So Link placed the Master Sword back into the pedestal and presumably went on to be angry at Zelda cause clearly his wish was to get with her not bring peace to Lorule. So from that lovely sentence, you can clearly see I have battled through the game to complete it. So that means A Link Between Worlds joins the few Zelda games I have finished to the credits. The other titles for those interested if I remember them all correctly are; Wind Waker (got up to the triforce quest on the GC version and finished it on the Wii U remake), Link to the Past (finished it on the GBA), Four Swords Adventures (funny story; my TV (an old commodore 64 monitor) blew during one of the levels) and I’m fairly sure Spirit Tracks and quite possibly Phantom Hourglass are also included in said list. Then there at titles like The Minish Cap which I’ve gotten all the way to the end castle to beat the bad guy and instead of doing the level decided to just call it quits for whatever reason. I think Phantom Hourglass fits in this category not the complete one. Then the rest of course I’ve gotten to some point and just stopped playing or gotten sick of them, but that’s beside the point.
So when I wrote my review I had finished the Hyrule section only to be battling away through and possibly completed the first Lorule dungeon. Confession time, I didn’t finish that dungeon because I stupidly had picked Turtle Rock as the first level. Which for my general skills in Zelda games felt a little bit harder than it should have been but I was still able to get through to the end. What ate up all my hearts and annoyed me was the boss of Turtle Rock, which I decided to abandon and by the time I saved a few of the sages and came back, it was a breeze to kill that wicked thing.
Firstly lets go over some of the points I made in the review, and lets look to see if I am no longer as angry about them, and have come to terms with what it does for the game.
I had this big idea that A Link Between Worlds road on the Skyward Sword “everything is a dungeon” style of gameplay. I guess now I had some time to think about it, this is something which isn’t as major, least as what I was thinking it was. 2D games will always have that condensed feeling to them. A Link Between Worlds follows the style which LTTP and The Minish Cap both share. I guess with the gap between this style, it just felt as a shock to be playing once again in this compacted style of gameplay, with monsters and a few puzzles around. The Skyward Sword more vibrant puzzles in the overworld could however work in a 2D game, and ALBW does have things like the giant bomb flower.
Speaking of which, I have to derail for a bit I was highly disappointed that when I levelled up the bombs, it didn’t count power wise as the giant bomb flower. Unless there is another stage which does, this is a disappointing feature which wasn’t used to its fullest of extents if what you levelled up really didn’t solve any puzzles.
But anyway that was one thing which I jumped the gun on but was still technically right. The other is the villain battling Link all the time like Skyward Sword. This didn’t really play out that much, so another technicality there.
The renting feature my original complains I believe post game are still there. The overall aspect that I can pick any of the items and then go into a dungeon and just use that item, while fun doesn’t seem like there is any use for the item once I did that in any of the other dungeons. As well as many of the level design feeling like they are tutorials for the item. The Lorule Castle had some small rooms for four of the more basic items but other than that nothing else really. Yes I understand that because of the design of the renting system you can’t have levels for the primarily goal been swayed by having multiple items, but the ability to use pre-existing items to advance quicker or find secrets should have been part of the brief. Heck, even if Ravio only offered renting one item at a time, they could have forced you to go back and get the other item to explore in a certain area. Though I can see that been tedious so ultimately the main structure is probably the best it could have been for the renting system. Maybe if there were more levels you could have tiers, but that could get messy.
So moving away from that, the overall feel of the game was another one of my problems with the title. Once I hit Lorule and started getting into the groove of the game it felt like a different title. For the time I went into lorule I tried to only go back to Hyrule unless I really needed to. Which means my issues of reusing the LTTP world map was sort of diminished because of the fact Lorule is so full of destruction that there was then more twists and turns on the main map. However this game feels for the most part it is relying on LTTP assets and background to carry the game, despite been a sequel it didn’t need to ride the previous title in its timeline. If the game had a more unique world and possibly less of a dark world feel for Lorule it possibly could of stood on its own and flow much better.
The level design in the dungeons even improved in some of the Lorule dungeons making them feel less like tutorials for the item I had just acquired from Ravio. A section heading towards Ice Palace annoyed me, it seemed primarily designed to highlight the fact this game has 3D, rather than present any good level design. The jumping down into the fire was cool, but needed great timing, but the climb back to the top in the ice section was riddled with “hey here is a pillar”. It didn’t even have a frozen bottom it was just a black echo abyss which was the background of these flying pillars. The game did this a few times, just because your title is on a 3D system doesn’t mean you have to throw out all design rules to make objects flying look cool on the 3D screen.
So moving onto the end game, while I would of preferred more visual explanation instead of written for the big bad and the alike, it did flow alright until once I beat the boss and then Zelda showed up, then Ravio showed up and….*snore*. Way too much written information in that typical children childlike explanation of life, the universe and everything. Turned me off completely after that amazing swing I got into once I started enjoying Lorule.
So remember when I said Ravio is bad cheese, clearly a crazy evil villain of some sorts. Obviously the only correct conclusion for his identity is that he is the Link from Lorule. So when he finally shows any sign that that is the case out of the fact the Link equivalent never showed up at all and he mysteriously came from a strange land to set up shop it isn’t rewarding when you see his hideous grin when he barges through with all your money you gave him by renting items and buying items from him. He was just a devious creature who was set on taking your money. Seriously, his whole corny speech about him getting courage rubbed off from Link or the fact he knew Link? Seriously I was out saving the world and he was just in Links house. The only way he would get to know Link is if he was going through Links draws, because I sure as hell didn’t talk to him outside of “hey, me want hammer”.
So in the end I stick with my opinion of the game, it did get better once in Lorule and had a better flow. However in the end the game had issues with the little changes it wanted to present and the reuse of LTTP made the game ride the nostalgia train of LTTP rather than trying to build its own legacy. Which is much worse than Spirit Tracks no over world but a crazy train thing. Cause at least then, that was contextually different and fresh.
Apparently this is the best Zelda game in ages or something, highly praised and the alike, I finally got it in my grubby hands to play. Is it the best? Let’s find out, praised for its story, gameplay changes and ending let’s see it if it hits those marks.
