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NekoJonez’s April 2018 Update

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April 2018 is almost over and there are a few things I would love to tell about the future of my blog. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes, making my life extremely hectic and busy. So, I hope you don’t mind I keep this article extremely short. So, ready, set, go! 

Personal life stuff

Like I said in the introduction, my personal life is quite hectic at the moment. Next week, I’ll have a week off from work. While you would think: “oh, then Jonez has more time for articles.”, that isn’t true at all.

I took a week off from work because the final week of rehearsals for the play I’m in starts up tomorrow. That means I’ll be out of the house each and every evening to perfect the play and have the premiere upcoming Friday.

That’s a lot of work for sure, but during the day, I’ll be a student. Where I’m studying for an upcoming exam in college for my one to least subject. For those who are curious, it’s a SQL-exam.

Also, the past week was exhausting. Long hours at work, studying, acting and I started to play a bunch of new games to review in the future on my blog. I think I better focused on one game. But, hey, I wanted to play some different games too.

In addition to that, I have been buying games left and right, mostly Dutch edutainment games to complete my collection of some series. While I’m glad my collection gets more and more complete, I don’t have the budget right now to buy a Switch. But, one thing is for sure, this year will be the year I’m going to buy a Switch!

Blog work

When April is over, I’ll start making some changes on my blog. At first, I’ll fix typos in older articles and make small changes to articles. Most of those changes will be rewriting sentences that don’t make sense in English. You might have noticed here and there that I use expressions that make sense in Dutch, but not in English. So, that sort of things.

Besides that, I’ll be changing the layout of my overview pages. I’ll be merging some of them and others will have a design change. In addition to that, I’ll be merging some of my categories too. Series I don’t write anymore will go to an archive and other series will become sub-categories… I hope to be able to finish all the work by the end of this year.

For progress on this, follow me on Twitter. I’ll be tweeting out when I updated something. If the update is bigger then usual, I’ll be writing a short post on my Tumblr who, which is set up to give an automatic tweet when posted.

Besides all the reworking of my blog, I’m still fighting against article theft. Recently, I found out that three blogs (!) were stealing content from me again. Thankfully, two of three are down already. This all started with the publication of my Monster Tale review. I, NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming blog, haven’t got any request for using my review on another site… and yet, I found it on three other websites.

Currently, I’m trying everything I can to take down the root of the problem. It’s a website that is advertised by the three theft bots. So, I hope the websites where the accounts are located take them down.

 

Now, to close this section with some other news and that is that I’m thinking about something along the lines of Patreon or a PayPal tip yar. So, anybody who wants to support me, can. Now, where would this money go too you might ask. Well, all the money I earn from my blog will go towards my gaming collection. I’ll only buy games I want to review on my blog.

Now, I’m only thinking about this and I’m curious if there is interest for this. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section down below.

Upcoming articles

So, I have a whole list of articles that will appear in the future. My list is a bit too long in my opinion so some articles might not appear soon but later.

First of all, I want to write a first impression – review article on Neon Valley Revenge. Now that the game has been released on Steam as an Early Access title, I want to write an article about it. But, because I didn’t have the time and I had other developer requests waiting for me, I had to delay it a bit. If I find the time, this article will arrive in early May.

So, what games will be getting an article in the future from me? Well, here is a peak on my list of games I want to talk about. Do keep in mind, that this is subject to change depending on how much time I have and what games grab my interest.

God of Thunder (PC), Popolocrios (PSP), Pokémon Diamon, Pearl & Platinium (DS), Star Stable Online (PC), Drawn To Life (DS), Rob (PC), Project Zero II – Crisom Butterfly (PS2), Rayman (PS1), Mario Strikers (Wii), Tomb Raider Underworld (PC)…

Besides that, I do have some things to talk about I promised on Twitter. I have been asked this question by Bradon Green.

Also, I want to write articles like I wrote last week about my nostalgic memories of a series I love. Other series I want to take a look at in this format are Mario, Zelda, Lego games, Freddi Fish and various others.

