Tag Archives: Sony

Review: Horizon: Zero Dawn

horizon cover
via Amazon

Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017)

PS4 / Rated T

RPG / Action / Adventure

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Developer: Guerrilla Games


In the months leading up to Horizon: Zero Dawn’s release I thought it was just a unique third-person action game starring a very capable female machine hunter named Aloy roaming around a seemingly post-apocalyptic open world full of tribal inhabitants and bad-ass looking robotic dinosaurs…or whatever you want to call them.  It just looked like a cool third-person action game and I did not think twice about it.  It was an anticipated title of mine but I did not think it was going to blow me away like it did.  Like damn…this Guerrilla’s first foray into this genre of games really impressed me on almost every front.

horizon 1
via US Gamer

Aloy’s tale begins during her days as an outsider, living off the land with her father Rost.  The two having been together for the better part of her formative years, until the day Aloy decides to put her skills to the test by participating in the trials, with the goal of joining the tribe that shunned her and her father years ago.  After a successful day at the trials (among other things that I will not spoil) she becomes a member of the tribe and soon begins to learn secrets about who she really is, and the deeper mystery that blankets the world of Horizon.  It is the looming mystery of this semi-familiar post-apocalyptic world that acted as the driving force that kept me playing through the game.  The game’s scope starts off small but as you begin to meet new characters and venture farther into the world, things start to open up and things get crazier as you begin to learn about the machines, why they exist, along with a host of other mysteries.  There are a lot of crazy ideas and concepts boiling under the game’s surface…more than you would initially imagine.

The best part of it all?  These crazy plot points that you encounter later in the game are extremely satisfying.  Any writer can throw together some hogwash that connects the dots and explains why things exist the way they do, but Horizon’s writers give some satisfying answers that are actually plausible…all things considering.  It is a fantastic bit of science fiction that comes to an end in a pleasing way.  I would be fine with the story ending the way it did, but I would be open to another iteration in the series, in whatever form that would take.  The game has done very well for Sony at this point, so I would not be surprised to see a sequel in the future.

horizon 2
via Forbes

Now let’s talk about powerful and capable protagonists.  Aloy serves as the backbone for the entire story.  If there was no Aloy…the game’s story would only amount to a withering skeleton.  I was infatuated with her character, as she was tough but also smart.  Over the course of the game she unravels a whole bunch of eye-opening revelations that would make the average person nauseous.  The way in which Aloy interprets what she sees is what makes her character so fascinating.  She is a very well-written character that deserves utmost praise.  The rest of the game’s cast were also strong.  I was most intrigued by the game’s various social structures that they present to the player.  Maybe it was just me, but the ratio of women to men leaders far favored the women.  In fact, this is probably one of the most diverse games I have ever played in terms of its various characters.  That is not necessarily a selling point for me, but it is certainly a breath of fresh air from some of the other games out there.

Perhaps the game’s biggest draws at a surface level is its combat, specifically versus the hordes of deadly machines that you will come across in the world.  You fight a fair share of human enemies while overtaking bandit camps and other locations, but the lion share of combat involves those dope machines that you have seen from the trailers.  What makes these machines unique are the various components and weak points on their bodies.  It is a fool’s errand to rush into a fight, spraying and praying with your bow-and-arrow.  Each machine has a strategy that works best for taking them down.  Using Aloy’s focus ability, which is a scanner attached to her ear, you can analyze the machines and plan the most viable fight strategy.  Perhaps tripping a machine with a tripwire and then sending a barrage of arrows in its direction towards its weak point is the way to go.  Shooting a machine’s cannon of its back might be a better approach.  Nothing is more satisfying than giving a machine a dose of its own medicine.  There are many different strategies you can take, which is a sign of engaging gameplay.  I love these types of games where tactics are just as important as the weapons you bring into battle.  You can have the best weapons in the game, but could have your ass royally handed to you on a platter by one of the Behemoths if you do not know what you are doing.  Another aspect I adored about the game’s combat is its sense of scale.  The machines you fight in the beginning are small and manageable, but as you discover new monsters they begin to get bigger and more terrifying.  It makes taking them out on your own that much more rewarding.

horizon 3
via Imgur

Horizon’s world is chock full of collectibles and side quests for Aloy to partake in.  However, this leads me to one of my minor gripes with the game, and that is its side quests.  I was never bored during my time with the game’s side quests, but a good bit of them fell short in the writing department.  Some quests are just your basic “go kill x number of x machines,” while some are a little more substantive and provide some interesting stories.  Unfortunately, a lot of these quests just fall a teeny bit short of greatness.  There was one quest in, for example, involving a father and his estranged daughter.  It starts off as a simple “find my daughter” quest, but then it evolves into something a little more distressing.  The game’s writers had something great on their hands, but did not do anything with it.  They set up a remarkable story, but then proceeded to swing and miss on its execution.  There were several ways the quest could have gone down, some more impactful and darker than the others, but the game’s writers took the easy way out wrapped the quest up prematurely.  This is just one single (and vague for fear of spoilers) example of some side quests that did not quite hit the mark.  This small shortcoming is what sets this game apart from games like the Witcher 3 and the Fallout series, where the side quest writing is stronger.

To no surprise, the game looks very beautiful.  I mean, they did not put a photo mode into the game for decoration.  There are a lot of different environments that you will explore, ranging from dense forests to arid desert plains.  Each of them look stunning at various times of the day.  I often found myself marveling at the incredible vistas that were a commonplace.  The character models looked just as beautiful, but I found that there seemed to be some technical issues during scenes of dialog.  There were some prominent lip-synching issues that were hard to not notice and the character animations during some of these scenes looked too robotic.  There were times were their upper-body movement did not seem natural and at times it felt like I was watching two animatronics at a Disney Theme Park.  Fortunately, aside from these issues, Horizon looks remarkable.

horizon 4
via iDigital Times

All my expectations for Horizon: Zero Dawn were met and sometimes even exceeded.  It is one of those games where I will instantly recommend it to you if you own a PS4.  If you own a PS4 and have not played Horizon yet…I do not know what you are even doing with your life.  I do not think the game unseats Uncharted 4 as my favorite PS4 exclusive, but it sure does give Naughty Dog’s masterpiece a run for its money.  Bravo to Guerilla Games for delivering an absolute barnburner of a game.

horizon score

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Review: No Man’s Sky

no-mans-sky-cover
via Moby Games

No Man’s Sky (2016)

PS4 / Rated T

Action / Adventure

Publisher: Hello Games

Developer: Hello Games


What do you get when you mix together a fresh new idea, an unconventional publisher-developer relationship, a massive development cycle, and hype levels the size of space itself?  You get No Man’s Sky, a game that I really wanted to like.  Sean Murray and the team at Hello Games promised to make an expansive game rooted in boundless exploration and science-fiction nostalgia.  They teamed up with Sony to bring a console exclusive that would be revolutionary to gaming.  Unfortunately, the game was treated like a AAA game with the size of an indie studio.  When you pair that with a plethora of broken promises and an unclear scope, you get a game that lets a ton of people (like myself) down.

