Posts Tagged ‘pc’

The Seven Stages of Videogame Remakes

It’s been a topic at the forefront of gaming for the entirety of the last generation and a significant part of the one before. The videogame industry these days is old enough to look back and draw from its past, and in an age where some games of yore are ridiculously difficult to experience with anything approaching legality, re-releases and remakes are as commonplace as they are guaranteed to attract online discontent. In many cases, they also represent a near-guaranteed source of revenue for publishers keen on mining nostalgia, so whether you love them, hate them, or pay them no mind until one of your favourites arrives in the spotlight, they aren’t going anywhere.

I’m not here to defend the practice of re-releasing games in various stages, however. Some of that may happen accidentally as I write, but the topic has been covered to death, including on this very blog years ago. KingK also made a pretty good YouTube video on the subject earlier this year that is worth a watch. No, more interesting to me at this very moment is this idea that the quality and validity of some of these re-releases oftentimes seems to hinge on what labels people are willing to attach to each one. As with most things in life, enjoyment is regularly determined by expectation. So I feel like it’s worthwhile to break down and categorise those labels as I see them defined. Because seven is a poetic number that looks great in post headers, that is how I will attempt to divide them. This is all based on my feelings on the topic – and I can definitely see people disagreeing on the order of the categories – but I’ll try to articulate with examples as best I can.
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Port

Your basic “Take Game A from Platform B and get it to run on Platform C” situation. Nothing more, nothing less. This is regularly seen when a period of platform exclusivity breaks and a title shows up on a competing platform within the same generation, whether that period was motivated by a publishing deal or the game in question was simply developed with one target platform in mind and the ensuing gremlins from the porting process take time to smooth over. Because timed exclusivity within the console space is a rarity nowadays, the platform that is usually either early or late to the party is the PC, but you see more variety of circumstance the lower down you go on the production budget scale. For every big-budget early access title on the Steam/Epic Games storefront, every surprising eleventh-hour Yakuza/Square RPG arrival, there’s a “Nindie” debuting on Switch first, a small ID@Xbox game flying the Microsoft flag straight out of the gate. When these games inevitably cross over to find new homes – grabbing a handy second wave of buzz in the process – they invariably do so without significant gameplay changes or extra content that hasn’t already been added to their initial versions.

The overwhelming majority of PC ports do offer more flexible graphical options due to the open nature of the PC environment (usually related to resolution, frame rate caps/unlocks, and previously unavailable visual effect toggles), just as a huge amount of Switch ports require technical downgrades by very imaginative and talented people in order to run at all (The folks at Bluepoint and Panic Button come to mind). But if that’s all she wrote, you’re looking at a bread-and-butter port between platforms. There are many who hold the untouched port as the most ideal form of game preservation, and many more who don’t see the point of a fresh release of an older game if the developers don’t update anything, but the simple fact remains that basic ports allow more people to play more videogames and they’re an unavoidable part of the landscape.
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Enhanced Port

These next two categories are where things get muddiest for me, but I’m fairly sure I’ve got my head around them. A game qualifies as an enhanced port in my mind if there has been little to no discernible graphical work done under a game’s hood since it’s original release, thereby qualifying it as a straight port if not for one or two clear and significant gameplay changes that have been implemented. Weirdly enough, this opens the door for re-releases to occur on the same platform as their source material, a practice for which the Kingdom Hearts franchise used to be infamous and something the Pokemon main series continues to do to this day. This is definitely a curious semantic pocket of the industry, because while you can theoretically port a game to the platform it’s already on, without any noteworthy enhancements such an endeavour would be literally pointless.

Of course, most of the qualifiers for this category actually do cross over to new platforms, and as you might expect if you’ve invested in any of their recent consoles, Nintendo features heavily among them. Of late the notoriously port-happy current crop of Big N executives have greenlit a veritable catalogue of exports from the tragic Wii U to the hit-making Switch, packing little more than a resolution bump in the visuals department but almost always carrying a smattering of bullet points to set the new version apart. Hyrule Warriors packs new character skins and integrates content from multiple previous versions of the game, New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe and DK Country Tropical Freeze add new characters and abilities, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe fundamentally changes the flow of gameplay with more granular kart stats and an extra item slot per player (in addition to new characters). Older examples of this include the Gamecube release of Sonic Adventure 2 with an entire multiplayer mode in tow, the transformed controls and gameplay balance of Resident Evil 4‘s Wii edition and the enabling of the mythical “Stop n’ Swap” functionality in the Xbox 360 version of Banjo-Kazooie.

