At the weekend Sony revelled in its own irreverence with their annual PlayStation event; PSX (or PlayStation Experience, just minus the E. Because Sony are too cool for “E’s” it seems). This is where they exhibit many of their upcoming games for the public to test, thereby generating fan distributed publicity that can enhance the company’s reputation as the leading games console. Oh I’m not cynical nor jealous of this exhibition I wasn’t cordially invited too despite years of obstinate loyalty. I’m sure my invitation to this prestigious event was merely lost in transit by some postal worker who couldn’t find his ass with both hands tied behind his back. Regardless, this being the designated source for breaking gaming news as well as providing up to date analysis on everything new in technology I had my ears to the grindstone, my nose to the ground and other tortured metaphors to garner every single solitary detail from this pontifical spectacle. Actually if I’m honest I didn’t know anything about the PSX until certain trends began cropping up on Twitter. And I have to admit that I was mostly pleasantly surprised by some the announcements. Here are some of my stand out reveals that range for exciting to huh?
Crash Bandicoot? Crash Bandicoot?! “Hey you boy, what year is this?” Crates everywhere are now cowering in fear. Don’t pretend you’re not excited. You are, I can tell. And why shouldn’t you be, it’s Crash Bandicoot, the flagship pioneer of the PlayStation. The mascot that established NaughtyDog as one of the best in the industry. Back from proverbial storage, evoking fierce nostalgia, restrained behind years of abject ignorance. It’s been a long time coming for this dizzy, sneaker wearing marsupial but he’s finally back….albeit in a remastered version of his original trilogy. With the torturing aberrations of karts mercifully absent. But considering just how long it’s been I’m willing to take anything, and 3 games is certainly better than one. My only concern is that this new rendition is being handled by the less than distinguished hands of Activision. A company famous for Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Call of Duty Black Ops, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty Modern Warfare II, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, Call of Duty Downtime, Call Of Duty Black Ops II, Call of Duty Modern Warfare III, Call Off Duty, Call of Duty Black Ops III and one decent Spider-man game. But that decent Spider-man game featured on the PS1 and Crash Bandicoot hailed from the same console. Coincidence? I hope not.
Despite my reservations I can’t help but get just a little excited for this. Not sure I’d be quite as excited for the zombie expansion pack though?
Uncharted 4: The Lost Legacy.
Another NaughtyDog staple here, with this falling rather conveniently for me considering that literally the day after I’d obtained my Platinum trophy for Uncharted 4 this surprise of a DLC was announced. Incidentally this was also at a time when I lamented at the absence of Chloe Frasier’s contribution in the fourth, potentially last Uncharted outing. So hey, it seems as though NaughtyDog has me covered on both instances (though I’m a little concerned about them surveying me now?). The discernible lack of Drake is a notable if not entirely unexpected omission, but one of necessity due to his retirement and subsequent parental duties. Although I’m presuming that the events depicted in “The Lost Legacy” actually transpires before the events surrounding A Thief’s End. I say this because of a reference Sully made in Uncharted 4 concerning Nadine’s – and by extension Shorelines involvement in tracking down Avery’s long-lost pirate colony. He mentioned that she and her companies resources were contributors in a couple of civil wars that “didn’t end well”, thus prompting her desperate collusion with Rafe in order to rectify the sovereignty of her company. Perhaps the conflict here is one of the unfortunate services provided by Shoreline? The question now is what association Chloe has with this hired militia? She has always been a rather scrupulous character with dubious motivations, but always “just” about remained on the side of the angels.
I’m glad that the Uncharted 4 DLC has shifted the attention from Drakes extensive profundity and aren’t specifically dedicated to Nates obsessive expeditions. I always felt that Nadine’s involvement became expedited by the focus of less interesting character arcs in Uncharted 4, devolving into just a supplementary goon that kicked the crap out of Nate on occasion. A collaboration between these two morally repressed anti heroes should be interesting. They’re both spirited and quarrelsome women which should provide some entertaining conflicts. Though a migration away from Nate will benefit the series, I’m still hopeful of seeing Sully’s cigar chomping visage complimenting a very female orientated story.