My first impressions as an XL owner was the horrible cart logo just before I clicked on it to play. It was so compressed, and I thought “this is a bad sign if the XL isn’t handling this game well”. However that changed as I started writing this article and the quest legend scene started playing, the graphics on that amazingly unique like the experience I had with Wind Waker. It was a fresh new style, while probably not my favourite approach defiantly had some charm. So I thought, why not wack on the 3D for this, and even just a smidge it was instantly cross eye trauma, so I was like “no more 3D then”. It will be interesting to see how it handles in game, but as a gamer who avoids 3D due to its effect on my eyes and the general effects appearance it isn’t something I’ll be playing with, however I can appreciate when it is done right on the 3DS, and sadly that has been pretty much never.
An interesting design choice I have to make note of, is when you start the game your player is instantly labelled as Link. With the option to “rename”, I guess they are sick of people naming him Zelda.
So I turned on 3D for that first cut scene, and once again was unimpressed, also what was the point of that scene, link having nightmares about the bad guy? So what that has happened before and isn’t well done in this instance. Also the Link waking up thing is also a staple which needs to be changed in Zelda games, and on that note, I disagree with the time Link took to wake up and how cheerful he was when he did.
Once I got control I did have another look at the 3D effect, still not impressed but it was defiantly working better once in motion. But what could I get from it which I couldn’t get playing in 2D? Exactly nothing.
Another interesting thing I need to note is the Weather Vanes are reminiscent of the Owls in Majoras Mask. Apparently this game has a few references but nothing really big or revealing. Which is kind of a disappointment. Meaning most of this is just fan service for the potential 3D remake of Majoras Mask which is expected next year.
Did I also mention that Link does a weird crumping thing in the intro tutorial sequence?
Yuga reminds me somewhat of Vatti (at least of course what I have played so far dah!), in for example the church scene reminds me of the Minish Cap scene at the castle.
Link likes Ravio farts that’s why he is on the floor. Wait no Link don’t say yes, Ravio will stay forever in your house, he is an evil squatter. What is that, he didn’t even bother to check on the other people when he dragged you back? Ravio sounds like bad cheese.
Yes after I distorted your soldiers training scarecrows Impa let me in with my wild story about people turning into paintings. Oh the fact that the legend story has paintings in the castle, that is pretty cool. Also why is everyone giving Link bracelets and necklaces, he isn’t a girl. Also clearly Zelda wants to give me it because of some weird incest love triangle were the first born boy is always abandoned by the royal family, only to become Link and only to marry Zelda and become King. I mean what.
So moving on, I think it’s time I move onto the review part of this article, clarification time; at the time of finishing this article I have ventured into Lorule, which means I have done three dungeons and explored around a bit. Nothing to fancy, but enough to get the grasp on were the game is headed and what I have liked/disliked so far.
A Link Between Worlds is a lot like Skyward Sword in some ways, the over world is a dungeon idea which is something which is a relic of both the design choices Nintendo have taken for the series and the nature of the game mimicking old game design found in Link to the Past, a title which was riddled with monsters. ALBW has monsters everywhere a very few settlements of interaction with characters, just like Skyward Sword. This for the most part isn’t a bad thing, Zelda needs more exploration and battles during the over world segments but the problem is like Skyward Sword this technic isn’t done well. This is also an issue with older games in the series were the over world doesn’t feel like it has any personality, that it is just a breeding ground for monsters and little tricks to find rupees and more monsters.
The game doesn’t feel like the breakup segments are interesting, you have a few fetch quests, some mini games but it doesn’t feel like once you done those there’s much to do. While this is an issue with most Zelda games post game, many of these feel like they are just dumped into the world.
Another thing the title takes from Skyward Sword is the bromance between Link and the villain, the constant bickering of the villain to Link and the multiple battles you face with the villain. The result of the bad guy is also simular to the same formula. The lead up just feels the same, and like I said I haven’t reached the end, but it plays like all the others a twist at this point would feel more tacked on then the LTTP over world reuse.
Which speaking of the Link to the Past over world been reused, it isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Majority of the secrets are in locations which they appeared in LTTP, which means if you have a good memory can go to them much quicker. It also means if you forget the location of these secrets but remember everything else, like I do, the over world just feels tiresome and predictable. I imagine the result would be the same if you did remember the locations of secrets, I remembered a few and it didn’t enhance my gameplay experience as the types of secret locations and items in a Zelda game if the over world was completely different are especially hard to find for the most part if you are looking for them. It is Nintendo handholding which appears multiple times in this game based on conversations, and design choices (such as “do you wish for me to repeat myself” and the answer ticked on yes) which has leaked into the “we need to educate the new users” to “hey the old users, they don’t know anything either”. Or something. Something odd like that which dehumanises the players and expect they can’t figure out anything on their own. The game has become simple and “new”, like the Mario titles it just feels like another entry, while it presents itself with some interesting ideas, it is very much one step forward and two steps if not more back.
Another thing I want to squish down is the all items been rentable feature. It would have been perfect, just like the expanding methodology of Skyward Sword for the dungeons leaking into the over world. Oh it would have been amazing done right, however it isn’t done right. The fault lies with the dungeons, with every level becoming a tutorial of sorts for the item you have just acquired. There isn’t much if at all anything to do with any other items you can acquire in the dungeons just the current buzz item.
So what about story, well you did see me have fun at the start of this review. Making little comments about the characters or what is happening, was starting to get into it but the issue I had with LTTP is once again in this title. Things just sort of let themselves disappear a bit once you reach a certain point and it is quite for a while, yes you can do one or two things around the map to advance a few side quests with certain people, but story wise it just goes quite. There doesn’t have to be a constant written story. But there needs to be a magic, and reusing the over world is one of the things which sucks it away. For me the best 2D Zelda game which captured the magic and mystery as well as emotion of a 3D title was The Minish Cap. The first few minutes before things started going crazy as a magical concave of a festival, there was life in the air of Hyrule and Zelda wasn’t some untouchable princess, she was your best friend, there was a different dynamic there and it showed throughout the story. The minish themselves also added a level of depth and intrigue to the story which powered it through to the end, the gimmick of the kingstones even empowered life into otherwise dead NPCs.
