The current games industry isn’t set up to be friendly to the consumer, I’m not just talking about the new consoles, it’s the whole industry stretching from those new consoles to digital stores through to mainstream retailers. I don’t offer solutions, but merely to highlight some of the issues that are out there at the moment.
The world of VR gaming beyond Half-Life: Alyx isn’t really on my radar for a myriad of reasons, but what that lack of awareness means is that when a title like The Persistence comes along on the Switch, I can play it like a standard first-person horror without initially knowing that it was originally designed for both VR and standard play.
I adore the ocean, so whenever a game like E-Line Media’s Beyond Blue pops up, I’m right there. The video-game is an ideal medium for ocean exploration, capable of creating the illusion of a vast expanse of blue and its uncharted depths and evoking feelings of utter isolation, which can be felt as either peaceful or terrifying, depending on your inclinations.
For me, it’s often both. So, before I get into Beyond Blue itself, I’m going to dig a little into why video-games helped nurture those twin feelings of love and fear.
The remake game is a tricky business. If you change too much, you’re accused of betraying the spirit of the original; if you change too little, you’re accused of being slavishly devoted to it. Creative liberties or creative bankruptcy aren’t the only pitfalls, but they’re two of the biggest, and it’s a challenging tightrope to walk.
I first reviewed Dan Marshall’s Behold the Kickmen in 2017 on the PC, and absolutely loved it. Kickmen has now landed on the Switch, and with that I am re-publishing my original review with a few tweaks to take light of the changes for the Switch port.
I’ve talked at length about Behold The Kickmen in the past, and it’s finally here, on the Switch as well as the PC! You can pick it up on the Switch for less than the price of a pint at a real life football match…not that we’re ever going to be going to one of them again. But who needs to go to the football when this truly majestic little game exists, one that perfectly simulates the game of football*
Indie games are indeed everywhere, they’re no longer confined to the PC landscape with the three console manufacturers all expanding their investment in the indie gaming scene. So the news that two indie hits are coming to the Switch shouldn’t be surprising, but when it is Behold the Kickmen and Yes, Your Grace, I feel the need to let the world know that soon they will be landing on the Switch. …
The news of Assassin’s Creed Valhallah coming this year is wonderful, it’s just a shame that it isn’t making its way to the Switch. Ubisoft should do the right thing and grace the Switch with an exclusive.
It is unlikely to happen, Ubisoft are all in on the next generation with Valhallah, and I certainly wouldn’t be expecting a port of that to make its way to Nintendo’s machine, even if the long rumoured upgraded version was ever to see the light. But Ubisoft have an established relationship with Nintendo, just look at the success of Mario and Rabbids and the special version of Starlink. They have also shown a willingness to engage with the platform as shown by the recent Remastered releases of Assassin’s Creed 3 and the Assassin’s Creed Rebel Collection. …
Here I was alone on my spaceship. Minding my own business. Basking in the bliss of eternal solitude, when all of a sudden I noticed a distress signal coming from a nearby ship ‘The Alabaster’. I took one look down at my control panel and decided “not today my friend”. I turned off incoming transmissions and slowly continued on, not knowing where I was going or what I was doing. Free from responsibility and game mechanics…
…of course the game had other ideas. …
We all know that things out there in the real world are scary right now, and many of us are entering into social distancing and isolation. But, games are here to help you get through these tough times, and we here at The Reticule have no shame in offering some thoughts on the games to play in these troubled times.
Grand Strategy Fun
My first choice here would be Hearts of Day, but you can substitute it with any number of Paradox Interactive’s other grand strategy titles, they all offer similar thrills. Hell, if you are feeling bold you could start with Imperator: Rome, hit Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis (and maybe even Victoria) before finishing up with World War Two.
The hours you can while away with these are immense, but you don’t need to do it alone. They all offer some level of multiplayer action, and I had a very enjoyable campaign some years ago with friend of The Reticule and ex-Gaming Daily editor Craig Lager in Europa Universalis.
Find yourself a Discord server with some friends, and get stuck in. The intrigue of building alliances and waiting for a stab in the back will make or break your friendships…well, hopefully make them. The pace of the games also ensure that they are a good social space allowing for plenty of time for general chit chat amongst the empire building.
