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Why Tomb Raider Exclusivity Is Bad For Gamers

August 13, 2014 1 comment

At Gamescom this week, Microsoft announced that Rise Of The Tomb Raider will be released as an exclusive to Xbox One. As a long-term Tomb Raider fan, this announcement annoyed me immensely. As someone who doesn’t trust Microsoft as a company after many missteps with this console, I refuse to buy the Xbox One on principle. They may have backpedalled on things like locking out used games, online-only DRM, the mandatory use of Kinect and other such unpopular practices, but I still do not feel the company are trustworthy, no matter how much they want to claim they are.

So, being told that I need to buy this console that I have already decided I have no interest in so that I can play my favourite game series is, understandably, not what I wanted to hear.

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Gaming Wednesday: Games of 2014

January 30, 2014 Leave a comment

The Escapist recently published their list of anticipated games for 2014, and it sparked some thinking. So today, let’s take a look at The Cheap Ferret’s top 5 most anticipated 2014 games as well as The 2014 Games That Are Getting A Lot Of Attention But I’m Really Not Fussed.

First of all, the anticipated games.

5 – The Order: 1886
(Sony & Ready At Dawn, PS4)

Not much is known about this PS4 exclusive, but it certainly looks interesting. Basically a huge historical anachronism, mixing advanced technology with a Victorian setting with the main characters apparently bearing a strong connection to the Knights Of The Round Table.

Yes, it’s steampunk, and that can feel a tad overdone these days, but it centres around a secret society and mysterious creatures and it just generally sounds very intriguing.

That said, it’s hard to pass too much judgement on the game right now due to the fact that Sony have released so little information about it so far. But it got my attention all the same, so I’m still going to be paying close attention to this one.

4 – Murdered: Soul Suspect
(Square Enix & Airtight Games, PC/PS4/Xbone)

Again, another game with not much information about it, but in this case, that’s probably for a reason since it’s a mystery game. A SUPERNATURAL mystery game. What’s that? You already have my money? Why yes, you certainly appear to.

Murdered: Soul Suspect looks just as intriguing as The Order. It’s a detective game with a twist, as you explore and interact with the physical world as a ghost. Remember when I complained about Beyond: Two Souls and saying I’d prefer a game where I can play a ghost and mess with people? That’s pretty much what this game seems to be, and I’m all for that. Adding a murder mystery just cements things for me.

3 – InFamous: Second Son
(Sony & Sucker Punch, PS4)

I enjoyed the previous InFamous titles, and so I’m certainly looking forward to Second Son as a result. But beyond that, I’m curious about how the plot is going to work in light of the second game’s ending. I’m curious about how Delsin’s going to be as a character.

What’s more, I’m also curious about the supposed power-stealing abilities that are going to feature, sort of like InFamous 2’s Transfer Device but on a bigger scale (or at least I imagine, anyway).

Plus, Sucker Punch announced that they have no plans to shoehorn in multiplayer, and that always makes me happy, since it means they’re focused on getting the game right instead of putting in something that doesn’t need to be. That’s always a good sign.

2 – Alien: Isolation
(Sega & The Creative Assembly, PC/PS4/Xbone)

OK, so by all accounts, Aliens: Colonial Marines was a colossal mess of a game that should never have been made. That’s pretty clear. But Sega are assuring gamers that Alien: Isolation won’t repeat the many mistakes that game made.

In fact, for someone who normally has no real interest in movie-licensed titles, the fact I place it as my second most anticipated game says a lot. It looks like a genuinely tense horror game that isn’t interested in making you shoot a bunch of xenomorphs.

In fact, fundamentally this game looks like it’s determined to recreate the atmosphere of the original Alien, which I maintain is one of the best horror movies ever made, and that’s what’s important here.

It could turn out to be utterly awful, but let’s give it a chance, shall we?

1 – Watch_Dogs
(Ubisoft, PC/PS4/Xbone)

Watch_Dogs looks awesome. It brings together dystopian rebellion and Assassin’s Creed style action, and was one of the first games that interested me at the PS4 announcement. I’m intrigued by the hacking mechanics, and the plot sounds interesting. Plus it’s looking like an open world where the world is part of the gameplay rather than the large map most sandbox games tend to be.