It wasn’t perfect however, but it was an experience. There seems to be a level of letting things slide for the handheld and 2D Zelda games. Things don’t need to be as detailed or as magical, but the combat needs to be solid. I am not sure why, maybe it was hardware limitations, if it was they have been gone for a very long time, and even then it isn’t an excuse.
What I do like however, is the Link becoming 2D and attaching himself to walls gimmick this game has. I say gimmick cause let’s face it, every Zelda game has one. A unique twist which changes the game just slightly enough only to never see the light of day in the next title, when another thing has been changed just that much. My problem with the 2D mechanic is it doesn’t seem to be as used as much as I thought it would be, and when it is used however it adds that extra level of thinking and level of gameplay which I’m starting to find myself liking. Currently playing Tearaway as well, and while not a similar mechanic, it is one which is filled with that same level of “oh this game can do that”, when you use the touch pad on the back of the system to perform various actions, even the touch screen with simple things like a Wario Ware Touch title.
A simular mechanic would be the shrinking in The Minish Cap, which once again I have to say felt more useful and powerful for the message and experience it was trying to convey.
In summery this game isn’t the Zelda game many of us are looking for. The game is deprived of any soul and just feels like a Zelda game for the sake of it. A New Super Mario Bros or 3D Land feeling title. Yes it hits a few pointers, but it just doesn’t feel like it is making any headway.
Overall I am enjoying the title, but feel at times it is a chore to bust through. As a Zelda fan of course, but not because the game has any good design merits or direction. It is a title if I wasn’t a fan of the series would probably consider renting first, maybe from Ravio.
Note: I might do a follow up once I have finished the game.
They prayed the gods, only or no one to receive their prayers, no hero was sent.
It would be first and foremost, probably the darkest Zelda game ever. Darkness doesn’t necessary mean what people think, but at the same time look at the imagery from Wind Waker. Inside the Temple of Time under the water lies a castle stricken by enemies swarming in from all sides frozen in the depths of time. If a game was to be ever set in the Great Flood period, it would be one where the protagonist fails, and one which a kingdom fails.
If this was on IGN, this article would be called “What Zelda could learn from GTA”. For the following gameplay suggestion. While GTA V was overly just the GTA formula a little bit more fleshed out, thus providing a more indulging experience. The game also introduced a mechanic to the series which involved switching between other characters, instead of just playing as one protagonist. I propose this would be perfect in a Zelda set within the flood.
Think of it, another reason why this Zelda game would be so dark, is because of its powerful connection to religion and its impracticality which is pushed onto its lands because of it. As well as comparison to real religion by many. In the era, all the tribes and sectors of the Hyrule community pray to their gods only to have no reply until it is too late, when the goal is lost and there is no chance to rebuild within their own lands. Forced to the mountain tops in a “hey guys, we are here, wow you really screwed up, don’t worry we will flood the place”, it isn’t hard to imagine that these tribes fed up prior to this would have sent their very best heroes out to try and save the world themselves, after ages of praying with no answer from their gods.
If you look back for a moment in Ocarina of Time, as Link did his world tour, he went to many tribes and communities in the Hyrule Kingdom which had already started sectoring out and showing that they have the strength and ability to combat the evil which Link ultimately sorted out. It isn’t hard to imagine that the Hyrule in this proposed game would be one of segregation as well, and one which each tribe had sent their best to combat the evil.
So this of course would be those who you would play as, in the GTA style switching gameplay. A member of each tribe. Which you will learn about their trials and tribulations during a time with no hero, as they battle through the land almost succeeding, but pushed back by evil due to the lack to seal away the evil for good and the Gods horrible timing and solution.
In general the gameplay would be about the same, but the world is riddled in evil so monsters would be everywhere. It would be what fans saw “awesome” in the Twilight Princess reveal trailer. The climactic battle scenes and the feeling that there is a fight for the death happening not that you are the hero, you will win.
If there is ever a time, which the flood resides and those come down the mountains again. What will be seen is a world which the temples of old are neglected, and the religion of old lost due to a grudge of the past which the tribes would never forgive the Gods for.
Those wanting their sequel to Majoras Mask in terms of gameplay, should be asking for a Great Flood game instead. The moon, replaced by the impending waves. Instead of time traveling to avoid the inevitable, you face up to the challenge but fail. A lesson in the game that even normal people can rise up and be heroes, but the challenges faced can be crippled by those you thought held your desires most close.
…He takes the ball he’s got it, he’s going in for a kick and he….tumbles…
The curse of the third console is well and truly alive for many internet fans of video gaming but is it really what happened, and is really how the end result and how the coming months will play out. Like the gaming equivalent of a good old fashion political spill, which makes the industry the only time it is interesting to on lookers, the video game war is well and truly back again. After taking a holiday last generation with the generation all been about been friends, and one big boisterous winner of the HD twins (Microsoft) and one cuddly Nintendo console for everyone else or as a second console. It seemed last generation had a completely different atmosphere to what this generation is starting to have and will most likely be riddled with throughout the course of the generation.
The first time in a long while genuine clapping during a conference which isn’t from the employees, as countless of people rallied up when Sony revealed during their conference that the system has no DRM of any kind, gives the players the right to sell it, and doesn’t require any online check ins. Regardless of what side of the fence you stood when you went into the event, be it in person or watching online, the end result couldn’t help but shatter your mind and make yourself have a little tear.
I’ve been hoping for an industry collapse since entering last generation. It seemed more and more big publishers had one goal in life, which was money. Creating interesting polices like online passes, the development of DLC and of course always online becoming a big thing at the end of the generation with titles such as Sim City. One big problem entering this new generation is Microsoft has for whatever reason decided this is the right thing to do, and is something they want to include inside their console as a prominent feature.
It seems Microsoft has sort of backed off from its DRM slightly, announcing that while it requires an internet connection every 24 hours to activate the games it seems that the DRM surrounding preowned games and trading them in will be up to the publisher to decide. Hopefully this means better things are to come in this front for people who want to fight the corporation and free the consumer within, as logically and in my mind this is the start of Microsoft removing themselves from it. As it was a huge PR disaster. It even went mainstream. They can’t outright back off from it, as they have went to deep. But they can however implement it in such a way that if it doesn’t work out it can be slowly backed off from.