The final thing I want to mention is that it’s possible that next week might have no article. Because, like I said earlier, I’m quite busy and my focus is more on my acting group and college. If I do find the time, I’ll write an article. Otherwise, next week will have none. It’s a great idea to follow me on twitter @NekoJonez if you want to keep up to date with the latest things happening.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say and keep you up to date about. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it! I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

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Gaming Nostalgia: What hooked me on Pokémon?

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Ah, Pokémon. The game of my childhood. I grew up with playing Pokémon Blue on my Gameboy and watching the anime. When I was a young NekoJonez, I always looked forward to what the anime and the games will bring me next. So, today I want to take a look back at a few Pokémon games and what hooked me into playing them? Let’s go 100% nostalgia mode and let’s take a trip through memory lane. Also, if you guys and girls have your own stories about what hooked you on Pokémon, please tell them in the comment section below. Also, feel free to give me advice on this format, if I should do other articles like this or other game franchises. In any case, here we go. 

Pokémon Gold, Silver & Crystal

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I think it isn’t a secret to a lot of you that I have never finished Pokémon Red, Blue & Yellow. I have come close to beating the final boss, but I was always unable to beat him.

Now, Pokémon Gold & Silver were the first Pokémon games I have fully beaten. For some reason, I enjoyed myself a lot more with the 2nd generation than the first generation.

The 2nd generation had more things to do and had more roleplaying in the game. It was also the first game I started to make friends with. I discussed the first gen regularly with my cousin, but I have more memories of discovering the 2nd generation together with friends.

The day & night cycle, a visible XP bar, genders, berries, special Pokéballs and a whole revisit of the area of the first game were such amazing concepts to me as a child. There was more to do and more to enjoy then first thought possible.

It was also one of the first times I experienced the odd feeling of nostalgia. I touch upon t in the previous section, the whole revisiting of Kanto, the area you played in, in the first game. It blew my mind so much that I wanted to relive that feeling multiple times. Yes, Pokémon Gold and Silver are actually one of the games that made me decide to start collecting games. Since I wanted to replay them when I grew up and experience my childhood all over again.

Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald

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Good lord, am I going to make some people annoyed at me with saying this. My favorite gen is the 3rd gen. If the 2nd gen actually made me start talking about Pokémon with friends, the 3rd game we actually discovered together. We helped each other when we got stuck and we battled each other often.

Behind the schoolyard where nobody saw us since playing on your Gameboy Advance (SP) wasn’t allowed during school.

But a feature I adore in this game is the secret bases. I have spent too much time decorating the whole secret base and buying things for it. I always pretended they were little gyms. Back then, my imagination ran wild and I actually imagined that they will release a patch where you were able to run around in each other’s world to try and discover each other’s bases. I had no clue what underground feature the next generation would bring.

Besides that, I was just immersed in the world. I just loved exploring and walking around in this world. I have no clue why, but I love the 3rd generation Pokémon a lot. I still remember figuring out the braille in those secret caves to get the Regi’s and unlock the stronger legendary Pokémon.

Also, the amount of Pokémon ROM hacks created in this engine, is just amazing. I have played such amazing Pokémon ROM hacks using the gen 3 games as a base. But, talking about those are just for another article.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers Of Time/Darkness/Sky

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When I had beaten the first Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game, I was extremely impressed with the game I played. Nothing was able to prepare me for the amazingness that was the sequel to this game.

The sequel had a more interesting story. But, what hooked me on the Mystery Dungeon formula. Well, I might have an idea.

I always wanted to play something else in the Pokémon universe. And that was this game. Thanks to this game, I got introduced to Etrain Odyssey and other dungeon crawlers.

While these spin-off games aren’t the best games in the respective genre, I love playing them because they have amazing stories.

It’s a bit sad to see that these games won’t have another sequel after Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon since GameFreak doesn’t have any ideas to where the series should go next.

But, back on topic. What actually hooked me in this game? For once, the personality test. For some reason, I always got different Pokémon as my main character but rarely to never another aura reading. I always got the starly silver one. Just funny how my favorite color is, in fact, silver and I was playing the game on a silver colored DS.

