Throwback Thursday: The Last of Us

Platform: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Developer: Naughty Dog | Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: June 2013 / July 2014

The 26th of September, 2013 marked the day the Cordyceps Infection reached a critical mass in The Last of Us. Over two years after players were plunged into Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic universe, how does the game hold up?

This article will discuss the original and the Remastered release of the game as though they are one.

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WHY IT WAS GREAT

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Single Player

The vast majority of gamers agree that The Last of Us almost perfectly nails what a single player experience should be in a video game. The world Naughty Dog has crafted is simply beautiful. The attention to detail given to everything the player can see in the game allows what would otherwise be an otherwise be an overused video game ‘trope’ to become a work of art. Players begin feel an emotional attachment to Joel and Ellie (two name just two of the characters) as the story progresses, something that in part is achieved by the (excellent) animation department at Naughty Dog. Every minute change of expression or emotion can be felt from the character, not only because of the changes visible on their face, but those across their entire body.

Not only is the game visually stunning, the audio in the game is almost breathtaking. One particular moment that comes to mind is one early on in the game: the player is able to send Joel inside of an abandoned truck, where the sound of rainfall changes, becoming more metallic as it bounces off the roof of the truck. This sort of sound design certainly isn’t new to gaming, but the of care Naughty Dog gives to even the most uninteresting of things makes The Last of Us just that little bit more believable

The story told by The Last of Us is near perfection. Though set in a post apocalyptic world, the game manages to avoid become yet another zombie survival title. The story — for the most part — only dabbles in the worldwide issues, instead choosing to focus on issues faced by characters in the own individual worlds as though nothing else matters. The tale told by Naughty Dog allows the player to connect and relate with almost every character in the game, feeling their emotion, morales, drives and sometimes their downright misery.

Multiplayer

To some the multiplayer aspect of the game was merely a tacked on mode with little thought put into it. To others the mode was a fresh new take on what multiplayer could be in a game. Factions pitted the two… factions… from the single player portion of the game against one another in a 4V4 tactical shoot out scenario, with three modes to choose from. What made the multiplayer so great was and still is how it differs from almost every other multiplayer title out there. Rather than the fast, run ’em and gun ’em style shooter, the Factions mode in The Last of Us is a slow, tactical shooter where really the only hope of survival is to stick together and pick off the enemy team.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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On a personal level, The Last of Us really does live up to the hype. It deserves the praise and acclaim it still receives to this day and sits in the top few spots, if not the top spot of my all-time favourite games. Never before has a game made me feel genuine, heartfelt emotions towards a character, or shed tears when that happened. The game is so expertly and carefully crafted that it almost does nothing wrong.

 

The Last of Us is amazing and saying that doesn’t do it justice. We can only hope Naughty Dog will remain the Naughty Gods with the sequel to the game: There’s More of Us.

Throwback Thursday: Destiny

Platform: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Developer: Bungie | Publisher: Activision
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Destiny’s latest and greatest expansion The Taken King has arrived in its multitude of special and collector’s editions, putting the ‘Year Two’ plans of Bungie and Activision for the game into play. What better time to take a look back at the game Bungie were hoping to redefine a genre with upon launch, bringing us new ways to play, to experience a story like no other and much, much more.

This article discusses the base Destiny game only and none of its subsequently release expansions

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WHY IT WAS GREAT

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While Destiny failed at nailing the story-telling aspect of Bungie’s genre-redefining vision, it certainly nailed the gameplay. The speed, mobility and gunplay were (and are even more so with Year Two) excellent fine tuned, awarding players with a great sense of satisfaction when they manage to land the final blow to the head on their alien foes.

The three base classes meant that players always have the ability mix things up if they begin to feel their current persona is beginning to feel stale and while that was certainly possible, beginning to feel the sense of no progress certainly was not. Bungie excellently provided ways for player to continue their progression once they reach their level cap, offering new, hidden and Exotic armours and weapons to find.

In short: Destiny simply got better the more you played it. Guardians really only got a true taste of what the game had to offer once they had gotten the mediocre-at-best story mode out of the way and had greener PvE and PvP pastures on the horizon.