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via Gear Nuke

Again, I really wanted to like No Man’s Sky.  The game brought and touched upon a ton of different concepts and ideas that would have made for a fantastic game if handled with a little more care.  The prospect of getting in a space cruiser and flying through the endless expanse of space, exploring different planets and their wildlife on the way, is an idea that should get any sci-fi nerd bouncing with excitement.  On top of that, a fluctuating space economy and the ability to interact with different alien species paint should have made No Man’s Sky the space exploration game we all were waiting for.  So where did it all go wrong?  Why did the game fall short of its expectations?

One reason is reality of the game’s planets versus what we were promised over the course of the game’s prolonged development and PR cycle.  If you watched any of the game’s demos, you probably saw a lush and vibrant ecosystem, filled to the brim with a wide range of mystical creatures roaming about.  It’s a setting that looked ripped from a painting.  It was beautiful, and it got a lot of gamers excited to explore the game’s randomly generated planets for themselves.  We all bought a ticket for the hype train.  We all bought in to the Sean Murray’s tremendous vision, one that might have been a little too far-fetched.

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via Segment Next

At the end of the day, No Man’s Sky is just a game.  A game with limitations, just like any other game.  What Hello Games was promising fans was a game that would exceed technological innovation.  Instead, what we got were computer-generated planets that looked barren and empty, usually with some sort of radiation or extreme temperatures that make exploration a major pain in the ass.  Instead of these mythical creatures we saw in pre-release footage, we got a fair amount of atrocities that looked like the by-product of an animal creation algorithm gone wrong.  Remember EA’s character creation game Spore?  The creatures that you encounter in No Man’s Sky look like Spore rejects.  The ecosystem in the actual game just doesn’t match up with what we saw leading up to the game’s release.  This made planet exploration a bummer, especially when I started to see a lot of the same animals and planets over and over again over the course of my travels.  Random generation is great, but the limitations of such a system started to become apparent after my visit to my fifth planet.

Besides flora and fauna, you can also explore abandoned outposts, monoliths, and other structures, some populated and some empty.  Inside these buildings you can find new items, upgrades, money, and directions to other locations of interests.  The variety of these buildings, just like the animal and plant variety, starts to quickly wear thin as the buildings you explore start to become super familiar as you go on.  The monoliths, which are essentially ancient alien structures, are the most intriguing structures to explore as they offer the most variety and they also look amazing as well.

no-mans-sky-3
via Investor Place

The universe of No Man’s Sky feels empty as well.  Talks of a space economy and different alien species that you could interact with made me believe that the world we would be exploring would be a living and breathing galaxy.  Instead, members of these different alien species stay in the same spots, whether it’s in a space station or a planet’s outpost.  They talk in foreign tongues which makes it next to impossible to feel like you are actually having a conversation with an alien.  You can find tomes throughout the galaxy that help you understand these species’ languages, but this doesn’t help the fact that these NPCs that you encounter are lifeless quest givers.  The space economy does deliver in that you can find different prices for materials in different space systems, but I don’t think these prices are determined by any meta-statistics.  If I were to sell tons of iron to a space trader, the price of iron across the galaxy would not go down, which is a shame.  A space economy that actually reacted to players’ buying habits would be amazing.

Combat, whether it’s on foot or in the sky, is largely underwhelming.  While exploring planets, you have a multi-tool, which allows you to mine for materials as well as fight enemies.  You can upgrade the tool with better upgrades and abilities as you go.  When exploring planets, your only enemies are aggressive creatures and the flying sentinels that scour the planetscape, waiting for someone to cause trouble.  The creatures are easy to take down with your multi-tools’s blaster but the sentinels become a real nuisance as they traverse through the air.  The gun combat doesn’t feel great and I often found myself recklessly shooting my gun in an attempt to destroy the sentinels.  Combat does get easier with subsequent upgrades, but it never felt fun, which is a big problem.  In the air, your space ship has blasters and lasers that aid you in taking down pesky space pirates you track you down if you have any valuable cargo on board.  These fights were the most frustrating of them all.  The space pirates zoom by you and do nimble acrobatic maneuvers through the air as you try to shoot them with your sluggish aim.  Your best bet is to park yourself in place and turn your ship around in an attempt to take down the enemy ships.  This, again, was not fun at all and was the source of a good amount of deaths.  In fact, most of my deaths in this game came at the hands of space pirates.  Luckily they have no interest in your cargo as you can go retrieve your lost goods in the same place where you went down.  There are no stakes to these fights, which makes them a little easier to swallow.

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Up to this point, I have probably talked about half of what you do in No Man’s Sky.  The other half you may ask?  Well, you are going to spend a lot of time with inventory management, which is another major detriment to the game’s experience.  The thing I like about No Man’s Sky’s user interface is the inspiration it draws from Destiny’s user interface.  Unfortunately, navigating through your inventory becomes a hassle thanks to the limited space that you have right from the get-go.  Your Exosuit (your spacesuit) has an inventory as well as you ship, which usually has a larger inventory.  These inventories are pretty small in the beginning which makes resource mining a pain.  I constantly found myself having to sacrifice some materials in order to make room for rarer materials and items.  It also doesn’t help that suit and ship upgrades take up inventory spots as well, which makes upgrading your gear a tougher decision that it should be.  Your inventory space should never get in the way of upgrading your gear.  In order to expand your inventory, you either have to purchase suit upgrades at outposts or obtain bigger and more expensive ships with more space.  Again, as a player you should never have to upgrade your inventories in order to make them useable.  Moving resources and items around in order to make room for other things is a big portion of the gameplay, which is a major shame.  It starts to become a drag really quickly.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that half of your playtime will be spent in the game’s inventory menus.  You’re going to be managing your inventory a lot…which is not my idea of a good time.

Finally, I feel like I need to talk about the multiplayer aspects of the game, rather the lack of multiplayer features that the game has to offer.  You have the choice to name the systems, planets, animals, and plants that you discover in hopes that another player will stumble upon your discoveries.  Why else would name these things?  However, the reality of such a massive random generation algorithm means that millions of planets are being created.  Sean Murray has made it pretty clear that the chance of stumbling upon someone else’s discovery are pretty slim.  Over the course of my playtime, I found nothing that was discovered by someone else.  Because of this, I found myself skipping the naming process, sticking with the randomly generated names that the game gives to these different aspects of the universe.  I stopped claiming ownership of such discoveries, because in the end, they don’t really matter.  Realistically, no one is going to stumble upon your discovered planets…which is a damn shame.  This is the theme of No Man’s Sky.  It’s a damn shame.