Also, I have another story to tell about this game. One time, I ordered Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers Of the Sky from a trusted online website. They deliver it and I put it in my collection. I already owned Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Explorers of Darkness. When I was actually cataloging my collection 2 years later, I actually discovered that they put the wrong copy inside the Explorers of the Sky box. So, I re-order the game from that website; guess what happens. They deliver the correct box but the wrong game again >.<

Thankfully, I was allowed to send the wrong manual and game card back and now I have the actual Pokémon Explorers of the Sky in my collection. Now, it’s time to complete that game since I want to find out what happens in the additional story.

Pokémon Ranger – Shadows of Almia

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I have played a lot of the Pokémon Ranger games. But I remember the 3rd one the most. Since that’s the only one I have currently finished.

The 3rd one is the most polish game out of all three of them. Also, it deals with an interesting story that takes place in two worlds, making the gameplay even more interesting.

If I would have to explain what hooked me on this game, I can only tell that you should look in the previous paragraphs of this article. I wanted to play something different than the usual main adventure. And that’s what this game delivered.

Catching different Pokémon and trying to figure out which Pokémon to capture to overcome the obstacles. For some reason, just writing about this game makes me want to replay this game. That would be perfect since I haven’t written an article about this game and I think that will be a better place for me to explain why I love this game so much. Or maybe a 2nd playthrough will reveal some flaws I overlooked in my first playthrough.

Wrapping up

So, that’s all I wanted to talk about for now. There is a lot more Pokémon stories I still want to share but those are for another time. I always wanted to do an article similar to this one.

Tell me what you think I should improve or change in the next edition. But for now, I’m going to end the Pokémon nostalgia here. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

 

Review: Tomb Raider Legend (PC) ~ The Sword of King Arthur

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Wikipedia entry

I remember picking up this game quite well. I was hyped for this game. Not too long before the release of this game, I got a new computer that was able to run to this game quite well. It even ran with the next-gen graphics. Back then, I finished this game and I remember that I had a lot of fun. Eleven years later, I decided that I want to write a review of this game. So, I took my copy from the shelves and booted up my Windows XP retro game pc and restarted playing this game. So, does this game still hold up or is this game just good in my nostalgic filled mind? Let’s dive into the Legend of the Tomb Raider. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article in the comment section below. 

Thrill ride

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The story of this game starts off with a young Lara on a plane. She is flying with her mother through a thunderstorm when suddenly, the plane crashes.

Lara finds an ancient sword and touches it. Her mother pulls Lara away and then pulls out the sword and disappears.  We fast forward a few years when Lara starts the journey to try and find out what happened to her mother.

In my opinion, the story is pretty good. Not great, since some parts of the story a bit too predictable. I was able to guess what was going to happen in the last parts of the game. I really liked the twist at the end, setting up the next game Underworld perfectly.

I know that Anniversary released before Underworld, but it has really nothing to do with the story of this game and Underworld.

In any case, the voice acting in this game is pretty good. I loved it when I played the game for the first time when I was a child and I still love it now. My favorite voice actress in the game is Keeley Hawes. She voices Lara Croft in this game and she does a pretty great job, just how I imagine Lara Croft sounding like.

Most of this game story is told in cutscenes. But, if you already finished the game, you can skip the cutscene by tapping the pause button and choose for “Skip Cinematic”.

I have played this game on two different systems for this review. One that can handle the next generation content and one that can’t handle that. The next generation content is nothing really special in my opinion. It just adds some additional visual fluff to the game.

Something I did notice, is that when I played it on my more than capable retro gaming PC, one that his the recommend specs perfectly, there is a lot of flickering in some stages and textures not fully loading in. I mostly had this problem when I did the motorcycle bit in the snowy area.

There is a lot of variaty in this game. You have driving sections, QTE, platforming and shooting sections. Wait, Quick Time Events? I know that some people really hate this, but I personally don’t mind them too much. They aren’t too frequent and they are over quickly. To be honest, I enjoy most of them.

