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So, as you all well know, the 20th Anniversary PS4 was limited to a production run of 12,800 in order to celebrate 20 years of great games on the Playstation platform. The USA got some, and so did the UK, and other countries, too!
But the UK scheme was a little different...
If you wanted one of these precious rarities, you could either wait for 14 hours in a cold London street overnight and pick one up for the low, low price of £19.94, or you could compete in Sony's strange scheme currently running this week. The scheme involves a web page with around 300 Playstation and third-party character images slapped on it in a horrendous mess. Bascially, the idea was that at intervals during the week the Playstation UK Twitter account would tweet an obscure clue and leave everyone scrambling to decipher the meaning, then once they had figured it out they would have to click on the corresponding character. If they got it right, they'd be rewarded with a form to fill in, which would then be submitted to the raffle. If you're one of the first 100 to submit the form, you win! (The chance to buy a PS4 for £399)
So, what's the issue here? Well, most people have been complaining that they have jobs and thus can't piss around on the internet all day looking for this clue. To them I say "Haha", for I am jobless and poor. The real issue here is that it's a fucking stupid idea in the first place, why not just let PSN users buy the thing? Thirdly, as expected, the site with the images at 4pm yesterday, even after the clue was tweeted, was clogged to hell as desparate thousands tried to get their hands on a limited edition PS4. So Playstation couldn't even make their convluted scheme work.
It was stuck like this for a good twenty minutes, by which time many others had already claimed their 'prize'.
And finally, as expected, a large amount of these PS4s are already on eBay for hilarious amounts, some well over £1,500, some priced at £1,994 for added nostalgia. Am I saying I despise scalpers? Nah, because frankly I'd sell mine if I got hold of one (I'm a jobless student with Uni to pay for, after all), but at the same time I can't help but hate the way this has all gone down. It doesn't leave much of a legacy for the 20th anniversary and just leaves far more people disappointed than intended. After trying my hand at the game Sony have set before us, I couldn't help but feel like this console generation has really gone to hell after running through whether or not to sell the console if I was lucky enough to get one; nothing about the PS4 (and definitely not XB1) makes me actually want it. I'm still working through the many incredible games on offer on my 2008 PS3 80GB model, and recently I've never felt so detached from gaming, almost as if everyone but Nintendo has forgotten how to make one without caveats.
I never thought I'd say something positive about Nintendo, but there it is.
Welcome one and all to 'Ben Grady's Games of 2014', sponsored by YOU, the loyal fans. It's been a fun-filled, exciting year in gaming, so let's get down to it!
I've only got as far as the medical bay section in which you first encounter the Alien, as I'm playing on Hard difficulty and thus gave up as is my perogative after around 5 attempts. I might revisit this game one day, at which point I'll update this article with a score, since this is technically a review-in-progress. It's really good so far!
Ok, so I'll admit Alien was the only new game I could afford to play in 2014, discounting Ground Zeroes since it wasn't really much of a game and I hated it anyway. The Saboteur is a game from 2009, developed by the long dead Pandemic games of Destroy all humans! and Mercenaries fame. It's basically Mercenaries but set in 1940s Paris, which makes it instantly more cool. It's more Noir than LA Noire ever was, and the fact that liberating areas of the map turns them from monotone to full colour means this game should be celebrated as a work of art. RIP Pandemic.
What a load of trash. Just look at the protagonist...LOOK.
Silent Hill 2
Best PS2 game I've ever played? If only I hadn't played The Simpsons: Hit & Run, things might have turned out differently. As it stands Silent Hill 2 is the second best PS2 game I've ever played, and much like Alien: Isolation, I'm only part-way through!
Batman: Arkham Oranges
So this game's pretty cool, after all, I do love the Arkham games. Everything is fairly decent about this game, and I don't feel it's worth some of the harsh criticism some gave it; the one factor I do hate about this game, however, is that there is clearly some sort of controller delay when fighting compared to the silky smooth Arkham Asylum/City. It ruins a lot of the fights and makes it near impossible to not die at least once on some of the later fights. So, maybe it did deserve that criticism after all.
