Golden age of gaming?

Simple question, are we currently in a golden age of gaming?

Reading a lot of opinion i’d say most would disagree. What with EA and their micro transactions, the complete and utter hatred of freemium gaming, metal gear losing it’s father, and the continuation of the glacial evolution of the big franchises (COD, fifa etc), most of the news seems pretty bleak. The last big revolutionary game, no mans sky, was a terrible disappointment, and seemed to almost permanently dampen the mood of the industry. No longer were fantastic, game changing new features seen in such a positive light, more as a possible liability. From this though, there are some shining examples of what is possible.

Battle Royale!

These two small unassuming words have had a huge impact on the community in a very short space of time. Fortnite Battle Royale and Player Unknowns Battle Ground, from here on known as Fortnite and PUBG seem to be in a arms race vying for all of my spare time. The gritty nature and scale of PUBG contrasts to the beauty of Fortnite, make no mistake, these are very different games. The extra scale of PUBG and the building and destructible environment of Fortnite mean these game are more different than COD and battlefield. Both are battle royal games, but they are very different, PUBG focuses on straight up combat, tactical advantage is gained from using the scenery, not from creating your own.

Fortnite

This was the first of the two i played, it’s beautiful, epic have done an amazing job. The gameplay and graphics are married perfectly. The game is a joy to sink a number of hours into at a time. There are large empty ares of the map, assuming you can survive the first 3 or so minutes avoiding them is the next thing normally on my list. My biggest complaint is that sections of the map are boring, there isn’t enough loot in entire zones to convince me that it would make a good drop point, other places are so loot dense they always defend into chaos (when you have a coin flips chance). PUBG has this beaten with the sheer scale of the map. This has it’s own issues as i’ll detail below.

PUBG

I haven’t spent anywhere near enough time on this game, but i love it already. The focus on combat is fantastic, combined with the upgrades to weapons (red dot sites are game changing for me) and the ADS, this is an awesome game. The number and quantity of good weapons and the number of different weapons is fantastic, although you really do have to drop in cities and towns! Clothing and armour is done very nicely as well, with many different styles available for every type of player. Where PUBG falls down is the map size, its huge! With such a big map, populating the entire area would be impossible! Also, exploring the entire thing is impossible, when you have to have vehicles to get around, i think you’ve gone too far! The size of the map also has a know on effect both graphically and in terms of object density, rooms feel empty when you’re used to fortnite!

The real kicker is that both of these excellent game have been given away free of charge on mobile! I can personally attest that both are very playable, look fantastic and are lots of fun! I played a game of PUBG while at the vets, waiting for my cat, it was liberating! To have such amazing games at our fingertips is unheard of! Long may it continue!

There is a lot that’s wrong with the gaming industry at the moment, but growing pains have to be expected in a industry that is going through such change. There are though, tiny glimmers that better things maybe on the horizon!

 

I may update this in the future, i’m by no means any good at either game, but i am really enjoying both.

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Why Metal Gear Solid is so good.

I’ve been playing through metal gear solid again. For me, this is unusual, I never reread books, never (except for some exceptional exceptions) rewatch films and never replay games. Metal gear solid is different though, and for 2 very important reasons.

Story

I originally got mgs in 1998, I’d never played through a game with such a gripping and deep story. From that era, the only game that comes close is half-life, and imo it’s a distant second. The way the game introduces the different characters is amazing, slow, drawn out affairs, deep back stories (which build on those from the mg universe, not that 14 year old me cared). The relationship between Snake, Otacon and Meryl (let alone the relationship of Otacon and sniper wolf…) is fantastic, their individual development from scratch, and that of their relationships with NPC’s was ground breaking. The entire Shadow Moses island base feels alive in a way not many other game have to date. Every part of the story is beautifully interwoven this is accentuated by the game allowing us to view them as we pass check points (when we hear that Ocelot killed Donald Anderson, even though we saw him die of a heart attack, this kind of subtle inference (this time to the character Decoy Octopus)). I can really only compare this game to the likes of The Last of Us, another one of the greatest games of all time.

Level design

This game, i think, has the greatest level design of any game ever. The tutorial level at the start is perfect, the first proper level is brilliant, and the base, the base feels real and operational. It feels like a good movie. The way the game uses different atmospheres is also incredible, the tutorial level is dark, cramped and simple, mimicking what one would expect to find in an underground loading bay. Once the player is confident with the mechanics the game moves to the first proper level/sequence. I will at this point clarify, i mean the area outside the base, the helipad and surrounding area. Although the inside space used (up to the DARPA chief) is also fantastic, the outside is just so striking.