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The Games of Not-2018

2018 felt a little different to me in terms of the way I used my free time on videogames. For whatever reason – be it a less intense schedule of new releases that interested me, weariness of the same old drop-everything-to-play-the-new-thing habits, finally acquiring a decent gaming PC, or a combination of all three – I was somehow more OK with the idea of putting time into older games this year. So I feel like it wouldn’t be a full representation of my 2018 in videogames if I didn’t jot down some quick thoughts on them. I also figured I’d include remasters or re-releases on this page too, just to take some heat off the main list.

I’ve listed the games roughly in the order I played them this year. I’ve also listed either the most prominent initial release version of each game or, where relevant, the version I owned or played back in the day instead. Then on the line underneath I’ve noted the version I played in 2018. Stop looking at me like that, I have to catalogue these things properly.

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Pokemon Crystal Version

GBC Release: 2001
3DS Virtual Console Release: 2018
How much I played: Start to finish including Kanto, 25+ hrs

I was super-vulnerable to this release when it hit the 3DS eShop in late Jan. There wasn’t much else to play and I was about to head off on a coastal family holiday. The rest I wrote down in its own separate post which you can read here.

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Final Fantasy XIII

PS3 Release: 2010
Steam Release: 2014
How much I played: The first ten chapters and some messing around in Chapter 11 makes 30+ hrs

Not gonna even try to hide it – seeing this game run in forced 4K on some YouTube video last year was a huge percentage of the reason the dominoes fell and I finally invested in a gaming laptop. After a discussion with a friend about whether FF XIII really did look better than XV in parts or whether that was just our memory of it, I had to jump back in after a decade and it turns out that, despite a truly, ridiculously awful port job, the game’s astonishing art direction sings in higher resolutions. I did play more than half of the game again, hoping to dive into a proper thousands-of-words retrospective, but the gaming calendar moves fast. Near the end of the year Microsoft gave the XIII trilogy a huge Xbox One X-supported backwards compatibility push, so who knows, maybe Square has more plans for a re-release or something. Either way, I will write that post one day. I will.

 

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Best of 2017: Top 15 Games

Here we are. Time to count down my favourite videogames from a truly phenomenonal year for the medium (The best in ten years?). There are some games on this list that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone even remotely interested, but the real measure of 2017 is the games that don’t make the list because I just didn’t have time to get into them. And no, I don’t just mean games other people liked but didn’t really grab me. I’m talking Horizon Zero Dawn, Cuphead, Yakuza Zero, Steamworld Dig 2, Night in the Woods, Tales of Berseria, Golf Story, Gang Beasts. Games that in any other year I would have been all over. Games I’ve already seen on many other top ten lists across the internet.

Part of this can probably be attributed to my conscious decision not to ignore good games on the 3DS as long as they were coming out. I clocked nearly 200 hours of combined 2017 playtime on my 3DS according to its activity log – mostly on trains and buses – and if it weren’t for the Nintendo Switch overshadowing it on every big site and YouTube channel I would have been shocked that I wasn’t seeing some of these 3DS games on more people’s lists. Of course, the Switch was still a thing, so there are more Switch games on this page than on any other console. The rest of the numbers are made up by some delightfully surprising indie and triple-A games gripping enough to help me temporarily forget about all the other games I could be playing. What an insane year.

A game qualifies for the list if I play it for over five hours or finish it. You’ll see the platform on which I played each game in parentheses next to its title.

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VR BEST OF 2017 DISCLAIMER

This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Intriguing, but strange. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.

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15. ARMS (NS)

Major new IPs from Nintendo are rarer than a PC without Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds installed, so it’s a big deal when one comes along. Following in the spiritual footsteps of 2015’s Splatoon, ARMS is an attempt by Nintendo to refresh what players can expect from a fighting game, in much the same way that Splatoon injected new life into the shooter genre. Taking stylistic cues from Blizzard’s Overwatch in the character design department and infusing these designs with Nintendo wackiness, ARMS is a charming game with deceptive mechanical depth and phenomenonal 1v1 duel multiplayer. Though the rest of its modes are inherently less deep and the game’s single player mode is basic at best, ARMS is my pick for most improved game of the year post-launch, with extra incentives, modes and characters now part of the package. And let’s not forget that theme song, which slots right in alongside Nintendo’s catchiest first-party tunes. ARMS should not be overlooked by anyone buying a Switch.