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via Segment Next

I could go on for multiple paragraphs, but this review is starting to run long.  There’s a bevy of great ideas and systems that No Man’s Sky implements, but they all feel half-baked and undercooked.  Black holes, Hyper drives, puzzles, and the mysterious Atlas are aspects of the game that I haven’t talked about.  However, none of these things managed to stick out because they were either mishandled ideas or cheap by-products of another random generation.  I admire Hello Game’s commitment to fixing the game and trying to make it a better experience for players after the game has launch, but a lot of these problems could have been fixed if expectations were tempered and promises weren’t made.  The No Man’s Sky we were expecting versus the No Man’s Sky that was put on shelves are two different products that tell two different stories.  One could have been a defining addition to gaming history while the other was the product of a hype train gone off the rails.  I wanted to like No Man’s Sky so much, but in the end it’s a game that just can’t get into.  Who knows, maybe the game will be different in a year’s time with the developer’s plans to update the game, but I don’t think I will be making the return trip into No Man’s Sky.

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LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Demo Impressions

E3 is here and the gaming landscape for the coming year is slowly starting to be formed.  The big publishers have come out swinging and a ton of big games have already been announced.  One of these games, perhaps smaller compared to some of the other titles, is LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The game, based on everyone’s favorite movie from last year, comes out at the end of this month but a demo has been made playable to the public.

The demo focuses on one level in particular that occurs pretty early on in the game.  It takes place on the planet of Jakku and puts you in control of Finn, Rey, and BB-8 shortly after they meet up with each other for the first time.  Just like the movie, this meeting only lasts for a couple of seconds before they notice a group of Stormtroopers lurking around in search of Finn, a runaway Stormtrooper trying to break apart from his once evil ways.  You quickly grab Rey’s arm and start to run amidst the crowded streets of Jakku, thrusting you into the level’s start.

lego star wars force awakens 1
via Digital Trends

Before I go further, it’s worth mentioning that the game is strictly based on the events of Episode VII.  The cut scenes and characters are fully voiced using the movie’s audio.  However, it’s been noted that there are some side stories to be told, ones specifically created solely for the sake of the game.  TT Games got the actors from the movie to come in to do specific voice work for these missions, which is pretty cool.

Upon starting the level, I quickly started to mess around to see what’s new this time around.  Anyone who has played a LEGO game before should feel right at home in terms of gameplay.  You still roam around the level bashing stuff and collecting studs.  There’s obstacles that block off secret areas until you go into free play, where you can play as all the characters.  You can also collect minikits that reveal more secrets up finishing a level.  It’s pretty standard fare for any Lego veteran.  Not much has been changed up to rock the formula.  The three characters you start out controlling are Finn, Rey, and BB-8.  Finn is your average blaster-wielding character who also has the ability to use a grappling hook to reach hard-to-access areas. Rey is more of a melee character, using her staff to devastate enemies up close.  Not to be outdone, she can also throw her staff to take enemies out from afar.  BB-8 isn’t a typical character, but he has some abilities that can come in useful.  First off, he can sneak through small openings to reach secret areas.  He also has a stun attack that can electrocute enemies.  Finally, he can operate rotary switches, opening up new parts of the level.  Your probably not going to use him much, but he sure does look cute flying around the level making those signature beeping noises.

lego star wars force awakens 2
via Digital Times

As I started to make my way through the first part of the level, I was quickly introduced to the multi-builds.  In previous games, you can destroy objects to reveal piles of Lego bricks, which you could then build up to create useful objects.  With multi-builds, you can build different objects using the same pile of Lego bricks.  You indicate the direction in which you want to build the Lego bricks and then you proceed to put them together just like you normally would.  After your done using the first object, you can then break it down and build the other option.  It’s an interesting mechanic that encourages experimentation.  Sometimes you will build objects that are completely useless in the grand scheme of the level.  Other times you will have to build all the different objects in order to progress.  The mechanic was demonstrated a couple of more times over the course of the level, which was pretty neat.

After making my way through the first area, I then stumbled upon a broader combat zone, in which I was quickly forced to get to cover to avoid incoming fire from a group of First Order Stormtroopers.  This is the part where the firefight mechanics were shown off.  The game quickly turned into a lite-cover based shooter where I was able to move from cover to cover, finding opportune times to attack my enemies.  While behind cover, you can pop up using the left trigger and then shoot using the right trigger.  The controls weren’t hard to master and I soon found myself mowing down a bunch of troopers.  This is an early section, but I didn’t find this sequence particularly difficult.  I worry that these sequences will get repetitive as you get farther in the game.  I hope they either find new ways to freshen up the gameplay or they limit these sequences altogether.

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Once the Stormtroopers were neutralized, I kept on making my way towards the Millennium Falcon.  I was then introduced to SN-1F4, another droid character.  It’s a miniature sifter droid, so it doesn’t do much besides reveal secrets in the sand.  I used the droid to reveal some Lego bricks which helped construct a turret, a piece of heavy artillery that allowed me to shoot down some X-Wing fighters from the sky.  Once the coast was clear, the path to the Millennium Falcon was finally made clear.  In the movie, the reveal of the famed freighter was a special moment but in the game, there was hardly any fanfare upon the ship’s discovery.  It’s not that big of a deal but it’s those kinds of movie moments that I want captured in Lego form.

This led to the aerial portion of the level, in which you pilot the Millennium Falcon.  Just like previous Lego games, the first part of the sequence was totally on-rails.  As I made my way through, I eventually stumbled upon an open area where I was granted free reign.  The controls took some getting used to, but I eventually got the hang of them as I flew around blasting down more X-Wings.  I eventually reached the final portion of the level, which switched back to on-rail flying.  As I escaped from the inside of the Star Destroyer ruins, the level came to a close.  I got a glimpse of Kylo Ren’s character as he was sulking around in his Darth Vader themed room.  Staying true to the movies, one of his officers came to inform him about the BB-8 getting away, which infuriates Ren, sending him into a room-trashing tantrum.  It was good to see that the bouts of Lego humor are still what makes these games so appealing.

lego star wars force awakens 3
via Comic Book News

I was only able to play through one level, so it’s unclear how many different levels are going to be in the main game.  If I had to take a guess, we’ll probably get around fifteen with the addition of side levels.  It’s also unclear if we are going to get an open world.  Not much has been said about this, now common, aspect of Lego games.  We might get some hub-worlds in lieu of one big open area.

