e3 Press Conferences are outdated

See the source image Every year during E3 week, video game publishers talk about the games they’re planning to release in the next couple of years (or, sometime in the next decade at least…). It’s an exciting time to be a gamer, as we learn about the worlds we will be inhabiting.

A host of companies hold live presentations to reveal the latest games, and the bevy of gaming media across the globe grade these companies on how well the presentations went. (Hey, we’ve got coverage of every conference here at PSVG. Subscribe to the podcast feed!)

But we spend too much time talking about how the presenters did. Was there enough gameplay? Were there enough surprises? Too much time on mobile games? Why’d they waste so much time on live music and YouTube personalities!?

The thing is, the world and how we consume media have changed greatly since the first Electronics Entertainment Expo more than two decades ago. Gaming itself has broken into the mainstream, with millions of people watching and playing games all over the world. More people watch eSports. More than 100 million people watch the largest League of Legends tournaments online.

Many hardcore gamers get their gaming news straight from the source — the Playstation Blog debuts games on a near-daily basis. YouTube personalities play a role in showing off developers’ hard work.

And, yet...we sit and watch as EA, Microsoft, Bethesda, Devolver, Ubisoft, Square Enix and PlayStation get up on stages and talk about games. Everything between gameplay is derided as pointless, unless you have a charismatic person like Todd Howard who doesn’t fully rely on a teleprompter.

The information revealed in these staid presentations could easily be included in standard press releases, accompanied by videos. Nintendo’s Directs have this flavor, but the idea could easily be adapted to fit each company’s corporate flavor. This year’s Direct was fantastic, with about 20 minutes of fast-hitting trailers and announcements, followed by a 25-minute deep dive into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

The best part of E3 — for me — is in perusing through the deluge of news and picking out what I’m interested in learning more about. The coverage that mainstream sites like IGN, Kinda Funny, Polygon and more put up throughout the event is worth far more than the presentations themselves. PlayStation and Nintendo’s livestreams are far more interesting and informative than the presentations.

I’m not calling for an end to E3 itself, but instead a reimagining of how the information is released. It can cost less, take less time and be for efficient, all while still stoking conversation and getting gamers excited.

There is plenty to be excited about, as well. Personally, I’m super excited for Fallout 76, StarLink, Anthem, Spider-Man, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and more. But I don’t need to watch hour-long “conferences” to stoke the fire of excitement. I need informative gameplay sessions with insightful commentary and interviews.

These are the views of the author, and not PSVG as a whole.

Red Dead Redemption 2 New Trailer

See the source image https://youtu.be/eaW0tYpxyp0

America, 1899. The end of the wild west era has begun as lawmen hunt down the last remaining outlaw gangs. Those who will not surrender or succumb are killed. From the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America at the dawn of the modern age. Coming October 26, 2018 to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One systems.

Destiny 2: A Return to Form?

So here we are, on the cusp of the final DLC of year one of Destiny 2. I know its been a while since you have heard from me about Destiny, (heck heard from me in general) and well, this latest dev update warrants me speaking on it. Bungie has finally dated and named the upcoming DLC, we have a road-map for the summer, and a tease for the large Taken King style update slated for this September (man September is gonna be busy). So let's break this all down, shall we? See the source image

WARMIND

That's it. That's the name of the DLC. While there were a ton of rumors about what the DLC would be called, with The Fallen Warmind, and Ghosts of Mars being the most prominent it has settled on just Warmind. While this was definitely unexpected, it creates a very ominous tone in my mind as well as leaves it open to possibly being a story of all of the Warminds instead of just Rasputin, which most people were expecting. Just to add to the speculation of what this may be, if you look closely at the image, you have what looks to be snow or ice on the left and then red dunes on the right, as well as what looks to be Phobos in the sky-box on the right-hand side. If I had to guess, I would say this image is of Charlemagne who is the Warmind of Mars. Looks like Mars is back on the menu boys! This particular take hearkens all the way back to the Pre-Destiny 1 release era info and a little thing called Charlemagne's Vault. In some of the pre-release content, it was hinted at that Charlemagne's Vault was located deep in the Dust Palace on Mars and contained vast riches as well as a little gun called Thorn. For my lore nerds, this could have some huge implications on the story, as well as the possibility of one of the most deadly and fun Hand Cannons from Destiny 1 returning to the game. We will have to wait for the reveal stream on April 24th on twitch and then the actual release on May 8th for more info. Until then this is my story and I'm sticking to it.

 

SUMMER LULL

OK, so unless they flesh out the summer a bit more or the content drop in May has just an overwhelming load of things to do, it could be a bit of a drag to play through the summer while waiting for the update in September. We will have a new seasonal event, changes to the faction rallies (please add PVP faction wars), as well as the addition of bounties (thank God!) and some much-needed changes to exotic armor. While this seems like just a tiny bit of stuff, it could be potentially game-changing, especially if the seasonal event lasts all summer and the faction rallies are meaningful. Exotic armor needs a definite overhaul as there are really only a few pieces of exotic armor that are really even worth the effort to put on IMO. So while the summer seems to be lacking, it could have a really great lasting effect on the game in terms of things to chase in the summer.

 

SEPTEMBER

This is what we have been waiting for. This will either be the coup-de-gras, or it will be what brings back the masses and puts Destiny back on the map. While we know almost nothing about what this is, the 4 items that they have labeled: Gear Collections, Records, Weapon Slot Changes, and Weapon Randomization, are the things the overall community has been asking for the most. The most frustrating part of all of this is that adding these 4 things basically takes us back to where Destiny 1 was in its greatest form. While I love that we are going to get some of the things that made D1 great, it's a shame that we had to wait a year to get a return to form instead of just being able to pick up where we left off.

 

So there you have it. Will you be getting back into Destiny come May 8th? Hold out till September, or is Destiny 2 dead to you like it is for our fearless leader? Let us know here in the comments, holler at us on twitter or come jump in our discord and chat with us.

The Long Reach dated for Switch, Xbox One, PS4 & PC

See the source image You know how every now and again a trailer or a screenshot comes across the screen and catches your eye? I just had one such moment when I watched the trailer for The Long Reach for the first time and rushed over here to make sure I shared the experience. The game immediately reminds me of other video games like Lone Survivor and The Coma. And as our listeners already know, you don't have to try too hard to get me interested in a horror video game.

The game is arriving on Nintendo Switch! (and yes Xbox, PS4, and PC lol) on March 14th for around $20. Here's the quick breakdown from the game's website:

The Long Reach is an intricate adventure, where you solve puzzles, run, and hide. The story takes place in Baervox, fictional American town. The scientific institute designs a revolutionary system of accelerated knowledge transferring. As it usually happens, everything went wrong. Technology went out of control. As an aftermath, Institute, and the whole town turned into a real nightmare, and the experiment participants grew into... well, we cannot tell you that for now, because we hate spoilers! :)

 

Furthermore, the developers (Painted Black Games) goes on to provide some motivation and extra features.

History

We wanted to make a meaningful story for the gamers, after completing it, to breathe out: "Wow, I should think it over!", instead of getting into the fridge to take some snacks. Listing all sources of our inspiration is hard. We've taken a little from Matrix, from Resident Evil and Lone Survivor . We've been inspired by The Last Door, True Detective, Fargo, etc. As an aftermath, our narrative designer Evgeni made one hell of a story. In a nutshell, the idea of The Long Reach game is that any progress indirectly leads to unexpected consequences. The consequences that can be terrible. Indeed terrible.

Features

  • Magical realism. We’re going for a usual and mundane exposition parts that are trashed and twisted and as the story unfolds.
  • Your enemies aren’t faceless zombies or possessed puppets. They are humans whose lives and stories matter and we make sure the player knows that.
  • Solo mode for adventure lovers. Control Steward, the junior researcher at the scientific institute. He is an ordinary person who will have to untangle the story, save the world and survive.
  • Unforgettable narrative. It is a thrill story, flavored with sci-fi idea, psychological context, and skeptical view on the progress and human actions.
  • The Long Reach is the almost 100% classic adventure game but dressed up with a little haunting element.
  • More than fifty locations.
  • For about twenty main and background characters.
  • More than sixty items, which you will have to collect and apply.
  • More than 12 000 words in dialogs and script.
  • Mad folks will haunt you. There are few of them, but they won't let you relax.
  • Handmade pixel art, created pixel by pixel from scratch.
  • Original atmospheric music. Our composer's indeed music maniac. He brings strange things into the studio and turns them into the pieces of music. We don't understand what he's doing, but his work can't be overestimated.
  • Lots of game platforms: PC, macOS, Linux, Xbox, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

 

Why Are Current-Gen Games Still $60?

See the source imageWith all of the controversy going on with Star Wars Battlefront 2 and micro-transactions, this question crossed my mind. We all know that development costs of Triple-A games can be in the millions. Yet with the rise in cost to produce these titles, the cost of a game in the United States rarely eclipses the $59.99 USD price. That is unless it's a special edition or a collector's edition. To recoup these high development costs, developers have begun to implement micro-transactions more often within games. These micro-transactions allow a person playing a game to spend real-world money for in-game credits for use to purchase in-game items such as weapons, costumes, or other cosmetic enhancements. In some cases, micro-transactions can provide a boost in a player skill level or provide an upgrade to give a player a foot up on their opponent.

