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Great first levels in video games for when you just want to relax

We all know video games are great right?

Sometimes however the first level is the perfect level, A place where the player is King, where no harm can come to you and nothing really wants to kill you and all the game wants to do is to make sure that your happy with your settings, that you can push X for jump and forward to run. It’s a happy time for both you and your game. You’re both just starting out and you haven’t had a row yet.

So let me present my favourite first levels in gaming. Levels that I could, for the most part quite happily live in. Thanks for the rest of the game but, I think were fine here and we will stay right where we are.

Thank you very much

Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill Zone 1 Act 1

The blue blur, the one time king of Sega. One time King of the world. The little blue blurr that could. Sonic’s games will always have a place in my memory, not so much for being great games ( I’m not the biggest fan of platformers) but for being rock-hard. Games back then didn’t give you second chances. didn’t hold your hand. It was learn or die. Green Hill Zone 1 Act 1however was different, it wanted you to at least get to the end of the stage. My memory of the game is of it being a lot; calmer, more tranquil and a hell of a lot easier than the rest of the game. I think I could even just stay in the screenshot above, pull out a deckchair and relax. It’s got everything you need, sun, sea and Palm trees.

I don’t think Dr.Robotnik is going to do any real harm to the animals do you?

Prey. Morgan’s apartment

I just love this apartment don’t you? I mean just look at the view. Yes it’s covered by clouds but, just imagine it in the morning, the first glimpse of dawn poking through the blinds as you stretch, get out of bed and think about the day ahead. I mean, okay so the world, may have gone to the dogs while you slept, your going to have a lot of angry voicemails and you probably shouldn’t go outside but, why would you when it’s so nice inside? There’s books to read and TV to watch and did I mention that even the taps work in the bathroom and the sink. That’s fine for me. If you don’t mind I’ll just put my feet up have a nice cup of Tea and let someone else save the world for once.

Wonder if there’s any biscuits about in those cupboards

Skyrim_20171214200224

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Okay so here me out. This one doesn’t start well. I know. Things however do improve rather quickly, don’t they? I mean, sorry Roggvir and all that but it’s not our head that get’s the chop is it? No, I can just see myself settling down here. Making a life for myself. Maybe open a little shop. Do a little whittling. Plus there’s Dragon’s who doesn’t want to live in a world with Dragon’s in it? Maybe I’ll open a Dragon sight seeing tour?

Gone Home

Gone Home would be a completely different game if it was my life. No dramatic reveal, no wandering through the house looking for clues. My version of Gone Home would have gone as follows; 1 Get out of Taxi 2 try to find keys 3 curse when I couldn’t find stupid keys , panic at thought of being locked out 4 remember the all too obvious hiding place for the spare set 5 momentarily wonder why we haven’t been burgled before, open door, drop luggage on floor 6 go to kitchen for a nice cup of tea and a snack 7 take snacks and all important tea up to my room and promptly fall asleep. Might wake up in the morning and wonder where everybody else is, but that is only if there wasn’t any milk.

Just realised my version of the game is still longer than those speed runs on the internet and a lot simpler πŸ™‚

Bloodborne

Great game is it? wouldn’t know. Couldn’t get past the first boss any enemy in the game. I am truly useless at the game. Everyone has that one genre they can’t seem to get to grips with (at least I hope they do) and the dying and dying again until you succeed genre seems to me mine. I have tried everything from YouTube guides to having much better players walk me through the and I still can’t do it. I panic, I swear, I panic again and then give up. It’s just not the game for me. So here I sit taking in the view of Yarnham whilst hiding in the shadows. It’s not too bad really. I’m fine with my choice, We can’t all be heroes. Even made friends with a few of the locals now and they do make a nice cup of tea. A bit dark and mysterious but you get used to it.

So there we have it. A few game ideas for when you just want some piece and quiet. No saving the world for me today. I’m already far too busy

Any other first levels you wouldn’t mind becoming last game levels?

Let me know in the comments below

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Can’t get a PS5?

Can’t get a PS5? Me neither.

Don’t worry your not the only one. I have spent much more time than I would like to admit trawling websites, hoping to spot one out in the wild or stalking the PS5UK Twitter streams in the hope that I may be one of the very, very few that actually manages to grab one of these new shiny console’s before they are either all snapped up by bots or by those lucky few that just happen be on the website at the right time.

I don’t even know why I want one, I really don’t. Just caught up in the hype. It’s not like I will suddenly overcome my aversion to Dark Souls. I don’t have the capacity to die over and over again, just to learn and be a tiny bit better next time. Plus and this is probably what’s really stopping me is with everything else seemingly released on the PS4 I know I should just wait until the consoles are readily available and there is something I want to play.

So as I given into the fact that I will playing on the PS4 for some time yet, I decided to do an inventory of all the PS4 games that I have played over the last six years and make a note of what I should play and in doing that I had a little run down memory lane. As I looked across old saved files and trophies half forgotten I remembered all the good times I had with the PS4 and remembered some of the more obscure games that had been forgotten, not just by me but maybe the gaming community as well. So I thought as I had the time and a need to do something with my laptop that wasn’t refresh Twitter every few seconds I decided to create a list. A list of five PS4 games that you probably have in your backlog but, for reasons now lost to time, forgotten to play

Some maybe obvious some may make you shake your head but, at least I am not on Twitter πŸ™‚

Mad Max.

You forgot it even released on the PS4 didn’t you? It’s okay, until about six months ago I had forgotten it existed as well – I guess that’s what happens when you release your game on the same day as Metal Gear Solid V: The Forgotten Pain. It is however a solid RPG with decent fight mechanics, excellent driving and an open world that feels somehow alive despite being very, very desolate and you have a pretty decent game. With the added Cherry on the top of this once being a ”free” PS Plus game you to may have this one gathering dust in your digital library

Mad Max the forgotten king of the wasteland

Concrete Genie

Okay, I will forgive you for forgetting about Mad MAX an obscure title from a few years ago. The next title on my list; the wonderful Concrete Genie should not be such a blast from the past as it is currently one of the ”free” titles available this month with PS Plus subscription and a good game it is. It has been in my ”about to buy” list more times than I care to remember and yet despite numerous good reviews, I just didn’t get round to picking it up. Yet I am more than happy to be playing it now. Its a wonderful contrast to the grey, overcast days we are currently experiencing here in the UK, a colourful bolt of light in our grey days. It’s a game where all you do is create, to bring back to life an old derelict shipping village with the help of genies you create using the PS4 as a magical paint brush. It’s a lovely tonic for the soul, With no death, no fighting and nothing in the way of stress.

