GregHorrorShow’s Guide To Gaming – Part 5: The New PS4 Owner Edition

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So you’ve got yourself a PS4 and you are now faced with a huge collection of games to consider. Fear not, I’m on hand to recommend the best in class for a few different genres/game types.

Have a look below to find something you’re interested in and some titles to explore!

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REMASTERS

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The Last Of Us

One of the best remasters out there, Naughty Dog did a great job on bringing the PS3 smash to the new generation of consoles. Telling the story of Joel and Ellie as they make their way across a post-apocalyptic America, this is a must for those who haven’t played it previously. Another good shout would be Naughty Dog’s Uncharted Collection, which contains the first three Uncharted titles, all remastered.

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ACTION ADVENTURE

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Speaking of Uncharted, if you’re looking for an exciting, gun toting adventure then A Thief’s End might be the one for you. One of the best looking games I’ve ever seen, coupled with some great voice acting makes for a memorable experience. If treasure hunting isn’t your thing I’d really recommend the latest Assassin’s Creed title Syndicate, which for me was the best game in the series for years.

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WITH FRIENDS

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Destiny: The Taken King

A new breed of online gaming has begun to shine on the new consoles, one in which you play with friends cooperatively rather than competitively. Destiny is one such title, much better with a few friends as opposed to playing solo. It’s a space shooter with character based special abilities that allows good flexibility. The Taken King expansion adds some extra content and is worth picking up. Alternatively, The Division does the same thing in the more realistic setting of a post-virus New York.

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DRIVING

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DriveClub

Despite a troubled launch DriveClub grew into one of, if not the, best driving games around. There are tons of single player tournaments to race through and lots of options for online play, from setting challenges to racing face-to-face. If you prefer a more ‘pure’ driving game I’d also recommend Dirt Rally, which is more simulation and less arcade based.

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HORROR

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Until Dawn

For horror lovers the first game that comes to mind is Until Dawn, a title in which you control a group of teenagers and try to get them to survive the night. The most interesting aspect of the game is that none of them can die or all of them can die – it all comes down to the choices you make during the game. If you’re looking for something more tense, I’d really suggest checking out Alien Isolation – especially if you have any interest in the films. It’s a bit too long but a great experience nonetheless.

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ROLE PLAYING GAMES

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Dragon Age: Inquisition

If you are looking for a sprawling, lengthy campaign of around 50 odd hours (or more!) then look no further than Dragon Age. Create your own character and then enter a world of Elves and Mages, submerge yourself in archery or magic. It’s completely up to you. It’s like creating your own version of Lord Of The Rings. If fantasy isn’t your bag then consider Fallout 4, which is the exact same thing but set hundreds of years in the future after a nuclear war!

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STEALTH

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

For those of you looking for a more well measured and sneaky experience, it has to be Metal Gear Solid V. While it’s certainly possible to play the game as an action hero this title has some of the best stealth gameplay ever to grace the PlayStation 4. You take on the role of Big Boss, assigned missions ranging from hostage rescue to larger, more complex infiltration scenarios. For those of you that are comic book fans, Batman: Arkham Knight will also tick this box.

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STORY

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Life Is Strange

Some of you might be looking to ease into gaming and a title that is based around story with reduced gameplay could be an option for you. In the first instance I’d recommend the awesome Life Is Strange, the tale of a college student who discovers she has the ability to rewind time. Aside from that, despite the occasional performance issue, I’d suggest checking out any of the Telltale games; The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us or Tales From The Borderlands in particular.

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FUN

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Rocket League

For pure unadulterated fun, it has to be Rocket League. It’s football with cars. Quite possibly the dumbest game I’ve ever played, it’s also the most fun by far. With friends is best but even alone with random strangers online is great. There is certainly a skill to the game but it’s the pick-up-and-play-factor that makes Rocket League stand head and shoulders above other games.

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COMPETITIVE

Overwatch

Overwatch

I’ve gone for Overwatch here, mainly because I’ve spent most of the summer addicted to it, but you could switch it for the faster paced Call of Duty or more military focused Battlefield depending on your taste. Overwatch is a glorious 6v6 character based shooter in which you battle over objectives – its the characters that help make it memorable, you have 22 to choose from, all with various skills and abilities.

