Tag Archives: Sony

Review: Days Gone (PC)

Days Gone hit PS4 in 2019, and makes the leap to PC this week, part of Sony’s expansion to PC.

The game pits the player against a harsh post-zombie apocalypse world…think The Walking Dead, but almost everyone, including the main character, is Daryl Dixon from the first season – the leather-wearing, motorcycle riding, don’t-need-nobody antihero version.

There are no zombies here though, with gamers – as Deacon St. John – putting down hordes of ‘Freakers’ while exploring the open world. There’s also not much of a supporting cast, with the game relying heavily on players identifying with Deacon, who is basically as unlikable of a character as he can possibly be for the first 20-odd hours of the game, or his friend Boozer who doesn’t fare much better.

The opening 10-odd hours of the game are heavy on stealth. At that point Deacon only has the tools and knowledge to take on a few Freakers at a time. Once you unlock traps it’s not quite so necessary to sneak in and one-hit-kill as many as possible before going loud, but you’re still best to stick to 10-15 Freakers at a time and avoid the massive hordes with a few hundred zombies in them.

Alert a large horde and you’d think a terrifying run for your life would commence, but that’s not the case. Instead, it’s a bumbling run through the environment being chased by things that can’t quite catch you. Leading Freakers over ledges that slow them down or cause pathing problems can be entertaining, but not really stressful. Later, with more weapons and traps, these fights distract from the main game but they’re still filler.

The PS4 launch had serious performance issues, with my review advising people to hold off until it was patched. That’s not the case here. The game runs well on a half-decent GPU. I’ve even seen video of it on a 1030, though it was a bit rough. If you’re running a 1060/1070 (or equivalent) or better, however, it’s smooth sailing with only minor visual bugs. I also had one crash during my playtime, but nothing repeatable.

While the PC version doesn’t fix the so-so story or the empty open world, it does include every PS4 update. This includes higher difficulty settings and challenges, so PC players are getting the absolute best version of the game.

What I Loved:

  • Great visuals
  • Huge zombie hordes look intimidating

What I Liked:

  • Good variety of weapons and traps
  • On-the-fly crafting system
  • Solid performance on lower-end systems
  • Screenshot resolution boost to allow for 4k/8k/12k screenshots

What I Disliked:

  • Horde chases felt more like slapstick than horror
  • So-so plot, driven by busywork
  • Doesn’t make use of features like raytracing or DLSS
  • Some minor visual glitches still

What I Hated:

  • Gorgeous open world, devoid of anything interesting, feels wasted

The Final Word: The performance boost PC offers does little for the story issues, but think of this as a summer action movie. It looks good enough and is fun enough that you don’t want to examine the plot all that closely.

Days Gone is available now on PC via Steam. Reviewed using code provided by the publisher.

Review – Godfall

As I’m still stuck without a PS5 I passed along review code for Godfall, a melee-centric loot game, over to Brock McLaughlin to see what he thought of it. Here’s what he had to say about Gearbox’s latest game:

Upon googling the game Godfall you will see the first question people ask is “How bad is Godfall?”. Well I am here to answer that question for you.

It is bad but not that bad. I’m more confused than anything playing it. If this had come out on the PS2 in 2003 people would hail it the best action game since Legacy of Kain. Unfortunately, it came out in 2020 and has all the workings of a game you haven’t played in years.

I’ll admit right out the gate I liked what I saw. The game looked gorgeous on the PS5 and there is some really cool level design. Each level or realm as they are called here are incredibly interesting to look at. I really felt like the world was alive, and no matter how repetitive the game got the level design was still a league of its own.

On the surface I should love looter mechanics. I like collecting cool armour and feeling like a badass. Unfortunately the grind here for good armour is incredibly lackluster. At first I dug the combat and the enemies, but then quickly realized this was the game was. Kill respawning enemies. Walk 5 feet. Kill some more. Do a puzzle, which is simply opening a chest and then fight more enemies. If you like mundane tasks then this game is for you. It’s actually the ultimate game for listening to podcasts since you can ignore what’s on the screen and just smash your fingers on the controller.

Besides the graphics something I did quite like is the skill tree. You purchase one skill and the ones adjacent to it open up more skills. Each skill did actually make the game a bit better. You can always reset the tree as you like as well so you can find your best playstyle.

You also have the choice of weapons. You can choose from a longsword which is very balanced and good for all types of players to a war hammer that is slow but powerful. Each of the different weapons does feel different and takes some getting used to. Is this groundbreaking no, but I’m trying to find some good here.