One could say that this trend started with developers offering season passes. Season passes allowed players to pre-purchase any future downloadable content released post-launch of a given game. There were times when season passes cost almost as much as the game itself. I can remember specifically of the cost of the season pass for Fallout 4 costing $50 USD, whereas the game itself cost $59.99 USD at launch. My apprehension on buying the DLC came when the developer stated that they were not sure what would be included in the season pass, but only that it would be well worth the $50 price tag. For me, that isn't a satiable enough reason to entice me to spend an additional $50 after I already paid $59.99. In my opinion, the developer spent a lot of money promoting and creating this game and they knew that only charging $59.99 would not provide the return on investment that they were seeking. So, therefore, they felt the need to create the season pass and to price it as such. Initially, when first revealed, the season pass for Fallout 4 was $30. However, over the course of development of the extra content, the developer realized that price point was too low. They did offer consumers a chance to purchase the pass at the original $30 price point; however, this would be only for a limited time as the season pass would eventually go up to $50. I honestly considered getting the pass for $30 but I didn't like that I felt forced to buy it immediately or pay the higher price down the line, so I decided against purchasing the extra content even though I really enjoyed Fallout 4. Now looking back I do not regret my decision to not purchase the content. In this case, I voted with my wallet. Something I feel if done correctly will allow consumers get what they want from developers. This way they know when we like or do not like something by not purchasing it.

This brings me to my point. If game development costs more and more, why haven't companies raised the price for games? In the 90's, NES games costed around $50 USD. With inflation, that figure is $90 or more today. So if we were paying that much for games that are far less technologically advanced than the games of today, why are they so cheap? I feel that if developers raised the price of games this may negate the need for micro-transactions or season passes. Maybe this is naive but hey, it's a thought. At least for the time being, it will detract from the controversy of micro-transactions being considered gambling. In fact in Belgium they have deemed loot boxes/micro-transactions as gambling and they want them removed from games. In my opinion, this is a huge blow to companies such as EA and Activision. These companies make so much money on micro-transactions that decided to incorporate them in all future titles moving forward. As a consumer, I have no interest in supporting the micro-transaction model. I would rather pay a higher amount for the game than be nickel and dimed for content. The only way paying to play or to win makes sense to me is if the game were free to play. But when there is an entry price to play the game it just doesn't seem fair to consumers to have to keep pumping money in a game to advance or to explore content locked behind a paywall.

Unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to look at it, Star Wars Battlefront 2 is being made a martyr for the sins of micro-transactions. With the bad press this game is receiving, developers may need to re-think their approach to making games more profitable. I for one do not intend to purchase Battlefront 2 because I do not like micro-transactions. I can only wonder how many others feel the same way. Only time will tell once sales figures are released. Let's just hope that for the sake of all gamer's that a resolution to this growing issue is made sooner rather than later. Even if means raising the standard prices for games, all options should be explored.

 

 

Ratchet & Clank: Back To The Beginning

London, let’s go back to the beginning!” – Cheryl from Girls Aloud Out Of Control: Live From The O2 2009 DVD before the “Sound Of The Underground” live performance

The Ratchet & Clank series have come a long way since Ratchet & Clank in 2002.

We all have a particular video game that catapulted us into the first foray of any series. For example, Crash Bandicoot (not Super Mario 64 and the Nintendo 64, mind you) marks my first foray into the Crash Bandicoot series and video games in general. Thus, it turns out the PlayStation 1 (otherwise known as PSOne or PSX back in the good old days) is my first ever console according to Power Up! Manchester 2017 at the Museum of Science and Industry. In light of the upcoming 15th anniversary of the Ratchet & Clank series, I decided to reveal how I got hooked on it in the first place as well as discussing about the first Ratchet & Clank game I purchased, played and owned, Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked and Loaded (also known as Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando in the US).

It all started back in Thursday 21st August 2014 at 7:52pm when a former friend and I were engaged in a private conversation on Facebook. We talked about all kinds of things ranging from video games to our interests and it seemed to last for hours on end until he introduces me to the Ratchet & Clank series, in spite of I already know of its existence years ago. From what I can vaguely remember, what intrigued me is he told me the series is a “spiritual successor” to the Spyro The Dragon franchise. At first, I’m still stubbornly hesitant to try out the series but when he informed me that platforming is the meat of the aforementioned series, that’s when I eventually surrendered and made the decision to give it a try.

Flashback to Saturday 11th October 2014, me and my former long-time best friend attended Play Expo Manchester which marks as the first Play Expo we’ve experienced. Back when I dressed up as a hippie and my former life-long best friend cosplayed as a character from Attack On Titan. I didn’t understand the aspect of cosplay, despite I knew about it years ago. During our time at the convention, we attended a talk about Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty, we met a few members of the developing team behind Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty, Just Add Water Ltd., I had my pictures taken with them and getting their autographs, I tried out a demo of Oddworld: New ‘N’ Tasty on the PlayStation 4 (it’s an old model at the time), we watched the cosplay masquerade, we stumbled across and took photos of cosplayers, we visited GamesYouLoved’s stall (that’s before I joined their writing team at the time), we stopped by at the other stalls such as the Video Game Carnival and so forth until we eventually come across one of the retro video game stalls. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a copy of Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked and Loaded and bought it. Little did I know I didn’t know what I’m getting myself into? And from that point on, the rest is history.

Believe it or not, an innumerable amount of years ago, I’m actually aware of the series but that’s when I weren’t interested in it. In fact, the third-person shooting gameplay have utterly put me off the entire series for numberless amount of years… until 2014.

I still regret judging the series for many years back then as well as not knowing about it in 2002 since it’s completely overshadowed by Girls Aloud and the like at the time while I’m still in high school. If only I’m aware of the series beforehand all these years ago… I wouldn’t have it any other way. Though, it would’ve made my life even more interesting if I grew up with the series along with Girls Aloud, Sugababes, S Club 7, Rachel Stevens, Crash Bandicoot, classic Spyro, Tomb Raider, old-school Cartoon Network, Blue (not to be confused with the name of the colour Blue) etc during my teenage years. Looking back, I realised I took the early and mid 2000’s for granted.

After all these years of dismissing this series and not giving it a second chance without a second thought back then made me fail to realise how undeniably cute and cuddly Ratchet is, despite his previous unlikeable personality in the first game and how unkind and mean he is towards Clank sometimes in Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters and Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction. I find it unique to find a protagonist who isn’t always a goodie two-shoes, coupled with a bitter, selfish, self-centred, arrogant, street-smart and smart-mouthed personality traits when it comes to the first game as far as the original series is concerned, excluding the 2016 re-imagining.

Becoming fascinated and admittedly, borderline, obsessed with the Ratchet & Clank series have opened doors to new possibilities, led to me expanding my horizons by playing other non-Nintendo platforming games, giving other things a second chance such as potatoes (coincidentally, I tried potatoes in the same year as I’ve eventually given the Ratchet & Clank franchise a second chance), a brand-new pastime in the form of stargazing and slowly warming up to some video game genres and video games such as Hyper Sentinel for instance but at the cost of starting to grow out of/move on from Nintendo, Mario, Kirby and Animal Crossing series (that’s an upcoming article for another time in the near future). The instant I become interested in a “new” video game franchise, there comes a sacrifice. Therefore, it’s becoming more apparent when I play PlayStation games (mainly platformers seeing as they are still my bread and butter sine 1996) more times than I play Nintendo games and consoles nowadays. In other words, I prioritise PlayStation more than Nintendo these days. I simply don’t like Nintendo as much as I used to. It happened with the Pokémon franchise back in the 90’s during the time when I played Pokémon Gold on my Game Boy Colour back in the day and it will be a matter of time before the same thing will happen to Nintendo as a whole. Although, it took years and years of baby steps to finally realise that maybe trying out new and different things isn’t such a bad thing after all. Not only that but I also come to the realisation that I’ve might have missed out on a lot of stuff throughout the previous and recent years.

Thanks to the Ratchet & Clank series, I secretly harboured a trigger finger but not to the extent where I’m going to try out the… (retch)… Call of Duty series and the Destiny video games. And no, I don’t plan on checking them out whatsoever under no circumstances. The same can be said about The Legend of Spyro trilogy, ****landers (it’s extremely difficult to mention the “Skylanders” name without cursing it. It goes to show how much I loathed the franchise with every fibre of my being.), Snake Pass (in my opinion, I still reckon it’s not a platforming video game) and modern, generic and overrated AAA shooting games and open-world video games and nitty and gritty video games, complete with an excessive amount of blood and gore, to name a few. They’re SO not my cup of tea.

One of the memories I’ve recall is the weird glitches that plagued the game. They tend to happen at the most unpredictable times and they normally occur by accident when I least expect it. Some are more laugh-out-loud hilarious than others. For instance, when I’m at Silver City in Planet Boldan, I was so engrossed in lighting the Thugs-4-Less mercenaries up with my high-tech, futuristic weapons I didn’t notice I shot at one of the mercs, causing him to be pushed and edging him further and further into a transparent fence. No matter what I do and how hard I try, I can’t seem to do him in so I have no choice but to leave him where he is. It took me a while to become aware of what I’ve done and the instant I spotted him standing behind the barrier-like fence, it didn’t take me long to burst into laughter. Oh well, sucks for him that he can’t shoot at me now.