There was lots to enjoy about the demo but it left some concerns as well.  The Lego series hasn’t been privy to change.  The classic formula has pretty much been the same for years now.  There are some new mechanics being thrown in this time around, but it’s hard to say if they will be enough to make this game stand out from the rest.  If you’re a fan of the Lego games, especially the Lego Star Wars games that gave the series legs, then you will most likely want to give LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens a try.  It’s looking to be a charming retelling of the big movie with a lot of cool stuff packed in for Star Wars fans.

lego star wars force awakens 5
via Segment Next

Review: Heavy Rain

heavy rain poster
via Giant Bomb

Heavy Rain (2010 – PS3) (2016 – PS4)

PS4 / Rated M

Action / Adventure

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Developer: Quantic Dream, SCE XDev Studio


Losing someone you love is one of the toughest things we have to go through as humans.  It’s even tougher if they’re young.  You end up asking a lot of questions and you sometimes question yourself, especially if you had a chance at preventing the loss.  In Heavy Rain, a game by David Cage and Quantic Dream, a father loses his child and is on the brink of losing another.  Feelings of guild, depression, love, and contempt all rear their head as he tries to save his son.  How far are you willing to go to save someone you love from the clench of death?  This is the primary theme that drives Heavy Rain, as well as its four main characters.

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Tension has been rising as a serial killer, calling himself the “Origami Killer,” has been killing innocent children by kidnapping them from their parents and drowning them in rain water.  Their deaths are marked by the presence of an origami figure, placed in the kids’ cold lifeless hands.  The latest victim is Shaun Mars, son of Ethan Mars, one of the four playable characters.  He’s kidnapped during the course of the game and he only has a couple of days to live.  It becomes a race against the clock as Ethan is given a set of trials that test his love for his son and his willingness to go through hell to save him.

Meanwhile, you play as three other characters who are all concurrently after the Origami Killer in one way or another.  Norman Jayden is a criminal profiler who works for the FBI.  He is contracted by the town’s local police department to investigate the recent killings and he uses the help of his gadget ARI (Added Reality Interface) to help with the investigations.  Madison Paige is a freelance journalist and photographer who ends up meeting Ethan at a local motel.  It’s through this chance meeting that she starts to become involved in the Origami Killer’s doings and she begins to start a private investigation of her own.  Finally, there’s Scott Shelby, an ex-cop turned private investigator who has been contracted by the Origami Killer’s victims’ families to investigate their murders.  Each of these characters, including Ethan, have their own stories and motivations that drive their actions.  The game flips between perspectives, giving you control of each of these characters as the game goes on.

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There’s a lot of heavy material that the game covers and there’s a lot of tense moments that will make you sweat, quite literally.  There’s a lot of twist and turns, including one big one towards the end that caught me off guard.  However, after going back and examining the events that led to this twist, everything made sense and came together, which is an indication of a really well-written twist.  There’s also some plot-holes here and there, but they aren’t too offensive and they don’t detract too much from the story.  The performances were also really well done.  The characters you play as and interact with were all motion captured, which really helped convey emotion and feeling.  You could see the emotion in character’s faces, giving them more life and believability.

The game is an adventure game where all of your choices affect the story in ways that are predictable and not so predictable.  Gameplay mainly takes the form of quick-time events and dialogue choices.  If a character dies due to a failed quick-time sequence, then the story goes on.  There’s no game over screens to save you.  The story is constantly adapting to your choices (and your mistakes) and contains a multitude of different endings based upon the story’s happenings.  A lot of games claim that your choices affect the story but there are few that have high-impact decisions.  Every little choice you make in Heavy Rain affects the story in big and small ways.  Even the smallest of details, like the color of a character’s clothes, can play a big part in the way the story plays out.

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One of the things I really liked about the way the game handles its quick-time events is the way they conveyed emotion through these events.  As you play through the different sequences, buttons will appear on the screen indicating a quick-time event.  Sometimes these indicators will be calm and stable while other times they will be shaking uncontrollably.  This can lead to some frustrating moments where mistakes are easy to be made, but this works in the game’s context.  If a character is nervous and at the precipice of danger, then they are more likely to make hasty decisions and mistakes.  You always know what the character is going through based on the presentation of the quick-time events, which is brilliant and works really well in conveying story without explicitly describing how a character feels.

Heavy Rain was initially released in 2010 on the PS3, but I have been playing the PS4 remaster, which gives the already good looking game a complete HD makeover.  The game looks amazing and even the slightest details like the boxes you find in a convenience store are all retouched and redone in a higher resolution.  The game still looks a little dated at moments but the gorgeousness is undeniable.  Unfortunately, the movement mechanics were not redone for the remaster.  Movement is handled by pressing down the right trigger while moving the stick in the direction you want to move.  It’s a dated mechanic that does not hold up well at all.  I often found myself running into walls and scooting past an object in an environment that I wanted to interact with because I was trying to grasp the character’s movement.  It’s not a thing that gets better with time either.  I was still having annoyances with the mechanic late in the game.

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David Cage’s game took the gaming industry by storm when it was first released.  Heavy Rain, despite some of its mechanical woes, still holds up extremely well today, thanks to some of Quantic Dream’s remastering work.  There’s a thrilling story to be told, one that will most likely move you in one way or another.  All of the characters are dynamic, interesting, and even relatable in some ways.  Heavy Rain was on of PS3’s best games and that quality still stays true today.

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SoundCloud Go: Is It Really Worth It?

Great, just what we need.  Another music streaming service.

A streaming service from SoundCloud is something that we have been anticipating ever since they started getting in cahoots with some big name label companies. Some time has passed and now here we are, the launch day of SoundCloud Go, the newest streaming service from the music platform known for its B-sides remixes and user-uploaded content.  What makes this service different from more established services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal?  Well…almost nothing.

soundcloud go
via SoundCloud

First, let’s talk about the part that you care about; the price.  SoundCloud Go is on par with the other services, offering its services for $9.99 a month or $12.99 if you sign up on the iPhone app.  What does this mean?  It means you’ll want to sign up for the service on the website, regardless if you are going to be using the Android or iPhone app.  (iTunes’ three-dollar transaction fee is a real pain in the ass) Luckily, the service offers a 30-day free trial for anybody who is weary of signing up for another streaming service.  It’s during this time that you will quickly notice that SoundCloud Go might not be what it’s hyped up to be.

What do you get for the ten dollars a month?  Firstly, you get access to a premium library of content from well-known artists as well as some deeper-cuts.  SoundCloud has been working with record labels like UMG, Sony, Merlin, and Warner to give its premium users a larger library to choose from.  The service also promises its paying customers offline listening for individual tracks and playlists as well as an ad-free listening experience.  You know, your standard music streaming fare.  The only thing that sets SoundCloud apart from its not-so-surprising lack of music…which is a bad way to be different.

I decided to run some tests on the mobile app.  I did a search for Lupe Fiasco, which yielded these results:

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Search results for Lupe Fiasco…not bad.

As you can see, this provides an example of what the search results will look like for premium users.  Now take note of the number of tracks related to Lupe Fiasco.  151 isn’t a bad number.  The service seemed to have a good portion of Lupe’s library.

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I was impressed that SoundCloud Go had his latest, Tetsuo & Youth, on the service.

