since the old PC XT (or AT) tried its hands on desktop publishing. The phrase continued and spread in other paths, and we all accepted the term. Yet the term evolved and the fakeness of the term used later was ignored. As such the evolved WYSIWHY has come to be: What You See Is What Hyped You.

We see it in all matters of events. How the media gives rise to ‘Fed cuts rates by half a percentage point to combat coronavirus slowdown‘ (source:CNBC), even as there were less than 300 cases in a nation with 325,000,000 people, no such consideration was ever given with Swine flu or HIV. It was merely an administration what wanted to avoid the use of ‘recession’, now we see ‘Recession fears grow as Wall Street investors brace for a wild week for stocks‘ (source: Washington Post), even as we accept “after coronavirus fears caused the biggest weekly decline for U.S. stocks since the financial crisis“, the idea that a case of the flu, with a present 109,975 cases is just insane and most people are just buying the cake shovelled towards us. Consider that China has 73% of the cases and 19.3% of the cases are spread over Italy, South Korea and Iran. So how can these 4 nations impact the world economy to THAT extent? Lets not forget that the global fatality is still around 3.4%, all whilst the cases in Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Singapore, Austria, and Canada are without fatalities (at present), as such the overreaction is large and WYSIWHY is as I personally see it the stage.

Yet this is not about that, even as the beer virus (Corona) is staged to you in ‘E3 2020 is on a knife-edge right now – and it could end the gaming show for good‘ by Techradar (at https://www.techradar.com/news/e3-2020-is-on-a-knife-edge-right-now-and-it-could-end-the-gaming-show-for-good), there are a few important parts here and it is time to call the spades that they are not diamonds (or hearts for that matter). 

As I personally see it, there is a larger rift between Sony and Microsoft and it is coming to blows soon enough. Sony wants to be slightly cheaper than the Microsoft product, all whilst the Microsoft presentations are hiding the simple fact that they DO NOT want to reveal the storage space on their contraption. Look at all the presentations over the last year, it is all about hype creation, all whilst storage is a massive part of a console, no matter how you play, you need storage and for almost a year Microsoft steered away from it in any way they could and for them the E3 is coming too soon to feel comfortable. More importantly, in 2013 they had this ‘always online‘ part and it nearly destroyed the Xbox as a product, now they are afraid to come out and play as the kids would say, they are all into hype creation, whilst essential issues like price and storage are averted. I give them a pass on price this early, not on storage, because if the systems is this ready, the storage is known, even if there are multiple options. 

Microsoft desperately needs WYSIWHY and the people in gaming have had enough of that stage. The Techradar article mentions Microsoft once, a player that distinct in the E3 history, to see it only once, implies (for me at least) that this is about avoidance. Sony has had a great run and it has the benefit of a huge PS population, it is ahead by a lot. To be honest, if the PS5 is $100 more expensive than the Microsoft version, I will still go for the Sony option, as I personally see and feel it, there was too much treason by Microsoft towards me, too much harassment towards online and too much bricks on the road for the offline players (not to mention all the advertisements on my XBox One home page), intentional limitations is as much of an harassment than anything else and Microsoft is out of options with me.

There are a few options, especially as the E3 trade show is a moneymaker, merely delaying it would already be a clear alternative, no the talk is ‘cancellation’ and it does not sit well with me (so far ESA has clearly denied any cancellation of the E3). Yes, even as the corona cases are blatantly out of proportions (the shouting that is), we see no foul in delaying the E3 event, cooler heads prevail and I see that the E3 might have to be delayed, yet for how much, that is the question, also, as the E3 is getting closer to the end of the year, the PS5 and the Microsoft alternative could actually be presented to players, as such I see that there is a lot more going on. Nintendo has a hard time ahead, but the Switch is so switched on that it will stay standing in the upcoming Sony vs Microsoft battle, but Microsoft does not want that, you see with the Nintendo Switch surpassing Microsoft on lifetime sales the stage is not pretty for Microsoft, they were willing to grudgingly be in second place, but to get to a trade show where the weakest processor sells better then the most powerful one, especially as pricing is seemingly not the issue is too unsettling for Microsoft, until they can hype some kind of a win over the other two, they want to avoid the E3 completely, yet the E3 is more than these three, the game makers (Bethesda, Ubisoft, Square Enix, Sega and others) are also a factor, they are the people also enticing the audience and even as we see good things, we see that Ubisoft is in terrible danger. First we get “The Division 2 is still having a few issues, despite the release of a new update. The issue appears to be affecting Xbox One owners, who are unable to login because their characters are locked.” (source: the Express), then there were a load of issues with Breakpoint, Digital Trends gave us yesterday “Ubisoft will try to save Ghost Recon Breakpoint with huge overhaul, new modes” this is on what some would call ‘an old system’, and it seems that they are nowhere near ready to go to the new systems, whatever presentation they bring with get nitpicked by thousands and Ubisoft might not ready for that as I personally see it because they could not properly test games (as the released evidence shows or muzzle their marketing department until it was safe for them to create hypes).