For example we could see the initial release of games around launch implementing the DRM and certain publishers like Ubisoft for example who believe it’s bad for the industry, choosing to not include it. While the system would still require the check in, it should in theory allow more choice in how it can be used by other people based on the publishers desires. In the end I think those who implement it will see it has been bad for them, and back off from it, leaving just EA as the one who thinks it isn’t bad even when they head into the red.
Firstly let’s talk about atheistic. Console box wise I prefer the Xbox One design. I feel it’s designed with just that little more care and while it looks relatively simular to the PlayStation 4, I feel it is different enough for what it is trying to achieve. I like the PlayStation Blue line which is on the top of the console, and how the PS4 does hide the optical media and USB slots by been indented into the system. But overall something is just off about the overall presentation of the device. I also don’t like the controller design.
But really that is all just nit picking, let’s talk about the games!
I’m only going to talk about the games which I find appealing. I’m not going to go down the game list in Wikipedia and then reveal my hatred for it.
Ubisofts Watch Dogs this year, in the sense that it was revealed at the end of the show, had a creepy conspiracy style video before the showing and is a new IP. Basically you play as a clean-up crew after an event from a disease spread during the Black Friday shopping day. Tactical and open world and features more of that Ubisoft “multiplayer is connecting” stuff they have put into all their new next gen titles.
Last year the winner of the E3 for me. I already have this title preordered (but not for any of the HD twins). Watch Dogs interested me as been a video game version of Person of Interest, which has borrowed depending on the trailer and footage from Sleeping Dogs, GTA, Assassins Creed, etc. This E3 they revealed what the exclusive PS4 content is, which if you have seen Canadian science fiction TV show continuum then you pretty much have what the DLC is. You fighting a group of people who want to liberate you from the machine. Or helping them. Depending on your mood.
Ask yourself what the best city simulator game is, I’m pretty sure you will say one of the Sim City games. However not the most resent one. Riddled with DRM which collapsed the fundamentals of the game around it for no reason whatsoever. The question is, with such a big following behind Sim City, why is the genre so neglected to the point only nostalgia creates sales due to the logging of the title, with little advancements in the major schemes of things.
First thing think Glass Box, the engine EA created for Sim City. Those packets are amazing, and the general idea should be the core idea behind any simulation game in the future. However let’s expand that further and deeper. When I mean further, let’s look at one of my favourite TV shows. Person of Interest, when I mean further I look at that show and mean the interconnected processes and data which is been generated.
If I put down a building, it should be an empty shell. Then if people move in, that building will slowly get alterations, things like surveillance cameras for example, security inside the home, fire alarms etc. These systems starting to be in place which calculate more and more what is happening user wise around those areas. Also for example if I decide my city is a nanny cam city, all these cameras could be interconnected providing the player with very detailed information and patterns relating to their simulated inhabitants. If for example the city isn’t as big of a nanny state and respects privacy, information about inhabitants and the general entangled response systems will be less effective providing less information and reacting at different times.
At the core, this is what many people thought EAs Glass Box engine would do in the latest Sim City. At least be providing more complicated packets and calculations then what the end product was.
It isn’t just the simulated characters which should have data created about them. It should also be the player, how the player is interacting with the game. For example if they are struggling, what settings they have applied or general polices or laws which are in effect in the city they have created.
Of course I want laws and other legislative items also included, which have an effect on how the city manages and operates as well.
When you look at the list of games cancelled using the James Bond IP, you can’t help to think for the most part they would have been amazing games and much better than what we have gotten over the past few years. From Activision, a publisher which during its rein on the IP published four titles in the series. While their first game Quantum of Solace was released based on the movies of this era, the rest of their published games primary focus on reimagination of other games and movies in the series.
The COD based design which attributed to many of their 007 titles was received well by some, but overall hindered the end product which resulted in Activision removing the titles from digital distribution platforms earlier this year, and revealing they no longer wish to create licenced games. This action lead to rumours that the licence was revoked and not freely given up, which still hasn’t been cleared up by both parties, and probably never will.
Their final game 007 Legends was an interesting concept however poorly executed. However like Blood Stone has a small following, and also like Blood Stone was the developers’ final game before closing their doors. In theory all the right movies where picked, and all the right scenes, however overall it was very liner, with long loading screens and poor “checkpoint” placement.
Legends is also interesting for another reason, it is the only 007 game so far to be based around Skyfall. With the central plot based around everything been a dream situation during Skyfalls climatic opening sequences ender.
Now the Skyfall missions are interesting, there is of course the Istanbul opening and the Shanghai mission as DLC. I’ve posted the videos of these sections in this article, you can notice the badness of the game, especially with the section before the “take the shot” scene, which Bond is just punching the bad guy and it doesn’t really seem like its doing much or going anywhere, it just seems like its filling in time, and its surrounded by a gimmicky idea of showing up where Bond will punch if you hit a certain button.
I’m not writing to pick on this game, no I’m writing today to say something magical and special, that is if Skyfall got a proper game, and it was done well (not this shell of a quickly released COD clone), that it would be better than Goldeneye. Not the horrible Goldeneye released a few years back. No the original one which is loved by many and coated in nostalgic spoof.
While the 007 Legends levels are not 100% trueful to the magic of Skyfall, it does give a sense of what the world would be like. Something much better then Goldeneye if done right. For example when they capture the bad guy? That would be an epic fight, also the hold up at the end in Bond Manner, it would be amazing. Oh and an awesome roadtrip as well. Perfect.
Who remembers last E3? I know I do, for one specific game which was announced. It wasn’t a sequel of an existing game franchise, no it was something new and unexpected. Presented at the end of the Ubisoft conference, on came a game which as soon as the trailer started there was one permanent prominent connection which had been created, and something many people to this day still equate with the title. While its unknown if the game will be anything like the TV show Person of Interest, until then Watch Dogs has a high fan base created by the familiarity of the elements shown in the game, as well as the graphics and world which has been created some similarly built on the premise of Person of Interest.
