The Thursday Inbox discusses the dark side of Nintendo business decisions, as one reader is surprised at the Crysis Remastered backlash.
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Having just beaten The Last Of Us Part 2 I was going to write in about and then realised the reader the other day was right: it’s really hard to say anything without getting into spoilers. So instead I’m going to talk about something else which I think gets a bit overlooked: the graphics.
We all knew they’d be good but this is phenomenal. From the wilderness area at the beginning to the beaten down Seattle it all looks completely fantastic. There’s a bit about halfway through where you’re stealthing around in a park and the bushes and ferns and whatever just look completely realistic. So detailed and they all move and react as you go past them. I’ve never seen anything like them this gen and, like GC said, I doubt we will in the next gen for a good while yet.
So the question then is: is The Last Of Us Part 2 the best graphics on the PlayStation 4 and ultimately the generation? I’m going to say yes. The facial animation in Final Fantasy 7 Remake is at times better but that’s a very inconsistent game in terms of the graphics, so I’m going to have to give it to Naughty Dog’s game which is 100% amazing all the time. Also, it has a good ending. No spoilers!
On the fence
I too am suddenly more interesting the Xbox Series S if Microsoft announce that it is significantly cheaper (around £100) than the main model. I started out thinking I was definitely getting the PlayStation 5 but I haven’t been blown away by anything Sony has announced yet, so I’m still on the fence and could be persuaded either way.
If Microsoft put on a good show this month then I may go with them at first. I had a PlayStation 4 all this gen and haven’t played an Xbox since the Xbox 360. I prefer to start with the most powerful console (in case I don’t get a second) and so far this is looking like the Xbox Series X. I admit that the whole issue a bit less clear cut this generation but I don’t see anything the PlayStation 5 has an advantage except a faster SSD.
We’ll see though. It’s definitely all to play for and it’s obvious that both companies realise that the one thing more important than games is the price…
The fun bit
So how long are we giving it after Microsoft’s big reveal event before Sony jump in and try to undercut them? I’m not just talking about price, which might not get announced but I’m willing to bet, since they know it’s coming, that they’ll have something to act as a counter to Halo Infinite.
They still haven’t announced a first party multiplayer game, which I think is very odd after all this time. But maybe they’re holding that back? Maybe the reason the PlayStation 5 was a bit disappointing is that it was purposefully all sequels and they’re keeping back the new IP to use as ammo against the Xbox Series X?
I know, I know. I’m getting carried away and these things are always far less exciting, with far less games, than we imagine. But let’s be honest, the imagining and speculating is the fun bit. The actual launch of a next gen console? It’s always a disappointment you just wish you could forward on two years until the good stuff starts to come out.
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Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s completely overhauled combat system is a triumph as far as I’m concerned. It’s fluid, impactful, innovative, intelligent, stylish, and most importantly, a lot of fun.
Square Enix has done a terrific job fusing the classical turn-based elements with real-time action mechanics, resulting in a dynamic hybrid of styles that plays as beautifully as it looks. The fantastic boss fights are where the combat’s strengths are accentuated, as you’re required to think quickly to counter their multi-phased assaults or face being pulverized.
The Final Fantasy 13 inspired stagger system is also a great fit for the battles that encourages the player to play more strategically, capitalising on enemy weaknesses to render them more vulnerable, and maintaining the momentum of attacks until the enemy has collapsed and is open to a world of hurting. It’s utterly exhilarating.
I also appreciate the increased emphasis on the distinctive abilities of Cloud, Barret, Tifa, and Aerith in the battlefield. Everybody feels like a dream to control and their repertoire of moves have translated excellently and look dazzling in the new format, particularly in slow motion where the intricacies of the animations and particle effects are sumptuous to behold.
And I’m impressed with how genuinely challenging the game often is on the normal difficulty, I felt compelled to constantly switch between characters to fully utilise their unique strengths and settle into a robust cadence of offensive and defensive strategies to defeat many foes. When you’ve become so well attuned to the nuances of the combat and you’re consistently firing on all cylinders you began to almost feel like you’re conducting this energetic symphony of precision, destruction, and spectacle.
The altered summon mechanics are also reinvigorated and more involved, and as visually spectacular as they’ve always been in Final Fantasy. The new weapon upgrade systems is another interesting and meaningful addition that further differentiates the capabilities of the arms with all the passive buffs and extra materia slots, and whilst somewhat more streamlined the materia system still feels very flexible and effective in function.
Small details like being able to speed up the active time meter by attacking enemies and dying, reverting you back to the start of a fight or most recent checkpoint are efficient, gamer-friendly design decisions. However, having your ability and spell-casting actions interrupted and potentially cancelled mid-animation by enemy attacks is a tad harsh and can slightly hamper the flow of a fight. As is the forced stagger meter restart as you shift into different phases in the boss battles.