The other comical memory is within the first cutscene while Abercrombie Fizzwidget informs Ratchet of his commando training and conditioning duties and tasks which includes ballroom dancing, the slideshow presents me with a black and white picture of Ratchet dressed to the nines, clothed top to bottom in formal wear and Clank all dolled up in a dress whilst they’re dancing. I can’t unsee that slideshow photo ever since.

Speaking of the cutscenes, I’m unaware of the change in Ratchet’s voice until I played the first Ratchet & Clank (not to be confused with the 2016 re-imagining which shared the same title as the abovementioned first game) game and found out Mikey Kelley (he returned to the Ratchet & Clank series to provide his voice for the Starship Phoenix II’s artificial intelligence in Ratchet & Clank: Q-Force. The voice sounds like a teenage male’s voice, kind of almost identical to Ratchet’s old voice) is Ratchet’s original voice actor and his successor, James Arnold Taylor, have been Ratchet’s voice actor since this game until present and beyond.

 

My favourite weapons are the Gravity Bomb, Mini Nuke, Minirocket Tube, Megarocket Cannon, Shield Charger, Tesla Barrier, Plasma Coil and Plasma Storm.

My favourite music tracks from the soundtrack are “Aranos – Flying Lab”, “Oozla – The Swamp Monster”, “Wupash Nebula”, “Felzin System – Thug Rendezvous”, “Dobbo Orbit – Giant Clank Battle”, “Todano – Megacorp Armoury”, “Todano – Megacorp Armoury Interior”, “Boldan – Silver City”, “Boldan – Surfing the Electric Cables”, “Gorn – Thugs-4-Less Fleet” and “Yeedil – Megacorp HQ”.

My favorite level out of all of the levels in the game hands down is Silver City in Planet Boldan but mainly because of the music track. It blew me away and caught me off guard when I listened to the music track for the first time. I couldn’t help myself but bop along in rhythm to the music on the bed in my bedroom. It sounds like the kind of music you hear and rave to at a nightclub. I still dance along to it these days whenever I listen to it on my smartphone. Furthermore, it’s one of my top ten favorite music tracks from the entire series and it’s definitely in the top three.

[embed]https://youtu.be/FUpPLXQyz0k[/embed]

Ever since I played this game in 2014, I fell in love with the universe filled to the brim with the various fictional alien species and sentient robots, unique planets and galaxies. They felt like believable locations and there are times when I stop what I’m doing solely to dart my eyes around my surroundings or take photos of them. Speaking of the characters, my favorite character is Ratchet obviously and Orvus (Clank’s birth father) from Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time (otherwise known as Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time) but mainly because he’s voiced by Charles Martinet, Mario’s voice actor and one of my favorite voice actors of all time.

Regarding Ratchet, he’s my favourite character due to his irresistibly adorable appearance, his physical feline appearance, his yellow-golden fur and brown-striped tail ending with a tuft of fluff (which is similar to a lion’s tail) makes me want to hug, cuddle, snuggle, stroke or pet him like a household cat, I’m a cat person and his personality is nearly identical to mine and believe it or not, I almost share the same height with him according to a character height chart (hence the reason why Ratchet & Clank is the perfect cosplay for me). Heck, his cat-like cuteness rivals Kirby’s adorableness. As a result, he’s my current favourite video game hero and fictional alien.

Just like the original first game, I loved how Ratchet and Clank play off of each other as if the cutscenes are anything to go by. Ratchet is impulsive, cocky, arrogant, stubborn, sometimes selfish and self-centred, reckless, a loose cannon, irresponsible, careless and occasionally immature but at the same time, he’s likeable, caring, friendly, helpful, “smart as they come”, a shoot first and ask questions later kind of guy and he’s quick-witted while Clank is the voice of reason, a politely-spoken robot, he possesses gentleman mannerisms and the brainiac of the duo in terms of their personalities. The cutscenes are entertaining, witty and side-splittingly hilarious enough to make my eyes water from laughing so much at high volume, complete with a well-written script. Although, the adult jokes flew over my head since I still have a lot of growing up to do and I’m still naive, regardless of the fact I’m a young adult. Along with the cutscenes, they are accompanied with plot twists, turns and surprises at every turn for example Abercrombie Fizzwidget revealing himself as Captain Qwark who is the mastermind behind the Megacorp conspiracy which is something I didn’t see coming. Ratchet, Clank and Angela Cross’ reactions pretty summed up my own reaction.

I find Ratchet and Clank’s bromance endearing and it’s something I used to relate to, back when my former best mate and I were best friends for slightly over ten years. Not only that but I occasionally call her “my Clank” and refer her as “the Clank to my Ratchet” seeing as I almost share the same personalities with him and her personality is nearly equivalent to Clank’s due to her mathematic skills knows no bounds. We were so incredibly close until it gets to the point where we linked arms sometimes, similar to Anna and Elsa as presented in the Disney’s Frozen Nintendo 3DS theme. It’s like as if nothing could tear us apart. Just like Ratchet and Clank, we used to do everything together, keep one another’s secrets, tell each other secrets, help each other and we used to have each other’s backs. Though, Ratchet and Clank have each other’s backs, both literally and metaphorically. I guess friendship actually means forming a relationship with someone rather than establishing a friendship and maintaining it for years. These days, it’s going to be tough to find a real-life close friend just like her. The closest I have to best friends are the pair of friends I befriended on Fanfiction.net and a really good pal of mine I met on deviantART. Looking back, it’s bittersweet.

Similar to Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked and Loaded improved everything that is already established in its predecessor, Ratchet & Clank, in every way possible and introduced strafing which is what Jak 2: Renegade and Jak 3 lacked. In addition, Nanotech and the weapons are now upgradeable. To top it all off, the game brought a lot of new things to the table such as gladiator arenas, brand-new futuristic weapons, the introduction to space-age armour, spaceship upgrades, gun modifications, space dogfight battles and starship challenges and so forth. In short, new galaxy means new characters, planets, locales, enemies, villains and antagonists, arenas and the list goes on.

Not going to lie, whenever I think of Ratchet & Clank, I also think of Girls Aloud and vise versa, most likely due to both the Ratchet & Clank franchise and one of my favourite girl bands of all time exist at roughly around the same date: November 2002. I realised this numerous years later in the recent past after gathering a lot of research and putting two and two together.

[embed]https://youtu.be/sNCPFubo4ac[/embed]

These days, Insomniac Games is teaming up with Esc-Toy Ltd. and Erick Scarecrow (according to his Twitter webpage) to release statues of Ratchet and Clank to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Ratchet & Clank series. Just recently, Insomniac Games joins forces with Sony Interactive Entertainment (formerly known as Sony Computer Entertainment) and Dark Horse Comics to release an Art of Ratchet & Clank art book, packed with concept art and artwork showcasing a collection of quirky characters, otherworldly planets, exotic locations, space-age weapons, hi-tech, futuristic gadgets etc as well as chronicling all 11 Ratchet & Clank games thus far. It’s a no brainer the statues and the aforementioned art book are must-haves for die-hard Ratchet & Clank fanatics or fans in general. https://www.darkhorse.com/Blog/2573/explore-galaxy-ratchet-and-clank

On the side note, my Ratchet & Clank cosplay will have its last hurrah at the forthcoming Play Expo Manchester video game convention in October, Manchester Gamers Unite gamers & game developers Halloween Night at the Dive NQ bar (hosted by Manchester Gamers Unite) and Manchester Christmas Minicon! (hosted by Manchester Anime Con and Animeleague Cosplay) this year before I move on to my next cosplay next year. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the Ratchet & Clank series as much as the next fan but I don’t fancy wearing said cosplay three years in a row. And this is coming from someone who hates change with a burning passion.

In conclusion, judging by the sales figures and the fact Ratchet & Clank (2016) immediately shot straight to the top of the UK video game charts in record time back in 22nd April 2016 (delivering Star Fox Zero a humiliating defeat in the process as it shares the same fate as Little Mix’s “Hair” song: 6th place. Yep! I still remember this day very well.) and it’s the fastest-selling instalment of the aforesaid series beating the former holder, Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time, the franchise is here to stay for maybe countless years to come. Hopefully, the franchise won’t pull a Girls Aloud (in other words, returning with a long-awaited, highly-anticipated comeback and then up and leave again) in the future if you know what I mean.

Game impressions: Gran Turismo Sport made me love racing again

Gran Turismo Sport is one of my favorite games of the year in my so-far short time with the game. I feel like I keep gushing about how great games look in my reviews, but man — GT Sport looks darned good. The cars look amazing whether you’re in full movement or taking a picture in the (surprisingly fun) Scapes photo mode. I’ve spent a lot of time setting up photo ops with my kids, and now cycle through the photos for my console background. I’ll note that I’m playing the game on a PS4 Pro, with a 1080p television and no HDR.