Exploring Lara’s house

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It’s a shame that the game has some graphical problems here and there. Maybe it has to do with the fact that old PC has an ATI device in it, and the other PC has a NVidea card. It does display at the start.

But, the overall presentation is good. The environments and tombs you explore in this game are pretty well designed. The animation is great too. Some death animations really send a shiver down my spine. They felt a bit too real, but some became funny when Lara keeps sliding more than you expect and falls off a cliff.

You can also explore the Croft Manor in this game. In this game, the Croft Manor isn’t the tutorial like we have seen in all previous Tomb Raider games. Now, you can unlock certain training areas to explore when you finish a certain level in the game. I personally recommend that you play through the Croft Manor when you either want a relaxing level or a post-game thing to play.

There are also secrets to find in the Croft Manor. These extras range from character profiles to object models. There is also a special surprise if you collect them all. Thankfully, it’s quite easy to replay a level to try and find secrets you missed.

One thing that really annoyed me was the saving mechanic. It works fine and the autosave points are placed perfectly, but the loading of save games is just a bit broken. Tomb Raider is known for difficult jumps sometimes or multiple jumps you have to do in a row. I like to save after I did a few of them so I can load the game when I did something wrong. In all the previous titles, that I played, when you load; you start right back at the position you saved. Not in this game, you start at the beginning of the jump bit or sometimes even earlier.

The soundtrack of this game is great. I really enjoy listing to it and it added a great atmosphere while you are exploring the tombs. The orchestral soundtrack of this game really impressed me as a kid and it still does as an adult. The sound design for this game is good as well.

Put that gun away, Lara!

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If there is one thing that could use some improvement in this game is the controls.

Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t terrible in any meaning of the word.

There were just a few times that I pressed the grab button, but Lara didn’t grab a ledge. Yet, it isn’t the wrong thing about the controls. There isn’t a “put your gun away” button. And if there is, I wasn’t able to find it. This was really annoying when you were done fighting some enemies and you wanted to start a jump puzzle and Lara doesn’t grab the ledge because she is still holding a gun.

Also, the default layout for the controls is just bad for some functions. For example, to switch your weapon, it’s “End”. To switch your light on or off, it’s “Del”. Medkit is “Home” and your binoculars is “Page Down”. So, I highly recommend you rebinding those controls when you want to play this game.

I don’t know what was causing this problem, but sometimes, the camera moved without me moving my mouse at all. This happened multiple times when I was swinging on a rope.

That’s enough complaining about the controls. Let’s talk about the rest of the game. There is a sort of help system in the game. The PDA. It’s helpful, but I rarely used it. The only time I used it was when I returned to the game after a long while to check what I needed to do.

But, the binoculars can help there as well. With them, you can see what you can use and plan out your route. Yet, the level design is so clear, you barely have to use it when you pay attention to what’s around you.

The difficulty in this game is spot on. No complaints there. The UI of this game is pretty well crafted too. Again, no issues there.

The combat in this game is really enjoyable. My favorite moments are when you enter a sort of bullet time mode and you jump on enemies shield to launch you into the air and shoot the defenseless enemy.

Before we go to the conclusion, I want to touch on one final thing. This game’s length is spot on. It isn’t too long but it isn’t too short either. If you decide to complete this game that is. Since, if you rush through this game, you might be able to beat it in a day. Since it’s 8 hours long. If you want to complete this game, you double your play time.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Good story, while predictable sometimes

+ Great voice acting.

+ Good level design.

+ A lot of variety in gameplay styles.

+ ….

The bad:

-Some visual issues on some computers.

-The controls, while good, could use some polishing up. The default layout is just bad.

-The game is too short if you rush through it.

Final thoughts:

This game didn’t age too well. As a kid, I thought this game was one of the best games I have ever played. But, looking at it now as an adult, I see the flaws of this game. It’s by no means a bad game. The story, voice acting, level design… they are all good.

