Tag Archives: Video games

So Long For Now – Blog Hiatus

Yep that’s right. I’m going to be taking a break from writing for Mind of MrGseff. When I return; I cannot say, though I will explain myself.

I started this blog almost 4 years ago simply because I enjoyed writing essays for Media Studies during my time in sixth form, I decided that I would start writing my opinion on things outside of school and start publishing them online, originally it was made to help those doing Media Studies in AS and A level media as a source that was reliable but not too academic to the point of being boring.

I like to think I succeeded in that.

As the years went on, I decided that writing was something I wanted to do as a full time job, this meant putting more work into this blog in order to increase my chances of writing what I like but on a more professional level where I could network with others.

I can tell you, I have succeeded at that too.

I started looking for voluntary writing jobs that could be considered professional writing jobs and one of the job posts that jumped out at me was one for a company called GamerTime. They only asked for a few articles a week and when speaking to the owner; he was very understanding of the fact I’m still a student with many other responsibilities meaning I can’t write every day. He also gave me the freedom to write about whatever I could think of that was interesting, including news and editorial pieces.

We spoke for an hour before he told me I could start, I was ecstatic about the news; drinks were had in celebration. Then I realised something; if I was going to write for GamerTime, write a dissertation on Stoytelling and Narrative in video games, write a script for a 30 minute film and also write a report for a Research & Development module, all whilst working part time as a bartender in a local pub; I would have to let something go, and I have decided that it would have to be this blog.

Though I won’t abandon this blog, it will still be available for all to read my articles of the past, and who knows; I may return to this blog after University to continue spreading my work all over the internet like some delicious Philadelphia cheese.

So for now, thank you for viewing all of the things I have written; both the good and the bad. If you need me, I will be at GamerTime doing my best rants and babbles there instead.

Click the link below for GamerTime goodness:

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New Silent Hill and the ‘P.T.’ Advertisment

It seems the world is soon be graced with a new Silent Hill title oddly named ‘Silent Hills’ whether it is planning on being a sequel or a reboot of the franchise is currently unknown. One thing we do know is that the internet is currently going mad about it.

Since Silent Hill 4, the series has been stuck in a rut so usually the news of a new title in the series wouldn’t be a huge deal and for the most part would cause its fans to be very doubtful towards it, not this time, this is because Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear and Zone of Enders fame is working with brilliant Hollywood film director Guillermo Del Toro and The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus to bring this new title into fruition.

I’ll be honest; when I heard this piece of news, I couldn’t help but find it funny. The amount of collaborators involved with the project made me believe that the project sounded too big to be anything more than another game made by a Hollywood director that would end up being a flop (as much as I love Lollypop Chainsaw, it is a major example in this case):

Though this changed when I saw how this new team did their marketing, a few hours after announcing this new Silent Hill title, a free game appeared on PSN called P.T., otherwise known as Playable Teaser. Sadly, I haven’t managed to play this P.T. as of yet, this mainly due to the fact that I have yet to buy a Playstation 4 (reasons as to why will be mentioned in a future article), though if anybody is feeling charitable today, I would graciously accept a Playstation 4.

Instead I have had to do my research on this title by watching numerous LP’s on Youtube and Twitch to get an idea of what this teaser is like.

My answer: Pants shittingly terrifying. I have come to the conclusion that P.T. is probably one of the most effective ways to do marketing for a horror video game as P.T. proved itself as not simply a good piece of advertisement for an upcoming video game; but instead made a brilliant standalone horror title. It has a brilliant and downright creepy atmosphere; also the game gives nothing away. It starts with you waking up in a house and walking through the same L-shaped corridor over and over, each time giving you a bit more story development as well as some fucking terrifying surprises. It’s a title that feels very similar to an indie horror title; everything about it is so simple, yet incredibly effective.

The only downside is that it seems to rely heavily on jump scares, if that’s your thing; you’re in luck, jump away because this teaser offers a lot. Though jump scares aren’t very Silent Hill. Silent Hill tries to rely on the disturbing surroundings and absolutely fucked up creatures to make you squirm. Maybe this the new direction they are taking because remember; this isn’t Silent Hill anymore, it’s Silent HillS, emphasis on the plurality, more hills, more jump scares.

Though hopefully P.T. is meant to be something to simply wet our whistles whilst we wait for any new development of what sounds like a fantastic collaboration between Hollywood and Games developers. Hopefully it won’t turn out like the rest of them and can bring some respect back to the Silent Hill franchise. Oh wait, sorry. Silent Hills.

