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Sony PlayStation Roundup: PS Classic, Nike and Agent

PlayStation Classic Reviews

The reviews are in for the PlayStation Classic and it seems to be a mixed bag all around at the moment. The Classic was announced back in September and is due to be released on December 3rd to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the original console. Reviewers are having issues with several key features such as the uneven choice of games (some classics and some not so much), certain games being difficult to control and graphical problems. Surely more news will come when the mini console is released next week but PlayStation fans are hoping for better results than these initial reviews are suggesting.

PlayStation x Nike

In another trip down memory lane for Sony fans, Nike will be releasing a pair of PlayStation sneakers based on the design of the original console.  The release of the PG 2.5 X PlayStation comes after the success of the PG2 X PlayStation sneakers released in February of this year. With a different design based on the current PlayStation 4, the PG 2’s were an instant hit and sold out almost immediately. The new classic design will most likely appeal to the strong sense of nostalgia that’s currently instilled within PlayStation fans due to the imminent release of the Classic mini console. Nike is sure to have another best seller with the PG 2.5’s. The sneakers will be released with a $110 price tag on December 1st,

Rockstar abandons trademark to PlayStation 3 exclusive

Nine years ago, Rockstar Games announced an exclusive game for the PlayStation 3 called Agent. The game was due to have an espionage theme with a Cold War setting. However, it appears that Rockstar and Take-Two Interactive have now abandoned development on the title altogether.  Several news sources noticed that Agent has been listed as “abandoned” by the US Patent and Trademark Office due to failure to issue a Statement of use as well as failure to request an extension. This suggests that Rockstar have little interest in pursuing the game, but this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.  Rockstar Games were already hugely successful but since Agent was announced, they have had a critical and commercial acclaim with Grand Theft Auto VGTA Online as well as Red Dead Redemption 2. They are sure to have even more success with the upcoming Red Dead Online which is currently being released to the public as a beta.  These successful titles would have taken up the time of most of the development team at Rockstar and probably pushed any new game to the bottom of their priorities. It’s also unlikely that they will focus on a PlayStation exclusive when they have had considerable success on multiple platforms. Agent may be dead for now, but perhaps another studio will take up the trademark if Rockstar allows it. For now, we’ll just have to stick with the GTA and Red Dead franchises.

Trailer of the Week

Just Cause 4 Live Action Trailer

The question that has been asked by Just Cause fans since the franchise began has finally been asked in the new, live action trailer for the latest installment Just Cause 4. The question being, how did one man do all this? The trailer focuses on a group of henchmen who have survived an attack by Rico. They then begin to explain what has happened to them to militia leader Gabriela Morales, going into detail about Rico’s insane methods. Their respect for Rico’s creativity and admiration for him, including one of them having a rather large tattoo of his face, makes for a trailer full of laughs and self-awareness. It’s always fun to see companies poking fun of themselves and this trailer shows that all involved are very aware of Just Cause’s insane, and chaotically fun nature.

Just Cause 4 is due for release December 4th, 2018 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

 

Indie Game of the Week- Firewatch

Firewatch is an adventure game set in the late 1980’s published by Campo Santo and in partnership with Panic. It was released in February 2016 for the PlayStation 4 and PC as well as on Xbox One in September 2016. The game revolves around a man named Henry who is struggling to cope after his wife is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.  In an attempt to isolate himself, he takes a summer job as a fire lookout stationed in a tower in the Shoshone National Park. He communicates with another lookout called Delilah via a walkie talkie. The game centres on completing tasks around the forest and putting together the pieces of a mystery that quickly becomes a suspected conspiracy. Firewatch is an example of a strong narrative being able to carry simple gameplay.

It is a bold move to open a game and set up the initial story with nothing more than onscreen text but Firewatch does this and does it well. Not only does it manage to do this successfully, but it also does it in a way that immediately engages the player with the protagonist. Via the text, we go through the relationship of Henry and his wife Julia from their first meeting to their separation as Julia’s parents take her to Australia to take care of her a few years after her diagnosis. It’s easy to get sucked into the story, particularly when there are a few choices that can be made such as choosing whether to try and put Julia in a 24 hour care centre or keep trying to take care of her yourself or picking which dog to adopt. These choices can carry on into later dialogue, making your choices feel like they made a difference to your characters’ lives in a small way at least.

Throughout the game, we only get brief glimpses of a few other characters. You don’t actually get up close with any other character. The main person that the player interacts with is Delilah and she is not actually shown in person during the game. Instead, the player builds a relationship with her via the walkie talkie. The relationship that you form with her can change depending on what you choose to say to her. You can also choose to remain silent and not engage as much with her. The walkie-talkie communication adds a human element, seeing as you are alone in the wilderness for the whole game. As the days and weeks go on, Delilah remains the only constant presence for Henry so it’s easy to get attached to her and feel a sense of partnership as you unravel the mysteries that occur.

Gameplay is simplistic and is made up of traversing around various areas of Shoshone National Park with a map and compass. The wooded environment is vibrant and aesthetically pleasing, if not a little frustrating to find your bearings at times. There are a few other items that Henry can use, such as an axe and a tracking device, but they have minimal use. It’s clear that the narrative is the driving force of Firewatch, followed closely by the visuals, but it works well with the basic gameplay elements.

Although Firewatch is not without its issues, some technical glitches make it hard to explore at times and the ending was disappointing to me personally, it’s definitely worth a play through for gamers who are fans of a narrative based video game. The fact I was able to create a kinship with a disembodied voice and feel emotional about Henrys backstory just by reading the on-screen text, shows a game that clearly puts story front and center. The strengths of Firewatch lie in its telling of a tale of a person trying to escape the harsh truth of their reality. And that can probably ring true for most of us.

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