This game is so legit, as they say. I was surprised to find myself fairly hooked for the better part of a week on this game, attempting to improve myself rather than give up and blame the PS3's controller delay in PS1 mode. It's fascinating to see that people once paid $60 for a well-polished, perfectly sculpted experience with relatively very little content, whereas today it would likely stuggle to make an impact on mobiles for ¢99.
Bioshock 2: Minerva's Den
After an unfortunate crash last year, in which a whole FIVE MINUTES of my progress was lost, I neglected to return to Minerva's den until late this year. It's a great piece of DLC and reminded me of how excited I was to see the next iteration of the series, but I've also ran into a weird bug on PS3 that means it's impossible to buy the 'Insect swarm 3' as it causes a full-on crash resulting in a hard reset, and no Bioshock game is worth playing without the third tier of insect swarm, so that's that.
Final Fantasy VII
I bought this in the 20th anniversary sale on PSN because everyone goes on about how great it is. Yeah, it's pretty great for a JRPG (a genre I generally dislike beside Ni No Kuni, mainly due to the repetition involved), but I have no idea why people have been clamouring for a remake all this time, at the end of the day it's a game that's had its day and people love it for what it is. Square Enix would surely ruin it anyway, much like Konami did with the Silent Hill HD collection.
So there you have it, another pointless blog announcing the games I played throughout this past year, hope it was worth your time. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to try and bag myself a 20th Anniversary PS4 to sell on and pay for my University fees. I'll probably keep it. Almost definitely.
I've recently been playing through GTA V for the second time. The first time I didn't really think much of it and generally passed it off as average, but this time I've grown to like it a lot more. My second playthrough also encouraged me to do things outside of the missions I had already completed in the previous playthrough, namely all the random things I saw could be done on a whim. One such thing was to hop on a moving train, run and jump my way to the front carriage and hold up the driver, making my own little heist. So, I got all the way to the front and walked towards the cabin door.
The cabin door didn't open.
"Ok", I thought, "I guess I'll just point my gun at the driver, he'll stop or at the very least slow down, maybe he'll lose control of the train?". Nothing. Confused, I relented to just shoot him in the head. Nothing. This is one of the major flaws of GTA V; Red Dead Redemption allowed me to both shoot the driver, stopping the train, and also rob the passengers on board. It was when I remembered this fact that I concluded GTA V would have been a better game if it were merely a sequel to Redemption.
The mechanics of Redemption are even set out in a perfect way for Heists; using the persistent bounty system in conjunction with something such as the cops ability to ID you based on a description in Mafia II would make for a thrilling cross-country fight against the law. You'd have to stash the gold or weapons somehwere safe and eliminate the tailing posses, maybe even silence the local sheriff to ensure your disappearence. All of this, combined with the character switching of GTA V would make for a stellar game, and the wild west setting would certainly alleviate the boredom between missions I sometimes found with GTA.
Just think of all the other features that have been removed from Redemption to GTA V; hunting animals (without having to go to a pre-determined spot), horses, bounties, posses, duals, sympathetic characters, atmosphere, the list goes on.
So there you are, why Heists should be the next big thing for the Red Dead series, all triggered in my mind from a train cabin door.
Oh yeah, and Undead Nightmare is the best thing ever for Halloween gaming...and Rockstar please make a HD version of RDRevolver...and a PS4 version of Redemption...I'm done.
Recently I needed to transfer some old Sony Hi8 video tapes onto a contemporary format, all videos of my childhood. This proved to be the perfect excuse to spend money on an Elgato Game capture HD, and thus I would finally make a foray into the world of YouTube videogame walkthroughs. Here's what I learnt in the two weeks or so that I actually made videos:
It's finally acceptable to talk to yourself whilst gaming
Initially, during my first few videos which covered Alien: Isolation, I didn't quite know what to say. It was strange, essentially forcing my subconcious thought process into speech; "Oh crap", "I wonder what that was" and "[Various expletives]" were common phrases I would suddenly blurt out as if anyone cared. It was fairly difficult, and it immediately felt forced and unnatural, and consequently none of my videos are particularly entertaining.
It is as easy as you think!
If it were possible to do this in lieu of a full-time job (which I am nonetheless lacking) I absolutely would. Just playing for two hours would give me eight episodes to instantly upload. I could even schedule them to come out once a day and just leave them to upload at their own pace, leaving me to get on with whatever else I wanted. So if, for any reason, you thought the life of a (successful) YouTube gamer was difficult, think again.
