DOOM on Switch – Hands on report and experiment

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Very cool video from DigitalFoundry. I respect them a lot for their comparisons and this one was particularly interesting to me because of the “Switch like PC” they built. The comparison is far from perfect of course but it’s a nice approach. One thing to notice is that on the Switch, shader performance can be increased a lot by using FP16 instead of FP32 for calculations (Half vs Float -> 16bit floats vs 32bit floats) because the shader cores of the Tegra can either process one 32bit shader operation or 2 16bit shader operations at the same time. You lose precision but this precision isn’t even important most of the time (except for something like shadows which you don’t want to look distorted because of lower precision). That’s something especially the NVidia cards on PC can’t do. They would just process one 16bit shader per 32bit core. Current AMD cards are able to make use of that though as well as the PS4 Pro and I guess this is one of the “secrets” of bringing a game like DOOM to the Switch.

Easy Allies – The Souls Retrospective Part 1 “Through the Fog”

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I always loved the retrospective videos of Gametrailers and the Easy Allies continue with them. Finally, after many months of anticipation, the first part of the Souls retrospective is here. Enjoy and consider supporting Easy Allies on Patreon if you enjoy their content :) https://www.patreon.com/EasyAllies

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider – impressions

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Wooow, this game was like WOW! Great surprise. Finished it in like 3 days, and not because it was short, on the contary, but I get ahead of myself in excitement:

+, +, +, +, + Aaamazing value. Seriously, like what?!?! I mean this was < half the price of a full game, I think I got it for 30 instead of the usual 70 and that on day one. And despite that the content was very rich. I normally don’t see such day one prices except for multiplayer games I couldn’t care less about, and here I had a singleplayer fantastic game doing the same. I wish there were more “expansion” games if this is the level of quality that results. Makes me think of a documentary I saw recently about Fallout New Vegas developed as a “huge expansion”, and ending up for many as possibly the best recent Fallout game.  I wouldn’t go quite as far with Death of the Outsider but definitely the same direction. The content felt like a lot, great, and I still see a lot of replay value in it, I’ve definitely missed some content PLUS choices branching, as well as a smart NG+ choice I saw they made. This game had more game content than many full game, and all so intriguing.

+, +, +, + Great story. I think this might be the first Dishonored game, (and I loved them all) where I read every single bit of paper I found with great interest. And not because I didn’t try with the others, I did, but after a while they would feel samey and I’d just open them only to close them down after scanning for a code or something. With this one I was genuinely curious about what they said, and it helped that a lot of them were about the mythos of this universe. Also even the little paper cinematics at the beginning of missions felt more interesting, engaging in narative and well done dramatically.

-, + There is a tiny bit of content reuse, but it’s the good kind, not just for enlarging the world and anchoring it but more importantly they do the smart thing I’ve been wishing for many years of taking the same environment and showing it at different moments in time with logical lived-in alterations having had changed it

+ Surprisingly interesting main character, which was unexpected to me as I liked the previous 2 protagonists quite a lot. It helps that she doesn’t say enough to be bothersome for the immersion.

+, +, + They took some wonderfully brave but well thought out game design choices, made sometimes subtle but sometimes radical tweaks to the powers and progression that actually had me thinking in new ways and playing in new ways within the (to me) well known concepts

+ Interesting side missions

+, + The occasional quite fantastic story scripts, many times I would be into doing something, even knocking out an NPC  and then he’d start saying something so interesting I’d change my plan just to find out what happened.

+, +, + The entire environment felt somehow like a big puzzle, but unlike other games it was wonderfully integrated, to the point where the puzzles felt well a part of the world and fitting. And as soon as you’d figure out one type of puzzles and were expecting boredom they’d put some other type of puzzle to figure out that made you think differently.

– the end location, while also beautiful and original, they go back to that lazy old style game design, with a frustrating ramp in the difficulty curve and that trial and error gameplay familiar from the past where you’re not given enough tools to deal with new complications of the situation in the first goes so immersion breaking trial and error results. It’s a shame that it puts a shadow at the end on the past experience although the location idea could’ve been good and it was well set up.

+, +, +, +, + There’s a lot of branching. And different ways of doing things. This is ‘UUUuuuuge, really. There were even moments when I couldn’t figure out some puzzles despite struggling a lot, yet I was still super curious to go into some areas, but then I figured out some other puzzles and managed to see the area after all.