I can’t emphasise this enough, this level is still my favourite of any game to which it is comparable.

There is a reason i chose level one as the featured image for this article, it’s amazing. After the helicopter leaves and you regain control, the fact there there are two different paths available to you instantly makes the player aware of the fact that they will be having to make choices, although at this point we have no idea of the consequences. The shear beauty of the level, the inclusion of the CCTV cameras, the snow tracking, the crawl mechanic, these factors all combine to make an outstanding introduction to the game.

The rest of the game is also superb, the way the environments vary both suddenly and seamlessly change (eg the passage way out from the office you fight psycho mantis in) is just simply fantastic and makes the game feel much larger, to list some of my personal highlights:

  • Otacons lab
  • The torture suit
  • Comm tower sniper battle
  • Vulcan Raven tank battle

These two factors, the story and level design are still unmatched in my opinion. Don’t misunderstand me, many other factors go into making computer games, MGS’s main flaw is gameplay. Shooting accurately is hit and miss, climbing into the elevator to fight the cloaked special ops troops with only a tiny amount of health bore testament to this! The game isn’t ageing well either, not in a way in which i think a remake/remastery is needed, but they need to move away from the open world mess that was the last game (if there ever will be another game). The closest game i ever played to metal gear solid was the first couple of splinter cell games, these had the same single player against the world stealth action traits. I hope to play games like these again, but with the last splinter cell coming out in 2013 and Hide Kojima leaving the franchise after the last game i’m not immediately hopeful.

Hall of Fame 2018

Much has been made of the recent rumours regarding the class of 18. I thought i’d throw my 2 cents in!

So the rumour states that, Goldberg, Bam Bam Bigelow, Ivory, Dudley Boyz and Kid Rock are all going in (this is taken from Brad Shepards tweet). This really isn’t that bad a list. Goldberg made a huge impression on the WWE universe during his second series with Brock. This, juxtaposed against his last run with the company (also with Brock), shows just how badly he was booked during his first stint. Also i don’t think there were enough parallels drawn between Goldbergs scintillating unbeaten run, and Asuka’s current run. Goldberg’s promo ability had slightly improved, and, with the addition of son-berg, endeared him to the universe instantly, like a perfect storm of nostalgia and good will.

The Dudley Boyz have been a fantastic tag-team for years of course. My first introduction to them was attitude era WWE/F. They were a fantastic cartoon based tag team, with little spike running round antagonising their opposition. The 3D has to go down as one of the (if not the) greatest tag team moves of all time, add the a table and forget it, instant classic. Bubba/Bully Ray has always been able to cut a promo, it’s been even more obvious since the toned down the simple Dudley-Ville gimmick.

As for Ivory and Bam Bam, it’s not that i’m dismissing them. Ivory was big during my off period, i’m sure i’ve never seen her wrestle. Bam Bam i remember from WCW, it’s not that i didn’t like him, i’ve just never been a fan of classic big dudes (hoss’s). When they can move they can be some of the best characters (Brock, Kane, Taker), but otherwise they’re not to my taste.

Who would i like to see go in this year? In a word, Chyna.

It’s just been announced (though long rumoured) that there’ll be a women’s royal rumble match for the first time this year. How great would it be that shortly after yet another wall is broken down for the female super stars, one of the greatest trail blazers the company has seen in recent times is (rightly) remembered. Chyna did so much for the image of women in the industry, it’s wrong for her to be blacklisted.

I’ll also be watching for the Undertaker. IMO when he won’t go into the HoF before he retires from the in ring bit. If he doesn’t go in this year, i’ll be looking forward to hearing that gong at least once more

New COD

The new COD went live this last Friday, I’m happy to report that as per usual I’ve forgone the campaign and plowed straight and solely into the multiplayer portion. Predictably I’m now suffering from a lack of sleep and tired thumbs!

The feel of the game at first impressions (at least aesthetically) is that of a mix between battlefield 1 and black ops 1, very gritty and mostly dull tones. Game play is little fast for my liking, but the removal of wall running, double jumps etc, makes for a more grounded (no pun intended) game (also, I’ve just come out of a battlefield phase).

Progression seems to work well, if not a little confusing at times. There is apparently three different ‘trees’ to progress down, your main tree (which could be likened to the old player level system), a weapon tree (to unlock attachments for guns you have to earn points with the weapon, normally through killing other players) and lastly, a class system (the perk tree is determined by the class you are playing with, for instance, the airborne division can run faster, climb faster etc. As you increase you division level you unlock more perks).

Maps seem good after a couple of hours of play, there are a few that I like and none that i hate, which is always a good sign.