The cars handle like a dream on the Dualshock 4. Even though I’ve not reached the higher-end cars yet, I can tell a real difference between driving the 2015 Mustang, the 1987 Audi and the go-karts featured in the game. Each car handles differently, and it’s a lot of fun to figure out the differences. Sadly, I am terrible at driving with my favorite car so far — that Audi. Then again, I’m pretty terrible at the game regardless.

Single Player?

Contrary to the prevalent story out in the open, there is plenty to do in the game while racing just the computer and not other people. The “campaign” mode isn’t a proper season, and instead features challenges that teach you how to properly race. The smaller challenges are capped off in a circuit mode that breaks down each track for you. This is extremely helpful to a GT-newb like myself, as I work to learn how to drive without sliding off the track.

Outside of this robust mode, each of the game’s tracks are available in Arcade mode. You get awards for winning a race at each track in each of the three difficulties. Between the Campaign and Arcade mode, there are many hours worth of racing without dipping into the online modes, taking photos or customizing your Livery.

Granted, I would love a single-player season mode of some sort, akin to what is available in F1 or a NASCAR game, or the expansive Project Cars 2 career mode. What I like far less is the kind of “campaign” mode available in Driveclub. I’m more interested in competing over the course of of a season than I am in strictly going for Win/Show/Place in a four-race circuit.

Sport Mode

So far, the online Sport Mode has been relegated to a three-track rotation throughout a certain time period — I’m honestly not sure how often the tracks change. There is a race that runs at least every 20 minutes, and sometimes a bit quicker. It’s super simple to hop into the mode, run a qualifying lap and get connected.

Prior to racing online, you have to watch two short videos that stress sportsmanship — mainly, not hitting other cars. During a race you are rated on your sportsmanship, receiving points for having clean runs and getting docked for bumping into other cars, whether it’s you or your opponent doing the bumping. As an inexperienced driver, my rating has taken some hits, though I’m doing my best to steer clear of my opponents. Granted, this becomes easier when you’re always in last place.

This is truly where the game kicks my tail at this time. My best finish thus far has been 6th place out of 12, and 15th out of 24. I’m hoping that, as the game ages, the playing tiers will even out more and I will be matched more with people at my skill level. Obviously, I also hope to improve at the game.

Loot!

The key to why I’m enjoying GT Sport lies in its rewards system. It reminds me of the reasons why I’ve fallen in love with Destiny despite really not caring for first-person shooters, or Diablo 3 despite having never played a game quite like it before.

Everything you do in GT Sport builds currency and experience. Every day, you have a goal to drive 26 miles, for which you earn a random car. While you are racing, you are also earning credits that can be used to buy new cars. These credits accrue in any mode, and can really stack up through the Campaign mode.

Driving also builds up Mileage Points, which leads to even more cars, helmets, suits and wheels. You’re also gaining experience points for everything you do, which ups your level. Presently, I am nearing level 13 and unlocking new tracks for each level. This sense of progression keeps me checking into the game on a daily basis.

The Complete Package

Look: I’d be lying if I said I’m the biggest racing game fan in the world. Clearly, I’m not. I have very fond memories of racing games dating back to Mario Andretti Racing on the Sega Genesis, and the last one I really fell in love with was Burnout Paradise.

I jumped in on Driveclub shortly after its release, and I almost immediately regretted it. It’s a gorgeous game, and also had a decent sense of progression. But the single-player in that mode was also lacking, in my mind, and the cars plainly didn’t feel quite right.

Gran Turismo Sport has so far blown away my expectations based purely on how driving the cars feels, combined with the sense of progression.

But how does the game compare to its contemporaries? Clearly, if you have both a PS4 and an Xbox One (or PC), Microsoft’s Forza series is tremendous from all accounts. That game has more cars and tracks, and a more robust single player campaign experience. In watching gameplay videos, the sense of speed in Forza is far faster, though the actual speed is the same — a Digital Foundry video breaks this down.

Looking at Project Cars 2 and F1 2017, I am drawn to their career modes and may decide to dabble in them as well.

I am not going to slap a review score onto GT Sport. It’s absolutely one of my favorite games of the year, and has made me fall back in love with the racing genre. It's not a perfect game, and I could see rating it anywhere from a 70 to a 90 depending on your perspective. So I'm just shrugging my shoulders, admitting I enjoy the heck out of it, and moving on.

It’s also a game that will evolve in the coming months, and a game that I just need to spend more time with. If you have a PS4 and love racing games, I can’t recommend GT Sport enough.

 

Red Dead Redemption 2 and my love of the wild west

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.71" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" border_style="solid"] I’ve always been drawn to the wild (wild) west, though it took a while for me to recognize it. Before I wrote this, I thought my love of westerns began in high school; turns out, it’s been a lifelong passion.

We’ll start this tale in 1991, the year Fievel Goes West and Sunset Riders were both released. I don’t remember much about Fievel — other than the giant stuffed animal I had as a kid — but I still love Sunset Riders to this day.

There weren’t a lot of other western games or movies I fell in love with during my formative years. Oregon Trail, and the Wild ARMS games were about the extent of my western love until I was in college, when I discovered two things: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly and The Gunslinger.

The Man with No Name, Clint Eastwood’s character in the classic spaghetti western film, embodied the lone wolf hero character. I love how the film just pauses and takes its time to show off the setting.

And, with The Gunslinger, I was introduced to Roland Deschain, who remains one of my favorite characters in fiction. The Dark Tower series fits into so many genres, but it’s the 4th book that really speaks to me. In Wizard and Glass, a younger Roland and his closest friends head east to the Barony of Mejis on an adventure filled with guns, horses, a canyon, a saloon and many other western staples (plus a little bit of magic).

Then came the western horror game Darkwatch and the open world GUN. On TV, Firefly combined a western feel with space exploration, which remains one of my favorite series. 2007 film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, captures the loneliness of the frontier. More recent TV series’ Justified and Longmire both evoke the western gunslinger spirit, though they’re set in modern times.

 

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Video games, however, are my preferred source of entertainment. Plainly, there is a dearth of games in the western genre. The games that are available tend to be smaller, contained games that evoke the western. Gunman Clive and its sequel  are gorgeous games on the 3DS, filled with sidescrolling action, gunfights and memorable bosses. The SteamWorld games have a western feel, especially with the settings of the two Dig games. 2015’s Hard West is another must-play for genre fans, as it combines lite-XCOM gameplay in a weird west setting, and is absolutely wonderful.

But for this gamer, the modern western video game really begins and ends with 2010’s Red Dead Redemption. The player-character in that game is John Marston, a reformed outlaw who is forced by the government to track down and kill the members of his former gang. Rockstar absolutely nailed the setting and exploration aspects of being a gunslinger, from dueling to poker, horseriding and hunting. The ride into Mexico was jawdropping, with the perfect soundtrack.

Ultimately, what turned Red Dead Redemption from a great game to one of my favorite games of all time were the story and characters. John Marston remains one of my favorite video game protagonists, thanks in-part to the quiet moments you find along the way. After finally dispatching of his gang’s former leader, Dutch, John returns home to his ranch with his wife and son. This glimpse into his home life gives players an idea of just what John was fighting for.

Red Dead Redemption is also the first game I could remember playing that didn’t end with the hero on top. After the climactic “final” battles and quiet home life, Marston is attacked by the very government that forced him to do its bidding. He gets his family to safety before finally being gunned down. I’d never been so shocked by a character’s death as I was by Marston’s.

 

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Today, Rockstar revealed its second trailer for Red Dead Redemption 2. This time we’ll be playing as a man named Arthur Morgan as his gang robs, fights and steals their way across the heart of America. Rockstar hasn’t officially revealed when the game takes place, but signs point to it being set far prior to the 1911 setting of the first Redemption. (I mean, Morgan is part of the Van der Linde gang...and Dutch Van der Linde was the head of John Marston's former gang from the first game...)

Initial impressions? The game looks stunning. Arthur Morgan is in a far different state of life than John Marston was, and it remains to be seen how Morgan will find his redemption.

The last time I was this excited for a game was earlier this year: Mass Effect Andromeda. That game ultimately left me disappointed, and I didn’t finish it. But Rockstar has an even higher reputation than Bioware, and has yet to truly disappoint with one of its tentpole games.

“Do you have my back?”

“Always, Dutch.”

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Griff The Winged Lion: Back To Basics

Kickstarter is a hit and miss and a mixed bag, especially in recent years, which sees the birth of phenomenal successes such as Rad Rodgers, Shovel Knight, Undertale and Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (despite it’s inferior to its predecessor, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse) and dumpster fires like Bangarang: A Short Film Before Rufio (starring Dante Basco and directed by Jonah Feingold, a butt of a shameful, unprofessional, disrespectful and downright rude director who I have the displeasure of speaking to on social media), Mighty No. 9 and Yooka-Laylee (well according to numerous naysayers and critics) deemed to fail to deliver on (and literally not deliver the backer rewards to the backers, in Bangarang’s case) the promises the developing teams set out to do in the first place. The aforementioned worst Kickstarter (possibly of all time) projects will be forever go down in history and be named, shamed and frowned upon. Enter the beacon of hope, Griff The Winged Lion, a retro-inspired, open-world 3D platformer in the vein of Spyro The Dragon and Crash Bandicoot. It’s developed by Breakerbox Studios and published by Spiral Summit Games. If it all goes well in the future, it will show the failed trash heaps how a Kickstarter campaign is REALLY done (with finesse and pizzazz).