Of course, Destiny also completely nailed the sense of community. Few other games manage to feel like Destiny do when you play. Locales are alive with other players from all over the world. Other players taking part in random public events, or farming from the legendary Loot Cave. That sense of community only felt even stronger within Raids, in which only parties capable of the highest level of coordination would succeed.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

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Destiny, while it had it shortcomings, was great. Bungie seems to have ironed out the kinks on the shirt that is ‘Year One’ and now offers an even better experience than when the base games launched just one year ago. Really, what makes Destiny so great to this day is the sheer amount of fun you can get out of the game and it’s as simple as that. Unless of course you dislike sci-fi, first person shooters.

GPS, GO and the Future of Pokémon

Pokémon GO came to us out of nowhere. Fans didn’t ask for it and no one had any idea the mobile game existed until it was announced, but that doesn’t stop it from (possibly) becoming the future of the Pokémon series.

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THE GAME POKÉMON FANS DESERVE

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In every mainline series Pokémon game to date the player has taken control of a character who journeys about catching, battling and training Pokémon. That is as close as fans have ever gotten to becoming a real Pokémon Trainer. Pokémon GO could change that.
Using GPS technology is nothing new to gaming, there are numerous great examples of how developers can use the navigation system to add depth to their games, or even use it to become the basis of an entire game. One instance of an excellent application of GPS comes from Six to Start’s Zombies. Run! in which players must run (or walk) to escape zombies (as if you couldn’t figure that out) and collect supplies along the way.

Introducing GPS to the Pokémon series is an entirely new concept and up until now the closest we’ve got to location-based interaction in Pokémon is the StreetPass feature in Pokémon X and Omega Ruby Alpha Sapphire, the most significant feature of which was the ability to unlock locations that contained hidden Pokémon by passing by people with your 3DS. So, why could a location-based Pokémon game become the future of the series?

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BE THE TRAINER

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Without beating around the bush: Pokémon GO might let you become a Pokémon Trainer. The Trainer you’ve always wanted to be but never quite could, because you were simply playing a game.

Pokémon GO will play differently for everyone depending on where you are and the time you’re there. You will have to be in the real world vicinity of a wild Pokémon to find it, meaning, utilising the GPS of your mobile device, you (the Trainer) have to physically drag yourself through all terrains to find a Charizard lurking atop a mountain, or an Eevee hiding in a backstreet dumpster. Species of Pokémon have always been limited to specific areas within the games. In Pokémon Red & Blue for example, Pikachu can only be found on Viridian Forest or within the Power Plant. If you want to capture a Pokémon you have to situate yourself in an appropriate patch of grass and pace up and down for what could be hours. In GO it’s not going to be you characters tickling their knees amongst the grass, it’s going to be you.

The utilisation of location technology doesn’t end there; with it, Trainers could find themselves battling against other Trainers riding the same train to work as them, or against the manager at McDonald’s, and that’s where things start to get interesting. By making us, the player, the main character in our journey we can choose what routes we take, what Pokémon we capture and train, and what our goals and aspirations are in this new Pokémon World. If you want to become the Pokémon kingpin in your university accommodation, you can do that. The possibilities are almost limitless.

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GET SOCIAL

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With GO the series is going to take on an entirely new social aspect, while maintaining the core pillars that make up the Pokémon franchise. Pokémon will still exist as it does today, but future games are likely to be tainted with elements requiring the upcoming game as already suggested by official sources.

New forms of the Pokémon Zygarde were recently announced, what’s interesting about these forms is their requirement for numerous forms known as Zygarde Cell, hidden throughout an area, to cluster together in order for the Pokémon to access a more powerful form. This ‘collect-a-thon’ mechanic almost screams to be made into a social event, and this is perhaps exactly what we can expect to see in GO. The official trailer for the game has showed off a battle against Mewtwo in Times Square, which required hundreds of Trainers to group together to take down the Pokémon before the timer ran out. We already know this type of event is planned for the game.

There are of course almost infinite new possibilities when you add location-based mechanics to a series that already focuses on different locations within its games, too many to list. Using one common form of technology can completely transform how we play a game and it seems the Pokémon series is one just screaming for this transformation.

On the other hand this called all just end up one huge dream and Pokémon GO might not end up being the foundation for the future of the Pokémon series after all.

Why the new Apple TV will not kill your Xbox or PlayStation

A report has recently appeared online that suggests Apple is going to reveal an all-new Apple TV at their event on September 8th, next week. It’s commonplace to find journalists predicting that “Product X will kill Product Y” close to their announcements and this new Apple TV is no different.