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TACTICAL

Invisible Inc

Invisible Inc.

If you’re looking for pure tactics then seek out Invisible Inc. It’s a turn based cyberpunk adventure, in which you race against time to prepare your agents for their final, high stakes mission. You’ll take control of numerous members of the team and coordinate attacks on various bases around the globe. Another excellent tactical title is Transistor, which is also turn based and has some fantastic artwork and music.

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So there you go a few suggestions to get you going, let me know if you pick any of these up and whether you enjoy them – or if you guys have any other suggestions of titles people new to the PS4 could pick up. Drop a comment below or tweet me @greghorrorshow.

 

Batman: Arkham Knight – Review (PS4)

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Rocksteady had a real job on its hands back in the late 2000’s – superhero games were generally very poor and the developer had been tasked with delivering a new Batman game. It was a challenge they relished and they ended up revitalizing the game genre, with seamless combat and tight scripted encounters, in 2009’s Batman: Arkham Asylum. The second game in the series, Arkham City, opened the game world up to a part of Gotham and laid the groundwork for the latest instalment. 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight is the culmination of Rocksteady’s trilogy of Batman games and a showcase for the graphical capabilities of the new generation of consoles.

Set a year after the events of the previous game, Arkham Knight sees Scarecrow threatening to release a poisonous toxin throughout Gotham. When another, previously unknown, villain – the titular Arkham Knight – lends his weight to Scarecrow’s campaign of terror, it becomes apparent Batman is going to have his hands full. Luckily you’re not on your own, Alfred, Oracle, Robin and more are on hand to offer assistance.

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In the panic and chaos, all of Batman’s greatest enemies come out of the woodwork to take advantage. These villains could easily have been written in throughout the story but are instead optional side content, called ‘Most Wanted’ missions. I felt that this was one of the strongest aspects of the game, as it allowed you to delve into Batman’s relationship with those villains when you wanted to and gave you a choice as to how far you wanted to pursue them. Each villain has 4 or more missions each before you finally get to bring them to justice.

I really enjoyed the side content in Arkham Knight, even more so for the fact that along with specifically choosing to do a side mission, you might just stumble across them because the game does a great job of delivering on visual/audio cues that you might naturally gravitate towards out of curiosity. It felt really great when, for example, I noticed a building on fire in the distance and went to investigate. When I got there it triggered the option to start a Most Wanted mission. Very cool.

My main complaint of the game was the way the Batmobile was handled. Introduced as a new way of getting around Gotham, it does a serviceable job – although I preferred to just glide over the city which was just as quick, in my opinion. Unfortunately the controls never quite felt right for me, with L2 switching the vehicle to ‘Battle Mode’, as opposed to braking – which is usually L2’s function for car based control in other games. It led to numerous occasions where I ended up failing a mission because, in the heat of the moment, I instinctively hit L2 to brake and instead the Batmobile came to a stop and transformed into a tank.

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There are needlessly large car battles and even stealth Batmobile sections, both of which felt clunky and always seemed to break the pacing of the game. At one stage I almost walked away from the game entirely after an extremely draining chunk of time trying to finish one mission. Frustrating doesn’t cover it, especially as for most of the game you feel powerful and in control of combat – the Batmobile stuff just didn’t really work, sadly.

Thankfully that is the only real complaint I had with Batman: Arkham Knight, for the majority of the game I was having a blast and another of the new mechanics, Fear Takedowns, was a big reason. This ability allows you to cherry pick enemies to take out in order. Time stops and as you select targets Batman will automatically knock them out. As you upgrade the ability you can string more attacks together, mainly to be used for face to face combat. This means you can stalk your enemies first, taking them out with stealth attacks, and then confront the last four or five, taking them out immediately in quick succession.

