The morning Inbox debates the pros and cons of digital vs. physical game sales, as another reader enjoys a drunken game of Super Mario Party.
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As someone that bought the Ultimate Edition of Assassins Creed Odyssey, allowing you to play it since Tuesday, I would say I largely agree with GCs review of the game. That may seem strange coming from someone that was a big enough fan to shell out for one of the expensive editions (there are tons of them) but so far Ive been a bit disappointed in it.
The biggest problem has been the grinding which many think is there simply to encourage microtransactions. I agree its impossible to be certain whether thats the case – and its certainly not as blatant as Shadow Of War – but having been forced to stop doing story missions just to go on endless side quests is really starting to sour me on the game. Its not the way I want to play it and even if its just supposed to push you towards more exploration and story missions it should force me to play a way I dont want to.
You only have to look at Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, which that last two Assassins Creeds are obviously influenced by, to see how exploration and side quests can come about organically and not stop you from doing the story. But for such a huge open game Odyssey only wants you to do things its way. Im not happy about it, and the fact that there are microtransactions in it makes it very difficult for Ubisoft to claim innocence. In my opinion there shouldnt be any non-cosmetic microtransactions in any full price game, end of story.
Blue skies over Xbox
Someone wrote in the other week asking what people thought would be the best graphics of the year/generation and I think it was Red Dead Redemption II, The Last Of Us Part II, Battlefield V, and Forza Horizon 4. Apologies if it wasnt exactly those four but it doesnt matter because the answer is totally Forza Horizon 4. I expect many thought that was an outside bet at the time but Ive been playing it on my Xbox One X and 4K TV and it is absolutely stunning.
The use of HDR is amazing too, the best Ive ever seen. It creates this sort of idealised, perfect version of the UK that doesnt exist but seems strangely familiar. Its like your driving around in a dream. I dont want to get to poetic, but it really feels like a spiritual successor to OutRun and other blue sky Sega games (even though it can also be grey skies and everything in between).
A stunning game all round (it also plays great) and show what the Xbox One X can do when its pushed. I cant believe the next Xbox console wont be super-powered and I look forward to Microsoft finally waking up from the slumber theyve been in all generation. It also makes me very interested in the Fable reboot Playground Games are allegedly working on, even if I agree the originals were never that great.
Reading some of the Hot Topic emails at the weekend only served to underline how important your current circumstances are when it comes to how much you enjoy games, particularly Roystons letter. Even an almost universally derided game can be fun if youre playing it couch co-op with a new partner.
Thinking about it, most of my favourite games have benefitted from my circumstances at the time.
Zelda: Ocarina Of Time is my favourite game, but a big part of that is that it consumed an entire summer holiday when I was 13. No stresses, strains, responsibilities, or homework. Thats also pretty much the perfect age: old enough to recognise a quality game and young enough to get properly swept up in the magic of it. I had a SNES before then but was too young and clueless, so only asked for tat like The Mask or other games based on films I liked. Ocarina Of Time and Super Mario 64 were my first masterpieces.
GoldenEye 007 is another – it was the main multiplayer game I played at pretty much the only period in my life that Ive been able to regularly gather friends together for four-player couch sessions. Mario Kart 64 also benefits from this.
Final Fantasy X is the outlier here, in that I dont think its a great game. Its a good one, but if I played it now Id hate the cheesiness and characters. But its one of my favourite games because I played it during the period that I effed up uni 100 miles from home and ended up living in a weird basement flat while washing dishes in a busy kitchen for a boss I hated, whilst pretending to my parents I was still at school. It was basically pure escapism and I love the game all the more for it.
The Witcher 3 is a funny one in that I really liked it the first time I played it. 8/10 maybe. But I replayed it about a year ago during a fairly stressful period and absolutely fell in love with it. Pure escapism again. I absorbed myself in the world, characters and lore. I remember feeling quite detached from the world the first time I played it, but on my second playthrough there were moments that pretty much broke me – the reunion halfway through the game had me in bits! I even read the books back to back in the following six months or so.
Basically, I think pretty much any game can be enjoyable in the right circumstances.
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Impossible to hate
Sorry for the lateness of my reply, didnt remember the game until I was reading Saturdays Hot Topic.
A game I really enjoyed but got mediocre reviews was Mission: Impossible on the N64. Perhaps because Id only had an Atari ST and a SNES before that the novelty factor played a part, but I really enjoyed sneaking about placing cameras to see what the access codes were for locked doors and spray-painting security cameras.
There was also a bit of excitement because I got the game on my first trip to London – bundled with the video of the film and the novelisation of the film. Never did read the novel but don#t imagine I missed out on much there.
I just wanted to write in and say how much fun Ive had with Super Mario Party over the weekend. The crazy games mixed with alcohol consumption has ensured many laughs. The biggest laugh yet though, was the Trike Hard mini-game, just brilliant!