Does “Griff The Winged Lion” ring a bell to you? Of course it does! Thanks to Cliqist, I knew of the game’s existence last year. It debuted last year on Kickstarter on 8th September 2016. Unfortunately, it failed to reach its goal as 48 backers raised $1,021 of the $15,000 goal. Since then, the alternative way to support the game is through Patreon at the time. Little did I know it would return to Kickstarter in the (near) future when I least expect it for the second time to take a second crack at crowdfunding?

At the time of writing, it raised $2,935 of the $25,000 goal. Whether it will reach its Kickstarter goal or not is still up in the air but only time will tell.

If you’ve played the Spyro and Crash Bandicoot games during the 90’s, you’ll feel right at home and you’ll be no stranger to what Griff the Winged Lion lays in store for you. In fact, this game contains everything you come to expect from Spyro and Crash Bandicoot back in the good old days ranging from going through a gate that grants you the ability to fly for a short period of time to charging through your enemies with ease as if they were nothing.

Within the medieval magical kingdom of Autumn Terrace (clearly inspired by the Summer Forest and Autumn Plains homeworlds of Avalar from Spyro 2: Gateway To Glimmer/Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!), a young Griffin prince, simply named as Griff, is summoned to take part in a mythical tradition. Once every generation, an elderly mage predicts the future leaders’ destinies and present them with their roles. When it’s Griff’s turn, unfortunately his role is hidden from the mage. To rectify this, he sets out on a quest of epic proportions all in the name of self-discovery while he’s accompanied with his sidekick, Gargle the Gargoyle, and his friends (Gavin the Griffin, Terra the Unicorn and Mia the Phantom Cat) and uncover the answers of why he is denied of his role.

Long, long ago in the olden days, a horrible curse struck King Midas. As a result, everything he touched upon contact turns to gold much to his dismay. In desperation, he seeks help from a sorcerer to help him control the terrible spell he is under. The mage used his magic on a seemingly ordinary pair of gloves and bestowed them upon the monarch. When he puts them to good use, they were no longer a pair of old gloves but powerful, special artefacts. From that moment forward, these all-powerful gloves had the ability to control the ghastly enchantment and prevented the user from turning everything to solid gold. Best of all, he can control the curse and utilised it whenever he needs to. Objects and living beings can be transformed into gold with a single or a few punches. Once struck, they are shattered and can be collected. However, not every everything in the scenery can be converted into gold.

After the sovereign died, the golden-coloured gloves are taken to a shrine and are concealed away for centuries. Since then, the greedy individuals who are bent hunt them constantly on wealth and domination at the cost of crushing the weak creatures for their own selfish gains.

 

The Breakerbox Studios developing team consists of the following members: Jake Pawloski (Director/Designer/Lead Artist), Tera Townsend (Co-Designer/Level Designer), Kelly Corcoran (Programmer/Tools Designer) and Branden Townsend (Quality Assurance/Controls). Along with the team members are the talented voice actors who lend their voices to the characters such as Steven Kelly as Gavin, The King and various characters, Griffin Puatu as Griff and the various characters, Aimee Smith as Mia, The Queen and the various characters and Brittany Lauda as the various characters.

 

Ratchet & Clank may be the unofficial spiritual successor to the Spyro series in some gamers’ eyes but Griff the Winged Lion is already shaping up to fit the bill. However, it also contains a few familiar and nostalgia-fuelling Crash Bandicoot elements and references such as Griff running from a ginormous tiki log towards the camera judging by the trailer.

And dare I say it? It looks more promising than Yooka-Laylee and that’s saying something. And this is coming from a long-time, die-hard fanatic of platformers. In my opinion, Yooka-Laylee is inferior to past and recent platformers I’ve played throughout the years. It can’t hold a candle to its predecessors, Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie (despite I’m not a Banjo fan but I did grew up with the former, minus its sequel), let alone Ratchet & Clank or Crash Bandicoot for that matter.

Let’s hope it will deliver on its promise (or promises in terms of the backer rewards) and hopefully, the developing team will treat their backers with the utmost respect, unlike a certain lacklustre, dull, boring, drab and dreary Kickstarter film, Bangarang: A Short Film Before Rufio.

According to the Kickstarter campaign, Griff the Winged Lion is slated for Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One but their official release dates are yet to be confirmed. Regarding the Nintendo Switch, the developing team is also planning on bringing it to the console. Though, it depends on whether the stretch goals are met and how much money said campaign gathered. Regardless, Breakerbox Studios and Spiral Summit Games are doing their best to achieve this and meet everyone’s demands.

If you want Griff The Winged Lion to become a reality, you must back it on Kickstarter before it’s too late! For more information, visit its Kickstarter page and follow Breakerbox Studios and Spiral Summit Games on various social media (Discord, Facebook and Twitter) known to man! If you’re still unconvinced, the demo is already available to download from the game’s Kickstarter page so you know how the game and controls feels.

NBA 2K18 MyGM/MyLeague Detailed

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.62" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" border_style="solid"] The NBA 2K series is, quite possibly, my favorite annualized franchise. I love watching basketball, and think the series continually does a great job of representing the game you see on TV.

Today, Erick Boenisch from 2K Sports outlined a lot of enhancements to NBA 2K18's MyGM Mode — which is my preferred way to play the game. What isn't mentioned is whether these additions apply also to the Nintendo Switch version of the game. (If not, I won't be getting the game on Switch. If it's included, I will be grabbing the game on Switch).

Check out the full post over on Operation Sports at this link, but here are my top highlights from the new features:

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Story

The MyGM mode will now include a base story for your created general manager, who was a top-tier NBA Player before injuring his leg 6 years prior. In the post, Boenisch mentions that customization and player choice is still the most important thing, but it will be wrapped in a slightly different package. This is great news, and I hope the cutscenes and player interactions will be more varied and interesting this year. (I also hope that player motivations and expectations can be fixed. If If I have LeBron James on my team, sorry Kyle Korver, but you aren't my starting SF.)

Collective Bargaining Agreement

Basketball nerd stuff that a lot of people playing the game won't care about, and yet it's exciting to see the actual NBA rules making it into the game, from mid-level exception increases, to the Stretch Provision, the Free Agent Moratorium Period and the inclusion of the Ted Stepien Rule (look it up). Also kind of related, you can now "stash" international players you've drafted overseas until you're ready to bring them over.

G-League Integration

The newly renamed former D-League will be a little bit more important now. As the GM, you can now send young players to the G-League for playing time — not unlike how the Cavs sent Kay Felder back and forth to Canton a few times last season. Two-way contracts will allow your young players to gain actual playing experience, while you have the ability to bring them up to the NBA team for occasional progress checks or injury relief.

Custom branding

One of the coolest features in NBA 2K17 was the ability to add expansion teams, on top of being able to relocate an existing team or rebrand the team in the same city. In 2K18, they're adding the ability to create an alternate uniform, which will give an extra available look. You can also now rebrand in an existing arena — meaning if you want a new-look Timberwolves arena to go with your new additions, you can stay in the Target Center with a new floor instead of building a whole new arena. Finally, they've added 10 new cities for relocation, including Virginia Beach, Colorado Springs and more.

There are a lot more exciting additions in the post as well. Head on over to Operation Sports to learn more! NBA 2K18 is just about six weeks away!

 

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Xbox Live & PlayStation Plus - Free Games Update for August

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PlayStation Plus


 

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First up, Just Cause 3. Take Rico Rodriguez on a truly wild ride to liberate Medici from military dictatorship. Your greatest weapon is your ingenuity. And explosions.

Also included in August is Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry, the standalone adventure, set after the events of Black Flag. Guide Adewale on an emotional story, using his skills as an assassin and his deep convictions to free oppressed people.

Full lineup:

  • Just Cause 3, PS4
  • Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, PS4
  • Super Motherload, PS3
  • Snakeball, PS3
  • Downwell, PS Vita (crossbuy with PS4)
  • Level 22, PS Vita

PS Plus Summer Movies are here! Enjoy six weeks of 99¢ rentals – selected for you from this summer’s hottest blockbusters. Starting us off with a bang, The Lego Batman Movie – handpicked for the whole family to enjoy. Check out the full schedule of movies below, then head over to PS Store each week to enjoy 99¢ rentals.

 

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Games With Gold


 

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It’s time to harvest some great titles this August thanks to another stellar Games with Gold lineup. On August 1, the open-world farming simulator Slime Rancher will make its console debut on Xbox One, where you can care for your own galactic farm full of cute (slimy) creatures. Then starting on August 16, take on the wide variety of platform-racing stunt challenges in Trials Fusion.

The Summer fun isn’t over yet! Coming to Xbox 360, and Xbox One through Backward Compatibility, we’ll have the modern-classic Bayonetta available from August 1 to August 15. Then get your butt to Mars and fight for the future in Red Faction: Armageddon from August 16 – August 30.

