The Friday Inbox defends the technical innovations of GTA 3, as players are unimpressed by Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.
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Now that Call Of Duty: Vanguard and Battlefield 2042 are out in the wild (if you’ve paid extra anyway) we can finally have a final verdict of which is better, and it seems to me it’s surprisingly close.
Despite all the problems with Vanguard, and the constant, horrible news coming out about Activision, I have to say that the multiplayer is still really good. It’s the same old thing, sure, but it’s been the same old thing for over 15 years now and I don’t see why that should suddenly be a major problem.
On the other hand, Battlefield 2042 has a lot of new features, including two out of the three main modes, but… I kind of don’t like them. As GC’s review said, Hazard Zone is pointless if you haven’t got a good team of talkers to play with and Portal is just too much effort for me and something I haven’t really touched yet.
The main Battlefield 2042 is good but with only seven maps… I’ve kind of had my fill already. I accept that Battlefield is overall the better game, in terms of everything working as intended and the amount of effort and new ideas in it, but I just prefer Vanguard more. I almost feel like I should apologise.
With Black Friday coming up and the possibility of some cheap hardware, I was thinking about taking the plunge into VR. However, I was wondering what the best way to go about that would be?
Seems like the Oculus Quest 2 (£300 for the cheaper version) is the most advanced, has minimal wires and I’m happy to create a Facebook profile to sync up to it. However, from what I can tell it doesn’t really offer that many ‘proper’ games. I’ve heard good things about Moss and a handful of others, but nothing I’m desperate to play, and I don’t have a powerful PC, so I’d be choosing from solely from the Oculus library (unless there’s some other way to get games on there – happy to be informed if that’s the case).
The PlayStation VR headset, on the other hand, is older and has more wires. Prices vary but seems it’s cheaper than the Oculus. I’ve heard the controllers aren’t the best and it’s probably due an upgrade. But I am keen to play the likes of Skyrim in VR, the Resi games, Astro Bot, etc. as well as the aforementioned Moss.
What’s the verdict? Should I wait for a PlayStation VR upgrade? Is the Oculus worth it? Or are there factors I’m not considering? Any advice appreciated!
GC: We definitely wouldn’t recommend getting a PlayStation VR now, unless it’s ultra cheap. A replacement has already been announced and PlayStation Move controllers are awful and very expensive. Also, there are only two VR Resident Evil games: Resident Evil 7 on PlayStation VR and Resident Evil 4 on Oculus Quest 2.
No laughing matter
I was surprised to read DMR’s criticism in today’s Inbox, about the technical prowess of Rockstar when making GTA 3. Calling them ‘hardly technical masters’ was very harsh in my book, and DMR is guilty of some serious after-timing if you ask me, which nobody did. But I wrote in anyway, that’s the nature of the Inbox. I digress.
If you truly cast your mind back to 2001 then GTA 3 was a landmark in sandbox design and went on to influence how open world games are made. Not many games (any?) at that time gave you the freedom to play in an entire city, with no loading screens, with all those vehicles and different gameplay aspects all mixed together. It was technically brilliant, even if the graphics weren’t.
To call them ‘hardly techincal masters’ because, and I quote, ‘the scenery […] could look nice… sometimes?’ is to overlook the best technical aspects of the game and to reduce technical achievement purely down to graphics only. It’s reductive in my opinion and misses where people who did enjoy the games got their joy from.
If anyone was knocking round in 2001 and saw Grand Theft Auto 3 and thought it looked ‘laughably bad’ (which I sincerely doubt) then they overlooked a landmark achievement in open world design which went on to influence the entire industry for years to come.
I have no issue if you didn’t enjoy the game. The targeting at the time was horrible and I remember it being a particular obstacle to enjoyment, particularly when you would fail a mission due to targeting the wrong enemy (which happened frequently!). The mute character wasn’t particularly to my taste either.
It’s also obviously aged poorly and has been left behind by open worlds now. So yes, now, in 2021 the game could conceivably be considered as laughably bad. But in 2001? Not a chance.
GC: You are correct, but let’s not make this personal against the other reader.
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I thought I should just warn other GameCentral readers about a bad experience I had with Argos recently, in case people are intending to buy a game console from Argos this Christmas. I tried to buy a new washer dryer from Argos and because of an error on their website, possibly caused by my security software, they have taken my money (hundreds of pounds) and are not going to deliver my washer dryer, they are going to wait five days before they repay me and then they said I could order again!
So I wanted to warn people of this situation; if they buy a game console like the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, which are a lot of money, and if this was to happen to them. I remember a few months ago or last year that somebody tried to get an Xbox Series X and the order didn’t go through and then they had to wait ages like me to get their money back.
PS: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory is currently free on Ubisoft Connect on PC until Thursday, 25th November.
Bridge Of Souls
I completed Kena: Bridge Of Spirits yesterday, iIwas very surprised on how difficult the game is. The game showcases itself as a Pixar family friendly adventure but this is pure disguise. This game is a surprising punishment but I do not see that as a negative. I loved it. That final boss encounter was a pure joy once you beat it but every time you fail it was the worst thing ever.
There was so many times I beat a boss in Kena, thinking it was the end of the game but only for the game to continue. Challenges and punishment in games definitely stays with you and feels somewhat rewarding.