Firewall Zero Hour

Can you sense a pattern emerging with my picks? Yes you guessed it this is another game that was once, back in years past available through PS Plus. Don’t worry though as Firewall Zero Hour is completely different from the other two. This is a PSVR game. Don’t groan. It’s really good. I promise. If your into team communication and like shouting out strange army words like ”spector inbound” and are not surprised when random strangers shout out ”’GO, GO, GO ”for the 27th time in row then this is a game for you. The only caveats to enjoying it are A; having a PSVR headset and B; Having the Aim controller. This game was made for the Aim controller in mind and it really shows, the level of immersion is simply stunning it will have you thinking your in the military in a matter of minutes.

Abzu

The next game up on our list isn’t a shooter, doesn’t have you driving through a wasteland fighting to survive or even have you trying to reconnect with your community. It also has not been ( as far as I know) ever appeared on PS Plus but it is a completely delightful and utterly beautiful experience. Abzu is a game created by one of the creators behind the excellent Journey and if you have played that then you will know what kind of game this game is . For this is a game about starting again. About tranquillity, about peace. Maybe even the meaning of existence. Well at least that’s my take on it, on what I make of the story. The game world has been overpopulated to the point of extinction and that is exactly what has happened. Most things on what I think is Earth have vanished. You are a part of the last few reaming people left on Earth and your task is to see, what’s in the sea. A Sea that as first, is quiet, with only a few shoal’s of fish swimming here and there but as you progress through the game you are able to unlock various different species of fish (and some mammals) and as these new species are added to the game they add an extra array of colour and variety to the levels that truly has to be seen to be believed. A bit of sunshine on a grey day

The Order 1886

The most controversial game on this list by a long way. I don’t blame you for not playing it. It is a wildly indifferent thing, a deeply conflicted thing. The negatives are many it has; dodgy AI, indifferent character controls, a beautiful look but don’t touch world, sluggish pacing and too many other negatives to name, but it has some positives as well; it is utterly gorgeous to look at, a story that’s good when it get’s going, characters that are for the most part well rounded and cut scenes that are a thing to behold, they really are a thing of beauty. Yes the gun-play maybe be dodgy and the game may finish just as you start to get invested in it but, I left wanting more. I wanted the story to continue and that is why it’s in this list, plus it’s got werewolves, who doesn’t love a werewolf story?

Any on this list take your fancy? Any recomendations you can give to me?

Let me know in the comments below

P.S I am not actually allowed to play Firewall anymore. I live in a flat and apparently my neighbours don’t like it when a grown man screams out” Alpha, Tango, Charlie. GO. GO GO” at four in the morning

P.P.S Haven’t actually completed Concrete Genie yet, so if the cute little Genie creatures turn out to be a murderous horde conjured up from another dimension – you have been warned πŸ™‚

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Cybercade

I don’t know where I am. I know, I’m not at home. It’s dark. I’m alone, woken up yet I’m somehow not in my bed, Suddenly, I hear a beat, an infectious rhythm that takes over my senses and as my feet tap and my head moves in time with the synth-wave soundtrack now taking over my body, my eyes close. closing more in the hope that the next time I open them again, everything will be back to normal. I will be back at home in my bed, this strange dream coming to and end. Of course I know it won’t, Nothing can save me now. I’m trapped. I know it. As I open my eyes this time, they readjust to the gloom and I notice the things I didn’t see before. I see the GUNS!

Dear reader this isn’t the start to some sc-fi novel this is is my imagined intro into the game VR game Cybercade. A game I just stumbled across on the Sidequest store. Now back to the guns!

As my focus settles upon them I notice that there are three to choose from a small pistol, a larger comedy type pistol and something that looks very much like an Uzi. So with my selection made ( always the Uzi) I move onto to selecting one of the two difficulty options casual or standard. I always choose casual as this gives me unlimited lives but, for the more advanced player there is a standard mode that gives you only three lives, Now it’s onto the level select, With the game being not yet a finished product we are promoted to play any of the four available levels in any order they range from a Robot Factory to a Night Market. Each level is displayed in a futuristic neon style. The neon lights seeming to dance in time with the beat as you move from section to section, shooting against a seemingly never ending swarm of enemies. All sworn to one code. That you must be killed and so the battle rages. You against the robots, the machine, the odds, even the occasional flying car.

Luckily you have one trick up your sleeve. You see this game is playable on the Oculus Quest and this is where this game comes alive. Without the distraction or limitations of a traditional gaming set up you are free to move out of the way of gunfire, to hide behind walls, to crouch behind cover. You will need this advantage as the game is unrelenting in it’s pursuit of your death. Bullets fly at you in a fury, you will need to duck, dodge and even weave to make it out alive.

It’s a game to make you hot, to make you sweat but also one to make you smile. It’s a lot of fun. It reminds me most of Time Crisis. the gameplay follows the same formula. You shoot, you hide. They shoot they hide. It’s an interesting title that I am really looking forward to seeing the final version off.

Have you tried Cybercade? Did you know you can online with a friend?

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The Last Campfire

Afternoon. As we all know the only way to finish something is too start it. So with eyes firmly closed, finger hovering over the X button on the Dual Shock controller I took the plunge and picked a random game from the backlog to play.

That game dear reader was none other than the Last Campfire. A puzzle platformer from the mind’s at Hello Games. The developer responsible for No Man’s Sky.