A Newbies Reaction to Metal Gear Solid

In this article I give a short rundown of my experience with the Metal Gear series, what I liked, what I didn’t and whether or not I recommend it to the masses.

No matter how long you have been playing video games, how many adventures you have completed and hours you have spent on Call of Duty; there will always be a widely popular video game series you have not played whether it be due to time constraints or simply the fact that it didn’t really appeal to you. For me, that was the Metal Gear Solid Series.

This was mainly due to the fact that I never actually owned a PlayStation console throughout my childhood years, I was exclusively a Nintendo gamer until mid-way through the previous console generation. So by the time I actually could play the Metal Gear Solid series, it was already on its fourth (and at the time; final) installment. Though a friend of mine would regularly recommend the series to me with the same line I fed people when I wanted them to play a Legend of Zelda title; “It’s absolutely awesome and I consider it the best video game series in existence”, and when you are given a recommendation as high as that, it’s very difficult to pass up.

A few months back I managed to pick up the MGS HD collection for my PlayStation 3, sadly this collection didn’t include the original Metal Gear Solid title released on the original PlayStation, so I started my playthrough of the series at Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, followed by Snake Eater and I am currently halfway through Guns of Patriots (or as some may call it; Metal Gear Solid: The Movie). Well, enough of my life story leading up to this moment. Here’s what I think:

The Metal Gear Solid series is a ‘Tactical Action Espionage’ game which means you have to spend most of the game avoiding encounters with enemies and trying not to raise any alarms through the duration of your mission. This doesn’t mean you can play the game as a pacifist akin to the original Deus Ex, there will be certain moments in the game where you have to kill bosses or kill a bunch of enemies in order to advance in the convoluted and at first very confusing story.

A gripe I found with the game early on is that even though the game tells you the very basic of things such as controls for movements, but most other things you just have to find out yourself. A good example would be the save system in Metal Gear Solid 2, I played it for 20 minutes at first and then decided that I wanted to stop, this meant I had to save but sadly the game didn’t inform me how to save the game which lead to me googling the phrase “How to save on Metal Gear Solid 2” which lead me to a forum of some moron asking the same question as me whilst millions of Metal Gear experts sniggered and laughed at this poor fellow. I then played the game for another hour before being told how to save.

In retrospect it isn’t a huge gripe and most certainly doesn’t justify the huge paragraph I typed out explaining the situation. In fact it is mainly a fault on my behalf for having the attention span of a goldfish with ADHD.

The next thing I’m about to say is something nearly anybody who has heard of the Metal Gear series will already know; and that is that there are a LOT of cutscenes in these games, seriously, if you and your friends ever feel like marathoning a TV show on Netflix but can’t figure out what, just pop a Metal gear game in and it will feel like a similar experience. Usually I don’t mind when a game features a lot of cutscenes, I talk a lot about my love for Telltale’s The Walking Dead; a game which is in its entirety just one giant interactive cutscene and also the Last of Us, a game which features roughly 7 hours of cutscenes. Cutscenes are brilliant ways to continue the narrative in a video game and can create some awesome and even some heartfelt moments, but when the majority of cutscenes take place in codec calls or is the cutscene equivalent to a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation or a phone call, it can get very dull after you realise you have been watching it for 15 minutes.

Though don’t get me wrong, those are my only gripes about this series. The rest of this article should be nothing but praise and recommendation featuring the odd humorous anecdote.

When you do actually learn the controls and sit through enough hours of cutscenes to actually play the game; it makes a very fun game. The controls are pretty tight and movement is very precise which means it will very rarely be the control’s fault that you were spotted, it will be your fault; because you are clearly terrible at this title. Its combat is also decent enough for a game that often advises you not to engage in it though if you are like me and prefer to shoot people using the click of a mouse rather than the pull of a trigger; gunning down your enemies may resort in you pumping many rounds into the walls surrounding your foes.

The story of Metal Gear Solid is made for anybody who enjoys story driven titles. They’re long and full of enough plot twists to even make M. Night Shyamalan jump excitedly in his seat like a child.
The game itself also has an element of cheese to it, especially in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater; which has seems to resemble the cheesiness of an old James Bond movie (awesome 70’s soulful intro song included) some of these moments would make the more serious gamer place their head in their hands and sigh, but I found them absolutely hilarious and made a nice to break from the more serious sections of the game.