That was a good sign.  It’s when I started searching for other artists that I started to run into some problems.  Let’s take Adele for example:

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Again, not that bad…but could be better.

Once again, there was a good amount of Adele tracks, but there were some notable absences as well.  The service seems to have her albums 19 and 21 but her latest album, 25, is nowhere to be found.  The album’s key song, “Hello,” is the lone song available to users.  SoundCloud was boasting about having artists like Adele on their service…but if you’re going to boast about an artist you should probably have their library in its entirety.

What about Jay-Z?  Well…not too many marbles:

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Shout-out to that hot new track “When Is Someone Gonna Sue Jay-Z?” I heard its a banger.

This might have been a search destined to fail, considering the rap icon co-owns the streaming service Tidal, but his music can still be found on other services like Spotify.  Spotify has a robust Jay-Z library…which pulverizes SoundCloud Go’s current offerings…which isn’t much.  I did other searches for artists like Rihanna and Drake…and the lack of music was pretty consistent.

The service claims to have 125+ million tracks available to users on the platform.  However, what they don’t tell you is how this number breaks down.  Based on some reporting by The Verge, 110 million of those tracks are remixes of existing songs or user-uploaded content.  That leaves a measly 15 million tracks that are totally original.  This might seem like a large number, but it pales in comparison to its competitors.  SoundCloud has made it clear that they are working around the clock to bring more tracks to the service, but they have a lot of legwork to cover if they want to keep up with the other streaming giants.  These services are all about user-retention and SoundCloud isn’t going to keep too many of its paying customers with the library that they have now.

As you saw from the screenshots above, the mobile interface remains relatively unchanged, which is a good thing.  You don’t want too much change all at once.  One of the more frustrating aspects of the service hasn’t changed however and that is the organization.  Unlike other services, SoundCloud presents its song in an unorganized fashion.  For example, searching for Adele’s album 19 gave me this:

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Tis a barren wasteland of obscurity…

Nothing.  The service doesn’t organize its music by albums.  Your straight out of luck if you want to listen to an artist’s full album uninterrupted.  You have to go to each track individually and play them that way, which becomes super tedious and annoying.  Sure, you could get around this by creating a playlist by adding each song from an album individually…but who has time for that?  Album organization seems like a no-brainer…but you’ll just have to settle.

The Now Playing screen should look familiar to anybody who has used the SoundCloud app before:

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Standard stuff…nothing major in terms of options.

You can’t see it in this screenshot, but most tracks will have a download button that allows you to download the track for listening later, similar to most mobile streaming apps.  You can also start track stations that play similar sounds and you can add tracks to playlists.  You can then download these playlists for later listening.  This stuff seems to work pretty well…but that’s the least surprising thing about the whole experience.  If you have used another streaming service, then you should feel right at home.

SoundCloud Go still has a long road ahead of itself if it wants to catch up with its bigger and badder competitors. I always liked SoundCloud for it’s deep-cut remixes and tracks from up-and-coming artist and DJs.  Initial tests make it seem like this can all be done for free.  What you’re paying for is the bigger libraries from more well-established artists.  Unfortunately, the content availability is slim-pickings at this point, but more content should be coming in the future.  Enough to rival its competitors like Spotify and Apple Music?  Probably not.  If you primarily use SoundCloud to catch up with newer and more underground artists, then paying for premium features is probably not necessary.  As of now, SoundCloud Go isn’t worth your ten dollars a month.  Maybe the future will prove otherwise…but I don’t have good feelings for the service moving forward.

Review: Tyler, the Creator’s Cherry Bomb

via Miss Info
via Miss Info

Cherry Bomb (2015)

Tyler, the Creator

Rap / Alternative Hip-Hop

Odd Future Records / Sony


What a year it has been so far for Rap.  We are a little past a quarter of the way through the year and we have already had a plethora of great albums from some of the day’s best rappers.  Everyone must be on their A-game I presume.  The party continues with Tyler, the Creator’s newest offering, Cherry Bomb.  Tyler gives us another worthy rap release, although some minor quibbles and missteps put a blemish on the finished product.

It is immediately apparent that there are a lot of different sound and musical influences on the album from some of Tyler’s idols.  Some of the more notable influences that we see on the album are from Stevie Wonder and N.E.R.D., especially in the album’s opening track “DEATHCAMP.”  Tyler also managed to get some of his idols as features, including the likes of Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, and the Colombian singer Kali Uchis, who seems to have hit it off pretty well with Tyler.  The songs that they worked on together, including “FUCKING YOUNG/PERFECT” and “FIND YOUR WINGS,” are some of the highlights from the thirteen song track list.

via NSS Mag
via NSS Mag

The two most intriguing features out of the bunch came from Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Pharrell.  “SMUCKERS” received a lot of hype prior to the album’s release due to the fact that the hip-hop legends Kanye and Wayne would be on the track.  The song might not have lived up to the heavy amounts of hype, but I was still pleased with the outcome.  I really enjoyed Pharrell’s feature on “KEEP DA O’S” because it brought us back to the 2006 Pharrell, with Slim Thug’s Already Platinum.  It was a cool sound from Pharrell, one that most contemporary pop fans are not too familiar with.

If you could not tell already from the album’s track list, the album has a theme of flying, or finding your wings.  “PILOT,” “RUN,” and “FIND YOUR WINGS,” as well as other songs, all carry out the overarching theme of finding your own place in life.  Doing what you want to do without anybody else judging you or bringing you down.  It is a pretty positive overtone that is sort of a far cry from some of Tyler’s past work.

via NME
via NME

The album’s production and musical choices are what hurts the album and takes it down a couple of pegs.  It is like Tyler just figured out what distortion and compression was, and decided to sprinkle the effects everywhere.  His overuse of these musical effects made some of the songs sound like a jumbled mess of noises.  They work well with a tiny minority of the tracks, but they do not really have the effect that Tyler probably was wanting them to have.  The best example I can give is the album’s title track, “CHERRY BOMB,” which turned out to be a mess.

There is also some instrumentals that find their way on to a couple of songs which sound pretty good.  The sax solos in “2SEATER” give the song a mellow and moody feel and “BLOW MY LOAD” is another smooth sounding “ballad” about the dirty act of *ahem* blowing your load.  Only on a Tyler, the Creator album.

via DIY Mag
via DIY Mag

Any fan of Tyler, the Creator will most likely find their selves at home among the goofy and often immature lyrics and weird sounds.   Cherry Bomb might be some of Tyler’s best work when you compare it to the likes of Goblin and Wolf.  Both of those albums had some great moments, but so does Cherry Bomb.  The album could have used some work on the production side, with Tyler not going crazy with the weird musical effects, but we get an album that was made “by Tyler, for Tyler,” if that makes sense.  He accomplished a lot of his dream projects and goals on this one, which gives a pretty authentic and real feel to the album.  If Tyler’s happy, I guess we must be happy too.

cherry bomb score

Review: The Interview

the interview posterThe Interview (2014)

R / 112 min

Action / Comedy

Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogan, Randall Park

Directors: Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogan


It’s easy to see why a movie like The Interview would be highly frowned upon by Kim Jung-un and North Korea.  They don’t take comedy too seriously in North Korea, especially comedy that involves the death of their “great leader.”  In fact, any piece of fiction in North Korea that involves the death of their leader is punishable by death.  It isn’t hard to see why Sony almost scrapped the project as a whole.  North Korea wasn’t going to find something like this “funny.”