The Last Campfire has you controlling a small, adorable creature called an Ember and you must control this Ember as he or she makes there way through the between worlds a kind of limbo, as you progress through this Limbo you will come across others of your kind. Others who have become lost along their own journeys and in becoming lost have given up all hope of ever reaching their goal, with there hope having left them they become Forlorn. These Forlorn are shells of their former selves. With their hope now lost, they have given up completely and now sit as still as stone, waiting for the end.

Fear not for these little creatures though as it is up to you as you progress through a magical land of giant talking frogs, enormous pigs that want nothing but to eat, eat and eat again and sad fisherman to find each lost Ember/Forlorn and try to restore their hope. To help them toward their goal.

It sounds easy, doesn’t it? All you have to do is find a cute little blue thing and make them happy again. If only it was this easy for each tiny Ember has locked their hope away in the form of a puzzle a puzzle that must be solved for the Ember to be free. The puzzles are not generally that hard and generally fall into a few categories: they either involve you manipulating light, manipulating water or steam or a mixture of all the above. There are a few that break from that tradition but I won’t spoil them for you hear. The puzzles are fun, light hearted and are for everybody. There is nothing Witness-esque in these puzzles they are all taxing up to a point and family friendly

The main problem I had with the game was just finding each of the puzzle rooms, there is a light story current running through the game and whilst the world created does feel alive with characters that have made a home for themselves in this this world between worlds. Embers that have not yet fallen into the trap of becoming Forlorn and loosing their hope, will stop and talk to you as you go about your day, Other creatures that happen to live in this world, will ask you for favours or just add a bit of background colour and all this does help create a vibrant world that does feel alive but, I just couldn’t navigate it very well. I am sure this is down to my own stupidity. I have a terrible sense of direction but, I just felt that the guidance to some of the more obscure puzzles could have been a bit easier to navigate.

Over all this is a lovely game. One me and my wife were happy to devote an evening too and did I mention the Platinum trophy at the end of it? No, well let me just say that this game has a very, easy Platinum we were awarded it simply by playing the game as we would normally do – that may explain why some of the puzzles were a bit out of the way. But it’s very easy none the less. We didn’t have to do anything silly like complete the game twice or complete all the puzzles whilst standing on our heads. No special instructions needed just make sure you get all of the Forlorn in each game world. There will be a count of how many you need in the campfire around each level. It’s not many something like seven in each game hub. With the rest of the trophies being story based.

Have you tried the Last Campfire?

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Paper Beast PSVR Demo

A demo for the PSVR game Paper Beat has just made a quiet appearance onto the demo section of the EU PS store and as it was something I have always been eager to play but never quite eager enough to pay money for, I was more than happy to play what turned out to be the opening section of the game for free.

Was It worth a download?

Yes and yes again, I am so glad . The demo is an absolute delight to play. You start off in what feels like a very closed in space with curtains closed around you blocking you from seeing the outside world which did make me feel quite tense but, as you tear the curtains down you realise that you weren’t in a box or a closed in space at all but you were in fact sitting in between the legs of a giant origami beast. I think it’s an Origami diplodocus Its an incredible sight and as my jaw hit the flaw I looked around the world I now found myself in and was completely amazed, the environment looks beautiful, a stunning little world populated with other origami animals that seem to be living their own independent lives, paying no notice to the player, unless you interact with them first, in the initial few minutes I came across some small white origami animals that paid me no notice but, I was able to pick them up ( they all seem to be made from paper) or offer them fruit from an origami tree. With the fruit I was able to get some of the animals to follow me around the level, like a dog chasing a toy and that really helped make me feel immersed in the world. Soon the large origami animal called me back to it’s side and As I followed it through the level I realised that I had given it a name – It’s Bonie. we walked for a few more minutes and came across what looked like a hole. A hole which in true gaming fashion turned into sink hole as soon as I jumped into it. Thankfully – just as I started to panic a storm raced through it, from the bottom turning what was a hole into a climbable pit with letters streaming out of in a Tornado effect I soon managed to climb out of this hole, which lead me to realise I had lost my friend. Where was Bonie had they vanished, fallen in the hole? Was it all part of the game – had I missed something? Thank fully I soon heard a low mewing sound and was soon reunited with my friend. Sadly my happiness at being reunited was soon turned to fear my heart soon dropped as with the storm suddenly raging again Bonie usherd me into a cave. Thinking that we would be save in here, I started to relax and look for somewhere to make a fire – I was really immersed! Only to hear a shuffling sound behind me I turned around to see what the noise was only to see Bonie blocking up the opening of the cave with a giant border.

This is where the demo ends

Please let me know if you have also played the demo and want to get the full game?

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The Last of Us Part 2

This is my first impression of the opening few hours of the Last of Us part 2.

I will try and stay away from spoilers as much as possible.

My first impression of the the Last of Us 2 is one of my complete ore this game is a thing of beauty. A true masterpiece, Considering that I am playing on an old PS4 with a standard HD television this game is a thing of wonder, a technical masterpiece and in my opinion the new bench mark for AAA gaming.

It’s not just good the environments that look good though. The forests feel alive, lived in with trees and bushes gently swaying in the wind with realistic water effects in the streams and brooks. The streets feel abandoned. You can feel nature reclaiming the world as buildings are slowly covered in vines and mould appearing on walls. Every apartment block or house showing signs of rushed exits, the detritus of lives lost hanging in the air like ghosts, their dreams never to be realised. This all gives you the player a real sense of place in the world. This is a world almost lost to humanity a place where every fight could be your last and anyone you love could be taken from you in a second. I don’t think I have played many other games where the sense of finality hangs above every conversation, every movement, where a stumble or a misplaced shot could prove your last as you alert a horde of the affected to your whereabouts. The world is a scary place full of dangers. It will at times get your heart racing and your blood pumping

This isn’t the only world you feel a part of though as developer Naughty Dog have seemingly thought of us real players as well and included the biggest set of accessibility options I have as yet seen in a game. You can change everything to your liking. Want more ammo but don’t want too hard of a challenge in the rest of a game you can tweak just that. Want your team mates to take charge in the fights? Sure tweak that, or are you more gung ho do you want to be the first to fire that shot or get the first stealth kill? Great you can tweak that. Basically what I am saying is this. This isn’t the standard easy, normal or hard modes everything can be changed to your play style. You can highlight collectibles if you want and you can even play if you are partially sighted by setting sounds for different types of enemies. Its an increbible achivment in accesibility and I hope one the gaming community takes up en mass.