The main question is do I recommend it? Of course, if you like cinematic gaming experiences such as Wolf Among us or the Uncharted series then this is for you, it’s essentially the father of cinematic experiences in video games and also offers a fantastic, lengthy story to engorge yourself in all summer long. Seriously, go play Metal Gear Solid.

Battlefield Hardline BETA Review

Oh golly! A new Battlefield game is in the works, this time it is being made by Visceral Games; developers of the Dead Space series so while DICE work on another Battlefield title; or continue to attempt to fix Battlefield 4, they’ve let another company make what I really hope doesn’t become an annually released franchise.

While most Battlefield titles put you in the role of ‘Cannon fodder soldier #158542’ and drop you in a war zone of modern times, because modern shooters have become the new WW2 shooter because WW2 was totally old school but not old enough to be retro and vintage and therefore deserve a comeback. Hardline has decided to crank it up one preverbal notch and place you in a jolly old game of cops and robbers meaning you either play a justice loving police officer or a cold hearted criminal who steals money, says bad words, refuses to say please and thank you and looks at his phone in the middle of a conversation; in other words, a very bad person.

For those who didn’t watch EA’s E3 conference, the closed BETA for Hardline is now available, it’s not exactly difficult to get into; you simply register for it on Origin and then you can access it.

Anyways; a bunch of my friends and I got access to this BETA and decided to play a few rounds of this new game

The BETA currently has one map available; this map takes place in a portion of a large city which means large skyscrapers, busy streets and shopping centres; it’s essentially 3 Call of Duty maps thrown into one. Sadly the game doesn’t use the destruction engine used in the superior Bad Company titles and instead opts for the Battlefield 4 ‘Levolution’ style which means instead of buildings being destructible, the map features one big set piece that when triggered; alters the gameplay of the map. It’s a nice little feature, but it always makes me long for the old ways of the Bad Company series.

The map also comes with two game types, one called Heist which is the Hardline equivalent to Rush, the robbers must steal two packages from two vaults whilst the police stop them. The game ends either when the robbers secure the packages or when the police violently gun down enough of the bastards. This game type works really well when you communicate with your team and have a good squad set up, it’s tactical and entertaining and if you do have a good squad/team; you can end up winning a round in a matter of minutes. If you don’t have that then the game usually results in the police winning more times than in a series of Judge Dredd comics.

The second game type is Blood Money. A new game type where you’re team has to secure more money in their vault than the other team. It begins with a mad rush to a big money pile, when you get to this money pile you grab as much of it as you can and then run back to your vault. It sounds very straight forward but Visceral kept it interesting by allowing you to steal from the enemy vault, if you see the opposing team is gaining the upper hand, you can get your squad to rush their vault and completely deplete their money. It’s basically thieves stealing from thieves and I found it to be a genuinely entertaining game type.

The game itself also runs quite well on PC though that is probably due to the fact it is just a BETA and therefore only a small portion of the game, but when playing it on my rig I didn’t notice many framerate drops even during the Levolution sections.

There are also a variety of vehicles to drive such as cop cars, motorcycles and SUV vehicles, they handle like any of the vehicles in Battlefield games, so no complaints from me there.

One improvement in this game is the guns feel like they have a weight to them, because you are pitted against policemen and common criminals they tend to fall down far easier than the beefy soldiers of Battlefield 3/4 which means killing enemies will be easier even if (like me) you’re absolutely shit at the game.

 

IN SUMMARY: Is Battlefield Hardline any good? Hell yeah, the two game types they have introduced have been very entertaining and the map that comes with the BETA is a great introduction for the rest of the game. My only gripe is that it’s great, but it feels like it would be better suited as an expansion pack similar to Bad Company 2: Vietnam, it adds a nice amount of new gameplay, but not enough to justify a £40/$60 retail purchase. Of course the full game will come with more maps and gametypes but with the major two of this title already available in this BETA, I can’t help but feel that Visceral are going to need to bring more to the table to make this game go from Payday: Battlefield Edition to something bigger, better and more unique.

 

 

E3 Week – Rumours, Hype & Introduction.

Welcome to E3 week, a week where I write articles about the hype that surrounds the upcoming E3 event. (This doesn’t mean a new article every day of the week, it just means more than one article this week.)

“Choo Choo! All aboard the hype train!” A little sample of the glorious sounds you will be hearing throughout the internet for the next few days, as a beautiful little event is coming up; the national holiday that we call E3. For those who live in the UK, let me drop this analogy on you; it’s essentially getting the winter Argos catalogue as a child, it’s where you choose what you will be getting in the holiday season.