+, +, + The sense of “scale” is quite amazing. I can’t think of many other games where 3-5 rooms could keep me busy for an hour or more… like they would feel like a universe of their own. You’d think “what can I do in a few rooms, I just wanna move past them?” but this game was so rich in content in them and they were so complex in figuring out their spacial placements and many interconnections that I was multiple times amazed for how long I had been in a few rooms just and my brain still found it fascinating to figure them out and how they work together.

Overall I’d give this game a 3,9 on a -5 to 5 scale, making a truly excellent game. What it may lack in comparing it to a big huge new game this game makes up in density of content, good story and originality, as well as really unbeatable value. This is half price for a FULLL game, truly.

PS: I’m sad to predict that probably this game won’t sell well, this was as far as I can tell the worst marketed great game in recent years or maybe forever: even I, a person who’s been following and waiting for it almost missed it, it wasn’t advertised anywhere, not on the web, not on youtube, not even on the PS store page, everybody just acted like it didn’t exist. Should you think you might like it/want more of such games I think the devs could really use the signal of early buyers despite this bad situation. I rarely advocate so strongly for a game but this one I really feel it would deserve it and I’m saddened to predict this will go unnoticed until it will be too late.

Tokyo Game Show 2017 PlayStation Press Conference Recap

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  • Montage (Monster Hunter World, CoD WW2, GT Sport, FIFA 18, Destiny 2, Rythm Game I Don’t know the Title, Dynasty Warriors 8?, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Yakuza Kiwami 2, some Square Enix Puzzle Game, Knack 2, more games to fast to recognize xD)
  • Sales figures for PS4 and PS4 Pro – continues being successful, new DualShock 4 colors, PS4 GT Sport Limited Edition, PS4 CoD Limited Edition
  • CoD WW2 featuring Japanese voiceacting in Japan, Story trailer looking good, intense atmosphere, symbolism seems censored in Japan as well?
  • Ni No Kuni 2, looking good, Trailer features English voiceacting, game seems to involve larger army based battles as well?, January 2018
  • Earth Defense Force 5, looking and running kinda meh in the trailer xD
  • Red Dead Redemption 2, old trailer, English voiceacting, Japanese subtitles
  • Dynasty Warriors 8, new ways of environmental traversal, kinda good looking visuals, special PS4 edition
  • Minecraft Story Mode Season 2
  • SquareEnix, Omega Force, Team Ninja => Final Fantasy Dissidia TN?
  • Shadow of the Colossus Remake, 2018
  • Dragons Crown
  • Final Fantasy IX Remaster
  • Some dating game? Code: Realize
  • Stella Stage (new Idol Master game)
  • Gundam Battle Operation 2, looks a bit like Titanfall
  • PlayStation VR Section starts
  • Montage
  • Bundle with PSVR and camera
  • Another montage (new games this time?)
  • Ark VR Survival Shooter? Ark Park
  • Gungrave VR
  • A-Train Exp. with uprez PS1 style graphics
  • Zone of the Enders 2 VR
  • Some cat VR game
  • Some game music symphony VR experience I don’t fully understand xD, Japan Studio VR Music Festival
  • News VR
  • PlayStation VR Section ends
  • New game from the Unitl Down creators: Hidden Agenda, Release 2017, up to 6 players can same via Smartphones
  • Animax 24h Anime only TV channel service on PlayStation
  • Some more Japan only services
  • More Earth Defense Force, Earth Defense Force Iron Rain
  • Some game I don’t know the name
  • Detroid
  • More Japan games I don’t recognize
  • Left Alive from Square Enix
  • Monster Hunter World, looking gooooooooood
  • And that’s it, nice sendoff trailer in the style of Make ’em Laugh

My take is: Western IPs seem to become a bit more popular in Japan, PS4 Slim is SONY’s focus with the PS4 Pro only mentioned once in the beginning and all the special editions available as Slim only, no surprises especially no new game from From Software, VR stays niche, Ni No Kuni 2 and Monster Hunter World looking great but are not totally exclusive (Ni No Kuni 2 coming to PC as well, Monster Hunter World to XBox One and PC). Left Alive looks interesting but no information even on the genre, Hidden Agenda is kinda exciting though.

The Nintendo Switch Paradox | How Everyone Got It Wrong

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Interesting video with some good analysis but I want to point out that everyone is not everyone ;-) I remember my predictions being somewhat in line with the current situation :-P

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Liar liar, pants on …. !!!