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The daring ambition of the film is admirable though.  It takes a lot of balls to put something like this out there.  The new comedy from Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan is bold and audacious.  It covers a lot of territory that most would deem crazy and unthinkable.  Thankfully, Sony realized this as well, putting the movie out in select theaters, as well as some online outlets.  Freedom of speech prevailed, like it should.  North Korea probably won’t be happy, but there is a ton of people that will be happy this Christmas because of it.  But does the movie warrant this happiness?

The Interview stars James Franco as the charismatic and popular talk show host Dave Skylark, who is the front man for Skylark Tonight.  It’s a celebrity tabloid show similar to shows like TMZ and Entertainment Tonight.  The show wouldn’t be able to run thought if it wasn’t for Dave’s trusted producer Aaron Rapaport, played by Seth Rogan.

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It’s those two together on screen that make this movie enjoyable. Seth and Franco are best buds off screen, and that transfers brilliantly on screen.  Their banter is priceless and the mischief that the two get into during the movie is extremely amusing.

It’s Aaron though that realizes that the show needs to become something else…something better.  Things start to fall into place when Dave finds out that the great leader of North Korea, Kim Jung-un, is actually a big fan of his show.  After a short trip to China, and some other behind the scenes talk from Aaron, Dave lands himself the most important interview of his life, a talk with Kim Jung-un in his own North Korea.

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Meanwhile, the CIA realizes the bigger picture, and discern that this interview might be the one chance that they have to take out the leader.  Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) of the CIA decides to give the duo a visit, and let them in on their grand plan.  The two don’t get it at first, but they soon realize the deed needs to be done.  They are tasked with poisoning the leader via handshake.  It’s a simple plan, and nothing could go wrong…right?

The part that made the movie for me though was the first introduction we get to Kim Jung-un, who is played by Randall Park.  He is basically the complete opposite of what you would think. He is a party animal.  He listens to Katy Perry, drinks margaritas, has a garage full of sports cars, and bangs the hottest models that his country can give him.  The humor is in the irony of it all.  In real life Kim Jung-un is stoic and emotionless.  This is far from the case in this movie.  It’s quite amusing actually.

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It’s the third act when the movie starts to lose me.  We start to see the relationship brew between Aaron and Sook (Diana Bang), one of Kim Jung-un’s trusted officers.  I would have liked to see a little more on that end.  The interview itself is actually anti-climatic.  It gets tense at times, but there wasn’t too much humor involved.  The only humor during that entire segment was in the control room.  I’m not going to spoil anything, but the interview kind of fell short.

The rest of the movie however, was pretty funny, with lots of fantastic and hysterical moments.  There could have been a lot less “dude-bro” humor though.  The “boner” jokes where fast and plenty, making a lot of the humor seem immature.  There were also some jokes that they latched on to throughout the movie.  In particular, the “honey-dicking” jokes were funny at first, but started to wear a little thin as time went on.

Seth Rogen;James Franco

The final scene was interesting to say the least.  The whole premise of the movie is offensive to Kim Jung-un by nature, but it is hard to make those last couple of scenes any worse than they were.  I couldn’t help but cringe a little bit.  It was a little unsettling and I couldn’t really find a laugh.  It might be funny for some people, but it just came off as a little tasteless.  (***SPOILER***) The final death of Kim Jung-un involved a rocket to his helicopter to the tune of Katy Perry’s “Firework”.  The helicopter crumbled and fell to the ground in a fiery mess, right on cue with the chorus.  Like I said, a little extreme if you ask me… (***END SPOILER***)

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I went into the movie with little to no expectations whatsoever.  All the publicity behind the movie, as well as the controversy that it was stirring up, made me interested enough to give it a view.  With that being said, The Interview is an unhinged romp around North Korea starring the perfect duo of Seth Rogan and James Franco.  The movie has it’s laugh out loud moments, as well as it’s blemishes.  Its far from being a perfect comedy, but I have to say that it is probably the most intriguing and daring comedy that I have seen in a while.  It is still worth a watch.

 

 

What Got Me Excited At PlayStation Experience

It’s been a busy weekend for the gaming industry.  Friday kicked off the weekend with the presentation of The Game Awards 2014 in Las Vegas.  Then, starting Saturday, PlayStation took it’s turn with their inaugural expo called the PlayStation Experience.  It was a unique event that put the games in fan’s hands, with hundreds of demo stations and panels.  Sony announced a ton of new projects at the show, and they showed off some already announced games as well.  There was a ton of stuff that got me excited for the coming year for PlayStation.  Here is the stuff that caught my eye at the show…

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4)

Sony kicked off their keynote for the show with a massive gameplay segment of their favorite game series, Uncharted.  The fifteen minute demo of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End showcased Nathan Drake walking through a jungle-esque environment, coming across a couple of mysterious skeletons.  The first thing that can be noticed is the amazing visuals.  The game looked stunning, and Nathan Drake looked sharp.  The guys at Naughty Dog have been doing a fine job.

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Then Nathan Drake stumbled upon a gang of enemies, which in turn caused things to go south.  We then saw a mix of combat and stealth, as Nathan maneuverd the environment with ease.  We saw him climb up rock faces, swing around with a grappling hook, and take down enemies using the environment as his defense.  The gun mechanics looked pretty good and overall, the combat looked generally fun.  Although, this looks like a game where stealth will be your friend.  There were a multitude of enemies that Nathan could not have taken down.  A combination of stealth and quick action got him safely away from the encounter.

The demo then ended with Nathan Drake narrowly avoiding getting pummeled by a avalanche of falling rocks.  When he got solid footing on ground, he quickly noticed a man that was waiting for them.  They both quickly drew their weapons, but there was no need because the two knew each other.  It turns out the man was actually Nathan’s older brother, voiced by Troy Baker.  Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End looks like an amazing game so far, and I can’t wait to see more of it in the coming months.

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The Forest (PS4)

It was announced that The Forest, which was previously a Steam early-access game, would be making it’s console debut on the PS4.  The game is a survival action game that starts you on a crashed plane that landed in the middle of a forest.  It’s up to you to figure out where to go from there.  You have to adapt to your environment and watch out for the locales, because they don’t really fancy your presence. I have not given the game a try myself, but now that it is coming to the PS4, I really don’t have a good reason not to play it.  It has some cool ideas and I am sure that it will be a great fit for consoles.