It’s HAPPENING

Last year’s E3 was an exciting one as it was all focused on the games that would be joining up with the brand new consoles that would be releasing in the upcoming holiday season.

This year is an equally important one as it will contain the games that will be released in the first holiday season after the release of the new consoles; so if you’re like me and like to wait a while before making the important choice of a new next generation console; this E3 will probably be the one to help you make your decision.

I could go on about what games might be coming up to E3 but if I were to write something like that, then I might as well change this article into a dissertation and get it published; because I will probably be writing for a while. Instead I will just talk about the effects of rumours and hype and how it affects E3 as a conference/event as a whole.

One of the most entertaining parts about E3 are the rumours that come with the event. People start asking the big questions “Which games will be getting a sequel, will it be a game we’re expecting sequels for, will it be a revival of an old, yet never forgotten series? Will there be new surprises to make us excited about future video games or will it just be a massive disappointment for us all as we are given everything we expected”.

That can sometimes be a problem with the vast amount of rumours that come with E3, we start speculating on what we may see, that when we see it; it doesn’t feel as surprising. It’s like reading through a book series and attempting to guess what the ending is, if you guess right then you feel proud at the fact you guessed it, but disappointed that you saw it coming, this pretty much sums up E3.

Though we still remain excited for this event, when it finally comes about; reactions will be mixed, as it always is with E3. Some will walk away after the event saying that they can’t wait for what the video games industry has to offer over the coming months leading to the holiday period and beyond. Whilst others will walk away, claiming nothing was interesting and that the upcoming year will be a boring one for the video games industry. I will probably be the former.

I will do an article in the next few days on what I am looking forward to from E3 and what I HOPE to see but not expect to see, also what I remain to be sceptical about. Until then, ta-ta.

 

Downloadable Content – The Good, The Bad, The Horse Armour

Back in the days of yore, if video game developers wanted to add more to their title, it would be released in the form of an expansion pack. It would contain nearly an entire game’s worth of content and cost half the price of the standard game.

As with most aspects of the video game industry, it changed. As internet speeds increased, companies decided to sell smaller add-ons online. Something we call DLC.

DLC comes in all shapes and sizes and can vary from map packs, storyline expansions and even something as simple as cosmetic changes and skins.
As DLC can be very different, it also means that the public opinion of DLC varies as well.

We have the good DLC; Downloadable content which is priced fairly and offers you enough content that you feel like your money is well spent. Then there’s the bad; which is a bit harder to explain.

Bad DLC can be thought of in many different ways, there’s the fact that the content may be decent but the price you pay for it just isn’t worth it e.g. some portions of Fable 2 & 3 DLC. Though some could consider any DLC as bad depending on your views on downloadable content.

Lastly there’s what I’m simply calling ‘The Horse Armour’ or ‘The Ugly’ which is basically DLC that you pay for despite the fact it could have simply been unlockable content e.g. some forms of cosmetics (alternative costumes) or something that doesn’t actually add anything to the game.

As most DLC is made of bad and horse armour, this means the good DLC stands out like a beacon of hope on the video game industry. We have shining examples such as The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC which added another 6 hours of single player story onto an already lengthy campaign, though it felt like story that should have been kept in with the main campaign; the addition of more The Last of Us was very welcome.

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Another example is The Prepare to Die content on Dark Souls. Dark Souls is already a very lengthy game (I’ve clocked in over 50 hours on one character and still haven’t finished the main story arc) but the DLC gives you a new story that explains a bit more of the story behind Artorias; a great warrior whose name was thrown about a lot in the main story of Dark Souls.

Both of these DLC packs cost roughly £10 each and gave you as much content as some full retail titles, it offered you more of a game you had explored enough and that’s a great thing.

Note: I know you’ve gotten the jist of what I consider good Downloadable Content but another I wanted to mention was Dragon Age: Awakening which actually felt like an old PC expansion pack. It added new weapons, armour a whole new storyline which introduced an array of new characters and brought back some old. It was a fantastic piece of DLC at a modest price of £15.

Now I’ve talked about what makes good DLC, I’ll head on to what I consider as bad DLC.
Bad DLC is a bit more difficult to explain as what I consider to be bad DLC could be what others find as fantastic DLC; it’s funny how opinions work.