All games will be available for a limited time only as part of Games with Gold, so get Xbox Live Gold today to get in on the action!

  • Slime Rancher ($19.99 ERP): Available Aug 1-31 on Xbox One
  • Trials Fusion ($19.99 ERP): Available Aug 16-Sep 15 on Xbox One
  • Bayonetta ($19.99 ERP): Available Aug 1-15 on Xbox 360 & Xbox One
  • Red Faction: Armageddon ($29.99 ERP): Available Aug 16-31 on Xbox 360 & Xbox One

 

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So there we have it folks, both the PlayStation Plus and Games with Gold announcements for this upcoming month. Personally, for the first time in many months I'm excited for the PlayStation Plus offerings. Just Cause 3 alone has me excited and makes me feel like I'm getting value from my PlayStation subscription. That said, Xbox's less stellar lineup has the quantity as all four games I'm considering downloading, especially the Bayonetta and Trials games.

Which lineup do you think is best? Let us know in the comments below.

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Le Tour de France 2017 Review

[et_pb_section bb_built="1"][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.62" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" border_style="solid"] As you look around, men and women are cheering, the buildings are climbing the horizon in front of you, and you can spot the pace car ahead. Your breath is fading, your chest is pounding, and that jerk behind you who has been using you to draft behind for the last stage is making his move. As you rapidly pedal as fast as you can you feel your muscles screaming in unison with the ever growing crowds of fans. You arrive at a cross road. Go for the win and risk a blow out? Or play it safe for the points? The decision is up to you.

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Over the past few years the Le Tour De France franchise has become a staple in my household. As a lover for all sports games, I just always felt it necessary to purchase and play. This edition continues down the same path as the others in that it tries to recreate a series of races that are almost 3000 Kilometers in length and have over a few weeks--not an easy task for any game designer. This years installment offers some very user friendly additions in the mandatory first tutorial which was done well and easy to grasp for new gamers to the franchise, the ability to save progress mid race allowing for easy pick up and play, and adjustable difficulty at the start of the race.

 

The Good:

  1. Easy gauge for race stamina is set in two circles Blue (overall) and Red (burst or attack). Your blue gauge slowly decreases during the course of the race and acts as an all encompassing stamina gauge. As your rider goes through the various stages, it will decrease. To boost it up takes the proper use of an aerodynamic pose on the bike or slower pedaling pace. The Red or attack gauge is smaller and is used to push for a lead, going up a tough hill, etc and is replenished for simply pedaling below max speed.
  2. The level design is beautiful. Great open landscapes, beautiful horizons, fun little cities with fans cheering. These combine to help make a great overall look for the game.
  3. Physics. Hills are tough, declines are easy, taking a corner too fast leads to slowing down or falling down. I never once ran into a bug that hindered me racing the roads of Europe, and I am appreciative of that.
  4. User friendly bike controls allow for players who have never played, to dive in and be able to navigate fairly well.

 

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The Bad:

  1. Lack of customization. Every racer looked the same to me at the start of races. This lack of detail may not be the biggest deal as the bikes and outfits are very unique, but it really brought down the ownership for me as a racer. I wasn't able to go, yeah that's my guy! Lets do this. Instead I asked, "Is that me?" I would love to see a create a player option so you could play as yourself added to your favorite team or country.
  2. Team mechanics still a miss. The ability to interact with your team is something I have wanted improved in the Tour de France games. Its still a convoluted process that leads to more aggravation than anything. It's not easily explained even in the tutorials and the overall lack of explanation of these details on why its important is something that must be addressed.
  3. Lack of modes. Though you have several races to choose from, not adding to the race styles is a huge miss for this game. Yes, it is a Tour de France game, but you can add some fun games that allow for the player to learn and practice skills outside of the tutorial.
  4. Broadcast hurts more than helps. The broadcaster makes a lot of comments during the race. Some are helpful, some are jibber jabber that you don't understand because you aren't a bike racing aficionado. This drove me nuts and actually made me turn off the volume more than once so I didn't have to listen. It wasn't that it was mixed poorly, its that I didn't know what he was trying to tell me and it wasn't presented in a way that helped me change the way I raced.

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Final Thoughts:

The team over at Cyanide Interactive has tried to undertake a huge passion project. Creating one of the biggest races (might be the biggest but my brain hurt even trying to consider doing the math between this and Nascar) is huge and they deserve a shout out for that. But with a race this big and their almost too-realistic interpretation of it, the races are long and very difficult to be competitive in even at the lower levels. The meters and refills come so sporadic that even drinking your boost (blue and red mini game in the game where you hold Y to drink/use it and it slowly replenishes) are too few and far between to help the gamer find footing in the uphill climb of a game.

What I would love to see in the future for this franchise is customization of the racers allowing the gamer to feel a part of the action and make a stronger connection to the team, adding more boosts (drinks) to help with stamina management, a user friendly team communication set up, and two game modes for each race; realistic and a sped up version to condense overall race time for gamers with less time to devote to the game.

Though, I did have some fun moments playing the game overall, there is a lot that needs to be fixed in this very niche game to make it more user friendly. This led to a lot of frustration on not being able to understand what the game was asking me as someone who isn't a huge racing fan but instead wanted to jump into a sports game.

Thank you for your time and reading my review and let me know if you play Le Tour de France 2017 and your thoughts below.

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GT Sport Crosses the Starting Line on Oct. 17

See the source image After the delay of almost an entire year, GT Sport will launch on October 17, 2017, according to the official PlayStation Blog. While the game has been in closed beta for some time, and there was an announcement at E3 of a Fall release date, I was getting worried that we might see this title slip to 2018. But announcing a release date today must mean Sony is pretty confident developer Polyphony hitting the date. In addition to the release date, details about a limited and digital deluxe edition were outlined, and it includes about what you would expect it to (cars, credits, etc.). To top off the announcements, a new trailer was also unveiled which you can see below. Are you interested in picking up the next installment in the storied Gran Turismo series? Let me know in the comments!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAjr9CPBEWc

All Humans Safe - Nex Machina Review - PS4

The screen pulsates with pink neon lasers, flashes of light and gleaming skulls that chase after me, while I dash and dodge around, searching for humans and trying to stay alive. The latest title from Housemarque, Nex Machina is an amazing visual spectacle and the pinnacle of the twin-stick shooting genre, which the Finnish developer owns almost exclusively. (Graceful Explosion Machine on Switch notwithstanding.)

The pace is frenetic from the moment your hero hops off his motorcycle and into the fray of attacking robotic spiders. Each of the six worlds is broken down into stages where the goal is to simply clear out all of the alien robot enemies and “save all the humans.” Nex Machina does a great job teaching you its mechanics as the difficulty ramps up quickly.

The game’s four difficulty levels provide an extreme level of challenge. While I made it through on Rookie during my first playthrough, I still used a few continues. Each run gives the player up to 5 lives, after which you must use a continue. On Experienced, you get 99 continues, and on down to only 5 for Master level difficulty.

Even Experienced, just one up from Rookie, provides an even greater challenge. The trophy list encourages players to complete the game without dying or while rescuing every human — including the secret ones — finding secret exits, destroying specific types of aliens and more. Even though a single play of arcade mode can take as little as 45 minutes, Nex Machina rewards replaying the game as you refine your technique.

There’s also an Arena Mode which pits players in direct competition with other players as you strive for the highest score in a specific world.

I haven’t talked enough about how the game looks, or how the electronic soundtrack fits perfectly. I’d never heard of a voxel before Resogun, and Nex Machina makes the earlier game’s voxels look downright primitive. The environments are gorgeous and varied, and even amid mass chaos, it is clear where the player character is on on screen at all times.

Thus far, I’ve been able to complete Rookie Mode and make it to the final boss in Experienced. (Well, the final boss that counts for a trophy...not the Nex Machina boss at the end…). The game is supremely difficult and can feel downright punishing at times.

During a run, you will upgrade the power of your weapon and dash mechanic, as well as unlock powerful secondary weapons. All of these upgrades can be lost in a matter of seconds with even a brief lapse in concentration; and if you are facing a later boss with the default weapon, you might as well start the whole run over. At the same time, this sharp difficulty seems extremely fair. If you take your time with a level, learn where enemies spawn and power-ups are hidden, you can get through anything.

Nex Machina is the most fun I’ve had playing a game since I defeated Ganon in Breath of the Wild earlier this year. Full stop. It’s my second favorite game of the first half of the year, and my favorite game on the PS4 this year. In a year filled with amazing games — Horizon, Nioh, Nier, MLB The Show, The Golf Club 2 and many more — that’s saying a lot.

I want to improve my score in the Rookie difficulty; I’m driven to reach Nex Machina in Experienced, and I want to explore each of the difficulties. I want to discover all the secrets, save all the humans and beat Kyle’s high score. I won’t stop until I get there.

