The Tuesday letters page accuses Naughty Dog of being the most miserable developer in gaming, as another reader comes out against Elden Ring.
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Blood in the water
Over the last few months I’ve been imagining Sony with one of those ‘number of days since last accident’ signs in their boardroom, and I doubt it’s ever made it to double digits. They just seem to constantly sleepwalk into problems that should never have happened and this business with Gran Turismo 7 is the latest example.
They already been in trouble for trying to make it too hard to earn in-game money, thereby making cars more expensive. In fact, they’d had to do a U-turn about it. So what did they think was going to happen when they suddenly increased the prices under the phony guise of realism?
They certainly have been making mistakes and yet I still feel sorry for them, not only because the PlayStation is my console of choice but because I’ve sensed that media and fans have started to dogpile on Sony in recent weeks, creating what seems to me to be a clear bias in favour of Xbox.
For example, a common complaint is their poor communication, which I accept has been a problem, but has Xbox been any better? I can’t remember the last time they had an announcement and at least Sony has the VR reveal this week. Xbox also has even less games than Sony scheduled this year and yet it’s Sony that’s getting the most grief for that.
I’m not suggesting any kind of conspiracy here, I just think it’s a shame that social media encourages everyone to follow the crowd and at the moment Sony is the punching bag. I just think it’s bad for everyone, as the second Sony do announce something cool they’ll be flavour of the month again. It’s not healthy for people to go from hate to worship and back again so quickly.
So I see this talking point pop up every time anyone talks about Nintendo: the console’s not powerful enough and the graphics aren’t that great to compete with Sony and Microsoft. Hell, all you have to do is look at the fact Portal 2 has only just been released on a Nintendo platform, when that game was released all the way back in 2011 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Some people might argue Valve is pointing out how much more powerful than the Switch the Steam Deck is but take a look at the titles Nintendo releases and the stuff they do with the hardware. They seem to focus more on the enjoyability and replay value of the games than on, ‘Let’s make this look so realistic’. Even on the Wii U (which I owned, yes, I’m one of 10 people to own it) Splatoon is a shooter but the goal wasn’t to get the most kills or capture a point, it was to paint the map in your team colours as much as possible.
Fun, fast paced gaming and really, isn’t gaming meant to be fun? Look at the other shooters on the market like Call Of Duty with its drab colours and realistic warfare. I get it, people like realism, but that’s not the be all and end all of gaming. I’d rather play a fun, silly ‘childish’ game at 720p than a hyper-realistic gritty game at 4K.
Closed for lunch
Shops and street vendors in games have not evolved to keep pace with modern games, they are still using a few basic frames and repeating themselves endlessly. For instance, those who cook food should use actual recipes and skills, the food show in all its visceral, gooey, sticky, crispy, hot and steamy glory.
It would be nice edutainment worth watching between quests, but that’s not to say their hasn’t been some exceptions and I have found street venders interesting as far back as that guy in the background in Chun-Li’s original stage with the chicken.
However, I think the whole street vendor population could be improved as when done well they add more to a game than most plots, while anyone who’s currently reading The NPCs In This Village Sim Game Must Be Real! manga could appreciate a little more depth to this aspect, which in my opinion gives a game its life and charm.
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Interesting Reader’s Feature by Gannet at the weekend.
Naughty Dog have indeed become a grimdark factory and now Neil Druckmann is co-president of the studio I can’t see it changing. Although the guy is a talented writer and director, he must be one of most gloomy people on the planet!
He wanted to kill Elena in Uncharted 2, which to me would have ruined the series completely, as the loving relationship Nate and Elena have is the heart of the games. Then with The Last Of Us Parts 1 and 2 he gave us two of the most miserable games ever!
Gato Roboto is getting a physical release on Nintendo Switch from Special Reserve Games on June 14th, for anyone interested. I know someone mentioned they like it in the comments, I’ve added the digital version to my wish list after that recommendation in the Underbox. You can’t order the game yet, but it is listed on the homepage of Special Reserve for pre-order.