Bethesda’s largest issue was Fallout 76, and that is fair. They gave us two days ago “Just Because It Didn’t Go Well Doesn’t Mean It Was Wrong to Try Something Different“. OK I support that part, trying something new could break the bank, it did with the Nintendo Switch, and there is no shame in trying and failing (Nintendo WiiU anyone?) This is how gaming goes. When you are on the edge of what is possible, doing the same will not get you anywhere, I personally was not up for Fallout 76 (I prefer my games single player), as such Pete Hines is correct and beyond that, until they have something that is really ready on PS5/XBox, they might prefer to remain quiet, I get that. The E3 is too big and it is possible that some makers don’t have anything ready at that point and that is fine, but the fact that no one has anything, that becomes too weird.

If I can design a gaming idea in 8 hours, so can those who are better at it then me, that is merely a simple truth to behold and the cancellation of the E3 does not make sense. Yes it makes sense for Microsoft (for all the expected reasons) and it makes sense for Ubisoft (for all their unfortunate events), yet there is more than these two and there is so much to behold in gaming land that it is sad to see so much depend on the PS5/XBox to falter (whilst some are hiding behind a bottle of Corona).

As Techradar finishes with “given the melting pot of illness, behind-the-scenes disagreements, and online distribution channels threatening its survival. And the status of E3 2020 could be decided any day now. We’ll keep you informed either way” we see that nothing is set in tone, but the flexibility to avoid issues are in play, we get part of that. 

So let’s look at the elements

  1. Illness. Not an issue, the delay could optionally avoid that and give rise to solving another part.
  2. Behind-the-scenes disagreements. OK, we accept that, but that has always been the case, in this stage we see that Microsoft and Ubisoft are in a massive negative swing, so do these two players have THAT much swing on the E3?
  3. Online distribution channels. Not an issue educating and buying a muzzle for your marketing department solves that. What is hyped is an issue, but only to the hyper, online distribution channels have been a larger issue for much longer and the NDA tends to solve several issues, in addition, barring those who break the NDA is also a solution, the fact that they can never get nfo ever again also makes them unemployable, so people tend to take these parts serious. It also implies that the smaller fry gets left out which is not a bad thing, there are plenty of larger players that have (to the best of my knowledge adhered to the NDA states, as such just the muzzling of their marketing department remains, hiring the right people tends to solve that.
  4. New: E3 2020 Creative Directors Resign, OK that is an optional event, there is a larger issue in play and it is not merely the running aways by Creative Directors. There is not enough information to judge the actions of iam8bit, and the actions by Geoff Keighley give rise to a lot more and this has nothing to do with any fear of any case of the flu. 

As we look at the stage of the E3, the amount of questions rising within me is increasing almost exponentially, no matter how certain paths go, anywho has ever planned for an event will tell you that largest contributors walking out past the 90% point is not merely rare, it should be grounds for a large open debate towards what is really going on, in that same trend we see the walking off by Geoff Keighley and the face he presented towards gaming at so many events should also be the foundation of questions.

What you see is not what we are getting and the media is actually part of the problem here, and it is seen in other ways too, as CCN gave us on February 15th (at https://www.ccn.com/this-company-wants-to-save-e3-2020-and-its-inviting-keanu-reeves-for-the-ride/) ‘This Company Wants to Save E3 2020, and It’s Inviting Keanu Reeves for the Ride‘, we can optionally argue that this is the coolest invitation that Keanu Reeves ever got for St. Valentine, the truth is that he is more than a crowd pleaser, as actor, as the actor for the John Wick stories, as the man playing Silverhand in CD Projekt Red ‘Cyberpunk 2077‘ it is one of the better thoughts, yet Limited Run Games (the company behind this action) is largely unknown and so far the media is ignoring all this and I see no refusal or denial from the agent of K. Reeves (as far as I was able to look into this). As CCN (in their article) gives a lot more, we see the stage that makes no sense, The E3 is a lot larger than the mere product makers, there are the entertainers, the software makers and there are multiple event carriers in place, the math doesn’t add up on my side and the media gives too little attention to this (the news media, not the gaming media).