My Biggest E3 Takeaway? Sony is Committed to PSVR

E3. It is the most wonderful time of the year if you are a gamer. One of my favorite parts of the show is that no matter where you play your games, or what type of games you enjoy, there is going to be something for you at E3. I do not care who "won" E3, or what press conference was the best. I may jump into the fray to offer an opinion or two, and while those conversations can be fun, I tend to reflect on what E3 means for me as a gamer. Selfish? Sure, but waxing poetic about games on PSVG is a hobby, not a job. As a result, I have the opportunity to focus on the bright side of the hobby and leave the critique to those far smarter and more knowledgeable than I. What was my biggest take away? PlayStation is committed to VR. A couple of things I need to clarify before I continue. Folks have pointed out to me that I always write PSVR, but there is supposed to be a space in there (PS VR). I know, but I just cannot bring myself to do it (similar to PS4 versus PS 4). If I ever spin this side hustle (that is what the kids call it, right?) into a full-time gig, I promise to do it correctly. Also, I know PlayStation supported the Vita initially, and what we have seen thus far does not guarantee the future support. Yes, that is true. However, with VR representing roughly a third of the PlayStation Media Showcase, it is hard to argue they are not behind it right now. Could support fall off the edge of a cliff in a year? Sure. Even if it happens, though, it looks like I am going to get some great experiences along the way.

In case you missed it, PlayStation had six PS VR games as part of their Media Showcase, covered two additional games in the pre-show, two others that were on 3rd party stages are coming to PSVR, and the PlayStation live stream during E3 showed four other games. That is a total of 14 games shown for the hardware, 11 of which are aiming for a release before the end of the year. What are all of these titles convincing me of PlayStation commitment of PSVR? I am glad you asked...

Archangel

What is more fun than shooting a bunch of things in a game? If you answered shooting a bunch of stuff while in a gigantic mech, you win! From new studio Skydance Interactive, Archangel puts you in the cockpit of a giant mech fighting off an overwhelming, mechanized force attempting to squash the rebel forces. Your presence alone gives hope, and I hope to play this game when it releases in July.

Bravo Team

The second PSVR exclusive being developed by Supermassive, Bravo Team puts you in the role of a protection detail whose mission goes horribly wrong. What ensues is an on-rail arcade shooter compatible with the Aim controller. One of my greatest joys, when I was a kid, was playing light-gun shooters in the arcade, and games like this are why I love VR. Bravo Team is shooting for a Holiday 2017 release.

Doom VFR

When Doom VFRwas revealed on the Bethesda stage, I assumed it would be only coming to Vive, similar to Fallout VR. Surprisingly, after the show, the game was confirmed for PSVR and is coming sometime before the end of the year. Folks have been clamoring for more "full" VR games, and it looks like Bethesda is trying to deliver.

The Inpatient

A PSVR exclusive title being developed by Supermassive, The Inpatient takes place 60 years before the events of Until Dawn and puts you in the role of a patient in Blackwood Sanatorium who has amnesia. While you do not need to play Until Dawn to understand what is going on, you should because it is a great game. One of the best parts of this title? It is aiming for a Holiday 2017 release.

Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV

Last year at E3 a VR experience for Final Fantasy XV was announced. To date, I do not believe that product released. What we do get, however, is a fishing game set in the Final Fantasy XV world. I scoffed at this game initially, but hands-on (or face-on) reports from folks indicate it is a fun experience. Set to release in September, I am not certain this will be a day-one pickup, but I will keep an eye on the reviews and seek out a sale.

Moss

One of my favorite, and most surprising, announcements from E3 2017 was Moss from the team at Polyarc. I have played a great deal of the Mice and Mystics board game, and I immediately saw this as the opportunity to live out the experience of Colin (the hero mouse of Mice and Mystics) in VR. The adorable hero in this adventure is Quill, and I cannot wait to see all the places we will go together, hopefully sometime in Holiday 2017.

The Persistence

Initially announced about two weeks ago, The Persistence still showed up on the PlayStation show floor as yet another spooky game coming to VR. In watching the trailers, it reminds me a lot of Dead Space and even a bit of Alien: Isolation, but this time in VR.  There is currently no release window, but the team at Firesprite has me interested in this project.

ROM: Extraction

More Aim controller goodness is coming our way with ROM Extraction from the team at First Contact Entertainment. Another arcade style shooter (which I already said I loved) but this time you have the ability to slow down time. Needless to say, I am looking forward to this one, and it is another game with a release window before the end of the year.

Skyrim VR

At the Bethesda press conference this year they talked about two VR games. Surprising most everyone, PlayStation revealed a third Bethesda VR game in Skyrim VR. This is not a Skyrim "experience," this is the entire game from beginning to end. The icing on the cake? The game is due out this November.

Sparc

Throw things and block things. It seems like a simple concept, but Sparc is hoping to take that simple concept and turn it into a competitive VR game. A single-player training mode and challenges help you hone your skills when not competing in online matches in search for VR glory. I will see you on the ______ (I am not sure what to call virtual gaming areas: court, field, arena, something else) before the end of 2017.

Star Child

Something that surprises most people is how well side-scrollers play in VR. Star Child appears to be no exception. Developed by Playful (the same company who made Lucky's Tale for Oculus and are making Super Lucky's Tale for Xbox) the hands-on impressions of the game at E3 2017 have been extremely positive. While I am not aware of any release date information, this one is on my radar.

Superhot VR

Superhot released on PC and Xbox One last year. Soon after, Superhot VR was released, first on Oculus, and earlier this year on Vive. Finally, PlayStation gamers get the opportunity to play this critically acclaimed game, thankfully also in VR. The best part? I should be dodging bullets in my PSVR in just a few short weeks!

Tiny Trax

I am not usually into racing games, but tell me that FuturLab, the makers of Velocity and Velocity 2X, are making a racing game, and I want to know more. While VR has been a haven for horror and suspense games thus far, games like Tiny Trax help breathe some fun and light-heartedness into the hardware. I look forward to racing my slot car this summer.

Transference

Ubisoft has already developed a number of VR games, and this E3 saw another announcement for virtual reality: Transference. Developed in collaboration with Elijah Wood's company SpectreVision, Transference looks to be a blend of movie and game with a creepy, psychological thriller slant. Aiming for a Spring 2018 release, if you are too scared to play this in VR, it looks to be playable out of VR on console and PC as well.

To me, that is an impressive list of titles. Topping it off, developer Survios announced Raw Data, which is currently in early access, will be coming to PSVR when it launches. A big bonus? Most of these games will release before the end of the year! Needless to say, the worry that Sony would not support PSVR and it would go the way of the Vita are, at least for now, put to rest.

 

E3 2017: (Insert Game of Show Here)

Lost among arguments about which multi-billion dollar company supposedly performed the best on the E3 stage is, sometimes, the sheer depth and variety of games that will be coming out in the next couple of years (or 10 years, ahem, Sony Japan). I can already see the eyes rolling — I see you, Eurogamer — but the real winner of E3 continues to be us, the gamers. Whatever kind of gamer you are, the chances are high that a few announcements from the conference spoke to you. Across the Internet, different sites will be awarding their “Game of E3” for each of the platform holders, as well as overall. It’s a completely subjective exercise, not unlike entertainment reviews overall. 

Here at PSVG, we discussed whether to address the idea of who won E3, and whether to put our PSVG stamp on a “Game of E3.” It's a debate behind the scenes, and one that I'm sure that will be part of the podcast the next couple of weeks. But we are a diverse group and consensus will be hard to come by. So I'm tossing all of that out of the window (for now) and taking a look a what made this year's E3 fun for us: The games.

I can’t even decide for myself what my own Game of E3 would be. I loved many of the trailers during Sony’s conference, and thought Detroit and Spider-Man in-particular looked amazing. From Microsoft, Sea of Thieves blew me away, while The Last Night had an amazing aesthetic. Nintendo’s treehouse content has sold me on Mario + Rabbids, and Super Mario Odyssey looks absolutely bonkers.

Looking around PSVG, just about everyone would have a different choice for Game of Show.

Devin and Q are over-the-moon excited for Anthem. A lot of the team is. I’m cautiously optimistic. Another Bioware fanatic, Josh, is also looking forward to this one.

Just about everyone with a PS4 or Xbox has already preordered Battlefront 2, but it might be Nathan’s Game of Show, followed closely by Spider-Man. (His Gamer Tag is SpiderJedi, after all.)

Jason is joining the Empire. He is starring in Sea of Thieves as FluxBeard, and he’s stoked for The Last Night, Anthem and Mario Odyssey.

Coach Mo is jonesing to get into some futbol with this year’s FIFA on Switch. (Wait. Sources are telling me this is wrong. He’s all about the other football game.) I think I can hear him yelling "Madden!!" from Texas all the way here in Ohio. (Check out his write-up for why he remains excited about Madden’s yearly releases, and how the game continually improves.)

Donnie lost his mind when the remake of Metroid 2 was announced for 3DS, let alone Metroid Prime 4’s announcement, Super Mario Odyssey and his bae, Everybody’s Golf.

And if Amiibo counted as a game, Caroline might have Best of Show plastered all over those cute little figures. I’m particularly partial to Mipha’s, though I haven’t preordered.