PS: On the topic of games like Limbo and Inside, I meant games where they had a narrative as well as platform and puzzles. I have added the games mentioned by Game Central to my wishlists on various consoles/PC. I bought Far: Lone Sails on recommendation from Panda, aka Floyd and am enjoying what I have played so far. It is currently on sale for about a fiver on PSN Store.
I’ve been recently enjoying Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition on Nintendo Switch, having first played it on PC about 20 years ago. Which made me recall another Dungeons & Dragons game I played on the PlayStation 4 a few years ago called Sword Coast Legends.
This was an ambitious PC game which allowed a dungeon master to direct the action. It was somewhat stripped back to a more basic single-player party adventure on PlayStation 4, which was enjoyable nonetheless. Anyway, it was delisted from PSN (and Steam) around 2018, no doubt due to developer n-Space folding and the Dungeons & Dragons licence expiring, and I don’t think it ever got a physical release (certainly not on consoles) so I assume it’s lost forever (notwithstanding anyone who’d already downloaded it).
So maybe a Hot Topic of games that aren’t simply aren’t available anymore (and if we include online, then Arcane, The Mystery Serial by Sarbakan, is one to add – albeit maybe there’s a mirrored server out there…?).
Steve, South Wales
GC: Did you see this story about Embracer Group’s new archive?
Just wanted to take a moment and write about the joys of Sniper Elite games. There’s nothing more relaxing after a hectic day than getting the kids to bed and sitting down for a relaxing hour of Nazi massacring.
I’m not even joking, I just find these games beyond relaxing. Like a warm blanket and cup of tea on a cold winter day. I hope the developers never try to change the formula. It works, it’s all I want from it, and I’ll always feel this way. Looking forward to playing Sniper Elite 60 in a rundown nursing home.
The right game
I too took a chance on Elden Ring, I really wanted to play Horizon Forbidden West but the Elden hype sucked me in, so I took a flyer on it.
I was anticipating great things as it loaded up, which was unusual as I had tried Demon’s Souls and it did absolutely nothing for me, but all those reviews can’t be wrong; Elden Ring was open world and a veritable playground of things to do.
So I took my first tentative steps and to be fair it was a tad better than Souls, I spent a few weeks battling, managed to level up to 60 and then the rot set in. It was becoming a grind, like a boring job, I was dreading putting it on and doing the same repetitive things. I persevered and hung in there, but after another week or so I’d had enough, I was Elden-ed out. Couldn’t stand it. So I decided to go with my original plan, albeit a few weeks later, and try Horizon Forbidden West.
Wow, I was back in the real world (gaming world) and it was a joy, maybe that’s the hook with Elden Ring, it makes you appreciate good games more.
I completed Horizon and every minute was a total pleasure, even the side missions were brilliant.
Anyway, I searched the market for my next adventure and eventually found Dying Light 2. Well, imagine my surprise when this game turned out to be just as good, if not better than Horizon. A bit like The Witcher with zombies, a must play game. I’m about halfway through and loving it, I don’t want it to end how lucky I chose the right game.
So one thing Elden Ring did was made me appreciate other games all the more.
I wish every country would ban loot boxes, what a wonderful world we’d be living in then. Like that Simpsons clip where everyone’s dancing in a circle when they get rid of all the lawyers.
I honestly don’t think Polyphony Digital are making these Gran Turismo 7 changes out of a sense of cynicism. I think they honestly don’t realise how their actions are going to seem to everyone else and are just kind of blundering into each controversy. Not that that makes it any better.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Carter, who asks what is your favourite sci-fi game?
The genre of the video game doesn’t matter as long as it can be described as science fiction in some way, but which is your favourite and why? How much do you enjoy sci-fi as a setting, and do you prefer it to be more serious or more fantasy led?
Are there any concepts or licences you feel haven’t been done well before and how would you handle them? Which games do things like spaceship combat and futuristic weapons best and what concepts, like zero gravity and alien planets, do you feel remain underexploited?
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