So far the games in incredible I just hope the remainder can hold up to my initial few hours with it. Have you played it yet?

House of the Dead Remake

You know your getting old when all the movies, TV, shows and songs you used to love as a child start being remade for a new, younger generation. Now it seems I am old enough for my favourite video games to get the remake treatment as well. I thought I was safe. how could you remake a classic? Games are different than most other media, a video game can be a classic no matter how it looks, it is all in the way the game feels – not how it looks.

Well, It appears I was wrong, as House of the Dead, one of the greatest light gun games ever made is now getting the remake treatment. Sadly it won’t be returning to the arcades. It will however be making it’s way to the little console that could.

The Nintendo Switch

Yes, the Nintendo Switch not my first choice to play a new House of the Dead game, no my first choice would be any of the VR headsets. Imagine playing House of The Dead in VR, maybe on the Oculus Quest. with the two controllers working as your guns – without any wires. Yes the VR way would be the way to go. Wire free and terrifying. Still if the Switch is the only way I get to play a new House of the Dead I guess I will have to take it. I will just have to get over how old I feel as I run through as I play as either as I run through the spooky mansion playing as either agent Thomas Rogan or the king of House of the Dead G.

Of course when I play I will pretend it’s 1996, the original on-rails shooter has just realised and I’m still young. All I need is a large collection of 50 pence pieces and the room sweater than hell, with a smell to match

My Favourite average games

Sometimes, lighting strikes, a game is released and guess what – it’s as good as you hoped it would be, everything is just perfect. It becomes one of your favourite games of all time, and your friends secretly wish you would talk about something else. Other times, it just isn’t meant to be – lightning doesn’t strike. The game isn’t anything you wanted it to be. We grieve, we get over it and grow. Other times it’s as if the world does really want it to be a great game – it tried, you can see it, in the artwork, which is quite good, the soundtrack which is average, the story again is not bad and ever the artwork is okay, in fact everything is almost right. It is as if the pot was taken of the stove half an hour too early and what could have been a wonderful meal is a half cooked but edible stew. These are the games I want to talk about today.

The average games. the seven out of ten games. The try hard, the want to be betters and yet somehow, someway they never managed it

Altered Beast

Originally releasing in 1988. Everyone thought Altered Beast was the best. well, at least pre-teen me did. It was the first game I got with my Mega Drive and simply dazzled me. You start of as a man, a weak, silly man. It’s only as you progress through do you collect coloured orbs, the first makes you stronger, the second turns you into Arnold Schwarzenegger, muscles suddenly popping out of your body and by the third things start to get really interesting. Now depending you on your level your character will transform into anything from a werewolf to a Dragon. I was transfixed, mesmerised. Maybe it was because I was so rubbish at it. I never completed it. It took me until my twenties to discover it again and it was only then did the full averageness of the game look back at me. It was hard, bosses and enemies are cheap, hitting you easily and sometimes off screen. It’s a game made for arcade, made for 10p pieces. It has everything an average game wants to be. It sounds average, it looks worse. It’s only calling card is ”welcome to your Doom” screamed by the end of level boss. It wanted to be more, but everything is just so okay

Zool. Another of my ”favourite” Mega Drive games. Zool. It was a game released to a market that had fallen in love with Mario and Sonic and the developers wanted a piece of that money pie. Zool is a patchwork tapestry of good ideas taken from other developers better games. It’s as if the game has been made by a committee, you worked along a checklist. One would shout ”Sonic goes fast” and so a team would be told to make sure that Zool ran fast, another would shout ”he has to jump” Someone would have to make sure there has to be platforming sections. ”It has to be colourful” another would squawk and so the game got it’s colours, it’s very, very bright colours. There we go another very average game. He’s also a Ninja – that’s quite coolish. I guess

Desert Strike A long time ago, before EA were, well the EA they are today they released a few games with a similar theme. The theme was war and the way EA chose to get their message across was to have the player fly as attack helicopter. Somewhere in the Desert you attacked various enemy bases, starting easily enough, you in your attack chopper against a few soldiers but quickly ramped into you attacking various. heavily armed bases, full of enemy attack helicopters and homing missiles. It was also very, very bland. From the boring desert setting to the average look of the bases and helicopters. It was all very… fine. There are three games in the trilogy all taking you to various other places around the world. They might be better, I think they might be just as average though

The Order 1886. I have a soft spot in my heart for the 1886. It was a dream that was just too big. It was almost, nearly great. It just all feels, too shiny, far to polished, it’s only problem is that it doesn’t have much going underneath the beautiful hood. Still it’s worth a play if you have a few spare hours. Even if it is just to look at the gorgeous character models. Just look at that gorgeous crowd. Such a shame. Maybe it needs a re-release?

Ryse. Another simply stunning game and another with not much going on underneath its hood. This was probably made just to show off the power of the Xbox One (and maybe to get you to buy a Kinect) It is simply stunning. I think you could play it on one of the newer consoles and you simply wouldn’t know it was from the previous generation – it looks that good. It’s almost a good game as well. The story is okay, you play as a Roman centurion sent to put down the raids of the Celts in the north and it shows you making your way through various different enemies in various different settings. All look wonderful but, all suffer the same fault, there is outside of a few different set pieces, nothing to do in any of these settings outside of killing a large number of enemies you will all attack in a few of the same ways, who you will kill in the same way, once you have beaten them down with the your sword or spear you will be asked to do a ”kill” move, wonderful at first but quickly as there is only about five different moves they will become boring and so as you travel through the world, slowly your brain will tune out and you will sit gazing at the pretty world as you occasionally cover in dead bodies. Again if you haven’t played it, you could do worse πŸ™‚

Any games, that are very, thoroughly average and yet really stuck with you after all these years?