Everyone thinks you're infringing on various copyrights!
Despite being a small channel just starting up, within a week several of my Alien videos were flagged for copyright claims by the usual Content-ID scalpers trying to make money from other people's content. Disputing claims is something you'll have to get used to doing work like this!
It ruins your hobby!
Whilst constantly talking into a microphone didn't decrease the tension of Alien: Isolation, it was admittedly distracting. If you want to enjoy a particular game, it would be wise not to do a recorded playthrough straight away. The stress of trying to find something engaging to say is enough to completely break you out of the experience and atmosphere.
What's the damn point?!
Whilst I do generally have a terrible attention span anyway, sometimes bordering on mere seconds, I became disinterested in the whole concept very quickly. Sure, I was actually getting surprisingly decent views and somehow have 500 subscribers, but overall it would never get me anywhere in life, you gotta stay true to yourself, and I should probably steer clear of using my precious time on earth supporting an unpopular gaming channel on a site full of gaming channels without anything creative or interesting to say.
Why did you write this blog, Ben?
I'll tell you when you're older. For now, however, why not subscribe to my real YouTube channel, with all my actual work on which my hopes and dreams to be a full-time filmmaker are pinned, right here.
PLEASE NOTE: The first half of this blog (up until the end of 2008) was written over a year ago for my old blog, gradebmedia.blogspot.com and since then my writing style has improved greatly, so try to excuse the fact I call Half-life 2 "crap" and so on. Enjoy!
It's been roughly around 9 years since the last-generation consoles launched; the PS3 and Xbox 360 have both sold around 70-80 million units each despite being repetitively challenged by new entrants such as the revolution in the smartphone space around 2009 and the ebb and flow of new indie channels, with a new supposed competitor, the Ouya, arriving in 2013. (<- Can't believe I wrote that)
But no one can deny the outright success of what are essentially old boxes of silicon; from the outset these consoles have adapted to the changes in the market like no other generation. It's no longer about a £40 game pressed onto a disc, it's about downloadable content, online stores...and Netflix. In retrospect it's almost surprising that the PS3, without the already established online base of the 360's LIVE system, managed to gain such a competitive footing in the living room (it's the top device for Netflix streaming) and eventually even out-sell the 360, despite it's year advantage.
This article will highlight some of those wow-factor games from the past 8 years, so sit back and reminisce in the glory days of that black box in your bedroom...
When it comes to the launch of a new generation, it is often fraught with new and exciting IP to kick off a fresh start to a new console with new capabilities. Motorstorm, whilst also remembered for it's 100% fake E3 2005 trailer, brought racing fans a taste of intense off-road racing. But who cares about the racing when you were given those crashes? Flipping your rider off a bike was practically an integral gameplay feature, and made Motorstorm all that much more enjoyable. 8/10
The PS3 launched with nothing else all that notable besides Resistance: Fall of man. It's funny to see that the PS Vita's launch was criticised afterwards despite around 30 games launching, when in 2007 the US got 12 games with the PS3, with 5 of them being annual sports games.
Bioshock (360, PC, PS3 later on)
If you are unaware of what Bioshock is or simply haven't bothered to buy it yet, stop reading the damn article and do so! I cannot overstate how much I love this series. Really, don't even ask. 10/10
The orange box (PC, PS3, 360)
Yeah...it was alright. I honestly don't see why everyone loves Valve; Team fortress was good, although it never seemed to work across my various computers. Portal was by far the best, and Half-life was, in my opinion (so don't get too fired up, eh?), a little crap. Well, it certainly didn't live up to the lofty heights of the Valve fanboy's proclamations of the greatest game ever and such, so perhaps it was that which killed it for me...
And as for the rest of the year, Halo 3 and Battalion wars 2 were released, alongside the behemoth that is MySims. All three were pretty good, although I've never played a Halo game...
Burnout Paradise (PS3, 360, PC)
2008 truly was a golden year; the year in which all of the huge releases built up to. The year began with such legends as Burnout Paradise and No More Heroes. Both games were pretty fantastic and I still occasionally go back to Paradise for a spin. The environments of both these games were what really made them; the sun-soaked coasts of America made for perfect playgrounds for Burnout's high-octane street races and No More Heroes' assassinations and...lawn mowing. 10/10 and 9/10 respectively.