When I play games, I like to have a story. Even if it’s barebones at least it gives the game purpose. There is no story here. I mean there are some random cut scenes with dialogue and characters but it does not amount to anything. This is just a game that exists to waste your time.

When this game inevitably becomes a free game for PS Plus users then I ‘d say it’s worth an hour or two of your time. It’s got wicked graphics, a few hours of fun, a good skill tree and neat costumes to help you fill the void. If however you have to pay for it, well then I’d say move right along because there’s plenty of other offerings out there.

What I Loved:

  • Easy to download and uninstall
  • The graphics
  • Great level art

What I Liked:

  • Good variety in weapons
  • Skill tree

What I Disliked:

  • How much it felt like a PS2 game
  • The level design
  • The grind
  • The repetition
  • The campaign

What I Hated:

  • Pretty much everything else

The Final Word: I see why they called it Godfall and not Goodfall.

Played on the PS5 using code provided by the publisher. Godfall  is rated M for Mature and not recommended for younger players.

Sony delists Cyberpunk 2077, offers full refunds

Sony delists Cyberpunk 2077 – In an unprecedented move, Sony is offering gamers who bought Cyberpunk 2077 full refunds and has delisted the game from PSN.

Cyberpunk 2077’s release has been…less than ideal, to put it generously. The game reportedly runs and looks great on PC, and I’m plugging away at the Series X version and it looks and runs great there as well. I’ve hit some minor bugs, but nothing that’s broken the game – bugs are a lot more prevalent than in most games, but it’s still playable.

That is not the experience people are having on Xbox One and PS4, and while gamers on the Xbox side have consistently been able to get refunds on the game PS4 gamers weren’t so lucky – until now.

Sony’s move raises a lot of questions, however. Now that the game is delisted, will CD Projekt Red be able to issue new patches for it? What’s more, will the European developer be willing to go through the certification process for a patch – and the costs associated with it – for a console they can’t sell the game on?

More than likely Sony is going to require a PS4 patch that brings the game up to some base standard of playability before relisting it, as they don’t want a firestorm of negative press for putting a game back up before it’s ready.

But who decides what’s ‘playable’ now?

We’re in uncharted waters here, people. Buckle up.

Gamers with an Xbox Series X and PS5 are having fun with Cyberpunk 2077, but that’s not the experience on every console.

Sony Reveals PS5 Price and Release Date

With a Wednesday afternoon showcase, Sony finally unveiled its plans for the PS5 price and release. The console, in both its regular and digital-only versions, will launch on November 12th in Canada for $629.99 and $499.99 respectively.

The announcement cedes the low-end price point to Microsoft’s Xbox Series S, which will hit shelves two days earlier at $379 Canadian, but the buzz has been surrounding the $130 difference between the two models. Sony clearly doesn’t mind if people want to go all-digital, knowing they’ll make back that loss thanks to the increased cut they get from digital game sales. Unfortunately, though both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are stickered at $499 USD, Sony didn’t give Canadians the same generous currency conversion Microsoft opted for with their $599 CAD price tag.

Sony also showcased several games, confirming the Spider-Man game starring Miles Morales will be a launch title alongside Astro’s Playroom (pre-installed), Demon’s Souls, Destruction All Stars, and Sackboy A Big Adventure. Those not upgrading at this time got some good news as well, with confirmation that Spider-Man and Horizon Forbidden West would both be coming to PS4 as well as next-gen.

A God of War teaser indicated a 2021 release date but given the amount of COVID delays the industry has seen and how early it appears to be, I’m not sure they’ll stick to that release window. Final Fantasy XVI was also announced as a timed exclusive, also targeting 2021, but it’s Final Fantasy so expect that to need more time in the oven as well.

PS4 backwards compatibility was again confirmed, now with word that “99 percent” of the games tested can be played on the PS5. Hopefully, Sony will release a list of the games that don’t work ahead of the console’s release. PS Plus Collection was also announced – a collection of 18 PS4 first-party titles and some select third-party titles that can be downloaded by PS Plus subscribers. It’s a clear shot at Microsoft’s incredibly popular GamePass service and should be a great value to gamers.

Sony is also the first to announce a new price point for first-party games, with Demon’s Souls remake and Spider-Man both showing a $69.99 USD price tag. At today’s exchange that converts over to $92 Canadian, so let’s hope they give us a currency conversion break on that side of things. Microsoft has, at this point, held to the current-gen standard of $59.99 USD for their first-party games so we’ll see if they follow suit.