I’ve really enjoyed playing it so far, and I look forward to investing a few more hours.

Anyway, I’ll update this after I prestige, seems like a good time to.

AG

Summer Slam 2017

So, prediction time again, again, where i feel it’s needed i’ll detail why i think a result will happen:

Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe vs. Braun Strowman – WWE Universal Championship match = Brock Lesnar

I don’t see Brock leaving the WWE before Wrestlemania. He can’t fight in the UFC even if he wanted to.

Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Sasha Banks – WWE Raw Women’s Championship match = Alexa Bliss

With this match supposed to be with Bailey, they won’t change the whole storyline so Sasha wins, Bailey i doubt was booked to win either, there isn’t enough conflict with Bailey at the moment to give her a good title run.

Big Show vs. Big Cass – With Enzo Amore suspended above the ring in a shark cage = Big Cass

Big Show gains nothing by winning, big Cass can use this to end his feud and spring board onto other things

‘The Demon’ Finn Bálor vs. Bray Wyatt = Finn Balor

Bray doesn’t win his feuds, and the WWE will want to keep the demon strong for the future, I think more important is that Finn remains healthy

Cesaro & Sheamus (C) vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins – WWE Raw Tag Team Championship match = Dean & Seth

They won’t lose after only forming on the go home show. If they do lose and immediately fall out then what was the whole point of them playing with it over the last few weeks

Towzawa (C) vs. Neville – WWE Cruiserweight Championship = Towzowa

I think they want to release Neville to the main roster and an Apollo-Neville program would work well to elevate Apollo and allow Neville to transition away from 205Live. This worries me as i think it signals the death of 205. They have recently split TJP and Neville, I think this may have been the foreshadowing of darker times.

Jinder Mahal (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – WWE Championship match = Nakamura

Jinder has held the belt for long enough, he can hang around the main event scene if the WWE want to squeeze more from him. A good run with Super Cena leading up to thanks giving, lets hope it doesn’t involve another flag match…

Naomi (C) vs. Natalya – WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship match = Naomi

Naomi has been improving week on week, i think the powers that be will keep the title on her, continue the growth and add another top level star to their roster. Another Becky as a top level face would do well (I’m not a huge fan of Charlotte as a face).

AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens – WWE United States Championship match (with Shane McMahon as special guest referee) = AJ Styles

AJ Styles, possibly with a shady finish setting up Shane and KO

Randy Orton vs. Rusev = Orton

I think Orton, he has lost repeatedly to Jinder over the last few PPV’s, i think Randy goes over and this match is never spoken of again, Randy goes off to do his own thing, Rusev starts what should be a push, but my turn into mid card hell in the next SDLive

The New Day (C) vs. The Usos – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship match = New Day

The New Day, they are the biggest thing on the tag side of things, they have to win and retain. Knocking the New Day off so soon after their last loss (so soon by New Day standards). I think The New Day win clean, but the feud continues, possibly with two other teams becoming involved.

John Cena vs. Baron Corbin = John Cena

As much as Big Match John must win all, Baron seems to be trying to throw his push away. If the failed cash-in was anything to go by, belly button mouth is facing a squash match.

 

The tna problem

Every Friday, on spike tv, tna will air. This should be awesome and I should rightly be looking forward to a few hours in front of the box, I’m not. This is the closest i get to watching wrestling as i did way back when, I’ve never taken advantage of it…

This time last year they were doing some of the most amazing stuff ever seen inside a wrestling ring, at present they have a rehash of the heel Michael Cole storyline. How could they have fallen from the final deletion and Bobby Lashley collecting all the belts, to such depths. 

Losing Billy Corgan was a huge blow in my opinion. Billy wasn’t only good regarding knowledge and love for wrestling, but he was also woven into the storylines in a way which left a huge hole with his departure.

Other than the loss of Billy, the talent exodus was brutal, TNA impact lost so much momentum it will take a very long time to rebuild trust with the fans.

AG

Crisis over

Finally got my geeky hat back on last night and finished up my iot rc car! I know, trust me I’m more surprised than you!

The project was one I enjoyed, but not a 2am passion. Though this meant the project took a lot longer than it should, it also means I did things after careful consideration. For the end product this has resulted in absolutely no tape being used (pretty sure this is a first), things have even been stuck down with glue .

The car does wheelies, all the time, it’s a happy accident. Also I haven’t managed to get cornering to work, I’m not bothered, I haven’t tried to be honest.


Want to keep moving on and not get bogged down in perfecting this. Need to revisit an old project, thinking about a total overhaul… ho hum, things to consider!