Arguably the biggest shock of the night came courtesy of SIE Japan Studio, who announced a sequel to the pungent flatulence, commonly referred to as Knack. We all fondly remember that obscure prism based platformer a few years back right? The one that received both critical and commercial shrugs. Basically Knack’s popularity was as long-lasting as a pensioners erection, and just as penetrative. So why is there a sequel to this flaccid excuse for game? Is there some organised part of the Internet that really wanted this? Was there a dedicated group hewn from the dark places of the interweb most of us dare not enter that precipitated such a sequel?! Is this proof of the illuminati influence? What is the meaning of life? Why are Jaffa Cakes displayed in the biscuit section? Why do I always resort to dick jokes as a means of dispensing derogatory evaluations? The answers to these questions will probably remain forever unresolved. The Co-op part could be good, especially if it’s local. But all we know is that Knack 2 is a thing now. So, yeah. Gravy.
The Last Of Us: Part 2.
Booooom! You hear that? That’s the sound of every Sony fan boys head exploding! Well, that came out of nowhere! A sequel was inevitable really, but still. The original defined where gaming story telling should be heading, thereby innovating a very sterile premise; apocalyptic landscape riddled with environmental adversities, separatist militias that use violence as a means of authority and zombies. This was a game about surviving and the conservation of humanity despite the lack of it. It created a cinematic yet intimate narrative concerning the most engaging duo since Bert and Ernie (and may their beautiful union continue to blossom), in a unspeakably hostile environment. Yes there were zombies infected by a mutagen fungus that has provoked the collapse of civilised society. And you get to mutilate said creatures as well as other aggressive humans with guns, fists, improvised explosives or just bludgeon them to death with an improvised weapons that have scissors protruding from the top of a large wooden plank. But this was very much a personal story that flourished between Joel and Ellie’s individual tragedies, and finding resolution to their respective traumas through surrogate reconciliation. With Joel the surrogate father – after losing his own daughter at the start of the epidemic – to Ellie – a teenager who’d never even known her parents. It also features some of the most expedient bowel evacuations I’ve endured since Resident Evil 2, so there’s an image for you to cherish.
With such heightened elevation that comes with such an expectant sequel, NaughtyDog really have to deliver something that can emulate the visceral passion of Joel and Ellie’s perfunctory adventure yet validate another outing without it feeling forced. But this is NaughtyDog we’re talking about, not Ubisoft. It will be interesting seeing how NaughtyDog achieves this, and how it justifies a sequel featuring Joel and Ellie considering the seeming finality of the previous tales concluding ambiguity. Hopefully The Last Of Us Part 2 will be as concerned with craft rather than promoting commerce. (it will).
So what were your stand out moments of the event? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
A games success (or failures) can largely be attributed to a variation of differing features. Most focus on graphics, game-play, story, characters or even the number of glitches that cripple the overall fidelity of the content. There’s no routine archetype you can implement to accurately determine the quality of a game or the validity of the individual distributing the criticism. Because bias tends to be a deceiving – if rare factor for game evaluations. But this isn’t about the perceived collusion between some publications and publishers, but more about what’s missed. With such ubiquitous categorisations that give the audience a very definitive idea of the games mechanics, they can sometimes miss the more subtle inflections that give a game it’s unique identity. One example of this is the environments in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, specifically the “creepy mountain” so eloquently referred to by a stranded bulldozer of ancient civilisation’s; Nathan Drake. Now I could go into great, over analytical detail concerning the beauty and stature of all the exquisitely rendered locations – and probably will (because they are stunning!), but its the colossal summit that both figuratively and literally stands out.
When Drake awakes (unintentional rhyme) after being marooned on the auspicious treasure island, staggering lethargically to higher ground, this ever looming mountain with its grotesque crevices and elongated protrusions that give it it’s almost feral looking features is there, bearing down on you like an edifice of dismay. At almost every exterior interval this monstrosity envelopes your eyesight, engulfing the scenery like a canopy of symbolic doom. It’s twisted visage encroaching on every thing you do. It’s design is fascinating, one emblematic of the islands splendour and danger. It just looks as though Satan himself ascended from the hell with one of his nephews to carve out the mountains innards like a jack o lantern as some kind of Halloween activity. It’s almost a pastiche of perceived villainy, as if it could be the elaborate lair of some nefarious Bond villain or Dr Evil for that matter. For me this mountain is really the games silent, passive antagonist that has been exposed to the ambient hostilities of the shifting climate, altering it’s exterior composition into a malformation of some deceased being long since passed. Possessing plunging tusks, jagged rock tendrils stretching across the land and extruding concrete teeth ready to devour the very landscape it’s formed from.