One thing I have considered as bad DLC is map packs; only in certain conditions and circumstances. Basically map packs that cost near the same amount as a storyline expansion and if the map packs don’t offer anything more than a new playground to shoot your peers. Some map packs offer a few new game modes which is fine, it feels like you get some actual new content from the purchase.

I’m a bit biased to the map pack ideas due to being a Battlefield man up until the release of Battlefield 3 as during the times of Bad Company 2, Dice claimed that they wouldn’t charge people for the map packs, this mean everyone could use them so the new content isn’t limited to a few people. Sadly this is no longer the case as Battlefield premium now exists.

Another example is if the content deliver much for the price asked. This includes episode one of Bioshock Infinite’s Burial At Sea. Though added a nice amount, it was fairly short for the £11 price mark and only seemed worth it if you planned to buy episode 2, in that case I recommend the season pass.

Lastly is the ‘Horse Armours’ of DLC’s. Horse Armour being a DLC released for Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. It cost roughly £4 and simply added armour for your Horse, the armour didn’t do anything; it just looked nice. The DLC became a bit of an in-joke for the gaming community.

Many DLC’s have come out since then, they’ve been completely cosmetic, they add nothing to the initial gameplay and are simply there to squeeze a bit more money out of the players. Examples being the Batman skin pack for both Arkham City and Origins, these things cost but they feel like an item you should be able to unlock through progress in the game; a feature developers seem to be using less in order to create more DLC.

 

So what did I miss? What’s your favourite or least favourite video game DLC?

The State of Backwards Compatibility

There has been some speculation and rumours lately about Sony’s plan to add PlayStation & PlayStation 2 emulation to the PS4, and I think (if true) is a fantastic idea for the console. As a person who worked in video game retail during the console launch period, I was often questioned about the backwards compatibility of the consoles. When informing customers that neither the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 had the capability to play the games of their predecessors, I was faced with some angry backlash (I don’t know why, I can’t exactly help; I just sold them to people), people weren’t fond of the idea to pay the ludicrous amounts of money for the new console when it couldn’t play the old one.

I understand why backwards compatibility is no longer a popular feature in consoles, and to be honest it never was a feature in the consoles of old and it’s always been for the same reason: Money.

The PlayStation 3 is probably the best example of why traditional backwards compatibility is no longer a feature. When the original ‘fat’ PlayStation 3’s hit the market back in 2006 it had the capability of playing over 10 years worth of PlayStation titles from the original PlayStation leading all the way up to the modern games of the PlayStation 3.
As the architecture of the PlayStation 3 was so drastically different to that of the PlayStation One & Two it meant that the PlayStation 3 was effectively built with elements of the One and Two’s hardware and used hardware emulation to play these games and this cost a lot of money for Sony to create (hence the reason towards PlayStation 3’s near £600 retail price during its release) but the problem with backwards compatibility was that it didn’t give much money back. People could sell their old consoles to retail stores for money off the old consoles as there was no reason to keep the predecessor console if the successor could play all of the titles.

This meant Sony would drop backwards compatibility from the future versions of the PlayStation 3 and would instead opt to create a library of PlayStation 2’s greatest games in the form of HD Remasters and games on the PlayStation store. This meant the consumer would have to re-buy the game in order to play it on the HD monolith.

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The Xbox 360 handled a different approach, they used software emulation rather than hardware. This meant playing original Xbox games on a 360 was cheap, but it also meant that not all games were supported and that Microsoft would have to constantly apply updates to allow people to play the original games (something they stopped doing after a few years).

The only previous generation console to effectively allow backwards compatibility was Nintendo’s Wii. The Wii could play any game from the Nintendo GameCube. This was simply because the console architecture of the Wii was so similar to the GameCube; that it had no problem playing the previous generation.

The new generation of consoles (Excluding the Wii U) use a console architecture similar to computers which is how the rumours of the PlayStation 4’s emulation began. As there are emulators on PC that allow users to play previous generation games, Sony have apparently taken an interest in this technology and have plans to add it to their new console.

If true, this would be great. Emulation has been a thing that has existed for years and many video game companies frown upon it (understandable, it is a form of piracy after all) as it means people are playing their old content for free. Sony on the other hand seem to be embracing this technology. They have seen what the people at Dolphin Emulator and PCSX2 can do and instead of wanting to shut it down; have decided that they can use this to their advantage to create a better gaming system for people.

 

Or the rumours aren’t true, I’m wrong and Sony actually hate us all.
It’s one or the other.

 MrGseff