The internal SSD on the PS5 was also confirmed to be 825GB, though Sony hasn’t confirmed if that’s usable space or if the OS will eat up some of it, but either way it seems to necessitate the use of external HDD storage as a ‘cold storage’ vault like on the Xbox Series consoles.

The big question for Canadian gamers now is – can you fit these next-gen consoles in your budget and your entertainment stand?

Moving Goalposts: We Have Always Been At P̶e̶a̶c̶e̶ War With Nintendo

So let’s talk about moving goalposts…

For months now Microsoft and the team at Xbox have been taking a ton of flak over their cross-gen stance, and that’s putting it mildly. Everything from “it’ll hold back games” to “there’s no next-gen excitement” has been tossed at the wall like monkeys throwing crap at the zoo…and for what?

For it to be OK when Sony announces, at the 11th hour, that their approach is exactly the same and that games like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West, games that people were praising as ‘finally a truly next-gen experience’ unfettered by the lowly hardware that preceded them, are in fact cross-gen? You’re just moving goalposts to make sure ‘your’ team is still ok.

Let’s not pretend this is a one-off either. Remember the confusion that surrounded the ‘console launch exclusive’ terminology? It seems pretty clear – it’s exclusive at launch and won’t be later, aka a timed exclusive. That set off the ‘concern‘ though. What did it mean? How long was it exclusive? Why didn’t they tell us – at this Xbox event – that it was coming to PS4 later?

Now check out today. Final Fantasy XVI gets announced as a console exclusive and people are – to put it mildly – stunned. Why would Square Enix do that, especially after cutting a deal with Microsoft to finally put out a slew of Final Fantasy games on Xbox Game Pass?

Well the answer is money, but also that it’s not actually an exclusive. It’s a timed exclusive, a revelation shared in a later trailer – but not at the showcase. Moving goalposts…

I don’t blame any company for not mentioning the game will be out on another platform in the future, or even at the same time – but there’s a world of difference between omission and untruth, and saying that something’s an exclusive when it’s not is pretty clearly the latter.

But this isn’t really about them, it’s about the fans that enable it.

If you just spent three months crowing on Twitter about how Sony was going to destroy Microsoft because of cross-gen games, shut up and eat that crow…and remember this next time.

If you ranted about Xbox ‘lies’ over timed exclusives, or that they bought timed exclusives in the first place, keep in mind that Final Fantasy XVI, Deathloop, Ghostwire Tokyo, Kena, Oddworld, Demon’s Souls, and Godfall – all billed as ‘console exclusives’ are – in fact – timed exclusives. Shut up and eat that crow…and remember this next time.

If you said Game Pass ‘devalued’ games and wasn’t ‘sustainable’ but think PS Plus Collection is a great addition, maybe – you guessed it – shut up and eat that crow…and remember this next time.

It’s not like Sony fans are the only ones that need to work on their memory though – remember how power didn’t matter (Xbox One launch) then it did (Xbox One X launch) and now it maybe does with the Series X? Hey guys, shut up and eat that crow…and remember this next time.

Maybe try being happy with what you have and what you are getting, not what the other guy’s not getting. And hold these companies to a higher standard, not a double standard.

Review: Ghost of Tsushima

Sucker Punch, a Sony first-party studio, is best known for action adventure games like Sly Cooper and inFamous but branched out for its PS4 swan song into a stealth action game called Ghost of Tsushima.

As Jin Sakai, a young samurai who takes on the task of freeing the island of Tsushima from the Mongols whose invasion kicks off the game, players will run through a formula that’s going to feel awfully familiar if you’re a fan of open world games. Assassin’s Creed, Red Dead Redemption, even some Far Cry – Sucker Punch’s final PS4 game is an amalgamation of most of the top open world games that came before it.

Missions, called Tales here, can be vital to advancing the story or simple filler and how long you’ll take to finish the game (I clocked in at about 32 hours after having completed a lot of side mission content) will depend on your tolerance for filler content. The main quests are interesting, varied, and tend to be well-written – though the game’s story itself doesn’t really get going until the last third or so – but the side missions quickly grow repetitive and become a slog to get through.

It’s worth noting that although the game has an open structure and you’re able to approach objectives like clearing out a stronghold in whatever way you wish, the story missions don’t seem to take into account what you actually do. If you fight your way through honorably ‘like a samurai’ instead of taking to the shadows and assassinating your way through, the dialog still reflects your loss of honor as though you took the shadowy path instead. Also, if you are free roaming and clear a base before taking on a mission you may be sent right back to it ‘to clear it of bandits’ only to find they’ve all been respawned for the mission.