Of course, these 5 choices are a bit moot, since these are all next-gen games and I neither own a high-end gaming PC or a PS4 to be able to play them all when they come out, and the Xbone is right out anyway. But I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for information all the same.

And now let’s look at the games that aren’t all that exciting to me. These are all games that are hugely hyped to all hell, and yet my reaction to them is one of massive indifference, annoyance or disappointment. Let’s take a look, shall we?

5 – The Elder Scrolls Online
(Bethesda & ZeniMax, PC/PS4/Xbone)

I am probably going to be crucified for this, but I have never understood the appeal of the Elder Scrolls series. When the world was raving about Skyrim, I was just shrugging my shoulders at the appearance of yet another medieval fantasy game with dragons and magic and shit.

So you can imagine my indifference to the hugely hyped Elder Scrolls Online, which to me appears to be more of the same, only now it’s an MMO, which doesn’t make it better in my eyes.

But I acknowledge that this is mostly based on my defective nerd genes which have always prevented me from getting hyped over medieval fantasy. It’s also why I’m not massively in love with Lord Of The Rings and never got the fuss about Game Of Thrones, so if you disagree with me, that’s OK.

4 – Bravely Default
(Square Enix & Silicon Studio, 3DS)

Again, I’m probably going to be crucified for this because I know a lot of people like the look of this, so this is kind of an apologetic “meh” for me, and it’s one born out of personal reasons, much like Elder Scrolls above.

I don’t trust Squeenix Japan to make a good game ever again. I’ve been disappointed with their output since Final Fantasy XII, and they’ve done little to prove to me that they’re going to get better. Final Fantasy XIII was worse than XII, and they continue to pump sequels out for that despite no one asking for them. Final Fantasy XIV was broken to all hell when it first came out, and now they’re determined to shoehorn Lightning into that despite no one wanting her there.

And that’s before we get into that dumb DS rhythm game and All The Bravest, aka Microtransaction Roulette: The Game, two decisions that suggest the company have lost their mind. Oh, and they expect my beloved Tomb Raider franchise to make up for all the development hiccups they’ve had on FFXV and Kingdom Hearts, and berate it when it doesn’t do that for them. Sorry, chaps, you can’t expect Eidos to make up for your losses all the time just because they know how to get a game out on time.

And so, Bravely Default. It looks alright, I guess. But I keep thinking “how are they going to screw this up?” and so I’m unlikely to be buying a 3DS for this.

3 – Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS
(Nintendo & Namco Bandai, Wii U/3DS)

I like Smash Bros, I really do. I played the hell out Smash Bros on the N64, and I was hyped for Brawl when that came out. I also got my wish for a Sony equivalent in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, but I just…can’t get excited for the Wii U Smash. I’ve tried, and I can’t.

You see, Nintendo, you almost convinced me to get a Wii U when you announced Mega Man. You did. Honestly. I was all for that. The Wii Fit Trainer was amusing too. But…then every character announcement was massively underwhelming. Sonic is not an announcement. Luigi is not an announcement. Zelda is not a friggin’ announcement.

And then you made that announcement trailer I embedded above. You actually included a character from Super Mario Galaxy who basically did nothing but give Mario hints. It suggested that you’re grasping at straws and as such Smash Bros as a whole is going to be a massive disappointment all round. And now, that one reason I had to be remotely interested in getting a Wii U went out the window.

Prove me wrong on this, guys. Prove me wrong. Please. As I’ve said before, Nintendo, I want to love you but you’re making it SO HARD these days 😦

2 – Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/The Phantom Pain
(Konami & Kojima Productions, PS4/Xbone)

Again, much like Smash, I want to like this game so much. I was amused by Kojima’s trolling with the Moby Dick Games thing and was interested. Problem is, what’s been shown doesn’t interest me nearly as much as the old games did.

I can’t put my finger on it. I just feel like this entry in the series feels too serious, like it’s trying to do too much as once, like the series is almost feeling tired and soulless. The open world mechanics look vaguely interesting, I suppose, but on the whole, I’ve not been impressed so far. And that makes me sad.

Also, I think that switching Snake’s voice from David Hayter to Kiefer Sutherland has affected my opinion somewhat. Sutherland is a fine actor, but to change a long-established character’s voice so suddenly and so drastically just feels like pandering to executives, and makes me wonder what else has been drastically changed.

Prove me wrong, Kojima. Prove me wrong.