Rocksteady do a fine job of bringing all of the Batman characters that you know and love into the final chapter of their trilogy. I’m not a big fan of Batman but I knew most of the characters here and even the ones I didn’t had interesting enough missions that I got to learn a little about them. There is a huge amount of content in the game, my playthrough was probably around 16-18 hours but that was doing a fair chunk of side content. I had finished the main storyline and completed almost half of the Most Wanted missions with an overall completion stat of 69%, so that gives you an idea of how much is here.

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As much as I loved Arkham Asylum, for me Arkham Knight is a superior game overall. Not as ground breaking as the first title in the series but more fleshed out in terms of game world and content. To have the freedom of Gotham to explore, stumbling across villain missions or just taking in the (gorgeous) sights of the broken city, is a wonderful thing. This is a game to take your time with, to savour your surroundings and the world Rocksteady have created. Unfortunately a lot of the pacing and general enjoyment is ruined by the Batmobile missions – they are forced on you too much and leave a bad, frustrating, taste. Arkham Knight is the ultimate Batman game but be prepared to suffer through a few sections to be able to appreciate it all.

Rating: 8/10

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Thief – Review (PS4)

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The first Thief game arrived on PC back in 1998 and was very highly regarded. There have been another two games in the series since then but this years title is the first to hit Playstation consoles and even makes it to the new generation as well.

The game tells the story of Garrett, the Thief of the title, who finds himself attempting to unravel a mystery after a catastrophic event leaves him in a coma for a year. Upon waking he discovers the city is on lockdown because it is being crippled by a disease known as ‘The Gloom’. As Garrett tries to get to the bottom of what has happened you’ll be making your way through lots of different areas of the city.

The game is viewed from a first person perspective and you are given a lot of tools to fulfill your role as master thief. Stealth is usually the favoured option, with lots of different routes in, and out, of places giving you plenty of options to plan your mission. You have lots of different arrow types (fire, exploding, water etc.) to help you either take out or unsettle enemies.

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As part of a stealth approach, distraction is a decent option but it’s a lot less forgiving than straight up sneaking – when it worked it was great but a lot of the time it was just too easy to get caught by guards etc. Fighting is also viable but if you find yourself against more than one enemy you’d probably be better off retreating and regrouping.

Garrett also has a focus mode that you can enter to highlight objects you can interact with in the environment. It also helps improve the accuracy of you bow skills and increases your fighting abilities. These can be upgraded via a skill tree so you can cater your focus towards the playstyle you favour. I definitely found that focus was a big help, mostly when stuck on where to go next or if rumbled by a guard and I needed a quick takedown!

I liked the setting of Thief, the city has an oppressive air that suits the story and at times it looked fantastic but unfortunately on occasion it looked distinctly last-gen. I suspect this is just down to the game being released in the first 6 months of the new consoles lifecycle and having to be available on PS3 as well. Animation was pretty good for the most part and some of the stealth takedowns were cool, though it would’ve been nice to have a few more variations and they really should’ve made a custom one for enemies sitting, usually asleep, in chairs. As it stands you just sort of slap the air in front of them and they fall heavily out of the seat!

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The game controlled well and I did feel it was just about forgiving enough (on Normal) for players like me that often mess up the stealth element and have to improvise. Enemy AI was fairly clever, checking around potential hiding places but not usually finding me. There were a couple of times that I ended up getting really frustrated but that wasn’t really during open world stuff, it was mainly during closed area ‘boss’ type encounters.

I didn’t really find the story that engaging and the ending actually passed me by – I had to look up a Wiki to piece together what had happened. I liked some of the side stuff that fleshed out the world though and some of the side missions where you actually had to steal things rather than kill a target were cool. Thief was a rewarding play when everything came together, there were several main missions that went (almost 100%) smoothly and they were probably the highlight of the game for me.

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The elephant in the room of course is that 2012’s Dishonored essentially ‘out-Thiefed’ Thief and did it better in most senses. With more powers and some better implementation I would recommend going with Dishonored if you are choosing between the two but Thief is also a solid stealth/action game. There were flashes of brilliance during my playthrough but unfortunately, for me at least, at the end of Thief I felt confusion more than anything else.

Rating 6/10

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops – Review (PSP)

I actually started this game back in 2008 – don’t worry it isn’t THAT long 😆 but I got a bit frustrated and switched to something else.