The big issue is that they aren’t great. The sequel games, like Anniversary and Underworld, are so much better in my opinion.

In general, this game has its problems. Some are noticeable, others aren’t. I do remember having adrenaline rushes when I played this game for the first time. When I played it for this review, I had them too but way less.

In conclusion, I think that this game is worth it. I would recommend it to any fan of Tomb Raider and adventure games. If you have a decent enough computer that can run it and doesn’t get affected by the same graphical issues I was. Since I can tell you for a fact, I didn’t have them on my old childhood computer. This game is good, but not great. It could have been better if there was a bit more polish.

Thank you for reading this review and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day!

Score: 70/100

Eighth Gen Talk – Continued Thoughts and MGS2

A while ago I wrote a 1600 word behemoth talking about my thoughts on the current generation of games consoles and the state of gaming. I recently played a game that made me feel even more strongly about this. Basically, it concerns the second-to-last paragraph talking about innovation in games. I’d like to talk just a little more about that. I promise: this article will be a little shorter.

Image result for firewatchThis all started last week when I was talking to my cousin about the seventeen minute gameplay video of Firewatch. That game looks incredible. Even if it’s not open world and more linear than it appears, I cannot wait for it to come out. If you don’t know what Firewatch is, I’ll briefly explain. It’s a game about you, some guy, starting a job as a forest overseer in the eighties, and things happen in the woods which you have to deal with. The gameplay video looks like I could absolutely loose myself in that world.

After our discussion about the video, I talked about my favourite game series of all time: Metal Gear. It had been a while since I played through all games, but I picked it up a few weeks ago and I’m up to Metal Gear Solid 2 as of now. Even though I have played this game several times, I was really intrigued by it this time. It has never been one of my favourites in the series, but in light of recent developments in the gaming industry, I now look at it with a whole fresh perspective.

The first section of the game takes place on a large tanker ship. It is here that I started to pay more attention to the game’s mechanics, looks and details than before. The first thing was the lighting. This game uses dynamic lights and shadows in many places. When the enemy is close to you and the flash light on their weapons shine on you, it appears like there are light shafts and your body interacts with it. I am sure this isn’t a true volumetric light source, since that technology was not in place in the early 2000’s and is very computationally intensive, but it still looks impressive. Especially considering this game was released in 2001. Let that sink in for a second. That’s fourteen years ago.

Sure, this game doesn’t have the most incredible graphics by today’s standards, but at the time (and especially for an early PS2 game), this game looked incredible. Frankly, I still think it does. It has an aesthetic, which is more important than graphics, and it’s what a lot of modern AAA-games seem to miss.

Truly impressive, though, are the details. On this tanker is a crew lounge filled with lovely little details that make the worlds feel so much richer. There’s a plasma TV playing and when you shoot it, it breaks. The screen doesn’t just go blank; it starts to go black in a circle around where the bullet hit and goes outwards until the whole screen is black. A magazine rack is also present. If you shoot the individual magazines, they fall on the floor. They might be upside down, open or lying on the front page, and when shot again, they change position.

There’s a pane of bullet proof glass (seen above), but when shot about twenty times, it breaks into a million pieces. Again, like the TV, it starts to break where you last shot and it goes outwards from there. In the corner of the room is a bar (also seen above), stocked with glasses and bottles that all break and fall differently. Shoot at the plants, and leaves fall off and they wiggle.

Later on there is a boss battle with a female character named Fortune. The explosions in that fight cause the lights on the ceiling to swing, making the shadows on the ground change and again adding to the believability of this world.

These things are not new in modern games, but they were then. This game tried to push a new system further than any other game of its time. Mind you that this game did not compromise on its resolution and played at 60 frames per second. Knowing this, makes it look even more impressive.

The current generation seems to rely too heavily on things that have been established in the generation before (PS3/360), and to some extent even the one before that (PS2/Xbox). Aside from looking prettier, there seems to be little new. Little that is pushing better hardware, and that’s sad.

