Ruth's Diary

13/4/2014

The one commonality between the 3 PS4 games I own? They're all games I'd prefer to play in short bursts, chipping away at.

First up, Resogun. I have to say, the reviews were not kidding when they said the learning curve was a bit difficult. The main reason for this is that the game does not tell you how to play it, you have to figure it out on your own. Now I never expected this game to be easy considering it's a space shoot 'em up (pretty much the oldest genre of video games) but damn can it be a sensory overload sometimes. There's no plot (so I just create one in my head that the player controls one android within a faction of androids in a war against other androids) so every level just starts with SAVE THE LAST HUMANS, both on the screen and vocalised through a computer voice that speaks through the PS4 controller, in fact, every statement made by the computer is spoken through the controller. So you shoot the numbers of ships, until you hear a vocal indication that there are now glowing ships. At the same time these glowing ships appear, one of the boxes that the humans stand in flashes blue, so you have to shoot all the glowing ships in order to break the box. If you don't, then I can only assume the poor human dies of suffocation. Now the humans appear as small green glowing figures that speak with heavily vocoded voices (how cute) and once they are out of the cage, they will run for the nearest refuge beam. Bizarrely the ships will ignore the cute human, except the one that will take it away, so it's the player's job to pick the human up and take it to the nearest beam, while making sure the ship doesn't blow up, because otherwise the cargo is lost too. Oh and, during the later phase of the level, a lot of the ground is blown up so a human might fall to its death. Then at the end of the level is the prerequisite boss.

Next up, Mercenary Kings! An indie game that looks and sounds like a 16-bit era game (early 90s basically). Because it's so retro, it's also hard. You basically control one of 2 badasses (multiplayer is an option) who needs to take down the mad-scientist-come-dictator Claw...the premise immediately reminds me of so many schlocky action movies from the era. The dialogue's hilarious too. Now in each mission you have 3 lives, lose them all and you go back to base to try again. There's also a time limit, typical. Now the levels are all free-roaming and it's pretty much possible to go everywhere in a map...makes me exhausted as the curious cat in me likes to explore every single nook and cranny. In the meantime, you're shooting different kinds of enemies and animals that try to run away from you. And this game's not easy. On all the 'find stuff' missions there's always that one hidden place you have to figure out in order to find all the required materials. This is one of the few games I am personally doubting I will ever complete, but I got it for free, so whatever.

And finally...Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Oh boy, it's impossible to review this game without dealing with its price controversy. Well I'll deal with that later, I'll just review the game now. As a long time MGS player this game really struck me as Hideo Kojima's attempt to truly revamp the franchise, with more intuitive controls and a story told in a perspective that relies a lot less on melodrama and info-dumps. Well, sort of. Since I have so many vivid memories of the controls of previous MGS games, I found it a bit tricky getting used to the new controls, muscle-memory and all that. After a while, I did find that they fit in a lot better with my instincts. I did miss the codec (or radio, since this game is set in the 70s) and the long conversations, since these provided a lot more information and also informed you of the full control set of each situation. I found it very frustrating that there was no interruption call to inform you of how to control a tank, for instance. However, I have to admit that I liked the fact that the game never froze when paused. If you enter the menu for the map and intel, everything else was still in motion and you could be caught if a soldier inspected your spot while listening to a casette tape. Ah yes, since there is no radio here...well there is but...anyway, if you want your info dump, you basically have to sit in one spot and spend an hour listening to all the cassette tapes in order to get the full story and context. It's nice that Kojima made this optional, as opposed to forcing the player to sit through an audio version of a wall of text, but I did get the impression a lot of reviewers/critics missed out because they weren't aware of this (hence some of the comments that not much explanation was provided for new players of the series-there was actually, but nothing told them they had to check these cassettes). Anyways, there is only one person you talk to in this game: Kazuhiro Miller, except you don't talk to him, you just press L1 whenever you need a hint or more info and he just responds over the radio. It kills my suspension of disbelief a little, the codec conversations of old seemed far more natural.

Thinking about it, this game has 2 major controversies, the first being that Snake is not voiced by David Hayter for the first time in...ever. This time it's Kiefer Sutherland, who does a good job. To be fair, I very quickly forgot that the voice of Snake wasn't David Hayter, since Kiefer's gravelly voice lent itself well to the character. There is also the fact that, this isn't really Snake we're playing as, it's Big Boss and this is the time period in the wider MGS story where Big Boss really starts to possess the title. I guess that was half the reason the decision was made not to re-use David Hayter. Saying that, it's odd that Christopher Randolph was brought back as Huey, the father of Otacon, the character he's most known for playing in the MGS world. And the second controversy is the pricing. Now, I actually didn't realise the initial selling price in the US was $40, instead of $30, so I fully understand why people are pissed off. Saying that, the file size is pretty small (3 GBs people!) so I'm baffled at how few people have decided to just download the game. I personally paid just under 25, so I have to admit, even I feel a bit soured but I don't feel totally ripped off. Unlike some reviewers, it did not take me 2-3 hours to finish the mission, it took me longer. As for why this prologue has been done and priced the way it was? I feel like there is a combination of 2 factors here. The first is creator Hideo Kojima himself, who, along with the entire revamp of the MGS world itself, had wanted to break the previous advertising habit of teasing and promising and previewing constantly, just making the fans wait with baited breath for years! So for once, he releases a foreshadowing mini-game before The Phantom Pain, so that gamers can get used to the world, the controls etc. But he's just the developer, the publisher (and so the Production Company in movie-world terms) is the one that sets the pricing and so Konami wanted it released on a disc and charged at 2/3 of the standard price of a full retail game. I can also see why Konami did this. The poor publisher is getting more cash-strapped and can only rely on the Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill franchises to bring in guaranteed money, and Silent Hill is unfortunately passed around so many different studios that fail to hit the magic that the original 4 did, with its profits lukewarm at best. I really do wish Konami had been a bit smarter than this though (and would allow Kojima to work on an original IP! After I finished 4, I was personally happy to never see a Metal Gear Solid game again! I found it difficult to believe there were any more stories to tell.)

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