It has been a bit since my last Weekend Whammy, but the simple truth is that there isn’t much to talk about when you’ve basically been hiding underneath a massive blanket for two weeks, only emerging to eat Haribo and hiss at the sun. Yup, being in lockdown is a bit on the boring side. It does, however, leave a lot of time for playing games, reading books and watching movies, so that’s cool. This week we’re going to chat about Half-Life: Alyx, the new PS5 controller and The Last of Us 2 being delayed!
Before we get going I want to quickly address the return of ads on the site. I’ll be blunt: money is tight, and ads will help me keep the site running and picking up games for review when I can’t get any code from the publishers. I hope they aren’t too obtrusive, and if you feel they are then do let me know. They only earn me a tiny, tiny amount, but every little helps. If you fancy supporting the site a little more directly, perhaps if you use an ad-blocker, then you can use the donation box at the bottom of the page.
I’d also like to give a shoutout to a dear friend of mine, the wonderfully talented Geoff Sharp who has been helping out by entertaining the local community on Facebook with some of his awesome guitar playing sorcery. Check out his latest video, a cover of an Elton John classic.
So, since we last chatted, dear reader, I did a couple of them there review thingies, the first being for Doom: Eternal. Which was amazing. I don’t think that will surprise you in any way. It was just what Bethesda needed to help regain a little bit of the faith that has been lost in them, even if the game was made by id and only published by Bethesda. Ugh, it’s bloody good.
As for the other game it’s a little older: Phoenix Point, a turn-based tactical game that bears a striking resemblance to XCOM, probably because the game who made it is the co-creator of the original X-COM franchise. His latest foray into the genre doesn’t manage to top XCOM 2, but is still quite good and worth a punt if you’ve already saved the world from aliens a couple of times and fancy taking on some mutated monsters instead.
Looking forward a bit, I’m getting excited about Gears Tactics, which is surprising. But a turn-based tactical game set in the Gears of War universe sounds like it could be heaps of fun, and might just satisfy the part of me that wants a full-blown Gears of War RTS game. Anyway, previews for Gears Tactics have been promising, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
And then in June the remaster for Command & Conquer is going to land, and that’s pretty exciting stuff. I’ve still got my original C&C discs lying around here somewhere, and I’m eager to see how the games hold up today and how good of a remaster we’ve actually got. Y’know, since the last RTS remaster didn’t exactly go too well.
My time at the moment is being taken up by two games, the first being none other than Half-Life: Alyx. Oh boy, oh boy, OH BOY! It’s good. Like, proper right fantastic awesome sauce good. It isn’t that Alyx does anything that we haven’t already seen in other VR games, it’s just that Half-Life: Alyx does it all so extremely well, from the excellent gunplay to the genuinely funny humour. It’s a highly polished, full-blown triple-A experience the likes of which we haven’t really seen in VR up until now. Sure, we’ve had stuff like Asgard’s Wrath which I loved, but honestly Alyx raises the bar on the platform in a way that means if I reviewed Asgard’s Wrath now it would have to get a lower score than it did. Yes, Alyx is the new benchmark, although in some ways it’s unfair because Valve clearly sunk an obscene amount of money into the project. I’m not even sure if they’ll be able to make a profit on the game, simply because of the relatively small market. But then, I don’t know if Valve care: they have the money to spare, and Alyx is more about showing people what VR can do than just being another money spinner.
I did take notice of a comment thread on Steam where one player was disappointed by the basic physics, citing Boneworks as a much better game because of its physics system. I’ve only put a few hours into Boneworks, and what the developers have done is incredible in that game. But it’s such a different beast – while it certainly offers a great campaign, it’s still more of a physics showcase than anything else. Even the game itself reminds players of this, mentioning it on walls and other things. Personally, I find Boneworks clumsy to actually play, perhaps because I’ve not put enough time into understanding its physics. As for Half-Life: Alyx, it doesn’t focus on its physics any more than it needs to. What’s there works fantastically I think and translates nicely into a videogame, but the focus is story and the gameplay. In other words, if you want a physics playground then Boneworks is for you.
But anyway, a review of Half-Life: Alyx will be coming. Should be fun. I’m still learning how to review VR games. They’re tricky, folks.
I’ve also been putting some time into Besiege, a game all about creating crazy machines to complete challenges like smashing up a little village, killing some soldiers, blowing up castles and other nonsense. I’ve had this game in my library for ages and kind of forgot about it, but I noticed it had come out of Early Access the other week, so I figured I’d fire it up and maybe do a review. And do you know what? It’s rather good fun! It’s a cheap, simple game that has a lot of flexibility in its easy to understand building mechanics. If you’re willing to put in the time you can create some amazing machines. Or if you’re like me your creativity will abandon you completely and all your creations will be a variation of a giant box on wheels.
While this might ruin the point of me doing a whole review, I’d honestly recommend checking Besiege out. It’s cheap, lots of fun and is great for creative kids, too. But adults can enjoy the hell out of it to, coming up with baffling contraptions and laughing as it catches fire. Because it always catches fire. Every time.
We’re beginning to see the Covid-19 situation hit videogames more, with both The Last of Us 2 and Iron Man VR being indefinitely delayed. In fact, if you’ve pre-ordered the digital version of either game you’ll be getting an automatic refund, and both titles have been taken off of the store front. According to Sony the delays were due to logistical reasons. Indeed, The Last of Us 2 is actually mostly finished and ready to go, with just so last-minute bugs being patched out. So why the delay? Well, apparently it’s because there would be problems shipping the physical version of the game, and they want everyone to be able to play the game at the same time rather than just releasing digitally for now.
Obviously it’s a huge shame to see both games getting delayed, especially The Last of Us 2, but at least we’ve all got plenty of other awesome games to play. Remember folks, keep yourselves at home and stay safe.
With those delays in mind, it reinforces my belief that we won’t be seeing the Xbox Series X and PS5 this year. Sony, though, are remaining adamant that their new console will be out this year, and said as much as writing this up while also revealing THE NEW PS5 CONTROLLER!
Sporting a bold two-tone colour scheme the new PS5 controller sports the name DualSense, a reference to the fact that it contains a new haptic feedback system and adaptive triggers, both of which aim to give players a greater sense of feel for what’s happening in their games. There’s also going to be an in-built microphone for basic audio communication, though Sony themselves still say you’ll want a headset for longer chat sessions. A new USB type-C connection will put an end to fiddling around with the wire, though Sony are keeping quiet about battery life. The Share button has been replaced with a new Create button which will apparently include new ways to make content, but the exact details won’t be released until closer to the console’s launch.
While I’m not sure how I feel about the black and white colouring, the rest of the features of the new DualSense look awesome. Of course, the real proof will be when we can get it in our hands. All the features in the world amount to diddly-squat if the controller isn’t comfortable to hold and use. Although if it could give me a massage I might be willing to concede that point.
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Take care everyone.