1 – TitanFall
(EA & Respawn Entertainment, PC/Xbone)

Oh god. TitanFall. Honestly, in some gaming circles, TitanFall is all you’ll hear about right now. Ooh, TitanFall this. TitanFall that. My TitanFall can beat up your TitanFall and so on.

Am I in a minority in thinking that TitanFall looks incredibly dull? Like, it looks like every other FPS available on the current gen consoles? Oooh, it’s got mechs, apparently. And that’s usually where the distinction ends. I want more than just mechs. I want an engaging world, engaging characters and engaging things happening besides a shooty bro-fest. And If I’m to be excited by wall-running in a first person EA game, they can hurry up and finish Mirror’s Edge 2 instead of focusing on this bland…thing.

It’s so bland it’s offensive. It’s also so overhyped that it’s impossible to ignore this CoD clone with robots, and that’s sad because it just looks like every uninteresting idea from the PS3/360 smashed together into a single game rather than anything worth getting excited for.

And that’s that. These are just the games that have got a strong presence on my radar, for better or worse, but there are plenty of other interesting games coming out in 2014, and it’ll be interesting to see how things progress into a new generation.

Gaming Wednesday: This Is Not An Endorsement

January 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Microsoft have gone and got themselves in trouble again. You’d think they’d learn their mistakes with the Xbox One so far, but it seems they’re not learning anything at all. Bless their little hearts for being so oblivious.

So, the story so far, the Xbone has a confusing name, has an absurd focus on television and external media over video games, was initially announced as requiring an always-on Internet connection when one shouldn’t be obviously needed, requires additional payment for services like Netflix and Internet Explorer, uses microtransactions in full-price games, has an in-built camera and microphone, is expensive and is apparently having “stock issues” despite being easy to buy basically everywhere. What else can possibly put people off Microsoft at this point?

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Gaming Wednesday: The Beating Of A Million Drums

January 15, 2014 1 comment

Last week, my girlfriend did something that was probably the biggest mistake ever. She thought she was doing something good, but instead, she turned me into an addict. A trouble addict that needs help.

You see, she decided to gift me a copy of Civilization V on Steam. And now I am hooked.

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The Cheap Ferret’s Games Of The Year 2013

January 9, 2014 1 comment

It is the Most Newest Of Years (or at least it was last week when I originally intended to post this), which means that, like everybody who likes to write about video games has been doing the last few weeks, I’m going to write about which video games I enjoyed the most from the year 2013.

Please remember that I haven’t played all video games from 2013, so there are likely to be many omissions, and to be honest, extending it beyond five games from this year is probably not going to happen, so if your favourites are missing, feel free to yell them at me in the comments below.

Let’s goooooooooo!

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The Award For Worst Awards Show Goes To…

December 13, 2013 1 comment

Dear gaming industry,

We need to talk.

Last week was the VGX awards show. While primarily an American show, gamers over here in the UK do pay attention to what goes on. We do have the BAFTAs offshoot about games, but it gets barely any coverage, and so the live-stream of your major video game awards show is the next best thing.

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Buyer’s Guide To The Next Gen (By Someone Who Hasn’t Touched A Single Console)

December 5, 2013 1 comment

So the next gen is officially here, which means it’s now the current gen but everyone’s going to keep calling it next gen for at least a year anyway. There are three contenders to the eighth generation throne: Nintendo’s Wii U, which has been out a year, Microsoft’s Xbone, which has been out for a couple of weeks, and Sony’s PlayStation 4, which has been out for a few days in the UK.

Since everyone else is discussing which one is the best, I thought I’d chip in and offer my opinion on it all. What’s that? I haven’t played any of the next gen consoles so therefore can’t have an opinion on the matter? Shut up, yes I can, it’s a free country and nobody can stop me.

In all seriousness, my judgements on the console come from what I’ve heard from various sources, and I’m mixing them all up with my own personal preferences to suggest which console seems to be the best right now.

Let’s talk about the Wii U first. I’ve previously written about the console, and expressed my concern over the lack of new titles. There’s a bizarre scenario lately where Nintendo fans will openly criticise Sony and Microsoft for a complete lack of originality, and then praise Nintendo for their original ideas, which is laughable when the biggest available titles for the Wii U right now are a clip show version of a 30-year-old franchise and a direct remake of a 10-year-old game.