The suggestion that Apple’s new device can compete with (and possibly kill!) dedicated games consoles, is simply ludicrous. Even more ludicrous? That very same claim backed up with a mere run down of specs, features and possible scenarios of uses for the device.

The point is: an updated Apple TV simply cannot compete with the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360 (or even their successors.) Raw power, gimmick-loaded controllers that feature motion detecting sensors and Siri-laced experiences are simply not enough to pit the Apple TV—if it even happens—against the PlayStation and Xbox of yesteryear.

There’s no denying that the mobile gaming scene has grown tenfold year after year since the original iPhone launched. The mobile market is saturated with devices that allow individuals to play games almost anywhere imaginable and that is precisely how developers of mobile games design their games: to be playable on-the-go and to allow players to drop the game and pick it up again whenever the mood strikes them. Mobile gaming, for the most part, does not hold the same core of gamers as console gaming does. Console games are often developed with a “sit down and play” ethos, that is: 90% of the time gamers will indulge in gaming sessions that run for an hour or more. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any games on Android or iOS that are developed with longer play sessions in mind, that statement would be almost as absurd as claiming one single device can eradicate two long standing “competitors”.

The growth of mobile gaming shouldn’t be seen seen as the oncoming death of the console. Instead we should welcome it as the growth of the gaming industry as a whole. What works on a mobile game doesn’t necessarily work on a console game and this is where the Apple TV could make a difference. By acting not only as an alternative to both the console and mobile scenes the device

It has been seven years since Apple first unleashed Apple TV to the world. The streaming box of wonder (oh, if only) was launched in a time when the world of internet-powered television was a very, very different place. That fact alone is more than enough reason question Apple’s decision to deprive the device of any substantial updates over the last three years. The same can’t be said for almost every other Apple product that exists on the Apple Store today.

Sadly, the truth is the Apple TV has become somewhat of a joke. The device has become inferior when compared to other offerings in the market place, ones that can offer the same functionality for less. Consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 existed primarily as gaming consoles, their entertainment features could be seen as side dishes that taste delicious. Apple needs to serve its dishes in the right order. First and foremost Apple TV should provide a way for users to get content from the internet or other devices to their television. Gaming should be served as a side dish, where Apple TV can shine as a cocktail blended from the experiences of both the mobile and console gaming.

Apple TV will never “kill” the offerings of Sony and Microsoft, that is an absurd statement. Instead the new device, if it actually exists, will serve as an alternative to the other options available to all of us. Another way to game. Offering the best of mobile gaming thanks to Apple’s account system and the best of console gaming thanks to the hardware it is said to offer.

Technology products offer a huge amount of variation, even within the smallest, most niche categories. It is foolish to believe that one product, designed for a market of specific individuals can provide for the needs and wants of all. It is impossible. The new Apple TV will be an option, one that many will choose and one that many will ignore.

Ratchet & Clank – The Game, Based on the Movie, Based on the Game Trailer

After almost a year of waiting, cratefuls and cratefuls of angsty anticipation, Ratchet & Clank (the PlayStation 4 version!) has finally received its first gameplay trailer, plus an additional 8 minutes of pure gameplay! Boy, is it glorious.

The trailer above begins with clips from the movie, after which we get our first look at gameplay footage direct from the game. Further reiterating what we already knew, Insomniac has said that the new Ratchet & Clank isn’t just a remake of the original game, but a complete reimagining; taking “the spirit of the classic PS2 titles” and “infusing some of the best elements from the Ratchet & Clank Future games.” As such the game is completely new, with elements drawn from the originals, but also with new controls; locales; gameplay segments, including new Clank areas; boss fights, flight sequences (yes please) and more.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be Ratchet & Clank if a nod wasn’t given to the crazy arsenal of weapons featured in the game and we’re not going to be disappointed. The game will feature several new weapons in addition to returning favourites from across the series life-span. One of the new gun is the Pixelizer which, you guessed it, transforms enemies 8-bit pixels that explode.

The crazy weaponry from the series also carried over to the pre-order bonus for the game, which offers fans The Bouncer (from Ratchet & Clank 2) exclusively to those who pre-order.

In addition to the official trailer, 8 minutes of gameplay has been uploaded online and shows the game looking absolutely stunning, with particle effects and depth of field as far as the eye can see.

Ratchet & Clank will launch exclusively on the PlayStation 4 in Spring 2016, with the Ratchet & Clank Movie landing in cinemas on April 29th, 2016.

Source: PlayStation Blog