What has been accomplished here is an amazing foundation for the reimagined episodes to come in this epic saga. Same goes for the rest of the game design, characters, and story. The combat is certainly one of the most satisfying I’ve experienced in a Japanese role-playing game to date!
Nintendo’s dark side
I’ve seen some suggestions that the reason Nintendo is closing down selling digital download codes is that there are a lot of counterfeit ones in circulation, but I’ve never heard of that. Maybe I move in the wrong circles but if that is what’s happening isn’t that perfectly legitimate and so they could just say that was the reason?
Instead they offer no real explanation and announce the change out of the blue. Everyone loves Nintendo’s games but they can be a really shady company when they want to. The whole Joy-Con drift business is another example. They were obviously hoping it wouldn’t that widespread and they could just sweep it under the carpet, and only dealt with it when they absolutely had to.
There’s a dark side to Nintendo, where you realise they’re just a business like anything else and would do anything, and ignore anyone, to just make a little more money. Some fans would do well to remember that.
Living the role
There’s a lot of negativity in the games industry these days, from shady companies exploiting their developers to nasty and immature gamers, but one thing I have noticed is how awesome some of the voice actors and/or motion capturers are. I follow quite a few on Twitter and am frequently delighted to see just how many of them appreciate the characters they played.
They’ll reference them, share fan artwork, etc. and some others, like the Leon and Claire voice actors, will dress up as their characters and even do streams of the games they were in. The voice actor for Leon even did a photoshoot as him and drew a really awesome picture of Nemesis for the third game remake.
This is a great contrast to the days where companies would just hire randoms who clearly couldn’t care less about the role (even A-list celebrities) and just did it for the paycheck. Them being on modern social media also means that they get a tremendous amount of positive feedback from fans that just wasn’t present even 10 years ago (John Martson’s voice over had an IMDB page with two positive comments, that’s it).
I just think that’s a really heart-warming aspect of the games industry that I feel not enough people talk about these days.
This reaction to the Crysis remaster all seems a bit over the top, doesn’t it? Like GC said, it’s a remaster of a 13-year-old game. Not a new release or a remake. Now maybe Crytek did overhype things a bit but I was up for the game after seeing the trailer and now it’s going to be delayed. Except only a few weeks? What difference is that going to make?
Sometimes I wish developers just got on with a game and didn’t have to listen to so-called fans, and just did things how they wanted. Having to constantly please and angry internet that never knows what it wants, only what it doesn’t want, must be exhausting.
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Slow and unsteady
I’m pretty behind on my podcast listening, due to a lack of commuting and gym time, so have only just heard the excellent The Computer Game Show pod discuss the announcement of Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest. With it running for two months now, I wondered what readers’ impressions are of the Summer Game Fest?
Thinking about it, there have been a lot of reveals over the past couple of months, such as the Xbox Series X third-party ‘gameplay’, the Unreal Engine 5 demo, and Sony’s PlayStation 5 showcase. Add into that the recent Cyberpunk Nightwire event, Larian’s Baldur’s Gate 3 gameplay demo, and EA Play, and that’s a considerable amount of new announcements or footage of upcoming games. And I know there are a quite a few other events that I’ve missed out here.
I’ve just checked out the Summer Game Fest website for the first time, and it seems there are Ubisoft, Stadia, and Microsoft events all coming up this month, with the prospect of Microsoft’s first party reveal event being particularly exciting.
All in all, I think it’s been a good alternative to the usual one-week news blowout that is E3. Having a slower, steady stream of announcements and new gameplay footage over a longer period of time has made it easier to keep on top of it all. Having said that, with E3 there’s something enjoyable in knowing you’ve got a week or so where the majority of new announcements for the year are going to drop and YouTube is flushed with new trailers and gameplay.
It’s quite the cop-out but whether E3 comes back with a bang next year, or there’s a similar Summer Game Fest, I’ll be happy.
GC: We’re not sure any of those events really count as part of the Summer Game Fest, as they’re all organised by their respective publishers.
I thought subscriptions for games went out with the first wave of World Of Warcraft clones. There’s no way I’m repaying for the same game year after year. Although I suppose that is what battle passes are every season.
Conan Exiles and Hue is free on Epic Games Store at 4pm today.
This week’s Hot Topic
Since we’re now halfway through 2020 this weekend’s Inbox asks the question: what has been your favourite video game of the year so far?
To qualify, the game must be a new release from 2020, not just whatever older title you happen to have played this year. (You can see our top 10 so far here.) It’s obviously been a very strange six months, but how different has the year been in terms of how many new games you’ve bought and how many you’ve played?
What do you think of the quality of the games so far this year and do you think they make up for the lack of quantity? What are your expectations for the rest of the year and how many new games – and consoles – do you expect to buy in the next six months?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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