Bully: Scholarship edition (360, Wii)
It was 2008. I had a Wii, and there really wasn't all that much on the platform that I could call a perfect experience, besides maybe Super Mario Galaxy. Then along came Bully; perhaps the best open world game I have ever played. Yep, it was that good. The atmosphere, the story...my god, the soundtrack. Everything came together in Bully somehow to create this immersive piece of software, so much so that I have owned it on PS2, 360 and Wii depending on when I had each console. I urge you to buy it on whatever platform; it encapsulates the atmosphere of seasons almost too well... 11/10
God of war: Chains of Olympus (PSP, HD version on PS3)
Perhaps the finest PSP game of all time, with the only contender being the sequel and Metal gear Solid: Peace walker. The fighting controls, graphics, sound and overall presentation feel like something that simply shouldn't be possible on the older Sony portable. You can pick up a PSP for less than £50 these days, or perhaps you've got one tucked away in a draw somewhere. Either way, if you like melee combat games this is a simply essential purchase, you can even buy a HD version in 3D on PS3, you lucky people with 3D TVs!
Uncharted 2: Among Theives (PS3)
In my opinion, perhaps the greatest cinematic experience in a game ever; the good type of cinematic too, not the 24fps with screen tearing type of 'cinematic' as we've come to expect from some companies. Perfectly paced with great variety and stunning set-pieces. Easily a 10/10.
Batman: Arkham Asylum (360, PS3, PC)
Another game with something a lot of games now, and some of its own sequels, seem to neglect: pacing. Asylum's lovingly crafted atmosphere along with still unbeaten fighting mechanics and perfectly cast voice actors created an unforgettable experience for both fans of the Dark Knight and newcomers, such as myself, alike. Another 10/10 hit.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (360, PS3, PC)
Whilst I don't much care for the Call of Duty series anymore, I can't deny the first three of this generation brought me a lot of fun. Whilst the campaign here was never as good as the original or World at War, the multiplayer holds up as some of the most fun I've had with friends bar one game (coming up). It's a shame that the various flaws and apparent ease for people to hack it ruined the game after the initial launch, 8/10.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (360, PS3)
Fuck EA so much for making this game. I wish sometimes I'd never played this game, because then I wouldn't shed a tear every time I see the pile of sewage that is the two latest games in the series, creatively titled Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, two utter, utter disappointments in the face of a game that is, in my opinion, the best online game of all time. Bad Company 2 is perfection, with wonderfully balanced combat, a simple class system and a focus on fun over 'realism'. I find myself completely baffled as to how EA and DICE could ruin such a perfect series like they have. It just goes to show that a more advanced graphics engine usually means a lesser focus on the actual gameplay; DICE are fast becoming the new Crytek and I dread to see the result. I spent roughly 230 hours online in this game, using a squad system that actually worked to meet up with friends and cause havoc. Truly deserving of a 10/10. Don't even get me started on the Vietnam expansion, my god.
Red Dead Redemption (360, PS3)
Outlaws to the end. From the first few minutes during the train intro sequence I was enthralled with the world of Redemption. The story and atmosphere of the game world in particular are standout aspects of this game. I'm not sure anyone who played this game came away from that scene not even a little upset. Everything felt so fresh, despite the structure of the game being vastly similar to GTA, with a varied cast of interesting, intricately designed characters all struggling against the enroaching frontier waged by the Federal government. It almost felt like I was experiencing part of this pivotal moment in American history, and consequently made me yearn for times I would never experience. On top of all this, it had a stellar multiplayer mode which brought in the idea of using the game world as a lobby, leading to organic escapades and fierce gun battles with opposing posses. Another 10/10 smash hit. I'll buy a PS4 on credit if they announce RDR2 soon...