When a global event like E3 is on such a stage, how can the news media remain silent to such a degree? Lets not forget that the event is 3 months away, optionally 5-6, as such there is a much larger stage in play, can you all see that? For the most I steered clear of the  Electronic Software Association (ESA), I am not stating that they are not a factor, but I have no idea what factor they are and what their agenda is in all this, even as we see statements like ‘ESA says E3 2020 still going ahead as planned‘, we cannot say what the finite standing is, they will have to take the Coronavirus as a factor, because there are costs for moving an event like this and as such there is a financial path to consider, I am not denying that in some cases. 

The math doesn’t add up and the stage is too large, whatever is plaguing E3 has a much larger issue that is not reported on and it seems to me (paranoia comfortably setting in) that this might be a case of the media having to deal with people who are either shareholders, stakeholders, or advertisers. Yet this is merely my take on the stage.

Is it true?

Well that remains to be seen, until the end of last month Xbox, Nintendo, Ubisoft and Bethesda were all confirmed (more were), so I have to remain skeptical at the whole ‘cancellation’ hype, yet there are rumours in the weeds that the cancellation drive is growing and two players cancelling at this point implies that the cancellation drive is not non-existent. There are optionally more issues in the field, one is ‘Top Rainbow Six Siege creators call for Ubisoft to prevent harassment and ‘stream sniping’‘ (source: Windows Central) which is nothing against Ubisoft as a company or a product maker, but it is fallout that they have to deal with, as such I also accept “Ubisoft has made strides in tackling cheating and toxicity, top content creators voice concerns over tools to protect broadcasters“, we can argue that there needs to be ample protection against cheaters, yet against bullies it becomes a different matter, what can you allow for to keep the game as open as it is without restraining valid gamers beyond valid measures, it is an optional headache that Ubisoft doesn’t need and more clearly does not deserve. In addition to all this, there are several software houses pulling titles from the NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW service. This will also lead to all kinds of questions, as such we see that this E3 has an enormous amount of questions and this will be the first E3 lacking all kinds of answers, we can expect a whole range of spin answers, but actual answers? I fear the worst at present.

At present there is no cancellation of the E3, yet I believe that if this does happen during the week, whatever factor is given to the Coronavirus will be off by at least 50%, it is in my humble opinion too much about certain people needing it not to happen because of very different factors, the Coronavirus was seemingly no more than a happy coincidence.

 

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When game makers don’t get it

This is another day where we get to bash the game maker. This is not done out of malice or spite, this is done because certain ‘players’ in this industry need to wake up and consider hard and clear that they are running out of rope, out of options and out of any future. For the same reason why the malicious bashers of No Man’s Sky don’t get why it is a good game, the same reasoning why many of the triple-A game makers are now no longer producing 90%+ games.

So, this all started this morning when I saw ‘Mafia III review: how can a super stylish 1960s shooter be this boring?‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/10/mafia-3-review-1960s-shooter-gameplay). First of all, I haven’t played it. Yet, to offset this, I looked at several sources. The issue is seen in the quote: “To say Mafia III is a disappointment is an understatement. It has all of the surface components to form a great game: the writing and acting are superb, its direction and style are great, but its mechanical underpinnings are archaic and desperately unimaginative. It’s ironic that Mafia III’s predecessor had a similarly stylish open world, but wasted it by giving players nothing to do besides its main story missions. Mafia III has the opposite problem – tons that you have to do, you just don’t want to do any of it“, which gives us the main goods in all this. I played the first game on PC, a game that had more than a few issues, but overall it was original and showed a game style that was novel in those days. So when I see this, I see another issue, which I will address later. The second review is one you cannot miss if it is your intent to buy the game. It is the video review on IGN (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7mkCsJm8Lk). This is actually an excellent view on the game. It also supports the reasoning I had (I will get to that, I promise). There are a few issues that also popped up, which are not negative sides, but they are linked to this all.