That may be a glitch, however, as glitches have plagued the game early on in pre-release but it’s a problem that has improved with each patch. There’s been another patch released as I write this that I haven’t had the chance to check yet, so it’s possible the glitches and some framerate issues may be ironed out. Depending on the version that’s on the disc, this isn’t a game I’d recommend playing without doing the updates.

While the story can be a bit slow, the combat is anything but. As you move through the game you’ll learn new skills and sword stances, and you’ll need to flip between stances continually in order to get the most out of the combat system. I had hoped the combat would be like Bushido Blade, but it’s more like Dynasty Warriors with floods of enemies coming at you – but, as with most samurai flicks, they’re nice enough to hang back and only attack one or two at a time.

Unfortunately, while you’re in melee combat there will almost inevitably be an archer or two nearby firing arrows at you. Dodging these based solely on the audio cue will become second nature, as the camera – even when it pulls back for open area fights – is all-too-often hard to control while in combat, doubly so in close quarters. At its best, the combat is a choreographed dance that looks straight out of a Kurosawa film, but when it’s not working it feels a bit janky and disconnected as you fumble with the camera to try and keep an eye on nearby enemies, cursing the lack of a lock-on system.

Ghost of Tsushima is a visually stunning game, even on the base PS4, though the framerate suffers a bit there. The PS4 Pro runs a virtually locked 30 fps, but the base PS4 struggles to hit that consistently and the choppy up-and-down nature of the framerate hurts the responsiveness of the combat.

Sucker Punch created a super lush version of Japan with long flowing grass and dense foliage and use that as a replacement for the quest markers found in most games. Instead, the Guiding Wind will blow towards your objective, bending trees and grass in the direction you need to go, and sending tons of particles – leaves, sparks, flowers, etc.. flying as a clear signpost. It’s a stunning effect when you first accept a quest and the wind suddenly picks up, or when you flick the touch pad to trigger a reminder.

There’s a dedicated black and white mode for the game that fans have already dubbed Kurosawa mode, though playing in it means forsaking the lush colours so it won’t be for everyone. It’s a bit disappointing they didn’t take more from his films, particularly in the cutscenes which are rote ‘over the shoulder, static cam’ scenes shot exactly as they would be in any other video game. After all, if you’re going to imitate the style, why not imitate the best parts of it?

What I Loved:

  • Great visuals, especially the environment
  • Fun combat, even if it’s not especially deep
  • Guiding wind is a unique idea and well implemented

What I Liked:

  • Strong ending to the story
  • Some fun Ghost tools
  • Open world mission structure is familiar, but story missions are solid

What I Disliked:

  • Repetitive side missions
  • Some cutscenes, especially side missions, are poorly designed and shot
  • No ragdoll animations, so expect to see weird death animations
  • Little in the way of replay value

What I Hated:

  • Fighting the camera as much as enemies in close-quarters combat

The Final Word:

Ghost of Tsushima is a solid stealth action game, but with the glitches, repetitive missions, and shallow combat it’s not the slam dunk swan song title I’d expected from Sucker Punch. With the game launching at $79.99 Canadian for the cheapest version ($219.99 for the Collector’s Edition) I’d be tempted to wait for a sale or share the purchase with a friend unless you’re a HUGE samurai fan.

Ghost of Tsushima is available now on PS4, reviewed using a code provided by the publisher.

Review – Death Stranding

The typical game these days is 70-90% fun stuff and 10-30% busywork.
Death Stranding is not the typical game.

This is a game built so the busywork from other games is the dominant gameplay mechanic. Through its 45-odd hours, you’ll spend most of that time doing the things other games force you to put up with in small stretches so you can get to the fun bits: walking through empty terrain, arranging your inventory, watching cutscenes, and doing fetch quest after fetch quest.

You play as Sam Porter Bridges, played by Norman Reedus, who is a porter – basically a post-apocalyptic UPS guy – for a company called Bridges…and yes, you read that right, his middle name is his job and his last name is the company he works for. The name game continues with Heartman (who suffers continual heart attacks), Die-Hardman (who doesn’t die), and another courier named Fragile…

Oh, and your mom is the President, but she’s the President of a United States that has undergone a disaster and *queue the Wayans brothers from In Living Color shouting ‘MESSAGE’ here* it is now a nation that’s fractured, in need of healing, and you’re just the man for the job.

And that job is delivery boy.