 
Usual rules: 3 tries per person. Winner gets to propose a gameSketch. x5 multiplier for first timers. Newcomers: you may ask for 3 freebies even if you didn’t yet guess anything. Outstanding credits: Firefish x34, Haikuhunter x14, Jaco x100, Radu x45, , 47Crows x19, Ange, PettyX90 x7, Pori x2, Tarpo x5, player347 x9, Diana x6, VideoGamesAsArt x2 , thegazer x9, BiaHawks x7, rsocu x5, Teofil S. Awaiting scenes from you guys.

 

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – Review

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When UbiSoft‘s first game for the Switch got leaked to some amount, many players were furious. The beloved Nintendo characters of the Mario universe together with UbiSoft‘s silly casual-game figureheads? How would that not be a recipe for total disaster? But E3 came, Mario + Rabbids got announced properly with Miyamoto taking a spot on UbiSoft’s E3 stage and very quickly, sentiments began to change. The game would turn out to be a mix of exploration adventure and turn-based tactics. But did it turn out to be any good?

 

 

The story is a silly but fun narrative about the dimension traveling Rabbids stumbling across some sort of fusion device, crash landing in the Mushroom Kingdom and the device causing trouble everywhere by fusing Rabbids with the flora and fauna of the kingdom. It’s pretty clear from the start that there is no serious overarching narrative; the story is the silly foundation for a game that wants to exploit the artdesign of Super Mario and the Rabbids in all possible ways and it’s really good at that. Speaking of the audiovisual design: lush graphics, a lot of animated background assets and the creative world design all help bringing the game to life but the characters are without any doubt the diamond core of the design. I never liked the Rabbids much but in this game they often made me laugh through their actions and the quality of the animation of those actions; the designers really worked hard to work out the essence of slapstick. The music is also very good, with one particularly outstanding piece of opera interpretation.

 

 

Technically the game runs fine after the first patch. Before that it would noticeably dip below 30 Fps in certain situations but after the patch the game always remained at a solid 30 for me. This is important in a larger context because the game runs on UbiSoft’s Snowdrop engine, the game engine introduced with The Division and also used in the upcoming Starlink: Battle for Atlas (which is coming out for Switch as well), South Park: The Fractured But Whole and the license games for the next Avatar movies. This means together with AnvilNext 2.0 UbiSoft has already 2 graphic engines for Switch and based on the huge success of Mario + Rabbids it stands to hope that we will see more games and ports from UbiSoft coming to Switch.

The gameplay loop consists of two main parts: you will run around the transformed worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom, solving puzzles, finding switches and looting treasures. Your progression through the worlds is linear but the game does a good job of hiding it most of the time by giving you alternative routes to explore and secrets to find. Regularly you will come across areas marked with pirate style flags. Entering those areas will initiate a turn-based battle, the second big part of the gameplay. In general there are 3 types of those battles: beat all enemies, beat a specific enemy (those are the boss- and miniboss-fights) and reach a certain area within the battlegrounds (sometimes with a certain sidekick character which turns the mission into an escort mission). Your party will only ever consist of 3 different characters and one of them has to be Mario. The other two you can choose from a roster of 7 characters but you need to have at least one Rabbid character on the team (so no Mario, Luigi and Peach team). Each character has a different set of abilities and can use a different type of weapon which means you have a lot of freedom to experiment with your team throughout the game, especially because you can at any time freely redistribute the skillpoints of each character. Can’t beat a certain mission? Maybe try out a different team with different skills and weapons. The game’s difficulty is fine most of the time; it should be not to hard to make it through most battles okay-ish but if you’re after that “perfect” rating for each battle, the difficulty will raise significantly. The perfect rating basically depends not only on your success in the mission but also if none of your characters went KO in the battle and if you managed to finish the battle in a certain amount of turns, forcing you to play as efficient as possible.

 

 

The game contains 4 worlds each divided into 8 chapters (except for the last world who has 9 chapters) and those kept me busy between 25 and 30 hours but I will admit that I tried from the very beginning to solve every battle with a “perfect” rating, making me replay some of them 5 to 6 times. If you rush through the game I guess you will still be busy for 20 hours though. Once beaten, every world will open up additional challenge missions and you can also try to find every secret after the game ends and you unlock the last environmental manipulation skill which will keep you busy an additional 5 to 10 hours I guess. And last but not least there is a dedicated set of coop missions that you can play with an online partner. So all in all, the game doesn’t just offer good gameplay and fun adventure, it will also keep you busy for a while especially if you’re a completionist.

