Hello and welcome to another Sunday here at The Reticule towers and another edition of Our Week in Games. My thanks go out to Kevin for taking charge last week when I was in the midst of a bout of man-flu and some serious interview prep. Surprisingly, this seems to have been a fairly quiet week with little in the way of over the top games industry dramas, no massive AAA releases and really, just a lot of sport with the World Cup, Tour de France and Test Cricket taking place.
I would like to point any London readers in the direction of the London Indie’s launch party which is being hosted by Shaz Yousaf and friend of The Reticule, Christos Reid. If you are in London tomorrow, try and get tickets, it should be fun.
You know, this weekly article we post is a great way for me to actually keep track of what i’ve been playing. Keeping well away from the (frankly terrifying) Steam backlog I have, it’s nice to look back at what I’ve been playing and why.
This week I am STILL playing the ‘heck’ out of Watch_Dogs. I just cannot get over the thrill of invading other peoples games and repelling those who invade mine.
Current favourite anecdote: I’m in the middle of a high speed police chase- having just fought off a criminal convoy with multiple waves of reinforcements when i’m informed that i’m being hacked. Now- bearing in mind i’d just been involved in a running gun battle across half the city with a bunch of criminals, that’s impressive in itself, but the fact that i’m now being chased by loads of cops complicates matters immensely. I slam on the breaks and head back to the indicated area with a conga-line of police following me.
What follows is a almost Python-esque farce of checking behind bins while exchanging fire with police coming at me from every angle. I get so desperate in fact that i’m using the grenade launcher to clear out groups of police (and the chopper…!) just to buy me time to search the area properly. I’m on a rooftop with the hack at 94% when I finally succumb to the torrent of fire coming in from the various, rather unhappy police officers.
Turns out the hacker had been hiding behind a fence not two meters from where i’d been searching. That took nerves of steel to stay there while I was firing blindly with a grenade launcher.
I lost, but what an experience. This is why I keep playing Watch_Dogs and why I gave it such a good review. Sure there are issues with it, but more often than not I come away with a new anecdote every time I play it. That’s special.
By the time you read this, I might have gone out and purchased a PlayStation 4 in a mad rush of glee at having some spare money in the bank. Knowing my track record of actually spending any worthwhile time with a console in the post-PlayStation 2 era, this might not be the best of plans. But I’m just crazy enough to do it! If I do, I will endeavour to write about my experience in the next Our Week in Games.
As I indicated at the top of this post, it has been quite a busy week or so for me and the games that I really want to talk about are going to have to wait until later this week. Needless to say, Sunless Sea is a wonderful game of exploration and zee-shanties. That is proving to be some great Early Access goodness while I’ve also taken the first tentative steps with Divinity: Original Sim post-launch and, after only an hour or so with the final release, it is looking just as good as I thought it would back in March.
I do want to briefly touch on GRID: Autosport here as I doubt I will be writing a full Verdict on it any time soon, though I might be able to squeeze in a mini-Verdict soon. I was a big of the original GRID when it was released six years ago as it provided a very enjoyable mix of racing styles without posing a full-on simulation racer experience. However, the release of Shift 2: Unleashed three years later opened my eyes a bit wider to how a game really should handle the trade-off between arcade racing and full-on simulation.
Looking back, it was a really strong racer, and it should be no surprise that developers, Slightly Mad Studios are working on the very promising Project CARS which looks set to go head to head with Assetto Corsa for the affections of racers this year. While those will dominate on the PC, on the consoles we have titles like Forza and Forza: Horizon 2 on the Xbox One and Gran Turismo and Drive Club on the Sony machine vying for attention.
This all leaves GRID: Autosport stuck as a relic of yesteryear. There are all the disciplines you would expect, with touring cars, drift vehicle, city racing, open wheel and endurance racing. They are all just too different and leave the game feeling like it has a split personality, especially as the career mode doesn’t follow a natural development curve that you will see in Project CARS. Crucially though, the handling is atrocious. With all the driver aids on, everything feels too dull for an arcade racer while when you turn them off, you are left with vehicles which have a lack of connection with the road. The touring cars work quite well without assists on, but the other categories are extremely flaky.
It intrigues me though, and I will probably try to spend some more time with it to further develop my thoughts. No promises though.