Nothing provides atmosphere like a mangled structure that’s constantly in your eyesight. And that’s the thing; even as Drake scales the mountainous terrain, latching onto the jutted frames that extrude from there mutilated surface, with upper-body strength that defies all human comprehension you can still see it, ever watchful. Gazing at you like one of those portraits that’s eyes follow you round the room. It’s eerie, yet compelling. And because it’s such a distinctive feature, with its intimidating facade always lingering above you like a teacher assessing a misbehaving students work you find yourself looking for it. I even began using it’s static image as a navigation tool to try and isolate where I am in conjunction to where I was, establishing a rough estimation of my progress. It’s funny too how the sowed verdure that envelopes this island, the preserved rustic abodes and venerable structures of conserved ornate majesty, now lying desolate and deprived of civilisation only enhances the mountains foreboding image. That this mountain witnessed both the rise and fall of the once illustrious ideologies of the settling colonies is just plain creepy. It’s almost as though it was these mountains that brought about the destruction of this cultivated Utopian society? Or perhaps I need to start playing something else.
In either case this evil looking impasse adds such character to island that could’ve been just a generic, isolated island in some distant ocean. It suitably captures the essence of unsettling anxiety that permeates throughout your expedition to find Captain Avery’s amassed Fortune, as well as the neighbouring communities that shared his vision for a pirate haven, even if ultimately he betrayed them all to retain all of the pilfered treasure for himself. So despite the narcissistic hubris of Rafe of or the underused ferocity of Nadine, my favourite new addition to the Uncharted series is actually a big rock. A damn scary one at that.
What games do you feel feature environments that enhance there overall quality? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
It’s rare for my girlfriend to acknowledge my habitual need to game. She possess a limited capacity to care for such juvenile endeavours and a frequent nonchalant reaction to my rare moments of triumph. Gaming is treated as more of an intervening distraction as apposed to a domestic liability in our relationship. A regular activity tolerated rather than accepted. But she has always been moderately intrigued by the Uncharted series, primarily the infatuation she harbours for the honourable thief, that has dismissed more organised militias than Alan Sugar has apprentices, Nathan *swoon* Drake. So I wasn’t entirely surprised by her eagerness to partake in his most recent adventure, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. But it was with conditioned trepidation that I accepted her request as her skills as a gamer could be described as marginally more adept than that of a arthritic sloth. But I concluded that with enough guidance, a healthy supply of beer and some concentrated retention to my advisory instructions that eventually repetition would breed familiarity. Who knows perhaps the exposure to my favourite past time could evoke a further marital bond between us, hurling us into carnal abandon. I was wrong. In fact it’s been rather painful, like watching an Olympic diver mess up their routine and belly-flop from the top board with an echoing thud! Forgive me Nate, forgive me.
Watching my girlfriend play Uncharted is a bit like observing my Nan trying to change the channel with her glasses case. You feel compelled to intervene, if only to spare Drakes mangled diaphragm. And you’re completely helpless in preventing the incessant suicide of Drake, as the infrastructure of some venerable cliff cracks, the jutted remains of some decrepit architecture crumbles into the sea below, swiftly followed by Drake plunging into the abyss in total disillusionment like a disabled lemming. The discernible look of contempt etched across Drakes face is evident as you yourself begin massaging you’re temples to leverage some kind of sanity. Not even the incremental dosage of alcohol could assuage the numbing frustration I developed watching her play this beloved franchise. She has the spatial awareness of a blind fish. No sense of direction. It’s like watching a snail getting it’s shell hooked on a nail, as it slowly figures out that it’s not actually going anywhere! Her puzzle solving skills are as astounding as a toddler trying to put variously shaped blocks into the corresponding holes, but instead sticking them up their rectum! Even the most self explanatory functions seem to allude her like shooting, jumping or basic movement. She is also about as receptive to direction as a monkey in its own simian porn movie. For example, this is just one innocuous incident that occurred a couple of hours into her play-through….
Blasé girlfriend: How do I do that?
Mildly irritated boyfriend: You just did it a minute ago?!
Blasé girlfriend: I can’t remember that!
Mildly irritated boyfriend: You’ve got to hold L1 and then press….
*Drake plummets to his death*
…..down. What did you do that for?
Blasé girlfriend: I pressed the button!
Irritated boyfriend: Yeah, the wrong one.
Blasé girlfriend: No, I pressed that one *points to the circle button*
Irritated boyfriend: Yeah; the wrong one. You’ve got to press the first left shoulder button and then down on the left stick.
Blasé girlfriend: Which one is the shoulder button?
Very irritated boyfriend: That one on the top left. The smallest one!
Blasé girlfriend: I thought you said I had to press L1?
BY THE POWER OF GREYSKULL?!