To spread the ‘Chiral Network’ – a futuristic form of WiFi that allows you to 3D print everything from generators to ziplines – you’ll need to walk from settlement to settlement, find out what they want you to do and getting it done. Earn their trust and you’ll establish the network in the area, renewing connections to the rest of the country and allowing you to start 3D printing some modern amenities – if you have the resources. To get the resources you’ll do more side missions, almost entirely fetch quests, including somewhat inane ones like delivering a pizza…in the apocalypse.

You’ll want to grind out some side missions, as they give you the resources needed to put up shortcuts in the terrain that make movement much easier. Those additions may also appear in other player’s games, and their builds in yours, which is the extent of the game’s multiplayer interaction. It’s not much, but it is nice to be out in the middle of nowhere and have a bridge created by another player provide an easier path to your objective.

These additions aren’t permanent, however, as ‘timefall’ rain or snow causes it to age, rust, and rot away. Timefall affects most things it hits, including the packages you carry, so the game encourages you to take shelter during it – but an easily-crafted repair spray will return your packages to full health at the drop-off spot, whether they were damaged by timefall or abuse, so it’s kind of a pointless game mechanic. It’s also a bit selective, as timefall won’t age a person into dust, and doesn’t affect your clothes – though you see Sam’s ass a fair amount even without that, but the science not making sense isn’t really the weakest part of this story. It’s also a pity you can’t use the repair spray on your shoes, which continually wear out and have to be replaced, but again – it’s just something you accept as the way things are.

I hear that the “Ok, but what do you DO?” chorus that followed No Man’s Sky around has also plagued Death Stranding, so here you go: the dominant gameplay mechanic in Death Stranding is tapping L2 or R2 to keep your balance when you slip while trudging down a slope or turn your ankle over a bump you didn’t see.

Recognize the mechanic? That’s right, it’s the ‘walk while drunk’ or ‘keep your balance crossing this log’ minigame from other titles. If you’re tired of playing it, you can hold L2 and R2 at the same time to hunker down, become more stable, and walk at about two-thirds the pace you normally do.

Outside of that, this is a game about inventory and encumbrance management that has you packing multiple parcels onto Sam in a configuration that lets him carry as many as possible in a way that hopefully leaves him balanced enough that he won’t tip over constantly. It can be a fight to get parcels with special requirements – like the pizza, which needs to be transported horizontally – to sit the way they need to, but usually you can simply hit the ‘auto-optimize’ button and make some minor tweaks.

As you play you’ll pick up exoskeletons that upgrade your weight capacity and/or speed, and there are vehicles that can be used – but unless there’s a highway set up, you’re often better off walking to your objective instead of trying to coax a bike or truck through the rocks or over a mountain.

The game has a slow open, with the bulk of the first three hours spent watching cutscenes, and it never really turns into the action game some of the trailers made it seem to be. There are scattered action sequences in the open world when you run into the Mules, former couriers who have gone rogue and now set upon former colleagues to take their parcels, but these are somewhat clunky affairs that are best avoided. From time to time in the campaign you’re pushed into otherworldly boss battles, and these are a highlight – but too few and far between to save the game from the grind the rest of it entails.

Even the game’s supernatural enemy, the BTs, aren’t the jaw-dropping encounters they were played up to be. Using your Bridge Baby, an unborn child stored in an artificial womb that can sense the approach of the BTs – and yes, this is ridiculous but so is the whole damned story, you can avoid most of the BTs that draw near though there are some in narrow passages that seem placed there to force combat. Early on you have few tools to handle these creatures, though they’re apparently scared away if you start to urinate – and to be fair most people would be, but by mid-game you’ll have abilities that turn them into a trivial encounter.

Just when you think the game is really starting to hit its stride, it starts to wind things down with a massive mission that highlights how boring the minute-to-minute gameplay is, removing all the creative options given to the player over the previous 30-odd hours and segueing into a linear, cutscene-filled ending that falls flat. Bookcasing the opening three hours of cutscenes with a number of massive cutscenes at the back end and a pair of credit sequences to sit through, Death Stranding just goes on and on well past its welcome.

What I liked:

  • gorgeous environments and character models
  • interesting ‘cross-world’ interaction with other players

What I didn’t like:

  • busywork, the game: inventory management, skirting encumbrance, fetch quests…
  • ridiculous story that sets, then ignores, reality’s rules
  • start slow, ends slower
  • why are there ads for AMC’s ‘Ride with Norman Reedus’ when you use the toilet?
  • really subtle *MESSAGE* metaphors about *MESSAGE* today’s top issues

Reviewed on PS4 Pro using code provided for review. Death Stranding releases November 8th on PS4 and PS4 Pro, and will hit PC in Summer of 2020.