I’ve really been letting these Weekend Whammys slip, haven’t I? I’ll be honest, the motivation is a tad lacking at the moment. My physical health took a bit of a plummet recently, and in turn that’s smacked my mental health right in the mental balls. But never mind that because since my last Weekend Whammy there’s been loads of stuff happening, some of it good and some of it bad! I’m going to chat about just a little bit of it, so let’s chat The Last of Us 2, Sony’s PS5 and more.
So, The Last of Us 2 is officially out and OH MY GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING! The Internet has turned into a warzone right now, with critics praising the game and general consumers hating it on Metacritic. Although the game is selling incredibly well, which again indicates there does tend to be a big discrepancy between what people on the Internet say and the actual reality. What’s frustrating, though, is the media’s reaction which is to ignore the problems people genuinely have and instead seem to be intent on calling people out for being sexist and other nonsense. It feels like an almost concerted effort to ignore the points people are trying to make in order to drown out the criticism of their own reviews.
Anyway, I’m in the middle of playing the game (Sony don’t speak to me, so I didn’t get an early review copy) and…man, it’s going to be a complicated review. So far, it’s a masterpiece on a technical level. The gameplay is better, but not the leap up in quality I was really hoping for. And the story has some terrific moments, but it also has some clumsy, poorly written moments, too. I really don’t think I’m going to be able to get a real handle on my feelings until the credits roll, and even then some reflection might be needed. So at the moment, I don’t know when my review is coming. But what I do know is that I’m going to have to think carefully about it, because I feel like to explain how and why certain things work while other things don’t would need me to spoil the game. I’m going to have to write around that somehow, or I’m going to have to include a few spoilers.
But just before The Last of Us 2 came out I went and finally played the original The Last of Us and wound up loving it! You can check out my review for that HERE.
Meanwhile, I stuck out a review for Assetto Corsa Competizione now that it has raced onto console. Overall, it’s a pale imitation of the PC version thanks to an iffy framerate and some serious control issues. Hopefully, Kunos will get it fixed up, but their console version of Assetto Corsa is still quite messy even to this day, so that doesn’t bode well. My recommendation is to either get Competizione on PC, or wait for Kunos to get some work done on the console port.
And I also reviewed Desperados 3 which is very likely to wind up on my list of best games in 2020. It’s a fantastic real-time tactics game set in the wild west that is immensely satisfying and rewarding to play.
Now, let’s move onto the Playstation 5 event. Surprisingly for an event focusing on a next-generation console things kicked off with a game from the PS3 and Xbox 360 era that isn’t even exclusive to Sony’s machine. Yes, the ever-selling GTA V will be coming to Playstation 5 with upscaled graphics, meaning by the time it arrives on the PS5 Rockstar’s game will have made it onto three different generations of consoles. Somehow, GTA V has sold over 130-million copies, with 40-million of those coming in the last two years. It consistently appears in the sales charts, begging a simple question: who keeps buying it? It’s a mystery, people.
With Grand Theft Auto out of the way we got to move into the proper Sony titles. Cue Miles Morales getting his very own Spider-Man game, which from a PR perspective is a very timely announcement given everything going on with Black Lives Matter. There was some confusion as to exactly what this game was, though, which Sony then failed to clear up a day later. Insomniac themselves have now come out and properly clarified that Spider-Man: Miles Morales is going to be a standalone game for the PS5, one that’s smaller in scope than 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man. That makes sense because it was unlikely even Insomniac could put out a full sequel in 2020 for the PS5. Apparently this standalone will feature a lot of upgrades courtesy of the new hardware. Considering Sony used to Marvel’s Spider-Man to demo their new SSD tech I’m excited to see what Insomniac are planning on doing.
Speaking of Insomniac it was their other game that stole the entire show for me. Ratches & Clank: Rift Apart gave us a little bit of gameplay footage centred around its awesome premise of being able to hop through rifts in space into different dimensions. This was clearly flexing the SSD’s muscles as the game swapped to brand new assets with just a second or two of loading time hidden away in the portal transitions. This doesn’t feel like it would be possible on the current console hardware without hefty load times slowing the whole experience to a crawl. And on top of that, the gameplay looks like it’s just plain fun, which I think we need right now considering the state of the world.
Horizon 2: West was a huge announcement. We didn’t get to see any actual gameplay but the trailer was visually beautiful. I can’t really say much about it because Horizon: Zero Dawn is still sitting in my unplayed games pile and glaring at me with hatred. The kind of hatred usually only reserved for people who talk too damn much in the cinema.