While Watch Dogs has no Machine, it does have a world filled with interconnectivity similar to that of Person of Interest. So simular in fact, the question has been asked why isn’t there a Person of Interest video game?
Let’s put logistics aside as to who would make the game, if Ubisoft would be so kind to licence their amazing new engine to said developer or whatever. Two things I want to talk about, one the power of licenced games in this day and age, and why they are in that sort of bargain bin world, as well as in general how the game would work.
Firstly, licenced video games. The nighties was an amazing time for licenced titles in the video game world. If you grew up in the 90s, heck even if you didn’t, look through your video game collection, no doubt you will see titles which are licenced titles in your collection. For me two standout licenced games are of course Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64, and a GBC Speedy Gonzales title (Aztec Adventure).
Okay I admit Speedy Gonzales released in 2000, and wasn’t that highly reviewed. But overall it did have a solid platforming experience while been I guess an easy title for children in some respects. But I was a child dam it! And it did present some interesting ideas, such as the speed boat levels. But whatever.
I guess this doesn’t really help the argument that the 90s was filled with quality licenced titles, which while I haven’t started debating that point yet, it is a solid point. That the 90s did represent a good line of good licenced titles, however it did also have its bad licenced titles.
The point is they were plentiful, magical, unique experiences. Which while titles were been made which where new IPs in these genres, these licenced titles are what made the period a magical success. They complemented the industry.
It is the good titles which made licences an attractive proposal, and of course a more expensive proposal. Especially for not so good licences. This resulted in of course a decline in licenced games. Which is interesting because as an industry licenced material isn’t as common as it once was, while if you look at movies, comics have been licenced into movies for quite some time, and are still popular. It is interesting to see that while those comic movie adaptations do get a few games, there really the only major driving force for licenced material in games.
We haven’t really since seen licenced titles for a while which take a fresh look at the IPs they are licenced from. Which is a bit sad, we had Injustice recently, but that wasn’t really as big of a bang as it should have been. It had its issues, but it wasn’t a title which would sour people on licenced games, and an amazing adaptation of the Justice League world. However we also had the fizzle out of the James Bond licence for video games, with what possibly looks like Activision losing the IP, not giving it up. The titles it created at the various studios it intrusted with the IP had major issues.
I would like to see an Inception video game for example. A unique take on that in the video game world could present a very interesting story with a fresher take on what the movie provided by been able to tell it in an interactive medium. However these sort of games will never happen, primary due to costs. With the publishers which can afford these IPs more focused on making the guaranteed deals, someone will always be making Star Wars for example (EA just closing a major deal with Disney), as well as no doubt the 007 licence will be presented to someone else in a nice little bow. These are titles which will always be released one way or another, but it seems publishers are more concerned with these safe bets, I don’t blame them. But these safe bets are not necessary ones which relate well into the video game environment and medium. I suggested Inception in this article, with the collation the IP has with memory and life, it could be presented in a numerous number of genres and be a solid experience still truthful to the story. However we have things like 007 which while it could work in a visual novel title genre for example, it never will, because it doesn’t translate well into that medium for the maximum exposer. There are so many other IPs out there which are imagining in recent years which have the power to become major sellers for video games, even if their original adaptation is long gone, or long forgotten.
My point seems to be, however badly articulated is that there are big horizons in licenced games far beyond what they have been become in recent years for the video game industry. Many ideas have been presented in other mediums which would be a benefit for the video game industry to take those ideas and create their own experiences on the respective medium.
Now you ask, if that is the case that Watch Dogs reminds you ever so much of Person of Interest, isn’t it the same world really crafted into a video game which mimics its style enough to be a game version of Person of Interest. Or something to that effect you ask as you scan down my article trying to figure out what my point is.
Well I say, in response to that of course. Watch Dogs isn’t the world crafted in Person of Interest. That would be plagiarism, and really the worlds are pretty far apart. Despite the connection been there. In Watch Dogs you’re a badass hacker who hacks electronic items. It is the interconnectedness which links back to Person of Interest which the AI behind the whole world is like, the only time a Person of Interest game would play like Watch Dogs is during the 24 hour period of complete admin control the characters had in the latest season. (Not a spoiler, I didn’t say who or what happened with that control, and it was mentioned quite a lot through the season it’s what would happen, so sssh).
Though the point of using an already create IP, is one because it’s already know by the public. Secondarily as well because in some cases, especially this one, the world and ideas created can’t be matched by mimicking the style presented in the series. By using what is presented you create a good solid interpretation of the presented material, and in this case Person of Interest as a video game is what the industry needs. By using licenced material, it creates a solid fresh output sometimes, especially in times of Call of Duty and Mario. There needs to be a hero, and that is John the bullet to the knee shooting sociopath and his trusty tech nerd.
The brilliance of a Person of Interest game would be that the world, this interconnected world which is present in Watch Dogs would be present in Person of Interest, but under everything. It will be an amazing leap forward in what technology allows, as well as what a gamers general expectation of video game is. It will entangle the game the player plays with the back end logic so well it would be an explosion of actions and AI which happen.
And it’s not like they don’t want to licence out Person of Interest, after all there is an anime in the works apparently. So maybe a game would happen, it could already be in development, you know how things like that work.
However I think a later announcement and development would be good for the game if it happened. The world is so entangled with many little bits of information, a complete outlook of how that works in the grand scheme of things would allow them to pick and choose events and stories to craft a unique world using what has been set out while been cannon.
I think the overplayed idea of everything having to be open world, would do amazingly well for a Person of Interest game. With a sandbox mode which is in vain of how in Watch Dogs you can wonder off and help people been an interesting approach as well. Remember the numbers keep coming, so while the main story might focus on Elias, you might be seeing side “missions” popping up relating to other people who have appeared in episodes, such as one of my favourites from the newest season, Dr. Nelson, who gets poisoned (and they are too late because of the machines virus) and it’s an amazing episode from a character development point of view. But anyway.