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Persona 5 (PS3 & PS4)

Persona 5, which is being developed by P Studio and Atlus, is part of the classic RPG series that puts you in the life of teenage students.  The series is known not only for it’s RPG elements, but it’s elements of daily life that the players have to control.  It was announced that Persona 5 was coming to North America for English players.  I have not played a game in the series myself, but I look forward to giving the newest game a try.

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Grim Fandango Remastered (PS4 & Vita)

Grim Fandango, released by LucasArts in 1998, has gained cult following.  The adventure game is about a grim reaper-like character who goes around the Land of the Dead.  The story has a lot of references to Mexican folklore.  The game was released near the end of the golden age of adventure games.  The game had a unique art style as well, sporting cartoon-like visuals.

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The Remastered version, which is exclusive to the PlayStation systems looks great.  Every aspect of the game is going to be remastered.  The audio, graphics, and more are all getting reworked for the next generation of consoles.  It makes me happy that I can finally try out the popular adventure game.  I am a huge fan of adventure games, and Double Fine looks like they are doing a great job with the remaster.


Day of the Tentacle: Special Edition (PS4, PS3 & Vita)

Double Fine and Tim Schafer were not done with their announcements at the keynote.  Schafer and Adam Boyes had one last announcement, and that was the special edition of the famed adventure game Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle.  There wasn’t too much additional information given, but the announcement alone got a ton of people excited.  The game, which was released during the golden age of adventure games, has gotten a big cult following as well.  Once again, I have not played the game, but I am looking forward to giving the game a try.

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The Order: 1886 (PS4)

During Sony’s keynote, we got look at some more of the steam-punk style game The Order: 1886.  We got a trailer that showcased some cinematics, as well as some of the gameplay.  We got a look at a shootout that takes place in a kitchen.  The gun mechanics look pretty good, and it was clear that there will be a ton of quick time events.  What’s got me most excited is the concepts behind the game, as well as the game’s retro steam-punk look and feel.  I am looking forward to exploring London and seeing what else the game has to offer.  There hasn’t been to much information about the story, but the game has still caught my interest nonetheless.

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Until Dawn (PS4)

Until Dawn, a game from Supermassive Games, has been an intriguing game to me.  The story features eight teenagers who are spending time at a mountain resort.  However, a serial killer is out to get them, meaning they have to play the survival game.  What’s the most attention grabbing about the game is the gameplay style.  It’s most akin to Heavy Rain, the popular PS3 game that features a lot of quick time events.

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The demo that was shown features the girl who is played by Hayden Panettiere.  She is fresh out of the shower when a juggalo-looking character breaks in with a mission to kidnap her.  The rest of the demo consisted of quick time events and quick decisions with the mission of escaping unscathed by the kidnapper.  It was a thrilling and intense sequence.

Every decision that you make in the game will affect how the story turns out, and you can’t take anything back.  If you die in the game, you are dead for real.  You can’t bring anybody back and you can’t replay the segments.  This puts more weight on your decisions, and this can lead to a very deep and engrossing story.  I am looking forward to playing this intense thriller.  If the whole game is like the gameplay segments that they have been showing, it’s going to be a good one.

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No Man’s Sky (PS4)

Sony’s keynote at the PlayStation experience was far from the first time that we heard about the ambitious game from the small indie studio, Hello Games.  However, the more I see the game, the more excited I get.  During their PlayStation experience showing, they gave us a look at the true scale of the procedural generated world that players will be able to explore.  The planets that we will encounter and explore look massive, and probably bigger than most maps on your everyday game.  The trailer then zoomed out and revealed the mind-blowing size of the galaxy that surrounds the planet, before zooming back in to a totally different planet.  I can’t wait to get totally lost in No Man’s Sky’s world, a world that is too massive to explore fully.

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The Next God of War Game

The next God of War game was talked about at the God of War retrospective panel at the PlayStation experience.  Santa Monica Studio’s Cory Barlog was talking about it, saying that it is in the works, and that it will not be a prequel to the existing games.  This means that it could be a sequel, or even a reboot.  No other information was given, and it doesn’t look like the game will be coming out anytime soon either.  Either way, it still gets me excited for the future.  Will the next game in the series even star Kratos?  Everything is still up in the air at this point.

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Why P.T. Is A Good Sign For The Future

P.T. title cardLet me start off by saying one thing…P.T. is scary and creepy as hell.  What exactly is P.T.?  Well, it was a playable teaser that was released on the PS4 to tease a new game for the PS4.  When this was announced at Gamescom, the Sony representatives were cryptic about it and they just said to go download it and play it.  It was free so I said why not and started to download it.  I usually don’t play horror games but I thought I’d give it a try.  What a frightening experience….

All you do is move through a hallway numerous times.  Each time you walk through the hallway, things get more messed up and things start taking a dark turn.  The premise is you are a man who has murdered his family.  Something like that will really mess you up psychologically.  He walks around the hallway and different things pop out at you and you see some extremely unsettling things.  There was one jump scare in particular that really made me almost jump out of my chair.  I don’t usually get scared when it comes to the horror genre but this teaser did something to me.

PT 2

Towards the end of the playable teaser, it turns into a puzzle that seems really hard to solve.  This is how Sony intended it to be.  However, being in the age of internet, the puzzle was solved real quickly.  If you got to the end and triggered the end cut-scene, you see that P.T. was actually a playable teaser for Silent Hills, the newest Silent Hill game that is coming from Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro and will star Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead fame. It was quite a surprise in numerous ways and it triggered me to think about the future of games for a little bit.  Here’s why P.T. is a good sign for the future…

P.T._20140812234724

1. Hollywood is coming to games

With the revelation that Guillermo del Toro is part of the project, as well of Norman Reedus, I am starting to notice a welcoming trend that is coming to gaming.  It seems that Hollywood is starting to rear it’s head into the industry.  A lot of games are starting to bring on Hollywood talent onto their projects.  Some recent examples include Kevin Spacey and Call of Duty, Peter Dinklage and Destiny, and Camilla Luddington in Rise of the Tomb Raider.

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This is a good sign because these actors can bring a lot of life to the characters that you see in games.  They can make them more relatable and they can enhance experiences for gamers.  It’s also shows that the movie industry is really starting to recognize the video game industry as a profound entertainment medium.  With Norman Reedus being in P.T., it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of character he will play in a horror game.  The Walking Dead had some horror elements but the horror genre is a completely different animal.

2. The AAA Treatment for Horror Games

When it comes to horror games, it seems that it is a niche genre.  When you look at the release calender, there don’t seem to be too much horror games among the big titles.  Horror games tend to be made by small studios and they don’t seem to reach to the masses.  These games usually have lower budgets.  Now, this doesn’t mean that they are bad experiences, but they just don’t have the star power that Silent Hills will have.