Heavy Rain (PS3)
Whilst many readers will no doubt bring up the still hilarious 'emoshons' joke popularised by Jimothy Sterling, hold off on your keyboard bashing for just a second and let me reminisce in memories of this frankly wonderful game. Sure, the quick-time events and apparent lack of control over some events might have put some people off, and it's generally far from perfect, but I love this game. The dark styling intertwined with the Noir aesthetic and masterful soundtrack made this one a hit for me, and consequently I've played through the story roughly five or six times. Overall, Heavy Rain is, at its core, a fun murder-mystery adventure. It's always fun to see the effects the four characters have on the storylines of the others, and the reveal of the killer's identity was genuinely unexpected. I simply have to give this a 9/10.
Just Cause 2 (360, PS3, PC)
This romp through the fictional isles of Panau can be summed up quite easily, just go and watch some gameplay for ten seconds or so and then immediately buy this game. There's yet to really be an open world game to challenge Just Cause for its level of ridiculous stunts, explosive missions and colourful characters. It never once takes itself too seriously and consequently becomes one of the most fun experiences you can have in a sandbox within around an hour of gameplay. Fans of this game looking for more content should try out Mercenaries 2 or the original Just Cause. This game does suffer from a lack of content and some awkward shooting and driving controls, so it has to be an 8/10.
2010 turned out to be one of the best years for the last generation, with games such as Mass Effect 2, Mafia II, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock 2, Alan Wake and Super Mario Galaxy 2 topping off an already solid year in games.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC)
Easily the most anticipated game of the year, Skyrim came to stay, spurring on idiots across the globe to perpetuate the 'joke' that we must unfortunately remember. The 'Arrow to the knee' thing thankfully died down after a few torturous months, leaving everyone to enjoy the game in peace. I bought Skyrim in 2013 due to the severe issues it had with actually running on PS3 hardware, and whilst I can't deny Bethesda's world building and storytelling is almost second to none in RPGs, I could never really appreciate the boring, floaty melee combat and endless fetch quests, and so I can only give Skyrim a solid 7/10.
Dark Souls (360, PS3, PC)
I admit I've never played the Dark souls series; I got Demon's souls with PS Plus some time ago and barely managed it through the first level, and thus I concluded it wasn't for me. I can however appreciate why some people love it, and I can even say I enjoyed those first twenty minutes I played before I was slaughtered again and again, I'm even thinking about investing some time in Bloodbourne when it comes out. The Dark souls series has a strange way of hooking you into it over and over, and whilst I'm sure many out there would give the series a perfect score, I can't shake the feeling that dated mechanics for the sake of difficulty marred my experience rather than enhancing it, 8/10.
Dead Space 2 (360, PS3, PC)
Another game I felt was a little tainted by bad controls (or perhaps I just wasn't very good), Dead Space 2 set a new precedent for atmosphere in horror games; the lighting in particular in this game was stellar, backed up by some great graphical work and a rock-solid frame rate on both consoles. It would be another three years until we were gifted a proper Alien horror game, but this was a just substitute, just don't mention the unfortunate third game...9/10.
Portal 2 (360, PS3, PC)
Although the only game to do so thus far, Portal 2 had Steamworks integration on PS3, meaning that PC and PS3 players could play together for the first time. Let us hope for total platform integration one day, but until then we have this. Portal 2 took the concept that was the original Portal and amped everything up to eleven, with all new mechanics, co-op and a much lengthier story mode. Again, however, a game I've never owned (not sure what I was doing in 2011), but having played it a few times with friends I can say it's probably as good as I just said it was...9/10.
2011 was perhaps a lackluster year in comparison to 2010, but it did bring about a sudden change in the way we think about games today; LIMBO's release in 2010 arguably started a surge of interest in indie games, but 2011's Bastion sought to bring it even closer to the mainstream eye. This year also brought about Uncharted 3, Batman: Arkham City and the yearly installments of both Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed.
We're almost there, hang on.
Hitman: Absolution (360, PS3, PC)
Absolution was the direly needed shakeup that the Hitman series needed. Whilst Blood Money was a ton of fun, going back to it now feels far too easy; the old mechanics revolved around putting on a disguise and consequently being able to run around restricted areas unnoticed, but Absolution forced you to avoid restricted areas altogether unless you wanted to get spotted through your disguise. This simple change, along with some great new additions in terms of killing methods, traversal skills and overall graphical and AI imporvements made this game a stellar comeback for Agent 47. The story was perhaps more ridiculous in comparison to previous entries, but overall it stands as the game with the most variety and replayability of the series to date. 9/10.
