Paul discusses Dishonored, an Action/Adventure title from Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks.
Will he shout it’s praises to high heaven, or dispatch it quietly in a back alley?
Watch to find out!
The first Call of Duty game was released in 2003, and at time of writing, there have been nine main instalments in the series. The first Assassin’s Creed game was released in 2007 and there have been five main instalments with a sixth one inevitably hurtling our way. The third in the series had barely been released for six months before avid anticipaton of another game began. It baffles me that this constant churning out of games from franchises is what people want, and in the following article I’m going to explain why.
My collection of games is pretty large; it’s big enough that I can’t even estimate the actual number of physical games I own, let alone the digital ones. As such, I’ve developed quite a backlog, since excellent games kept coming out faster than I could complete them. The fact that I spent a good chunk of the last six years playing World of Warcraft didn’t do anything to help the situation, either. As of today, I know that I have well over a hundred games – most of them brilliance waiting to be experienced – that I have yet to play. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought that this was something to be ashamed of, or at least a problem that needed to be solved. Then I came to the realisation that, perhaps without even knowing it, I’d been building myself an ark.
The gaming industry takes an awful lot of flak for the state of modern society. Parents, ignoring the fact that they have purchased something designed for someone aged in their twenties or thirties, are apparently surprised that the box with a masked man holding a pistol does not contain a story about a happy unicorn that loses his balloon. As a parent, it is your job to protect your children from the world until such times that their moral compass can steer them away from picking up an AK-47 and walking into an airport terminal. If you don’t want your child to play these games don’t buy it for them! This shouldn’t be news to you; your parents tried to steer you on the right path when they told you not to listen to rap music as it was all about shootin’ up pimps and rollin’ wit yo bitches, in the same way their parents told them not to listen to rock and roll, put down that guitar and get a haircut.
I agree that exposing children to content that is not age appropriate for them has a detrimental effect on their understanding of right and wrong and how to interact with the world around them. Of course it does; I saw Watership Down as a child and to this day I can’t walk past a rabbit without kicking it in the face before it has the chance to savagely attack me. I do however fully agree with the statement that being good at Call of Duty does not make you capable of shooting up a school in the same way being good at FIFA does not make you good enough to play for Man United. It is the person within you that determines that shooting the ho to get your money back is acceptable in Grand Theft Auto (it is, in case you were unsure) and that it most definitely is not in real life. Baring all this in mind, I am going to issue a warning in the unlikely event that any parents are reading this; do not, under any circumstances buy Payday 2 for your child. Even as an adult with a reasonable grasp on morality and physical limitation, I am now convinced that robbing a jewellers is a good idea.
So what have we got here then? Well, Overkill Software have walked in to an overcrowded FPS market and whopped out their shiny new sequel to 2011’s Payday: The Heist to really shake things up a bit. As its predecessors title may suggest, the point is not to stop terrorist plots, fight back alien hordes or rescue a sweet beautiful girl (I love you Elizabeth! Please call me I’m home all day!), it’s a good old fashioned jewellery store and bank heist game. Having never played the first, the claims being called from the rooftops that the bugs are fixed and the gameplay is better mean relatively little; I’m a ‘show me’ kind of guy,so show me what you’ve got and I’ll make my own mind up. Well it has, and boy does it look good.
Here’s an example of what you’re likely to expect. You and your partner are dropped into a street, and expected to get on with it. Scout out the building and get your bearings, check out where the guards are, try and find all the entry and exit routes. Done? Right, time to break in. On go the masks and you’re off, taking out guards and stashing their bodies, sneaking past doorways trying to remain unseen, and then shooting the place up when you’re inevitably spotted. Find the loot, hold off the police until the getaway driver gets there and get the hell outta there. A timelessly classic storyline I’m sure you’ll agree.
There are a few things that have struck me about what I’ve seen so far. Firstly, gameplay. What little actual gameplay footage there is in the public domain does have a rather interesting quality to it; the only way to describe it is that the game looks clever. The game seems to change and react around you, so it looks likely that there will be a lot of re-play value here. Guards watch different alleyways, the loot you’re after is hidden in different places, the police will try and out flank/sneak up on you/steal back your loot, even the getaway car will stop in a different place depending on where you’re standing. All very clever, and while it might not take years of planning like a real world bank job, the emphasis is really on putting some thought into what you’re doing.
Secondly, the cooperative element of this game looks very impressive. The AI looks very clever if you’ve got no friends; in the footage I’ve seen it’s hard to tell if it’s a real person or Skynet holding the other joypad. As you’d expect, you have a choice of attributes that you can use to transform your characters; skills like becoming a silver tongued debonair who can sweet talk his way past guards, or turning into a specky little computer nerd who could hack his way into the Pentagon and read all their emails about forwarding to five people and the luck fairy will send you a rainbow coloured puppy. Skills matter, and having the right ones can be the difference between escaping across the border to Mexico and standing in a prison shower clinging on to the soap like your life depends on it.
Whilst graphically it looks competent if not spectacular, you and I both know thatgraphics don’t make a game play well. What you’ll notice is that it actually looks like a sharpened up version of Left4Dead 2, and not just in terms of the buildings and scenery. An item you’ve interacted with, say a bag of money, safe or a dead guard will have a highlighted outline, acting as a useful point of reference in the heat of battle. For anyone who’s played Left4Dead 2 and been faced with a tank (or TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANK!! To pronounce it properly), being able to easily see where the next gun is when yours runs out of ammo is a benefit you only notice when it isn’t there.