However, the game has some flaws that I don’t want to forget. First of all, there is a planning mode at the beginning of each battle which doesn’t really deserve the name. You can view the battlefield and change up your team but you can’t change the character’s starting points or even see their weapon range after moving. And while the difficulty is mostly fine, at the end of the game there is a noticeable spike in difficulty because the game presents you with a set of three consecutive battles and doesn’t save in between, so if you mess up one turn in the third battle this means you will have to replay the first two as well. And the biggest issue is this: there is no confirmation prompt before your character moves. This is bad because it means if you carelessly chose one field too much or too less in your movement turn, the character will move there without the possibility of rewinding or changing but since positioning is crucial in a game like this you really have to be focused at all times during the battles.

 

 

Conclusion: 3 (on a -5 to 5 scale). Despite the lack of support at the end of WiiU‘s lifecycle, UbiSoft has always been one of the most important 3rd party partners for Nintendo, often trying to make the best of the respective Nintendo console’s gimmick. Just think about the sword fighting of Red Steel or the gamepad use in Zombi U. Often those games suffered from a lack in polish, resulting in disappointing sales. But Mario + Rabbids is different in many respects. First off: they took the their time to polish this game and didn’t rush it just to meet the Switch‘s release date. Second: they didn’t try to do something fancy that relies on HD Rumble or motion controls or JoyCon sharing. They focused on a solid idea, perfectly suited for a console that you can take on the go and executed it very well. The result is a game that is neither revolutionary nor relying on some weird hardware feature. It’s just really, really good and fun and the fact that Nintendo was willing to let UbiSoft use their characters to boost sales and really make this a Nintendo exclusive is a very good sign for the Switch‘s future and tells a lot about the new openness of the video game traditionalist from Kyoto. Unless you really don’t like turn-based tactics, this game is worth a buy in my opinion.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – impressions

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Well, I’ve finally finished it, game plus DLC, here’s my quick thoughts on it:

-, -, – The whole game stands under a huge shadow for me. I preordered it the deluxe editions with DLCs all because of the epic world that was AC Unity, but I was hugely disappointed. I can’t know if it was other less skilled artists or a manager-programmer tyranny which too afraid to get the press criticism of the prequel gave super strict guidelines that killed off a lot of the cool world stuff, making it very “boxy” in designs everywhere, or maybe even a bit of the influence of the city of London as they imagined it (and portrayed it) as bleak and industrial and less romantic, but either way, I was hugely disappointed upon seeing the world and it’s low-poly vibe.

+, + the engine however was top notch, the atmospheric effects, the distant rendering, and also the light on the wet streets, and even some parks, sometimes it looked quite breathtaking in a way that almost compensated for the lacking artwork.

-, – not only the main story itself with the two mediocre main characters but the world’s story felt quite lame. It was so imbued with that mainstream illogicality and and politics of our time! It’s sad to say this is not just their fault but also the perception of writers like Dickens which fits into this world view. It’s sad though to see how the most prosperous country in the world at the time, where the poor were doing many times better than not just the poor but often the rich across the rest of the world is maintained in public consciousness as a horrible place to be when if one had lived in those times that would’ve been the best place in the world to live in. It’s quite silly when people take current time values and project it onto the past, and instead of realizing how exceptional and unique those places and values were, how far ahead of their times, instead they portray them as bad, all while killing in the name of fighting their badness (ironic in it’s own way all the good intentions under which the assassin’s kill hundreds all with a sparkling conscience, tells of the power today and historically proven of this leftist ideology).

+ there were however also refreshing moments when the templars were allowed to also present a bit of their view without being portrayed as one dimensional monsters. Few, but it was still nice to get a bit of the other side’s position. (just to clarify, not that I support their position, this being IMO a false dichotomy, but it was still nice to have some greys out there)

+, +, +, + The truth is though, after I got over the game’s initial disappointment, that it was still an amazing world to look into. The historical research, the streets, the outfits, the animations/acting of the pedestrians, even driving a carriage was okay (i dislike vehicles in games). Every couple of weeks/months when I’d start the game again I’d be again surprised and delighted at all the richness put into this world.

– quite a lot of unmemorable and even uninspired trivial missions

+, + the world impresses not only with it’s scale and occasional great detail but also with a surprising bonus area, it was great to see the same London tweaked forward a half-century or so into the times of the Great War. That was a great cool move, might be worth redoing in other AC games if it’s not hugely at the cost of the big world, especially in cases like this where on the same territory two great ages occur

+, +, – the music is a strange mixture of possible excellence and so-so-ness. In it’s great moments I’d get excited this could be a soundtrack heading in the direction of the fantastic music in the movie Sherlock Holmes. It however never quite goes to that height of thematic excellence or technical skill. Still, not bad and helps with the character of the game, if at bit in a chaotic way (fitting one might argue)

+ The DLC was so so, somewhat forgettable but still decent

-, +, + they came back with the little mini optional stories, a lot of which were silly in the main ideology of the game with a dumbed down Darwin & Dickens as puppet cameos, however I also remember some quite excellent detective stories which actually had me curious and looking at clues in ways at least as good as the predecessor’s stories. I’m happy they dared this game within game, it enriches the world with interiors and stories.