Scratch the whole sandbox idea, it’s played out. Something magical could be made by restricting the world and making it more story based. Maybe episodic titles which cover a few episodes of the television show each release. Something which can retell the stories in an interactive manner, and of course retain the deep and meaningful ideas. Though sandbox could work, and would probably be better for an IP which would be deemed a risk, something magical could be made by looking into other genres and presentation styles for the title. Especially if for example if you go back and one of the major episodes (if we are doing episodic content, which in this scenario is the thing), the machine with the virus has already been established so episodic wise starting with Dr. Nelsons episode (In Extremis) and doing the final two episodes in the season (which essentially I’m saying do the final three episodes in the season if episodic as a major episodic title thing). Which makes common sense really, but the episode In Extremis makes the characters week really, and not been there to save the P.O.I sets up the rest really nicely. It would be an amazing episode in an episodic based title.
So essentially in summary, episodic content in some kind of mini world which still retains the in depth sandbox style of Watch Dogs would result in amazing bite size titles which can cover the key points of the season and wrap up the story in a good way for video gamers.
I am living in an alternative reality where EA has just announced that they have recalled the retail version of Sim City. Why? Because in this reality they are just following my master plan to restore the both the brand, and fix the game.
You would have to be living in a cave to wonder why such a thing would be required. Over the past week, which I call launch week, the game has launched in a wild variety of locations with the fundamental problem been caused by always on DRM.
Firstly, let’s look at what EA has publicly said they are doing during this period of time to relieve stress on the servers. They have released a patch which removes some features such as achievements, region score board and of course removing the ability to speed up the game, the lovely cheater speed has taken a rest.
Of course logically they are fixing the servers, or at least preforming some kind of maintenance or releasing more servers for the game or something as well. Right?
EA has also allowed people to request refunds, which is great. But they have also went back on that promise straight away, which is bad.
Currently there are petitions online which request that the always on DRM is removed from the game, as well as any future game EA produces. While an appropriate action to get them to notice fan rage against this particular matter, I do not believe the petition will work. As many petitions are ignored for one, and for two always on DRM does provide EA with money. However it does hurt their public image.
Which brings me back to my original statement, by recalling the game from retail shelves, this will send clear message that they know there are issues with the game. This will turn off the retail sales of the game while the current owners of the title can use the title still. EA can use this current install base to test patches and essentially bring the game back into beta for a period of time, while giving gamers who bought the game continued access to the title.
So what will be patched out? Primarily the DRM, particularly the game downloader launcher.
A few things will also need to be introduced and should be introduced once this reliability on the servers has been removed. For one, the game shouldn’t need server access just to play single player. With the ability there if a gamer wants a friend to play, allow them to host the region Peer to Peer, dedicated, or find a server from the list they can “upload” their save data to and use, then “download” it to take the server offline and make it a single player game once more.
During this forced beta, further optimisation of the game can happen as well as the second biggest complaint right now with Sim City, which is the city size, can be fixed. Even as far as reintroducing terraforming. Allowing players to create their own regions by terraforming the region, then dragging city limits into the region and then putting in the main transportation links.
Also new features in general, like subways would be nice.
These changes if introduced for free, and as soon as possible, will generate good will towards EA as well as the game in general.
Regardless of what happens, hopefully the fundamental issues with server satiability will be fixed allowing more players to play the title.
I think it should also be mentioned that mainstream media has picked the server issues up as a news item.
Something I’ve been doing quite a lot of, of late is playing The Sims 3. I pretty much have all the expansion packs for the game now due to countless Steam sales, I also essentially had all the expansions for many of the other versions in the series. Now something has struck me as I get the house building craze and let my Sims run around in the house before making them die in the pool (you also need to build a wall around the pools now, you can’t just remove latters. Wah), is that the games expansions and the game overall just doesn’t feel as complete as the previous versions. With the reboot of Sim City coming up, and Sims 3 starting to feel stretched out, is it time for its own reboot or Sims 4 to arise?
I think my main issue with the series has always been the games are never the definite version as more get released. Yes there are some nice new features added, but for the most part the original Sims Complete Collection is still the best version. It also comes down to another main problem which each Sims game gets the expansions essentially remade for them.
I’ve made a list of expansions which really should be in the main game. However I’ve avoided stuff like Livin’ Large which is an old school proper expansion game. Where that game essentially added more levels, characters, etc. Instead of major expansions feature wise.
Expansions which should be included in the basic package should be:
House Party (1), Hot Date (1), Night Life (2), Late Night (3); The addition of a last night activities and club life as well as house parties and flirtatious fast paced life should be default in the game.
Unleashed (1), Pets (2), Pets (3); I have to say it, but why is the pets expansion made three times, always late or in the middle of the expansion cycle and offers nothing really expansive outside the inclusion of pets. Pets are a staple in many homes, and a simulation on life itself should include pets right out of the bag.
Superstar (1), Showtime (3); The celebrity based Superstar expansion was my favourite of the original game. I liked creating the movie studios and stuff which goes into the community lots in Superstar, and the simple fact that these expansions added celebrity status options to your Sim which gave the various jobs a much more interesting appeal.
University (2), Open for Business (2), Free Time (2), Apartment Life (2), Ambitions (3), Generations (3); these life expansion/hobby/educational/work based expansions which were quite often from the second generation of the Sims need to be in the base game.
Seasons (2), Seasons (3); I think it’s self-explanatory. In this day and age Season features, as well as Weather features in a life simulation should be included in the base game.
Overall the rule for base game inclusions from expansions should be if it is in direct coloration to everyday normal life in this day and age, as well as in general what a gamer expects from a new release in the series, (and in general what might need to be done so it doesn’t feel stale at launch- which was an issue with Sims 3) it should be included.
Expansions which make sense as Expansions:
Primary the Expansions which make sense are the ones which add a different flavour of life and mythology to the series. As well as the more story driven injected aspects to the game.
These include Makin’ Magic (1), Supernatural (3) for one. The magic based and supernatural based aspects while I’d love to inject into the main game, feel more of an addition rather than a feature which has to be there.
Also Vacation (1), Bon Voyage (2), World Adventures (3); essentially life exploration in different worlds or holidays, it should be an expansion. As an expansion it should also add additional ideas to remain fresh such as maybe, I don’t know, the ability to stay at people’s houses in different parts of the map you live in? Also more story. Expansions need story and purpose.