If the Paradox titles lack the fighting that you desire, the Total War games are quite an attractive alternative.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that I talked about the wonders of a long-term game in Football Manager 2020, but you can also take it online with some friends. Draft a squad of superstars and create a mini tournament to battle for managerial supremacy.
If you have family members indoors with you, then simply add another manager and take it in turns managing your team. Take charge of two teams in the National League and see who can take them all the way to the top. It’s a perfect game for multiple ways of play.
Twitch and eSports
I’m not one for Twitch, but Jon runs regular sessions on Escape from Tarkov while a friend who regularly plays retro classic Age of Empires 2 revealed that a recent tournament had 32,000 people watching. Twitch really is a great source of social community interaction, and with Half-Life Alyx coming out this week, many more will be signing in to experience Valve’s latest.
Even Formula 1, the most steeped in tradition of sports is going online with a virtual series to replace the real world action. Surely that will appeal to both gamers and F1 fans?
I’m going classic with this one, but you can replace this with the modern games or something like Call of Duty. But for me, BF2 is the one. While it requires some third party support these days, there are still plenty of servers active, and the squad play is like nothing else out there. Find five friends, grab a Discord server and take to the battle. Playing as a squad in this game is like nothing else out there, and it runs on old enough kit to pull your PC out of the loft and still get into the action.
All by yourself and missing your friends, family and work colleagues? Build your own little community and embrace your nice…or not so nice side!
The Switch has a brilliant library of games, both first party and third party. If your TV is being taken over with some Netflix bingeing, then take your Switch out of its dock and dive into a deep RPG like Skyrim or The Witcher 3, or get the family involved in a Mario Party game.
The online setup on the Switch isn’t great, but great times can be had with a combination of face time and Mario Kart.
The New Releases
Doom and Animal Crossing have just come out. Rumour is they’re both a bit good.
All told, please…stay safe.
The days of 2004 are hazy in the memory, but a glance down a list of notable releases that year shows a glut of singleplayer first-person shooters. Far Cry, Halo 2, Half-Life 2 and perhaps the one with the least shine to it, Doom 3.
It was a busy time, and it’s no surprise that many people skipped over Doom 3 because of it’s move towards a slower paced, darker entry in the series. Or they ignored it because the great new hope, Half-Life 2 was only a couple of months from release.
I played Doom 3 at the time though. Having not played the original titles at that point of my life, I was keen for some Martian demon slaying. The setting intrigued me, and I bought into the lore. The PDAs scattered around the UAC complex revealed the corporate deceit that brought the darkness down upon the planet.
The darkness was oppressive, in the original version of Doom 3 you had to switch between using the flashlight to guide your way, or your weapons. It cranked up the tension, shooting blindly in the gloom hoping to kill all that stood in your way.
I loved it. The only problem? I was a damned wimp! The Imps scared me to death whenever they appeared, and the tension of switching between the flashlight and the action shredded my nerves. The only way that I was able to complete the game was with that wonderful thing known as God mode.
The way fear works in games is an odd thing. For me, Doom 3 was the big horror game of 2004, yet others who played it without any trouble were left shaken by Ravenholm in Half-Life 2. All I know is that God mode got me through it, and at that point I didn’t feel any regret about it.
Return to present day, and Doom 3 is everywhere, and that includes the Switch. It’s not Doom 3 quite as I knew it, this time around it’s the BFG version which has supposed improved graphics (well, maybe not improved on the PC version), better audio….and a shoulder mounted flashlight.
Thanks to that flashlight and autosaves, it’s not quite as hardcore as the version which scared me fifteen years ago, but it’s still Doom 3 and I can play it on the Switch. Having cheated my way through originally, I’ve been working my way through the first couple of hours as god intended. No cheats here, just plain old Doom Guy blasting demon’s and exploring the endless corridors of Mars.
These days the game doesn’t scare me, at least not when playing it on a TV with just the Christmas tree for mood lighting. Playing it in undocked in bed with headphones and the lights out does make my blood turn cold with dread…but thanks to that shoulder mounted flashlight, I find myself able to keep playing.
Is the Doom 3 people will be getting to know these days the same one that I grew up on? No, for me not having to make a choice between seeing the horrors or blasting them takes away a good portion of the fear factor. But still, the heart of the game remains. Slay those demons, take down the UAC and save Mars.