Id definitely recommend it to folk who are looking for a great, fun and accessible party game on Switch.
After reading a comment about Half-Life 2 being a good sequel (hisss) I remembered about and played Half-Life: Blue Shift yesterday after work. It took me about 2½ hours to complete, in one sitting, and I enjoyed it. In a way it was the Half-Life experience condensed. A different perspective on the same event. A good, short game.
I can relate to the fear of missing out a lot of people are confronted by when hearing about 100-hour games. It seems as though not only are there too many games to play but each game is too much game to play. As such Im interested in the future of short games.
I personally dont have much interest in episodic games. A lot of older short stories/TV shows were written specifically so that they could be read out of sequence and still be enjoyed (Moorcocks Elric and Star Trek spring to mind) so it seems strange that most episodic games just go for the same structure as any other game but split up. We need more sets (rather than series?) of short games that are non-linear or connected in a more abstract way.
Blue Shift is a nice example of this. Its not so much a consecutive game as a parallel one. It offers more understanding of the overall story while keeping the mechanics fairly consistent to Half-Life, which makes it feel more like an optional extension of Half-Life than a necessary continuation of it.
I wonder if gamers (and I) just need to learn to let go. Are games trying to pressure us into playing them? Id like to see a non-linear open world game that encourages you to engage with it until you get to a point where you are satisfied. A game that lets you dip in as much or as little as you like and then leave without judgement or you having felt like you missed out or needed to see more.
Maybe this means making franchises structured like 50 Blue Shifts. Lots of short, affordable, parallel games.
Andrrwe (Steam ID)
PS: Personally I hate Half-Life 2. It just might be my most disappointing game ever. It seemed to be a weird mix of faithful and innovative where each aimed to work against the other. I liked Hal-Life 2: Episode One more, probably because it reminded me a lot of Blue Shift.
GC: The Dark Pictures may be the closest to what youre talking about, in that its an anthology of unconnected horror games.
Patience is its own reward
I feel I dont share the same thoughts on a digital future as matc7884. Just take a look at the PC/Steam model. Sure, most game are released at full price but, just like the shops, the market dictates. If people stop spending full price in a fully digital market, discounts will follow.
And without the retailers cut it will become more affordable to the industry to do so. I have saved a lot more than £100 over the years and its all down to patience.
Im currently waiting on Shadow Of The Tomb Raider to drop in price, which by my estimates will be at least 20% off before Christmas. Until then Ill wade through my massive catalogue of games mostly bought at under £10 during the Steam sales.
RE: Friday evenings Inbox. Saw a couple of points I agreed with and wanted to add to them. Firstly I read the letter by matc7884 about the digital vs. physical market and I couldnt agree more. Im also nervous about the future of disc-based games in the future. Not only for the cheaper prices but also the resale value. For example, I paid £50 for Spider-Man on disc, took my time, enjoyed it, and being single-player only Im unlikely to return to it, so I sold it for £40 cash to CeX – therefore essentially enjoyed the game for a tenner. Saw a similar comment in the Underbox too, so I know Im not alone with that.
I do however think there are some great deals available regularly on digital games, which has led me to having a new, arguably bad, habit. If I buy a game on disc that I like and keep and said game goes on sale at a good price digitally, Ill compare the sale price to the trade-in price and if theyre a similar value Ill trade or sell the disc via eBay and buy the digital copy, ideally breaking even give or take a couple of quid. It allows me to have less clutter in the TV unit, genuinely, and also the convenience of not having to change discs (+1 for lazy points).
And secondly, I also have to agree with Dookie regarding Shenmue, I just couldnt get on with it. I have played Yakuza 0 and Kiwami and loved both, and although I knew Shenmue wouldnt be up to their standards I couldnt help but be curious. Unfortunately I didnt manage more than a few hours myself, but hope fans do get to enjoy the third game theyve waited so long for.
RE: matc7884. Is five years of someones life, development stress, and money really worth only £7? I understand Santa Monica Studio got the full price for the initial purchase of God Of War but if everyone was that cheap, there wouldnt be a gaming industry.
RE: Reader David and Hollow Knight. Well said mate, totally agree with you. These devs think they are being clever. Potentially good game ruined by clever dicks.
This weeks Hot Topic
The subject for this weekends Inbox was suggested by reader Ishi, who asks what is your favourite video game soundtrack?
The game can be from any era or format but were interested in which game had the best overall soundtrack, not just one good song. What is it you like so much about your favourite soundtrack and how well does it work together with the game? How much difference do you think a good soundtrack makes to a game and have any been ruined by a bad one?
Do you own the soundtrack separately and if so how often do you listen to it and other video game music on its own?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.