I’d been meaning to get back into for ages and following GTA Chinatown Wars I played some Motorstorm, which was great but I fancied some story based action.

And I came to the right place! Famed for it’s lengthy cut scenes, and often confusing plots, the Metal Gear series still gets played by so many people because they are brilliant games.

Portable Ops is no exception and they have done a great job of squeezing everything down for the handheld platform.

Set 6 years after Snake Eater (Metal Gear Solid 3) in 1970 it tells the story of Naked Snake, or Big Boss as he is now known. The plot is at times completely insane but basically focuses around the Cold War.

One clever new feature is the ability to capture enemy soldiers and recruit them yourself – so instead of Snake being on his own he can have an entire unit there.

You still play alone but if Snake ‘dies’ one of the other soldiers comes into action, albeit from the start of the level, with whatever damage Snake has done still intact.

The gameplay is your usual mix of stealth and panic – sorry, I mean intricate gunplay. 😆 – and if you’re a fan of the series you’ll be right at home.

The controls are awkward (well, this is PSP after all) but switching attack/shoot from square to R1 seemed to help matters.

Overall a sterling effort. Very enjoyable and although not a ‘pick up and play’ title, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops is a rewarding experience if you give it the time it deserves.

Rating: 9/10

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The End Of An Era… But The Beginning Of Another.

As with so many things, gaming has changed a hell of a lot since the start of the decade.

It’s been a progressive ten years, seeing the arrival of the Playstation 2, Playstation 3 and PSP – as well as rival consoles from Nintendo and Microsoft that helped push Sony to improve.

Games are a much bigger part of life now – more mainstream than ever before. Most houses will have one of the consoles, if not more, as parents and children play (sometimes together 🙂 ).

METAL GEAR SOLID: One of the original Playstation’s finest moments

There can be no doubt that Sony was the manufacturer of the decade – the continuing success of the PS2 secures them that accolade.

But in the current generation of consoles they sit in last place. XBox 360 started so well and then Nintendo arrived with the Wii to rape and pillage the ‘casual market.’

However as time has gone on the PS3 has made great strides to catch up with the XBox (I just can’t take the Wii seriously as a platform) and seems to finally be getting the games to back up it’s hardware.

GOD OF WAR: The series that showcased just how much was left in the PS2

As this decade comes to a close we’ve seen various companies go bust. From well established ones, like Acclaim or Midway, through to lesser known but good studios such as Pandemic no-one seemed safe from the threat of extinction.

I’ve had some big changes in gaming since 2000 – swinging from FIFA to PES back in 2001 and then back to FIFA again in 2009. Going from casual gamer to setting up my own blog and reviewing games.

The main difference for me now is in online gaming. With XBox Live on the 360 and then the PSN for PS3 gaming became even more social than before – with friends lists and even the inclusion of Twitter updates of your in game progress (Uncharted 2).

KILLZONE 2: The game that has defined online gaming for me this decade

I never thought I would ever play with a headset – but as online games have developed it’s often essential to be able to communicate to the people you’re playing with, not least to be able to dish out some friendly ribbing now and then 😆

Games are so well developed now that people who were just casual gamers are finding themselves completing games and playing online.

It’s a great time to be a gamer and with a slew of great titles confirmed for 2010/2011 it looks like it’ll just keep getting better and better.

UNCHARTED 2: The complete gaming package

For the record here are my Top 10 favourites games of the decade:

1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)

2. Killzone 2 (PS3)

3. GTA: Vice City (PS2)

4. Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (PS2)

5. Metal Gear Solid (PSX)

6. God Of War II (PS2)

7. Dead Space (PS3)

8. Fallout 3 (PS3)

9. Resident Evil 4 (PS2)

10. GTA IV (PS3)

And because of “it’s great balance of Final Fantasy and Disney” my wife has submitted her game of the decade: Kingdom Hearts.

So that rounds out the decade!

See you all in 2010! 😎

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Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – Review (PS3)

For the first time in a long while I have not been sucked into the hype for a big triple A game.