Sure, Super Mario 3D World looks kinda fun, but it’s hard to get past the fact that it’s little more than features from every other Mario game, bolted together to form some kind of Frankenstein’s monster in red overalls. And if I really wanted to play Wind Waker, I could easily pick a copy of it on Amazon and play it on my Wii and not spend money on a brand new console for it.

I reiterate what I said about Nintendo in the past. They need to innovate. They need to take their charming, quirky sense of family-friendly fun and make something new and exciting and MUST-HAVE. Mario is all well and good, but honestly, they need some new IPs, something to make it stand out and show the world that yes, they are the most innovative console company and yes, you should buy a Wii U.

Until then, I will view the Wii U as an amusing novelty that I may pick up a few years down the line out of pity.

And then there’s the Xbone, which I actively refuse to call the Xbox One, because that’s what the Xbox released in 2001 was called. If you follow me on Twitter, you will know how much I pick on the Xbone. I pick on the Wii U too, but I also feel kind of sorry for it and want to like it. I make fun of the Xbone because boy, did they misstep on everything!

When Microsoft announced that they were going to reveal a brand new Xbox, I watched the event. I was curious and wide-eyed, willing to give the console an objective view, and if it looked better than the PS4, then I may have considered it.

Since then, Microsoft have scored negative points with me every time they do, well, basically anything at all. The focus on the multimedia hub options at the reveal looked rather pathetic to me, and now I’m hearing that none of those options are available in the UK, which makes me wonder why they even bothered in the first place.

And then there were the always-online rumours, which changed to a daily online check to a myriad of other things, along with the original restriction on used games. These decisions were reversed following a backlash, but the moment they decided those were sensible ideas, I knew I simply couldn’t trust the company with anything. Part of me feels the always-on DRM crap will sneak its way onto the console anyway with a firmware update, and if that indeed does happen, please send me lots of money for my amazing psychic powers because I told you so.

Oh, and I don’t want a Kinect. I don’t want a camera staring at me unblinkingly from the corner of the room, uploading my every thought to this mysterious “Cloud” they keep talking about but doesn’t seem to actually exist. The fact that Microsoft are absolutely determined to force people to use this thing doesn’t sit well with me.

Hearing about the user interface, which is apparently a tangled mess with a controller, and using voice commands is about as good as getting a stoned sloth to make your dinner for you, has not made me particularly optimistic either.

I’m also hearing that basically every exclusive launch title makes extensive use of everyone’s favourite form of exploitation – microtransactions. Ryse has it, which already looked repetitive and features useless quick-time events that do nothing if you fail them, and the microtransactions were just the rancid cherry on the cake of shit. Forza is a car game that doesn’t look as fun as the car game I already own, Gran Turismo 5, and also features microtransactions.

And all that’s before you bring up the reports that it doesn’t run in 1080p resolution nor does it support Dolby Surround very well, and you wonder, how is this “next gen” when it’s incapable of doing things a cheap freeview box can?

Basically, I have tried my best to be objective about the console, but quite frankly, it’s a mess and I hope it fails. Badly.

Then there is the PS4, which is…well, it’s alright. I certainly have plans to get one, albeit in a year when the PSN overload issue has been solved and more games have come out, but right now it’s looking decidedly average. Reports are pretty unanimous in saying that it’s a pretty nice bit of kit that does everything you want it to, but it’s a nice console in its potential rather than what it can currently do.

I mean, I do like the look of Infamous: Second Son, Watch_Dogs and The Order: 1886, and I know I’ll certainly be picking up OctoDad: Dadliest Catch for it someday, but right now it’s kind of choosing between Knack, which everyone says is terrible, and Killzone, which I think is terrible. So we’re not doing too well, really.

So basically, the PS4 is running on potential, the Wii U is running on nostalgia and the Xbone is running on fumes. The next gen kind of arrived less by crashing through a wall and throwing a party and more knocking on your door politely and asking if you’d like to come out and have a few beers for an hour or two, but it’s OK if you’re not up for it.

Or in the case of the Xbone, a drunken uncle crashing at your place and drinking everything you own before vomiting all over your new carpet.

Where am I going with this analogy? I have no idea. Basically, I’m saying, give the PS4 and Wii U a miss until they start living up to their potential, and give the Xbone a miss…forever.