IGN mentions it in the video. There are references and similarities to the generic play of Assassins Creed and for what I saw, partially to Watchdogs 1 too. In these semi-open world games, there is a need to explore the world and find things, but what is the issue when you have to get items again and again, for no other reason than to find them? I reckon there is a plus to find album covers and playboy covers, if they are the actual covers and issue covers. A little historic on one side, a little sultry on the other. Yet, if it leads to nothing, why run through the city of London, finding all the ales? In Mafia 3 and as I am from the era, finding a Jimmy Hendrix album cover would be cool and could bring a tear to my eye, remembering this great guitar player, yet, what is the point? Same for AC and finding all the chests filed with cash all over the city where everyone is in states of poverty? Apart from the ridiculousness of it all, it stopped fulfilling a purpose long ago. The same in Watchdogs. Getting all those jackets without some bonus is just emptiness of cash spent.

This is where we see the emerging issues of these games nowadays. There is no longer proper play testing and the fact that the game is only given to reviewers on release day is only in support that the game makers know this. In my view when properly addressed it could make a 75% Mafia game a 92% mafia game, with the clear option to double revenue, because gamers will jump at a 90%+ game and there have been a lack of it.

In opposition we see Ubisoft, not their generic games. No! When we see the effort that For Honor has been showing with closed alpha’s additional rounds and now the closed alpha game on PS4 with releases on YouTube. This is exactly why I foresaw that For Honor would be a high scoring game, I want it and I am not even a true fan of this game type, but what is shown is what I see, gaming on a new level, a different level. That is what makes a top game. Even as Ubisoft has been dropping the ball in several games, they have shown a multitude of evidence that they got this right! Proper play testing is all the difference and taking time to get that right is all the reason why Mafia 3 is as I can see it the non-success at present it could end up being.

 

When you lack the open world that Bethesda has, play testing is the only way to get the semi-open world and mission based games correctly. This is why the original game released on 11/11/11 was the long term success and now it is about to be rereleased on HD for consoles. After 5 years it still have the appeal it originally had. I am of course speaking of Skyrim, and now that people have had a taste of Fallout 4, the Skyrim fan base could grow even further, Bethesda achieved that chance and in likelihood, it will be one of these games that will be found gift wrapped at thousands of thanksgiving parties, especially when some November releases decide not to deliver. Even though my version of Elder Scrolls 6 will not make it to the systems, Bethesda is already looking at new projects and as we are unlikely to see them before 2018, whatever makes it will be a new game changer, just as Fallout 4 was the game changer for players on all systems.

The others (Ubisoft, 2K, Square Enix) have issues to some extent, in some cases the issues are not big of massive, but they are still the reason that a game makes 80% instead of 91% and in this business 11% is not a margin, it is the reason that people wait for the game to drop 50% or more in price. In my view Far Cry4, Assassins Creed Syndicate, Assassins Creed Unity, Far Cry Primal, and this list goes on are all games that suffered such blows. I think for me Infamous Second Son remains one of the best examples. The game that started great became bland, repetitive and too linear. It is hard to point the finger at a single reason yet the elements tend to be their marketing department, the timeline pressed upon them and the vision of the people behind the game. That last elements is shown when we think back to Jason VandenBerghe when he gave a glimpse at E3 2015. This is not whether he should or should not have done it, he gave a glimpse and at E3 2016 he showed stuff, I think what he showed wetted the apatite and in 2016 we became thirsty for the real deal, which is now a mere 15 weeks away. More important 15 weeks with increased game play testing and movies that showed more and more final quality in a near flawless gaming interface. He showed vision, he did not just show a game, which set him apart from a lot of game producers. He also looks like he is the adviser for the Baltimore Stegmer Brothers on how to make a Skull Cleaver (just kidding, the Stegmer Brothers are experts in their own right with any kind of forged weapon). Here we see the issue, as explained in ‘When they get it right‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/07/30/when-they-get-it-right/), so when you consider these elements and take into consideration the multiplayer movie (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r59DAyolTyw), we see how a multiplayer game is not that ‘simple’, not because of game play, but because of the required tactics. So multiplayer will require people to team up, because for single players in a team match will have no chance to survive an actual team. Giving this game more than just a little edge. As I personally see it a quality play test crew is what made the difference (beyond vision and good coders). Yet the latter two were not the most important players. In my view, those two elements were present with Infamous Second son, well at least the good coders. Proper play testing and evaluating the game and post adjustments could have resulted in at least 11% more. When such a margin impacts the revenue to the degree we have seen in several games, the need for proper overhauling a game studio becomes apparent and the fact that this is either not happening or not having the desired effect, is now cause for concern (it should be for the game developer). You see, that part is shown in Mafia 3 (especially in the IGN video), because apart from all the nice little Easter eggs and other little titbits, the fact that we see “tons that you have to do, you just don’t want to do any of it“, is likely to limit sales and it will push people towards other games. In light of all the clips and advertisement we have seen in the big cities, that seems to be a massive impact on a game that would have had an 8 figure development cost. The weird issue in addition is that these game makers want a success, they want to be known for the 90%+ game they made, so partially, the road not taken is not making sense at all.

