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Our Week in Games – Week 138

Our Week in Games – Week 138

Resident Evil Village had finally dropped, to mostly good reviews. The more action-centric affair is building upon its excellent predecessor, to the apparent consternation of a group of ‘core’ fans; though I think the move is smart.  Having only played the demo I can only talk to this point so much, but the balance seems good. The atmosphere is electric and I’m constantly thinking ‘danger danger’. Bonus points for anyone who got that reference.

I will say though that the boxart for Village drives me mad- why the Dickins did they not align the lycan’s chin with his???! Gah. Board decisions be damned- someone needed to take a stand on this one. 1/10, completely unplayable.

In other gaming news, Hardspace: Shipbreaker has had it’s biggest update to, erm, date. Adding a whole host of quality of life adjustments and a crew (gadzooks!) to flesh out the story. This is one of those games that I know I will love. I know I should play, yet for some reason I have not, despite Nick’s Verdict from last year. Following this update I plan to rectify that.

Finally any hope of getting hold of an ever-elusive 30-series GeForce’s card was dashed last-month when nVidia announced that supply-disruption is likely to last until 2022. The fact that AMD haven’t been able to exploit this ‘lag’ speaks to a wider supply problem that I’m afraid probably extends past COIVD-related disruption. Personally I’m convinced that the PlayStation 5 and the 30-series are the adult-equivalent of the Tooth Fairy; you’re told they exist… but have you actually met anyone who’s got one…? Didn’t think so….

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Our Week in Games – Week 137

Our Week in Games – Week 137

As Chris crawls back towards the eternal light of games, he makes his triumphant return to Our Week in Games. Well, triumphant is an exaggeration for a handful of words. It’s a Bank Holiday Monday though, so read on and enjoy what the team have to share.

Chris

Among all the stress and effort of moving house, I was ready to settle in for a session of Outriders this week. The trouble was, a massive update was required.

So I booted up Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and focused on taking out one of the Cultists. There are so many strands to the RPG era of Assassin’s Creed games, and hunting down Cultists can be done through the main story or by yourself. While deciding to hunt one down for myself, I came across one of the millions of side quests, this time the One Really Bad Day quest line.

I don’t often remember many quests in Odyssey, but this one was a standout with a perfect blend of action and humour.

What a game.

Ross

This week I finally, finally got around to playing Arkane Studios’ Dishonored. And I have thoughts.

It’s the true successor to Looking Glass Studios’ immersive sims, most notably Thief, of which this feels like a spiritual sequel in many ways, from its sneaky gameplay to its strange fusion of industry and magic. I count those immersive sims as some of my absolute favourite games, so it’s a mystery as to why I’ve only now, almost a decade later, gotten around to playing Dishonored.

Because we’re basically made for one another…

…but we make an odd couple.

There is so much that I love about this game. I was compelled to complete it within days, which is likely the highest compliment I can gift Arkane Studios’ work. Dishonored is compulsively enjoyable; if its goal was to create the feeling of being a master assassin (which, yes, it was), then it succeeded. Life as Corvo Attano in Dunwall is one of supernatural power and it’s incredibly fun. It’s near seamless in its ability to create this perception of power, and each mission offers new opportunities to exercise it, from sumptuous masked balls to gaudy brothels.

Much has been made of Dishonored’s world-building. It’s true that it crafts a distinctive world with texture and grit, but I don’t think it ever truly digs beneath its own surface. At least not enough to matter. And world-building is no substitute for a compelling story filled with interesting characters, which is the game’s foremost shortcoming.

The story it tells is inadequate to the talents of those who penned it. There are some whip smart people behind this game, developers I love and respect – folks like Harvey Smith, Terri Brosius, and Austin Grossman. But somehow they mismanage the telling of this tale in a way that I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

It’s a story where nothing happens until two thirds of the way through, in an almost identical error in pacing to Bioshock. You know what that turning point is by virtue of the fact that, owing to a lack of development and character drama, only one thing can happen (for a lesson in how to avoid this, see the original Deus Ex).

It’s a problem with a lot of gaming narratives; they eschew the ebb and flow of drama that makes stories worth following in favour of piling everything into a single big twist, doing nothing either side of it. I’m astounded that the terrific folks behind this tale both got away with it and that gaming culture at large let them. Is it a problem with how we look at narrative in games? Maybe. But I really don’t think this is how it should be done.

It’s a shame; the premise is so good. It works its way to an effective and powerful final scene, but I find it hard not to feel disappointment at what that scene could have been if the game had bothered to do the dramatic legwork leading up to it. Of course, lots of people disagree with me, and that’s fine. I’m not trying to set myself up as some kind of arbiter on how things Ought to be Done. But I can at least try and convey how I feel, and I know I’ve experienced better than this by its genius developers.

Luckily for Dishonored every other part of it is exemplary. It’s a beautiful game, something like a water colour painting – clouds etched across the horizon, dazzling reds and oranges dusting a world made of blackened stone and rusting metal.

There’s more here that works than doesn’t, and it nails the bit that matters – namely the act of playing. With that, I’m looking forward to its sequel.

Our Week in Games – Week 135

Our Week in Games – Week 135

I’ll be perfectly honest, this week I’ve paid absolutely no attention to the gaming news, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that three things have definitely happened.

Firstly, a game featuring a gruff man carrying a large gun has been announced. The cover image is probably blue and yellow and there’s a colon in the title.