As you may have gathered, this game ticks a lot of my boxes. If you liked Hitman Absolution, Left4Dead 2 or Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine (not heard of it? Shame on you! Click here), then you’re going to like Payday 2. It’s scheduled for August this year, and is expected on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, so whatever your platform you can get in on the action. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find an Olympic class gymnast, a French locksmith and a blonde woman with a Russian accent and a pun-laden surname. Then I might go to the bank.
The games industry today is abuzz with talk of the next generation of gaming. With the WiiU already with us, the Playstation 4 having been announced a while ago and, by the time you read this, Microsoft being about to or having just announced the next Xbox unit, you can’t move around the gaming web without coming across some sort of discussion about the next gen. This is only to be expected of course; it’s an exciting time of promise and optimism, the culmination of one gaming era and the cusp of yet another; one which seems set to bring unprecedented gaming experiences. The gaming community is nothing if not willing to voice its varied opinions, so its unsurprising that there are as many views on offer as there are voices or keyboards with which to express them.
Now, we’ve all heard most of the big things (probably on this very site if you’ve any sort of reading taste!): tales of always-online restrictions, specification layouts, persecution of second-hand games, augmented reality, 3d sound and many more facts, rumours and outright fabrications have done the rounds and purveyed as ‘fact’ by many.
Thing is, even at times of relative serenity in the industry, trying to discern fact from fiction when it comes to gaming is often pretty hard. All it takes these days, it seems, is for one person to claim something with a measure of assumed authority and it can gain momentum rapidly, quickly becoming accepted as truth. It seems in the games industry the old adage of ‘if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth’ holds especially true (and that’s likely to be the last time I ever quote an old Nazi in one of my articles I hope!)
I was given reason to reflect on this recently as I was reading up on the coverage of the PS4 release news and the speculation around the scheduled Xbox announcement. While the reports were fairly standard and seemed to convey much of the same official information, along with the standard speculation, my attention was drawn to a recurring theme in the comments sections of the articles. Curious as to whether the release news was acting as a light to the troll-moths, I took an excursion around various forums and boilerhouse websites to see if the situation was the same. What I found mirrored the comments I’d seen previously. All across the various discussion points of the web, when it came to the subject of next-gen, there was the same ‘fact’ being put forward:
High-end PC gamers are already experiencing the next-gen today.
This puzzled me, as its simply not true.
Look at it this way; while high-end PC gaming has seen something of a resurgence in recent years, it still represents only a miniscule part of gaming companies’ demographic. For a game to be realistically next-gen, it stands to reason that it would have to be playable only on these new systems, as the hardware required would be only present on those systems. You name me one mainstream game that is only playable on next-gen equivalent technology!
Go on… I’ll wait…
What’s that? Crysis 3? Ah, I think I may see the problem here. I fear people may be confusing graphical improvements with next-gen gaming. The fact is that while games like Crysis 3 are graphical powerhouses, wonders of visual design on high-end systems, they’re still designed at a base level to work on all reasonable mainstream systems and the current generation of consoles. This means that, while they look prettier on high-spec PC units, the core game remains the same. What many forget is that graphical quality, in this situation, is really no more than window dressing; graphical eye candy creating the illusion of being a step above the rest, when in actuality the base game runs on the same limitations as all the rest do. It’s the equivalent of putting flashy rims and a new paint job on your car; it’s still the same car as it was before; same speed, handling and feels as before, it just looks a bit flashier. The same is true of games like Crysis 3 and Far-Cry 3; they have all the graphical bells and whistles but under the hood they’re current-gen through and through.
Where the next generation of gaming will prove its step up from today’s is in the behind the scenes aspects. The upgraded processor power, graphics engine and RAM will allow for the game to be doing much, much more in the background, allowing for more environmental and gameplay features. It’s hard to say exactly what, as games being developed now are unlikely to use this to its full potential; that takes time and practice. To use an example from the previous generation gap, Half-Life 2 demonstrated the progression from the old generation to the current with its previously unseen physics engine, which allowed a whole new way of designing and playing a game. While visually a treat, the real revolution there was in the background, contained within the upgraded grunt produced by the better hardware.
Yes Diablo 3 will look prettier on the PS4 and next Xbox than it would on the PS3 or 360, but this is a game that runs on standard, middle of the road PCs now. Unless some exclusive content is produced for the new consoles, the game is going to be the same as it is now, but with prettier graphics.
While graphical improvements are always the most striking and obvious feature of the next generation of gaming when it arrives, in many ways it is a smokescreen, a visual sleight of hand used to impress the public and demonstrate in a easily recognised way the improvements over old technology. This causes many to mistakenly identify improved graphics as evidence of next-gen gaming. As with many things, the truth is really much more complicated. It’s going to be a while into the new generation before we start seeing true next-gen gaming, as it will take some time for developers to adapt to the improved technology available.
In this case, beauty is only skin deep. For true next-gen gaming you have to dig a little bit deeper.
The games industry today is abuzz with talk of the next generation of gaming. With the WiiU already with us, the Playstation 4 having been announced a while ago and, by the time you read this, Microsoft being about to or having just announced the next Xbox unit, you can’t move around the gaming web [...]
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