Dishonored (360, PS3, PC)
Much like Corvo, the game's protagonist, this game came out of nowhere and offered a unique blend of stealth and magic that, whilst not perfect in execution sometimes, offered a ton of fun across the increasingly challenging, although somewhat short, missions. The atmosphere in particular was another strongpoint of this game as well as the ability to make organic feeling choices on whether to go on a murder spree or silently complete your objectives like a ghost. It all came together to make a great base that I hope the developers build upon in the sequel, or Prey 2, whatever they're doing. 8/10.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown (360, PS3, PC, Mac, iOS, Android)
A strategy game on a console that actually works? Need I say more? Enemy Unknown also introduced some interesting mechanics such as permadeath and was generally just very good. 9/10
2012 was also home to the release of such titles as Assassin's creed III, Borderlands 2, FarCry 3 and Resident Evil 6. Not a particularly memorable year.
Tearaway (PS Vita, PS4 coming 2015)
Whilst not technically a game of last-gen, I couldn't help but put it here. God. Damn. No other game has managed to make me smile as much as Tearaway. Sure, a lot of these games had their own little 'wow' moments, but playing Tearaway was like experiencing one of the moments perpetually, constantly being wowed by the art design, music and all of the funky ways Media Molecule thought of to exploit the Vita's features. In many ways it's worth owning a Vita just for this game, 10/10.
Bioshock: Infinite (360, PS3, PC, Mac)
The stunning conclusion to my favourite trilogy of games ever. A lot of people like to isolate parts of the game and call out how either some mechanics are as good as in that, or how the narrative is dissonant to this etc. This game's story, no matter how 'dissonant' fools like to make it seem, is perfection. Before this game, I had never taken to reading up on several articles about both the timeline of the game itself and also things such as quantum levitation. This game made me smarter, and that's surely worth a 10/10.
The Last of Us (PS3, PS4)
Not only was this game a great apocalypse tale with stunning graphics and sound design, it also had two gay characters and you probably didn't even realise! How's that for equality? It's all well and good when a developer touts gay characters in their games, but when a developer just does it without making a fuss, well that's what I call progress. 10/10.
Grand Theft Auto V (360, PS3, Xbox One, Ps4, PC)
Initially I didn't think all that much of GTA V, it seemed quite similar to the previous entries and I was concerned that Rockstar were losing their touch with the series. Whilst this opinion still holds on to this day somewhat, it has grown on me. The cast of characters are interesting to a point, and the much improved mechanics make for fun gameplay when you're not on a fetch quest. GTA Online however was never really any good, with poor lobby sorting and horrible matchmaking leading to a fairly dull experience with friends. Oh yeah, almost forgot: Heists. 7/10.
In 2013 we were also treated to such gems as COD: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, Assassin's Creed IV and Beyond: Two Souls. What a great year.
And here we find ourselves in the present. 2014 is pretty much the last year of the PS3 and 360 before they become second-tier devices. Thankfully, they're still receiving decent ports such as Destiny, Alien: Isolation and some upcoming games such as Shadow of Mordor and LittleBigPlanet 3. This generation often gets a lot of hate due to the anti-consumer practices implemented during the past few years, but people are quick to forget that this generation has brought some of the best games we've ever seen, its brought about the Indie revolution and sparked (some) discussion of issues concerning equality, themes and story tropes. It has been a rocky generation, but arguably also the most important yet. The changes we've seen over the past few years have set precedents to shape the future of gaming, and whilst some of that future doesn't look too promising, there's no doubt now that the consumer controls it. Just imagine what the Xbox One would've been without us.
Here's to an even better generation of games. Leave a comment below about your favourite games from the past generation and your hopes for the future. Peace.
Vib-Ribbon was released on PSN in Europe last week, and as soon as it became available I bought and downloaded it. Before even that 25mb download had finished I had created and burnt my own playlist to disc. Below is my first playlist, and I'd like you to share your own! Try and give us an idea of how complex the patterns are and the tempo, or links, if you can, and enjoy each other's potentially insane choices!
So there you have it! Leave your own playlist below and I'll update the blog with my favourites.