Kyle can’t wait for Knack 2 to get here, though I doubt it’s quite his game-of-show. He’s stoked for the biggies of Sony’s conference, but two smaller games also jumped out at him: the PSVR adorable mouse game Moss, and The Swords of Ditto that is coming to PS4 and PC.

And, like me, Kevin is indecisive: He’s got Mario Odyssey, Wolfenstein and South Park on his radar, and wants to throw down with Spider-Man, Days Gone, Detroit, Far Cry 5, God of War and Yoshi next year. (One of those is not like the others). I’m also going to eventually talk him into getting ARMS.

As cheesy as it is, this year’s E3 is a celebration in the variety that gaming offers.

PSVG is comprised of gamers from across the United States, with ages ranging from 16 through not-quite-40. Many of us are married, with children and without. We love action games, RPGs, shooters, sports, platformers, MMOs, Metroidvanias, fighters, Nintendo, Microsoft, PlayStation, PC (AGE OF EMPIRES!!!!!!), handheld gaming, retro games and whatever other genres are out there that I didn’t mention.

We are gamers. We like games.

Never stop gaming.

 

Opinion: Premium Consoles, Premium Service - The Thing of the Future

With a price of $500, the Xbox One X sits atop of the console market as the fastest and most expensive console in 2017. These announcements have not been without controversy; some are questioning who will pay that much for a new console with the One S now a measly $200 (with current sales). Is the 'Premium Console' a needed or wanted device?

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5 Things That I Loved About the PlayStation E3 2017 Conference

Sony's conference was pretty great, and there were some great games shown. There weren't many new announcements however, and it mostly relied on games that have been in development for awhile. Quite a few surprises had me absolutely baffled, and that's what I'm going to talk about here.

5: Days Gone Actually Looks Promising

Days Gone was announced last year and it looked to be your standard "kill the zombies" game. It lacked any true identity of its own. When it was shown at this year's E3 conference this year however, that changed. The trailer starts with Deacon having a conversation with a man in an outpost who tells him that his brother, Manny, is at a site belonging to the bad guys, and is being held hostage. Deacon speeds off on his bike and starts driving towards the camp. Along the way he is hit by wirestring stretched along the road and is ambushed by two raiders who he then promptly murders after being beaten up for a minute. He then reaches the camp and we're introduced to some pretty neat stealth mechanics, what impressed me most was when Deacon picked up a bear trapped, laid it in a grassy area, and found cover before throwing a rock next to the trap, bring over one of the raiders, who then got his leg stuck, causing a ruckus and every other person in the vicinity ran to see what was going on, giving Deacon a complete opportunity to sneak away. He also later blew a dam to hold a horde of zombies from breaching the camp so as to kill everyone there without having to do any of the dirty work. It's shaping up to be a fascinating game, and with it's mechanics, and with the fact that you get to manually drive around in a motor cycle, I'm thoroughly impressed.

4: The Inpatient Looks Really Neat

This is a pretty odd choice, but it's honestly something that immediately caught my eye. I will say that I have no interest in PSVR, but the concept for this game is simply amazing. I'd say at least a few many of you reading this will have heard of Until Dawn, well this a prequel of sorts. Taking place during the 50s and set in the Blackwood Sanatorium when it was still active, the huge creepy asylum in Until Dawn. I'm looking forward to seeing how this will handle mental illness along with the native american folklore and the traumatizing inhumane nature of insane asylums during the 20th century. My only hope is that it's not confined to the PSVR, as I'd love to simply play it on my PS4

3: A Remake of Shadow of the Colossus! What?!?

This came out of nowhere and I was not expecting anything anything even remotely like this, but it's awesome that it happened. Shadow of the Colossus is an absolutely amazing game and to see it being remade for the current generation of consoles is truly a spectacle that I didn't know I wanted. There's not much that I can say however, as it was a rather short teaser and there were no other details to my knowledge that have been revealed about, but I can't wait!

2: Detroit Looks To Be Another Amazing Game

Detroit is shaping up to be a really cool narrative-driven game with it's story of an Android uprising, and strong political tensions between both Humans and the Androids themselves. With last night's trailer we are introduced to Marcus, who is the leader of the rebellion, and he's taken it upon himself to break free a group of Androids from what look's to be a department store. The trailer showcases what would happen if a violent route was taken, but there's of course another way that involves a more pacifist stance on Marcus' behalf. Quantic Dreams' game's are rather divisive for many reasons, there style of choice is impeccable, but their games do face some issues. Detroit however looks to be an amazing game inside and out and I'm definitely interested in seeing what becomes of the final product.

1: SPIDER-MAN!!!

Spider-Man had to be number one because who doesn't love the guy? It's been ages since we've had an amazing Spider-Man game (pun fully intended) and with Insominiac at the helm I know it's going to be an excellent video game. There was a lot shown, Kingpin has a role, the Osborn family does, and even Mr. Negative. There's Arkham-esque stealth mechanics, intuitive beat-em-up combat, awesome looking web-slinging, and lengthy cut-scenes with actual neat QTE segments. Also, Miles Morales is Spider-Man, and that is just the best thing ever.

Honorable Mention: God of War looks like TLoU with Kratos

God of War is an interesting series as it was extremely gruesome and many elements, for the time, were extremely controversial. This reboot (sequel?) takes a completely different direction, with a more serious and calculating tone. It also reminds a lot of The Last of Us as Kratos now fills a fatherly role and is guiding a child through a perilous journey, it's a neat concept and I legitimately think that it works. The beat-em-up mechanics look solid and more impactful, and not to mention that the graphics are drop dead gorgeous.


That concludes what I loved about this year's E3 conference from Sony and it was pretty fantastic. Thanks for reading!

E3 2017 Wrap Up: 5 Things I Loved From Ubisoft

Ubisoft as a publisher has really grown during the past two console generations, and has some of the most beloved franchises in gaming under its umbrella. Yet, many of their games don't personally excite me or are often underwhelming. I went into this year's conference with a skeptical mind, but I was blown away by some of the reveals, and enjoyed the conference as a whole. Here are five things that really stood out to me about Ubisoft's E3 conference, in the order they were revealed.

That Opening

The first Rabbids game on the Wii was an early favorite for my (then-future) wife and I, although the novelty wore thin eventually. This Mario + Rabbids game has sounded kind of ridiculous from the start, but given my recent re-introduction into Nintendo, the idea is intriguing and just plain fun.

The game oozes charm, and is essentially XCOM with Mario and the Rabbids. I love XCOM, and I’m excited to share that style of gameplay with my kids.

While this game was essentially the worst-kept secret in gaming, it was still cool to see the official announcement and to know that the rumors that were most intriguing — combat style — were absolutely spot on. I also love that Ubisoft opened their full conference with this delightfully ridiculous game.

The Crew 2

I’ve been jonesing for a new racing game for a while — honestly, since Forza Horizon 3 came out and dominated last year. As a PS4 owner, I’ve been looking forward to seeing GT Sport revealed. I was underwhelmed by its reveal in the Sony pre-show, and thought that it looked steps behind Forza.

But I’m still in the market for a realistic-ish racer. And The Crew 2 looks to fit that bill. The game looks gorgeous, fast and fun. The environments are varied, as are the vehicle types. While I wish it was coming out sooner, I’m absolutely pumped for the game.

Starlink: Battle For Atlas

I get the trepidation behind another toys to life game, and this looks a little bit cumbersome.

But...man!...That game looks exactly like my kind of game. I love games set in space. The visual style looks right at-home on the Switch, and I’m sure it’ll look great on PS4 and Xbox as well. From the sounds of what was said at the conference, the physical versions of the ships won’t be absolutely necessary, but they just look cool.

I adored No Man’s Sky at launch, and would love a slightly more directed game of space travel. That game also taught me the value of not getting too hyped about a new property, so I’ll remain cautiously optimistic about Starlink. But as an initial reveal, it has shot to (nearly) the top of my most anticipated announced games.

Far Cry 5

It isn’t the rumored 1800s Wild West setting, which I’m so much a mark for, but I’m still digging the feel of this Far Cry game more than any in the franchise before it. I love the atmosphere, and it makes me think a little bit of the TV series Justified, which I also loved.

The game seems like it’s going to deliver on the villain, which is what the Far Cry games are known for outside of over-the-top action. I love that the game takes place in the United States, and in a part of the country I’ve never been to, and that just doesn’t get featured in gaming, or much other entertainment.

Ubisoft

I just liked seeing Ubisoft’s representation and the passion they all clearly have for their games. I know it’s true for every company that showed games during this conference, but I like the way Ubisoft people carried themselves from beginning-to-end (well, minus the dancing…). Ubisoft seems to have something for just about everyone, whether you love FPS, open worlds, tactical games, racing, extreme sports and so-on. The company gets their fans. Even as someone who hasn’t played Beyond Good & Evil, I was excited for that reveal for other people.

Assassin’s Creed looks to be going to an interesting place. The South Park reveals are hilarious and make me want to try them out. The pirate game looked amazing, even if it won’t be for me. And Ubisoft’s library as a whole might feature the most colorful palate of any of the conferences so far (possible hyperbole, and sure to be eclipsed by Nintendo). It was a good show, and I’m excited to try out a lot of Ubisoft’s games as they are released.