Is Days Gone ready for cult status?

Days Gone originally released on the the of April 2019, and yet somehow it feels like it’s a recent release. A game that somehow missed the cultural beat of its time and only now, found it’s market. Back in 2019 it was just another in a long line of Zombie based apocalypses, in a market already over saturated with them and suffered from some very cruel reviews in some of the bigger games publications. The game was simple, you either loved it or bounced straight of it. I was in the later camp. The game didn’t seem to do anything new. It felt over stretched, one good idea, stretched across a thin open world. The opening hours are quite dull, they were made to be suffered through and suffer is something you didn’t want to in a world that was under populated and quite generic. I quickly traded it in.

Then something happened. Sony decided that more people should play it. A PC release was announced, it joined the PS Collection on PS5 (with added 60FPS) and more importantly Sony decided to include it as part of April’s PS Plus selection of games. Soon a whole number of players, players who didn’t have to pay for it, started to play it and the reviews of the started to appear, people who hadn’t heard of it before now had the opportunity to play it. With the current, slow release of new games, people were able to give it the time the Sony Bend had wanted people to give to it. An old game became a fresh new game and I had to replay it. Here are my thoughts

Story

With Days Gone being a single player adventure the story really does have to keep invested and this is initially something Days struggles with after an opening cinematic and interesting opening level that teaches the controls, I had high hopes, I thought we were in for an interesting romp through a Zombie infested world. We are not. We spend the next tens of hours, being showing where camps our (camps are were survivors live) how to get jobs, how to drive around, how to put petrol in our metal horse ( motorbike) and so on. I can see why many people give up here. The first, maybe ten hours, just feel slow, boring and meandering with a completion rate of only 32% and that’s just the story none of the side content, Sony Bend should have thought more about making an interesting story from the beginning. I know players like to get a hang of the controls and the world around them before the hand holding ends, but it juts goes on so long here and it’s a shame as the story, eventually get’s good – even if it is very much a B-movie clichΓ© and you (now this is really silly) have to complete the game and then go back and play it again for a while before getting the true additional end. Crazy. It’s a very long time, perhaps 80 hours of game play and it feels like it. With games like Ghost of Tsushima and the Last of Us 2 being completable in around 40-50 hours. Days Gone is far, far too long

Gameplay

If the story is too long then the gameplay is just the opposite it sits perfectly within the games atheistic, there is not much variation, which isn’t great, but the genres template gameplay elements are all accounted for there are your fetch quests, the shoot this and shoot that quests, the save that survivor quests and shoot these others because we don’t like what they are doing quests. It does have one-stand out gameplay element though and that is the Hordes. Put simply the hordes are vast units of enemy freaks. Freaks being what the game has chosen to call Zombies. These hordes all act on the one-mind principle and can number anywhere up from a few dozen to a few hundred. Simply put they are terrifying as if you make a sound or one of them catch you, there is nothing you can do but run, jump on your motorbike and drive far away as hundreds of the undead run sever towards you hunting your blood. This is the standout element of the game and one that kept me coming back way after the credits had rolled. Now instead of running away I was over powered and could just about stay in front of the hordes. They hideouts becoming little more than playgrounds for me to practice my killing techniques. Would I let them chase me through a petrol station just to see how many I could kill with a well timed explosive or would I kill them with a timed bomb strapped to a petrol pump? It was a good time.

Characters Another place where a story based game can sink or swim is it’s characters. Days Gone is no different in this respect and as is the case with most of the games similar to this Days Gone’s characters are a real mixed bag. It suffers terribly by having a few of the main characters being nothing more than one dimensional beings you have the token religious Zealot, the crazy cult leader and others that simply want nothing more than endless bloodshed. It is somewhat redeemed by the main characters bromance with his best friend and his relationship with some minor characters but in the whole, the cast is hard to love. Although the voice work is excellent.

Graphics First played on the original PS4 the game struggled to run as the developers intended. A point I think that also serves for other PlayStation big hitters like God of War and Ghost of Tsushima. Simply put all three of these games look good on the standard PS4 but on the PS5 they simply shine. I wouldn’t recommend you buy a PS5 just to play these games but the addition of 60FPS is a real game changer in these titles that demand quick reflexes the fight’s in all three now feel silky smooth and look wonderful. In the case of Days Gone the sight of 400 freakers now streaming down a hill towards you is terrifying. I almost wished that they would suffer a bit of a slowdown similar to how I first saw them on the PS4. The rest of Days looks great. Its set in Oregon in the United States a world of open pastures, mountain tops and waterfalls. It all looks lovely. A place you could almost go on holiday too. As long as you got rid of the Zombies first.

Conclusion I still don’t know how I feel about the game. I can’t fully recommend it, it is far too long. But if you have time for it. It could be worth it, its something you could go back to, dip in and out a horde here a mission there. However I would be interested in playing a sequel if it’s ever announced.

On a side note. It is a very easy ( if long) platinum trophy. You don’t even need to complete the game more than once:)

E3 is back and this time it’s virtual

E3 is back and this time it’s virtual

E3 one of the biggest conventions in the gaming world is back and this year, it’s being streamed for free. Will you watch it?

As we know many publishers will chose this convention running from the 12th to the 15th of June to show of their latest games. Many of which will be released over the next 12 months and many more that will have a great trailer and then for whatever reason never see the light of day (here’s looking at you Prey 2).

Still with many publishers including Nintendo, Xbox, Ubisoft, Konami already saying that they will be taking part. We can expect the usual clamour of fan boys and girls, screaming and crying over their beloved franchise maybe getting a reboot only this over the internet.

Still with no paywalls and no VIP packages this could be the way E3 goes ahead in the future.

I shall be sitting here hoping for another tiny glimpse of the Perfect Dark remake. Like the good little fan boy I am.