I’ve never finished a Souls game but I can see why they have such a loyal fanbase. I’ve completed Returnal, but failed Bloodborne, Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 1, 3, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. I might go back to face them. In closing, I enjoyed Kena, great boss fights, decent puzzles, good graphics, OK story, and likable protagonist.
GC: Returnal is no pushover, so if you’ve beaten that you should be able to manage Bloodborne at least.
I have to agree with everyone who has written in to say that Returnal should have been treated with more respect by The Game Awards people.
Apart from a quick go when I first got my PlayStation 5 I hadn’t played it much, I’ve been playing Demon’s Souls, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and Metroid Dread, but last weekend I started to play Returnal.
It’s the first time I’ve ever played a rougelike and I’ve had to do some reading to work out how the game works, what you keep and what you don’t and how upgrades work.
It’s been quite an adjustment to use consumables and upgrades as soon as possible rather than save them for later in the game.
I’m really enjoying it, the biomes are very atmospheric and the tension is palpable when you come across a new enemy. Those tree-like enemies that teleport behind you are a nightmare and I got properly ambushed when I used the teleporter in the first biome for the first time. My heart was in my throat and I only just survived. I’m getting near the first boss and I’m pretty much hooked.
I like how the story is being drip fed via audio files from previous runs where Selena died, and the descriptions of alien tech and writing I’m finding here and there.
Ultimately the most important thing is that the people playing it are enjoying it, that means more than a subjective award.
Today I read about an Xbox update to allow Game Pass games through the cloud. In a comment section somewhere, someone says it’s only for those in an insider program. I don’t know how true that part is. But I do know that on an Xbox Series S the Edge browser will play Game Pass games. Go to xbox.com and sign in and you can play them there.
It works pretty well and even syncs your saves. It will disconnect haphazardly but it’s handy for trying out something before downloading. However, you cannot use the button once known as Back or Select because it turns full screen on and off, pausing the game. So don’t expect to use menus tied to it or summon your ghost in Destiny 2.
Handsome Dan Wolfshead
GC: It’s currently only available to a ‘subset’ of subscribers. It’s not clear how they’re selected but it should be available to everyone in the coming weeks.
Playing the future
What a great November it has been! At last my investment in an Xbox Series X is bearing fruit. Firstly, Forza Horizon 5 arrives, and she’s a looker all right. One of, if not the best-looking game I have ever seen. Draw distance is staggering, lighting, reflections, puddles forming in real0time during rainfall, leaves being realistically semi-transparent, light filtering through jungle canopies, the cars, oh my. Everything is remarkable, and on closer inspection impresses even more.
For the first time, scenery is not just flat textures painted onto polygons, but fully three dimensional objects. Bricks and tiles protrude from walls, rocks and stones litter road surfaces, which themselves have actual ruts and cracks in them. Foliage also has depth and volume. The rain on your windscreen is so realistic it prompted my five-year-old son to ask, ‘Daddy, why is the TV getting wet?’ It really is next level good, a benchmark that hopefully begins to give an idea of what current gen games will look like over the next few years.
And the sound design also excels. The rumble of the Horizon festival plane swooping over you during an early showcase event can almost be felt rather than heard and combined with the visuals is quite an assault on the senses. Technically, it is a phenomenal achievement in graphic and sound design, and just feels a bit closer to really being there than any game in the genre before it. It has also got me wanting a Porsche Taycan in real life so badly, that car is unreal!
Then there was the total surprise of Halo Infinite multiplayer. And again, it looks and sounds wonderful. Unprecedented details in the maps, fantastic weapons and particle effects, and all very smooth. I played a few hours, and it seems to have the Halo multiplayer feel just right. I have high hopes for it.
The best thing about these games is they feel so polished and complete, which with all the controversies surrounding so many recent game releases, is a breath of fresh air. It looks like 343 Industries has produced a game of real quality. I think the Craig episode actually did them a world of good. Hopefully the campaign will be as much fun as the multiplayer has been. Playground Games have also reinforced their reputation as the kings of open world creation and racers.
Along with honourable mentions to Microsoft Flight Simulator, Ori And The Will of The Wisps, and Back 4 Blood, these games have done a great job of giving a tantalising taste of what’s to come from the Xbox Series X/PlayStation 5 generation.
Having said all the above, I have to admit, none of these games have really done anything groundbreaking or revolutionary in gameplay terms. There’s just that ‘been here already, just with worse graphics’ feel to everything.
Improvements in presentation appear to have been the priority as usual, but you have to now ask, how much better than Forza Horizon 5 can graphics really get (or need to be?) and one can only hope that efforts and resources might now be directed at improving things like AI and creating some genuinely innovative gameplay experiences within these very pretty new worlds.
I can’t get over just how cheap Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl look. That indie clone looked better than this, what was it called?
So Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is another bad remake/remaster to add to the list this Christmas? I know it’s not buggy, like Skyrim and GTA, but it looks terrible. Another thing to blame on Covid?
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Helix, who asks what’s the most disappointed you’ve been by a video game at launch?
It’s easy to get yourself hyped up for a big new release but which one ended up with you being the most disgruntled and why? Was the game not what you expected, and do you feel it was misrepresented by its marketing or reviews?
If there were technical problems at launch how severe were they and how quickly were they fixed? How tolerant are you of launch day issues and how have you adapted to the idea that many games don’t work properly when they first come out?
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
The small print
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