Secondly, another game everyone’s been excited about has sadly been delayed. The developers have said it’s definitely not been cancelled.

Thirdly, that Kickstarter you’ve been really excited about still hasn’t been completed yet. The developers were last seen driving very expensive cars and not updating the progress page on their website.

So now that we’re all caught up, what have we been playing this week?

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Our Week in Games – Week 133

Our Week in Games – Week 133

The football world was shocked this weekend when the Republic of Ireland were beaten by part-timers Luxembourg. The FIFA world however has been suffering numerous shocks in recent weeks with various investigations by the team at Eurogamer exploring issues with racist content, accusations of dodgy selling of Ultimate Team items. This week they are back with an investigation into the claims from EA that you can assemble a truly ultimate team without spending your hard earned money. The sums that some players spend on an annual basis are astonishing. Take a read of that deep dive here.

Chris

I’ve been working my way through Control on and off for a few weeks now. It’s a deeply unnerving game as you explore the weirdness of The Oldest House, but for the most part the missions themselves are fairly generic “go here and meet person x”, there are some really enjoyable moments in those missions, but the narrative drive isn’t as strong as it should be. However, this week I stumbled across the A Matter of Time side-mission, one which starts when you find a wounded trooper called Horrowitz who needs help from a medic stuck in a locked portion of The Oldest House. 

The nature of receiving a mission from someone other than a senior manager of the Federal Bureau of Control, or the mysterious Ahti was welcome, with an understandable tale of someone needing medical help, and you being in a position to help out. The mission itself had all of the elements that you would expect from Control with wild combat and weirdness. But I really did appreciate the natural story telling of this one.

Our Week in Games – Week 131

Our Week in Games – Week 131

For the first time in a few weeks, we don’t have any industry headlines to editorialise on. You can put the blame for that on our current Our Week in Games ghostwriter (hint, it’s Chris – Ed) having a massively busy week at work and not keeping track of gaming events at all.

But it’s a Sunday, so on with Our Week in Games.

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Our Week in Games – Week 130

Our Week in Games – Week 130

It was all set to be a fairly quiet week in the gaming world, but then further leaks about an enhanced version of the Nintendo Swich emerged. A larger, better quality screen (still at 720p) and support for 4K output are some of the headlines. An improved version of Nintendo’s all conquering handheld is undoubtedly good news as fans expect news of Breath of the Wild 2 to emerge at some point this year. Many key questions are outstanding though, namely how will devs support both flavours of the Switch moving forward, and will any older releases (especially the third-party ports) be updated to make use of the new console. More details are essential, but Nintendo will share news of this in their own way.

Back in Week 128 we touched on an excellent Eurogamer deep-dive into Xbox Game Pass. This week, Rob Fahey on GI.biz wrote a fine opinion piece which explores how Microsoft are continuing to establish Game Pass as the leading selling point of the Xbox family of consoles. It then highlight the many deficiencies of the PlayStation Plus offering, ranging from the limited number of games available and the foibles of having to download them each month to add them to your account. If you’re thinking about purchasing one of the new consoles at some point this year, it’s an article that might influence your buying decisions.

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Hitman – Locations We’d Like To See

Hitman – Locations We’d Like To See

With the recent release of Hitman 3 and IO Interactive’s acquisition of the James Bond licence, it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing any further adventures from everyone’s favourite barcode-ready assassin in the near future. Although it might be nice for Agent 47 to have a holiday – god knows he’s earned it – I can’t help but feel that there’s a world of locations that the hitter of men has missed out on.

Here’s a brief list of locations we never got to see. Maybe next time 47…

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Our Week in Games – Week 128

Our Week in Games – Week 128

What a week it has been in the land of video games. Nintendo snuck out with a Direct, the first full length on since the closing months of 2019. With Covid-19 impacting on Nintendo as much as any company, their 2020 range of Directs were of the Mini variety. The full 50-minute Direct led to much expectation of Bayonetta or Metroid news, but most principally people were expecting news of the next Breath of the Wild. All we got was an acknolwedgement that we’d hear more about Link’s next adventure later this year, and confirmation of an HD release of Skyward Sword. Safe to say fans were left disappointed, but for me I was more than happy to see a new Splatoon announced.

The other big news came from BlizzCononline at the end of the week, with more details of Dibalo 4 unveileved with the confirmation that The Rogue class will be returning to the series. That wasn’t all as Blizzard also revealed their HD remaster of Diablo II, an announcement sure to send fans wild.

If you’ve kept on top of the news, then you might want to satisfy your Sunday reading by taking a look at this deep-dive into Xbox Game Pass. It’s a brilliant piece from Chris Tapsell that debunks some of the myths that exist around Game Pass with plenty of developers chipping in with their own thoughts. If you have any interest in the industry as a whole, not just in playing games, it’s a worthwhile read.

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Our Week in Games – Week 127

Our Week in Games – Week 127

We’re in the depths of winter with snow flurries aplenty, the Six Nations underway and another inevitable saga around CD Projekt Red and continuing fallout from the release of Cyberpunk 2077. The events of the past week have seen claims of a massive hack of CD Projekt Red servers, and the potential sale of the stolen data. While the release of Cyberpunk was undoubtedly bungled, the hate and vitriol that has ensued casts the entire games industry in a negative light.

All is not lost though, and hopefully the tales of Our Week in Games offers some entertainment on this Valentine’s Sunday afternoon.

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