Five games for when you are short on time

Games are great aren’t they? They let you escape to places you will never visit, be someone you could never be and have powers more in common with fiction than reality. In short games are great aren’t they? In fact, one of the only criticisms you can really lay on Video Games is that they aren’t the greatest respecters of the players time. Even then you could say that a lot of that is based on the price vs time spent playing a game that some people use to say wether or not a game is worth their time.

Still, sometimes it’s good to sit down and know that your going to complete the game you have your eye on and not in hundreds of hours, not in tens of hours but simply in a few.

Here are some of my favourites:

Firewatch is primarily this game is about the day job, The job of looking out for wildfires in one of America’s National Parks, about telling off stupid adults as they litter or get drunk and then go swimming. It’s also more than that, it’s about loneliness, about finding yourself in the middle of nowhere, it’s about solving a mystery, starting again and helping others. Through the game you will only talk to one other person and that person you will only ever talk to over a radio, and yet even though you will never see them ,you will fuse a bond so strong, that it will feel like you have known them for a life time. It also helps that the game is utterly gorgeous to look at and doesn’t punish you for just walking, just taking it all in. For loosing yourself in your surroundings

A lovely view
It’s cold down here

Dear Esther

Be careful with this one. Again, on paper it’s another game picked from the walking simulator genre. In reality it’s a game about loss and depression about wanting it all to be over. This is not a happy game – at least I didn’t find it to be. I played it one New Years Eve as everyone I knew was out partying, I was sat at home, not feeling great and feeling very sorry for myself. Not the state you want to be when you start this game. It starts hopefully enough. You are just walking about a small Island taking everything in. It’s nice tranquil, the perfect game to play, when you’re not feeling your best. It’s only later, once the story starts to kick in, does the game start to begin. It’s not very happy. However it is a great game and one that you should be played. Just know that you won’t come away laughing.

Portal.

Time to walk away from the sad train now. Time to test our brains and what better way to do that then by playing the ever popular and still brilliant Portal. Yes it may be old now and yes I have only just completed it but, is it ever still as witty, original and striking as you remember. It’s one to get out and play whenever you have a few spare hours and fancy firing that Portal gun again.

Sayonara Wild Hearts

Like many people I accidently completed this game in one sitting and like many people I didn’t mean to. The game is simply fun to play and very short. In fact I think it is only about an hour and fifteen minutes long. Perfect for when you want a gaming fix but don’t have time to dedicate anything longer This game is simply popcorn. Gaming popcorn, it’s bright, colourful and if you could eat it, would probably contain noting good for you. It’s just a good time, with a catchy soundtrack.

Superhot

Superhot Another game that can be completed in an hour or one that could take over your entire gaming life as you try and get all the achievements/ trophies available. It’s a game with a striking look and a singular game mechanic. The elevator pitch is simple. Time only moves when you do. If you stand still nothing happens. It’s only when you move, do your opponents move. At first its startling as you try and get to grips with the controls you die. You die a lot. But, just when you think you will never get it, something clicks. Your brain starts to understand how the game wants to be played. You limit your movements. You play more aggressively. You learn, if you get hit by anything from a first to a snooker cue you die. One hit. Game Over. Then you move up a level. You improve the way you play. You realise this isn’t a game about killing everyone in the room. The room is a puzzle, yes you the objective is to kill and kill again but you can’t go in guns blazing, that’s not an advantage you have. The Advantage you have is time, time to pick your shot, to think about your next move, learning the room to perfection and then striking like a Shark.

If you have anything to add to this list please do πŸ™‚

#MaybeinMarch: Star Wars Battlefront 2

Thanks to an excellent prompt by the wonderful bloggers at Later Levels – XP comes with age and #LoveYourBacklog 2021: My Stuff! – Visceral Video Game Gabbing (aceasunder.com) a prompt that wanted you too finally, finally complete the oldest game in your gaming collection. I finally took the chance to play the, (quite good) Star Wars: Battlefront 2.

Star Wars: Battlefront 2 isn’t the oldest game in the world having released in 2017 but it was the oldest game in my collection. A fact that was new to me. I thought I had much, much older games hanging around but somehow they have all been completed recently or were just too bad/hard to play through to the end. Somehow, I even managed to complete everything in my Steam Library! so Star Wars it had to be. Plus I gave myself a bonus backlog point for having this game still sitting on the shelf and still in it’s plastic wrapping. What a waste of money πŸ™‚

I like to think of this as somewhat of a stand against the gaming practices of the time. At the time of this games release it was common practice for games to release for full price ands then be stocked full of micro transactions. Micro transactions that directly helped you win the game. Completely giving players a pay-to-win mentality. A practice that I don’t enjoy. I had also heard that the single player campaign wasn’t all that good and so at the time I decided to give it a miss. Until now

Playing the game in 2021 the games a different beast. The dreaded micro-transactions have vanished, I am happy to announce and so we players are free to entertain ourselves in any way we see fit whether it be in large all out large scale wars of up to 40 players or smaller scale matches between just a few players or if you fancy playing as one of the heros or villains of the franchise you can either in specially made hero’s vs Villains matches or in the sky for the game lets you take to the universes sky’s as well this time letting you pilot all of the universes greatest ships from the X-Wing to the Millenium Falcon there all here and mainly available from the start and that’s what makes the multiplayer compotent of this title so fun to play. Nothing is hidden behind a paywall now. It lets you play with all of it’s toys from the start. Yes some of the heros and Villians may only be available in the main multiplayer compartment after a few kills and a few points are added to your score but, it’s nothing like what it was before. Now you don’t need to pay to win, you don’t need to get the credit card out have a good time. The only thing stopping you from winning is your skill and of course the squad level of your team. Remember” a good squad sticks together”