Eighth Gen Talk – Thoughts So Far

A year and a half ago, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were released, and with E3 on our doorstep, it is perhaps a good idea to look at what the eighth console generation has brought to the table thus far. Has it succeeded or did my reservations prove to be true?

From an economic standpoint, it is an obvious success. This generation of consoles is the fastest growing of all. Demand for both consoles was high from day one and sales have vastly surpassed both manufacturers’ expectations. As of this writing, and the most current data available, Sony announced having sold 20.2 million units early March, but Microsoft’s figures aren’t as comprehensive. Sources vary, but it’s somewhere between 10 and 12 million. Sony’s platform is in a clear lead and it makes some sense. From the beginning, the PlayStation was the cheapest console, as back then the Xbox shipped with Kinect. Microsoft also had many policies people did not agree with; always having to be connected to the internet, not being able to lend games to friends, and so on. Sony happily attacked these policies and it worked. For a while at least, because luckily, Microsoft has been smart enough to make significant changes, including selling the Xbox without the Kinect as mandatory. Sony’s platform also appears to be the most powerful, at least on paper.

But is it enough? Two years ago both consoles were announced, in great detail, and their architecture is remarkably similar. This is where things get a bit technical. Both SKU’s use AMD hardware, for both CPU’s and GPU’s, and feature an eight-core CPU clocked at 1.6GHz, similar GPU’s clocked at 800MHz and 8GB of RAM. There were some differences, though, with Sony’s platform seemingly standing out. First and foremost, the 8GB of memory in the Xbox is DDR3, significantly slower to the PS4’s 8GB of GDDR5 memory. The Xbox does have 32MB of ultra-fast ES-RAM working in tandem with the other 8GB, hoping to close the performance gap. The PS4, though, has an additional 256MB of DDR3 memory and a second small, low-power CPU for background tasks. Later, Microsoft announced it would increase the performance of their consoles by increasing the clock speed of the CPU from 1.6GHz to 1.75GHZ, while also increasing the GPU speed from 800MHz to 853MHz. This closed the gap even further, but Sony’s platform still stands out. The GPU is inherently faster, with 18 compute units compared to the Xbox’s 12, and is coupled to faster memory. As it stands now, Sony’s GPU outperforms Microsoft’s at 1.84 TFLOPS to 1.31.

That brings me to my reservations. These figures are impressive when compared to the seventh generation, but don’t wow me. These consoles felt outdated before they were even launched. It is certainly true that the architecture of a console should not directly be compared to a PC. Developers can code games for a closed system, therefore using the components to their fullest potential, while also being able to optimise the code for that one specific system. To get a similar graphical fidelity and performance on a PC, we should compare it to a computer with a third to half the performance increase. At first I thought the relatively low performance figures wouldn’t be such an issue, since – as I said – this is dedicated hardware. It’s also very close to PC hardware, making coding even easier and thus allowing developers to optimise their games even more. But eighteen months after launch, I am worried this generation will not turn out as great as the one we just left behind us.

Launch games never really impress us, that much is true, but we have passed the launch window a while ago and there’s not much out there that makes me hungry for this generation. There’s Microsoft’s Sunset Overdrive, a game that knows it’s a game and runs with it. It’s silly, bright, colourful and fun. Very much unlike the gritty, brown and gray “realistic” games we mostly get. There’s also Sony’s Bloodborne. True, it’s Dark Souls/Demon’s Souls in a new skin, but it’s a good game nonetheless. Both games are not really my personal taste, but I can acknowledge them as good games. This console generation has already seen a multitude of games being re-released. It made more sense in the previous generation, where we saw a plethora of HD-remakes. There at least, the games came from the SD-era. There’s GTA V, Borderlands, The Last of Us, Diablo 3, DmC, Tomb Raider, the horrendously plagued Master Chief Collection and many more. It’s also not stopping, with games like Devil May Cry 4, God of War 3 and Final Fantasy X/X-2 remakes coming along shortly. And let’s not forget that the majority of games that have been released until now, have been sequels, prequels or some form of re-imagining of previously existing material. Are you enjoying your “new” games so far?