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Best of 2016: Top 15 Games

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Now for the home stretch.

2016 was ultimately a much better year for videogames than it might currently feel like it was. No really, I mean it. Some of the latter-year triple-A releases may have failed to hit the mark with large enough audiences, and the pacing of the videogame release schedule in general was super weird (What on earth happened to the trend set over the last couple of years that June/July/August can be a smart period to release games? Why was Ubisoft the only company releasing anything big in the first three months of the year?). Yet when you look at a list of all the titles that hit over this bizarre 12-month period, there’s a hell of a lot of quality there. The indie and JRPG scenes in particular had phenomenonal 2016s, multiple games with years upon years of hype delivered on at least some of it, and there were plenty of surprising hits that came seemingly out of nowhere. Welcome to this countdown of my favourite 15 videogames of 2016.

The letters in parentheses after each title indicates where I played that game.

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VR BEST OF 2016 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Fun, but strange. Respectful disagreement is very welcome.
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15. ReCore (XBO)

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At the start of the year I might have expected I’d soon play a 2016 game with 3D platformer collect-a-thon roots, but never would I have thought I’d find it inside that Xbox-exclusive Keiji Inafune/Armature game announced at last year’s E3. It turns out that ReCore is more of a platformer at heart than any retail 3D action game released this decade, and its airborne control mechanics feel wonderful. It also packs a massive world that encourages exploration and plenty of colour-coded shooting boss battles that aren’t afraid to get difficult, with customisable robots thrown in for good measure. Some confusingly restrictive systems and a lack of environmental variety may weigh it down as it plods through its latter stages, but ReCore is still one of the year’s most pleasant surprises for me.

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Get KE3N

It’s almost time for yet another annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, which still seems to bring the goods again and again even in today’s leak-heavy internet age. This year, instead of the customary five press conferences, we have eight to take our sleeping hours away. EIGHT. Like, eight of them. If you plan to watch them all, best of luck to you. What a treat, though!

Once again for those Sydneysiders and Melbournians (etc) who are keen to watch any of the conferences but can’t be bothered looking up and cross-referencing time zones to work out when they have to get up, I’ve written them up right here, so look no further.

All times are in AEST.
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12noon JUNE 15TH
BETHESDA

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: The recently released console versions of The Elder Scrolls Online, the long-awaited Doom reboot, plenty of information on the juggernaut that is Fallout 4.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: Dishonored 2 would be very nice indeed.
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2:30am JUNE 16TH
MICROSOFT

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: Single player gameplay debuts for what could potentially be the best line-up of console exclusives this holiday season – Forza 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, the Remastered Gears of War and Halo 5: Guardians. Not to mention the reveal of Rare’s next big game.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: Specifics on Quantum Break‘s release plans, a significant slice of attention towards awesome indie titles like Cuphead and Inside.
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6am JUNE 16TH
EA

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, the first official gameplay showings from Mirrors Edge: CatalystStar Wars Battlefront and the new Criterion extreme sports game, the shape of the new Mass Effect, sports games aplenty.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: The other Star Wars game. The one Amy Hennig is working on.

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8am JUNE 16TH
UBISOFT

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: The normal serving of Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance footage, more info on The Division and Rainbow Six Siege, some as-yet unknown surprise that will inevitably get everyone talking about how cool it could be.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: Same as last year – a new Rayman game, or the reappearance of Beyond Good & Evil 2.

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11am JUNE 16TH
SONY

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: Project Morpheus, the insane success of the PS4, Uncharted 4, Drawn to Death, Tearaway Unfolded, new Destiny stuff, lots and lots of juicy third party/indie partnerships.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: Persona 5 please. Lots more indies on Vita, too. And seriously, where is Gravity Rush 2?