Overall I gotta say that despite all my grumbling and mumbling I was quite happy with the game. I take back some of my initial post AC Unity greatness disappointment, when I said to myself I won’t preorder the next AC because Syndicate disappointed so bad. I guess once I stopped comparing it to it’s greater brother I have to say it was still a great historical period game with a rich big world that impressed in many ways, even if the story was weak and the artwork level quite mediocre in comparison to AC Unity. Still, Ubisoft has proven again that even it’s bad games and it’s bad artists/directors are often better than those of others. Overall I’d give it a reluctant 2.5 on a -5 to 5 scale. It was still a pretty impressive game, despite being a pity in the great footsteps it walked in.

 

Discounts on Physical vs Digital

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I definitely did notice the pattern, but somehow I keep wondering about the logic if it’s not somehow post-facts. Can’t find the flaw myself though. Intriguing indeed.

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The verse quoting preacher has a different message for a different land

 

Usual rules: 3 tries per person. Winner gets to propose a gameSketch. x5 multiplier for first timers. Newcomers: you may ask for 3 freebies even if you didn’t yet guess anything. Outstanding credits: Firefish x34, Haikuhunter x14, Jaco x100, Radu x45, , 47Crows x19, Ange, PettyX90 x7, Pori x2, Tarpo x5, player347 x9, Diana x6, VideoGamesAsArt x2 , thegazer x9, BiaHawks x7, rsocu x5, Teofil S. Awaiting scenes from you guys.

 

Castlevania & Dante Alighieri

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A nice literary comparison. My experience had a similar journey, with extreme highs and some disappointing lows. In the best moments I was amazed i never heard/played this game before as I found it trully EXTRA-ordinary and wonderful, thinking it might become one of my favorite games everz, but then there’d be the bad design decisions which brought this beautiful angel-bird all the way down through the mud… But the good moments and story were so great it was worth pushing through even in the face of high frustration, and to the extent I forgot the bad tastes it left some one of a kind spectacular memories as an aftertaste.

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A fight without, or perhaps… ?

Usual rules: 3 tries per person. Winner gets to propose a gameSketch. x5 multiplier for first timers. Newcomers: you may ask for 3 freebies even if you didn’t yet guess anything. Outstanding credits: Haikuhunter x14, Jaco x100, Radu x45, Firefish x33, 47Crows x19, Ange, PettyX90 x7, Pori x2, Tarpo x5, player347 x9, Diana x6, VideoGamesAsArt x2 , thegazer x9, BiaHawks x7, rsocu x5, Teofil S. Awaiting scenes from you guys.

 

Yet Another Gamer Youtube Demonetization

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For the past couple of months/year I’ve been noticing more and more content providers getting this treatment, people who made great original gaming content.  Personally i find it rather hard to believe it’s just the occasional random algorithm, just too many cases happening in way too many fields lead me rather to suspect rather a branching out of a societal wide witch hunt of thought direction and control. Sounds tin-foil-hat, i know, yet this has been way too wide spread and systematic to assume it’s just random as I used to for the long time I simply ignored this kind of stuff and the desperation with which a lot of these content providers have been moving to external and backup systems like patreon and the like.

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A noble crusade between heaven and hell paves the path for the way of the blood.

 
Usual rules: 3 tries per person. Winner gets to propose a gameSketch. x5 multiplier for first timers. Newcomers: you may ask for 3 freebies even if you didn’t yet guess anything. Outstanding credits: Haikuhunter x14, Jaco x101, Radu x45, Firefish x33, 47Crows x19, Ange, PettyX90 x7, Pori x2, Tarpo x5, player347 x9, Diana x6, VideoGamesAsArt x2 , thegazer x9, BiaHawks x7, rsocu x5, Teofil S. Awaiting scenes from you guys.

 

How Bloodborne Transforms the Myth

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A particularly interesting storytelling/mythological perspective. Can’t say I agree 100%, as I think it could be seen also in the common hero’s journey terms, however the journey of this hypothesis is a literary experience and gripping entertainment in itself.

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