If only the single player section was as good as the multiplayer part. It simply isn’t. It’s not as if the title doesn’t try. In fact so much has been put into the presentation that I almost feel sorry for EA and DICE. the game sounds as you would want a Star Wars game to sound the sound effects are perfect, everything sounds as if you are in the Star Wars universe the blaster bolts have the same sound as in the movies and the lightsabre’s fizz and hiss perfectly through the air – a simple childhood fantasy made real. It’s just a shame that the game suffers from a very generic story and the characters are mostly from the uncanny valley school of videogame characters. Although I would like to say that Iden Versio the main protagonist voiced and modelled on Janina Gavankar looks incredible. Still for as good/slightly scary looking as the title is and even with perfect sound effects the game is still missing something and I think it’s missing a core. It is all very mechanical, all very much by the numbers. It’s a game that takes no risks, no chances. Its as if the developers made a decision to make sure it ticked all the Star Wars references. With every box ticked they forgot to breath life into their creation. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster without that one important ingredient. They forgot to give it life, that one spark of electricity, the electricity of life is missing

Until You Fall and the broken finger

When done right a good VR game is a wonderful medium for helping you utterly forgetting your troubles. A good VR game can transport you from your here and now to new worlds. Worlds coming to live as never before. Simply put a good VR game can be transformative, immersive, and alive. The sense of just ”being there” in a good VR game is simply staggering. Your current surroundings forgotten as the drama now playing out in front of your eyes becomes your reality, an emersion so all conquering that your mind is tricked, tricked into believing what ever is front of you is in front of you. The shots being fired, are being fired at you, the monster stalking through the rooms of the abandoned house that up until now you have been quietly exploring is hunting and you are it’s prey, it has you in it’s sights and the sword fight you are currently in – really is a sword fight. You have just blocked a strike from your enemy and now you, about to be the saviour of the realm, must strike the killing blow. Saving your people from lives full of slavery and pain

The only thing is. It’s not real. As my hand flew through the air, grip tight on my sword. I didn’t make the killing blow – didn’t save the world from a deadly foe. No the only thing my virtual sword connected with was my bookcase. I hit it. Full force. For a second I didn’t know what had happened, what had gone wrong? My mind was confused. Why was my enemy still standing, still breathing, still looking at me? Then reality kicked it. The pain shot into my hand, straight into my finger and immediately started to throb. It tore my headset of, stared in disbelief as my ring finger started to throb, swell and as I started to bend it- to check the damage I let out a little yelp. The pain ,was agony. Now as I type this, with one finger

I realised something

That’s the secret to what makes a good VR game the sense of ”being there” and that’s exactly what Until You Fall, the current release from Schell Games gives to us, budding saviours of the realm that we are. With it’s realistic sword fighting, magical combat. It’s strange neon lit world where enemies wait for us with their swords drawn in a neon hellscape that they have made their own. We must fight our way to freedom. You will start with nothing. You will die but every run you will improve. Your weapons will get better, your spells will grow with you and as you battle this seemingly never ending stream of neon monsters you will always have a smile on your face.

Just remember to clear your play space. I don’t want you to break your finger too πŸ™‚

Doom 3 is coming for VR

Somehow even though I have always been a big fan of the series. I have never played Doom 3. It was an error I had always meant to correct. A hole in my gaming knowledge that I needed to fix and yet for some reason, a hole I have never got round to filling. I had various excuses firstly the game wasn’t great, it didn’t control well, it was too dark, it needed a very, very expensive PC to run it and a whole other host of excuses I had given to myself over the years to justify my non-play.

Yet as these excuses were slowly fixed, the game was released on the XBox, PS3 and eventually the PS4, the ability to hold a torch was added in so you didn’t have to choose between being able to see or being able to shoot, for some reason I still couldn’t take the plunge. Had the game in my basket on numerous occasions on various different consoles and still couldn’t take the plunge. Something always held me back a little voice in the back of my mind always telling me to ”wait”

Now I know why. I held back because it’s coming to VR and (fingers crossed) it’s going to be amazing. The final and best way to play this game. After all who doesn’t want to scream into a headset as they curl up in a tiny ball on the floor, watching in disbelief in a CyberDemon tears you in half

It’s going to be amazing. Plus you can use your Aim controller on the PSVR

Face your nightmares in Doom 3: VR Edition for PS VR – PlayStation.Blog

Games for when you want to relax

Sometimes all you want to do is relax. Kick back, put your feet up and forget about your troubles. And you know what that’s fine. We all have day’s like that.

It’s just that when I have a day like that I still want to play video games and these are my favourites

Flow. Originally released as a free flash game in 2006 by Jenova Chen to accompany his masters degree . Flow was then reworked and given a full release in 2007 by his development company; thatgamecompany. Flow is a simple game about the Flow of life about starting out as almost nothing. A tiny entity that can be eaten by almost any of the other, slightly bigger entities that inhabit the same space as you, Not enemies but simple beings that happen to live in the same space as you. As you play through the game taking other beings into you as you go through the game you grow ever so larger you become more able to defend yourself, more likely to stay alive. Less likely to be attacked or need to attack and as this happens the game changes, evolves with it and becomes less about survival and moves into a more relaxing experience, a more tranquil experience. The games ”final form” sees it slowly morphing into a meditative experience full of wonderful colours and an incredibly ambient music. It hits a switch somewhere in my brain and I just sink into the flow experience an experience that stays with you long after the game has been completed. link here Welcome to Flow in Games (jenovachen.com)

Seyonara Wild Hearts Now for a game with a little bit more action Seyonara Wild Hearts is a game that will have you running, flying, dancing and even skating through psychedelic pop worlds filled with colours. Bright, neon colours all bursting at the seems to pop out of their world and into yours. Yes Seyonara is a bit similar to an endless runner but, you will forgive it as an intriguing story that is coupled with a fantastic soundtrack that makes you want to see what’s around the next corner making the end of the game come a lot sooner than you expect. Your time will be short, the games only as long as the average music album but it will leave a bubble gum flavour on your tongue that will have you humming the soundtrack long after the credits have rolled.