So we see that there are more games coming this year, the question becomes how good will they be? I am holding my breath for a few of them, including one that even as extreme snow sports was never my thing, this game has piqued my interest. Ubisoft is releasing the game Steep in December, so far it is the most ambitious and the most appealing snow based game I have ever seen in my life. The in game quote “Challenge cancelled, no death allowed in this challenge” is just hilarious (and you better realise that elbowing with a rock tends to be a terminal choice). One video titled ‘How an Open World Changes Action Sports‘ is exactly the issue. As written before, I have never been this excited over this type of game before, even when I was excited on playing SSX, when it got released with the PS2, it never came close to what I thought a snow game should be about. This game is it, yet, when we see the movies, which do look great, how much play testing did the game go through? We see the Ubisoft version of how smooth things play, and that might be so, but individual or independent are lacking. How many play testers went to the top of one mountain, just skiing to the very bottom? Ignoring all the tracks and challenges, just an open world ski trip, seeing if the game rears its ugly heads with a glitch?

The few I saw were all the same track and that is not what is supposed to make the game great. So, when we see the actual open area, what will it be then? (Not attacking, just actually asking). Like me, many others acted really positively on the initial parts we saw. The map implies that there is a massive amount of area’s to see and to explore. The game shows 4 ‘play modes’, which is not a given. From my point of view, there is a lot more that they could add, especially when the dynamics are already in play. In the lower area’s cross country skiing (not exciting, but a completionist option) and the way that reaching points could open up markers, I would have considered sleigh and bobsled tracks. Again, it is a completionist idea and adding this might give the game a feeling of completeness, especially when you are not multi-playing (which would be the driving force in a game like this). My idea’s will not make it a better game, it might make the game a lot worse, the question is what was considered, what was done and how was the game play tested? What is the impression a professional boarder has when looking and playing this game? Parts that I have not seen published or I missed it). The reason to ask these questions is because until December there is still time, for Mafia 3 it is too late to make a good first impression, for Steep there is time to get the upgrades done if required, depending on the time needed this game might miss thanksgiving and would need to globally rely on Christmas, which is not a bad thing. What is important is that the not extreme snow sport lovers are considering this game, implying that Steep could make a massive splash (revenue wise too). As to the verdicts of certain games, we will need to see the release of quality reviews, what is a given is that no early reviews is no longer a tool to get a better revenue, too many gamers have felt the impact of that flaw. Ubisoft lost a lot of cloud and 2K is getting hit as well soon enough, the question is what these players will do to up the game and get the gamers back to their fold. Time will tell, however in this year, there are a few too many games being released, so those hoping to see this level of revenue, would face the risk of losing their revenue being used to pay for games like Dishonored 2, games that have already proven themselves and are already showing to be equal or better. Some will even be holding on to their cash for the coming quarter, because Q1 2017 shows at least 3 games that are setting new levels of game play, and buying a wannabe for $49 is a lot better than the same anticipated title for $99. So make sure you get to the actual quality review goods BEFORE you buy the game you thought was going to be great.

 

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Confirmation!

It is always nice to see confirmation, as the large players have now made their presentation, I see that the battle lines are drawn in my favour, in favour of PlayStation players. Make sure you get this, I am not stating that Xbox lost, or that they have bad games, in the world of games, the ones I prefer to play, Sony delivered! The Last Guardian coming in 2016 is pure poetry by controller, Horizon is taking post-apocalyptic views to a new level and the small demo gives a clear view that we have new levels of gameplay to adhere to. Agent 47 is coming to PS4 and the console is also giving us new versions of the old, classics like Streetfighter, with new and awesome graphics, but the same play line that Streetfighter fans love. I saw a new part of actual gameplay of No Man’s Sky, the vreator (not a typo) was showing it off and getting the limelight he deserved. He is showing a level of exploring never seen before, the more I look at it, the more that I see on how Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky together are the perfect experiences non shooter addicted gamers will likely see this generation.