Hitman 3 got revealed using a fairly meh trailer. However, given how much I bloody adore Hitman 2 I’m confident IO will produce something killer. After the event itself IO gave out more details, including that they are treating Hitman 3 as more of a platform for the whole franchise with the levels from the previous two games getting rolled into the package provided you own Hitman 1 & 2.
Death Loop also caught my attention because it’s coming from Arkane, who created both Dishonored games that I adore. Death Loop seems to have a lot of Dishonored in its DNA in terms of how you move around, the teleporting and the general flow of the action. But it seems to have been designed with an arcade slant that leans into the many videos on Youtube of people doing incredible things with Dishonored’s gameplay mechanics.
The event wrapped up with Sony giving us a look at the Playstation 5 itself, a bold design that definitely sets itself apart from any other console on the market. And I still don’t know how I feel about it. By far the most common joke right now is that it looks like a router, and they aren’t wrong. If nothing else this design has given us a whole host of brilliant memes to enjoy, with my personal favourite being that it looks like Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! Whether you like the design or not, at least it’s not boring.
Surprisingly it was revealed that the PS5 will come in two versions: one with a disc drive (that supports those super-tasty 4k Blu rays) and a completely digital version that will presumably be cheaper, or it might be the same price but with a larger storage capacity. Part of me actually wondered if this new generation might ditch optical drives entirely, so it was surprising to see both options available.
But what Sony did not reveal was pricing. They are still planning on launching the PS5 later this year, but for now they’re holding that price close to their hearts like how I desperately clutch the last slice of pizza. Microsoft are doing the same, so I wonder if they are both hoping the other will blink first so they can undercut them.
They also didn’t touch upon backwards compatibility or PSVR, which was a bit surprising.
Overall, Sony did a good job with their event of building up anticipation for the new console and its games. The lineup of titles was strong, mixing bigger triple-A games with smaller indie experiences, and while I would personally prefer a lot more gameplay we did at least get some. But where the event failed for me, and it was the same with Microsoft, was the lack of anything that really showcased why we should be excited about the new hardware. Aside from Ratchet & Clank’s dimension-hopping madness, there wasn’t anything that looked like it couldn’t be done on existing hardware. Maybe it wouldn’t look as pretty or sharp, but that’s about it. Nothing grabbed me and made me thing, “Oh shit, THAT’S why I need a PS5!”
Still, this is just the start of a new generation and it will undoubtedly take time for developers to properly forge games that take complete advantage of the new hardware available to them. Right now, they’re likely bound by games still having to be compatible with the PS4, and that limits what they can do. Both Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Horizon: West had “Exclusive to Playstation” branding, for example, meaning we’ll probably be seeing them on PS4 as well.
I’m also a little surprised they didn’t focus on the console’s launch lineup. Most of the titles shown where either multi-gen or weren’t coming out until 2021. Maybe they’re saving that for nearer the time.
Finally, did anyone else find it weird Sony opted to open their show with a game from 2013 and a standalone title?
Anyway, if you’re looking for a solid breakdown of the Xbox Series X vs the PS5 then I’d recommend this fancy write-up by simplifiedgaming.com. They seem like nice folk, and their article was filled with amazing technological jargon of which I understood about three words because my brain can’t handle it all.
EA also held an event of their own, and the big news from that, at least for me, was the official announcement of Skate 4! From what they said it sounds like a proper, full game and not some crappy mobile title. The Skate series has long held a special place in my heart because it’s me and my best friend’s favourite game to play together. We pass the controller back and forth looking for the weirdest, coolest lines we can find. With that said, there was absolutely nothing of the game shown and zero details about how it might play, so it was basically just an announcement to say that it…exists.
They also announced Star Wars: Squadrons, a game all about dogfighting in classic Star Wars ships. It looks like it’s aiming for an arcadey style rather than being realistic, but that’s fine by me. The exciting thing about Squadrons is that it’s fully VR compatible. I’m honestly drooling a little at the thought of grabbing a joystick, strapping on my Oculus and getting to fly an X-wing. I did laugh during the gameplay reveal though, when the narrator specifically mentions cosmetics and ship parts that you can unlock, “just by playing the game!” like it was some sort of exciting concept that you could unlock stuff by playing rather than paying.
Apart from those two games, though, EA’s event was pretty dull.
And then, out of the blue, it was revealed that we’re getting a new Crash Bandicoot game! Called, It’s About Time. Outside of Crash Team Racing I wasn’t the biggest Crash fan as a kid, but I’m looking forward to seeing a modern Crash Bandicoot game.
That should do it for now, folks. There’s a BUNCH of stuff happening that I didn’t talk about, but maybe I’ll get to that next week.
Take care, everyone.