When the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were released, both consoles were claimed to be capable of playing 1080p games. In actuality, those platforms were more like 720p consoles. There are some games that run at 1080p, but most of them are smaller titles. A lot of games – even console exclusives – ran at an even lower resolution than 720p. Halo 3 is one, at 1152×640. The very popular Call of Duty series often ran at an even lower 1024×600. Again, with this generation, 1080p gaming is promised and already not being delivered. Lots of games run at lower resolution settings, often 1600×900. This is also where we see the disadvantages of Microsoft’s platform, with games running at a lower resolution than their Sony counterpart. Battlefield 4 runs at 900p as compared to Sony’s 1080p and Call of Duty: Ghosts produced a meagre 720p, though this was later changed in a patch. Even the Xbox exclusive Titanfall runs at the odd resolution of 1408×792, on an engine that is essentially a modified version of Valve’s Source engine; a very stable, scalable and reliable engine. Still, the console struggles at maintaining its targeted 60 frames per second.

0Let’s take Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel as another example. This game is yet another title that was first released on previous generation consoles and is now released again on the current one. Looking at the PC system requirements of this game shows us this is not a very intensive game. Minimum requirements are a low-powered Dual Core CPU, with recommended settings asking for a low-powered Quad Core CPU and medium-range graphics cards that were released four(!) years ago. It makes sense that this game doesn’t require a €1000 gaming rig, since it’s built on a modified Unreal Engine. This is – like the Source Engine – a well established, stable engine. And yet, these brand new consoles that are supposedly so powerful struggle with this game. Performance dwindles around 45 FPS in areas where you need it most: during combat. This also brings with it a great deal of screen tearing. While not a bad result per se, not a result we should expect from these consoles.

Obviously, I am also aware many people can’t afford high-end PC’s or prefer to play on consoles. It is especially for them that I am worried, since they can’t find a better experience of multi-platform games elsewhere. They have to play them on closed systems. They can’t lower graphical settings, or enable or disable V-sync, to change the look or performance of the game. I can choose to go for the PC version. Of course developers get more comfortable with consoles and manage to squeeze out more as time goes on. Look back at Naughty Dog’s games and look at the difference in quality between the first Uncharted and The Last of Us, running on the same, but tweaked engine. Or even Uncharted and its sequel, the release of which was only two years in between. It’s a world of difference, but if consoles already seem to struggle with games across the board, whether it’s performance wise, visually, or – in case of games Assassin’s Creed: Unity – both, what’s next?

All of this doesn’t seem to bode well for these consoles. Initially, I had reservations on the technology being used, but I imagined with this being dedicated, and from PC originating hardware, the theoretical shortcomings would be proven wrong in reality. However, after eighteen months, I’m not convinced (yet). Graphics are good, but not impressive. Especially when compared to the jump in quality from previous consoles to their next generation. Think back to the difference from PS1 to PS2, or PS2 to PS3.

Shiny graphics are nice, but what we need, Image result for no man's skyand really need, is innovation in gameplay. Not yet another cover-based, gritty, third person shooter. Not innovation in quality of visuals, but innovation in mechanics. One game I do keep my eye on, is No Man’s Sky; ambitious and innovative. I surely hope it lives up to its claims, as that might – at last – convince me to buy a current generation console. We need innovation in things like physics and AI; larger, more varied worlds full of life and little details that make it all feel rich in atmosphere. Frankly, I am bored with the triple-a games as of late. I sorely hope I am mistaken and things turn around for the better, but looking at the release schedule for the coming months (or even years), I’m afraid I may be right.

To close this article, I’d like to add a little something. I am a big fan of RedLetterMedia and their gaming part: Previously Recorded. Rather than stealing what they have to say about games, I want to link to their YouTube channel. Particularly to their reviews. The ones that I think lie closest to what I agree with are the reviews on The Order 1886, Alien: Isolation, Bloodborne and their video called “Why Mario is more Immersive than Call of Duty“.

EDIT: I wrote a follow-up article here.