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You can tell that P.T. has some star power behind it.  The game looked amazing. The hallways almost looked real and the objects in the environment looked genuine.  The visual detail that was put into the game really showed off the visual prowess of the PS4.  Even the lighting contributed to the experience, giving it an eerie vibe.  If more horror games get this kind of treatment in the future, the horror genre might be able to reach to a broader audience.  I myself am not a horror fan but seeing the work that was put into this game really got me hooked.  I am now interested to see how this game really turns out when Silent Hills is released.

3. The Playable Teaser might become a thing

Finally, the way Silent Hills was announced is revolutionary.  The classic way to reveal a game is to bring it to a big trade show and then show off a fancy CG trailer during the press conferences.  Don’t get me wrong, there can be some excitement behind these kinds of announcements, but it starts to become old and tired.  It’s too predictable.  What Sony did with P.T. was amazing.  They released P.T. as a playable trailer that actually was a playable trailer for the new Silent Hill game.

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It really appeals to the viral generation that we live in.  Youtubers started to live stream the teaser and that is when we all figured out the mystery that was behind the game, Silent Hills.  It was a brilliant way to announce a game and they probably ended up getting more media attention for it.  It still would have gotten good media attention if they just showed a trailer but the playable teaser got us talking for days and days after the mystery was solved.

Perhaps game developers will take notes on the success of this marketing campaign and they may start to jump on the playable teaser bandwagon.  Playable teasers offer a great way for gamers to get excited about your games and they are probably the best way to announce a game.  Plus, you can’t complain with the amount of media attention that you’ll get from them.

The Gamescom 2014 Announcements I Am Excited For

Gamescom 2014 in Germany is officially underway as of today with this mornings press conferences from Microsoft and Sony.  Both of these giants had a plethora of games to show off and some new announcements.  Some were intriguing while others where questionable.  For instance, the news that the next Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider, will be a Xbox One exclusive is rather alarming and disappointing.  This news is pretty big for Microsoft, but they left the army of Playstation players in the dark.  It’s still unknown if this is an ACTUAL exclusive or if it is just a timed exclusive.  Either way, it’s still a little upsetting.

2014 gamescom

However, let’s get to the announcements that were not upsetting, at least to me.  I have picked out five announcements (in no particular order) that excited me the most from this mornings press conferences.  I bet there will be more announcements in the coming days and I will be sure to update the list if any of those games excite me.  Also, keep in mind that these are all new announcements.  Nothing that we have seen before up to this point.

Roller Coaster Tycoon: World (Early 2015)

roller coaster tycoon world

If you don’t know by now, let me inform you that the Roller Coaster Tycoon games have always held a special place in my heart.  They are all fun and deep games that offer me tons of enjoyment.  They were the first games that really got me started in gaming.  Today’s announcement of Roller Coaster Tycoon: World is exciting because it looks like they are really going to be taking advantage of some next-gen systems.  For example, you will be able to manage a park with up to four players cooperatively.  You will be able to visit each other’s parks and share blueprints for your prized roller coasters.  They say that this is going to be the most connected Roller Coaster Tycoon game ever.  This is good news, but not if it turns out like the new SimCity, which was also supposed to be fully connected.  Either way, this is another full PC release in the Roller Coaster Tycoon series so I am going to be excited.

If you want to see why the Roller Coaster Tycoon games are so great, just click here!

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (TBA)

ethan carter logo

Although The Vanishing of Ethan Carter has already been announced for the PC, the news coming from Playstation’s press conference has revealed that it is also coming to the PS4.  The game is an interesting take on immersive storytelling, putting you in the place of a detective who happens to have the ability to visualize the scenes of crimes that have taken place.  Your current investigation about a kidnapping leads you to a beautiful mountain landscape where you discover the mutilated bodies of one of the kidnappers. It is then your job to further investigate the mystery before things get out of hand.  This adventure game seems like it will have a heavy emphasis on storytelling and unique gameplay that should make it a pretty cool PS4 release.

ethan carter

The Tomorrow Children (TBA)

the tomorrow children logoQ-Games, the guys behind the Pixel Junk games on the PS3 have teamed up with Sony Worldwide Studios to bring Tomorrow Children exclusively to the PS4.  It’s a 3D game that looks reminiscent of the Minecraft series.  The game tasks you with uncovering a bunch of artifacts from the ground.  Studio head Dylan Cuthbert said,

The Tomorrow Children is the story of a future re-imagined from the after-effects of an experiment in 1960s Russia that attempted to ‘sublime’ the human race, or meld all human minds into one global consciousness. Unfortunately it went wrong and decimated the planet, and it took the next 90 years for the few humans left to rebuild to the point where they have created you, the player, as a ‘projection clone’. You’re tasked with venturing out into ‘The Void’ to reclaim the human race and restore it to its former glory!

The survivors of the experiment have created a society based on Marxist ideals from the 1960s. As you can imagine those ideals have become slightly distorted by the flow of time, and even technology has advanced in unexpected directions.

the tomorrow children

It’s a unique looking game that seems to share the same kind of art style as the Pixel Junk games.  I look forward to hearing more about this game in the coming months.

Until Dawn (TBA)

until dawn logoRemember when this game was announced for the PS3?  Yeah, most don’t.  However, the game has been brought back to the table and has officially been announced for Sony’s newest console.  The game, which is being made by Supermassive Games, is about you and seven other teenagers spending some time at a cottage in the mountains on the anniversary of your friend’s death.  You then have to make sure that your friends don’t die because the spooky cottage starts to turn evil.  This is a game that would seem like a perfect fit for Sony’s VR headset.  Although this hasn’t been announced, it is possible that Sony would bring this game to Project Morpheus given that it is a horror game that wants to be an immersive experience.

until dawn

Tearaway Unfolded

tearaway unfolded logoTearaway on the Vita was a game that got a lot of praise from fans and critics alike.  It was a fun and colorful platformer that had a nice visual appeal and fresh gameplay.  Media Molecule is now bringing the game, or an adaptation of the game, to the PS4, entitling it Tearaway Unfolded.  It sounds like they are going to build the game from the ground up for the PS4, which means they are going to take full advantage of the DualShock 4 controller.  You will be able to use the touchpad for various gameplay mechanics and you will also be able to use the motion sensors as well.  The game also looks great on the PS4, keeping with the same paper-esque art style of the original.  Its a fun looking game that I am dying to try since I don’t have a Vita.

tearaway unfolded

This news is also interesting because it almost signals the death of the Vita.  Although Sony hasn’t fully given up hope on the portable system, there were no important announcements for the Vita at their conference.  As of now, it is looking like the Vita will just be a cross-buy platform for ported indies.  This might be alright for some, but probably not many.