It is scary, but it is true. Consider the past. Most of those over 30 grew up seeing Steven Spielberg as the one creator of movies. After that we now get on his level Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams (not dismissing any other directors here). In games we had a few more, but over 20 years, the big names have been Peter Molyneux, Sid Meier and Richard Garriott. Now we get Gareth Bourn (No Man’s Sky) and David Braben (Elite: Dangerous). In the ‘old’ days David was the man of one game (one game I loved). Now we see that same game evolved beyond our imagination blowing me away and that is not all, so as we see more exceptional movie makers, we will also see more exceptional game makers. These Virtual Creators (vreators) are raising the bar by a lot, One on Xbox (me growling a little now) and one on Sony. Personally I truly hope that both consoles get to enjoy both games, because no matter which console you decided on, both games are as I see it, an absolute must!

Sony also showed a few games that were out there. Firewatch and Dreams, dreams is completely off the wall. Different and unique, which means it will completely appeal to the artsy gamer. Firewatch is set in Wyoming, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, you’re all alone. A mystery that involves two missing women, so good luck with that challenge. And this is just the top of the games. More clear appeal than Microsoft offered, more pure gameplay we had not seen before and this is before we get more on Metal Gear Solid 5. So both systems have unique offerings, and offerings on both, you the gamer gets to choose what gaming style appeals to you. For me, Sony delivers what I desire (apart from Elite: Dangerous).

Sony did not ignore the younger players. With Disney’s Infinity 3.0 it will be giving the Star Wars universe with a limited 1 month exclusive for PlayStation players. So, parents who want to imbue the passion for Star Wars to their kids, they will have the materials to do just that. Loads of options and exclusives, which will be opened for all others after 30 days, some will remain exclusive until the holidays. At least it is a temporary thing for none Sony players. Looking back at the presentations, it seems to me that we got twice the value from Sony in the same time that Microsoft was ‘hyping’ some of their exclusives.

The best thing is to go to www.IGN.com and look at the Sony presentation yourself, download the movie, watch online of stream it to your tablet offline. Everything Sony showed is telling me that we are in for an excellent year of gaming. I reckon that most of us will have plenty to play until the end of 2016. The show ended with Drake, a smooth introduction movie with a nice twist at the beginning, which shows us that the beginners that brought a ‘Crash Bandicoot’ is still reeling the wow factors of players today, with games like ‘a thieves end’ whilst ‘the Last of Us’ still has not stopped appealing the players. Yet so far, the one part that was never truly answered was the gossip and ‘leaked’ news regarding the Mass Effect trilogy on Nextgen, which seems to be not happening as far as I can tell from the news released, but I did see the question all over IGN, they all accept that for those new on consoles, Mass Effect is an established game that can grab the imagination of new players, whilst fulfilling the desire of the seasoned gaming veteran. So we must wonder how much can we rely on this information as such, if not, then why can you pre-order the game in some online shops (with a clear TBA mention though)?

The E3 is still going on, but for me, the important parts are done. Tomorrow we will see Square Enix and Nintendo. I still have my Wii in a box somewhere, I never got the WiiU and to be honest, I have no intention of getting it. The Wii started strong, was messed up by Nintendo Marketing, as such, Nintendo lost a market share part. Yet, last year they regained a lot of visibility with Splatoon, a game that amazed and impressed, it was released this month. For now, Nintendo has nothing new to offer and what I have (3DS) works really well, yet an upgraded version of a Gameboy advance game alone will not do it. Nintendo has work to do, whilst Sony keeps on amazing. Square Enix is another matter. Deus Ex is the big ticket for me, yet the remastered Final Fantasy VII should not be ignored. So far the news all over the place are stating almost the same. Sony delivered!

So as Sony ended one part of the presentation of Dreams with the music ‘life is but a dream’, I will say: “Thank you Sony!”

 

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Tomb Raider, A game the wrong way round.

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This is for those who play/played games (on a console or PC). I have been involved in the gaming industry for a long time. I have tested them, reviewed them and been in contact with original game creators since 1989. No matter who we applaud for whatever game started what, there is no denying a basic fact. When Sony released the first PlayStation the world of gaming changed forever.