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2am JUNE 17TH
NINTENDO
(via “Digital Event”)

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: Always the toughest to predict, but surely at least the new Star Fox game for Wii U, plenty of new amiibos, that leaked Hyrule Warriors 3DS port, the next main Pokemon game, Splatoon DLC plans, Mario Maker.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: It’s about time for a new Metroid game. Also, please please please let that Paper Mario rumour be true…

NOTE: Nintendo is doing their normal thing again and spreading their content out over the length of E3. These additional times might be useful for Nintendo fans:

12:40am June 15th: Dedicated Super Smash Bros for Wii U / 3DS “New Content Approaching” Live Stream

8am June 15th: Nintendo World Championships 25th anniversary edition

June 17th-19th (schedule TBC): “Treehouse Live @ E3” Presentations

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3am JUNE 17TH
SQUARE ENIX

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: A solid chunk devoted to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the unveiling of the long-teased new Hitman game, my potential game of the year Just Cause 3, some Heavensward: Final Fantasy XIV mentions, that new online robot shooter Figure Heads.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: With the confirmed lack of Final Fantasy XV at E3 this year, surely there’s some big Kingdom Hearts 3 stuff to show?

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10am JUNE 17TH
PC GAMING SHOW (Presented by AMD and PCGamer)

THEY WILL TALK ABOUT: Plenty of tech talk, Epic’s highly anticipated Fortnight, who knows what else? It’s the longest and most diverse conference on the schedule, so let’s hope it’s also one of the most exciting.
I HOPE THEY TALK ABOUT: Overwatch, Overwatch and more Overwatch. Come on, Blizzard, let’s get the whole world hyped.

Why I’ve Decided to Give Up All Other Games and Just Play League of Legends

My dear friends, I am tired.

I’m tired of videogame release after videogame release, all vying for my attention and my increasingly dwindling pool of time. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last several hectic months of my life, it’s that there is such a thing as spreading yourself too thin. If you play too many games, regardless of your good intentions, it becomes near impossible to do justice to any of them.

So I’m done.

Not with games per se, but with playing so very many games. The Final Fantasies, Legend of Zeldas and Call of Duties of the world will hardly miss me if I leave them in my past in order to focus on new horizons. New and insanely popular horizons. Yes, the world’s most played game is calling my name, and its name, of course, is League of Legends.

I may only have dabbled in the game in the past, but what I have played is enough to convince me that I’m making the right call here. There just isn’t a more replayable game out there – it just flat-out doesn’t exist. Every game of LoL is different, and though it’s surprisingly easy to get your head around at first, its sheer, near-bottomless depth, constantly shifting metagame and regular content updates have made it one of the biggest eSports on the planet. And, i mean, have you seen an official League of Legends eSports broadcast? They are so polished I sometimes can’t tell whether I’m watching a traditional sporting presentation or not.

It’s bananas, yo.

I’m not saying I’ll ever be any good at the game, but I’m starting to see what all the hype is about, and it’s just about time to take the plunge. Faced with less free time than I’ve ever had in my life before, League of Legends offers me what other games cannot – an experience that never truly ends, but can be enjoyed in bite-sized pieces. 27 million daily players cannot be wrong.

See you online.

 

How To Get Even More Free Stuff on Playstation Plus

 

If you have a current Playstation games console (specifically a PS3, PS4 and/or PS Vita) and a connection to the internet, you really should have some kind of subscription to Sony’s Playstation Plus service. It just makes too much sense (and is alos kinda necessary to play most online-capable games on PS4). If you’re skeptical or in the dark about its benefits, read this post I wrote a while back, when it was offering less free stuff than it was now. If it still doesn’t appeal to you, that’s OK. But if it does, then you either have a PS Plus account, or you’re planning to grab a subscription soon. Either way, read on.

Most PS Plus subscribers do not quite realise the extent of what they’re able to access with their membership. If you have just a Playstation 3, for example, you may only be downloading one or two free PS3 games as they become available each month, doing so directly from your PS3 and going along your merry way. And that’s fine. Except you could be getting more.

Allow me to suggest a new way to peruse your monthly free game offerings on PS Plus – a way that is faster, more convenient and leaves you with more games than simply doing it via your console of choice. It may seem obvious to some but I remain astounded by the number of Playstation gamers I meet who are completely unaware of the option. This was first pointed out to me by Delaney of the Mega Ultra Blast Cast (Had to mention that or he would probably complain).
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