Available on PS4 and Nintendo Switch

We Love Katamari is probably the most bonkers game on this list. It’s probably the most bonkers game on any list- It’s nuts. Originally released on the PS2 a long time ago. In an era when Vib-Ribbon was king and games like PaRappa the Rapper weren’t seen as strange relics from another time but games people were exited to play. We Love Katamari was something of an oddity even then, for it’s a game all about collecting things and I mean ALL of the things. It was all the fault of a God – isn’t it always! they had accidentally( after a drinking binge) destroyed the universe or something like that. And you playing as his son has to put it all back together – Actually I don’t really think the story counts. Just know that’s it’s as bonkers as the rest of the game and go with it. Soon you will be given your ball. A magic ball to help you on your quest. Your quest to pick up everything. Everything and anything. For example a level could have you starting out with your ball looking quite small, small enough to only pick up the tiniest of objects but as you pick up these objects they won’t be swallowed by the ball but become stuck to it making the ball bigger and as the ball grows larger in size you can pick up bigger things. A levels that starts with you collecting flowers will end with you collecting people, cows and even houses and as you go you can see all of the these different items pocking out of your ball in some sort of random order. If you fancy playing this little game of chaos a remake is out now on the Switch and PS4

Proteus A surrealist exploration game is something you don’t come across everyday but, today is that day and Proteus is that game. There are no goals in this game. The game’s only purpose is for you to wonder. Wonder around this magical island, watching the islands flora and fauna coming to life emitting dynamic shifts in audio as they go all based entirely on where you are, what your surroundings are and what season the game is currently in. it’s a lovely little experience, completion coming in about an hour. Currently available on most platforms

Journey I tried to not make this a thatgamecompany love in. But they make games that are so good, so relaxing and such fun to play I couldn’t leave this one out. Journey is game about discovery, about finding yourself and maybe even saving yourself and a game that I must admit I completely bounced of the first time I played it. I just didn’t get it. It wasn’t until maybe a year later when, on a whim I decided to reinstall it. to see if I could say what all the fuss was about, and I was so glad I did. For this time the game just clicked, it became more than a sand simulator. I suddenly didn’t want to rush to the end. Now I wanted to explore the land to see what was hidden just beneath the surface and there looking around me I stumbled across another play doing the same as me – just stumbling along enjoying their walk across the sand. Soon we walked to one another are separate walks became one, we fell into step. We couldn’t talk to each other. Journey doesn’t allow in-game communication. Until you complete the game you can’t even see the other players name, all it allows is for the player to make a small ”cheep” to get the other players attention but in that cheep we both found a way of connecting of somehow gathering together our shared experience of the game. The end goal became something for a later time what mattered to us was the Journey.

I still don’t know who the other player was and in some strange way I hope I never do. We have had all the time we needed to spend together.

Anything I have missed? I am sure there are loads πŸ™‚

I beat the Phalanx Demon, can I go home now?

Dear reader,

I just did something I didn’t think I would ever do. Something so out of character that if me from the future had popped in for a cuppa and told me what I did – I wouldn’t believe it. Let me tell you what I did and still, even as I type these words can’t quite believe

I KILLED A DEMON IN DARK SOULS!

I know, crazy right? It’s not something I ever thought I would do. I am just not a Soulsbourne kind of guy. If I’m honest, I am not even sure why I bought the game. But there it was staring at me from under the TV, silently mocking me. Telling me I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t play with the ”Big boys”

Until one day. The games, silent, relentless, completely imagined torment became too much and I said to myself ” I am going to do it, ”I am going to complete this game”

So I started my quest.

I moved very, very slowly. Even though I play the game as the royal class. A class that can shoot magic projectiles from it’s arms and one-shot kill most of the basic enemies, I was afraid. I had read about the game, I knew what to expect. I expected to be killed over and over again and then again. But I wasn’t dying, I wasn’t even in danger.

I put this down to two things. Neither of which have anything to do with my ability to play the game

The first is the notes that other players have left for you. Now I know what you’re thinking ” Soulsbourne” players being helpful” and yes I too was worried about following other players advice, I expected to simply follow the advice and die. Nothing more but, I was stuck I didn’t know what to, there seemed to enemies around every corner and I couldn’t seem to move forward so I took a chance, started to read their advice and wow, it’s really helpful. The game started to change for me. Notes like two enemies round the next corner, really helped my game. I could start taking chances, take more risks and really started to enjoy the game – well as much as you can enjoy a Soulsbourne title

The second was watching how previous players had died. Now bear with me, it’s not quite as morbid as it sounds. You see by selecting to view a blood stain on the ground you can see how a previous player has met their grisly end and these windows into another players world are really handy by seeing how another player has died you can try and avoid the same fait, either by not walking on that dodgy floor board, avoiding that falling boulder or just stay alive by not running into a group of enemies with your sword swinging as some people have a tendency to do. Its a great view and a great way to plan your attack

As I somehow made my way through the level I stumbled across the Phalanx Demon the areas big boss. I began my attack. Well it was more like it was attacking me for all I could do was roll, roll for my life. There was nothing else I could do wave after wave of the demons small shielded entities attached me. Basically small, aggressive blobs carrying shields and I couldn’t, for all the magic I throw at them, make a dent in their numbers.

Fire. Then I remembered a note I had read earlier in the game. It simply said ”FIRE” I frantically pulled up my inventory, searching for any kind of flammable objects, I came across the firebombs and hastily equipped them. Then started to throw them, panicking my first few missed the main bulk of the enemy but, luckily hit a bunch on the outside and as I wildly threw a few more bombs I realised that the ones I had killed hadn’t been replaced and now for a few seconds at least there was a chance, a small chance to get straight to the boss. I took my chance I ran towards the boss, wildly throwing bombs as I went, I hit home the Phalanx’s enormous health bar now only half full. I got cocky, I attacked and now took a hit my precious health bar slipped lower, I panicked throwing bombs for all I was worth. I took another hit and expected to die but, somehow I didn’t I looked up to the screen to see the Demon dissolve into nothing

Then the Adrenaline kicked in. I jumped from my sofa shouting for all I was worth. I had done it.

I had beaten a Demon Souls boss

All photo rights to Sony

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