Expansion Strategy needs to change full stop:
Overall we have reached a time when EA just replicates the expansions again and again. Just look at the list I’ve included of what should be in the default game. For the most part, many of those expansions were done three times. So in all three of the games, the expansion in some way or another has appeared. Not one of these has only appeared in one version, with the rest been replicated in at least two of the series.
Something which started primary in Sims 2 and especially in Sims 3, is the expansion Stuff Packs. These are not inherently bad, but at the same time in their current form and price are.
For The Sims, EA’s store idea is a good idea. The ability to buy items for the game from an online store. However so much of the execution is forceful and overpriced it doesn’t make sense for the consumer to invest in these options because of this. The store should be their primary outlet for Stuff Packs, which should become cheaper along with store items. When a full set can cost almost as much as an expansion, there is something wrong. You do save if you buy more points, but who wants to pay $160 for the top amount of around 30,000 points? Yeah that is a considerable saving, but the content use isn’t there. 1000 points = $10 otherwise, which means with most sets over $10 complete, that is crazy, especially when expansions come in at around $20 now the game has gotten a little older.
So once the prices are considerably cheaper, EA should use the Sims store as the only way to provide extra content when it comes to this DLC style stuff, and not true expansions. There is no reason a stuff pack should be on Steam or Origin, when its content obtainable from the store for example.
Expansions themselves should also come in at a must cheaper price. In Australia for the most part an expansion launches at RRP wise half the price of the full game when it came out. Which doesn’t seem bad. But in practise is a considerable chunk of cash. Especially when expansions usually expand the game at all, outside of one or two unique features and then a considerable amount of essentially reskinned clothes or items.
Expansions should appear on other services, but they should also be cheaper then they currently retail for at launch. The main output and direction of an expansion should change to offer more story based missions or objectives users can complete with their Sims in the various locations.
The main problem is what has become of the community lots in Sims 3:
Community lots for the most part in The Sims 3 should just not exist. As they consist of premade placable building structures, and if you wanted to build your own there isn’t much you can create yourself on a community lot.
There is this nice feature which I’ve noticed (it seems new probably from one of the expansions I recently got), which is the blueprint option for building houses. This annoying community feature could be less annoying, and in fact useful if it was functional with the blueprint aspect. Which means buildings retain the more traditional building aspects which the original titles had in their community lots, and the customization returns, with the addition if the user wants to use premade structures there by using blueprints.
Scale back social. It is a curse of the late 00s:
I don’t know about you, but reading social status updates about The Sims is quite boring. There latterly is no purpose for Twitter or Facebook integration, even The Sims own social profiles in the title when it comes to sharing what you are doing within the game. It just seems so boring to read, and unless an amazing glitch happens or your sharing your house (which can be done by other means) there is not much feedback or communication which can happen socially using the social network aspects of the title. In fact this is a curse for all games coming out of the late 2000s which includes social media additions. It was a shark they jumped on, without releasing there wasn’t much point.
For me, for social networking to work, it has to be social. Which means posts have to be from directly from the user. Achievement announcements are nice, but they clog up the list, which makes them overally annoying unless they appear only on the games social page or digital distribution platform. Social integration in games, breaks gameplay when it has to be a post which the user has to make within the game. If this is taken away and its automatic, then it isn’t very social and limits the users interaction with the social networks, unless they specifically go to them to reply to it. So if it is a social interaction which is desired during the game, it is impossible without been overally annoying with promotes etc. telling the user that someone else has replied etc. Which The Sims 3 already has a range of annoying tutorial messages and promotes it shoots out which easily becomes a backlog. So in short, social is pointless in The Sims, even though it seems like the perfect game to use it.
A reboot is needed, which needs to expand on what has already been laid down, and including the majority of the expansions without becoming stale. Additions to the games building mechanics should be worked on by maybe working with building groups etc. So they can work out what is doable in certain positions etc. Homes these days are completely different, with domes and other objects becoming common instead of squares.
Also the world should no longer be some static map pregenerated. What about some unique generation algorithm which users can include and add things into the map etc. to make the experience as different and as unique as possible. Or use Sim City 5 maps?
In short, The Sims has become stagnate as a series, and while it still sells well. If EA continues down this path they have it will become more and more casualised and less and less profitable in the long run, without a massive halt to the series then a reboot like Sim City. Even then, the always on Online and other additions, seem anti customer and many feel it could have been left alone.
The original has so many different features which have since been left out and not expanded on, which should return. (Such as the badass robot butler).
If you read one Game of the Year article this year, make it this one which I’m currently writing, and is no doubt finished, and you are no doubt reading it on my blog. You know this one. That one which the poor writing makes your head explode because I’m trying to be clever with, you know that one.
So what games have I found this year which tickle my interest and are good games?
None. Zero. Zilch. Nothing.
Well not really. There are a few games I’ve found interesting, so I’m going to go over them for you.
This year I will go over a few categories; AAA budget or publisher Winner, Indie Winner and of course Australian Winner. Then a few shout out to some upcoming titles of 2013. The ones which make you want to buy games and play them. Not the kind which you hoard in your Steam collection. Wasting way GBs on your hard drive.
AAA Budget or Publisher Winner: Sleeping Dogs
And of course the overall winner.
Because I finished the game.
Me finishing a game is a very rare thing you see. Let’s use an example of one of my favourite series Zelda. The majority of these titles I’ve only gotten to the end section. Otherwise most I haven’t gotten far in at all. But that aside.
I finished the game, and I loved every moment of it.
The reason why I bought the game was because it was cheap at the time presale on Green Man Gaming. Seriously, that is the only reason why. At some stage I was interested in the game prior to release, but for the most part the game wrapped itself around my head and became one of those titles you find something wrong with, then start thinking maybe you could forget about it, then you forget about it, your interest fades in it, then you forget it even came out until you look on your Steam list and you see the game glittering there in its dimmed out state.
However at some point before launch I got on the hype train, and while I questioned it, the game itself was very enjoyable. Overall I thought it was just that same old GTA style sandbox game, however when I played it, it had a soul, it wasn’t some dimly lit game derived of all personality, it was an amazing game which the story, the gameplay, everything worked together. Even the DLC is amazing, it adds a sort of quirkiness of a Saints Row 3 vibe to it with the randomness to the DLC, it’s the kind of DLC games should have, especially ones like Sleeping Dogs where the story can’t really be expanded on much post game.