This console came in the beginning with a minimum amount of games; however gaming changed forever one year after the PlayStation was released when a game named Tomb Raider was released. This game was in no uncertain terms the pinnacle of gaming in many ways. It was puzzling, Action, exploring and extremely exciting. It had 4 area’s comprising of 18 levels. It was a massive game filled with so many things that replaying was essential. The game that followed was even bigger and more challenging. I reckon it took no less than 3 weeks to get through either game. I was mesmerised. It was there for a shock that I got through this new game for almost 90% in just two days.

The new Tomb Raider is served like an expensive meal. Nice plate, exquisite display of eatable items, but a nice plate does not necessarily leave you filled and in this case it leaves you hungry soon after dinner. The game is rocky in several places. It is repetitive; at times it has the same shock effect again and again and at times too cinematographic where you must push a button at the exact time.

So, what are the good parts?

Yes, they had so much to work with. Enough so, that I am very concerned on how this was messed up to that extent. The premise that it is on ONE island was pretty brilliant, the idea of a Tomb Raider zero is pretty decent and one thing MUST be stated at the very beginning is that the graphics are UNREAL! That is the one part that is beyond exceptional. The graphics show utter perfection. Especially when you get to a level called coastal base, you have no idea what you are in for. The graphical part of the game is without a doubt utterly perfect. To give you a little more, this is from the same house that brought Deus Ex. A game that brought several times the satisfaction this game brings. Square Enix is a house that has a high quality established name, so what went wrong? WHY is this game so mediocre in my mind?

Let us take a look at the first level. It is decent and a good introduction to this game. It gives the person a way to control and move through the introduction. In the end of this short run we will have seen how easy the game is controlled and that is what any good introduction does. From there we stop at our first camp. The camps are important and it is a good way to progress and safe a game. All that is fine. Next we get to get the bow and do a little hunting. Soon thereafter you will get a first feel on how good the game might be. You as a gamer will quickly become hungry for more. After a day, when you see your progress you realise that overall this game could have been a lot more, and it is without a doubt way too small. The indication that ‘downloaded’ tombs are coming might not even be a consolation, especially if those tombs cost extra (unknown at this time whether it will cost). I do not know whether the failing is due to timing, due to marketing or just a lack of creativity. The art and graphics are so amazing that the third option is not likely the case.

Levels are overall not that bad and the hidden tombs are nice. The change that the entire game plays on One Island gives the game a good feel, and soon the story will narrate into a supernatural field that is well known and a source of fame for the Tomb Raider series. So, the elements of a great Tomb Raider game are definitely there. However, some levels could have been a lot larger, making the game a lot more and especially longer challenging. I reckon that this is one of the two great flaws in this game. The game does have many decent sides, again, it tends to get repetitive when Lara is dumped in the deep end, suddenly surrounded by overwhelming forces and then the fight starts again. I can understand that approach to happen once or twice, but it happens too often, I would state that this is a big No in my book. This repetition becomes tedious after a while. This is odd way to go, because the approach with stealth kills with a bow is actually a very nice twist for the player. In addition we soon have an idea who is two-timing us, so the average gamer will not get too much of a surprise.

What was good is in some levels there is a running need to jump, climb and skip in a cinematographic approach. This is not bad, but it again happens too often and then it is all about timing the button correctly, or to shoot the right obstacles. 2-3 might be nice, but it happens slightly too often with too many cut scenes.

What could have been done better? Larger playing levels are a definite! 2 of them, like the Coastal area and the climb to the monastery are sizeable area’s to see. However, getting through the levels is at times slightly too fast. If we look at places like the Research Station, we see a place that was way too small. Even additional puzzles in all areas would have been a good thing. Additional levels and depths as well as puzzles to get through the hidden tombs would have given this game additional weight; those additions would have dramatically driven the score of the game. In one weekend I got up to the final temple, and most areas were 100% completed.

I am a decent gamer, but not a great one. I am certain several gamers could have done the same game 1-2 hours quicker on the highest setting, which again is shown in my low score. The hidden tombs are a fun idea; however, for the most each one has one small puzzle and not a challenging one at that. Only the fishery tomb is slightly challenging at first. But all levels do show utter perfection in its graphical and artistic environment. That makes it all so upsetting.

I would rate this game a 7.5 out of 10. With a little more effort it could have been an easy 9.4 out of 10. Which begs the question, why the failing effort? Tomb Raider, of all games should be better than this in my mind. The second question is how the critics came to a score so high, way higher then it currently deserves.

Important that this review is based on the single player ONLY! This game has an additional multi-player option which was not tested.

 

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