I just wasn’t excited about Modern Warfare at all – a mixture of not getting on with the first title and a general disappointment from the multiplayer footage I’d seen.

Upon firing up the single player mode I was struck by how good the graphics were and after a quick run through the training camp I was on my way.

The campaign mode sees you take on the role of several characters and while the story is full of big set pieces, the lack of depth in any of the characters you control leads to a sense of confusion at times.

This is also one of the games biggest weaknesses – without any sort of attachment to any of the characters it was difficult to care about what was going on as I worked my way through set piece after set piece.

The set pieces themselves were great when they worked but on the whole were another weakness in my opinion.

Take the snow mobile ride. Now I know someone who did it in one flowing attempt and thought it was amazing. It took me 3 or 4 goes to nail it – on one occasion failing right on the last jump as I wasn’t going quick enough – and was just a disappointing pain in the ass. 😦

I just feel sections like that should be very hard to mess up, not knocking into one tree kills you (as realistic as that is).

Overall the single player is a bit of an enjoyable mess, with a story that is all over the place.

But no-one is going to be buying Modern Warfare 2 for the campaign mode… it’s all about the multiplayer.

And it’s a pretty good experience.

It’s been patched 4 times in the opening two weeks after release which I think may be a record – and it certainly struggles at times.

I’ve been kicked off because ‘the server is full’, disconnected from lobbies, been unable to party up, got stuck in doorways, had the cpu move for me when I was trying to stay still and had general connection issues.

Having said all that the actual gameplay is polished, and while it took a while to get used to the speed of moving (having been used to the slower Killzone 2), Modern Warfare 2 is fantastic fun online.

They have incorporated some features from other games and improved their own stuff from the previous installment.

The best thing for me are the Deathstreaks, where instead of being rewarded for killing opponents you get a bonus for dying. Very helpful if you’re having a bad round or just starting out. 🙂

Modern Warfare 2 is a vast multiplayer experience, with a ton of unlocks and perks to get over time. It’s a rich and deep set of abilities and weapons, which will keep you busy for a while to come.

As an overall package though Modern Warfare 2 is a lopsided beast.

The single player lacks any depth and would be no great loss to skip and the multiplayer, while fun and engaging, is extremely glitchy and suffers from connection problems.

Better than I thought then but not quite the second coming everyone was raving about.

Rating: 8/10

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Sharing The Web Love…

Favorites

As usual I partook in some Follow Friday action on Twitter today, where people suggest other folks who are interesting/worth following and I thought maybe it would be a nice idea to extend this into sharing a handful of great websites I regularly use for info, entertainment etc.

I’m not doing this every week so don’t panic but here are some sites you may or may not have heard of:

 

http://www.gametrailers.com/ – My main source of gaming goodness – best place I’ve found for footage of new games (and it’s not all just trailers).

http://www.curiousonion.com/ – Really good gaming site with plenty of reviews and features.

http://breagrant.com/blog/ – The blog of actress Brea Grant (Heroes/Friday Night Lights) who always come up trumps with music recommendations and plenty more besides.

http://beyondthedpad.wordpress.com/ – A more personal gaming blog, very well written – the reviews are always unbiased and honest.

http://www.ps3vault.com/ – Great source of info for PS3 matters, lots of reviews/features etc.

http://actionflickchick.com/superaction/ – Only recently discovered ActionFlickChick but her reviews are great and she has some really interesting features with stuntmen and the like.

http://zeonmusic.blogspot.com/ – A really good music blog, featuring loads of great tracks and some brilliant cover versions that are hard to find elsewhere.

http://www.aintitcool.com/ – A great source of film info, the original and still one of the best.

http://www.allmusic.com/ – If you need any music questions answered this is a great place to start. Sort of like a music wikipedia.

f*ckofffilm.com/*Warning* This site contains very strong language, that’s the point of it. Film reviews peppered with obscenities – my good friend Hollow Snake writes reviews for it.

http://www.gamefaqs.com/ – Stuck on a game? Gamefaqs is the place to head for help. With cheats and walkthroughs galore.

 

So there you go, check ‘em out and let me know if you’ve got any recommendations as well.