Speaking of the story, and the overall game. There’s this point where, I’m going to spoiler it. You see the main character is obviously undercover, to the point he’s gone way to deep and forgotten pretty much the cop side of his life. But enough about that, this guy is at the point where people are starting to find out about him, and of course at the same time, the story is at a stage where it just seems like it’s going to continue the way it was. It wasn’t heating up, it was in some ways, it was interesting, but nothing major. Then there is a fucking torture scene essentially, and it’s fucking epic. Then your drugged, the protagonist weak as all shit because of the torture and the drugs, and you have to fight your way out of this building before your friend gets fucked over….EPIC. Then the rest of the story around that point just gets really dam fast paced and fucking crazy.
The best part is the ending. It’s like some kind of zen moment where the new person in charge of the whole outfit recognises that you exist, but because of all the stuff you did, she’s going to just let you be. It’s awesome, then you can play the game from that point like any other sandbox game and mow some people down in your car or shoot the shit out anything.
There is also so much to do and collect, to the point I almost 100% the whole game. Now I hope to god my save exists somewhere either in the cloud or on the old hard disk somewhere, because I played that game so much. Oh it was grand. That is why, it wins out right. That is why, if you haven’t played it and I just spoiled it, you should play it (the story is much more intertangled and interesting then what I described anyway. Oh it isn’t perfect, I’m not saying it is, but its dam close to everything you want in this type of game.
Indie Winner: Little Inferno
You know those games which you double dip on, either because you own it on Steam and you think they have too much power these days and want a DRM free version. Or because you long since realised you don’t own it on Steam at all and it’s super cheap during one of those sales. Oh my.
This is one of those games which I did double dip on, preordering the title before release, then picking up the Wii U digital version. (Oh and cheating to 100% the Wii U version). You know this is one of those kinds of games which should be on the top of everyone’s lists when you buy more than one.
So from one of the creators of World of Goo, then that guy who made that weird DS game which was a puzzle game on the bottom screen and a platformer on the top. You know Herry Hatsworth or whatever it is. You know the game I hated to shreds.
Those people made Little Inferno. Which means clearly that alone it’s a winner.
The simple idea of the game is you burn things in a fireplace. With a sinister overlay of you been a little kid all alone burning your toys and various packages you somehow can afford locked up inside just keeping warm during the winter. Some weird parallels acquitting to that’s what gamers do on their computer screens, and other weird environmental things. Oh even the developers saying it’s meant to be a rip at Zenga somehow. Don’t ask me, because that reference went over my head, I think.
Oh the music, it is amazing. That is also something which needs to be said.
So in summery the indie winner is Little Inferno because burning dangerous stuff while relaxing in the boiling hot summer of Australia and having a beer is the best way to play a puzzle game.
Australian Winner: EscapeVektor
While at the time of writing the upcoming complete version of the game for 3DS and Vita digital shops hasn’t come out yet. The game still takes the crown because of previous experience with the title in form of Chapter 1 which released on the WiiWare service a year or two back. I can’t remember. The point is, the game came out in some form. Which means it can win before I even play it. Logical isn’t it?
I wont say much about the title, mainly because its getting late and I want to finish this today, otherwise I’ll procrastinate and this article will never be finished. That and I still have three other games to write about. In the end the game can be summarised into “Pacman if it was some futuristic game popped up on steroids”.
Cause you go from line to line filling in the zones, avoiding the monsters, collecting things if they exist, finding the exit.
Upcoming Titles of Note AAA Budget or Publisher: Watch_Dogs
So the best part of E3 this year, was I decided to watch the conferences because I can. One of the ones I watched live was the Ubisoft one. Which had the surprise of Watch Dogs, or as it’s known in some circles for some reason Watch_Dogs. Which as the trailer was playing, all I could think of is “fuck this is essentially a Persons of Interest meets GTA video game”.
You see I had been watching quite a lot of Persons of Interest, which is a TV show where the two main protagonists go around with some crazy machine which links together all digital data and eavesdrops to create a database of threats and allows them to do awesome stuff with electronics and personal interlinked profiles of people. It’s interesting. It’s awesome. It’s what Watch_Dogs looked like in my tired state and still does.
No doubt it won’t be 100% like Persons of Interest and for that I will hate it but still, every time I watch an episode of the TV show I just slam my head as to why there isn’t more games or shows like this on the market, and remember Watch_Dogs and go “I hope this releases on the Wii U cause this will be one of the games were the tablet will make some sense”, oh and the whole “Watch_Dogs = Persons of Interest if it was a game like GTA” thing.
In summary, the most hyped game for me this year, is a game I relate to something else, and no doubt will not be like that something else.
Upcoming Titles of Note Indie: Prison Architect
Who remembers Theme Hospital? I do, so when the people behind Darwinia (lol that isn’t there most known game, but dam it I’m making you work for my knowledge…(that and its my favourite outside of PA)…) decided to make this Prison Architect game, that is all I thought of.
Also unlike Watch_Dogs which so isn’t going to be like Persons of Interest. Prison Architect will be so much like Theme Hospital. The whole game is currently in Alpha and it expresses a world which has some crazy simulation gameplay around Prisons, as well as some amazing story design for the main campaign even though for now it only is used to present itself as a tutorial.
This is something I’ve been playing quite a lot of, and will continue to do with each improvement. Simulation games are one of my favourite genres. So buy this game dam it!
Upcoming Titles of Note Indie: Don’t Starve
Like Prison Architect the game is already available by buying the Alpha. Which is available on Steam and from the developer’s website. The title is available for browser (Chrome specifically) or PC download for now.
I’ve praised this game in the past for it been one of the many games which have been slowly trickling out more survival inside them. Survival games are good. The more games with survival elements the better. Until I get sick of them and boot up some ancient console and play Space Invaders.
So you go around collecting stuff which you can use to craft various items. Oh it also has some weird science system and crazy creepy monsters. Oh and pigs which help you fight spiders. Fun.