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Sony PlayStation Weekly Roundup: Playstation 5, Black Friday and Turf Wars

A patent filed by Sony back in September 2017 suggests that the next generation of console, the PlayStation 5, may come with a touchscreen pad for its DualShock controller. The patent, which was granted to Sony last month, suggests a completely new design for the controller. If this is the case, this could be an interesting development for the PlayStation as a console and would change how we as players interact with it. However, Nintendo’s similarly designed Wii U didn’t sell as expected and ended up being something of a flop leading to Nintendo removing the touchscreen mechanic for the Switch. Will Sony take the chance with the touchscreen design? Only time will tell.

Sony Controller Playstation 5Sony has released some of their deals for the upcoming Black Friday sales and it seems that the PlayStation 4 will be available in the United States at some of the cheapest prices yet. Sony announced their line-up with deals such as PlayStation Virtual Reality with two games starting at $199, PlayStation 4 1 TB bundle with Spider-Man starting at $199 and four DualShock controllers starting at $39.99. More deals are sure to be announced as Black Friday approaches and the week of deals is set to run from November 18th to 26th.

The next DLC release for Marvel’s SpiderMan has been announced and given a release date and trailer following the recent success of the Black Cat centric “The Heist”.  The next addition, named “Turf Wars,” will focus on the villain Hammerhead and will include new missions, activities, trophies and three new suits. Spider-Man continues to impress with its fun expansions on the original game so hopefully, “Turf Wars” will be another hit for Insomniac Games. It seems apt to round off the news section with Spider-Man, considering the recent passing of Marvel legend Stan Lee. His vision and creativity contributed to some of our favourite comic book storylines and characters, including Peter Parker himself. So thank you Stan, for everything. Excelsior fellow true believers!

Trailer of the Week: Just Cause 4- Eye of the Storm Trailer

The latest installment in the Just Cause franchise is looking as insane and over the top as ever in the new Just Cause 4: Eye of the Storm trailer. Rico Rodriguez is back and the cinematic trailer shows that this time around he gets caught up in a storm of epic proportions, mostly involving a gigantic tornado.  Although this particular trailer is cinematic, the tornado will play a role within the game itself as it can manifest at any time and cause a stir by destroying everything in its path and creating more crazy ways to dispose of enemies.  We see Rico in the tornado dodging gunfire, sitting atop a car, outrunning tanks and even facing down a massive aircraft all while airborne and avoiding storm debris. The storm mechanics are sure to add to the ridiculous fun that is Just Cause.

Just Cause 4 will be released December 4th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Indie Game of the Week – Undertale

In 2015, the role playing game Undertale was released independently by developer Toby Fox for the PC. The game was released two years later for the PlayStation 4 with additional content.  It seemed like a cute, funny and innovative little game but it quickly became a huge internet sensation and gained critical acclaim. Development was largely crowdfunded with a goal of $5,000 and it ended with more than ten times its original goal at just over $50,000. The work of a tiny team of people, with Fox at the helm developing a large amount himself, was thrust into the spotlight and became a household name in the gaming world.

Undertale is the story of a world where humans and monsters coexist, but monsters are confined to the underground while humans remain on the surface. The game’s protagonist is a silent child who falls down into the monsters underground ruins.  You then explore the underground, interacting with various monsters and battling them. Much like the general style of the game, the combat is simplistic but charming. It doesn’t hold your hand either and can be a challenge at times. A small heart represents the soul of the player which is controlled by the player. The heart can be used to fire off multiple bullets, in a bullet hell style of gameplay, at an array of obstacles that differ with each kind of creature you fight. These range from bones, spears, vegetables and even tears when you meet a rather sad ghost called Napstablook.  The game also has puzzle solving elements, though nothing too taxing. Its focus is on story and combat, both prominent features.

Undertale PS4

One of the more interesting elements of the game’s combat is the fact that you don’t actually have to kill any of the monsters that you encounter. The first monster that your character meets, a motherly goat-like monster called Tauriel, teaches you to try and reason with your attackers. She explains that most monsters can be persuaded to stand down from a fight if coaxed well enough. Your choice as to whether you fight, spare or even have a chat with the monsters during the battle can completely change the direction that the story goes. It branches in multiple ways and has several different endings.  Characters will die if you choose to continue fighting them and this can change the way others will act. The tone of the story can also change to a bleak one if you decide to keep killing. On my first playthrough, I ended up killing several of the boss characters and regretting it later. The boss characters require the player to survive some tough attacks and I ended up killing some of them because I genuinely didn’t think I had an option. Even with Tauriels advice, I was so used to the idea of having to kill enemies that I did it anyway when it became more difficult to talk the monsters down. The way that Undertale implements these tactics and merges them with the outcome of the story creates a compelling combat system that encourages multiple playthroughs.

The games characters, music, and art design are all beautifully done and are incredibly strong aspects of Undertale. The game features a pixel art design and each character is individual in terms of personality and style. Some of the cast includes a manic depressive ghost, a geeky dinosaur-like creature with social anxiety and a tiny dog with his own theme tune who likes to steal bones. He is known only as The Annoying Dog. It’s reminiscent of old NES titles, particularly the 1994 game Earthbound which is clearly an inspiration, but certain monsters have contemporary personalities that work well with the retro look. My personal favourites were iconic skeleton duo Sans and Papyrus. Sans makes terrible puns and Papyrus is a well-intentioned and loveable but ultimately bumbling fool.  Their banter as you encounter them throughout is hugely amusing and your interactions with them can change dramatically depending on how you are playing.

Undertale’s musical score was composed entirely by Toby Fox and it was inspired by soundtracks from the NES console. My personal favourite aspect of the game, the music is an eclectic mix of styles as each of the major characters has their own theme.  The tracks help to shape the underground world in which the player finds themselves such as “Snowdin Town” which perfectly conveys the snowy tundra of a town that you find yourself in or “Home” which manages to capture the feeling of being in a comfortable and safe home environment. Fox’s music shines throughout the game and breathes life into a colourful world of peculiar creatures. It truly enhances the player’s experience by shifting the mood of the game as you progress. But if you happen to reach a certain part of the game where you’ll hear the “Meglovania” track, be warned. You’re in for a bad time.

Undertale is a true gem of the indie game scene. The retro style in terms of design, combat and music creates a nostalgic feeling which works well with contemporary themes and dialogue. The game has a lot of heart and has the ability to make you feel for the monsters and want them to gain their freedom. The multiple branching paths and endings are typical RPG motifs but they are given a fresh twist in Undertale with the choices mostly surrounding combat decisions rather than dialogue. The game has gained a huge fan base and will continue to be known as a classic indie game for years to come.

 

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